Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #440-431

We began the hullaballoo on May 21, and we will present 10 songs per day until we reach The Top 10 for the Rock Era* on July 9!  Here are 10 more winners!



Dan Fogelberg 

"Esta musica é maravilhosa."
"I am so in love with his precious music."
"So Beautiful!  He knows how to pull at the heart strings with his melodies..."

This superstar studied art at Illinois University, but the masterpiece he painted in 1980 didn't exist on canvas; rather, it was released on vinyl.
He opened in 1972 for Van Morrison, and scored a big break when his manager Irving Azoff arranged for Joe Walsh to produce his second album.  That in turn led to a major U.S. tour opening for the Eagles. 
But several years passed before this introspective genius took flight.  One definition of phoenix is:  "a mythical bird that lived for five or six centuries in the Arabian desert, after this time burning itself on a funeral pyre and rising from the ashes with renewed youth to live through another cycle.  Much like the definition of his 1979 album, Dan Fogelberg was reborn. 
Fogelberg described "Longer" in the liner notes to one of his retrospective albums as "the song that put me on the elevators."   He wrote the song while vacationing in Maui, Hawai'i, "lounging in a hammock one night and looking up at the stars.  Jerry Hey played the memorable flugelhorn solo.
"Longer" was the lead single on Fogelberg's outstanding Phoenix album in late 1979.  It was released in the midst of smash hits such as "Another Brick In The Wall, Part II" by Pink Floyd", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" from Queen, Michael Jackson's "Rock With You", "Call Me" by Blondie, Bette Midler's "The Rose", "It's Still Rock & Roll To Me" by Billy Joel, "Heartache Tonight" by the Eagles,
"Coward Of The County" and "You Decorated My Life" by Kenny Rogers, "Lost In Love" by Air Supply, "Babe" from Styx and "Still" by the Commodores.

Despite that outstanding competition, "Longer" reached #2 for 2 weeks, and it spent seven weeks in the Top 10 and 22 overall.
"Longer" has helped sell over three million albums.



Bye Bye Love
Everly Brothers

"Great song."
"A timeless song for a timeless situation."

"My all-time favorite singers.  Miss them so much."

"Love this song, I think im gonna cry."


The amazing duo at #439* appeared on family shows with their parents, radio performers Kike and Margaret, then left for Nashville, Tennessee.  Manager Wesley Rose persuaded Archie Bleyer at Cadence Records that the two brothers were the country singers he was looking for.  Bleyer asked the duo to record a song that 30 acts rejected.  But when the brothers recorded the song, it wasn't country at all, but rock & roll.
This great song was written by the famous songwriting team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant and recorded by the Everly Brothers March 1, 1957 at the RCA Recording Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. 

The Everly Brothers debuted with the song in May of 1957, competing against "All Shook Up" and "Teddy Bear" from Elvis Presley, their own "Wake Up Little Susie", "Little Darlin'" by the Diamonds, "That'll Be The Day" from Buddy Holly & the Crickets, and Paul Anka's "Diana". 
"Bye Bye Love" became lodged at #2 for 4 weeks, and landed at #1 on the R&B chart.  To date, it has been played over three million times. 


Hello, I Love You

"Catchiest song of all time?"

"This song is just amazing!!"

"Amazing lyrics."

In 1968,  relationships within the Doors were already deteriorating--lead singer Jim Morrison's alcoholic binges made work next to impossible.  Drummer John Densmore threatened to quit the band, so the other members found one of Morrison's old poems in an effort to calm him down.  One of the songs, "Hello, I Love You" was written one afternoon while Morrison and keyboardist Ray Manzarek watched a girl on the beach.  By the way, any woman who thinks a man knows anything about love when they say, "Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name?" is about to enter a very bad relationship! 

The Doors recorded "Hello, I Love You" for their third album, Waiting for the Sun.  Lead guitarist Robby Krieger ran his guitar through a fuzz box to get a distorted effect, similar to "Sunshine Of Your Love" by Cream.  "When "Hello, I Love You" debuted on the charts, it found "Hey Jude" and "Revolution" by the Beatles, "People Got To Be Free" by the Rascals, "Jumping Jack Flash" from the Rolling Stones, and "This Guy's In Love With You" from Herb Alpert competing with it for position. 
But the song persisted until it reached #1 for two weeks and spent 9 weeks in the Top 10. 
"Hello, I Love You" sold one million copies and helped sell over 17.5 million albums.         


Summer In The City
 Lovin' Spoonful

"Great band, fantastic song."
"Love this classic summers song--takes me back to those childhood hot summer days."
"What a fabulous song, a genuine classic!"
"Hello, summer!"

It would be tough to listen to this song without images of hot days in the big city and cool nights on the town dancing around your head.  Such was the magic of the Rock Era's #437 song*.   

This great group existed for barely two years, but their output of hits during that time was greater than many groups could do in three or four times that lifespan.  The two founders, John Sebastian and Zalman Yanovsky, both came from musical families.  Sebastian, who grew up in Greenwich Village in New York City, learned the harmonica from a famous classical harmonica player, his dad John Sebastian, Sr.   

Sebastian and Yanovsky first played together in the early '60s in a group called the Polish Mugwumps, which by the way also included Cass Elliott and Denny Doherty, who would later become half of the Mamas and the Papas.  That group broke up, and Sebastian and Yanovsky went their separate ways.  But the next time they hooked up would be golden. 

Bringing in Steve Boone on piano and bass and drummer Joe Butler, Sebastian and Yanovsky formed Lovin' Spoonful.  The group's first major gig was at the New-York area club called the Nite Owl Café.  They signed with the small Kama Sutra Label, but made Kama Sutra look good with two hits right away, "Do You Believe In Magic?" and "You Didn't Have To Be So Nice".  
The song at #437* was created by John's brother Mike in 1966.  As John said, "That song that came from an idea my brother Mike had.  He had this great chorus, and the release was so big.  I had to create some kind of tension at the front end to make it even bigger.  That's where that jagged piano part comes from."  "Summer In The City" features a series of car horns during the bridge of the song, beginning with a Volkswagen Beetle horn, and ends with a jackhammer sound, to give the listener the sounds of summer in the city. 
Lovin' Spoonful recorded it on their album Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful, and "Summer In The City" reached radio in July. 

Released at a time when "Cherish" by the Association, "Paperback Writer" and "Eleanor Rigby" from the Beatles, "Strangers In The Night" by Frank Sinatra, "You Can't Hurry Love" by the Supremes, "Sunny" by Bobby Hebb, "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones, "Reach Out I'll Be There" by the Four Tops, and Donovan's "Sunshine Superman" were popular, "Summer In The City" took off to #1, and stayed there for three weeks.  It also attained #1 in Canada and Finland, #2 in the Netherlands and #3 in Norway.

"Summer In The City" has sold one million singles and been played over two million times.




Song Sung Blue
Neil  Diamond

"Música de qualidade.."



"This still sounds so good!  A classic!  All of his songs have aged very well."


This artist became interested in songwriting when Pete Seeger visited his high school winter holiday group at Surprise Lake camp.  He was a pre-med major on a fencing scholarship at New York University when, six months before graduation, he dropped out to take a job as an apprentice songwriter at Sunbeam Music for $50 a week.  He believed in his artistic talent that much.  In 1965, he signed a recording contract with Bang Records.
We're up to one of the great songs by singer-songwriter Neil Diamond, who says he was inspired to write the song by Mozart's "Piano Concerto #21".  "Song Sung Blue" was included on Diamond's 1972 album Moods.  1972 was the year that sales of records and tapes topped $2 billion in the United States alone.
Diamond was happy with the song's basic message, but Uni Records boss Russ Regan was a big believer in the song, telling Neil it would be "his biggest copyright ever".
The song was good to Neil, becoming his second career #1 after 1970's "Cracklin' Rosie".  Diamond was beginning to connect with adults, which of course are the vast majority of the population, and this one went to #1 on the Adult chart for seven weeks.
"Song Sung Blue" was nominated for two of the most prestigious of the Grammy Awards:  Song of the Year and Record of the Year, losing both to Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face". 
Those two songs were actually out at the same time, along with "Alone Again (Naturally)" by Gilbert O'Sullivan, America's "A Horse With No Name", "Brandy" by Looking Glass, "Lean On Me" by Bill Withers, Elton John's "Rocket Man", and "Take It Easy" by the Eagles.  Any song that can get through that gauntlet and reach #1 deserves major kudos. 
Not only did the single go Gold, but Diamond's album His Greatest Hits has sold over two million copies, and Greatest Hits 1966-1992 is now over four million units sold. 


Kenny Loggins

"Seriously, try sitting still while listening to this song.  It's impossible!!"
"OMG i LOVE this song!!!!!!!!!!"

"Un clasico."

"Great music."

We now can enjoy this toe-tapping delight.

Kenny Loggins got his first break in music when he became the full-time songwriter (for $100 a week) at Wingate Music, a division of ABC Records.  He then hooked up with ex-Buffalo Springfield member Jim Messina for the hit "Your Mama Don't Dance" in 1973.

The collaboration between Loggins and Messina was always a loose one, and the duo split in 1976.  Kenny began his solo career the next year, and enjoyed hits such as "Whenever I Call You Friend" (with Stevie Nicks) and "This Is It". 

Dean Pitchford, who also wrote the screenplay for the movie Footloose, had worked with Loggins before on the song "Don't Fight It".  He wanted Kenny on board with the movie, and Paramount Pictures, which had temporarily signed on to it, was also chomping at the bit.  Loggins had become a hot commodity, with his song "I'm Alright" contributing greatly to the success of the movie Caddyshack.  In fact, without Loggins' involvement, the entire project might have fallen apart--such was the importance that Paramount placed in landing a Loggins song.

Things became more complicated when Loggins fell during a concert in Provo, Utah and broke his foot.  He had one more show in Lake Tahoe, Nevada before leaving to tour Asia.  Pitchford knew he had one chance to get a song from Kenny, and that was to fly to Lake Tahoe.  So it was there that he and Loggins wrote this classic in Kenny's hotel room. 
From those beginnings came The #435 Song of the Rock Era*.  It quickly caught on in January, and despite killer competition from "What's Love Got To Do With It" by Tina Turner, "Hello" and "All Night Long" from Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson's "Thriller", "Islands In The Stream" by Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton, "Uptown Girl" by Billy Joel, "When Doves Cry" by Prince, "Jump" from Van Halen, "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins, "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" by Bonnie Tyler, and "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" by Elton John, "Footloose" leaped to the top of the charts.
"Footloose" had a foothold on #1 for three weeks, and spent 11 weeks solidly locked into the Top 10.  It not only went Platinum, but helped sell 11 million albums, and has been played one million times since 1984.




Piano Man
Billy Joel

"I have loved this song ever since i can remember!!!"
"This is a very moving song that grounds and connects the listener with a feeling for some of life's most seemingly basic and true experiences."
"Never tire of hearing this. Its a beautiful song."
"Great song."

Classic after classic, songs played back-to-back like you have never experienced before.  These are the crème de la crème of the Rock Era, the best 500 songs in the last 60 years.
In 1972, Billy Joel had just gone through a bad experience with an album he had recorded for a company called Family Productions.  Joel had moved from New York to Los Angeles to record his debut release, Cold Spring Harbor
But the company's producers butchered the album in mastering, and Billy naturally wanted to switch record companies.  Columbia was interested in signing him, but the contract that Joel had signed with Family made it difficult.  So for six months, Billy in effect "hid out at the bar", the now defunct Executive Room, which was located near the intersection of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue in L.A., while the lawyers at Columbia worked to get him out of his existing contract.  
Billy's six months at the piano lounge gave him quite many stories to tell, and he says that all of the characters depicted in this song were based on real people.  "John at the bar" is self-explanatory; "Paul is a real estate novelist" refers to a realtor who would sit at the bar each night working on what he believed would become the next great American novel.  The "waitress who was practicing politics" was Joel's first wife, Elizabeth Weber, whom he met at The Executive Room. 
The incredible song "Piano Man" was the title song from Billy's 1974 album, and it began its run in February.  At the time, he was an unknown, and the song stalled at #25, although Canada took it to #10 (kudos to them!).  Part of the problem, besides Joel being an unknown, was that executives at Columbia felt the song was too long (5 minutes and 38 seconds), so two verses were cut in half for the 45, which clocked in at 4 minutes and 33 seconds.  The promotional 45 was even shorter at about 3 minutes. 
It is best when managers and executives don't mess with talent--the artist knows what they are doing.  Many of you out there can identify--if only your boss would leave you alone, you could accomplish great things.  We now know that "Piano Man" was a masterpiece that needs to be heard in its entirety, and certainly not cut to three minutes.   

 Later, Joel wrote the song "The Entertainer" about the incident, commenting (in the executives' point of view),  "It was a beautiful song, but it ran too long / If you're gonna' have a hit, you gotta' make it fit / So they cut it down to 3:05."
As Billy went on to produce hit after hit and become one of the Rock Era's great superstars, "Piano Man"  became his signature song.  The song remains immensely popular, and actually ranks as Joel's #1 song on the ITunes Store (as of 2014). 
"Piano Man" has contributed to 30 million in album sales, and most music directors at radio stations now realize the industry blew it by not playing the song at the time--it has now been played over two million times.  And we should note that in nearly all of those two million incidences, the full version of 5 minutes and 38 seconds was played!



Please Please Me 

"Has to be one of the Beatles best songs, the harmonica intro once heard stays with you forever, and the high note on the second please in the title makes the track magic. This, their second single, was a serious announcement to the world."
"The arrangement is stunning!  Every single thing that could be done to ramp up the excitement is done."
"The best band ever!!!"
"Oh, my God, this is my jam.  Whenever I would hear it on the radio, I just wanted to jump up and dance whether I was in the car or local grocery store, whatever, I just wanted to boogie to it."


This group from Liverpool had enjoyed a modest hit with "Love Me Do" in their native England, although Capitol Records in the U.S. wasn't interested in distributing it, and Vee-Jay Records wasn't big enough to adequately promote it.  The Beatles wanted to release "Please Please Me" as the follow-up, but producer George Martin felt the original version was "rather dreary", too slow, and thus not the big hit the band were looking for.   

Martin said, "I was still thinking that we should release their [earlier] recording of "How Do You Do It?", a reworking of a Mitch Murray song that Martin insisted the group record.  The members of the Beatles said they were only interested in recording their own material.  Martin ultimately sided with the group, and it's a good thing.
As first written, "Please Please Me" was indeed a bluesy, slow tempo song.  Songwriter John Lennon explained:

  "I remember the day I wrote it, I heard Roy Orbison doing "Only The Lonely".  And I was always intrigued by the words to a Bing Crosby song that went, 'Please lend a little ear to my pleas'. The double use of the word 'please'. So it was a combination of Roy Orbison and Bing Crosby".

Martin did succeed in mixing in harmonies and speeding up the song, and Lennon added the harmonica intro.  But like its predecessor ("Love Me Do"), Capitol had no interest, and Vee-Jay was unable to produce a hit when they released it on February 7, 1963.  However, destiny prevailed.  When "I Want To Hold Your Hand" became a huge hit the following year, Vee-Jay re-released it (on January 3), and this time, "Please Please Me" was a smash.  

Beatles performed this song on their second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 16, 1964.  "Please Please Me" trailed only the aforementioned "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You", and was there when the Beatles famously charted all five of the Top 5 songs on April 4, the others being "Can't Buy Me Love" and "Twist And Shout".  The feat has never been duplicated in the 51 years since.   

In addition to competing with their own great songs, "Please Please Me" also fought off great songs like "My Guy" by Mary Wells, "Fun, Fun, Fun" by the Beach Boys, and "Louie, Louie" from the Kingsmen, to get to #3 for two weeks, and it spent 7 of its 13 weeks in the Top 10.  The Beatles won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist of 1964.

"Please Please Me" has sold over two million singles and helped sell over 28 million albums. 



All Right Now
"Love this song! !"
"cool song :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)"
"Now THAT"S rhythm."
"Great beat!""


One of the legends in the music business, Alexis Korner, was there when this act made its live debut.  He gave them the name of Free, and was instrumental in getting them a contract with Island Records. 

Bassist Andy Fraser and lead singer Paul Rodgers wrote "All Right Now".  The group recorded the song at both Trident Studios and Island Studios, and included it on their album Fire and Water.  Free debuted on the charts with the song in August of 1970.  The song really took off after Free's performance at the Isle of Wight Festival on August 31, 1970, where over 600,000 people attended.   

Despite competition from "Close To You" and "We've Only Just Begun" by the Carpenters, The Jackson 5's "I'll Be There", James Taylor's "Fire And Rain", "The Tears Of A Clown" by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles, and Neil Diamond's "Cracklin' Rosie", the song still reached #4 in the U.S.  "All Right Now" raced to #1 in France, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, Italy, Austria, and Denmark, and it reached #5 in Germany. 

 "All Right Now" went over three million radio airplays in 2006.


She Believes In Me 
Kenny Rogers

"Beautiful song , I love the lyrics..."
"I so much love this song..."
"So beautiful.  Tissues please."

This superstar has sung doo-wop, jazz, country, and ballads.  He appeared on American Bandstand at age 20 in 1958. 
Kenny Rogers has also been a member of the New Christy Minstrels before making it big with the First Edition and then striking out on his own.  Beginning with "The Gambler" in 1978, Kenny Rogers went through a period where he was a hot as anyone in music.  The song at #431* is part of that streak, and in fact the follow-up single to "The Gambler", first debuting in April of 1979. 

"She Believes In Me" was written for Kenny by Steve Gibb and Rogers reached #5 for two weeks with this smash.  It spent seven weeks in the Top 10 on the Popular chart, was a #1 Adult Contemporary hit, and also topped the Country chart for 2 weeks.  The percentage of songs that can reach the Top 10 in those three major formats is not great, and it is that mass appeal that carries "She Believes In Me" into The Top 500* for the Rock Era.

The #5 peak is more of a reflection of poor methodology than it is the song.  As referenced above, it was as popular throughout the nation as nearly any song out at the time across multiple formats.  That fact, coupled with extreme competition from the Knack's "My Sharona", "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, "Reunited" by Peaches & Herb, "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" by Rod Stewart, Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff" and "Bad Girls", "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band, "What A Fool Believes" by the Doobie Brothers, and "After The Love Has Gone" by Earth, Wind & Fire, shows that Rogers held his own against some heavyweights. 

"She Believes In Me" went Gold, and has helped sell a phenomenal 23 million albums.  Rogers won Country Music Association Awards for Album of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year.  To not place this song in a "Top 500 of the Rock Era" is to place more emphasis on one's own view of the world and ignore tens of millions of people and the songs that they like.  That is not only biased and selfish, but unprofessional. 

What greatness awaits us tomorrow/  Be back on Inside The Rock Era and find out!

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