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Song Stories

“Uncle John's Band”

The Grateful Dead | 1970

Spotlighting close vocal harmonies that recall those of the Grateful Dead's friends Crosby, Stills & Nash, the easygoing country-folk-rock "Uncle John's Band" nonetheless had a wariness suggesting oncoming danger, the enigmatic Uncle John supplying the soundtrack for taking children home. The track was edited to a shorter version in hopes of getting a hit single, but it stalled at Number 69. Garcia was dissatisfied with the edit but proud of the song itself, calling it "a major effort, as a musical piece" in Rolling Stone. "It's one we worked on for a really long time, to get it working right."

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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