Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Top 200 Songs of the 60's*: #160-151

Here we go with another part of the puzzle, another 10 songs included in our summer special: 



"And I Love Her"
Paul McCartney wrote the majority of this song, with assistance from John Lennon, who helped him add the middle eight during recordings at Abbey Road Studios, heeding the suggestion of producer George Martin.  McCartney gives great credit to George Harrison, who came up with the guitar riff. 
McCartney sang lead and played bass on the song, with Lennon on acoustic rhythm guitar and Harrison on lead guitar and claves and Ringo Starr on bongos and claves.
Next to "Yesterday", this is the most-recorded song in the Beatles' catalog--there were 372 versions by 1972.  At the time it was released, it only reached #12, but with the rest of their classics preceding it as the record company rushed to capitalize on Beatlemania, it was not high priority.  In addition to the group's #1 "A Hard Day's Night", "Chapel Of Love", "I Get Around", "Where Did Our Love Go", and "Rag Doll" were also competing at the same time as "And I Love Her".  Since 1964, the song has continued to grow in stature, and it has accumulated tremendous sales on each compilation it is included on.  The "Red Album" (Beatles 1962-1966) has now sold over 15 million copies, and the Beatles Anthology, Volume 1, is now over 8 million. 


"I Was Made To Love Her"
Stevie Wonder

Wonder, 16 years of age at the time, wrote this with his mother Lula Mae Hardway, Sylvia Moy, and producer Henry Cosby.  Wonder's mother co-wrote many of Stevie's early songs, and Moy was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame (she also co-wrote "Uptight" and "My Cherie Amour" with Stevie)
Moy says her inspiration for this song was stories she heard from her parents.  Her mother is from Arkansas, and included the lyrics "I was born in Little Rock".
In live performances, Stevie would always sing "I was born in Little Rock", but on the original recording, if you listen carefully, he sounds like he is singing "I was bored and learned Bach".  Stevie would often ad lib in the studio.
Wonder, who became famous for his #1 single "Fingertips" as "Little Stevie Wonder", had shied away from the harmonica to shed the early image, but on this song, Wonder's harmonica came back strong. 
The vocal took some work.  Cosby got what he wanted out of Wonder by taking him to a Baptist church in Detroit and having Stevie imitate the preacher.  According to Cosby, "Stevie wanted people in the studio--he had to feel the presence of people.  If there were none around, his vocal was just dead.  So I would go outside and stop people passing by to bring them in, so Stevie could feel their presence.  Once that happened, he could belt out the vocal you hear on the record. 
There is some dispute on who played bass.  Renowned Motown session musician Carol Kaye is certain that she did, but the Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team, as well as Crosby, said it was James Jamerson. 
"I Was Made To Love Her" hit #2 for two weeks, kept out of the top spot by the classic Young Rascals song "Groovin'".  Wonder's song is one of The Top #2 Songs of the Rock Era (there are only seven #2 songs ahead of it in this special) --how's this for competition:  In addition to "Groovin", Aretha Franklin's "Respect", "Windy", "Light My Fire", "The Letter",  "Ode To Billie Joe, "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", "All You Need Is Love", and "Reflections".
"Like A Rolling Stone"
Bob Dylan

Editor's Note:  We like to salute each of the songs and artists in our music specials.  Bob Dylan hasn't quite figured out the 21st century and "the whole Internet thing" yet, and doesn't want any of his music on YouTube, so we'll just have to say here that he had a pretty good song.  We apologize that his is the only song in The Top 200* that you are unable to hear.  Prince and Dylan are the only two artists of the Rock Era that cannot come to a financial agreement with YouTube.
An exhausted Bob Dylan returned from a tour of England in June of 1965, and wrote an extended piece of verse over ten pages long.  After the lyrics were substantially edited, Dylan recorded the song a few weeks later for his forthcoming album Highway 61 Revisited.
"Like A Rolling Stone" was recorded June 15-16 of 1965 at Columbia Studio A in New York City.  Dylan invited Mike Bloomfield to play lead guitar on the session, with Paul Griffin playing piano, Joe Macho, Jr. on bass, Bobby Gregg on drums, and Bruce Langhorne on tambourine.  At first, the song was demoed in 3/4 time, but it didn't work.  Dylan and his musicians then tried the song in rock format the following day, with Al Kooper, then a rookie 21-year old session musician, improvising the now-famous organ riff.  Dylan was at his creative best with his youthful, cynical lyrics, which expressed resentment and a yearning for revenge.  Tom Wilson produced the song for Dylan. 
Columbia Records, however, was unhappy with the song's length (over six minutes) and its heavy electric sound, and held back in releasing it.  Only after the song was leaked to a popular music club and heard by some of the nation's most influential DJ's was it released as a single. 
Paul McCartney remembered going to John Lennon's house to hear the song.  According to McCartney, "It seemed to go on and on forever.  It was just beautiful...He showed all of us that it was possible to go a little further."
"Like A Rolling Stone" reached #2 for two weeks, bested by Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe", "Help!" by the Beatles, and Barry McGuire's "Eve Of Destruction".  "Like A Rolling Stone", despite its #2 ranking, never did go Gold as a single, has only sold three million albums, and has not yet reached "Million-Aire" status in radio airplays.  


"Ruby Tuesday"
Rolling Stones
This song was mostly written by Keith Richards with help from Brian Jones, but, as was customary with Stones records, it was credited to Jagger/Richards.  Richards wrote the words about a girl he had broken up with. 
Said Richards:  "That's one of those things - some chick you've broken up with.  And all you've got left is the piano and the guitar.  And it's goodbye you know.  And so it just comes out of that.  And after that you just build on it.  It's one of those songs that are easiest to write because you're really right there and you really sort of mean it.  And for a songwriter, hey break his heart and he'll come up with a good song." 
Multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones played recorder and piano on the song, and the double bass was played with Bill Wyman pressing the notes on the fingerboard and Keith Richards bowing the strings.  Richards also played 12-string acoustic guitar on the track, with Charlie Watts on drums.  Mick Jagger sang lead and played tambourine.   
Andrew Loog Oldham produced the song, which was released on Decca/ABKCO in the U.K. and London Records in the United States.  "Ruby Tuesday" took a turn at #1 for one week.   "I'm A Believer", "Penny Lane", "Happy Together", "Strawberry Fields Forever", and "For What It's Worth" provided the top competition.  "Ruby Tuesday" went Gold, has helped sell 17.5 million albums, and has been played one million times.
Years later, a restaurant chain started up named Ruby


"Wild Thing"

Chip Taylor, the brother of actor Jon Voight and the uncle of Angelina Jolie, wrote this song.

The Troggs recorded "Wild Thing" at Olympic Studios in London, England, with some extra session time that belonged to someone else.  They had about 45 minutes to get set up, do sound tests, record the song, and get out.  The whistling sound you hear in the instrumental portion of the song is an ocarina, an Eastern instrument dating back several thousand years, played by musical director Colin Fretcher.   
Reg Presley sang lead vocal for the Troggs, with Chris Britton on lead guitar, bassist Pete Staples and drummer Ronnie Bond.  Larry Page produced the song.

Due to a contractual dispute, "Wild Thing" was released on two record labels, Fontana Records and Atco in the United States.  Because the record was pressed using the same master, Billboard combined the two singles into one chart position.  It is the only #1 song that was offered by two different record labels at the same time.   The song was out the same time as "Paint It Black", "When A Man Loves A Woman", "Monday, Monday", "Summer In the City", and "Paperback Writer", among others.


"Sweet Caroline"
Neil Diamond

Diamond recorded "Sweet Caroline"  in a recording session at American Recording Studio in Memphis, Tennessee.  Three hours were booked, but Neil only had two songs prepared.  He quickly wrote this song the night before so he would have the standard number of three.
Tommy Cogbill and Chips Moman produced the song for Uni/MCA Records.  It competed against "Get Back", "Aquarius", "Crystal Blue Persuasion", "Honky Tonk Women", "In The Year 2525", "Bad Moon Rising" and "Sugar, Sugar".
Diamond performed "Sweet Caroline" on several television shows, and it rose to #4 and sold over two million copies.  It has helped sell 10.5 million copies, and is well over the one-million mark in radio airplay.


"A Whiter Shade Of Pale"
Procol Harum

"A Whiter Shade Of Pale" was co-written by Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher, and Keith Reid.  Reid got the idea for the title after overhearing a party guest say "You've turned a whiter shade of pale."  The original song had four verses, cut to two for the single.  Occasionally, Procol Harum has performed three verses, and more seldom, all four, in live performances.  The Bach-influenced instrumentation is unmistakable, and the unusual lyrics and great vocals make for an amazing song.

As to the lyrics, author Tim de Lisle (Lives of the Great Songs) says:
..the lyrics concern a drunken seduction, which is described through references to sex as a form of travel, usually nautical, using mythical and literary journals."  The unusually complex lyrics are an early form of progressive rock.

Brooker said that upon seeing Reid's lyrics: 
 They weren't obvious, but that doesn't matter. You don't have to know what he means, as long as you communicate an atmosphere. 'A Whiter Shade Of Pale' seemed to be about two people, a relationship even. It's a memory. There was a leaving, and a sadness about it. To get the soul of those lyrics across vocally, to make people feel that, was quite an accomplishment.
The "Vestal Virgins" in the song were the virgin holy priestesses of Vesta, the goddess of the hearth and home.  There were six of them chosen by lot and they were sworn to celibacy.  Their main task was to maintain the sacred fire of Vesta.  The Vestal duty brought great honor and afforded greater privileges to women who served in that role.  The Vestals lived in the Atrium Vestae near the circular Temple of Vesta at the eastern edge of the Roman Forum, which you can still see today.
Procul Harum recorded it at Olympic Studios in London with Brooker on vocals and piano, Fisher played his famous organ on a Hammond M-102, bassist David Knights, and Ray Royer on guitar.  Danny Cordell produced "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" for Deram Records.
The song went to #1 in their native England for six weeks, and reached #5 in the United States.  One look at the competition tells you why it stalled at 5, going against "Groovin'", "Windy", "Respect", "Light My Fire", "All You Need Is Love", "Ode To Billie Joe", and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You".  In 1998, "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  It has now sold over 10 million copies worldwide, and continues to be highly regarded in the U.K. as the most-played song of the last 75 years (as of 2009).


"Touch Me"

Robby Krieger wrote this one for the Doors album The Soft Parade.  It was a bit of a departure from other songs by the group in that it featured brass and string instruments. 

Curtis Amy, who would later famously play on the landmark album Tapestry by Carole King, played sax on "Touch Me".  Jim Morrison sang lead and played tambourine and maracas, Ray Manzarek played harpsichord, Krieger was on guitar and John Densmore played drums.
The group recorded "Touch Me" at Elektra Sound Recorders in Los Angeles.  Paul Rothchild, who was meticulous on this album, produced the song for Elektra Records.

The single reached #3 in the United States and #1 in Canada, and sold over one million copies.  It competed against great songs such as "Hey Jude", "Love Child", Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", "Everyday People", "Proud Mary" and "Crimson And Clover".


"Get Off Of My Cloud"
Rolling Stones
When the single is following up one of the greatest songs ever recorded ("Satisfaction"), it had better be good because it was front and center in the spotlight.  Luckily for the Rolling Stones, it was.
Lead singer Mick Jagger and lead guitarist Keith Richards co-wrote it, and the Stones recorded it at the RCA Studios in Hollywood, California.  The song features a drum into from Charlie Watts, and the guitars of Richards and Brian Jones, with Bill Wyman on bass.  Ian Stewart was brought in to play piano on the track.  The group was beginning to mold its "bad boy" image with rebellious lyrics such as those featured on "Get Off Of My Cloud". 
Jagger and Richards wrote the song as a reaction to the group's sudden popularity after "Satisfaction", and their feelings about the expectations that had been placed on them.  In short, rather than being able to enjoy the moment, people were knocking on the door asking "When are you going to have another song?"  Hence, "Get Off Of My Cloud".  Andrew Loog Oldham produced the song for Decca Records in the U.K. and London Records in the United States.
"Yesterday", "Eve Of Destruction", and "Turn!  Turn!  Turn!" were out at the same time, yet "Get Off Of My Cloud" was able to land a turn at #1 for two weeks.


"Down On The Corner"
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Here's Tom Fogerty's story of the fictional group Willy and the Poor Boys, complete with a washtub bass and washboard.  Included are the lyrics "Blinky thumps the gut bass, and solos for a while."  While performing the song on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1969,  Stu Cook played a gut bass.  Tom Fogerty played rhythm guitar and Doug Clifford played drums for CCR.
Fogerty handled all the vocals on "Down On The Corner", having recorded several vocal tracks used as overdubbing to harmonize with himself. 
"Down On The Corner" reached #3, going against powerhouse songs like Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head", "Sugar, Sugar", "Wedding Bell Blues", "Leaving On A Jet Plane", "Honky Tonk Women", and "Suspicious Minds". 

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