Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #480-471

We are proud to feature the third installment in The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*, celebrating the 60th birthday of the Rock Era!


I Love A Rainy Night
Eddie  Rabbitt

"Love this song!"

"A true classic!"

"This song is awesome!"

"Love this song. Its the best."

This artist was pulling down all of $37 a week as a staff writer at the music publishing house Hill and Range until Elvis Presley recorded a song of his.  What a thrill that must have been for a struggling songwriter!

Eddie Rabbitt's "Kentucky Rain" became Presley's 50th Gold record in 1971.  Rabbitt got the idea for this song when he was sitting in his apartment on a rainy night.  He came up with the title, but didn't complete the song until he found the tape in 1980.  Rabbitt enlisted the help of Even Stevens and David Malloy to finish writing.  The song contains vivid imagery of thunderstorms and the peaceful feeling it brought the protagonist.  Percussionist Farrell Morris arranged the finger snaps and hand claps that make the song so unique.

Rabbitt recorded the song for his album Horizon.  "I Love A Rainy Night" began climbing the charts in November of 1980, when one could also hear "Lady" by Kenny Rogers", "Another One Bites The Dust" by Queen, "Woman In Love" by Barbra Streisand, "All Out Of Love" by Air Supply, "Woman" from John Lennon, "Upside Down" by Diana Ross, "9 To 5" by Dolly Parton, "Keep On Loving You" by REO Speedwagon, and "Celebration" from Kool and the Gang.

"I Love A Rainy Night" succeeded Dolly Parton's "9 To 5" at #1, the last time that back-to-back country songs have been at the #1 spot.  After the "rainy night", that's a long dry spell for the country genre.   It spent two weeks at #1, nine in the Top 10 on the Popular chart, and reached #1 on the Country chart, and #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart; in other words, a mass appeal smash.  It also attained #8 in New Zealand.

"I Love A Rainy Night" went Gold, has helped sell 3 million albums, and has now gone over the three-million mark in airplay.


 RockN' Me
Steve Miller Band

"Awesome song!"

"This is my favorite song!"
"Steve Miller - Rock 'n Me ! Always loved this song!!!"
"Great American classic."

When Steve Miller was four, Les Paul's wife, Mary Ford, taught him his first chords.  He learned well.  Steve formed his first band, the Marksmen Combo, with his schoolmate Boz Scaggs at Woodrow Wilson High School in Dallas, Texas.  When Miller was just 14, he played guitar for Jimmy Reed in a Dallas nightclub.  

Miller and Scaggs both went to Wisconsin University, where they played in the band the Ardells.  Steve then returned to Texas to write songs before studying at Copenhagen University in Denmark.  Upon his return to the states, he settled in Chicago, playing for artists such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and the Butterfield Blues Band.  Miller then moved to San Francisco, California and formed The Miller Band, which made its live debut at the Matrix.

A performance at the legendary 1967 Monterey Pop Festival earned Miller a big contract with Capitol Records.  Over the years, he has employed a fluctuating group of over 30 musicians.     

Miller scored his first big hit in 1973 with the #1 song "The Joker", and in 1976, he duplicated that feat with "Rock'N Me".  Steve wrote the song for the album that re-energized his career, Fly Like an Eagle.  "Rock'N Me" debuted in August, 1976, going against songs such as Lou Rawls' "You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine", "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" by Elton John & Kiki Dee, "Tonight's The Night" by Rod Stewart, "I'd Really Love To See You Tonight" by England Dan & John Ford Coley, Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now", "Silly Love Songs" by Paul McCartney & Wings, "More Than A Feeling" by Boston, and "Say You Love Me" from Fleetwood Mac.

To date, "Rock'N Me" has helped sell over 18.5 million albums.


Stay (I Missed You)
Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories

"Still a brilliant song. Singing at the top of my voice and loving it!!"
"Love this song!"
"Sweet and beautiful song.~a bit sad but, pleasing nevertheless...."

There are eight songs from 1994 to make The Top 500*, which is amongst the best for the '90s, but still far short of the best years of the Rock Era.
Here we have an example of why it pays to have friends.  Singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb penned and co-produced his great song, but did not have a record deal.  Loeb lived across the street from friend and actor Ethan Hawke in New York City.  When Hawke found out about the song, he submitted it to fellow actor and director Ben Stiller for consideration for the "Reality Bites" Soundtrack.  The song was accepted, and released as the first single from the album.   

"Stay" reached #1 for three weeks in the U.S. and also topped the Canadian chart, and it reached #6 in both the U.K. and Australia.  After its reign at #1, the song impressively piled up seven weeks at #2, and spent 16 of 30 weeks in the Top 10.  It became the first #1 song by an artist without a record deal.  Of course, once the song took off, Lisa had no problem getting a contract, and she signed with Geffen Records.  

"Stay" also peaked at #5 on the AC chart and #7 on the Modern Rock chart--those are some pretty diverse audiences.  Loeb's competition:  "I'll Make Love To You" and "On Bended Knee" by Boyz II Men, Celine Dion's "The Power Of Love", "I Swear" by All 4 One, "All That She Wants" from Ace of Base, "All I Wanna' Do" by Sheryl Crow, "All For Love" by Sting, Rod Stewart and Bryan Adams, and Elton John's "Can You Feel The Love Tonight".  

The single sold over 500,000 copies and was also included on Loeb's Tails album.  Loeb and Nine Stories were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.  "Stay" has been played over one million times. 



Theme From "Mahogany"
Diana Ross

"Beautiful Song!"
"Love this song so much..."
"Such a great diva!"

We're up to #477* and it is one of 12 songs from the year 1975.
Diana Ross was part of the greatest girl group of them all, the Supremes, which rattled off no less than 12 #1 songs.  Seven weeks after she left the group in 1970, Diana made her solo debut in Framingham, Massachusetts.  Ross scored several hits in her first few years, including the smash hits "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Touch Me In The Morning". 

Then unproven songwriter Michael Masser wrote the music to Diana's 1973 hit "Touch Me In The Morning", and teamed with Gerry Goffin to write this song as well.  Masser went on to write several hits for Whitney Houston.
Ross starred in the movie Mahogany, and her theme is featured on the soundtrack album.  In November of 1975, the "Theme From 'Mahogany'" debuted, facing competition from "Lyin' Eyes" and "Take It To The Limit" by the Eagles, "Let Your Love Flow" by the Bellamy Brothers, "Island Girl" from Elton John, "I'm Sorry" by John Denver, Barry Manilow's "I Write The Songs", and "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" by Paul Simon, among others.
The "Theme From 'Mahogany'" rose to #1 in the U.S. and spent 7 weeks in the Top 10 overall, was a #1 Adult hit, and also peaked at #14 on the R&B chart.  It also reached #4 in Canada and #5 in U.K.  The song was nominated for Best Song from a Motion Picture at the Academy Awards.




9 To 5
Dolly Parton

"Go, Dolly!" 
"This song truly captures what its like going to work everyday for most people."
"Love this song!  So uplifting!"
"I will always love Dolly!"  


Dolly Parton wrote and recorded this song for the movie of the same name in which she starred, along with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.

Parton recorded "9 To 5" at the RCA Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. It is one of the few songs of the Rock Era to feature the clacking of a typewriter.  But it isn't a typewriter, it's Parton running her acrylic fingernails back and forth against one another.  Parton came up with the idea in the studio and released the single in November, 1980.
The song encountered competition from "Lady" by friend Kenny Rogers, "Another One Bites The Dust" from Queen, "Woman In Love" by Barbra Streisand, Air Supply's "All Out Of Love", "Upside Down" by Diana Ross, "(Just Like) Starting Over" and "Woman" by John Lennon, "Keep On Loving You" by REO Speedwagon, and "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang. 
Parton became just the second woman to top both the U.S. Country chart and the Hot 100 chart with the same song, the other being Jeannie C. Riley with "Harper Valley PTA" in 1968.  Dolly topped both the Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary charts for two weeks each.  She also reached #1 in Canada, #5 in Austria, and #9 in New Zealand and Sweden. 
Parton won Grammy Awards for Best Country Song and Best Country Vocal Performance, Female, and was nominated for Song of the Year for "9 To 5"; she was also nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Song from a Motion Picture.  Parton captured the People's Choice Award for Best Song from a Motion Picture.

"9 To 5" has sold over one million singles in the U.S. alone, and has achieved two million in radio airplay. 

The American Film Institute, in its 100 Years, 100 Songs series, ranked "9 To 5" #78 in 2004. 


Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)
Backstreet Boys

" love this band and the song!"
" love their song get Down get down!"
"Absolute fave from the 90s!"
"ohhhh the memories!!!!"

The Backstreet Boys began recording this song June 22, 1995 at Cheiron Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, but it wasn't completed until September of 1996, when final recording was done at Battery Studios in New York City.  Up to that point, the second verse of the song was not considered satisfactory.  Part of the delay was that the label wanted to release "If You Want It (To Be Good Girl)", but the band hated that song and pushed for "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)".  The group released the single June 10, 1997 in the United States. 

"Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) found the #2 spot for 2 weeks, and spent 18 weeks in the Top 10.  It also reached #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart and
#1 in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, #2 in the U.K., #3 in Canada, #7 in the Netherlands, and #10 in Ireland.

The Backstreet Boys also recorded an Italian version of the song, "Non Puoi Lasciarmi Così".



My Prayer

"The chord change at the end gives me goose-pimples every time I hear it. Sung  straight and with sincerity this is perfection."
"Absolutely timeless."
"Excelente música....."
"Tony Williams was one of the greatest tenors of his time. What a marvellous voice! They don't sing like that any more!"

Georges Boulanger wrote the music and Jimmy Kennedy wrote the words to this next incredible song, originally written by Boulanger with the title "Avant de Mourir" in 1926.  Kennedy added the lyrics in 1939.  Glenn Miller recorded the song and reached #2 that year, and the Ink Spots hit #3 with it.
The 4 Seasons, the Righteous Brothers, Brenda Lee, Pat Boone, Dean Martin, Roy Orbison, Ella Fitzgerald, Bobby Vee, Tom Jones, Patti Page, Gene Pitney, Jay and the Americans, Jimmy Dorsey, Shelley Fabares and Vikki Carr have all recorded this song, but the version that ranks at #474 all-time belongs to the Platters.
Manager, producer and vocal coach Buck Ram took an R&B group in Los Angeles, got them signed to Mercury Records, and made superstars out of them.  The group had already enjoyed success when "My Prayer" was released, and it became a hit in July of 1956.
Not only did the Platters reach #1 for five weeks, but they did it against substantial competition.  "Heartbreak Hotel", "Don't Be Cruel", and "Love Me Tender" by Elvis Presley, and "Singing The Blues" by Guy Mitchell were all out at the same time.  




Mariah Carey

"This is the Mariah I miss...before she took control of her career her videos had a story line and made sense. Back then she was not all about her image, she was all about the music." 
"Classic Mariah!"
"Perfection at it's finest."
"The time when Mariah was Mariah..."

Mariah Carey and Ben Marguiles teamed to write this smash.  It was one of the songs on Carey's demo tape that resulted in her getting a recording contract.  She released the single in December of 1990. 

The toughest competition for "Someday" came from Carey's own "Love Takes Time" and "I Don't Wanna' Cry".  

Mariah achieved her third consecutive #1 with "Someday", reaching #1 for two weeks overall, and hitting #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart in the U.S. and #1 in Canada.  

Carey captured the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, the American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R & B Female Artist, and Billboard Awards for Hot 100 Singles Artist, Top Female Album Artist and Top Female Singles Artist.  

 "Someday" sold half a million singles and helped Carey sell over 15 million albums, and the song has topped the one-million mark in radio airplay. 



Paul Simon

"Gran gran canción de Paul Simon."
"This song makes me feel great every time I hear it."
"Outstanding..even after all these years!"
"Love this tune, always come back for a lift................"

Here we have one of the greatest songwriters in music history.  He was the genius behind Simon & Garfunkel, writing exquisite compositions that bowled over everyone in the '60s and early '70s. 
After that hugely popular duo broke up, Simon taught a class in songwriting and record making for a semester at New York University, before getting to work on his self-titled album in 1972.  Paul enjoyed the hits "Mother And Child Reunion" and "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard".  In 1973, he set out to release his next solo release, which contains the #472 Song* of the Rock Era.  Simon named the song after the Kodak 35mm film.

Paul was the first major artist to record at the now-famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama.  He sought out the musicians there after finding out that they were the sound behind the Staple Singers hit "I'll Take You There".  Simon needed to record just one song, "Take Me To The Mardi Gras", but when he finished it with plenty of studio time left, he also recorded "Kodachrome", as well as "Loves Me Like A Rock".

The song debuted on the charts in May of 1973, and featured on the album There Goes Rhymin' Simon.  Songs out at the same time included "Daniel" by Elton John, "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" by Vicki Lawrence, "Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round The Ole Oak Tree" from Tony Orlando & Dawn, Jim Croce's "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown", "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye, "Love Train" by the O'Jays, "My Love" by Paul McCartney & Wings, "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" by Stevie Wonder, "Touch Me In The Morning" by Diana Ross, and "We're An American Band" by Grand Funk, among others.

"Kodachrome" slid up to #2 for 2 weeks, and spent 7 weeks in the Top 10.  The song is a favorite of the Rock Era, having been played over three million times. 


Hey! Baby
Bruce Channel

"The good stuff becomes timeless."
"This is The Greatest 2 Minutes in Rock N Roll."
"This NEVER  gets old!!! "
"Love this song so much!"

When this artist was a teenager in Grapevine, Texas, he learned to play guitar.  His father soon gave him a new Gibson guitar and took him 200 miles to Shreveport, Louisiana, the site of the "Louisiana Hayride" radio show.  There, his father asked producer Tillman Franks to listen to his son.  Back then, people took the time to do things, and it paid off in a big way.  Franks liked what he heard, and Bruce Channel was on the show for six months.
Bruce Channel wrote this song in 1959 along with Margaret Cobb, and had been performing it at shows for two years before recording it in a series of demos for LeCam Records.  Channel co-produced it (with Major Bill Smith, owner of LeCam Records).  Delbert McClinton, who went on to have the 1981 hit "Giving It Up For Your Love", played harmonica on the song. 
LeCam was a small label in Fort Worth, Texas, and Smith took the song to a disc jockey convention in Nashville.  When it got good response, Smith drove back to Fort Worth and pressed copies on LeCam Records.  He sent it to Mercury Records but got no response.  But when the song began to get airplay, Smith got a phone call from Irwin Steinberg of Mercury, parent of Smash Records.  A deal was made, and the record was passed on to Smash Records for national distribution.
"Hey!  Baby" reached #1 for three weeks and spent 8 of 15 weeks in the Top 10 overall and also reached #2 on the R&B chart in the United States and #2 in the U.K.  Along the way, it encountered competition from Chubby Checker's "The Twist", "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by the Tokens, "Big Bad John" from Jimmy Dean, and "Can't Help Falling In Love" by Elvis Presley, among others.
"Hey!  Baby" has been played over two million times.

Be sure to join us tomorrow as the songs continue to get better and better.

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