Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Top 200 Songs of the 60's*: #50-41

The music speaks for itself.  Inside The Rock Era has featured 150 songs so far in our summer spectacular, and the songs just keep getting more amazing!


"Proud Mary"
Creedence Clearwater Revival

John Fogerty wrote this song after he was discharged from the U.S. National Guard.  He began thinking of "Proud Mary" as a domestic washerwoman.  As he progressed into the project, he began thinking of a paddle-wheel and the Mississippi River.  So instead of "Proud Mary" being a clean-up woman, she became a boat.
CCR recorded this at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California.  Forgerty sang lead and played lead guitar, brother Tom played rhythm guitar, Stu Cook played bass, and dependable Doug Clifford was on drums.  John produced the song as well for Fantasy Records.
This was the first of three consecutive #2 songs by the group that holds the Rock Era record for the most #2's (6) without ever going to #1.  "Proud Mary" spent three weeks at #2 in a pack of contenders that included Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", Aquarius", "Dizzy", "Everyday People", "Crimson And Clover", "Love Child", and "You've Made Me So Very Happy".  "Proud Mary" sold over two million copies in the United States alone. 
There were 35 covers of "Proud Mary" in 1969 alone, and that total has now gone over 100.  In 1998, "Proud Mary" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  The song has now sold over two million copies, and helped sell 12 million albums, and has topped five million in radio airplay.


"Love Child"
Diana Ross & the Supremes

When the team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland left Motown, many people wondered what would happen to the Supremes.  After all, that famous songwriting trio had penned the big #1 smashes for the group.  In fact, prior to "Love Child", the Supremes had fallen short of the Top 20 with their previous two releases. 
That got the attention of Motown head Berry Gordy, who promptly assumed a team of writers and producers at the Pontchartrain Hotel in Detroit, Michigan.   Gordy, Deke Richards, Pam Sawyer, R. Dean Taylor and Frank Wilson began working on a song for the Supremes.  They could have simply written a song about love, but instead they came up with a classic.  It stressed patience in a relationship to a generation that needed that advice. 
Diana Ross sang lead vocals, and the other members of the group (Mari Wilson and Cindy Birdsong) did not appear on the record.  Rather, the backing vocals on the demo track were chosen for the final product:  Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, and Louvain Demps of the Andantes.  Instrumentation was provided by the Funk Brothers. 
"Love Child" had the distinction of knocking the Beatles' "Hey Jude" out of the #1 spot, and in so doing, gave the Supremes 11 career #1's (they would finish with 12.)  It spent two weeks at #1 against competition that included "People Got To Be Free", Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", "Touch Me", "Crimson And Clover", and "Magic Carpet Ride".

"Never My Love"

The two songs couldn't be more different, yet the same set of brothers that wrote this smash (Don and Dick Addrisi) went on to have a mid-charter in the 70's as the Addrisi Brothers called "Slow Dancin' Don't Turn Me On". 
Bones Howe produced this for Warner Brothers Records.
I believe the competition out during this time in 1967 was the best ever in the nearly 60-year history of the Rock Era:  The Doors' "Light My Fire", "Ode To Billie Joe", "Windy", "The Letter", "To Sir With Love", "All You Need Is Love", "Reflections", "Incense And Peppermints", "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", and others.  Yet "Never My Love" still reached #2 for two weeks.  The single sold well, and by the time it reached one million in sales, sixteen other artists had recorded the song.  Imitation is the best form of flattery.
More important for the group, "Never My Love" gave the Association three #1 songs and made them a top concert draw.  They were also invited on nearly every talk show that mattered:  The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Dick Clark's American Bandstand, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Hullabaloo, Shindig!, The Dick Cavett Show, The Dean Martin Show, and The Andy Williams Show.
In 1999, BMI (Broadcast Music Incorporated) announced that "Never My Love" was the second-most played song of the 20th century with seven million performances.  It was sandwiched between "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and "Yesterday".  Why isn't it #2 here?  While airplay is a significant factor in this ranking and should be in all rankings, it is not the only one.  Album sales count a lot as well, and unfortunately albums containing "Never My Love" have only sold 2.5 million copies.  That's a fantastic number for any artist, but it is well behind most of the other songs in this range.  And, while the song hung in there against amazing competition, it was never able to beat any of the songs listed above in the best test:  head-to-head competition.
We'll point out the sales numbers for the songs coming up.  We not only want you to enjoy our music specials; we want you to have a basic understanding of the methodology.  We use the purchasing and listening habits of you and others like you, because your opinion is what matters, not some yahoo music critic. 


"Oh, Pretty Woman"
Roy Orbison

And we arrive at #47*, another classic in Inside The Rock Era's presentation of The Top 200 Songs of the 60's*, and another reason why it is so fun.
Roy Orbison and Bill Dees wrote "Oh, Pretty Woman".  The two were at Orbison's house when Roy's wife Claudette said she was going into town to buy something.  Orbison asked if she needed any money, and Dees joked, "Pretty woman never need any money."  Inspired by this, Orbison started singing, "Pretty woman walking down the street".
Dees recalls:
He sang it while I was banging my hand down on the table and by the time she returned we had the song.   From the moment that the rhythm started, I could hear the heels clicking on the pavement, click, click, the pretty woman walking down the street, in a yellow skirt and red shoes.  We wrote 'Oh Pretty Woman' on a Friday, the next Friday we recorded it, and the next Friday it was out.  It was the fastest thing I ever saw.  Actually, the yeah, yeah, yeah in 'Oh Pretty Woman' probably came from The Beatles.
Orbison described to NME what he was striving for here on vocals:
 There's a ballad in the mid-section of it there: he's very sure of getting the girl when he first sees her, and then he's not so sure, and then he gets desperate, and then he says forget it, and then she comes back. It's quite complicated, but it's probably in the presentation, or if I'm really singing like I know I can and I'm doing the job that I should be doing, then it could be that the voice quality in parts has a melancholy something."
Jerry Kennedy, Billy Sanford and Wayne Moss played guitar, while Floyd Cramer played piano, Bob Moore was on an upright bass, Boots Randolph and Carlie McCoy played sax, Paul Garrison and Buddy Harman played drums, and Orbison played a 12-string epiphone.
"Oh, Pretty Woman" sold seven million copies worldwide.  In 1999 the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame named it as one of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
"Oh, Pretty Woman" has been played five million times, and albums containing the song have sold three million copies.



"Turn!  Turn!  Turn!"

At #46*, we have another classic from the Byrds.  Pete Seeger based his song nearly verbatim on Chapter 3 of the Book of Eccliastes in the Bible, rearranging the verse to fit the song and adding the chorus.  The words, which are attributable to King Solomon (born circa 1011), make "Turn!  Turn!  Turn!" the #1 song with the oldest lyrics

The Byrds rearranged the song to fit their new folk-rock style, and it reportedly took 78 takes at Columbia Studios in Hollywood, California to get it right.  Gene Clark sang the main vocal and played rhythm guitar and tambourine, Jim McGuinn was on lead and acoustic guitar and vocals, David Crosby played rhythm guitar and sang backing vocals, Chris Hillman was on bass, and Michael Clarke played drums.  Terry Melcher produced "Turn!  Turn!  Turn!"

The song's plea for peace and tolerance was released at just the right time, as the U.S. war with Vietnam escalated.  As for Seeger, he loved the song.  "All those clanging, steel guitar," he said, "they sound like bells."
"Turn!  Turn!  Turn!" hit #1 for three weeks against competition such as "Yesterday", "The Sounds Of Silence", "We Can Work It Out", "Day Tripper", and "Eve Of Destruction".  It has been played over three million times, and has helped sell over 13 million albums.


"Everyday People"
Sly & the Family Stone

We are well within the magical Top 50* with this plea for peace and equality between different races and groups of people.  The Family Stone featured Caucasians Greg Errico and Jerry Martini, females Rose Stone and Cynthia Robinson, and Sly Stone, Freddie Stone, and Larry Graham were African-American males, and were the first headlining integrated group in rock history.
Sly wrote this song and he and Rose sang lead vocals, while Rose, Freddie Stone, Graham, and the group Little Sister (Vet Stone, Mary McCreary, and Elva Mouton) sang backing vocals.  Billy Preston played organ, while Rose played piano, Freddie was on guitar, Larry played bass, and Errico was on drums.  Jerry Martini played the tenor saxophone and Robinson played trumpet.  Sly Stone also produced the song for Epic Records.
The smash raced to #1 for four weeks, out the same time as "Hey Jude", Aquarius", "Crimson And Clover", "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", "Love Child", "Dizzy", and "Proud Mary".  It has helped sell over 4.5 million albums.


"Blowin' In The Wind"
Peter, Paul & Mary

Bob Dylan wrote this song using the melody of the song "No More Auction Block", and claims he wrote it in 10 minutes.  Dylan's manager was Albert Grossman, who also managed Peter, Paul & Mary.
Peter, Paul & Mary's version essentially introduced Dylan, who was an unknown Folk singer at the time.  Peter Yarrow of the group told Radio Times:  "His (Dylan's) writing put Peter, Paul and Mary on another level.  We heard his demos and Grossman thought the big song was "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right", but we went crazy over "Blowin In The Wind".  We instinctively knew the song carried the moment of its own time." 
Peter, Paul & Mary recorded the song, produced by Grossman, on Warner Brothers Records.  Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey played guitars, with all three blending their vocals perfectly. 
"Blowin' In The Wind" sold 300,000 copies its first week, a phenomenal figure for those days, and went on to sell over one million.  Billboard still only had the song peaking at #2, facing competition such as "Fingertips - Pt. 2", "It's My Party", "My Boyfriend's Back", "I Will Follow Him", "Surf City", and "Blue Velvet".
Author David Hajdu talked about the song in his book Positively Fourth Street:  "I think it beat out the 'Chipmunk Song,' or it was right up there with the 'Chipmunk Song' and 'To Know Him Is to Love Him' ("The Chipmunk Song" and "To Know Him Is To Love Him" both came out in 1958).  And can you imagine what it was like to be a teen-ager and to be flipping through the dials and to hear that kind of silly pop and then the next thing, or the next song, is "Blowin' in the Wind"?  What a revelation that must have been."
Peter, Paul & Mary performed "Blowin' In The Wind" on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. just hours before Martin Luther King delivered his famous "I Have A Dream" speech. 

One of The Top Artists of the 60's* checks in here with The #43 Song of the 60's*.  The group was about to head out on the road, but Warner Brothers Records wanted another single from them.  They worked tirelessly on this song into the wee hours of the morning, finishing it just prior to leaving to do a concert that night.
"Windy" was written by Ruthann Friedman, who had left home for a career in music but did not have anything to show for it, until this one.  A friend of Friedman's, Beach Boys lyricist Van Dyke Parks, introduced her to the Association, and the rest is history.  "Windy" became just the third #1 song of the Rock Era to be written exclusively by a female, following Ricky Nelson's "Poor Little Fool" (written by Sharon Sheeley) and "Dominique", written and sung by Sister Luc-Gabrielle (a.k.a. The Singing Nun).
Hal Blaine played drums, Jos Osborn was on bass, Larry Knechtel played keyboards, Al Casey was on guitar and Mike Deasy played guitar and sitar.  Another veteran session musician, Bud Shank, played piccolo, according to Terry Kirkman of the Assocation.  Bones Howe produced the song for the Association.
"Windy" soared to #1 for four weeks against stellar competition, perhaps the best group of songs out at one time in the Rock Era:  "Groovin'", "Respect", "Happy Together", "Ode To Billie Joe", "Light My Fire", "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", "All You Need Is Love", and "A Whiter Shade Of Pale".  "Windy" went Gold, and has helped sell over 2.5 million records.  It has now been played over four million times on the radio.


"(Theme From) 'A Summer Place'"
Percy Faith & His Orchestra

Although Percy Faith's song was not included in the movie A Summer Place, it was by far the best and most popular version of the song.  Austrian Max Steiner, who also wrote the score to the classic film Casablanca, wrote "(Theme From) 'A Summer Place'". 
Faith and his orchestra dominated the charts, as the song went to #1 for nine weeks, against competition such as "Cathy's Clown", "Puppy Love", "El Paso" and Elvis Presley's "Stuck On You".   "(Theme From) 'A Summer Place'" won Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards, becoming both the first movie theme and the first instrumental to win that award.  As strong as "A Summer Place" still is, it has fallen considerably in the last 15 years or so due to minimal airplay.   


"Suspicious Minds"
Elvis Presley

Sometimes it's not the song but the artist recording it.  Mark James wrote and recorded "Suspicious Minds", but it went nowhere.  Producer Chips Moman had asked James to come to Memphis to write songs, and he also wondered if he might have any songs for Elvis Presley.  James offered "Suspicious Minds" and urged Presley to record it.  He did, and it became the last #1 song of his career.
Reggie Young played guitar on "Suspicious Minds", while Gene Chrisman was on drums.  Ronnie Milsap, who went on to have a successful career as a solo artist, played piano and sang backing vocals.  Tommy Cogbill played guitar and bass, Bobby Wood played piano, and Mike Leech played bass.  Horns were later added, which included contributions from Wayne Jackson, Dick Steff, and R.F. Taylor on trumpets, Jack Hale, Ed Logan, and Gerald Richardson on trombones, Tony Cason and Joe D'Gerolama playing French horns, and Andrew Love, J.P. Luper, Glen Spreen, and Jackie Thomas on saxophone.  Joe Babcock, Dolores Edgin, Mary Greene, Charlie Hodge, Ginger Holladay, Mary Holladay, Millie Kirkham, Sonja Montgomery, June Page, Susan Pilkington, Sandy Posey, Donna Thatcher, and Hurschel Wiginton on backing vocals.

Presley recorded the song at American Sound Studio in

Memphis, Tennessee between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. It took eight takes to get the final product you're familiar with, a version that was overdubbed by Presley that evening. Felton Jarvis co-produced this along with Moman for RCA Records.
Suspicious Minds" took a turn at #1 with "Wedding Bell Blues", "Sugar, "Sugar", "Something", "Honky Tonk Women", "Everybody's Talkin'", "Sweet Caroline", "Get Together", "Come Together", and "I Can't Get Next To You" out at the same time.
"Suspicious Minds" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

They don't get much better than those ten.  In fact, there are only 40 songs in the entire decade that rank higher.  Don't miss out tomorrow as we present the cream of the crop of the 60's!  

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