Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #100-91

If you're ready to dive into The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era*, we are ready to present it to you!





#100:
It's Still Rock & Roll To Me 
Billy Joel 
1980



"Billy Joel got irony better than any musician ever."
"Great song."
"One of my favorite songs."
"I love the sax solo!"
"Amazing song, love it."
"So great."
"This song is timeless."
 "I love it!"
"Awesome song!"
 

This superstar began playing piano at age 4, playing all the classics, but when he saw Elvis Presley, Billy Joel wanted to be in rock & roll.  He started his first group, the Echoes, at age 14.  Billy also became quite the amateur boxer, winning 22 times in 28 fights, and breaking his nose along the way.
 

Joel then performed with the Hassles and Attila, before releasing his debut solo album, Cold Spring Harbor, in 1972.  When executives at Columbia Records saw Joel perform at the Mar y Sol Festival in Puerto Rico, they were impressed.  But after a legal dispute prevented Billy from signing with Columbia, Joel moved to Los Angeles and performed incognito as a bar pianist called Bill Martin. 

Two years later, Columbia finally tracked him down in Los Angeles, and with the legal wrangling finished, Joel signed a recording contract with Columbia in 1974 and recorded the album Piano Man.  Joel hit paydirt with his 1977 release The Stranger, and followed that up with the excellent album 52nd Street.  In 1980, the unique and ever-changing Joel threw a curveball with his release Glass Houses.

In this song, Billy Joel was making a comment on musical styles and trends. At the end of the Disco era, the music press began touting the "New Wave" sound, which included bands like The Police and The Cars. Joel thought that this new sound was just a variation on Power-Pop that had been around since the '60s. He didn't have a problem with the music, just the way it was being categorized. "I like it, but it's not particularly new," he said.

Joel also used "It's Still Rock & Roll To Me" to attack the music press, the "wannabes" who could never make it as musicians on their own.  The phrase "Miracle Mile" in the song refers to a stretch of road in Manhasset, New York which is full of various stores.

"It's Still Rock & Roll To Me" debuted on the charts in May of 1980, when it encountered competition from "Another Brick In The Wall" by Pink Floyd, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and "Another One Bites The Dust" by Queen, Blondie's "Call Me", "Lost In Love" and "All Out Of Love" by Air Supply, "Woman In Love" from Barbra Streisand, "I Can't Tell You Why" by the Eagles, "Upside Down" by Diana Ross, "Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer" by Kenny Rogers & Kim Carnes, "Magic" by Olivia Newton-John, "Ride Like The Wind" and "Sailing" from Christopher Cross, and "Longer" from Dan Fogelberg.

"It's Still Rock & Roll To Me" jumped to #1 for 2 weeks and spent 11 weeks in the Top 10.  The song rose to #1 in Canada and #10 in Australia. Everyone else in the world pretty much missed the boat on The #100 Song of the Rock Era*.

Joel won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male and an American Music Award for Album of the Year.  "It's Still Rock & Roll To Me" sold over 2 million singles and helped sell over 28 million albums.







#99:
Help! 
Beatles
1965

 
"A classic among classics."
"I just love this song.  The Beatles are awesome."
"Magic."
"This song is like therapy."
"The start is amazing."
"Great songs never die."
"Awesome!"
"Great tune."
"One of the best songs ever made..."

 
 
Little did anyone know it at the time, but when Pan Am Flight 101 touched down at 1:20 EDT at John F. Kennedy international airport in New York City on February 7, 1964, the world changed. 


Included on the airplane's list of passengers were four lads from Liverpool, England.  Capitol Records, which had originally turned down requests from Beatles manager Brian Epstein to release the group's first four singles (they were released on Vee-Jay Records instead), finally agreed to release "I Want To Hold Your Hand" in the United States on December 26, 1963. 

The song took off instantly, and Capitol set up a series of events in the U.S. and promoted the group's schedule heavily.  So when John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr arrived on that Pan Am flight, they experienced near riotous scenes.  When the Beatles performed on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, an estimated 73 million people tuned in, the largest audience ever to watch a single television program. 

Like "A Hard Day's Night" above, this song too was the title song for a Beatles movie, the follow-up to A Hard Day's Night called Help!  Paul McCartney helped John Lennon write the song, but did not realize until years later that it was actually John calling for help.  Lennon later commented on the song:  

 The whole Beatles thing was just beyond comprehension.  It makes me feel secure to know that I was that aware of myself then.  It was just me singing "Help" and I meant it.



The Beatles recorded "Help!" in 12 takes April 13, 1965 at the EMI Studios in London.  The group released the single July 19 in the United States, and four days later in the U.K. 

Competition for "Help!" came from their own song "Yesterday", "Satisfaction" and "Get Off Of My Cloud" by the Rolling Stones, "Turn!  Turn!  Turn!" by the Byrds, "I Can't Help Myself" by the Four Tops", "California Girls" by the Beach Boys, "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers, and "I Got You Babe" from Sonny & Cher.
 
"Help!" reached #1 for three weeks in both the U.S. and the U.K., and #1 in Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Norway, #2 in West Germany, and #5 in Austria.

The song sold over one million singles and helped sell over 40.5 million albums in the U.S. alone, and has topped 2 million in radio airplay.

The Beatles captured the Grammy Award For Best New Artist Of 1964, a Billboard Award for Album of the Year (for the album 1 in 2001) and World Music Awards for Diamond Award and World's Best-Selling Pop Rock Artists/Group.

Many artists recorded the song, including the Carpenters, the Four Tops, U2, Tina Turner, Dolly Parton, Deep Purple, Extreme, Count Basie, Jose Feliciano, Bananarama, the Tremeloes, DC Talk and Howie Day. 








 
#98:
Lyin' Eyes
 Eagles 
1975
(Note:  there are three artists who haven't yet figured out how to market themselves on the new Internet--Prince, Bob Dylan, and the Eagles.  Unlike the other 498 songs in The Top 500 Songs*, whose artists have signed financial contracts with YouTube, "When Doves Cry" by Prince and "Lyin' Eyes" are not available.  The only studio version of "Lyin' Eyes" sounds like it was underwater and is not of the quality we need to present here.  The live version is good enough to present as a substitute.) 
"Excellent!" 
"The best of the best." 
"Six-minute song full of content.  Lost art." 
"Timeless classic." 

"I love this song." 
"Epic." 
"My favorite song of all-time." 
"Great song!" 
"Superb!"
From 1972-1974, the Eagles put out some outstanding music, though as now know in hindsight, many of their early releases were highly underrated on the charts, as evidenced by the massive sales from their Greatest Hits package.  Sure, the group had scored nine hits in those three years, including the #1 "Best Of My Love".  But with the release of Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975), the Eagles proved themselves to be one of the heavyweights of the music industry, and that album showed everyone (including tone-deaf people at radio stations) what their music meant to people. 
After that album became the top-selling album in history (it would later jockey back and forth with Michael Jackson's album Thriller for that honor), Eagles songs all of a sudden started getting more airplay and performing better on the charts.  The title song from the group's 1975 album One of These Nights gave the Eagles their second straight #1.   Don Henley and Glenn Frey wrote "Lyin' Eyes", which became the follow-up single.
The Eagles recorded the song in January of 1975, and released it September 7.  During the chart run of "Lyin' Eyes", the song encountered great competition from their own "Take It To The Limit", as well as "Island Girl" by Elton John, "I'm Sorry" by John Denver, "Love Will Keep Us Together" by the Captain & Tennille, "I Write The Songs" by Barry Manilow, "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" by James Taylor, Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird", "Theme From 'Mahogany'" by Diana Ross, and "Rhinestone Cowboy" from Glen Campbell. 
"Lyin' Eyes" reached #2 for 2 weeks overall, #3 on the Adult chart, and #8 on the Country chart.  The song also hit #4 in Canada, but the rest of the world pretty much missed out on Song #98* as well. 
"Lyin' Eyes" was nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards.  It has helped sell over 39 million albums in the U.S. alone, and has topped 1 million in radio airplay.









 

#97:
Oh Pretty Woman
Roy Orbison
1964


"One of the best songs in the world."
"Just great forever."
"Love this song!"

"A Classic!"

"Beautiful music!"

"Great song, great talent."

"The greatest song."

"Mercy!"

"Pure class."





There are 17 songs from the magic year of 1964 that have defied time and still rank in The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*, and many are ranked very high.  Here's one of them.

Roy Orbison teamed with Bill Dees to write this classic at #97*.  The two were writing songs when Orbison's wife Claudette came into the room and said she was going to go into town to do some shopping.  Roy asked if she needed money, to which Dees replied, "Pretty woman never needs any money."
Inspired by that line, Orbison started singing, "Pretty woman walking down the street".  Dees told Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh for their book 1000 U.K. #1 Hits:    

 

He sang it while I was banging my hand down on the table and by the time she returned we had the song.  I love the song.  From the moment that the rhythm started, I could hear the heels clicking on the pavement, click, click, the pretty woman walking down the street, in a yellow skirt and red shoes.  We wrote "Oh Pretty Woman" on a Friday, the next Friday we recorded it, and the next Friday it was out.  It was the fastest thing I ever saw.  Actually, the yeah, yeah, yeah in "Oh Pretty Woman" probably came from The Beatles.

Orbison recorded the song in Nashville, Tennessee.  Billy Sanford, who played the intro guitar part on the track, later played for Elvis Presley and Don Williams, among others, as a session musician.  Williams introduced Sanford to Orbison after hearing Roy was looking for a guitarist.  Floyd Kramer played piano, while saxophone greats Boots Randolph and Carlie McCoy are among the other musicians on "Oh Pretty Woman".
Orbison released it as a single in August of 1964 on Monument Records.  Rock Era fans could also hear great songs such as "A Hard Day's Night", "And I Love Her" and "Twist And Shout" by the Beatles, "Baby Love" by the Supremes, "The House Of The Rising Sun" from the Animals, "I Get Around" by the Beach Boys, and "You Really Got Me" by the Kinks.  That's good competition, but not as strong as several others in this range faced. 
"Oh Pretty Woman" ran to #1 for 3 weeks and spent 8 weeks in the Top 10 in the United States.  It also hit #1 in the U.K., Germany, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland, #3 in Denmark, #5 in Austria, #8 in France, and #9 in Finland.
The song sold over one million singles and helped sell four million albums.  "Oh Pretty Woman" has sold over seven million copies worldwide.  It has been logged six million airplays since 1964. 
In 1999, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and it is one of the "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll" in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  In 2008, the Library of Congress selected "Oh Pretty Woman" for preservation in the National Recording Registry.







#96:
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You 
Bryan Adams
1991

"OMG the best song ever!"
"I love this song so much."
"One of the best songs in history."
"Very beautiful song."
"Very romantic song."

"Beautiful lyrics."

"Marvelous!"

"I feel at one with the universe when I listen to this song."

"Love this song!"






In 1977, Bryan Adams formed a songwriting partnership with Jim Vallance, former drummer of Prism.  The two signed with Rondor publishing, and wrote songs for Bachman-Turner Overdrive, KISS, Loverboy, Bonnie Tyler, and others.  Adams and Vallance recorded a demo tape and shopped it around, but did not find much interest until A&M Records offered to record 4 songs for $1. 
Taking advantage of that offer, Adams recorded the songs, and built a live reputation opening for Foreigner, the Kinks and Loverboy on U.S. tours.  A&M finally agreed to sign Bryan to a recording contract, and he released his debut album in 1981.  Adams scored his first hit with "Straight From The Heart" two years later, but the 1985 album Reckless is the one that put him on the map. 

Bryan Adams combined with Michael Kamen and Robert "Mutt" Lange to write this great song, which was featured both on Adams' album Waking Up the Neighbours as well as the soundtrack to the great movie Robin Hood:  Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman.
In June of 1991, "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" debuted on the charts, with its top competition coming from "Black Or White" by Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey's "Emotions", "I Don't Wanna' Cry" and "Can't Let Go", and "Rush, Rush" from Paula Abdul.  Unfortunately, Adams' song came out after the downturn in music quality began, and the numbers below aren't going to mean as much as if it were a huge #1 song in the midst of stellar competition.   

"(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" went to #1 in 18 countries, including every major country in the world.  It set the all-time record in the U.K. with 16 consecutive weeks at #1.  It spent 9 weeks at the top in Canada, and 7 weeks at #1 in the United States.  In the U.S., the song spent 10 weeks in the Top 10, which means it got to #1 quickly, then dropped like a rock once it was replaced.  The song also topped the Adult Contemporary chart for 8 weeks. 
The song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song but lost to "Beauty & The Beast".
The single has sold over 3 million copies in the U.S. and  over 15 million copies worldwide.  It helped sell 4 million albums, and "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" has been heard over 4 million times on the radio.










95:
 
I Can't Stop Loving You
Ray Charles 
1962



"This song will live in hearts forever."
"Wow!!! what a classic, love it :)))"
"I just love this song ....................  takes me back to better times."
"A very melodious and motivational song."
"One Awesome singer and song.  Love it!"
"Wonderful!"
"Beautiful.  It is not from this world."
"A special sentiment that is timeless."
"This beautiful song makes me cry every time."



Blind since he was seven, Ray Robinson learned how to play piano, and was performing around the state of Florida at age 14.  Charles moved to Seattle, Washington when he was 18, and joined a trio that played at the Rocking Chair nightclub.  Shortly afterwards, Ray signed a recording contract with Downbeat Records, and his debut single in 1949, "Confession Blues" became a hit on the R&B chart.   By this time, Ray adopted the surname of Charles to avoid confusion with the boxer Sugar Ray Robinson.
His contract was sold to Atlantic Records, and enjoyed some success there, including with his album The Genius Of Ray Charles in 1959.  But Ray wanted more control over his music and he switched to ABC-Paramount.  Charles hit #1 with both "Georgia On My Mind", which we have already heard in The Top 500*, and "Hit The Road Jack".   
Singer Don Gibson wrote this song in 1958--he and Kitty Wells both recorded it, but its airplay was limited to country stations.  Ray Charles heard the song when he listened to broadcasts of The Grand Ole Opry.  When Charles decided to record the album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, his producer, Sid Feller, organized tapes containing about 150 classic country songs so Ray could choose the songs he wanted to record.

After Charles heard the first two lines, he knew he wanted to include the song on his album.  Ray recorded "I Can't Stop Loving You" at United Western Recorders in Los Angeles on February 15, 1962.  
Charles didn't release "I Can't Stop Loving You" as a single when the album came out.  However, many disc jockeys played it from the album.  Then Tab Hunter heard Charles' version and recorded his own and released it as a single.  This incensed Charles, so ABC Records quickly edited the four-minute version and released it as a single as well.

In May of 1962, "I Can't Stop Loving You" debuted on the charts, with its top competition being "The Twist" by Chubby Checker. 


"I Can't Stop Loving You" was a monster hit in every way you look at it. It spent 5 weeks at #1 overall, 5 weeks at #1 on the Adult chart, and 10 weeks at #1 on the R&B chart. The song also reached #1 in the U.K. and Australia and #4 in Norway.

The single went Gold and helped sell over one million copies and helped Charles sell 3.5 million albums, an amazing number for anyone not named Elvis Presley in those days.  "I Can't Stop Loving You" has been played over six million times to rank in The Top 100 for all-time in radio airplay.

The song won Grammy Awards for Best R & B Recording and Hall of Fame Song.




 






#94:
The Letter 
Box Tops 
1967


"One of the classics of all-time."
"Legendary."
"Awesome!!!"
"Amazing song!"

"Love this song!"

"Timeless..."

"A great one by the Box Tops."

"Epic track!"

"The best!  Awesome song!"




This group formed when five friends who played in different groups while in high school in Memphis, Tennessee got together in a new group.  A disc jockey in Memphis introduced the band to Dan Penn, who had just been hired by Chips Moman to write and produce at American Recording Studios.

Wayne Carson Thompson wrote this song after his father gave him the line, "Give me a ticket for an aeroplane."  Thompson took that line and developed it into a song and took it to Moman.  Chips suggested that Thompson give the song to the then unnamed group that later became the Box Tops.  

The group recorded the song at American Sound Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, with over 30 takes to wrap it up.  Thompson played guitar on the recording, but wasn't happy with the singing or the production.  He didn't see the purpose of adding the jet sound to the song, so Thompson was likely surprised when the song jetted to #1.  But when it did, he realized his songs were in good hands, and later wrote other songs for the Box Tops, including their 1969 hit "Soul Deep".

Regarding the airplane sound, producer Dan Penn added that from a record of special effects.  Moman recommended the sound be taken off the recording, to which Penn responded:  "Give me that razor blade right there...I'll cut this damn tape up!  The airplane stays on it, or we don't have a record."

The single was released by Bell Records on their subsidiary label Mala.  By August of 1967, the song had exploded onto the airwaves, and faced some great competition:  "Light My Fire" by the Doors, "Ode To Billie Joe" from Bobby Gentry, "To Sir With Love" by Lulu, "Daydream Believer" by the Monkees, "Never My Love" and "Windy" from the Association, "All You Need Is Love" and "A Day In The Life" by the Beatles, "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison, Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", and "Up, Up And Away" by the 5th Dimension.

"The Letter" jumped to #1 for 4 weeks and spent 8 weeks in the Top 10 in the U.S.  The song reached #1 in Canada and Norway, #2 in France and Sweden, #3 in the Netherlands, #4 in Australia and New Zealand, #5 in the U.K. and West Germany, #7 in Denmark,  and #9 in Austria.

"The Letter" was the last #1 song to be shorter than two minutes.  It sold over one million copies, and has logged over five million airplays in the U.S. alone.

Thompson went on to win a Grammy Award for co-writing the song "Always On My Mind".












#93:
Maggie May
Rod Stewart 
1971



"So great!"

"Beautiful, beautiful song."

"Blown away by this lyrical genius."

"My forever fav song."

"A classic..."

"Perfect song."

"Excellent!"

"This has got to be one of the best songs of all-time."

"There is no better song."




This superstar turned away from soccer towards a career in music when he was 14, joining the group the Kool Kats.  Rod Stewart learned to play banjo and guitar, then entered a nomadic phase when he traveled across Europe with just a guitar.  That phase ended when Stewart was thrown out of Spain for vagrancy. 
Stewart liked to go to Eel Pie Island, and he would take the train home at night.  While waiting at Twickenham station one night, singing the blues, Long John Baldry heard him and offered him a position with the Hoochie Coohie Men.  At the time, Rod was digging graves for a living, and getting paid for his passion of music certainly beat that. 
Stewart later joined the groups Shotgun Express and Steampacket, then became the lead singer for the Jeff Beck Group.  When Beck fired guitarist Ron Wood, Stewart left also and the two formed the group Faces.  Rod simultaneously began a solo career, signing a recording contract with Mercury Records in 1968.  He released two albums before hitting the big time in 1971. 

Stewart co-wrote "Maggie May" with Martin Quittenton, who wrote the intro and the chords.  Stewart recorded the song at Morgan Sound Studios for the album Every Picture Tells a Story.  Wood, Stewart's bandmate in Faces, and Pete Sears of Jefferson Starship were among the musicians who played on the track.  Stewart asked Ray Jackson, who had been hired to play on Rod's song "Mandolin Wind", to come up with a part he could use to end "Maggie May".  Jackson, who was a member of the group Lindisfarne,  improvised the part on the spot, and it became a vital part of the song.

Stewart's record company didn't believe the song had much of a melody (where are those record companies these days?), and released "Maggie May" as the B-side to "Reason To Believe".  But disc jockeys preferred "Maggie May" and flipped the 45 over to play it instead.  

Quittenton said that when "Maggie May" became a hit, he was making seven pounds a week at a record shop.  His royalties eventually amounted to about 25,000 pounds a year.  Quittenton also co-wrote "You Wear It Well" for Stewart.
"Maggie May" was out the same time as "American Pie" by Don McLean, John Lennon's "Imagine", "It's Too Late" by Carole King, "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" by the Bee Gees, James Taylor's "You've Got A Friend", "Superstar" from the Carpenters, "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" by Cher, "Indian Reservation" by Paul Revere & the Raiders, Aretha Franklin's "Spanish Harlem", "Family Affair" by Sly & the Family Stone, and "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" by Paul & Linda McCartney.

"Maggie May" controlled the #1 spot for 5 weeks and spent 11 weeks in the Top 10.  It also peaked at #1 in the U.K. for five weeks, and #1 in Australia for four weeks.
Stewart became just the fourth artist of the Rock Era, after the Beatles, Monkees, and Simon & Garfunkel, to own simultaneous #1 songs and albums in both the U.S. and U.K.  Rod is still one of only six artists to accomplish the feat.  The others are the Beatles ("We Can Work It Out" and the album Revolver in 1966), the Monkees ("I'm A Believer" and the album More of the Monkees in February of 1967), Simon & Garfunkel in March and April of 1970 with "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and the album of the same name, Men at Work in January and February of 1983 ("Down Under" and Business As Usual), and Beyonce ("Crazy In Love" and Dangerously in Love in 2003. 

"Maggie May" went Gold and helped sell 7.5 million albums.  It has now registered over three million airplays.















#92:
 
Good Vibrations 
Beach Boys
1966



"The greatest song ever written."
"Genius..."

"One of the best intros in history."
"One of the most innovative songs ever written."

"So awesome!"

"Just immaculate."

"Wonderful classic!"

"Gives me the chills!"

"Greatest harmony song ever recorded. I mean #1 by a long shot. This is the Secretariat of harmonies."




At #92*, we have Brian Wilson's musical masterpiece, formed in collaboration with lyricist Mike Love.  Wilson's story, one of verbal and physical abuse from his father, combatting mental disease, and still managing to be a musical genius, and then overcoming that disease and an overbearing and overprescribing physician to stage a musical comeback, is now a splendid movie called Love and Mercy that we highly recommend.  Love explained his thought process in coming up with the lyrics to Songfacts:



The one thing that I figured is an absolute perennial is the boy/girl relationship, the attraction between a guy and a girl. So I came up with that hook part at the chorus.  It didn't exist until I came up with that thought.  Which is "I'm pickin' up good vibrations, she's giving me the excitations."   "Excitations" may or may not be in Webster's Dictionary, however, it rhymes pretty well with "good vibrations."  It was kind of a flower power poem to suit the times and complement the really amazingly unique track that Cousin Brian came up with.



By 1966, Wilson had already suffered a breakdown on a flight and had stopped touring with the group.  Instead, he focused on songwriting and recording.  Wilson, a perfectionist in the studio, worked with backing musicians over the course of 17 recording sessions to produce the song for an estimated $50,000-70,000 (between $360,000 and $550,000 of today's dollars), at the time the most expensive single ever recorded.  The Beach Boys recorded the song from February 17 through September 21 of 1966. 


 Approximately 70 hours of tape, 90 hours of studio time, and at least 12 musicians went into recording "Good Vibrations".  Six studios in the Los Angeles area were used, including United Western Recorders, CBS Columbia Square, Gold Star Studios, and Sunset Sound Studios.  Love said, "I can remember doing 25–30 vocal overdubs of the same part, and when I mean the same part, I mean same section of a record, maybe no more than two, three, four, five seconds long."  Although it is difficult to discern which musicians played on the finished product, Wilson used drummer Hal Blaine, guitarist Glen Campbell, Larry Knechtel on organ, Al de Lory on piano, and Carol Kaye on bass.  
The unusual, high-pitched sound in this song was produced using a theremin, which uses electric current to produce sound.  One doesn't touch a theremin to play it, but moves their hand across the electric field.  The theremin was invented in 1919, but was very hard to play, and ended up being used mostly as a sound effects device.  Wilson was familiar with the instrument, used in low budget horror movies such as The Day the Earth Stood Still 

When Wilson added cellos to  "Good Vibrations," he envisioned an unusual high frequency sound to go along with them, and thought of the theremin.  Wilson couldn't find a real theremin, but found an inventor named Paul Tanner who'd been a trombonist with the Glenn Miller Orchestra between 1938-42.  Tanner had developed a similar device with Bob Whitsell called an Electro-Theremin, which had just one antenna instead of two. Tanner was brought in to play the device on the recording.

"Good Vibrations" was the first song from the Rock Era to be pieced together from separate fragments, which had a great influence on the Beatles, who began to use similar techniques.  The Beach Boys were finishing recording their album Pet Sounds while also working on "Good Vibrations".  As that album was initially blasted by critics, who have since done a complete 180 on the song, Wilson worked even harder on "Good Vibrations".  The song was to be part of the album Smile, recorded in about 50 sessions but never released.  Smile was considered a "lost album" until Wilson finished it in 2004.


The song began its chart run in October of 1966, facing competition from "I'm A Believer" by the Monkees, "Cherish" by the Association, "You Can't Hurry Love" and "You Keep Me Hangin' On" by the Supremes, "Ruby Tuesday" by the Rolling Stones, "Reach Out I'll Be There" by the Four Tops, and "For What It's Worth" by Buffalo Springfield.  It is understandable given that lineup that a song can post just one week at #1, but 7 weeks in the Top 10 is low given only 7 other Top 500 Songs* out at the time.

As elaborate as the song is, it only spent one week at #1, far less than most songs in The Top 250*.  "Good Vibrations" also reached #1 in the U.K. and Australia, #2 in Canada and Norway, #3 in Ireland and Finland, #4 in the Netherlands, #8 in Germany, #9 in Austria, and #10 in France.  The song sold 50,000 copies in the U.K. within 15 days.
"Good Vibrations" has sold one million singles and helped sell 10 million albums in the U.S. alone.  However, three million airplays, while outstanding, is low for this range, especially looking at a nearly 50-year-old song.

"Good Vibrations" was nominated for Best Vocal Group performance at the Grammy Awards; the fact that it did not win should tell you something about the Grammys in general but particularly at that time.  The song was also nominated for Best Contemporary R&B Recording (Single or Album), Best Contemporary R&B Recording (Vocal or Instrumental), and Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist(s) or Instrumentalist(s).  After the song became a classic, the Grammys sheepishly inducted it into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  "Good Vibrations" is also included in the exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame called "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll".







#91:
Love Is Blue
Paul Mauriat And His Orchestra 
1968






"Fantastic!"
"Classic."
"Very beautiful!"
"Awesome song!"
"Great masterpiece."
"Beautiful piece of music--about as good as it gets."
"One of my favorite instrumentals ever."
"Song gives me goosebumps."
"I adore this song."



This artist grew up in a family that loved music.  His father, who was a postal inspector in Marseille, France, played classical piano and violin, and Paul Mauriat began studying music himself at age four.  When the family moved to Paris, Paul studied at the Conservatoire, and formed his first orchestra when he was 17.
Before this classic, Paul Mauriat enjoyed a #1 song, though not as an artist.  Writing under the pseudonym Del Roma, Paul wrote the song "Chariot", a French instrumental that eventually acquired English lyrics and recorded as "I Will Follow Him" by Little Peggy March.

AndrĂ© Popp and Pierre Cour wrote this song, originally called "L'amour est bleu".  Vicky Leandros sang the song in the 1967 Eurovision competition, but placed fourth.  Leandros recorded the song in 19 languages, but none of those versions caught on.  The English title of the song is "Love Is Blue", and Mauriat led an orchestral version that he recorded for his album Blooming Hits.

Mauriat released it as a single late in 1967, even though it had been five years since an instrumental topped the charts, that being "Telstar" by the Tornadoes.  At the time, one could also hear classics such as "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" by Otis Redding, "Hello Goodbye" and "Lady Madonna" by the Beatles, "To Sir With Love" from Lulu, "Mrs. Robinson" and "Scarborough Fair" by Simon and Garfunkel, "Daydream Believer", by the Monkees, Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey, and "This Guy's In Love With You" by Herb Alpert.

The five-week stay at #1 for "Love Is Blue" was the second-longest of any instrumental of the Rock Era to Percy Faith's "Theme From 'A Summer Place'".  "Love Is Blue" also stayed at #1 for 10 weeks on the Adult chart.
"Love Is Blue" sold over one million copies and has topped four million in radio airplay. 


Before the time we present the next 10 songs in the special, we suggest going back and listening to songs you missed--use the handy Checklists* on Inside The Rock Era!  And we'll see you back tomorrow!

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