Monday, May 25, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #460-451

Inside The Rock Era is celebrating the 60th birthday year of the Rock Era in a variety of ways, but perhaps the biggest is bringing back our signature music special, The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.  The special was first broadcast on the radio in 1979, and has been formerly updated several times.
We timed the special to conclude on what happens to be exactly 60 years from when "Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley reached #1 on July 9, 1955, to become the first Rock song to reach #1.
If you have missed a day of the special (we started last Thursday), we strongly encourage you to go back and listen to the songs in order prior to catching these first.  You can do that in one of two ways:  1)  go to the bottom of the website and click on Older Post, until you get to the beginning of the special, with Songs #500-491*, then Songs #490-481*, etc., or 2)  find the group(s) of songs you have not listened to yet on the Blog Archive at the left-hand section of the page, and click on those links.
We have 10 more classics to present to you today:


Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)
Christopher Cross

"Bellissima quanti ricordi......"
"One of my fav song in 80's..."
"I like Christopher Cross!!!! His music and his voice - awesome, unforgettable!!!!! "

Budding talent Christopher Cross teamed up with Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allen to write this amazing song.  Allen and Bayer Sager had written many songs together, including "Don't Cry Out Loud" for Melissa Manchester and "I'd Rather Leave While I'm In Love" by Rita Coolidge.
Bayer Sager began writing with Bacharach in 1981, and when Bacharach was tabbed to score the music for the movie Arthur, starring Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli and John Gielgud, he worked on the music for the theme song with Cross, and asked Carole to write the lyrics.  Carole recalled the now famous line "When you get caught between the moon and New York City" from an unreleased song that she and Allen had written before.  Allen gave her permission to use the line in the theme song, and the song came together.
But I'm sure you want to know how Allen came up with the line.  Sometime in the early 80s, Peter happened to be stuck in a holding pattern one clear night waiting to land at JFK airport in New York City.  Allen knew he had something, and it took years before it made it into a song, but that is how one gets caught looking at the moon and unable to be in New York City. 

"Arthur" landed on the Singles chart in August of 1981, when it battled for airplay and acceptance among Rock Era fans with songs such as "Endless Love" by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie, "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes, Journey's "Open Arms", "Don't Stop Believing" and "Who's Crying Now", Foreigner's "Waiting For A Girl Like You", "Physical" from Olivia Newton-John, "I Can't Go For That" by Hall & Oates, and "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by the Police.

"Arthur" topped the U.S. Popular chart for three weeks, racked up 12 weeks in the Top 10, and reached #1 on the AC chart for four weeks.  It also went to #1 in Norway, #2 in Canada, #6 in Switzerland, and #7 in the U.K. and Ireland.  The song went Gold and has now been played over two million times.
Bacharach and Bayer Sager were married the next year, five days before "Arthur" won an Academy Award for Best Original Song from a Motion Picture.  The song also captured the Golden Globe Award in the same category.  Bacharach and Bayer Sager went on to write "That's What Friends Are For" for Dionne Warwick & Friends and "On My Own" by Michael McDonald and Patti LaBelle, among others. 
"Arthur" also captured the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song, and was ranked #79 in the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Songs ranking of the top songs in cinema history in 2004.


Can't Let Go
Mariah Carey

"Most beautiful song I've ever heard...there will never be another Mariah Carey."
"Also, can we just acknowledge that Mariah was 23 here??"
"I love this song. I feel such a sense of nostalgia just listening to it."
"What an amazing song - what an artist."

We are just 42 songs in, and already Mariah Carey has two of them.  This great song from her second album Emotions makes the list.

This classic performance is one of nine in The Top 500* for the woman we revealed last fall as The #1 Female Artist of the Rock Era*.  It is a ballad written and produced by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff, released on Columbia Records.

"Emotions" debuted in November, 1991.  It is a #2 song that spent 11 of 20 weeks in the Top 10, and also a #1 song on the Adult Contemporary chart for three weeks.  The song has surpassed one million airplays and helped sell 11 million albums.
The song went up against "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" by Bryan Adams, Michael Jackson's "Black Or White", her own song "Emotions", "Save The Best For Last" by Vanessa Williams, and "Tears In Heaven" from Eric Clapton.

Carey captured Billboard Awards for Hot 100 Singles Artist, Top Female Album Artist and Top Female Singles Artist for her work on "Can't Let Go".



Spanish Harlem
Aretha Franklin

"Goosebumps"   That's what she DOES.....!"
"Always loved this song, it is the ultimate in soul!" 
"Elle est excellente!!"


This superstar began playing piano by listening to Eddie Heywood records.  But Franklin is renowned for her singing voice, and it's no wonder--among the people who taught her to sing was Mahalia Jackson.
In 1971, she took a song by Ben E. King, talked Dr. John into playing keyboards, and struck Gold with it.  She hit #1 for three weeks on the R&B chart, reached #2 overall for two weeks, and made it a three-format hit with a peak of #6 on the Adult chart. 

Franklin did it against top-notch competition from Rod Stewart ("Maggie May"), Carole King ("It's Too Late"), the Bee Gees ("How Can You Mend A Broken Heart"), the Rolling Stones ("Brown Sugar"), the Carpenters ("Superstar"), Paul Revere & the Raiders ("Indian Reservation"), Cher ("Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves"), and Paul and Linda McCartney ("Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey"). 
"Spanish Harlem" sold over one million copies and has been played on the radio over three million times. 


Family Affair
 Sly & The Family Stone

"This is one of the coolest songs ever! You can really hear how Prince was influenced by Sly."
"That's what life is truly all about. GOD, first....... Family/friends . We didn't have a lot of monetary things, we had one another."
"Real life put into music. Feeling good!"
"Funkiest" song ever recorded."

Sly & the Family Stone were one of the first exponents of Funk, and they did it well.  In many ways, Sly & the group defined the times. 
Sylvester Stewart began his adult career as a disc jockey in the San Francisco Bay Area.  He was then hired by Autumn Records, and worked with Bobby Freeman, the Beau Brummels, and The Great Society (Grace Slick's first band).  Stewart grew impatient, however, and decided to change his name and record his own music.
Sylvester Stone recruited trumpeter Cynthia Robinson, saxophonist Jerry Martini, Rosie Stone on piano, guitarist Freddie Stone, drummer Greg Errico, and the great bassist Larry Graham.  We first heard "Family Affair" in November, 1971, it being released as a single from the great album There's a Riot Goin' On
"Family Affair" went all the way to #1, where it remained for three weeks, spending 9 weeks in the Top 10, and controlling the R&B chart for five weeks as well. 

That's an impressive chart run, but it means even more when one considers the quality of songs out at the same time "Family Affair" was posting those numbers.

To wit, "American Pie" by Don McLean, "Stairway To Heaven" and "Rock And Roll" by Led Zeppelin, "Without You" from Nilsson, "Imagine" by John Lennon, "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart, "A Horse With No Name" by America, Neil Young's "Heart Of Gold", "Superstar" by the Carpenters, "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" by Cher, and "Let's Stay Together" from Al Green.

"Family Affair" is also a member of BMI's "Million-Airs Club", having been played over one million times.




Crying In The Chapel
Elvis Presley
"Such an amazing perfect voice. THE KING!"
"Chorando na capela, belo louvor!"   
"Smooth.  Mellow.  Unique."
"Elvis pra sempre Elvis¡!!!¡!!!¡!! Elvis o nosso querido e maravilhoso Rei do Rock , nunca havera outro igual."

On August 10, 1954, Elvis Presley gave his second public performance at Overton Park Shell auditorium in Memphis, Tennessee.  Local success of Presley's first single, "That's All Right Mama" drew a large, enthusiastic crowd to the venue.  But promoter Bob Neal had booked Elvis low on the bill.  Elvis took the stage and performed two country ballads to polite applause in the afternoon show.  Memphis DJ Dewey Phillips, who was the first to play the song, advised Elvis to perform uptempo songs in the night show. 
This he did, singing "Good Rockin' Tonight" and "That's All Right Mama", with leg and body movements to boot.  The performance drove the audience wild, and Elvis exited the stage, bewildered by screams and shouts.  He is pushed back on stage by Phillips for an encore to a similar reaction.  Star country artist Webb Pierce who waited backstage, ready to follow Presley, stood stunned at the audience's reaction to Elvis.  

This incredibly touching song was written by Artie Glenn.  Darrell Glenn first recorded it in 1953 and reached the Top 10 with it.  Many artists have since covered it, including June Valli, Rex Allen, Ella Fitzgerald and the Orioles.  But the version that is far and away the most popular belongs to Elvis Presley. 

Presley recorded the song on October 30, 1965 with his backing group the Jordanaires and pianist Floyd Cramer.  Neal Matthews of the Jordanaires said about the recording, "Elvis was feeling really good that day. He fooled around with it and then he cut it in five minutes." 

Presley had recorded the song for his gospel album His Hand in Mine.  It was not included on that LP, but released as a special single.  RCA Records released the 45 on Easter Sunday, and it became Elvis's biggest hit in two years.  The song was later included on Presley's 1967 gospel album, How Great Thou Art.

When this went to #1 in the U.K. for two weeks, Presley became the first act on that chart to score 15 #1's.  The song stopped at #3 in Presley's home country, and peaked at #9 on the Adult chart. 

We examined the songs that were out at the same time as "Crying In The Chapel".  They included "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones, "Eight Days A Week" and "Ticket To Ride" by the Beatles, "I Can't Help Myself" by the Four Tops, "California Girls" and "Help Me Rhonda" by the Beach Boys, "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers, "I Got You Babe" by Sonny & Cher, "Mr. Tambourine Man" by the Byrds, Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone", and "Stop!  In The Name Of Love" and "Back In My Arms Again" by the Supremes.

For those of you that weren't listening to radio back then and instantly recognize the above songs as a formidable lineup, it was indeed.  But in addition to that strong lineup making "Crying In The Chapel" look very good sitting at #3, the statistics that the trade papers say they use in formulating the weekly charts (namely single sales and radio airplay) tell us that the song was much stronger.  It sold two million singles, and has been played over two million times, more sales and airplay than most of the songs above.

The trade papers have never figured out how to include album sales into their equation.  We have, and those album sales for albums that include "Crying In The Chapel" are now up to 20 million. 




Down On The Corner
Creedence Clearwater Revival


"Great sing-along song!"
"This is happy music. I have no other description for it."

"CCR is awesome!"

The song at #455* reminds one of seeing a hungry band of musicians performing on a street corner asking for nickels, dimes, whatever the passer-by could part with.
This group formed when guitarist John Fogerty, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford were going to Portola Junior High School in El Cerrito, California.  John's brother, Tom, later joined on rhythm guitar.  They were first known as Tommy Fogerty & the Blue Velvets, but they were also known as the Visions and the Golliwogs.  Soon, they would change their name to Creedence Clearwater Revival and become one of the top bands the world has ever known.
This next great song hit the airwaves in October of 1969, and during its chart run, encountered competition from "Honky Tonk Women" by the Rolling Stones, "Come Together" by the Beatles, "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" by B.J. Thomas, "Suspicious Minds" from Elvis Presley, "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies, "Someday We'll Be Together" by the Supremes, "Wedding Bell Blues" by the 5th Dimension, Nilsson with "Everybody's Talkin'", "Venus" from the Shocking Blue, "I Can't Get Next To You" by the Temptations, and "Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)" by Steam.
John Fogerty wrote the song for the CCR album Willy and the Poorboys, and "Down On The Corner" was released as a single on Fantasy Records. 
Creedence took the song to #3, and it spent 8 weeks in the Top 10.  "Down On The Corner" has sold 2 million singles and helped sell 11 million albums.  It has been played three million times.




Listen To Your Heart 

"love it  ❤"
"Love this jam..classic.."
"Excellent lyrics and voice, great music!"
"A fantastic, timeless, classical Rock Song, such quality music is missing in todays music business!"


Written by Per Gessle and Mats M.P. Persson, this great song was included on Roxette's album Look Sharp.  It first hit the Singles chart in August of 1989, released the same time as "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler, "Another Day In Paradise" from Phil Collins, and "Black Velvet" by newcomer Allanah Myles.  Great songs three, but the competition generally was weaker for Roxette than most other times in the Rock Era.
The group reached #1 overall, and it peaked at #2 for 2 weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart.  It also reached #1 in Canada and Poland, #2 in Austria, #3 in Sweden, #5 in Ireland, #6 in the U.K., #7 in Germany, #8 in Switzerland, and #10 in Australia.  "Listen To Your Heart" was the first Hot 100 song not available on vinyl; it was released only as a cassette single. 

"Listen To Your Heart" has now been played over four million times.  That's amazing airplay for a 1989 song.



Seasons In The Sun 
Terry Jacks

"Truly some awesome memories are associated with this TIMELESS classic."
"For obvious reasons, the beauty and meaning of the words, this song always touched me deeply."
"Blast from the past for sure!"

This song originated from the song "Le Moribond" by Jacques Brei.  English lyrics were adapted by Rod McKuen, and the Kingston Trio became the first act to record the song in English.  Jacks heard this version, and became interested in recording it.
Terry and his wife Susan had enjoyed success as the Poppy Family, with their most popular song being "Where Evil Grows" in 1971.  They did score a #2 hit in 1970 with "Which Way You Goin' Billy?", but that song has been all but forgotten.
Jacks was a friend of the Beach Boys, who had asked him to produce a song for them.  Terry suggested "Seasons In The Sun".  But recording didn't work out, so Jacks recorded the song in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in 1973 along with Susan.  Terry changed the lyrics in a deliberate attempt to change the tone of the song from a sarcastic one in the original song and make it more sentimental.

For instance, in the first verse, the line "a trusted friend" that he had known since he was "9 or 10".  The original lyrics names the friend as "Emile", while the Jacks version does not.  In the second verse, when we hear about the protagonist's father (who unsuccessfully tried to warm him of his lifestyle), Jacks sung it in such a way that it downplays the original song's bitter regret. 
A young David Foster played a bit of piano and did some engineering on this song. Foster, a fellow Canadian, has contributed to numerous hits as a songwriter, producer and musician

Jacks released the song on Goldfish Records (Bell Records in the U.S.).  It quickly became the biggest-selling single in Canadian history.  Dave Carrico, vice president of Bell Records, heard the song and quickly put dibs on American rights to the song.  "Seasons In The Sun" went Gold in the U.S.  Eventually, it sold over three million copies.

It came out at a golden time in music, with great songs such as these as competition:  "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Bennie And The Jets" from Elton John, "The Way We Were" by Barbra Streisand, "The Most Beautiful Girl" by Charlie Rich, "Sunshine On My Shoulders" by John Denver, "Love's Theme" from the Love Unlimited Orchestra, "Midnight Train To Georgia" by Gladys Knight & the Pips, "Band On The Run" from Paul McCartney & Wings, "Time In A Bottle" by Jim Croce, "The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band, and "Just You 'N Me" by Chicago.  
"Seasons In The Sun" topped the Singles chart in the U.S. for 3 weeks, and registered 8 weeks in the Top 10.  It also went to #1 in the U.K. and Canada.

"Seasons In The Sun", with a whopping 14 million singles sold, is one of less than 40 songs in history to sell over 10 million copies worldwide.  The song has gone over two million in radio airplay. 
Jacks won the Juno award (the Canadian Grammys) for Male Vocalist of the Year in 1974. This song also won for Contemporary Single of the Year and Pop Music Single of the Year, and Best Selling Single. 

Terry became a Christian and began a quest to protect nature.  He gave up music and became an environmental activist, fighting the Canadian paper mills who he accused of dumping toxins and destroying forests.  He made films on the subject, including The Faceless Ones and The Warmth of Love: The 4 Seasons of Sophie Thomas



Beach Boys

"Amazing song!"
Love this song you can almost feel the tropical breezes! 
"Smooth lyrics."
"This song is so awesome."

This next song represented a huge comeback for one of the 60's biggest acts.  John Phillips, Scott McKenzie, Mike Love, and Terry Melcher co-wrote the song, and the Beach Boys recorded  it on their new label, Elektra Records.  Ry Cooder was brought in to play guitar. 

According to Love,  "The verses and the verse lyric was written by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas.  He wrote 'Off the Florida keys, there's a place called Kokomo, that's where we used to go to get away from it all.'  Love generally liked it, but said, "We used to go sounds like an old guy lamenting his misspent youth."  He simply changed the tense to say "That's where you want to go to get away from it all."  But Love didn't feel it had a "groove".

So he came up with the chorus part: "Aruba, Jamaica, ooo, I want to take you to Bermuda, Bahama, come on, pretty mama.  Key Largo, Montego..."  Melcher contributed the bridge--"'Ooo, I want to take you down to Kokomo, we'll get there fast and we can take it slow. That's where you want to go, down to Kokomo."   Melcher also produced Paul Revere & the Raiders and the Byrds, among others.
"Kokomo" debuted in September, 1988.  It was included on the "Cocktail" Soundtrack, Cocktail being a movie which starred Tom Cruise.

The song faced competition from "Wind Beneath My Wings" by Bette Midler, "Like A Prayer" from Madonna, "Roll With It" by Steve Winwood, "The Living Years" by Mike + the Mechanics, "Groovy Kind Of Love" by Phil Collins, Paula Abdul's "Straight Up", and "Sweet Child O' Mine" from Guns 'N Roses.

"Kokomo" elevated to #1 on the Popular chart, becoming the group's first #1 hit in 22 years (since "Good Vibrations" in 1966) and it also reached #5 on the AC chart.  The Beach Boys had a universal hit with the song, reaching #1 in Australia (for nearly two months), #5 in New Zealand, #6 in France and the Netherlands, #7 in Germany, #8 in Switzerland, and #10 in Canada.

"Kokomo" sold over two million singles, and helped sell five million albums.  The songwriters received the Grammy Award for Best Song written specifically for a Motion Picture or Television in 1988,  "Kokomo" has already been played three million times.  The Beach Boys were honored with a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement after "Kokomo" became a hit.

Many companies capitalized on the "Kokomo" name, which as a result of the song, implied relaxing and fun in the sun. A resort named "Kokomo" popped up on the southern tip of Florida on an island called Grassy Key, just as the song says, "Off the Florida Keys." There have also been restaurants and bars with the name.


It Must Have Been Love

"Timeless music."
"Their ballads are always on the top of my lists!"
"Simply the best."

We just heard from this Swedish duo at #454* with "Listen To Your Heart".  Here is one of five songs that the great county of Sweden has contributed to The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*, and one of five songs from the year 1990 in our special countdown.

Multi-instrumentalist Per Gessle wrote this song.  He was asked by the London freesheet Metro how many times Roxette had performed "It Must Have Been Love": 

We've done it at every show, so it's been hundreds of times. We don't need to rehearse it, put it that way. When you stand there in front of 10,000 who love it, it's an amazing feeling.

Gessle originally wrote the song with the intent of releasing it as a "Christmas single", titling the song "It Must Have Been Love (Christmas For The Broken Hearted)".  But when Roxette was asked to contribute a song to the outstanding movie Pretty Woman, starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, Gessle made some changes and recorded "It Must Have Been Love" at the EMI Studios in Stockholm.

Roxette released the single in March of 1990.  It wasn't the first single released from the "Pretty Woman" Soundtrack, but it was by far the biggest. 

Other songs out at the same time included Mariah Carey's classics "Vision Of Love" and "Love Takes Time and "Vogue" from Madonna.  Three great songs to be sure, but the only other Top 500* songs that provided competition. 
"It Must Have Been Love" rose to the top of the Singles chart in the U.S. for 2 weeks, and accumulated 9 weeks inside the Top 10.  It also placed at #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  #1 in Australia, Switzerland, and a #1 song in Norway for 12 weeks, #3 in the U.K. and Austria, and #4 in Germany and Sweden.

"It Must Have Been Love" sold over half a million singles in the United States alone.  The soundtrack went on to sell three million copies in the U.S. and nine million worldwide.  According to BMI (Broadcast Music International), the song is the most-played song of those released since 1990, with an astonishing four million radio airplays. 

Don't miss a day of this musical spectacular--we keep on chugging tomorrow with the next 10!    

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