How the Song Came to Be

Deliverance’s ‘Dueling Banjos’: An Unlikely Hit

The song, featured prominently in the 1972 thriller, was used without the permission of its composer. There’s actually only one banjo used

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Sonny & Cher’s ‘The Beat Goes On’ (& On & On)…

A breakdown of the way things used to be vs. the inevitable winds of change, it gave them their third major hit. But some things, it seemed, never changed.

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Johnny Cash’s ‘A Boy Named Sue’: The Story Behind the Song

“That’s the most cleverly written song I’ve ever heard,” Cash told the song’s composer, Shel Silverstein. It became Cash’s biggest hit single.

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Queen’s Homage to Space Exploration: ’39’

The band’s guitarist, Brian May, can do many things well, one of which is to write songs. This one, about time travel, presaged his PhD in astrophysics

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‘It’s the Real Thing’: When a Coke Ad Inspired 2 Hit Singles

In 1971, the creative director for the beverage’s ad agency wrote down the words “I’d like to buy the world a Coke.” His vision for a new campaign took off

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Once Upon a Time: Mark Lindsay on the Raiders’ ‘Good Thing’

The group’s lead vocalist talks about writing the hit single with producer Terry Melcher, the wild story of the Los Angeles home they lived in and the Tarantino movie

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Dion’s Moving ‘Abraham, Martin and John’

Tension was in the air in 1968 and rock music reflected the turmoil. Then came a voice from the past, gently singing of non-violence and hope.

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Iron Butterfly’s Classic ‘In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida’

The single and album signaled a shift from the psychedelic sound toward something more aggressive, loud and primal. Rock fans either loved it or hated it.

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Gerry Rafferty, ‘Baker Street,’ and That Sax Solo!

The smash hit was written while its author was hanging out in a flat in London, trying to escape from frustrating legal proceedings.

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Medley Mania of 1981-82: ‘Stars on 45,’ The Beatles & More

A Dutch novelty act released a single that was a medley of songs, backed by a disco beat. The worldwide #1 hit spawned other singles from actual superstars

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