FT Arts

The origin of Deep Purple’s 1971 hit is almost as famous as its instantly recognisable guitar riff.

Credits: Parlophone UK, Thompson Music P/L


Originally sung by slaves, the spiritual became a jazz and blues hit in the 1960s, with a cover by the British blues-rock musician Graham Bond.

Credits: Repertoire Records, Isis, Edition Ahorn, UMC


Fiona Sturges follows Patti Smith’s lustful 1970s song of youthful abandon.

Credits: Arista, Columbia, Coqueiro Verde Records, Stun Volume


Richard Clayton on how Tracy Chapman’s searing ballad of low income life carried her to global acclaim.

Credits: Elektra, King Tubby’s Music, Virgin EMI


Boney M’s unlikely disco ballad was a hit on both sides of the iron curtain but was banned by Soviet authorities. Harriet Fitch-Little explores its indestructible appeal.

Credits: Ariola Express, Century Media, Super Cassettes Industries, MCI


Bruce Springsteen’s bleak ballad of American life has been promoted by politicians from Ronald Reagan to Donald Trump. David Honigmann examines the song’s fraught relationship with power.

Credit: Columbia



Janis Joplin achieved a posthumous No.1 hit with a rueful tale of love and loss, written by her old flame, Kris Kristofferson, which in turn helped launch him to stardom. Richard Clayton follows the song’s bittersweet success.

Credits: Columbia/Legacy, UMC, Top Town Records, Rhino/Warner Bros, Play Digital, Ricordi


Billy Holiday’s secular hymn was born out of a blazing family row and its swaying melody went on to become a jazz standard, with versions by Tony Bennett and Sonny Rollins. Mike Hobart follows its history.

Credits: Jazz Moon, Saga, Columbia/Legacy, Island, Geffen Gold Mine


Kate Bush retreated to a farmhouse to craft her richly layered song of love and insecurity. It reaffirmed her place as a pre-eminent songwriter and went on to feature in the London Olympics closing ceremony. Richard Clayton follows its history.

Credits: Noble & Brite, Beams, Frontiers Records, Elevator Lady, Italians Do It Better, Obsolete Media Objects


Before Julie Andrews’ famous film performance, John Coltrane had turned this Broadway number into an off-kilter jazz classic. Mike Hobart charts its history.

Credits: RCA, FourMatt, Hallmark, EMI, Decca, Universal.