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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

“Road to Nowhere”

Talking Heads | 1985

A cappella harmonies give way to an a fuller arrangement blending pop and electro-disco on "Road to Nowhere," but the theme remains constant: We're on an eternal journey to an undefined destination. The song vaulted back into the news a quarter century after it was a hit when Gov. Charlie Crist used it in his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida. "It's this little ditty about how there's no order and no plan and no scheme to life and death and it doesn't mean anything, but it's all right," Byrne said with a chuckle.

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