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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

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

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