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Song Stories

“Young Americans”

David Bowie | 1975

“Over here, it’s bright young Americans,” Bowie said of his decision to cut an LP in the soul-music hotbed of Philadelphia. “In England, it’s a dirge.” Puerto Rican-born guitarist Carlos Alomar, who’d introduced the glam god to the vibrant U.S. club scene, assembled a multiracial American studio band for the recording. “It was only about four hours into the first session,” Alomar recalled. “We got to the guitar breakdown and we knew we’d got something.” By the next morning, they’d nailed down a keeper take of a song originally titled “The Young American,” initiating a radical change of pace for Bowie that he self-mockingly labeled “plastic soul.

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Song Stories

“Vans”

The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

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