Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #450-441

You're on the ride of your life, because essentially this music is the soundtrack to it.  We hope you are enjoying our brand new update of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.  The music is just spectacular, and we continue with 10 more:

Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)

"A classic, the only word for it."
"Crank it!"
"Fab song, great memories."
"Brilliant tune."

Up next, one of the most unusual of the songs in The Top 500*.  Gary DeCarlo, Dale Frashuer and Paul Leka wrote the song "Kiss Him Goodbye" when the three were in a group in Bridgeport, Connecticut called the Chateaus in 1961.  After several recordings failed, the group split up.  Leka co-wrote and co-produced "Green Tambourine", a #1 song for the Lemon Pipers in 1968. 
One year later, Leka began working again with DeCarlo, who by this time was using the stage name Garrett Scott.  DeCarlo recorded four songs, all produced by Leka.  The first single, "Workin' On A Groovy Thing", went nowhere for DeCarlo and became a hit instead for the 5th Dimension.  The next release was set to be "Sweet Laura Lee", but the record needed a "B-side".
So the two went back into the studio, along with former bandmate Frashuer, who suggested DeCarlo use their old song "Kiss Him Goodbye".  The three musicians recorded the song in one recording session.  Instead of using a full band, Leka had engineer Warren Dewey splice together a drum track from one of DeCarlo's four songs and played keyboards himself.  For the chorus, Leka began using "na na's" instead of actual words, and someone else added "hey hey".  Bob Reno, the A&R man at Mercury Records, heard the song and loved it.  He didn't want to use the song as a B-side, but instead wanted it to release it as a single on Fontana Records, a subsidiary of Mercury. 
The single was released not under DeCarlo's name, or even Garrett Scott, but under a fictitious group called Steam.  DeCarlo indeed had a hit on his hands, but under the name of a fake group.
The often-repeated story is that the three songwriters were embarrassed with what they came up with and did not want to be associated with it.  DeCarlo has said, however, that he was never embarrassed by the song, and was promised by Leka that a group of musicians would be assembled as Steam and DeCarlo would be the lead singer in gigs around the country.  Leka told him he would get a group through a booking agency in New York City, which never happened.  DeCarlo said further that the name Steam wasn't invented until the album came out.
The group was assembled, but the lead singer touring the country was not DeCarlo.  He was told not to tell anyone that it was him singing on the record, and in return, Leka promised to get a hit for him as a solo artist.  That never happened either.

DeCarlo said it was agonizing not to open the car window and yell to people that it was him that they were hearing on the song playing.  DeCarlo just wanted to write songs, sing, produce, just do anything that concerned the music industry.  Because Leka was his manager, publisher, producer and longtime "friend", DeCarlo thought he had his back, which he didn't.
People believed Leka's side of the story because he went on to achieve success in the business while DeCarlo's recordings went nowhere.
"Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)" surprised everyone by going to #1 for two weeks, and spent 8 weeks in the Top 10. 
It topped the chart against stellar competition from "Something" and "Come Together" by the Beatles, "Honky Tonk Women" by the Rolling Stones, "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" by B.J. Thomas, "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley, "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies, "Someday We'll Be Together" by the Supremes, "Wedding Bell Blues" by the 5th Dimension, "Everybody's Talkin'" by Nilsson, "Venus" by the Shocking Blue, "Down On The Corner" by CCR, and "I Can't Get Next To You" by the Temptations".  The strength of that competition makes reaching #1 all the more remarkable for the fictitious group Steam.

"Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" sold over one million copies in the U.S. and 6.5 million worldwide.  It has been played over two million times on the radio.




The Joker
Steve Miller

"Love that song!"

"I feel good" kind of song..."

"Awesome song!"

"Love that bass line..."

The superstar at #449* played in his first band, The Marksmen Combo, with schoolfriend Boz Scaggs at age 12 at Woodrow Wilson High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  Later, Miller and Scaggs went to Wisconsin University, and played in an R&B cover group called the Ardells.
This classic was Steve Miller's breakout hit in 1973.  In it, he refers to himself as "The Space Cowboy", a song he recorded in 1969.  The lines "some call me The Gangster Of Love" and "some people call me Maurice" refer to songs Miller recorded in 1968.
But what, exactly, is "the pompatus of love"?  And what is "epismetology?"  "Pompatus" is considered a "nonce word", in that it is an incidental or accidental word created to solve an immediate problem of communication, and has not entered the lexicon of a language.  In this case, Miller's use of "pompatus" and "epismetology" appear to be taken from the 1954 song "The Letter" by the Medallions, which included these lines:  

Oh my darling, let me whisper
sweet words of pizmotality
and discuss the puppetutes of love.


The Steve Miller Band faced a score of great songs when they released "The Joker" in October, 1973.  It had to contend with "The Way We Were" by Barbra Streisand, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" by Elton John, "Half-Breed" by Cher, "Midnight Train To Georgia" by Gladys Knight & the Pips, Chicago and "Just You 'N' Me", Jim Croce's "Time In A Bottle", "Love's Theme" by the Love Unlimited Orchestra, Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On", "Top Of The World" by the Carpenters, and "The Most Beautiful Girl" by Charlie Rich.
Yet "the Joker" reached #1, and spent eight weeks in the Top 10 in the United States, and it climbed to #2 in Canada.  After being featured in a commercial for Levi's jeans, the song was a hit all over again in Europe in the 90's, hitting #1 in the U.K., New Zealand, Ireland, and the Netherlands, #2 in Norway, #4 in Sweden, and #5 in Switzerland and Austria.
Song #449* quickly sold one million in singles and it helped sell 15.5 million albums for the Steve Miller Band.




"Sometimes When We Touch"
Dan Hill

"Love this song.."
"Very touching..."
"This song makes me cry every time I hear it..."

At position #448*, one of 13 songs that Canadians have contributed to The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.  Five of those 13 come from artists from the city of Toronto, including this artist.  Toronto has more entries in the special than any other city in Canada.

Brother of the author Lawrence Hill, Dan went in a different direction.  He studied guitar as a teenager and went to work at RCA as a songwriter.  After releasing his debut album, Hill went to work with Barry Mann for the top song on his album Longer Fuse.  Dan released "Sometimes When We Touch" as a single in September of 1977. 
The song faced extremely tough competiton:  "How Deep Is Your Love", "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever" by the Bee Gees, "You Light Up My Life" from Debby Boone, "Don't Stop" and "You Make Loving Fun", "Baker Street", from Gerry Rafferty "Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel, Eric Clapton's "Lay Down Sally", "If I Can't Have You" from Yvonne Elliman, "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" and "Shadow Dancing" by Andy Gibb, "We Are The Champions", by Queen "Blue Bayou" by Linda Ronstadt, and "Baby Come Back" by Player.

Just reaching #3 for 2 weeks was a major accomplishment, and "Sometimes When We Touch" also hit  #10 on the Adult chart.

"Sometimes When We Touch" went Gold.  The song has now been played five million times, one of the most-played songs in the Rock Era.
In 2009, Hill published the book I Am My Father's Son: A Memoir of Love and Forgiveness, a telling of his childhood.


The Loco-Motion
 Grand Funk

"Favorite song!"

"Brings back a lot of memories..."

When this song was released and first heard in March of 1974, listeners could probably be heard muttering "I've heard this song before."  But it didn't matter.  Little Eva's 1962 hit written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin was being revived.
The group from Flint, Michigan decided to record the song after guitarist Mark Farner was heard whistling the song in the studio.  Produced expertly to give it an edge by Todd Rundgren, the innocence of Little Eva was replaced by guitars, several layers of harmony, and heavy drums.  Featured on the album Shinin' On, "The Loco-Motion" became the first song of the Rock Era to reach #1 by two different artists.
We can forgive the casual listener from thinking it would be a breeze to record a cover of a big hit and have it go to #1.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  To get to the mountain top, Grand Funk would have to beat outstanding competition, coming in the form of  "Bennie And The Jets" and "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" from Elton John, "The Way We Were" by Barbra Streisand, "Sunshine On My Shoulders" and "Annie's Song" by John Denver, "Love's Theme" by the Love Unlimited Orchestra, "Band On The Run" by Paul McCartney & Wings, "Time In A Bottle" by Jim Croce, "Rock Your Baby" by George McCrae, "Piano Man" by Billy Joel, and "Seasons In The Sun" by Terry Jacks.
"The Loco-Motion" emerged strong, and held on to #1 for two weeks in the United States; it also reached #1 in Canada, #5 in Australia, and #7 in Austria.  Of course, Kylie Minogue hit #3 with her version of the song in 1988, making three times that three different artists had taken the song to the Top 5.  That is truly a testament to its lasting popularity.


Little Darlin' 

"This song will forever symbolize the 50's for me."
"Wow!  Such memories of my teenage years.....dancing and singing the night away to all that great music and long may it live and be appreciated by generation after generation............"
"You've just gotta love this music!!!!!" 
"Super adore!"

Dave Somerville was working as a sound engineer for the Canadian Broadcasting Company when he met tenor Ted Kowalski, baritone Phil Levitt, and bass Bill Reed.  The vocal quartet formed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada in 1955, and performed publicly for the first time at Thomas Aquinas Church in Toronto in a Christmas minstrel show.  After 18 months of practicing, the Diamonds took off for New York City, and placed first on the television show Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts.  This exposure led to a recording contract with Coral Records.

But after four releases on Coral, the Diamonds were still looking for their first big hit.  The group's next stop was Cleveland, Ohio for an audition with Dr. Bill Randle.  Randle had been instrumental in getting the Crew-Cuts off to a good start, and he came through for the Diamonds as well.  Randle introduced the Diamonds to a producer at Mercury Records, and the group signed a major contract with them.
At position #446*, one of nine songs from 1957 that are among the Rock Era's elite 58 years later.  It was written by Maurice Williams, who would go on to enjoy the big hit "Stay" with the Zodiacs.  Three years, previous, though, Williams was with a group called the Gladiolas, and they released "Little Darlin'" first.  It was a fairly big R&B hit (#11), but with the masses, it barely made a dent. 
The Diamonds recorded the song a month later, and it is they that enjoyed the big hit with it.  And was it big--#2 for eight weeks in fact, and a #2 R&B smash for two weeks.  The only songs keeping it away from the pinnacle were "All Shook Up" and "Teddy Bear" by Elvis Presley and Guy Mitchell's "Singing The Blues".  "Bye Bye Love" by the Everly Brothers was also out at the same time.
"Little Darlin'" is credited with two million airplays.  The Diamonds reformed in April of 1973 after a decade apart, performing on a Midnight Special television episode dedicated to oldies hitmakers.  The group reformed again in 1989 for a U.S. tour that included the Chiffons, the Belmonts, the Flamingos and the Silhouettes.


Indian Reservation (The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian)
 Paul Revere And The Raiders

"The original madman of rock n roll.  Great song."
"The lead guitarist is insanely good, and way ahead of his time, Lindsay's vocals are impeccable, and not easily covered."
"Can't get better than this!"
"Love the organ riff at the end.........very dramatic."


This song was written by Country songwriter John D. Loudermilk, who also wrote "Nashville Road" for the Nashville Teens and "Ebony Eyes" for the Everly Brothers.  This song was first recorded as "The Pale Faced Indian" by Marvin Rainwater in 1959.  That version was largely unrecognized, and the first hit version of the song was from Don Fardo in 1968.
The lyrics refer to the forcible removal and relocation of Five Civilized Tribes, including the Cherokee people, from the southeastern states of Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi and Alabama to the southern Indian Territory in present-day Oklahoma.  Historians often refer to this relocation as the "Trail of Tears".  The Cherokee were the last of the Tribes to be removed after signing the Treaty of New Echota.
The Cherokees fought on both sides of the American Civil War, and after the resolution of that bloody conflict, United States Indian Policy forced reservation life for the nations of the Great Plains.  Today, most Cherokees live on their Federal reservation in Oklahoma with some living in their ancestral lands of Georgia and North Carolina.    
In 1971, Boise, Idaho's Paul Revere & the Raiders recorded the song.  Lead singer Mark Lindsay, whose ancestry was part Indian, thought it would be a good idea to add it to their new album (which was titled after the song), and in April of 1971, "Indian Reservation" began its climb.
The single would have to overcome obstacles along the way, in the form of "Joy To The World" by Three Dog Night, "It's Too Late" by Ketchum, Idaho's Carole King, "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart, "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" by the Bee Gees, "Me And Bobby McGee" by Janis Joplin, "Brown Sugar" by the Rolling Stones, "You've Got A Friend" from James Taylor, "Just My Imagination" by the Temptations, "For All We Know" by the Carpenters, "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye, "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" by Paul and Linda McCartney, and "Spanish Harlem" by Aretha Franklin. 
The Raiders' chart record includes a run up to #1 and 9 weeks in the Top 10.  Within three months, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) came knocking with a Gold certification.  "Indian Reservation" was later certified for selling an additional million copies.  The song has been played over one million times on the radio.   

A fan makes a great observation about the song...

 "Isn't it ironic that a song like this, brimming with simmering rage and an implied threat to retake the land for the natives, was written by a white Country songwriter, recorded by a band named after the white European patriots whose colonization of the U.S. took the land from the Cherokees in the first place, and sold by Columbia Records, a company originating as "Columbia Graphophone Company" in the U.K.?


The last line in the song became prophetic, when the Eastern and Western bands of the Cherokee Nation became one again on April 6, 1984.  The tribes officially reunited at the Red Clay Council Grounds (now a state park) outside Cleveland, Tennessee.  


One More Try
George Michael

"Powerful, passionate soul!"
"The best song ever!"
"George Michael is amazing--what a performance."

Michael and Andrew Ridgeley formed their first band, The Executive, in 1979.  The two of course would become major stars as Wham! in the 80s.  For his work on the group's debut album, Michael earned Songwriter of the Year at the Ivor Novello Awards at the age of 22. 
Increasingly, though, Michael began to record and perform on his own, and he had been writing nearly all of their material for four years.  Finally, the duo split in 1985, and George went to work on his solo career.  Two years later, Michael unveiled a superb album, Faith.  "I Want Your Sex", the title song, and "Father Figure" would all spill out of the album ahead of this great song at #444*.  "One More Try" waited its turn, until it was finally released as a single in April of 1988.
"One More Try" faced competition from "Man In The Mirror" by Michael Jackson, Michael's own "Father Figure", and "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns 'N Roses.

"One More Try" showed good mass appeal; it was #1 for 3 weeks on both the Popular and Adult Contemporary charts.  It also went to #1 in Canada and Ireland, #4 in the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, #5 in France, #7 in Norway, and #8 in the U.K. and New Zealand.
The single sold one million singles, and helped sell the album go Quadruple Platinum in just six months.  Faith has now sold over 12 million copies.
Michael won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.  "One More Try" has exceeded one million in radio airplay.


Big Girls Don't Cry 
4 Seasons

"This song is awesome."
They just don't make songs like this any more."
"This is true music."
"Legendary vocals and harmonies."

Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio teamed up to write this gem, as they did for most of the 4 Seasons songs.  According to Crewe, he was dozing off in his home in Manhattan with his television on.  When he awoke, he saw John Payne slap Rhonda Fleming in the 1956 movie Slightly Scarlet.  When Fleming began to weep, Payne said "Big girls don't cry."  Crewe wrote the words down, and began writing the song the next morning. 
The Four Lovers, as they were known at the start of the 60's, were going nowhere when Crewe became interested in them.  Crewe strongly believed in the group, but felt they needed to change their style and material.  He brought in Gaudio, a keyboard player and talented songwriter, as a member of the group.  And, Crewe suggested the name change to the 4 Seasons. 
Song #443* in The Top 500* is included on the album Sherry and 11 Others.  "Big Girls Don't Cry" began its run in October of 1962, facing competition from "Return To Sender" by Elvis Presley, "Walk Right In" by the Rooftop Singers, and "Rhythm Of The Rain" by the Cascades, among others.  The 4 Seasons scored a huge #1 hit of five weeks with "Big Girls Don't Cry", which also landed the top spot for three weeks on the R&B chart.
The song has well over one million airplays.  Fans of the classic television series The Lucy Show might remember Lucille Ball and Vivian Vaughn singing this song on the show's first episode entitled "Lucy Is A Chaperone".


I Can't Get Next To You

"Greatest song of its time."
"Solid Gold!"
"AWESOME song!! One of the best in history."
"Favorite band forever."


We are presenting The Top 500 Songs* of the last 60 years, an incredible time in music known as the Rock Era.  Classic after classic is what you get.  You won't hear songs of this quality played back-to-back often in your lifetime.

Here's the group that we referred to earlier who began performing under their original name of the Primes.  Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote this song for the group, now firmly established as the Temptations.  The Temps recorded it over six days at Motown's Hitsville USA Studios in Detroit, Michigan.  What is unique about this classic is that all five members (Dennis Edwards, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin, and Otis Williams) all sing lead vocal for a verse. 

The song debuted on the chart in August of 1969, and faced stiff competition from "Something" and "Come Together" by the Beatles, "Honky Tonk Women" by the Rolling Stones, "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" from B.J. Thomas, Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds", "In The Year 2525" by Zager and Evans', "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies, the 5th Dimension's "Wedding Bell Blues", "Everybody's Talkin'" by Nilsson, "Get Together" by the Youngbloods, "Down On The Corner" and "Bad Moon Rising" from CCR, and "Crystal Blue Persuasion" by Tommy James & the Shondells.   

Yep, all those songs were out at the same magical time, yet "I Can't Get Next To You" still rose to #1 for two weeks.  Let's just say this:  it would take an amazing song to navigate that competition and still come out on top.  It also dominated the R&B charts for five weeks as well. 

This great song spent 11 of its 17 weeks in the Top 10  "I Can't Get Next To You" has been certified as having been played over one million times on the radio.




What A Fool Believes
Doobie Brothers

"Great song!"
"One of the classics."
"One of the best songs ever!"


At #441*, the career best from the group which called themselves the Doobie Brothers, although none of the members had any direct kinship to one another.  The song came out at a time when the Rock Era was going through a crisis.  The time for disco music was reaching an end, because, although there were certainly great disco songs, they were few and far between, and most merely focused on a pulsating beat with little meaningful lyrics.
The year this song came out, #1 songs included the pathetic "Ring My Bell" and "Pop Muzik", two songs that can hardly claim to stand up to songs such as "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Stairway To Heaven", and "Hotel California". 

Michael McDonald was originally hired by the Doobie Brothers to augment their live shows, but by 1979, he had become the leader of the group.  McDonald took the group from the guitar-led boogie band fronted by Tom Johnston to a funky, blue-eyed soul act.  McDonald and Kenny Loggins teamed to write this song, included on the Doobie Brothers album Minute by Minute
It's a portrait of a chance meeting between two former lovers, each with different recollections of the relationship they shared.  The male believes the love affair was the highlight of their lives; the female character does not share those feelings.   "What A Fool Believes" was released as a single on Warner Brothers Records, and debuted on the chart in January, 1979.

The song had some pretty amazing competition:  "I Will Survive", "Le Freak" by Chic, "Too Much Heaven" and "Tragedy", from the Bee Gees, "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond, "Reunited" by Peaches & Herb, Billy Joel's "My Life", "Knock On Wood" from Amii Stewart, Rod Stewart's "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy", and "The Gambler" by Kenny Rogers.

But a true classic can navigate those waters, and "What A Fool Believes" became a #1 song that spent 9 weeks in the Top 10.  Plus, it won Grammies for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals. 

"What A Fool Believes" has sold over one million singles and helped sell 3.5 million albums.

And there you have 10 more incredible entries.  These first 60 songs should give you some idea of the quality coming up.  Every song is a classic, simply timeless.  And we have 10 more tomorrow on Inside The Rock Era!

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