Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #130-121

For the special occasion of the 60th birthday of the Rock Era, Inside The Rock Era has brought back our signature music special, The Top 500 Songs*.  The special was first produced in 1979, updated special times, and now front and center as we approach the 60th birthday on July 9.

Hear the next 10 songs and read the stories behind them in today's segment by clicking on "Read More":

I Heard It Through The Grapevine 
Marvin Gaye

"Awesome song!"
"You can't get any smoother than this.  It's just perfect."
"Balm to my soul..."
"I love that song!"
"Beautiful man with a beautiful voice."
"Classic, timeless..."

Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote this song, originally recorded by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles.  But Motown kingpin Berry Gordy rejected the song, telling Whitfield and Strong to make it stronger.  Marvin Gaye recorded it in five sessions in February and April of 1967 at the Hitsville USA Studios in Detroit, Michigan.  The Funk Brothers played on the rhythm track, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra played an arrangement by Paul Riser.  But Gordy rejected that version as well. 

Finally, Whitfield produced a version by Gladys Knight & the Pips, which Gordy agreed to release as a single.  The Pips hit #2 with it, but Gaye's version was relegated to being another track on his album In the Groove.

Radio disc jockeys, bless their hearts, discovered the song and began playing it, forcing Gordy's hand.  Gordy usually had good ears, but they failed him on this one.  Gaye's version was finally released as a single in October of 1968 on Tamla Records.  It would go on to become the longest-running #1 single Motown ever released.  

"I Heard It Through The Grapevine" faced competition from "Hey Jude" by the Beatles, "Traces" from the Classics IV, "Proud Mary" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Everyday People" by Sly & the Family Stone, "Time Of The Season" by the Zombies, "Love Child" from the Supremes, "Crimson And Clover" by Tommy James & the Shondells and "Dizzy" from Tommy Roe. Those eight are amazing, but when you stretch the competition out to the best 15 songs, the quality goes down quite a bit for this song. Still better competition than many songs in The Top 500*, and way better than most outside of the list.
"I Heard It Through The Grapevine" rose to #1 for 7 weeks with 11 weeks in the Top 10 overall, and #1 for 7 weeks on the R&B chart.  It also peaked at #1 in the U.K. for three weeks, #7 in Ireland and #8 in Canada.

The song sold one million singles and helped sell over seven million albums in the U.S. alone.  "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" has been played over two million times, but that to be divided up among Gaye's version and covers by CCR and Gladys Knight & the Pips.

The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for "historical, artistic and significant" value.

Strong and Whitfield also wrote "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone", "Just My Imagination" and "Ain't Too Proud To Beg" for the Temptations.

Eight Days A Week
"This song is amazing."
"This song always puts me in a jolly mood and is so catching!
"Great song!"
"Definitely one of the best songs ever."
"Love the bridge that the Beatles put in so many of their early songs."
"Romantic song!"
"The groove the group gets into is amazing."

"Eight Days A Week" was the first song in which the Beatles worked on the arrangement to a song in the studio, something that would later become commonplace. 

The Beatles recorded the song October 6, 1964 in two sessions of a total of seven hours at EMI Studios in London.  "Eight Days A Week" is unique in that it begins with an unusual guitar fade-in--it is believed to be the first popular song to begin in such a way.  The group included the song on the album Beatles for Sale in the U.K.  Up until the 1967 release of the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Beatles albums in the U.K. and the U.S. were different.  The U.K. albums contained more songs than their counterparts in America, which resulted in enough extra material to release interim albums in the United States. 

The Beatles released "Eight Days A Week" as a single in the United States on February 15, 1965.  The song was later included on their album Beatles VI in the States.  "Eight Days A Week" was considered for single release in the U.K. but the Beatles decided to release "I Feel Fine" there instead.  By not releasing "Eight Days A Week", it meant that British fans had to wait nearly five months after "I Feel Fine" for another single, and there were many complaints that the Beatles did not release enough singles in Great Britain.  Beatles manager Brian Epstein responded in an interview with Billboard magazine: 

"I think that the Beatles produce as many records as most artists on average.  The reason why more people are asking for more records is that there is obviously a greater demand for Beatles' material.  In my experience, many artists have been damaged by over-exposure on record."

"Eight Days A Week" was played along with other great songs such as "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers, "I Feel Fine" and "Ticket To Ride" by the Beatles, "Downtown" by Petula Clark, "My Girl" from the Temptations, "Stop!  In The Name Of Love" and "Come See About Me" by the Supremes, "Help Me Rhonda" by the Beach Boys, and "Crying In The Chapel" by Elvis Presley.

"Eight Days A Week" went to #1 for 2 weeks.  The Beatles  later won 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.

The song sold 1 million singles and helped sell over 33 million albums in the U.S.  It has been played over three million times thus far.

Jumpin' Jack Flash
 Rolling Stones

"An incredible song. Contains probably what has to be the best opening lyrics in rock history: "I was born in a crossfire hurricane."
"Fantastic song!"
"One of the best riffs ever."
"The bridge beginning at 1:33 is the greatest in the history of rock and roll."
"One of the best bass lines in rock history."
"This song is awesome!"

Singer Mick Jagger and guitarist Keith Richard saw each other on a train in 1960 and discovered they both shared a love of R&B and music in general.  The two were friends at Wentworth Junior County Primary school in the 1950s, but had lost touch.  Shortly afterwards, the two were part of the group Little Boy Blue & the Blue Boys.

Guitarist Brian Jones played at the Ealing Blues club in London with the group Blues Incorporated, and Jagger and Richard met Jones there.  Pianist Ian Stewart and Dick Taylor soon joined, and the Rollin' Stones, with future Kink Mick Avory playing drums, made their live debut at the Marquee Jazz club in London on July 12, 1962.

The group underwent future changes, with the most notable being when drummer Charlie Watts took over.  The band soon changed their name to the Rolling Stones, and scored their first hit in 1964 when their cover of the great Buddy Holly song, "Not Fade Away", went to #48.  By 1968, the group had racked up 21 hits, including the #1 songs "Satisfaction", "Get Off Of My Cloud", "Paint It, Black" and "Ruby Tuesday".

Jagger and Richards wrote this great rocker at #128*.  According to Richards in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, the pair wrote the song while at his country house:

 The lyrics came from a gray dawn at Redlands.  Mick and I had been up all night, it was raining outside, and there was the sound of these boots near the window, belonging to my gardener, Jack Dyer.  It woke Mick up.  He said, 'What's that? ' I said, "Oh, that's Jack. That's jumping Jack."  I started to work around the phrase on the guitar, which was in open tuning, singing the phrase "Jumping Jack."   Mick said, 'Flash,' and suddenly we had this phrase with a great rhythm and ring to it.".

The group recorded the song April 20, 1968 at Olympic Studios in London.  They released the single May 24 in the U.K. and June 1 in the U.S.  The song was later added to the compilation Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2).

"Jumpin' Jack Flash" contended with great songs such as Simon & Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson", "People Got To Be Free" by the Rascals, "Honey" by Bobby Goldsboro, "This Guy's In Love With You" by Herb Alpert, and "Hello, I Love You" by the Doors.

"Jumpin "Jack Flash" reached #3 for 3 weeks in the United States, and it hit #1 in the U.K. and Germany, and #2 in France, Austria, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, and #3 in Norway.

"Jumpin' Jack Flash" is the song that the Rolling Stones play most often on tour.  The song has helped sell18 million albums, and is one of the most-played songs in history with over 6 million radio airplays to date.

In 1972, Don McLean referenced this song in his classic "American Pie"--"Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack Flash sat on a candlestick, 'cause fire's the Devils only friend."

People Got To Be Free

"Great song.  Still as relevant today as ever."

"One of the best songs ever."

"Keeps the soul and spirit alive."

"Incredible voices and harmonies."

"One of the best classics ever recorded."

"Great tune and great message."

"So soulful."

"Words to live by".

Back-to-back songs from 1968 in The Top 500 Songs*, as "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones came in at #128*.  1968 was a fairly strong year with 14 representatives in the special.
Felix Cavaliere, Eddie Brigati, and Gene Corness, who were all together in the group Joey Dee & the Starliters, formed this great '60s act, which made its debut at a club in Garfield, New Jersey.  Soon after, drummer Dino Danelli joined, and the band called itself the Rascals.  The group soon became the house band at the Barge, a floating nightclub off Southampton, New York.  Sid Bernstein became their manager, and helped them sign a recording contract in 1964 with Atlantic Records. 

The group got a big break when they opened for the Beatles at the Fab Four's famous date at Shea Stadium on August 15, 1965 in New York.  By this time, they were the Young Rascals, as there was already a group called the Harmonica Rascals and Atlantic didn't want anyone to confuse the two.  The Young Rascals scored hits such as "I Ain't Gonna' Eat Out My Heart Anymore", "Good Lovin'", "I've Been Lonely Too Long", "Groovin', and "How Can I Be Sure". 

Cavaliere and Brigati, who shared lead vocals for the Rascals, wrote this song together as a plea for tolerance and freedom in the turbulent '60s.  The song was partly written as a reaction to an encounter the group had with a group of strangers after their tour bus broke down in Fort Pierce, Florida.  But more than that, Cavaliere found it hard to cope with the assassinations of Reverend Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy, and felt the song was important.

The Rascals recorded this classic May 14, 1968, and released it on July 1 from their album Freedom Suite.  It was the group's first big hit under their original name. 

"People Got To Be Free" was released the same time as great songs such as "Hey Jude" and "Revolution" by the Beatles, "Love Child" by the Supremes, "Jumping Jack Flash", the song we just heard, "This Guy's In Love With You" by Herb Alpert, and "Hello, I Love You" from the Doors.

 The Rascals climbed to #1 for 5 weeks with this great song; it chalked up 9 weeks in the Top 10 and also reached #14 on the R&B chart.   

"People Got To Be Free" has sold over 1 million singles, helped sell 1 million in albums, and has now topped 4 million radio airplay.

The Rascals didn't just talk; they walked the walk.  After this song, the group only performed at concerts that featured an African-American act.  On several occasions those conditions were not met, and the Rascals canceled those shows.

Turn! Turn! Turn! 

"Roger McGuinn's 12 string lead guitar part is second to none on this track."
"Great song and band."
"This song is awesome."
"Pure bliss..."
"A real gem."
"Beautiful song."
"One of the best songs ever."

We're up to a group at #126* that is highly influential in the way their songs sounded and for their great harmonies.  The Byrds' origins came in 1964 when guitarist Jim (later known as Roger) McGuinn and Gene Clark (vocals and percussion) met at the famous Troubadour in Los Angeles.  McGuinn was a veteran musician, having worked with the Chad Mitchell Trio, the Limeliters, Judy Collins and Bobby Darin.

McGuinn and Clark formed a duo and began performing at the club known as the Folk Den.  Guitarist David Crosby saw their show and convinced them to let him sing harmony with them.  Soon after that, the group became known as the Jet Set.  Drummer Michael Clarke and bassist Chris HIllman came aboard, and the group recorded songs on Elektra Records known as the Beefeaters.  After a label switch to Columbia, the band changed their name to the Byrds on  Thanksgiving Day, 1964.  The Byrds' first record on Columbia, "Mr. Tambourine Man", enabled them to immediately take flight. 

The recently departed Folk singer Pete Seeger wrote and originally recorded this great song, based almost verbatim from the book of Ecclesiastes (3:1-8) in The Bible.  The last line, "a time for peace, I swear it's not too late", and the title of the song were the only original parts of the song that Pete wrote.  Seeger talked about the experience:

I got a letter from my publisher, and he says, "Pete, I can't sell these protest songs you write."  And I was angry.  I sat down with a tape recorder and said, "I can't write the kind of songs you want. You gotta go to somebody else. This is the only kind of song I know how to write."  I pulled out this slip of paper in my pocket and improvised a melody to it in fifteen minutes.  And I sent it to him.  And I got a letter from him the next week that said, "Wonderful!  Just what I'm looking for."

Roger McGuinn and Crosby devised a new arrangement for the song for Judy Collins' version in 1963.  The Byrds decided to cover the song themselves two years later, but it took them over 50 takes to get the sound right.  McGuinn said:

It was a standard folk song by that time, but I played it and it came out rock 'n' roll because that’s what I was programmed to do like a computer.  I couldn’t do it as it was traditionally.  It came out with that samba beat, and we thought it would make a good single.

The Byrds recorded the song on September 1, 10, and 14-16 of 1965 at Columbia Studios in Hollywood, California.  They released the single October 1 as the title song from their second album.
"Turn!  Turn!  Turn!" faced competition from Yesterday", "Help!" and "We Can Work It Out" by the Beatles, "The Sound Of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel, "Get Off Of My Cloud" by the Rolling Stones, "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers, and "I Got You Babe" by Sonny & Cher. 

"Turn!  Turn!  Turn!" was a huge hit for the Byrds, giving them their second #1 after "Mr. Tambourine Man".  When "Turn!  Turn!  Turn!" went to the top, it set a Rock Era record for the #1 song with the oldest lyrics, believed to have been written in the late third century.  All told, the song spent 3 weeks at #1 and 8 weeks in the Top 10.  For quite a while, the Book of Ecclesiastes was believed to have been written by King Solomon, but that has largely been disproved, so for now, the author is listed as "anonymous".

"Turn!  Turn!  Turn!" has helped sell over 12 million albums, and has gone over the three-million mark in radio airplay.

Bette Davis Eyes
Kim Carnes

"Amazing song."
"Absolutely one of the greatest songs ever."

"This is a classic that's timeless."

"Love this song.  Raspy voice at its best."

"This tune is awesome.  One in a million."

"Awesome song!"


How's this for an early start?  This Los Angeles native wrote her first song when she was just three years old.  She began recording demos for song publishers upon graduation from high school.  After three years of playing in small clubs, Kim Carnes signed with A&M Records.  She proceeded to release three albums but had little to show for it.  Her 1978 song "More Love" was her first hit; she also sang with Gene Cotton on the solid but underrated song "You're A Part Of Me".  But Kim's biggest hit came from a pair of other songwriters.

Jackie DeShannon originally recorded this song on her 1975 album New Arrangement.  DeShannon co-wrote the song with Donna Weiss after watching the 1942 movie Now, Voyager, starring Bette Davis.  Davis was one of the most successful actresses of her time, with movies including All About Eve and What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?  She was famous for her New England accent and her eyes. 
Six years later, Weiss submitted the arrangement to Kim Carnes, who recorded it.  Carnes credits keyboardist Bill Cuomo, who came up with the signature synthesizer riff on a Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 synthesizer.  Carnes and the backing musicians recorded the song on their first take for Kim's album Draw of the Cards
DeShannon sang the phrase "make a crow blush" in her version, while Carnes used "make a pro blush".  Crow blush is a colloquialism from the 20th century that meant one could make someone feel uneasy with little effort, but the arranger on Kim's version was not familiar with the term and thought the lyrics were supposed to read "pro" instead of "crow".

In March of 1981, Carnes debuted on the chart.  At the time, and you will remember if you were a Rock Era fan back then, "Bette Davis Eyes" was heard at the same time as these other great songs:  "Lady" by Kenny Rogers, "Endless Love" by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie, "Woman" by John Lennon, "9 To 5" by Dolly Parton, "Keep On Loving You" by REO Speedwagon, "Who's Crying Now" by Journey, Juice Newton's "Angel Of The Morning", "Arthur's Theme" from Christopher Cross, and "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang.

"Bette Davis Eyes" stormed to #1 in 31 countries, including the United States, Germany, Canada, Australia, France, Norway, and Switzerland, and reached #2 in  New Zealand, #4 in Sweden, #5 in Ireland, and #10 in the U.K.  It was a monster hit in the U.S., accumulating 9 weeks at #1 and 14 in the Top 10.

"Bette Davis Eyes" was the third-best-selling single of the 1980's, after "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John and "Endless Love" by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie.  "Bette Davis Eyes" went Gold, helped sell one million albums, and has gone over two million in radio airplay.  This is a case of a huge hit at the time (9 weeks at #1) whose sales and airplay have decreased.

After the song became a hit, Davis wrote letters to Carnes, DeShannon and Weiss, saying that she was a fan of the song and thanked them for making her "a part of modern history".  Davis's grandson told Bette it was cool that a hit song was written about her.  When Weiss and DeShannon won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year, Davis sent them roses.


We Belong Together 
Mariah Carey

"I luv this song!"
"This is the love song of my generation."
"Love it--MC is awesome!"
"One of my favorite songs."
"Very beautiful song."
"Sweet jam."
"One of Carey's best."

Even though Carey has not been close to as successful since 1997 as she was her first few years, she managed to score a comeback with this song and album The Emancipation of Mimi.  Carey wrote "We Belong Together" with Jermaine Dupri, Manuel Seal, and Johntá Austin.  Carey, Dupri and Seal produced it as well.  They lyrics tell the story of a woman's desperation for her former lover to return, a familiar theme since her divorce to record executive Tommy Mottola.

Carey was coming off the disastrous movie Glitter and its soundtrack album, and the unsuccessful (by Carey's standards) Charmbracelet before The Emancipation of Mimi.  Unfortunately, Mariah was unable to continue the success of Mimi afterwards.
While Carey was working on the album, L.A. Reid, chairman of Island Records, suggested she write a few more strong singles, and recommended to Mariah that she meet with Dupri, with whom she had already written several songs.  Carey flew to Atlanta, Georgia, where the two wrote "Shake It Off" and "Get Your Number", which were eventually released as the album's third and fourth singles, respectively.  At this point, "Shake It Off" was slated to be the album's lead single.

Carey then flew to Atlanta a second time, and during this trip, Carey and Dupri wrote "We Belong Together".  Carey described to Billboard magazine her feelings about the song:

I had the chills.  I had a great feeling about it when we finished writing the song, and I was flying back from Atlanta at some crazy hour of the morning...  But we were listening to it on the plane ride on the way home, and even from the demo version, I really felt something very special.

Carey recorded the song at Right Track Studios in New York City, with additional work done at Southside Studios in Atlanta.  Carey released the single March 29, 2005.

Carey's 14 weeks at #1 in the United States is tied for the most of the 21st century with "I Gotta' Feelin'" by the Black Eyed Peas.  While the latter song doesn't have the sales and airplay statistics to make it into the elite list, "We Belong Together" does.  "We Belong Together" is the second-longest-running #1 of the Rock Era to "One Sweet Day", Carey's amazing collaboration with Boyz II Men, which spent 16 weeks at #1.

"We Belong Together" also landed at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and registered 9 weeks at #1 on the R&B chart.  But the song was a worldwide smash as well, reaching #1 in Australia for 11 weeks.  It also reached #2 in the U.K., New Zealand and the Netherlands, #3 in Ireland and Denmark, #4 in Switzerland, and #9 in Norway.

On September 25, Carey set a Rock Era record when she became the first female to own both #1 and #2 simultaneously.  "We Belong Together" was #1 and her follow-up, "Shake It Off", held the number 2 position.  The Beatles of course own the overall record by placing all five of The Top 5 on April 4, 1964.  No one has ever come close to that mark.

"We Belong Together", however, piled up all those statistics against some of the weakest competition of the nearly 60-year Rock Era.  You've heard of the expression "Take it with a grain of salt"?  Unless you have something to compare against, statistics don't mean anything.  By comparing the competition for "We Belong Together" (no other Top 500* songs out at the time) with the competition for other songs in The Top 500*, we get a clear picture which songs had the toughest competition and which had the weakest.  For most of the entries in this range, you will notice a host of great songs out at the time.  The fact that there are none out at the time of "We Belong Together" limits how high it can go.  Unless or until those other songs out at the time are certified as selling tons of copies or are certified as receiving at least one million in radio airplay, "We Belong Together" will not gain in ranking.

Billboard announced in 2009 that "We Belong Together" was the best-selling song of the 2000s in the United States.  It also achieved the largest current audience of any song since 1998, with 212 million people hearing the song the week of July 9, 2005.  That record of rock's weaker years was overtaken in 2013 by Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines", which was ruled to be plagiarized from Marvin Gaye's hit "Got To Give It Up", and songwriters Thicke and Pharrell Williams were ordered to pay Gaye's family $7.4 million.

Despite those high numbers of people hearing the song, "We Belong Together" has yet to go over one million in radio airplay, another low figure for this range and a factor that greatly limits it.  The song has sold one million copies and helped sell six million albums.

Carey won Grammy Awards For Best R & B Song, Best Contemporary R & B Album and Best R & B Vocal Performance, Female, an American Music Award for Favorite Soul/Rhythm and Blues Female Artist, Billboard Awards For Billboard 200 Album Artist, Female, Hot 100 Song, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Female Artist, Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album Female Artist, and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Female Artist, World Music Awards for Female Entertainer of the Year, Special Achievement, Best-Selling Pop Female Artist, and Best-Selling R&B Artist, and Soul Train Awards for Best R&B/Soul Album, Female, and Best R&B/Soul Single, Female.
Carey was nominated for Album of the Year, Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the Grammys, and the video to "We Belong Together" was nominated for Best Female Video and Best R&B Video at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Black Or White
Michael Jackson

"Love this song!"


"Coolest song ever."

"One of my favorite songs."


"Love this song.  Michael was awesome."

"Never fails to cheer me up."

"Great song.  Great talent."

Michael Jackson joined his brothers in the group the Jackson 5, which set a Rock Era record by hitting #1 with each of its first four releases.  In 1975, although Michael stayed in the group, he also signed a solo contract with Epic Records, which allowed him creative freedom and a considerable increase from the Jackson 5's 2.7% royalty they got from Motown.

With each subsequent album (Off The Wall, Thriller, and Bad), Jackson proved to be a superstar in his own right.  Shortly before he recorded his album Dangerous, Michael Jackson signed the most lucrative recording contract in history.  Jackson received an $18 million cash advance for Dangerous, and a guaranteed $5 million per album after that.

In his plea for racial tolerance, Michael Jackson wrote this song with producer Bill Bottrell for Dangerous.  The two had worked on the highly successful Bad album; Bottrell went on to win the Grammy Award for Record of the Year for Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna' Do".

The lead guitar part in the song is incorrectly attributed by several sources to Slash of Guns N' Roses.  Slash's guitar is heard in the skit that precedes the song.  Jackson released the single November 11, 1991.

"Black Or White" faced competition from ("Everything I Do) I Do It For You" by Bryan Adams, "Tears In Heaven" by Bryan Adams, "Emotion" by Mariah Carey, and "Vanessa Williams's "Save The Best For Last".

Within 24 hours of release in 1991, "Black Or White" was added to the playlists of 96% of the 237 Top 40 radio stations in the United States.  With that early momentum, the song went from 35-3-1, the fastest rise to #1 since "Get Back" by the Beatles in 1969.  It reached #1 in 19 other countries, including the U.K., Canada, Australia, Ireland, France, New Zealand, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.  "Black Or White" dominated the Popular chart in the U.S. with seven weeks at #1, and it peaked at #3 R&B.   

Jackson thus became the first artist to score #1 songs in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.  Michael won a Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album (Non-Classical), American Music Awards for Artist of the Century,  Best Pop/Rock Album (for both Dangerous and Number Ones), and Favorite Soul/R&B Album (for Number Ones), World Music Awards for Diamond Award, Best-Selling American Artist, World's Best-Selling Pop Artist and World's Best-Selling Artist and Billboard Music Awards for World Artist Award, Hot 100 Single Artist, Male, Hot R&B Singles Artist, Hot Dance Club Music Play Artist and Hot Dance Music Maxi-Single Sales Artist.

"Black Or White" became the year's second-best-selling single, with over one million copies sold in the U.S. alone.  It helped sell 23 million albums, but has not yet topped one million radio airplays.

All You Need Is Love

"It's fantastic!"

"Simple message...needed today and always."

"Undeniable classic."

"This is b-e-a-u-t-I-f-u-l..."

"Still brilliant after all these years."

"Never a truer song."


"Lennon's soul and music will live on forever."

In 1967, the BBC commissioned the Beatles to write a song for the United Kingdom's contribution to an upcoming program called Our World, which was to be the first live global television broadcast.  Writing began in late May of 1967, with John Lennon and Paul McCartney both working on separate songs.  John's "All You Need Is Love" was determined to be the best choice because of its easy-to-understand message of love and peace that captured the feeling of the younger generation.  Manager Brian Epstein said:

It was an inspired song and they really wanted to give the world a message.  The nice thing about it is that it cannot be misinterpreted.  It is a clear message saying that love is everything.

The song began with the intro to the French national anthem, "La Marseillaise", and also contains elements of Glenn Miller's "In The Mood" and Wayne Shanklin's "Chanson D'amour".  In the long fade-out of the song, the Beatles mixed together a collage of several songs, including "Greensleeves", "Invention No. 8 in F Major" by J.S. Bach, "In The Mood", and the Beatles' own "She Loves You".  The Beatles recorded "All You Need Is Love" on June 14 and June 19-26 of 1967 at Olympic and EMI studios in London.  They performed the song on Our World, viewed by over 400 million people in 25 countries on June 25.

The Beatles released the single July 7 in the U.K. and July 17 in the United States.  The song was included on the album Magical Mystery Tour later in the year, as well as in the movie and soundtrack to Yellow Submarine in 1969.

No one can logically argue that the Summer of 1967 was not one of the strongest periods of the Rock Era that will soon be 60 years old.  Check out the competition that "All You Need Is Love" faced in its run up the charts:  "Light My Fire" by the Doors, "Ode To Billie Joe" by Bobby Gentry, "The Letter" by the Box Tops, "Never My Love" and "Windy" by the Association, "To Sir With Love" by Lulu, "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison, the Beatles' own "A Day In The Life", "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" by Frankie Valli, and "Up, Up And Away" by the 5th Dimension.

"All You Need Is Love" went to #1 in every major country in the world, and was #1 for three weeks in the U.K.  The single went Gold and helped sell an incredible 42 million albums in the U.S. alone.  "All You Need Is Love" has been played over one million times. 

"All You Need Is Love" became an anthem of the anti-war movement, and a big part of what became known as the Summer of Love.

Guitarist George Harrison mentioned this song in a 1981 tribute to Lennon, who was murdered earlier that year, in the song "All Those Years Ago".  Harrison included the line "But you point the way to the truth when you say 'All you need is love.'"
John's song Sean, when asked by The New Musical Express about his father's lyrics, said:

I like when by Dad said, "There's nothing you can know that isn't known/ Nothing you can see that isn't shown/ Nowhere you can go that isn't where you're meant to be."  It seems to be a good representation of the sort of enlightenment that came out of the '60s.

Lennon's handwritten lyrics sold for one million pounds in 2005.  He had left them in the BBC studios after the group's last live television appearance, when an employee salvaged them.

My Sharona 

"Great of the best guitar solos of all-time."

"Always loved this song."

"What a killer riff."

"What a masterpiece!"

"Classic song."

"Excellent track separation in the song--brilliant!"

"Awesome...great beat!"

"Makes you want to get up and dance."

Doug Fieger, lead singer of the Knack, and guitarist Berton Averre co-wrote this next killer, a real-life scenario in which Fieger became infatuated with a girl named Sharona Alperin.  He began writing her letters and then started writing songs about her.  Fieger was the younger brother of successful attorney Geoffrey Fieger, who defended Dr. Jack Kevorkian (in his assisted suicide trial), among others. 

Sensational producer Mike Chapman produced "My Sharona", recorded at MCA Whitney Recording Studios in Glendale, California.  Chapman already had producing credits with Blondie , Sweet, Exile, and Suzi Quatro at the time, and told the Knack the song would go to #1 the first time they played it for him.

Chapman also either wrote and/or produced songs such as "Kiss You All Over" by Exile, "Hot Child In The City" by Nick Gilder, "Ballroom Blitz" for Sweet and "Stumblin' In" for Quatro and Chris Norman.  His credits in the years to follow included "Better Be Good To Me" and "The Best" by Tina Turner, "Mickey" for Toni Basil, "Heart And Soul" by Huey Lewis & the News and "Love Is A Battlefield" by Pat Benatar.  Chapman also produced for ABBA, Rod Stewart, Rick Nelson, Barry White, Cheap Trick, Ace of Base, Juice Newton, Kim Carnes, Bonnie Tyler, and Poison, just to name a few.    

Sharona agreed to appear as the woman on the 45 holding the Get the Knack album, even though she and Fieger were not dating.  The record company slashed the 4:52 song down to 3:58, leaving out the solo by Averre, one of the highlights of the song.  Most radio stations played the album version.

About a year after they first met, Sharona finally gave in and the two began dating.  Sharona joined the band on tour and watched as the song written about her began climbing the charts.

"My Sharona" debuted in June of 1979, when great songs such as "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock With You" by Michael Jackson, "Heartache Tonight" by the Eagles, "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, "Reunited" from Peaches & Herb, "She Believes In Me" and "You Decorated My Life" by Kenny Rogers, "Hot Stuff" by Donna Summer, "Babe" from Styx, "Still" by the Commodores and "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band all out at the same time.      

"My Sharona" stood tall at #1 for 6 weeks and chalked up 12 weeks in the Top 10.  It also hopped to #1 in Canada and Australia, #3 in New Zealand and France, #6 in the U.K., and #7 in Switzerland. 
"My Sharona" was the best-selling song of 1979.  It has topped 1 million in singles sales, 2.5 million in album sales, and 4 million airplays.

Fieger and Sharona were together for about four years, and were engaged at one point, before Sharona grew tired of the rock & roll lifestyle and Fieger's alcoholism and broke off the engagement.  Sharona became a high-end real estate agent in California, specializing in celebrity clinetele.  Alperin and Fieger eventually became friends, and Sharona was with Doug the last week of his life, when he died of cancer on February 14, 2010.
Weird Al Yankovic parodied this song in his first single "My Bologna", the song that launched his career.

Whether you like all the songs above or hate them (!), we hope you can appreciate their tremendous popularity with millions.  And we have 10 more incredible songs on the docket tomorrow!

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