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Song Stories

“West End Girls”

Pet Shop Boys | 1984

Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant's worldwide Number One single evolved from Lowe watching a Jimmy Cagney gangster film and, as Lowe recalled, "Just as I was dropping off to sleep, into my head popped the song's opening line, 'Sometimes you're better off dead/There's gun in your hand and it's pointed at your head.' I thought, 'That's quite good.'" The Pet Shop Boys loved Grandmaster Flash's hip-hop track "The Message" and decided to take a stab at rapping themselves. "So I wrote a rap fallen on from those lines 'Sometimes you're better off dead,'" Lowe said, which he debuted in the song's intro.

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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