Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Top 200 Songs of the 60's*: #10 to #1

We hope you have enjoyed The Top 200 Songs of the 60's*.  As we near completion, we wrap it up into a bow with the Top 10 for the decade: 

"Can't Buy Me Love"

The first of the 10 Best of the 60's* was one of the first singles the Beatles released; in fact, it was one of the famous five that gave the group each of the Top 5 songs on April 4, 1964.
Credited to Lennon-McCartney as most of the group's songs were, this was a Paul McCartney song.  As for the message in the song, Paul said, in Keith Badman's book The Beatles Off The Record, "The idea behind it was that all these material possessions are all very well, but they won't buy me what I really want."
The song was unusual in that rather than record it at Abbey Road Studio in London as was customary, the Beatles recorded it at EMI's Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris, France.  The Beatles were performing 18 days of concerts at the Olympia Theatre in Paris, and EMI wanted the group to record "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" in German for release in that country.
The Beatles recorded the two songs with studio time to spare, so they recorded the backing track and vocals to "Can't Buy Me Love".  But after listening to the first take, the group decided they didn't need their trademark vocal harmonies.  When they got back to London, McCartney's final vocal was overdubbed at Abbey Road, along with a modified guitar solo from George Harrison.  "Can't Buy Me Love" is the only English-language Beatles song to be recorded outside the U.K.
McCartney also played bass on the song, John Lennon played acoustic rhythm guitar, and Ringo Starr played drums, and Norman Smith played the hi-hat.  George Martin produced the song for Parlophone Records in the U.K. and Capitol in the U.S. 
"Can't Buy Me Love" was #1 for five weeks as part of that famous group of five Beatles songs mentioned above that included "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "She Loves You", "Please Please Me", and "Twist And Shout".  In addition to their own, the song also was out the same time as "My Guy", "Hello, Dolly!" and "Fun Fun Fun".
"Can't Buy Me Love" not only went Gold, but 45 million albums have now been sold which included the song.


"She Loves You"
These are the cream of the crop of one of the best decades of the Rock Era.  And we have another great one here.
On the radio at the same time as the #10 song, the two are essentially "neck and neck".  While some people make the mistake of ranking songs simply by "weeks at #1" ("Can't Buy Me Love" was five weeks at #1 while "She Loves You" was #1 for two), we don't.  We delve into it a little deeper, and what we found through our research is that most believe "She Loves You" has stood the test of time slightly better.  We will expand upon that further below. 
John Lennon and Paul McCartney credited songs to Lennon-McCartney throughout their partnership, even though most if not all of a song would be written by one or the other.  However, "She Loves You" was truly written by both; in fact, Lennon identified this song as well as "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "From Me To You" as the three most collaborative Lennon/McCartney songs.
That said, author Ian MacDonald noted:  "The opening lines follow speech inflections and stay within the compass of their chord - obviously Lennon's work".  McCartney said that they got their idea from Bobby Rydell's "Forget Him":

"as often happens, you think of one song when you write another ... I'd planned an 'answering song' where a couple of us would sing 'she loves you' and the other ones would answer 'yeah yeah'.  We decided that was a crummy idea but at least we then had the idea of a song called 'She Loves You'.  So we sat in the hotel bedroom for a few hours and wrote it—John and I, sitting on twin beds with guitars."

The following day, the famous songwriting duo completed the song at McCartney's family home on Forthlin Road in Liverpool, England.  Excited, they played it on acoustic guitars to McCartney's father Jim immediately after they had finished:   

"We went into the living room [and said] 'Dad, listen to this.  What do you think?  And he said 'That's very nice son, but there's enough of these Americanisms around.  Couldn't you sing 'She loves you, yes, yes, yes!'.  At which point we collapsed in a heap and said 'No, Dad, you don't quite get it!'".

The Beatles recorded "She Loves You" at EMI Studios in London on Abbey Road on July 1, 1963, less than a week after it was written.  Lennon and McCartney alternated lead vocals, with Lennon also playing rhythm guitar and Paul bass, while George Harrison provided lead guitar and harmony vocals, and Ringo Starr played a killer drum beat.  The song starts with a two-count of Starr's drums, and "his fills are an important part of the record throughout," wrote Nicholas Schaffner in his book The Beatles Forever.  Schaffner also pointed out that "The electric instruments are mixed higher than before, especially McCartney's bass, adding to the sense of musical power that the record provides."  George Martin produced the song for release. 
There are no details regarding the number of takes of the recording; it was standard practice at EMI then to erase the two-track recordings after the master had been made to press to records.  Thus, only the mono master exists today, although several EMI affiliates have made "mock stereo mixes" of the song.
The EMI division in Germany felt that the only way the Beatles could sell in that country would be if they recorded German versions.  They were wrong, of course, but nevertheless, the Beatles recorded the German version of this ("Sie Liebt Dich") on January 29, 1964. 

By the day before "She Loves You" went on sale in 1963 (on Parlophone Records), there were 500,000 advanced orders for the single in the U.K.  By November, sales were well over one million.  "She Loves You" spent an incredible 18 weeks in the British Top three.   
When first released in the U.S. in 1963, "She Loves You" (on Swan Records) failed to chart, but unlike in America, the Capitol Records division in Canada released the song.  It first hit the Top Five in 1963, and when Beatlemania took hold early in 1964, it returned to the Canadian chart, where it spent nine weeks at #1. 
But you can't keep a classic record down.  Jack Paar played a video of "She Loves You" on his television show on January 3, 1964.  Up to this time, the Beatles had appeared on U.S. news programs featuring their success in England, but this was the first time they had been featured on a television talk show in America. 
When "I Want To Hold Your Hand" broke the group in America, Swan re-released "She Loves You" to hope to capitalize on that success.  Boy were they right.  The song charted the week after "I Want To Hold Your Hand", then patiently waited at #2 for four weeks before getting a two-week turn at the top.  Although its #1 reign was three weeks shorter than "Can't Buy Me Love", "She Loves You" remained in the Top 10 for 11 weeks, to just 6 for the former.  And "She Loves You" spent the four weeks at #2, while the only other week in the Top 10 not at #1 for "Can't Buy Me Love" was at #5. 
So if one takes the lazy approach of only ranking songs based on weeks at #1, they're going to put "Can't Buy Me Love" ahead.  But as you can see above, the overall chart performance even at the time was better for "She Loves You".  Plus, "She Loves You" more directly competed with the dominant song "I Want To Hold Your Hand"; it was on its way down when "Can't Buy Me Love" rocketed to the top. 
"She Loves You" also competed with "Louie, Louie" by the Kingsmen, "Twist And Shout", "Please Please Me", "Hello, "Dolly!", "My Guy", "Fun Fun Fun", and "Dawn".  "She Loves You" has helped sell 43 million albums.    

When the Beatles first played The Ed Sullivan Show, they accepted a lower payment than was common, since they were unknown.  But when the audience was found to be the largest in U.S. history for the Beatles' performance (over 73 million people), Sullivan began including regular rock & roll performers on his show, such as the Rolling Stones, the Supremes, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Santana.

"She Loves You" was played at the end of the concert sequence of the movie A Hard Day's Night, although it was not included on the soundtrack.  
"She Loves You" remains the top Beatles seller in the U.K. (according to the Official Charts Company), and it was the #1 seller of all-time in the U.K. until 1977.  It still ranks as the eighth-best seller of all-time with over 1.9 million in the U.K. alone.
"She Loves You" gave the Beatles their signature phrase of the time, the iconic "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah".  After the group's acclaimed performance at the Royal Variety Performance on November 4, 1963, The Daily Mirror gave a thumbs-up editorial entitled "Yeah!  Yeah!  Yeah!".  Several other newspapers used the phrase in stories about the group.
In 1975, authors Roy Carr and Tony Tyler wrote in their book The Beatles:  An Illustrated Record that "If a future archivist were to select one single tune to characterize the Beatles' appeal and the stylistic devices for which they became world famous, he would be forced to choose 'She Loves You'."
The legacy of the song is undeniable.  Bob Dylan said several decades ago that the Beatles' early melodies and harmonies were wonderful, that their chords were outrageous, and that they were doing things in music nobody else was.  Roger McGuinn of the Byrds said that "The Beatles used folk-rock chords in their early songs and that they invented folk-rock without even knowing it!"  McGuinn was inspired to begin playing a 12-string guitar after he saw and heard Harrison playing one in the movie A Hard Day's Night.
Even in December of 1963, the brilliance of the Beatles was being noticed.  After Lennon and McCartney had written the music for a ballet called Mods and Rockers, Richard Buckle, a noted ballet and classical music critic from The London Sunday Times called John and Paul the two greatest song composers since Beethoven.
High praise indeed.


"Get Back"
The third of three consecutive Beatles songs, unlike the first two, which are from their early years, was one of their last great songs.
The Beatles story of course has a very sad ending.  The frolicking, happy-go-lucky pals that were the Fab Four in 1964 were feuding, bickering, and doped-up in 1969.  They had stopped touring in 1967, and essentially were just going through the motions by this time.  In fact, George Harrison brought in keyboardist Billy Preston to the sessions to deter the constant bickering in the group, especially between old friends John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
But despite this backdrop, the Beatles were still able to record an amazing record.  It was born out of old-fashioned jamming on January 9th while the group rehearsed at Twickenham Studios.  McCartney began introducing lyrics to the jam.  At first, McCartney borrowed the line "Get back to the place you should be" from Harrison's song "Sour Milk Sea" (eventually recorded by Jackie Lomax), then changed it to "Get back to where you once belonged."
According to the book The Beatles by Bob Spitz, "the playfulness of the melody" attracted Lennon's attention, and he "collaborated with Paul on the lyrics".
Annoyed with Lennon and McCartney's arguing, Harrison temporarily quit the group, leaving the sessions.  He saw Preston in concert with Ray Charles, and asked him if he would come by the studio the next day, where Preston played on "Get Back" and "Don't Let Me Down". 
McCartney sang lead and played bass, Lennon played lead guitar and sang backing vocals, Harrison played rhythm guitar, Ringo Starr played drums, and Preston played electric piano.  The group recorded ten takes on January 23, then perfected the song with about 14 takes on the 27th.  The song now had a false ending and reprise coda.  The group then jammed some older songs before returning to "Get Back" one last time.
Take 11 was considered to be the best, but the song finished without the restart.  On the session tape, Harrison commented "we missed that end"--this is the version that was included on the Let It Be...Naked album.  The following day, the group tried to recapture the previous day's performance with several new takes that included the coda.   While these were good, the Beatles did not feel they were at the level of Take 11.
On April 4, the Beatles asked Jeff Jarrett of EMI to remix the song, but the group was unhappy with the result.  McCartney and Glyn Johns tried again at Olympic Studios on April 7.  They made an edited version with Take 11 from January 27 and the "best coda" from the following day.  It was studio mastery at its best, with the edit being so perfect that it sounds like a continuous take, achieving the ending to "Get Back" that they wanted. 
The Beatles performed "Get Back" and other songs from their upcoming album on the roof of Apple Studios in Savile Row in London on January 30.  The concert created quite a stir on the streets of London, and some square office workers complained.   Police spoke to Mal Evans, the Beatles' road manager, who turned off the amplifiers of Lennon and Harrison.  An order was given to the group to stop playing or they would be arrested.  The Beatles decided that being arrested by London police would be the perfect end to the movie. 
Harrison switched the amplifiers back on, insisting they finish the song.  The Beatles then played "Get Back" two more times, waiting and hoping for the police to arrest them.  The third time through, McCartney ad-libbed, "You've been playing on the roofs again, and that's no good, and you know your Mummy doesn't like that ... she gets angry ... she's gonna have you arrested!  Get back!"  This third performance of "Get Back" can be heard on Anthology 3.  It is the last live performance the Beatles ever did.  To their disappointment, the arrest didn't happen. 
George Martin produced the song for release on Apple Records.  Since the group that became famous playing for hours in clubs early in their career had not toured for years, "Get Back" was advertised as "The Beatles as nature intended".
"Get Back" topped the U.K. charts for six weeks, and was #1 for five weeks in the United States.  It also reached #1 in Ireland, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, France, West Germany, and Mexico. 
"Get Back" has sold over two million copies in the U.S. alone.    It gave the Beatles 17 #1 songs, topping Elvis Presley's Rock Era record.  They would go on to achieve another three. 

"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction"
Rolling Stones

The song that currently ranks as The #7 Song of the 60's* comes from the group that has a reputation for having serious trouble at their concerts.  In 1965, the Rolling Stones played in Clearwater, Florida.  There were only 3,000 people in attendance, and 200 of them starting fighting police officers.  (I know, just the kind of fans every aspiring group can do without).  The concert was canceled as a result after just four songs.
That night, lead guitarist Keith Richards woke up in room at the Jack Tar Harrison Hotel with a guitar riff and the thought "Can't get no satisfaction".  He recorded the part on a portable tape deck and brought it to the studio that week.
According  to lead singer Mick Jagger, Richards wasn't immediately sold on the song: 

It sounded like a Folk song when we first started working on it and Keith didn't like it much, he didn't want it to be a single, he didn't think it would do very well. I think Keith thought it was a bit basic. I don't think he really listened to it properly. He was too close to it and just felt it was a silly kind of riff.

To create the distortion effect you hear, Richards ran his guitar through a Gibson Fuzz Box.  But even that was something of an accident.  Keith Richards:

It was the first (fuzztone box) Gibson made.  I was screaming for more distortion: This riff's really gotta hang hard and long, and we burnt the amps up and turned the s--t up, and it still wasn't right. And then Ian Stewart went around the corner to Eli Wallach's Music City or something and came around with a distortion box. Try this.  It was as off-hand as that.  It was just from nowhere.  I never got into the thing after that, either.  It had a very limited use, but it was just the right time for that song.


Jagger wrote the remainder of the lyrics save for the title.  The Stones first recorded "Satisfaction" at Chicago's Chess Studios, but re-recorded the song at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California, just five days after Richards first hatched the idea.  Brian Jones played acoustic guitar, Bill Wyman was on bass, and Charlie Watts was on drums.  Jack Nitzsche played piano on the track, and also played tambourine because he thought Jagger's attempt at it "lacked soul".  Andrew Loog Oldham and  Nitzsche produced the song for London Records in the U.S. and Canada, and Decca in the U.K.
"Satisfaction" made the Rolling Stones stars in America.  The single went Gold within two months.  "Satisfaction" reached #1 for four weeks, in the face of competition from "Mr. Tambourine Man", "I Can't Help Myself", "Ticket To Ride", "Wooly Bully", "I Got You Babe", "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers, "Help!", and "Like A Rolling Stone".  "Satisfaction" has helped sell 18 million albums since its release and has received three million airplays. 
Newsweek has referred to the opening riff in "Satisfaction" as "five notes that shook the world".  In 1999, BMI named "Satisfaction" as the 91st-most performed song of the 20th century, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame placed it in The 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.  In 2006, the United States Library of Congress added it to the National Recording Registry.


"Mrs. Robinson"
Simon & Garfunkel

We now have the great song at #6*.

Paul Simon's lyrics struck a chord with people who yearned for heroes of decency ("Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, a nation turns its lonely eyes to you...).  Of course, for people who hear the words now, that yearning is stronger, in an age of athletes who are clueless on how to conduct themselves with class.

Simon wrote one of his best career songs in "Mrs. Robinson", which he and Art Garfunkel recorded at Columbia Studios in Los Angeles.  Famed studio musicians Hal Blaine (drums) and Larry Knechtel (bass) played on the song.  Simon, Garfunkel, and Roy Halee produced it.  

"Mrs. Robinson" hit #1 in one of the best times for music in the Rock Era, with songs like "Love Is Blue", "Honey", "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay", "Lady Madonna", "This Guy's In Love With You", "The Horse", and "Scarborough Fair" out at the same time.  "Mrs. Robinson" won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year. 


"Light My Fire"
Lead guitarist Robby Krieger wrote most of the lyrics for The #5 Song of the 60's*.  Lead singer Jim Morrison contributed most of the second verse, while Ray Manzarek came up with the organ intro and famous organ solo for "Light My Fire".  Manzarek has said that the intro was inspired by Two and Three Part Inventions by Johann Sebastian Bach.
 When this masterpiece was finished, Elektra Records felt it (at 6:50) was too long to get play on the radio, so the guitar solos were edited down.  Just as is the case with "American Pie", "Stairway To Heaven" and "Hotel California", when a song is this great, it doesn't matter how long it is, and radio stations played the long version anyway.  What this did do is force fans to buy the album to get the long version, so it did spur sales there.   
Jaz Holzman, founder of Elektra Records, said to Mojo magazine:

We had that huge problem with the time length - seven-and-a-half minutes.  figure out how to cut it.  Finally I said to Rothchild (Paul, producer of the song), Nobody can cut it but you.  When he cut out the solo, there were screams.  Except from Jim.  Jim said, 'Imagine a kid in Minneapolis hearing even the cut version over the radio, it's going to turn his head around.'  So they said, 'Go ahead, release it.'  We released it with the full version on the other side.

John Densmore played drums, while Manzarek also played keyboard bass on the song.  "Light My Fire" went to #1 (the first #1 ever for Elektra Records) against incredible competition:  "Groovin'", Aretha Franklin's "Respect", "Windy" by the Association, "Ode To Billie Joe", "The Letter", "All You Need Is Love", "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", and "Reflections".  The single sold over one million copies. 



And now we feature Song #4*.
In their early years, John Lennon and Paul McCartney collaborated on many Beatles songs, but by 1965, most of their work was written by one or the other.  According to biographers of the group, Paul thought of the tune for "Yesterday" in a dream.  Upon waking, he rushed to the piano and played the tune for fear of forgetting it. 
McCartney thought of the lyrics while he and Jane Asher were driving from Lisbon to Albufeira.  The two were staying at a villa owned by Bruce Welch, guitarist with the Shadows.  When Welch was packing to leave, McCartney asked him if he had a guitar because he was working on a song.  According to Welch, "He borrowed my guitar and started playing the song we all now know as 'Yesterday'".
More unusual, though, is that McCartney was the only Beatle to play on the song (Paul played an acoustic guitar.)  It was the first time a Beatle recorded a song without the others.  A string quartet was hired to come into Abbey Road Studios and play on the song (Tony Gilbert and Sidney Sac on violin, Kenneth Essex on viola, and Francisco Gabarro on cello).  George Martin produced the song for release on Capitol Records.  It was not released in the U.K. until 1996. 
The song shot up to #1 and remained there for four weeks, fighting off songs such as "Help!", "I Hear A Symphony", "Like A Rolling Stone", "I Got You Babe", "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers, "Eve Of Destruction", and "California Girls".  It sold one million copies pretty quickly and has helped sell 35 million albums to date.   
"Yesterday" was nominated for Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards.  For years, it was the most-played song of all-time.  In 1999, BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.) announced that "Yesterday" had been played seven million times, and ranked third only to "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and "Never My Love".  "Yesterday" is still in the all-time Top 10 in radio airplay. 
"Yesterday" is one of the most covered songs of all-time.  There are over 3,000 versions recorded according to The Guinness Book Of World Records.  In 1997, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.


"Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In"
5th Dimension

This monumental classic at #3* was written by James Rado, Gerome Ragni and Galt MacDermot for the Rock Opera Hair.  Bones Howe, who had engineered "Up-Up And Away" for the Fifth Dimension, and produced "Windy" for the Association and "It Ain't Me Babe" for the Turtles, became interested in the song "Aquarius" when the 5th Dimension told him they wanted to record it. 

"The thing that bothered me about it was that there'd been other releases of 'Aquarius,'" said Bones, "and none had done anything, so I was concerned about what we would do that would be any different.  I went to see the show and there's a place where they do "The Flesh Failures" and at the end of the song is just a three bar repeated thing of 'Let the sunshine in' where Ragni was swinging across the stage on a chandelier and there was all kinds of craziness going on.  That really stayed with me and I came out of the theater saying, I wonder if I could stick that on the end of 'Aquarius' and make that the ending.  So I went back to the hotel and I called the publisher.  I mean you don't mess with the music from a Broadway show.  I started my professional career in 1956 and I knew a lot about what you can and what you can't do with songs.  I said, look, the 5th Dimension would like to record 'Aquarius,' but I'd like to make it a medley and I'd like to use the last three bars of 'The Flesh Failures' and I don't want to do it without permission.  So he said okay, you can go ahead and do it."


But that was just the beginning of the challenge.  Howe then had to figure out how to fit the two songs together, since they couldn't sing both songs in the same key.  There had to be a lot of modulation, and an instrumental arrangement mixed in to make it possible to change keys.  Howe had the song "Lost In The Stars" in his head as an example of what he was trying to do.  Bill Holman then wrote the woodwinds and strings part that opens the song. 
"Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" was recorded in Los Angeles, and then the 5th Dimension recorded their vocals in Las Vegas, where they were opening for Frank Sinatra.  Billy Davis, Jr. sang the incredible second part of the medley, with Florence LaRue, Marilyn McCoo, Lamonte McLemore, and Ron Townson providing vocals in only the way that the 5th Dimension can.  Dennis Budimir, Mike Deasy, Bill Fulton, and Tommy Tedesco played guitar, with bassist Joe Osborn, Hal Blaine on drums and percussion, Milt Holland playing percussion, and Pete Jolly, Larry Knechtel, and Jimmy Rowles on keyboards.  Once again, Bones Howe:

We were working in that studio in Las Vegas where you used to have to stop when the train went by.  Once when we were doing practice runs while the train passed Billy started that riff at the end 'oh let the sunshine…' so I said, wait, let me put that on a separate track at the end.  There were a lot of happy accidents making the record.  

The Age of Aquarius is when the sun is in the constellation Aquarius during the springtime.  There is uncertainty as to when this will happen; one estimate says the year 2448, another in 2597.  
"Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" captured the prestigious Record of the Year award at the Grammys, marking the second such award for the 5th Dimension, following their statue for "Up-Up And Away". 


"I Want To Hold Your Hand"

And we are up to #2*.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote this song in the basement of Jane Asher, Paul's girlfriend.  McCartney had recently moved into the house at 57 Wimpole Street in London as a guest of Dr. Richard and Margaret Asher.  Lennon and McCartney used the location as a new base for writing.  Asher's brother was Peter Asher, who went on to form the duo Peter & Gordon and later become a famous producer.  Asher told about his remembrances of the song's beginning:

My mother had a practice room that she used to give private oboe lessons when she wasn't teaching at The Royal Academy, where she was a professor.  There was just a piano, and an upright chair and a sofa.  Paul used that room to write in, from time to time.  One afternoon John came over, while I was upstairs in my room.  The two of them were in the basement for an hour or so, and Paul called me down to listen to a song they had just finished.  I went downstairs and sat on the sofa, and they sat side by side, on the piano bench.  That's where they played 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' for the first time anywhere.  They asked me what I thought. I said, 'I think it's very good.

The Beatles began recording "I Want To Hold Your Hand" on October 17, 1963 at the EMI Studios in London.  They needed seventeen takes to get the sound they were happy with.  The group was experimenting with organ-sounding guitars, a sound that was achieved by extreme compression on Lennon's rhythm guitar.  "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was the first song the Beatles recorded on four-track equipment, having recorded earlier songs in mono.  George Martin mixed the song on the 21st.
Lennon played rhythm guitar, McCartney played bass, while the two traded lead vocals, George Harrison played lead guitar, and Ringo Starr played drums.  All four Beatles contributed to the handclaps on the record.  Martin produced the song for release on Parlophone Records in the U.K. and Capitol in the United States.
The Beatles recorded a German version of "I Want To Hold Your Hand", translated for them by musician Camillo Felgen of Luxembourg.  The group recorded "Komm, gib mir deine Hand" on January 29, 1964.  It was common in those days for British artists to record new versions of their hits in other languages, trying to get a hit in that language before an indigenous artist recorded a version themselves. 
Prior to the record's official release, a disc jockey in Washington, D.C. got ahold of the 45 and played it on air.  He had obtained the record from a stewardess.  He found out quickly what the rest of America would discover--it was a huge hit with his listeners.  The song spread fast to Chicago and St. Louis, and because of this, Capitol Records made the decision to release the song on December 26, two weeks ahead of schedule.  
The Beatles had a huge celebration when they learned the song reached #1 in the U.S.  "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was still #1 when they came to America in February for The Ed Sullivan Show.  In the U.K., the song had to wait for a turn at the top as "She Loves You" had gone back up to #1.  This despite the fact that "I Want To Hold Your Hand" had advance orders of one million prior to its release.  As Mark Lewisohn, one of the world's leading historians on the Beatles, explained,

She Loves You' had already sold an industry-boggling three quarters of a million before these fresh converts were pushing it into seven figures.  And at this very moment, just four weeks before Christmas, with everyone connected to the music and relevant retail industries already lying prone in paroxysms of unimaginable delight, EMI pulled the trigger and released 'I Want To Hold Your Hand'.  And then it was bloody pandemonium".

"I Want To Hold Your Hand" landed at six weeks at #1 in the U.K., and seven in the United States.  Demand was insatiable; in the first three days, a quarter of a million copies had already been sold in the U.S. Capitol, which of course had refused to release previous Beatles songs, was unprepared for the deluge.  They were so overloaded that they contracted part of the pressing copies to both Columbia Records and RCA.
"I Want To Hold Your Hand" sold better in its first 10 days of release than any other British single in history, and it remains the top-selling Beatles single in the U.S., going over 12 million copies.  It not only launched Beatlemania; it was the beginning of the "British Invasion" in the 60's, with numerous British acts such as the Rolling Stones, the Dave Clark Five, the Kinks, the Animals, and Herman's Hermits enjoying tremendous success.
The Beatles not only were changing music forever, they were also changing the structure of the music business.  Up to that time, singles were the item that sold, not albums.  But the Beatles' album Meet The Beatles! actually outsold the single.  Two months after its release, the album had sold over 3.5 million copies to 3.4 million for the single.
Bob Dylan said, "They were doing things nobody was doing. Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous, and their harmonies made it all valid."
"I Want To Hold Your Hand" was nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards.  It has since been included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll, and is in the Grammy Hall of Fame.  In 1999, the Recording Industry Association of America named "I Want To Hold Your Hand" as one of the Songs of the Century.
One fan of the group had this to say about the song:

This song has such a clean clear melody,a beautiful melody,that is why it has an enduring quality.  The song is so simple yet so complex for it's time.  The sound of it has a universal appeal.  What a great way musically to start the British invasion!

"Hey Jude"

And after listening to 199 songs, we have arrived at the song which has the most going for it, The #1 Song of the 60's*.  At Inside The Rock Era, we look at a multitude of factors:  strength of a song at the time, the competition the song faced at the time and how that competition has stood up over time, single sales, album sales, radio airplay, the ability of a song to stand the test of time, overall popularity determined by record research of the public, and awards won. 

After going through all that, this song is hands-down the top song of the decade--it's not very close, and we'll explain why later in this write-up. 
Paul McCartney wrote the song "Hey Jules" as a way to comfort John Lennon's five-year-old son Julian, whose parents were getting a divorce.  Paul was the only Beatle to reach out to (Lennon's wife) Cynthia and Julian during this time.  While on his way to the Lennon home in Surrey, England, McCartney thought about Julian and how difficult life could be as a child of divorce.
McCartney wrote the line, "Don't make it bad, take a sad song and make it better" thinking about how he could encourage the boy.  Paul changed it to "Hey Jude" because it was easier to sing, with "Jude" being inspired by the character "Jud" in the musical Oklahoma!  McCartney explained:
I started with the idea 'Hey Jules,' which was Julian, don't make it bad, take a sad song and make it better.  Hey, try and deal with this terrible thing.  I knew it was not going to be easy for him.  I always feel sorry for kids in divorces ..
Lennon's former wife Cynthia reflected on the moment:
I was truly surprised when, one afternoon, Paul arrived on his own.  I was touched by his obvious concern for our welfare ... On the journey down he composed 'Hey Jude' in the car.  I will never forget Paul's gesture of care and concern in coming to see us.
Julian Lennon did not find out that "Hey Jude" was written for him until he was a teenager.  About that time, he reconnected with his dad, who he would go to see in New York City from time to time until his death. 
Although this song was all Paul's, all of the pair's songs were credited to Lennon-McCartney.  Paul had great memories of his interaction with Lennon concerning this song, as he expressed to the Observer Music Monthly in 2007:
I have fond flashbacks of John writing - he'd scribble it down real quick, desperate to get back to the guitar.  But I knew at that moment that this was going to be a good collaboration. Like when I did 'Hey Jude.'  I was going through it for him and Yoko when I was living in London.  I had a music room at the top of the house and I was playing 'Hey Jude' when I got to the line 'The movement you need is on your shoulder' and I turned round to John and said: 'I'll fix that if you want.'  And he said: 'You won't, you know, that's a great line, that's the best line in it.'  Now that's the other side of a great collaborator - don't touch it, man, that's OK.

McCartney said "...when I play that song, that's the line when I think of John, and sometimes I get a little emotional during that moment."
When Paul finished his masterpiece, he played the song for other musicians and friends, among them, Ron Griffith of Badfinger:  "Paul walked over to the grand piano and said, 'Hey lads, have a listen', and he sat down and gave us a full concert rendition of 'Hey Jude'. We were gobsmacked."
The Beatles recorded 25 takes of "Hey Jude" at Abbey Road Studios in London on July 29-30 of 1968.  They were intended as "rough drafts", since the group wanted to record the master at Trident Studios, which had an eight-track recording machine (Abbey Road at the time only had four-tracks).
McCartney sang lead and played piano and bass guitar, Lennon (acoustic guitar), George Harrison (electric guitar) and Ringo Starr (drums and tambourine) all sang backing vocals.  "Hey Jude" was completed on August 1 after mixing in additional overdubs, which included a 36-piece orchestra, which was scored by producer George Martin.
The orchestra consisted of 10 violins, three violas, three cellos, two double basses, two flutes, two clarinets, one bass clarinet, one bassoon, one contrabassoon, four trumpets, two horns, four trombones, and one percussion instrument.  Although EMI archives did not record their names, it has been established that Bobby Kok was one of the cellists, and Bill Jackman and Brian Warren were two of the flautists.
Original plans were to release "Hey Jude" as the B-side to "Revolution", but the prevailing notion within the group was that this was the better song; they recognized it as a classic. 
"Hey Jude" was the first song released on Apple Records, the record label owned by The Beatles.  It was the longest-running single, at 7:11, that the Beatles recorded.  When "Hey Jude" went to #1, it was a lesson for radio programmers who up to that time were adamant that songs should be three minutes, four tops, because listeners wouldn't stick around longer than that.  "Hey Jude" proved them wrong; those programmers discovered that listeners would indeed stick around if they liked the song.  This sea change paved the way for other long songs such as "American Pie", "Layla", "Stairway To Heaven", "Nights In White Satin" and "Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding".
"Hey Jude" debuted at #10, becoming the first single in history to reach the Top 10 in its first week.  Nowadays, of course, that means nothing, but back in the days of heavy competition, it was a monumental achievement.  "Hey Jude" went to #1 after just three weeks, becoming the 16th #1 song for the Beatles.  They thus tied Elvis Presley's record at the time for the most career #1's, then broke it with four more before their breakup.
"Hey Jude" was not just a temporary hit--it remained at #1 for nine weeks to set a Rock Era record that stood until Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life" in 1977.  "Hey Jude" reached #1 in 17 countries, and by the end of 1968 had sold over five million copies.  The song has now gone over 10 million copies in the United States alone.
"Hey Jude" was nominated for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal at the Grammy Awards.  As the music industry at the time was still dominated by older, Easy Listening artists, the nominations for a rock group were significant.
"Hey Jude" spent an incredible 14 of its 19 total weeks in the Top 10, more than any other song in The Top 200*.  But a study of the competition at the time bears out that the song didn't just have its amazing run in the absence of other good songs.  Here are just some of the songs "Hey Jude" faced in its historic run:  Marvin Gaye's classic "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", "People Got To Be Free" by the Rascals, Sly & the Family Stone's "Everyday People",  "Born To Be Wild" and "Magic Carpet Ride" by Steppenwolf, "Hello, I Love You" and "Touch Me" by the Doors, "For Once In My Life" by Stevie Wonder, "Love Child" by the Supremes, "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell, and "Both Sides Now" by Judy Collins. 
Besides its single sales, "Hey Jude" has helped sell 37 million albums.  Despite its length of 7:11, that many radio programmers didn't like, "Hey Jude" has now been played over three million times.
So again, the song has everything going for it--tons of single sales, tons of album sales, an historic debut in the Top 10, a quick rise to #1 against great competition, a record run at the time for weeks at #1, the most weeks in the Top 10 of any song in The Top 200*, three million radio airplays, and Grammy nominations for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Performance by a Group.  It certainly is one of the most enduring song from the decade, still receiving considerable airplay year after year.
A significant factor that Inside The Rock Era looks at is record research, which goes to members of the public.  Music fans are asked their opinions on songs, and the results are compiled based on a statistically significant sample.  By the way, you won't find Rolling Stone magazine stooping to the level of believing your opinion matters more than theirs.  While we utilize that information, and produce the results here on this website, you won't find many (I dare say any) that go as in depth as we do in producing these specials.  If you appreciate the work, sound off in forums and tell your friends!
What my long history of record research shows is that "Hey Jude" is not only the most popular Beatles song, but the best of the 60's as well.  Is it #1 for all-time?  You'll have to wait and see next spring when Inside The Rock Era once again presents The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*, our signature music special.  
In summary, a #1 song for any time period should have a lot going for it, or it shouldn't be among those considered.  We pointed out the multitude of positives for "Hey Jude" that showed it came out a clear #1 for The Top 200 Songs of the 60's*.  But what about its importance, its relevance, its composition as we study the song in songcraft?   For this, we have strived to include quotes from music fans and critics alike in this music special, and as always, it is interesting to see what they say.  Music analyst Allan Pollack (Notes on Hey Jude) had high praise for "Hey Jude":'s such a good illustration of two compositional lessons—how to fill a large canvas with simple means, and how to use diverse elements such as harmony, bassline, and orchestration to articulate form and contrast.  "Hey Jude" is unusual for a long song because it uses a binary form that combines a fully developed, hymn-like song together with an extended, mantra-like jam on a simple chord progression.
Pollack described the song's long coda and fadeout as "an astonishingly transcendental effect."  Some people don't like that long chorus; others love it for just that reason.  Fellow Beatles mate John Lennon said 'Hey Jude' was "one of his [Paul's] masterpieces."
The opinions of fellow musicians and critics are interesting, but what ultimately matters are what the public thinks.  One fan in Belleville, New Jersey said, "This song is a milestone and a masterpiece in pop culture and pop music."  Another in Norfolk, Virginia wrote, "The song is timeless.  The genius of Paul McCartney is unprecedented."
We know that songs like "Yesterday" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles consistently rank among the best of all-time.  And our research was reflected in this factoid--on November 16, 2010 when the Beatles' catalog was made available for download on iTunes for the first time, "Hey Jude" was the most downloaded Beatles song.
The website conducts a Top 500 Oldies contest each Labor Day, and in the first ten years worth of polls, "Hey Jude" came out #1 each time.
"Hey Jude" is the song most often referred to in books in a list compiled by the website Small Demons.  Some of the 55 books the site says it is mentioned in include Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King ("Why do people over here sing 'Hey Jude'?") and Toni Morrison's Paradise ("Soane had been horrified--and he drove off accompanying 'Hey Jude' on his radio.")
The Amusement & Music Operators Association ranked "Hey Jude" the 11th-best jukebox single of all-time.  Mojo readers also ranked the song as #1 of all-time.  In 2001, "Hey Jude" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. 

You won't hear better music from the 60's back-to-back than you just heard on Inside The Rock Era.  There you have the finale for our latest music special.  But we're hard at work on three more in succession:  The Top 100 R&B Songs of the 80's*, The Top 100 Adult Songs of the 70's*, and The Top 100 Artists of the Seventies*.

Keep it here on Inside The Rock Era for the best music specials on the planet!

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