Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #410-401

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*, the amazing special featuring the best songs from the last 60 years, and we edge up to The Top 400* with these 10 classics:


Silly Love Songs
Paul McCartney & Wings

"One of my favorite soft rock songs ever."
"One of the best POP songs of all time... it has it all!"
"Just love this song."
"This song right here, is the definition of real music."


Paul McCartney  wrote this in response to a post-Beatles breakup comment by John Lennon, in which Lennon claimed that the only songs that Paul wrote for the Beatles were "silly love songs."  But McCartney's career after the Beatles was far more successful than Lennon's--John has two solo releases in The Top 500*; McCartney has seven. 

McCartney once said:

The fact is, deep down, people are very sentimental.  If they watch a sentimental movie at home, they cry, but in public they won't.  We don't like to show our emotions; we tend to sneer at that.  And in the same way, people may not admit to liking love songs, but that's what they seem to crave.


"Silly Love Songs" was written by Paul and Linda McCartney for the album Wings at the Speed of Sound.  This song allowed McCartney to pass Lennon for the most #1 songs as a songwriter with 27.  He went on to outdistance his former bandmate with 32.

"Silly Love Songs" debuted in April of 1976, going against songs such as "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" by Elton John & Kiki Dee, Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver", "Afternoon Delight" by the Starland Vocal Band, Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon", and "Love Hangover" by Diana Ross.

"Silly Love Songs" prevailed at #1 for five weeks in the United States; it was also a #1 Adult Contemporary hit, and it reached #1 in Canada and Ireland, #2 in the U.K., #8 in New Zealand, and #9 in Norway.  The song spent 11 of 19 weeks in the Top 10.   

"Silly Love Songs" has sold over one million copies and has helped sell five million albums.


Reach Out I'll Be There
Four Tops

 "There is an urgency and tension to this song that makes it one of the greatest songs of all time. Their masterpiece...."
"Like all greats, it´s stood the test of time.  Think it´s a Great Record!!  I love it"
"This is a song that has no age, My grandson was singing this just last night."
"One of the best songs i've ever heard,great days and era of my life."


This legendary act had so much chemistry that their lineup remained intact for 40 years.  Lead singer Levi Stubbs loaded each release with pure-packed soul.  
This magical record was recorded in just two takes at Motown's Hitsville USA Studios in Detroit, Michigan.  Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent sang backup on the song. They  went on to form Dawn with Tony Orlando.  The Four Tops also brought in flutes, oboes, and tambourines on the song that was their breakthrough hit in Great Britain. 

The classic was written and produced by Motown's main songwriting team of Holland-Dozier-Holland.  "Reach Out I'll Be There" was included on the album Reach Out.  It began charting in May, and it quickly rose to #1 for two weeks and spent 10 weeks in the Top 10.  The Four Tops also ruled the R&B chart with this one--#1 for two weeks.  The song's success wasn't contained in its native country--it also made it to #4 in Ireland, #1 in the U.K., #8 in Netherlands, and #9 in Canada. 

The song faced some tough competition in the form of "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys, "Cherish" by the Association, "You Can't Hurry Love" and "You Keep Me Hangin' On" by the Supremes, "I'm A Believer" by the Monkees, "Sunshine Superman" by Donovan, "Summer In The City" by the Lovin' Spoonful, "Eleanor Rigby" by the Beatles, and "Sunny" from Bobby Hebb. 

"Reach Out I'll Be There" helped sell over 13 million albums, has been played three million times.




Free Bird
Lynyrd Skynyrd

"This song is one of those rock songs that is simply impossible to not absolutely love. Not to mention that absolutely fantastic solo."
"One of the most stunning songs in our time, up there with Stairway..."
"One of the greatest, definitive endings in the history of rock."
"Awesome song."

Guitarist Gary Rossington said that Allen Collins had written the initial chords for this song two years before the group decided to record it.  According to Rossington, vocalist Ronnie Van Zant had insisted there were too many chord changes.  Then one day at rehearsal after Collins played the unused sequence, Van Zant asked him to repeat it, then wrote the melody and lyrics in three or four minutes.  Collins's girlfriend Kathy, whom he later married, had asked him one day, "If I leave here tomorrow, would you still remember me?"  Allen placed that question as the opening line of "Free Bird". 

The famous guitar solos that end the song were added so that Van Zant would have a chance to rest during shows.  Shortly after that, the members of Lynyrd Skynyrd learned that piano-playing roadie Billy Powell had written an intro to the song.  Upon hearing it, they invited Powell to be their keyboardist.   

"Free Bird" finally came to be, and it was included on the album Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd, but only reached #19.  Now what is a #19 song doing in The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*, you might ask?  It's a valid question, for if it wasn't popular at the time, why is it now?  Many songs get lost in the shuffle at the time of release for various reasons, such as record company politics, the competition out at the time, or just plain bad ears by radio station music directors.  In this case, we still had radio stations insistent on keeping songs to 3 or 3 1/2 minutes in 1975.  No way is a song like "Free Bird" going to be cut to that limit, so you have an inherent reason for the song to be ignored.  Not a good reason at all, but that was the way it was.

So that at least partially explains why the song didn't do better at the time.  But to be fair, and this is going to hurt the millions of fans of the song--there are many people that just do not like the song.  They aren't rockers, and that's fine; it's what makes the world go 'round. 

The beauty of the Top 5000 Songs database* is that it shows no favoritism--towards genres, styles, artists, or even chart numbers.  There are a myriad of factors involved that help evaluate each song based on its overall accomplishments.  In "Free Bird"'s case, the song has topped three million in radio airplay, and has helped sell over 13 million albums.  The huge popularity at Skynyrd live shows over the years has led to strong radio airplay to this day.  

Why isn't it ranked higher?  The simple reason is you cannot do any ranking, whether it be songs, artists, albums, or favorite politician by what you think, or what you wish something to be.  And the people that rank "Free Bird" higher are doing just that.  We bring back the fact that millions of people do not like the song--they wouldn't even rank it in their Top 5000.  So if you have some people that rank it #1, and others that rank it #7,000, the average of that is 3,500.  In this case, "Free Bird" averages out to #408*.

And we have to all come to terms that our opinions are no more important than others; those that think the song should be #1 are no more valuable than those that think it is #7,000, and vice versa.  Credible people who evaluate songs will take both people into mind, especially for a song ranking of this sort, in which the time period is now 60 years.  

"Free Bird" has those album sales and radio airplay going for it.  But the songs ahead of it do too, plus they have even more going for them, and most people will be able to see this.   



Witchy Woman

"Absolutely love this song!"
"One of my favorites."
"Great song--right on!"

Don Henley and Bernie Leadon wrote this early Eagles number.  Little did they know at the time that the group would go on to become one of the most-loved and most successful in the history of recorded music.  Leadon originally wrote the song when Bernie was a member of the Flying Burrito Brothers. 

Upon joining the Eagles, Leadon and Henley completed the song, using women the two had met and known about as inspiration.  For Henley, he was thinking of Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of author F. Scott Fitzgerald.  Henley had recently finished reading Zelda's biography.  Zelda was the quintessential "Flapper", as her husband called her.  Fitzgerald wrote about Zelda's uninhibited and reckless personality as the character of Daisy Buchanan in his acclaimed novel The Great Gatsby.

The line "She drove herself to madness with the silver spoon" refers to Zelda's time in a mental institution and the special slotted silver spoon that was used to dissolve sugar cubes with Abinsthe, a popular 1920's alcoholic drink that sometimes induced hallucinations. 

The Eagles featured "Witchy Woman" on their debut album in 1972, which was produced by Glyn Johns, an accomplished producer of the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

The song debuted in September and reached #9 for the talented but at the time still unknown group.  The competition was fierce:  "Nights In White Satin" by the Moody Blues, "Alone Again (Naturally)" by Gilbert O'Sullivan, Chicago's "Saturday In The Park", "I Can See Clearly Now" from Johnny Nash, "Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me" by Mac Davis, and "Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress" were just some of the great songs out at the time.  

"Witchy Woman" has been played over one million times, and has helped sell over a whopping 36 million albums.



You Really Got Me 

"Great song!"
"Definitely a classic."
"Puts modern music to absolute shame."
"Amazing guitar."

 We hope you are enjoying our updated version of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*, completed in time to lead into the big 60th birthday celebration of the Rock Era on July 9.

Prior to the release of this song, the Kinks put out two singles that flopped: a cover of "Long Tall Sally" and a Ray Davis composition called "You Still Want Me."  If their next release did not sell, there was a good chance their record label (Pye Records) would have dropped them.

Song #406* was written by Ray Davies on Kinks' self-titled album.  The lyrics were inspired by a night out when he was watching girls dancing in a club.  "I just remembered this one girl dancing," he said.  "Sometimes you're so overwhelmed by the presence of another person and you can't put two words together."   

At least two versions were recorded in the summer--the demo had a bluesy feel to it, while the full studio version was slower.  Even though the Kinks were under tremendous pressure to finish the song, Ray Davies threatened to refuse to perform or promote the single unless it was re-recorded.  The group had received good audience reaction to the song from their shows   The goal was to capture the sound and raw energy of the group's live performances, which they were becoming famous for.   

The song was re-recorded on September 26, 1964 with Ray Davies on lead vocals, Dave Davies on guitar and Pete Quaife on bass.  Kinks didn't have a drummer when they first recorded the song, so producer Shel Talmy brought in a session musician named Bobby Graham to play.  To create what became the influential distortion of his guitar, Dave Davies sliced the speaker cone of this Epico amplifier with a razor blade and poked it with a pin.   

 "You Really Got Me" debuted on the charts in September, 1964 and reached #7 for 3 weeks in the United States, and hit #1 in the U.K., #4 in Canada, and #6 in Ireland.  The Kinks faced competition from "A Hard Day's Night" and "I Feel Fine' by the Beatles, "Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison, "The House Of The Rising Sun" by the Animals, "Baby Love" and "Come See About Me" from the Supremes, and "She's Not There" by the Zombies. 

The success of "You Really Got Me" led to television appearances, magazine covers, and two gigs opening for the Beatles.  As the Kinks did not yet have an album, they rushed one out to capitalize on the demand for their music. 

This classic became a garage band staple, and influential for bands well into the 1990's.  It remains essentially a blueprint for hard rock and heavy metal.

"You Really Got Me" has not reached one million in singles sales, and it has only helped sell .5 million albums.  But the song has been played on the radio six million times.  Apparently, it's one of those songs that people love to hear, but they don't want to purchase.  Bad for the Kinks, great for radio stations. 

In 1999, "You Really Got Me" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.




Up Where We Belong
Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes

"Great song from an amazing movie."
"I love this song! i always listen to touches my soul."
"Beautiful song."
"I love this song so much!"

Some of the songs in the elite 500 had to ruminate over several months or years.  The tale of this song is one that only took 30 days from the initial idea, to inclusion in of the top movies of all-time, to release as a single.

Will Jennings penned the lyrics; he has also written "My Heart Will Go On" for Celine Dion and "Looks Like We Made It" for Barry Manilow as well as many of Steve Winwood's hits.  Jack Nitzche and Buffy Saint-Marie (who would later marry) wrote the music for this classic.  Nitzsche scored many movies, including The Exorcist and One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, played piano on several songs by the Rolling Stones, and arranged many of the songs that Phil Spector produced.  

Chris Blackwell, head man at Island Records, liked Joe Cocker recording the song with Jennifer Warnes.  Cocker, who was touring in the Pacific Northwest of the United States at the time, flew to Los Angeles one afternoon, recorded the track with Warnes that night, and flew back to continue his tour. 

Producer Don Simpson tried to demand that this song be cut from the movie An Officer and a Gentleman, saying, "The song is no good.  It isn't a hit."  Umm, Don, it not only was a smash hit; but it is in The Top 500* for the last 60 years.  The world is glad that Mr. Simpson didn't get his way.

The public, in fact, could not disagree with Simpson more.  "Up Where We Belong" hit the airwaves in August of 1981, and its appearance at the end of the movie is one of the classic moments in motion picture history.

To get the song up where it belonged, Cocker and Warnes had to steer it past "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson, "Ebony And Ivory" by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, "Eye Of The Tiger" by Survivor, "Always On My Mind" by Willie Nelson, "Down Under" from Men At Work, "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" by Chicago, "Maneater" by Hall & Oates, and "Jack & Diane" and "Hurts So Good" from John Cougar Mellencamp.
"Up Where We Belong" received tremendous response from the public, registering in at #1 for three weeks overall and #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  It was a worldwide monster hit, #1 in Canada and Australia, #2 in Spain, #3 in New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, and Norway, #6 in Germany, and #7 in the U.K. and Switzerland. 
To date, "Up Where We Belong" has sold over two million singles and has been played three million times.  The song is also a big award winner:  a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group, an Academy Award for Best Original Song and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song--Motion Picture.  In 2004, the song ranked #75 in the American Film Institute's (AFI) presentation of 100 years...100 Songs


 Lost In Love
 Air Supply

"One of the best love songs to slow dance to under the full moon and stars on a balmy summer night." 
"Beautiful song."
"Love this song and the background vocals."

Graham Russell of Air Supply wrote this great song, originally recorded for their 1979 album Life Support.  The song was released in Australia that year and peaked at #13.  Meanwhile, Clive Davis, then the head of Arista Records, purchased the rights to "Lost In Love" and had Air Supply record a new version.  He timed it perfectly just as the Disco era was fading.  This time, "Lost In Love" became a worldwide smash, and the new version was included on the 1980 album of the same name.      

"Lost In Love" hit the charts in February, and contended with classics like "Another Brick In The Wall" by Pink Floyd, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen, "It's Still Rock & Roll To Me" by Billy Joel, "Call Me" from Blondie, "The Rose" by Bette Midler, "Coward Of The County" by Kenny Rogers, "Babe" by Styx, Air Supply's own "All Out Of Love", "Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer" by Kenny Rogers & Kim Carnes, "Upside Down" by Diana Ross, "Magic" by Olivia Newton-John, and "Sailing" by Christopher Cross. 

"Lost In Love" stopped at #3 for 4 weeks overall, but #1 for six weeks on the more important Adult Contemporary charts in the U.S., and went to #1 in New Zealand.  The song helped sell over seven million albums in the U.S. alone, and has achieved over two million in radio airplay. 

From there, Air Supply went on to take the world by storm, scoring seven consecutive Top 5 hits to become one of The Most Successful Artists of the Rock Era Out of the Gate*.

My Boo
 Usher & Alicia Keys

"This song will never die."
"Still an amazing song."
"I'm crying."

The two artists who combined for this smash hit are unquestionably two of the most popular of their generation.  Usher began performing in the local church youth choir in Chattanooga, Tennessee when he was nine years old.  Soon after, the family moved to Atlanta, Georgia, so that their son would have a better environment to showcase his singing ability.  How's that for a supportive family?
When he was 11, Usher joined the group NuBeginnings, and recorded the album Nubeginning Featuring Usher Raymond IV in 1991.  Originally, the album was only made available regionally and by mail order.  With Usher's subsequent success, the album was finally released nationally in 2002.
When he was 13, Usher competed on the television program Star Search, where an A&R representative from LaFace Records saw him and arranged for an audition with L.A. Reid, co-founder of the label.  Reid was impressed on the spot and signed him to a recording contract.  Usher's first solo effort was a contribution to the "Poetic Justice" Soundtrack ("Call Me A Mack").   
Usher released his debut album in 1994, and the album My Way in 1997--most Rock Era fans got their first introduction to him with the song "You Make Me Wanna'".  
Alicia Keys made an appearance on The Cosby Show at the age of four.  She studied classical piano beginning at age seven, and enrolled in the Professional Performing Arts School in New York City.  Alicia graduated in four years as valedictorian. at the age of 16. 
Shortly after high school, Alicia met Peter Edge, A&R man at Arista Records, who told HitQuarters
I had never met a young R&B artist with that level of musicianship. So many people were just singing on top of loops and tracks, but she had the ability, not only to be part of hip-hop, but also to go way beyond that.
Keys signed her first recording contract with Columbia before signing with Arista, then following Arista head man Clive Davis when he started J Records.  Alicia has registered 9 Top 10 songs, including 4 #1's. 
Usher came up with the album of his career in 2004 in Confessions.  He places no less than three songs from that album in The Top 500*.
He wrote this great song with Keys, Jermaine Dupri, Adonis Shropshire, and Manuel Seal, Jr.  Usher also recorded the song with Beyoncé, but he chose the version with Alicia to include on his album.  The two had collaborated on Keys' #1 smash that same year, "If I Ain't Got You".  Usher and Keys recorded the song at Southside Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. 
"My Boo" was not initially included in the album, but it and other songs were leaked to the Internet, and eventually were included on the album.  The single was released August 24 in the United States as a double A-side with "Confessions Part II".  However, the only other high caliber song that "My Boo" faced was Usher's "Yeah!".
"My Boo" rushed to #1 for 6 weeks, with an additional 5 at #2, and spent an impressive 19 of its 26 weeks inside the Top 10 in the United States.  The song also hit #1 on the R&B chart and #2 on the Top 40 chart.  "My Boo"'s success spread worldwide--#1 in Canada, #3 in Switzerland, #4 in Germany and Norway, #5 in the U.K., #6 in the Netherlands, and #7 in Ireland. 
"My Boo" sold half a million singles and helped sell 14 million albums in the U.S. alone. 
"My Boo" won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocals, and was nominated for Best R&B song.  Usher Won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R & B Album, American Music Awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Album and Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist,  Billboard Awards for Artist of the Year, Album Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Hot 100 Artist of the Year, and R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year.  Keys won Billboard Awards for Female Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year.



Someone Like You

 "Entertains the soul with a beautiful song."
"She is SUCH a wonderful singer, and her words have their own special meaning."
"Very beautiful."
"Amazing song!"


Up next, this great song from English singer-songwriter the artist who scored her first recording contract in a very unusual way.  She landed the contract after a friend posted her demo on MySpace in 2006.
She paired up with Dan Wilson, lead singer of Semisonic, to write "Someone Like You", which she included on her breakthrough album 21.  The song was inspired by a broken relationship, and it is about Adele accepting it.   

"Someone Like You" was released on January 24, 2011 in the U.K., and, following her performance of the song at the 2011 BRIT Awards, it rose to #1 for five weeks.  "Someone Like You" was released August 9 in the United States, becoming her second career #1, and topping the American chart for five weeks as well.  It spent 20 of its 36 weeks in the Top 10, and also reached #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart in the United States.   Adele thus became the first female British solo artist in history to achieve two number one songs from the same album.

The year 2011 was the best year in quite some time with two entries in The Top 500 Songs*, the other being Adele's own "Rolling In The Deep".  In fact, 2011 has more songs in The Top 500* than any year since 1999, when four songs made the list.  The strength of the year is owed in no small part to Adele, who revitalized the industry, and increased the quality of music.  But 2011 still pales to the 1960s and '70s, when, for example, 21 songs from 1967, 1973 and 1978 made this elite special. 

"Someone Like You" also went to #1 in Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Brazil, Finland, Ireland, Italy, and Switzerland, and it reached #2 in Canada, Austria, Denmark, and the Netherlands, #3 in Sweden, and #4 in Germany. 

"Someone Like You" won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance and helped Adele win Grammy Awards for Album of the Year, Producer of the Year (for her producer, Paul Epworth), and Best Pop Vocal Album, American Music Awards for Artist of the Year, Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist, Favorite Pop/Rock Album, and Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist, and Billboard Music Awards for Top Artist, Billboard 200 Artist of the Year, Hot 100 Artist of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, Pop Artist of the Year, Pop Album of the Year, Top Digital Media Artist, Top Digital Songs Artist, and Top Radio Songs Artist.
"Someone Like You" sold five million singles and helped sell 11 million albums.  It is the 36th best-selling song in U.K. history.  The only factors keeping it from ranking higher are the weak competition it faced in its chart run and the limited time it has had to accumulate airplay.


Handy Man
James Taylor

"Gosto demais do James Taylor, suas m´suicas são lindíssimas!"
"James Taylor really knows how to take an original version of a song & make it his own!"
"This song is so awesome."
"Best song ever!"

When this artist was growing up, he was part of an affluent family, spending most of the year near the campus of the University of North Carolina, where his father was part of the medical faculty, and summers at the beautiful beaches of Martha's Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts.  This easy upbringing, where he and his siblings could have almost anything they wanted, very likely led to the troubles he experienced later in life.
One of the friends that James Taylor met at Martha's Vineyard was Danny Kortchmar.  James and Danny won a local hootenanny contest when Taylor was 15.  Kortchmar went on to enjoy a very successful career as a session musician, songwriter and producer, working with Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Don Henley, Billy Joel, Neil Young and the Spin Doctors.
Taylor, on the other hand, had trouble setting goals for himself in school, and when he began to feel despondent and was having thoughts of suicide, luckily for himself and the world, he checked himself into a mental institution in Belmont, Massachusetts.
Taylor has always been an introspective songwriter, writing deeply personal songs about his life experiences.  His albums, especially his early ones, are delights, that spawned great songs like "You've Got A Friend" and "Fire And Rain".  In 1977, Taylor recorded "Handy Man", originally done by Jimmy Jones in 1959, for his album JT.   
The song faced classics such as "Hotel California" by the Eagles, "How Deep Is Your Love" from the Bee Gees, "Dreams", "You Make Loving Fun" and "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac, "You Light Up My Life" from Debby Boone, "Sir Duke" by Stevie Wonder, "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" by Andy Gibb, "We Are The Champions" by Queen, Linda Ronstadt's "Blue Bayou", "Lucille" by Kenny Rogers, and "When I Need You" by Leo Sayer.
"Handy Man" went to #4 for two weeks in the United States, and it reached #1 on the Adult chart.
"Handy Man" captured the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male.  The song helped Taylor sell over five million albums, and it has been played on the radio over three million times.

You have just heard the first 100 songs in our special.  Do not miss a minute of the special, and be sure to be back tomorrow for #400-391* on Inside The Rock Era!

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