Song Stories

“Walking on a Thin Line”

Huey Lewis and the News | 1984

One of first mainstream songs to address the trauma vets faced returning from war, it began when songwriter Andre Pessis paid a young Huey Lewis $20 to record a demo of this song for a documentary about the Vietnam War. The song never appeared in the movie, but Lewis did include it on his album Sports a few years later. "This song is about the Vietnam War," Lewis told one crowd. "Although none of us went, we had a lot of friends that did. A lot of people died over there, and a lot of people got real screwed up."

Song Stories Main Next

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."

More Song Stories entries »