How the Song Came to Be

‘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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Carly Simon’s Breakthrough: ‘You’re So Vain’

Watch the singer-songwriter perform a previously unheard verse of her huge 1972 hit from a ‘Carly Simon No Secrets’ classic albums special

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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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Dr. Hook ‘Cover of the Rolling Stone’: Backstory

A band records a song about its burning desire to make it to the cover of the leading music magazine. We’ve got the backstory. Do you know who wrote it?

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When Motown Went to ‘War’—Edwin Starr’s #1 Hit @50

When Motown’s chief was reluctant to release an antiwar song by the Temptations as a single, another singer stepped in to re-record it. It went to #1.

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Ray Charles’ ‘What’d I Say’: An Accidental Classic

A consummate, road-tested professional, Charles sat down at his Wurlitzer electric piano and improvised a blues-based boogie-woogie riff.

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When Brownsville Station Were Smokin’

Back in 1973, lots of high school students took extra bathroom breaks since that was generally the only place they could light up. The backstory of a classic

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The Mamas & the Papas’ ‘Creeque Alley’: Behind the Song

The lyrics are stocked with names and places, some of which may have been (and still are) unfamiliar to fans of the group. We break it down.

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Friend & Lover’s ‘Reach Out of the Darkness’: So Groovy Now

The song begins with a lyric that could only have been written in the late ’60s: “I think it’s so groovy now that people are finally getting together.” And the record was attributed to artists whose name could only have

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Barry McGuire vs. Barry Sadler: When the News Hit #1

One chart-topper listed complaints about the inequities and horrors of the day, while the other was a patriotic paean to the Army’s elite special forces.

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