Concert for Kampuchea

When I posted a Rockpile song last week… I heard from Sharon E. Cathcart talking about this concert. A few days later Val mentioned this concert on a Little Richard post. I haven’t thought of this concert in years so I thought it would be a great subject.

I did see a copy of this in the 80s at some point. I’ve watched it the last few nights and it is really good. A few facts about the show…The Pretenders debut album was released the day before they played, this was John Bonham’s last appearance on stage in England, and the Wings last concert appearance.

Concert for the People of Kampuchea was a series of concerts in 1979 featuring Queen, The Clash, The Pretenders, Rockpile, The Who, Elvis Costello, Wings, and many more artists. I’ll post the entire lineup at the bottom. These concerts had a great amount of British talent that would not be rivaled until Live Aid in 1985. The proceeds would be directed to the emergency relief work of the U.N. agencies for the civilians in Kampuchea.

The concerts were held at the Hammersmith Odeon in London over 4 days from 26-29 December 1979 to raise money for the victims of war-torn Cambodia (then called Kampuchea). The event was organized by former Beatle Paul McCartney and Kurt Waldheim (who was then Secretary-General of the UN, later Austrian president).

Waldheim initially approached McCartney, hoping his current band Wings would participate. But he also discussed a performance with George Harrison, and then the gossip wheel started turning. The Beatle reunion rumors started to overtake the press for the show itself. Paul had to completely deny it of course. He was quoted saying: “The Beatles are over and finished with,”  “None of us is even interested in doing it. There’s lots of reasons. Imagine if we came back and did a big show that wasn’t good. What a drag.” None of the ex Beatles showed…except Paul

An album and EP were released in 1981, and the best of the concerts was released as a film, Concert for Kampuchea in 1980. The album wasn’t released until 1981 and it peaked at #36 and the song Little Sister by Rockpile and Robert Plant peaked at #8.

When Wings’ main set was complete on the last night, McCartney invited a Who’s Who assemblage of British rockers to the stage to play four songs as an encore as the “Rockestra”. The list included three members of Led Zeppelin (Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones), Townshend, former Small Faces/Faces bandmates Ronnie Lane and Kenney Jones, Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker, Wings, plus members of Rockpile and the Pretenders, among others.

Here is a complete list.

  • Piano: Paul McCartney
  • Keyboards: Linda McCartney, Tony Ashton, Gary Brooker
  • Guitars: Denny Laine, Laurence Juber, James Honeyman-Scott, Dave Edmunds, Billy Bremner, Pete Townshend, Robert Plant
  • Bass: Paul McCartney, Bruce Thomas, Ronnie Lane, John Paul Jones
  • Drums, Percussion: Steve Holley, Kenney Jones, Tony Carr, Morris Pert, Speedy Acquaye, John Bonham
  • Horns: Howie Casey, Steve Howard, Thaddeus Richard, Tony Dorsey
  • Vocals: Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, John Paul Jones, Ronnie Lane, Bruce Thomas, Robert Plant

That is a talented bunch.

McCartney did assemble the above musicians with some more like David Gilmour to record a couple of songs on the Wings Back To The Egg album…So Glad to See You Here and Rockestra Theme.

Here is the complete list of acts who played during the concerts.

The Blockheads
The Clash
Elvis Costello
Ian Dury
The Pretenders
Matumbi
Robert Plant
Queen
Rockpile
The Specials
Wings
The Who

December 26

  • Queen

December 27

  • Ian Dury and the Blockheads (with guest Mick Jones on “Sweet Gene Vincent”)
  • Matumbi
  • The Clash

December 28

  • The Pretenders
  • The Specials
  • The Who

December 29

  • Elvis Costello & The Attractions
  • Rockpile (with guest Robert Plant on “Little Sister”)
  • Wings
  • Rockestra

Selected setlists

Queen

  1. Jailhouse Rock
  2. We Will Rock You (fast version)
  3. Let Me Entertain You
  4. Somebody to Love
  5. If You Can’t Beat Them
  6. Mustapha
  7. Death on Two Legs
  8. Killer Queen
  9. I’m in Love with My Car
  10. Get Down, Make Love
  11. You’re My Best Friend
  12. Save Me
  13. Now I’m Here
  14. Don’t Stop Me Now
  15. Spread Your Wings
  16. Love of My Life
  17. ’39
  18. Keep Yourself Alive
  19. Drums solo
  20. Guitar solo with parts of Silent Night
  21. Brighton Rock reprise
  22. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
  23. Bohemian Rhapsody
  24. Tie Your Mother Down
  25. Sheer Heart Attack
  26. We Will Rock You
  27. We Are the Champions
  28. God Save the Queen (tape)

Ian Dury & The Blockheads

  1. Clevor Trevor
  2. Inbetweenies
  3. Don’t Ask Me
  4. Reasons To Be Cheerful
  5. Sink My Boats
  6. Waiting For Your Taxi
  7. This Is What We Find
  8. Mischief
  9. What A Waste
  10. Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
  11. Sweet Gene Vincent

The Clash

  1. Clash City Rockers
  2. Brand New Cadillac
  3. Safe European Home
  4. Jimmy Jazz
  5. Clampdown
  6. The Guns of Brixton
  7. Train in Vain
  8. Wrong ‘Em Boyo
  9. Koka Kola
  10. (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais
  11. Stay Free
  12. Bankrobber
  13. Janie Jones
  14. Complete Control
  15. Armagideon Time
  16. London Calling

The Specials

  1. (Dawning Of a) New Era
  2. Do The Dog
  3. Monkey Man
  4. Concrete Jungle
  5. Too Hot
  6. Doesn’t Make It Alright
  7. Too Much Too Young
  8. Guns Of Navarone
  9. Little Bitch
  10. A Message To You Rudy
  11. Nite Club
  12. Gangsters
  13. Longshot Kick The Bucket
  14. Skinhead Moonstomp
  15. Madness

The Who

  1. Substitute
  2. I Can’t Explain
  3. Baba O’Riley
  4. The Punk and the Godfather
  5. My Wife
  6. Sister Disco
  7. Behind Blue Eyes
  8. Music Must Change
  9. Drowned
  10. Who Are You
  11. 5.15
  12. Pinball Wizard
  13. See Me Feel Me
  14. Long Live Rock
  15. My Generation
  16. I’m a Man
  17. Hoochie Coochie Man
  18. Sparks
  19. I Can See for Miles
  20. I Don’t Want To Be an Old Man
  21. Won’t Get Fooled Again
  22. Summertime Blues
  23. Dancing In The Streets
  24. Dance It Away
  25. The Real Me

Rockpile

  1. Three Time Loser
  2. Crawling From The Wreckage
  3. Little Sister

Wings

  1. Got to Get You into My Life
  2. Getting Closer
  3. Every Night
  4. Again And Again And Again
  5. I’ve Had Enough
  6. No Words
  7. Cook Of The House
  8. Old Siam, Sir
  9. Maybe I’m Amazed
  10. The Fool on the Hill
  11. Hot As Sun
  12. Spin It On
  13. Twenty Flight Rock
  14. Go Now
  15. Arrow Through Me
  16. Coming Up
  17. Goodnight Tonight
  18. Yesterday
  19. Mull of Kintyre
  20. Band on the Run

Rockestra

  1. Rockestra Theme
  2. Let It Be
  3. Lucille
  4. Rockestra Theme (reprise)

 

Elvis Costello – Everyday I Write The Book

This was Costello’s first American hit. He was a regular on the UK charts since his first release in 1977, but American singles never hit. Despite support in America from independent record stores, college radio and music journalists, his only chart showings to this point were two singles that bubbled under on the Hot 100: “Watching The Detectives” #108 and “Accidents Will Happen #101.

This song peaked at #36 in the Billboard 100 and #28 in the UK in 1983.

I do remember that MTV pushed the video pretty hard. The push helped the single. It wasn’t until 1989 that he managed another Top 40 hit, “Veronica,” which was helped by MTV.

Elvis Costello: “I wrote it just for a joke,” “But that’s often the way to write a hit record (laughs). We had a group on the road with us that was trying to write these very self-conscious pop jangly kind of songs and that was their trip. So I thought I’d tease them by writing something that was like what they did, only sort of better than them. I wrote it in ten minutes.”

From Songfacts

In this song, Elvis Costello is a novelist who tells his girlfriend that everything that happens in their relationship is source material for his book. On one hand, it’s very sweet that he’s taking the time to chronicle their relationship, but something about it is also kind of creepy, as he’s documented her transgressions and is now willing to use her own words against her in their arguments.

Esquire magazine once called this “the most intellectually satisfying pop song ever written.” 

When Costello wrote this song, he envisioned it with a retro Merseybeat popularized by Liverpool groups of the ’60s (think Gerry and the Pacemakers and very early Beatles recordings). His producer, Clive Langer, heard hit potential in the song and convinced Costello to do a more contemporary arrangement, which they modeled on Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.” The result was a modern R&B sound that served the song well.

“Everyday I Write The Book” got a push from MTV, which gave the video some spins and helped introduce Costello to younger audience. Radio stations in the US remained lukewarm on Costello, as he didn’t fit in on the Contemporary Hits or Rock playlists. Not that he was concerned; Costello’s indifference to popular taste earned him even more respect from his American fans. 

The video was directed by Don Letts, who did a lot of work with The Clash and The Pretenders. In the clip, Elvis and his band (The Attractions) play in a studio stetting, wearing muted colors in stark contrast to the two backup singers, Caron Wheeler and Claudia Fontaine, who sport colorful dresses and head wraps. Old movie clips and random images like a man typing with boxing gloves are intercut throughout. These rather random videos did very well on early MTV, as they gave viewers a good look at the artist and provided some memorable visuals.

This was used in the films The Wedding Singer (1998) and Brooklyn Rules (2007). It is also heard in the 2001 Gilmore Girls episode, “The Breakup: Part 2.”

Elvis Costello told Uncut that he’s wanted “to write songs as good as Nick Lowe,” since he was 17. He added: “‘Everyday I Write the Book’ is a knockoff of Nick’s ‘When I Write the Book’ with a little Rodgers and Hart thrown in.'”

Everyday I Write The Book

Don’t tell me you don’t know what love is
When you’re old enough to know better
When you find strange hands in your sweater
When your dreamboat turns out to be a footnote
I’m a man with a mission in two or three editions

And I’m giving you a longing look
Everyday, everyday, everyday I write the book

Chapter one we didn’t really get along
Chapter two I think I fell in love with you
You said you’d stand by me in the middle of chapter three
But you were up to your old tricks in chapters four, five and six

The way you walk
The way you talk, and try to kiss me, and laugh
In four or five paragraphs
All your compliments and your cutting remarks
Are captured here in my quotation marks

Don’t tell me you don’t know the difference
Between a lover and a fighter
With my pen and my electric typewriter
Even in a perfect world where everyone was equal
I’d still own the film rights and be working on the sequel

Johnny Cash – Cry! Cry! Cry!

No one crosses genres like Johnny Cash. I’ve seen rockers, heavy metal, and country fans like Johnny.

After Cash returned home from the Air Force and signed with Sun Records, he gave Sam Phillips the song “Hey Porter.” Phillips asked for a ballad for the B-side, so Cash went home and quickly wrote “Cry! Cry! Cry!” literally overnight. It became his first big hit.

“Cry! Cry! Cry!” was released and sold over 100,000 copies. The song was originally released in 1955 and reached #14 in the charts at the time. This song was the B side to Hey Porter.

Elvis Costello did a fantastic cover of this song in 1982 as the B side to I’m Your Toy. 

 

Cry! Cry! Cry!

Everybody knows where you go when the sun goes down.
I think you only live to see the lights uptown.
I wasted my time when I would try, try, try.
‘Cause when the lights have lost their glow, you’ll cry, cry, cry.

Soon your sugar-daddies will all be gone.
You’ll wake up some cold day and find you’re alone.
You’ll call for me but I’m gonna tell you: “Bye, bye, bye, “
When I turn around and walk away, you’ll cry, cry, cry,

You’re gonna cry, cry, cry and you’ll cry alone,
When everyone’s forgotten and you’re left on your own.
You’re gonna cry, cry, cry.

I lie awake at night to wait ’til you come in
You stay a little while and then you’re gone again
Every question that I ask, I get a lie, lie, lie
For every lie you tell, you’re gonna cry, cry, cry

When your fickle love gets old, no one will care for you.
Then you’ll come back to me for a little love that’s true.
I’ll tell you no and then you’ll ask me why, why, why?
When I remind you of all of this, you’ll cry, cry, cry.

You’re gonna cry, cry, cry and you’ll want me then,
It’ll hurt when you think of the fool you’ve been.
You’re gonna cry, cry, cry.

 

 

Elvis Costello – Alison —-Powerpop Friday

On Fridays, I could just start with his first album and post song after song and they would fit perfect. I was walking through a drug store in the late seventies as a kid and I saw this album cover…I thought what??? another person named Elvis? Who is this skinny guy?

Image result for elvis costello my aim is true cover

While at the drug store the guy was playing this album and I heard Alison… That was the first thing I ever heard by Elvis. The album peaked at #32 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1978. His songs were different than a lot of the radio hits of the day…with different, I mean better.

Elvis Costello on the song: We put these cheap synth strings on the track before there were really even synths. They said, ‘The strings will make it a hit!’ It was never a hit.”

From Songfacts

Costello has never revealed who this song is about. In the liner notes to his Girls Girls Girls compilation album, he wrote, “Much could be undone by saying more.”

As is usually the case in Elvis Costello lyrics, the protagonist is sexually frustrated (see “Watching the Detectives”) and mad at the guy who always gets the girl. In this tale of unrequited love, “My aim is true” does not imply pure intentions; it means he wants to kill her.

The chorus is based on a song by The Detroit Spinners called “Ghetto Child.”

The line in this song, “My Aim Is True,” provided the title for the album.

My Aim Is True was Costello’s first album. He did not have a backing band at the time, so Nick Lowe, who produced the album, brought in a group called Clover. Huey Lewis was in the band, but didn’t participate in the sessions because they didn’t need a harmonica player. Alex Call was the lead singer of Clover, and he wasn’t needed on “Alison” either.

Call told us: “Elvis Costello was at that time Dec McManus, he was using his real name. He was just this mild-mannered, meek little songwriter who would hang out around Stiff Records, which was our management office. Elvis once said, ‘Man, I wish I could sing like you.’ They went and cut at this little place called Pathways – a little 8-track studio so small that all you had just enough space to play your instrument. They went in that first session, and in one session they cut ‘Alison’ and ‘Red Shoes’ and ‘Less Than Zero,’ these classic songs. I remember hearing them at this Rock ‘n’ Roll house we lived in outside of Headley, South of London called the Headley Grange House. John McFee (Clover bass player) brought back a reel-to-reel tape on one of those old Wollensak tape recorders. He played this stuff, and I mean, I was ready to quit after hearing that – it was so astounding. They did like three 8-12 hour sessions, and that was My Aim Is True. That is a classic record, just unbelievable. We were managed by the same guys and we hung out a lot with Nick. Nick produced a lot of our early sessions there. We made two albums with Mutt Lange, and nothing happened with the band. We came close in England to breaking a single, but it didn’t work and we ended up breaking up.” (Check out our interview with Alex Call.)

Linda Ronstadt recorded this on her 1978 Living in the USA album and released the song as a single. The single didn’t chart on the Hot 100 – a rare miss for Ronstadt, who was very popular at the time. The album, however, sold over two million copies, providing Costello with substantial royalties as the writer of one of its 10 tracks. He credits these earnings with keeping him afloat in the early years before he caught on.

There were two singles released in the US. The B-side of one has a mono version of “Alison,” the other has a live version of “Miracle Man” that was recorded on August 7, 1977 at the Nashville Rooms in London.

The B-side of the UK single is “Welcome to the Working Week.” A few copies were released with the A-side pressed on white vinyl while the B-side is the usual black.

This song was used in an episode of That 70’s Show when Hyde contemplates moving to New York to follow a girl who wants to start a punk rock band. 

Linda Ronstadt was an early Elvis Costello admirer who was in the audience when he performed at Los Angeles’ Hollywood High in June 1978. When she recorded her version of “Alison,” she had one of her friends in mind: “A sweet girl but kind of a party girl type. I felt that she needed somebody to talk to her in a stern voice because she was getting married and she would have to change.”

One of Costello’s most enduring songs, he has performed it in concert for decades. “Some nights it comes to life in my head, and some nights it falls apart,” he told Rolling Stone in 2017.

The track’s producer, Nick Lowe, is one of Elvis Costello’s songwriting heroes. He told Uncut: “Since I was 17, I’ve wanted to write songs as good as Nick Lowe. ‘Alison’ was the result of a chemistry experiment involving Nick’s ‘Don’t Lose Your Grip on Love’ and a song by The Detroit Spinners.”

Some people think “Alison” is a murder ballad. “It isn’t,” Costello told Rolling Stone in 2002. “It’s about disappointing somebody. It’s a thin line between love and hate, as the (New York City R&B group) Persuaders sang.”

Alison

Oh, it’s so funny to be seeing you after so long, girl
And with the way you look, I understand that you were not impressed
But I heard you let that little friend of mine
Take off your party dress

I’m not gonna get too sentimental
Like those other sticky valentines
‘Cause I don’t know if you are loving somebody
I only know it isn’t mine

Allison, I know this world is killing you
Oh, Allison, my aim is true

Well, I see you’ve got a husband now
Did he leave your pretty fingers lying in the wedding cake?
You used to hold him right in your hand
But it took all that he could take

Sometimes I wish that I could stop you from talking
When I hear the silly things that you say
I think somebody better put out the big light
‘Cause I can’t stand to see you this way

Allison, I know this world is killing you
Oh, Allison, my aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true
My aim is true

Elvis Costello & The Attractions – (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding —Powerpop Friday

Great song and great performance by Elvis Costello and the Attractions. The song was written by Nick Lowe and first released in 1974 by the band he was in called Brinsley Schwarz named after their guitar player.

The American and Canadian release of Elvis’s album Armed Forces contained this song. The album peaked at #10 on the Billboard 100 in 1979.

Nick Lowe on writing the song: “I wrote the song in 1973, and the hippie thing was going out, and everyone was starting to take harder drugs and rediscover drink. Alcohol was coming back, and everyone sort of slipped out of the hippie dream and into a more cynical and more unpleasant frame of mind. And this song was supposed to be an old hippie, laughed at by the new thinking, saying to these new smarty-pants types, ‘Look, you think you got it all going on. You can laugh at me, but all I’m saying is, ‘What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?’ And that was the idea of the song. But I think as I started writing it, something told me it was too good idea to make it into a joke. It was originally supposed to be a joke song, but something told me there was a little grain of wisdom in this thing, and not to mess it up.”

From Songfacts

This was written by Nick Lowe and originally recorded by his band Brinsley Schwarz in 1974. Despite a wealth of talent and great deal of promotional support, Brinsley Schwarz never managed a hit, but were very influential to artists like The Clash and Elvis Costello. Nick Lowe became a very successful producer and scored a hit as a solo artist with “Cruel To Be Kind.”

Costello and Lowe were both signed to Stiff Records, and Costello’s version, credited as “Nick Lowe & His Sound” was first released as the B-side of Lowe’s 1978 single “American Squirm.” Costello’s version was more energetic and had more Pop appeal. It was included on American editions of Costello’s 1979 album Armed Forces. With its simple message of unity and love in a troubled world, the song became an anthem for peace and tolerance, and was recorded by many artists, including A Perfect Circle, Lucy Kaplansky, The Flaming Lips and The Wallflowers.

This lifts from the Judee Sill song, “Jesus Was A Cross Maker,” Lowe told The A.V. Club: “I always would ‘fess up that there is one lick in the tune I did steal from Judee Sill. She had a song called ‘Jesus Was A Cross Maker’ at about that time that I really thought was a super song. I haven’t heard that song for many years, but I always think I took a little lick from Judee’s song.”

In 1992, this was covered by Curtis Stigers for the Whitney Houston film, The Bodyguard. The film’s soundtrack album went on to sell 44 million copies worldwide, landing Lowe a large royalty check that financed his less commercial music. Lowe told The Telegraph: “It was a tremendous piece of good fortune. I made an astonishing amount of money from that.”

This appears in the 2003 movie Lost in Translation, where Bill Murray sings a karaoke version.

This was sung by Stephen Colbert, John Legend, Elvis Costello (in a bear suit), Feist, Toby Keith, and Willie Nelson on the TV special A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! after John Legend told Stephen that he (Stephen) didn’t understand Christmas.

(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding

As I walk through
This wicked world
Searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity.
I ask myself

Is all hope lost?
Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?
And each time I feel like this inside,
There’s one thing I want to know:

What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?
And as I walked on
Through troubled times

My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
So where are the strong
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?

Sweet harmony.
‘Cause each time I feel it slippin’ away, just makes me want to cry.
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?

So where are the strong?
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?
Sweet harmony.

‘Cause each time I feel it slippin’ away, just makes me want to cry.
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding? Ohhhh
What’s so funny ’bout peace love & understanding?

 

Favorite Lines from Songs Part 2

I did Part 1 over a year ago and it was a fun post. I’ve been meaning to do this again. I remembered some of the lyrics suggested by my friends hanspostcard and allthingsthriller on the last post…I have added those to list. Thanks to both of you.

I saw her from the corner when she turned and doubled back, And started walkin toward a coffee colored Cadillac… Chuck Berry

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Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose, And nothin’ ain’t worth nothin’ but it’s free Janis Joplin/Kris Kristofferson

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And I need you more than want you, And I want you for all time Jimmy Webb

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Doesn’t have a point of view / Knows not where he’s going to / Isn’t he a bit like you and me…The Beatles

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Met myself a coming county welfare line, I was feeling strung out, Hung out on the line…Creedence Clearwater Revival

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And you’ve got to learn to live with what you can’t rise above…Bruce Springsteen

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He’d end up blowing all his wages for the week / All for a cuddle and a peck on the cheek…Kinks

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Well it’s too late, tonight, To drag the past out into the light, We’re one, but we’re not the same, We get to carry each other, Carry each other…U2

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You can blow out a candle but you can’t blow out a firePeter Gabriel

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Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see…The Beatles

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Where you drink champagne and it tastes just like cherry cola, C-O-L-A Cola…Kinks

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It was gravity which pulled us down and destiny which broke us apart…Bob Dylan
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A drunkard’s dream if I ever did see oneThe Band

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And the sign said, The words of the prophets, are written on the subway walls, and tenement halls… Simon and Garfunkel

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I lit up from Reno, I was trailed by twenty hounds, Didn’t get to sleep that night
Till the morning came around…Grateful Dead

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When I said that I was lying, I might have been lyingElvis Costello
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Though nothing will keep us together/We can be heroes/Just for one day…David Bowie
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Lose your dreams and you. Will lose your mind…Rolling Stones

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It’s a town full of losers, I’m pulling out of here to win…Bruce Springsteen

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The motor cooled down, the heat went down, and that’s when I heard that highway sound…Chuck Berry

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We were the first band to vomit at the bar, and find the distance to the stage too far…The Who

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