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Song Stories

“Under the Boardwalk”

The Drifters | 1964

The lilting summer soul song paints a familiar seaside scene (a carousel, hot dogs, French fries) and describes a couple "havin' some fun under the boardwalk," unbeknownst to the "people walking above." The song -- written by Kenny Young and Art Resnick -- was supposed to be sung by the group's Rudy Lewis, but the night before the session he died of a heroin overdose. Former lead vocalist Johnny Moore returned to the Drifters to cut the song, and it went to Number Four on the Billboard chart. "Very flattering to suggest 'UTB' was as well known as 'Happy Birthday,'" Young said of the song's immense popularity.

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

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