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Song Stories

“Viva la Vida”

Coldplay | 2008

With its sweeping arrangement, "Viva la Vida" became an insta-hit, giving Coldplay their first Number One song in both the United States and United Kingdom. The Spanish title, translated as "long live life," makes reference to an artwork by Frida Kahlo. With its many historical and religious references, it alludes to themes of pain, strength and anti-authoritarianism. At the time, Chris Martin felt it was a make-or-break endeavor for the band. “This could be our last shot at the big time," the singer admitted. "It's something in my head, as in artistic relevance."

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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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