Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #170-161

We can tell that more people are discovering The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era* each day.  If you are just now finding out about it, do yourself a favor and listen to all of the segments prior to this one.  Use the handy Checklists* we provide that contain the links to all of the songs.  Then come back and listen to these great 10 songs!: 

Just to remind everyone, the quotes below each video are from viewers on YouTube:



Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
Paul and Linda McCartney


"A masterpiece."

"One of my all-time favs."
"This song is genius."
"Great song--a flawless effort."
"This is absolutely timeless.  Brilliant!"
"What a fun song!"
"Great song!"
"Fantastic piece of music!"

This artist received a trumpet on his 14th birthday, but when Paul McCartney heard rock and roll on the radio, he traded the trumpet in for a guitar, reasoning that it would be difficult to sing while playing a trumpet.  Left-handed, Paul found it tough to play the guitar, but after seeing on a poster that Slim Whitman played left-handed, McCartney reversed the order of the strings.
McCartney met John Lennon on July 6, 1957 after seeing the group the Quarrymen play at Woolton Parish Church Fete.  The two hit it off immediately, and after hearing McCartney's guitar playing, Lennon invited him to be in the group.  Such is the hand of fate that brought about the origins of the Beatles. 

The Beatles were such a dominant force in music from 1964-1970 that when their split was announced, people wondered what would happen afterwards.  When first George Harrison (with "My Sweet Lord" in 1970) and then Paul McCartney hit #1, it was obvious the individual members of the Fab Four were going to continue to be a force in the music business.  McCartney turned out to be, by far, the most successful of the Beatles after the breakup.

The Albert in this song was Albert Kendall, (Paul's "Uncle Albert").  Admiral Halsey refers to U.S. Fleet Admiral William "Bull" Halsey.  McCartney combined bits of unfinished songs to come up with this classic, a practice he first started with the Beatles song "A Day In The Life".  Paul and wife Linda recorded the song November 6, 1970.  Trumpeter Marvin Stamm played the flugelhorn solo that leads into the "Hands across the water" section, and the New York Philharmonic also plays on the track.  The McCartneys released the single August 2, 1971 from the album Ram.   

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" went up against Beatle mate John Lennon and his classic "Imagine", as well as "Maggie May" from Rod Stewart, "It's Too Late" by Carole King, "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" by the Bee Gees, "You've Got A Friend" from James Taylor, "Superstar" by the Carpenters, "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" by Cher, "Indian Reservation" by Paul Revere & the Raiders, and Aretha Franklin's "Spanish Harlem". 

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" rose to #1 overall and also reached adults by peaking at #9 there. The song also peaked at #1 in Canada and #5 in Australia.

"Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" helped McCartney set the Rock Era record for the most consecutive years of writing a #1 song with eight. As part of the famous Lennon/McCartney partnership, Paul wrote #1 songs with the Beatles from 1964-1970 before "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" in 1971.   Lionel Richie later tied the mark with #1 songs written for the Commodores, Kenny Rogers, as well as Richie's solo career, for the years 1978-1985.

Song #170* has sold over one million singles, helped sell six million albums, and has been played over three million times to date.


Crystal Blue Persuasion
Tommy James & the Shondells

"Great mood music; it helps everyone facing each day: their troubles and tribulations!"
"Great song!"
"Favorite song ever."
"One of the best songs of all-time."
"Just beautiful."
"Classic from an awesome era in rock & roll."
"This is a beautiful sound."

Eddie Gary, Tommy James and Mike Vale wrote this incredible song from the album Crimson & Clover.  James said in an interview with Hitch magazine: 

I took the title from the Book of Revelations [sic] in the Bible, reading about the New Jerusalem.  The words jumped out at me, and they're not together; they're spread out over three or four verses.  But it seemed to go together, it's my favorite of all my songs and one of our most requested.

According to James's manager, Tommy was actually inspired by his readings of the Book of Ezekiel, which (he remembered as) spoke of a blue Shekihinah light that represented the presence of the Almighty God, and of the Book of Isaiah and the Book of Revelation, which tell of a future age of brotherhood of mankind, living in peace and harmony.  James explained the experience:
 "Crystal Blue" was interesting.  First of all, I was becoming a Christian at that time, and we never thought a thing about it.  We never thought that doing something semi-religious was any big deal.  We didn't think of it as being politically incorrect or anything like that.  We just did what felt right.  I wrote "Crystal Blue Persuasion" with Eddie Gray and Mike Vale. Eddie came up with the little guitar riff, and Mike and I did the lyrics.  And it just felt very right as a sort of semi-religious poetic song, but it turned out to be one of the hardest records I've ever made.

We went in and had a set of drums, we had guitars, we had keyboards, and by the end, we just realized we had totally overproduced the record.  It just was not "Crystal Blue Persuasion" anymore.  It was a nice track, but wasn't right. So we had to produce the record, and then we had to un-produce the record.  And one by one we just started pulling the instruments out, until we ended up with a conga drum, a bongo, a tambourine, a flamenco guitar, and a very light-sounding bass.  We took out the drums completely.  We took out all the keyboards except one, which was a Hammond. And basically ended up with about four instruments on it. 

 And suddenly it became "Crystal Blue Persuasion", the song that we had written.  It has kind of an effervescent sound about it, a lot of atmospherics that just weren't there when it had all those instruments on it.  Suddenly when you emptied out the record it sounded like "Crystal Blue" again.  It had that light airy sound, which it needed to be right.  And it took us about six weeks to do all that.  It really was a very intricate un-production, pulling all the things out.  Actually, it was tougher than putting them in because you didn't want to mess up the record, but you wanted to empty it out.  So it came out and went #1 for us. 

James says that, while Chapter 19 of the Book of Revelation doesn't specifically mention the phrase "crystal blue persuasion", it was the image that came to Tommy when he read the words. The phrase "It's a new vibration" are about James becoming a Christian. 

Beginning in June of 1969, "Crystal Blue Persuasion" went against classics such as "Get Back" by the Beatles, "Aquarius" and "Wedding Bell Blues" by the 5th Dimension, "Honky Tonk Women" by the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" and "In The Ghetto", "In The Year 2525" by Zager & Evans, "Sugar, Sugar" from the Archies, "The Boxer" by Simon and Garfunkel, "Everybody's Talkin'" from Nilsson, "Get Together" by the Youngbloods, "Bad Moon Rising" from CCR, "I Can't Get Next To You" by the Temptations and "My Cherie Amour" by Stevie Wonder.

"Crystal Blue Persuasion" zoomed to #2, where it got stuck for three weeks behind the amazing competition listed above.  But even more impressively, it remained in the Top 10 for 9 weeks, a pretty high number for that time period.  The song is approaching three million in radio airplay.   


I Just Want To Be Your Everything
Andy Gibb

"Great song from a tremendous singer."
"Always been a favorite song of mine."
"This song is beautiful."
"Love this song so much."
"Great song!"
"Doesn't get any better."
"Precious song.  It will definitely last forever."
"A classic that has stood the test of time."

This artist knew first-hand the pressures and difficulties of living in a family with famous brothers.  After the Gibb family moved from Brisbane, Australia back to England hoping to earn recognition for their three older sons, the Bee Gees, the family's normal lifestyle was soon interrupted when the Bee Gees scored their hit "New York Mining Disaster 1941".  Andy Gibb remembered:

I was going to a little school [in London].  I knew they were sort of popular in Australia before we left, but to come home from school and fine five or six hundred kids in the street, around the front door....and that was going on every day.  And when you're 10 years old, you really don't think 'show business', with the glitter and the stardom and the whole thing.  I just accepted it.  My brothers had to leave the house eventually...It was unheard of, what was going on."

After three years in England, Andy moved with his parents to Ibiza, an island off the coast of Spain.  Older brother Barry encouraged Andy to get into the music business, presenting him with a guitar.  By the time he was 13, Andy was good enough to debut at a local tourist club.  Because of his age and his British citizenship, he did not get a salary, but used the experience to hone his performing skills. 
But living in Ibiza meant that the Gibbs had to live under the oppressie regime of Francisco Franco, and they soon moved again to the Isle of Man.  Andy performed at the two main clubs there, but at the suggestion of Barry and manager Robert Stigwood, moved back to Australia.  He enjoyed a huge hit down under with "Words And Music". 
Stigwood, who was with Barry in Bermuda at the time, was impressed, and signed Andy to a recording contract with RSO. 

Song #168* is one of 19 representatives from the year 1977 to make The Top 500*, one of the best years in music.  In fact, 1977 is tied for fifth for the most songs in the list.

Andy's older brother Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees wrote the song while in Bermuda.  Andy recalled the experience: 

So, once we discussed it all and got the deal together, me and Barry locked ourselves in a bedroom and Barry just started writing.  When Barry writes, it is very hard to collaborate with him, because he is so quick.  And before I knew it, he was starting to do the chorus of ['I Just Want to Be Your Everything'], and I thought, 'Wow what a hook!'  He's an expert at his craft.  Within about 20 minutes, he'd written a number one record.

Gibb recorded the song at Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida in October of 1976, with elite guitarist Joe Walsh among the musicians in his backing band.  Gibb released it in April of 1977 from his album Flowing Rivers.
"I Just Want To Be Your Everything" faced a killer lineup of songs out at the time:  "Hotel California" by the Eagles, "How Deep is Your Love" by the Bee Gees, "You Light Up My Life" by Debby Boone, "Go Your Own Way", "Dreams", You Make Loving Fun" and "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac, Barbra Streisand's "Evergreen", "Best Of My Love" by the Emotions, "Sir Duke" from Stevie Wonder, "Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel, Linda Ronstadt's "Blue Bayou", "We Are The Champions" by Queen, "Dancing Queen" by ABBA, and "Lucille" from Kenny Rogers". 

"I Just Want To Be Your Everything" vaulted to #1 for three weeks before falling to "Best Of My Love".  But the song didn't die out, waiting four weeks before returning to #1 for a fourth week.  It spent 23 weeks in the Top 40, one of the longest runs in the Rock Era to that point.  The song also reached #19 on the Soul chart.

So the song had durability, across-the-board strength, and achieved #1 for four weeks against stellar competition (it faced down the entire lineup from Rumours and still went to #1!)  "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" sold over one million copies, helped sell one million albums, and has been played over three million times.

The song showed its durability with 16 weeks in the Top 10 (it wasn't just a fad or flash in the pan; here today, gone tomorrow.)  It  showed its mass appeal by reaching #8 on the Adult chart and #19 on the R&B chart.  "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" also peaked at #1 in Canada and Australia and #2 in New Zealand.


We've Only Just Begun 

"A great song with real meaning that touched on our emotions and feelings and we could truly relate to it."
"A magic song from the great Carpenters."
"The most subliminal 3 minutes.  Pure pleasure."
"Three minutes of music heaven is like an age in paradise."
"An endless classic."
"Love...love it!"
"The harmonies are timeless."
"A great one by the Carpenters."


Early on, this once-in-a-lifetime duo had jazz leanings, on account of their father's interest in jazz.  Richard began studying classical piano when he was 16 at Yale University, and performed jazz piano in local clubs.  Soon, the family moved to Downey, California, and Richard majored in music at both USC (University of Southern California) and California State University-Long Beach.   

Richard, his sister Karen, and friend Wes Jacobs started a trio that won the Hollywood Bowl Battle of the Bands in 1966.  This wasn't your run of the mill contest; hundreds of acts competed for the top prize, a contract with RCA Records.  So the Richard Carpenter Trio went into RCA and recorded two song.  But RCA felt the group's sound was "too soft", and released them.  It was one of the biggest blunders in music history. 

Richard and Karen Carpenter not only rebounded on their feet; after a stint in the rock group the Spectrum, which played at the Troubadour, Disneyland, and Whisky a Go Go, they later regrouped into a duo and took their demos to A&M Records.  A&M owner Herb Alpert had great ears, and his ears told him that the duo in front of him was special.  He signed the Carpenters to a recording contract immediately.  The duo's first album, Offering, contained a minor hit, a cover of the Beatles' "Ticket To Ride".  But it is the second album that we want to talk about here. 

In 1970, the Carpenters released the title song from their album Close To You.  It became one of the monumental hits of the Rock Era, or any era for that matter.  How does one follow that up?  What to do, what to do...

The song became the background for a television commercial for Crocker National Bank in California with Williams singing the vocal.  Williams told Songfacts



It had all the romantic beginnings of a bank commercial' is the way I describe it.  There was actually a wonderful writer named Tony Asher who wrote for this ad agency, and he'd had a skiing accident and he broke his arm, so he couldn't write or play the piano or whatever.  So he suggested Roger Nichols and I as replacements to write this ad.  The ad agency called us and said, "Look, we're going to show a young couple getting married, driving off into the sunset, and it's going to say, 'You've got a long way to go, we'd like to help you get there to the Crocker Bank.'"  And I went, Okay, what rhymes with Crocker?  Crocker what?  And they said very specifically, "No we don't want a jingle."  What they asked for is what we would today call a music video.  It was going to show a young couple getting married, driving off into the sunset.  After the ceremony, the first kiss and all.  So Roger and I wrote the song that would play over that.

Carpenter saw the commercial and thought to himself, "I bet that is Paul Williams."  He was right, and when the two ran into each other at A&M Records, Richard asked Paul if there was a full-length version available.  Williams and Nichols finished the song and gave it to the Carpenters to record.   

The duo released the single August 21, 1970 from their album Close To You on A&M Records.
Among the many great songs that "We've Only Just Begun" faced were their own "Close To You", "My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison, "Black Magic Woman" from Santana, James Taylor's "Fire And Rain", "Me And Bobby McGee" by Janis Joplin, "Your Song" from Elton John, "I'll Be There" from the Jackson 5, "Knock Three Times" by Tony Orlando & Dawn, "Rose Garden" by Lynn Anderson, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Diana Ross, and "Lookin' Out My Back Door" from CCR.

"We've Only Just Begun" peaked at #2 for 4 weeks with an impressive 9 weeks in the Top 10.  It is one of The Top Adult Songs of the Rock Era*, posting seven weeks at #1 there.  The song also went to #1 in Canada. 

"We've Only Just Begun" sold over one million singles and helped sell 10 million albums.  The song helped the Carpenters capture the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, and to date, has been played over four million times.

In 1998, "We've Only Just Begun" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame representing recordings "of lasting quality or historical significance."
Williams wrote several other songs for the Carpenters, as well as songs for Barbra Streisand ("Evergreen"), Three Dog Night and Carole King. 





Fire And Rain 
James Taylor

"A classic from Sweet Baby James."
"James Taylor absolutely nailed  a song that will go down in history!  Out of his own experience and the amazing songwriter he is... there is NO ONE that cant relate to this song !  It's absolutely prolific...it will live on because everyone has to deal with grief and loss in their lifetime and this song is timeless and so eloquently reaches people."
"The words don't get any better."
"Love this always.  All-time classic!"
"This song always makes me cry.  Deepest lyrics ever."
"Such a beautiful song."
"JT gave us a song for all-time."


This incredible singer-songwriter grew up in a rich family, his father a successful member of the medical faculty and dean of the medical school at the University of North Carolina.  Summers were spent at the family's large house near the beaches of Martha's Vineyard off the coast of Massachusetts.  James Taylor's parents paid for him to attend the expensive Milton Academy near Boston. 
But James was not sure of what he wanted to do, and missed his family.  So he returned to North Carolina and formed a group with his older brother Alex called the Corsairs.  James returned to Milton a year later, but despondency turned to suicidal urges, and James checked himself into a mental institution, McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.  While at McLean, Taylor made great progress, though he still had episodes of sadness.
James was able to complete his high school work and moved to New York, to form the group the Flying Machine with friend Danny Kortchmar, whom he had met at Martha's Vineyard.  While in New York, Taylor began experimenting with drugs, which got increasingly stronger, and before long James was hooked on heroin.  Taylor had escaped from one trap into another. 
What he did to get out of that trap and what he accomplished afterwards should be a lesson for anyone with a problem.  It isn't a lesson about music--it's about finding your passion, something you're good at that you enjoy, surrounding yourself with people that believe in you, and following that path. 
We're up to a trendsetter in the business, for up to this time, songs were generally written by one person or group of people and recorded by another artist, or written and recorded by a group, such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, or Creedence Clearwater Revival.  Taylor followed in Stevie Wonder's and a few others' footsteps as a singer-songwriter. 
James wrote Song #166* in three segments.   He began writing the song when he was 20 years old in 1968 in London.  Taylor's band The Flying Machine had broken up, so Taylor recorded a demo and took it to Apple Records.  Paul McCartney was impressed and signed James to a recording contract.  Taylor continued working on it while he was in a hospital in Manhattan, New York, and finished the song while he was in drug rehab at the Austin Riggs Center in Massachusetts. 
  Taylor told VH1 that the song is a composite of several incidents early in his career.  He said that "Suzanne, the plans they made put an end to you" is about Suzanne Schnerr, a childhood friend who committed suicide while James was recording his debut album in London.  Taylor also said that he had been in deep depression after the failure of his band The Flying Machine (hence the lyrics "sweet dreams and Flying Machines in pieces on the ground").  The song also alludes to James's difficulties with heroin ("Won't you look down on me, Jesus, You've got to help me make a stand.  You've just got to see me through another day.")

But while Taylor had the recording contract with Apple, and had secured the talented Peter Asher as his manager while in London, Apple was undergoing many legal and financial difficulties with the impending breakup of the Beatles.  So after his self-titled debut album with Apple in 1968, Asher secured a contract with Warner Brothers Records.
Good friend Carole King played piano on the song, while  Kortchmar, who had been with Taylor in The Flying Machine, played guitar and Russ Kunkel played the brushes.  Kunkel and Kortchmar became a permanent part of Taylor's band on tour, and also played for Linda Ronstadt, King, and Jackson Browne.

Taylor released the song in September of 1970 from his acclaimed Sweet Baby James album.  "Fire And Rain" came out at a time when Rock Era listeners could hear classic songs such as "Close To You" and the above "We've Only Just Begun" by the Carpenters, "My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison, Santana's great "Black Magic Woman", "Your Song" from Elton John, "I'll Be There" by the Jackson 5, "Knock Three Times" by Tony Orlando & Dawn, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" from Diana Ross, "Rose Garden" by Lynn Anderson, and "Lookin' Out My Back Door" from Creedence Clearwater Revival.

James hit #3 for 3 weeks with "Fire And Rain", with 8 weeks in the Top 10 , and it reached #7 on the Adult chart.

"Fire And Rain" has contributed to 15.5 million albums sold for Taylor, and has topped four million in radio airplay.


We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions

"Best song ever made!'
"The Ultimate Classic Rock Anthem."
"Great song!"
"Greatest guitar solo ever."
"Amazing melodies."

"Great track, great band."

"Lovvvvee it!"
In his youth, Brian May made a guitar hand-carved from a 19th century fireplace, and played the instrument using a coin as a pick, the beginning of the unique sound that the world would soon hear.  What we have here is one of the most intelligent musicians of the Rock Era.  He graduated from school with 10 Cambridge "O-level" and 3 "A-level" examinations to his credit, then went to Imperial College in London to become an infra red astronomer.  An O-level is an internationally recognized qualification which prepares learners for Cambridge Advanced learning, while the A-level refers to Advanced Level.
But May's passion in music was strong too, and he turned down job offers to go that direction.  Brian co-founded the group Smile with drummer Roger Taylor and bassist Tim Staffell.  The group put out a record on Mercury Records called "Earth".  Staffell left the group, but before he did, he convinced his roommate, vocalist Freddie Mercury, to join May and Taylor.  It turned out that while he was growing up, Mercury, whose real name was Frederick Bulsara, had lived less than 100 yards from May's home since 1959, but the two had never met until 1970.
The three still needed a bassist, and science graduate John Deacon was the man of the hour, and Queen was born.  The group debuted at the College of Estate Management in London, but continued to pursue their interests.  May worked on a doctorate degree, Taylor worked on a biology degree, Deacon taught school, and Mercury studied design and operated a clothes stall at Kensington Market in London.  Queen isn't your typical Rock group.
In November of 1972, executives at Trident Audio Productions attended a Queen concert, and afterwards signed the band to a production, publishing and management contract.  Trident hired A&R man Jack Nelson to secure a record deal, which he did with EMI Records.  Queen scored the hits "Killer Queen", "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "You're My Best Friend" before beginning work on their fourth album in 1978. 
Lead singer Freddie Mercury wrote this great song for Queen's album News of the World.  He wrote it with audience response in mind, as Queen wanted their crowds waving and singing.
Queen released the single with "We Will Rock You" (written by lead guitarist Brian May) as the B-side, and it followed that song on the album.  Smart DJ's at radio stations began playing the two together, since there is little pause between the two tracks on the album, and the combination has become a radio staple ever since.
In October of 1977, "We Are The Champions" faced competition in the form of "How Deep Is Your Love" "Night Fever", and "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees, "Don't Stop"  and "You Make Loving Fun" from Fleetwood Mac, Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are", "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" by Andy Gibb, "Lay Down Sally" by Eric Clapton, "Blue Bayou" by Linda Ronstadt, "If I Can't Have You" by Yvonne Elliman, "Nobody Does It Better" by Carly Simon, "Sometimes When We Touch" by Dan Hill, and Baby Come Back" by Player. 

"We Are The Champions" rose to #4 for 3 weeks with a peak of #17 on the Adult chart in the United States, and #2 in the U.K. and the Netherlands, #3 in Ireland, and #6 in Norway.  When re-released in 1998, it also hit #10 in France.
The song sold over 2 million singles, helped sell 15.5 million albums for Queen, and has been played 5 million times since 1977.
"We Are The Champions" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2009.  The song has become an anthem for championships won at sporting events.  




Proud Mary 
Creedence Clearwater Revival

"Beautiful song!"
"Fun song from a great band."
"Love it!  A timeless classic!"
"Classic of rock."
"Great song!"
"This song only gets better with age."
"Incredible song from an epic band."


We get closer to #1 with this classic from Creedence Clearwater Revival.  We know "Proud Mary" as a great song about a riverboat, but in the beginning, songwriter, lead singer, and lead guitarist John Fogerty envisioned it as the story of a woman who worked as a maid for the rich.  "She gets off the bus every morning and goes to work and holds their lives together," he explains.  "Then she has to go home."   
Bassist Stu Cook first suggested the riverboat to Fogerty.  John agreed that a riverboat fit perfectly into the song, and he designed the first few chords to evoke images of the paddlewheel going around and around.  And that's how a song went from being about a cleaning lady to a riverboat.
Fogerty says that the song came together on the day he got his discharge papers from the United States Army Reserve.  John had been serving since being drafted in 1966, serving at Fort Bragg, Fort Knox, and Fort Lee.  He was discharged in 1967.  John recalled the time in an interview with Hank Bordowitz for the book Bad Moon Rising:  The Unofficial History of Creedence Clearwater Revival
A package came to my door.  I went inside and opened it, and I had been honorably discharged from the Army!  I went out on the little patch of lawn and turned cartwheels.  Then I went inside, picked up a guitar, and started strumming.  The song then came to me--"Left a good job in the city" and then several good lines came out of me immediately.  I had the chord changes, the minor chord where it says, z'Big wheel keep on turnin'/Proud Mary keep on burnin'"  "boinin'," using my funky pronunciation I got from Howling' Wolf).  By the time I hit "Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river," I knew I had written my best song.  It vibrated inside me.  When we rehearsed it, I felt like Cole Porter must have felt."

The group recorded "Proud Mary" at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California, and released the single in January of 1969.  Although they were from El Cerrito, California, many people thought they were from the South, due to not only their sound, but in the way that Fogerty sang his vocals and also the subjects Creedence chose for their songs.  CCR fueled the fire by naming their second album Bayou Country.
"Proud Mary" faced classics such as "Hey Jude" by the Beatles, "The Boxer" from Simon and Garfunkel, "Aquarius" by the 5th Dimension, "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye, "Everyday People" by Sly & the Family Stone, "You've Made Me So Very Happy" by Blood, Sweat & Tears, "Crimson And Clover" from Tommy James & the Shondells, "Time Of The Season" by the Zombies, "Traces" from the Classics IV, "Dizzy" by Tommy Roe, and "Love Child" by the Supremes.
"Proud Mary" got as high as #2 for three weeks in the United States.  It also hit #1 in Austria, #2 in Canada, #4 in Germany, #6 in Norway, and #8 in the U.K.  "Proud Mary" was one of five singles by Creedence that peaked at #2 in the United States.  They still hold the Rock Era record for the most #2 songs without ever reaching #1, which in and itself is a travesty. 

The song sold 2 million singles and helped sell 12.5 million albums.  It has been played over 5 million times.
Thirty-five artists remade "Proud Mary" in 1969 alone, and that number has gone over 100 in the time since.





My Life
Billy Joel

"Fantastic song--rock on Billy!"

"Great song by a great artist."

"That piano solo is classic."

"Classic track..."

"After all these years, still a great song."

"A brilliant, brilliant track."



This artist started out studying the piano and boxing.  He was a pretty good boxer, rising to welterweight champion in his area.  But Billy Joel became inspired to pursue a career in music after seeing the Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.  Besides, Billy had just broken his nose boxing, and figured music might be a little easier on his body!

Joel immediately joined a group called the Echos, who became the Emeralds and then the Lost Souls.  Billy joined several other acts, until he was signed as a soloist to Family Productions.  While the contract gave him the big break he was looking for, he signed a lifetime agreement that allowed Family Productions to earn royalties on every song he would do in his career. 

Joel scored his first big hit with "Piano Man", which we have already heard in The Top 500 Songs*, but really showed what he is capable of on the 1978 album The Stranger.  Billy worked hard to make sure that his follow-up was high-quality, and it was.   
"My Life" was the lead single from the album 52nd Street, with Peter Cetera and Donnie Dacus of Chicago singing backing vocals.

The song debuted on the charts in November of 1979, when "My Life" could be heard alongside hits such as "Too Much Heaven" by the Bee Gees, "I Will Survive" from Gloria Gaynor, "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond, "Kiss You All Over" from Exile, "Le Freak" by Chic, "Hopelessly Devoted To You" by Olivia Newton-John, "Reunited" by Peaches & Herb, "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" by Rod Stewart, "Reminiscing" by the Little River Band, and "What A Fool Believes" by the Doobie Brothers. 

 "My Life" stalled at #3 for 3 weeks with 10 weeks in the Top 10 and a solid #2 for 5 weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart. 

"My Life" helped Joel win Grammy Awards for Album of the Year & Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male.  The song has sold two million singles and helped sell 33 million albums.



Sir Duke 
Stevie Wonder

"Love this song!"
"A wonderful feel-good song that uplifts our spirits and makes us thankful for the gift of music!"
"Such a classic."
"AWESOME!  I love it so much..."
"This is music.  It really has the groove."
"One of the most amazing songs ever."
"Has one of the catchiest riffs I've ever heard."


At #162*, this gem plucked from Stevie Wonder's masterpiece, Songs in the Key of Life.  Stevie wrote it in tribute to one of his idols, Duke Ellington, the jazz bandleader and composer who had died in 1974.  Other artists mentioned in the song include Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.  After Ellington died, Wonder wanted to write a song to acknowledge musicians he felt were important:
I knew the title from the beginning but wanted it to be about the musicians who did something for us.  So soon they are forgotten.  I wanted to show my appreciation.  They gave us something that is supposed to be forever.  
Michael Sembello played guitar on the song; he would go on to score a hit of his own six years later with "Maniac".  In April of 1977, "Sir Duke" began climbing the charts, and Rock Era fans had the pleasure of also hearing classics such as "Hotel California" by the Eagles, "Go Your Own Way", Dreams" and "Don't Stop" from Fleetwood Mac, Barbra Streisand's "Evergreen", "Dancing Queen" by ABBA, "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" by Andy Gibb, "Lucille" by Kenny Rogers, "Best Of My Love" by the Emotions, "When I Need You" from Leo Sayer, and Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better".  
 "Sir Duke" soared to #1 for 3 weeks, with 8 weeks in the Top 10 overall; it also topped the R&B chart.  The song reached #2 in the U.K.

Wonder won Grammy Awards for Album Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, the Billboard Century Award, the World Music Legend Award and a Soul Train Heritage Award for Career Achievement.  "Sir Duke" has helped sell 13 million albums.



All That She Wants 
Ace Of Base

"AWESOME Music!"
"Absolutely love this song 💜"
"Great jam--the hook is unbelievable..."
"Amazing song."
"Love it....."
"Wow--love this song!"
"What a classic!"
"Unforgettable music."

After several years with a covers band called G Konrad, Jonas Berggren began a new band with friends Johnny Lindén and Niklas Tränk.  Berggren's sisters Linn and Jenny soon joined as singers.  The group underwent several name changes, going from Kalinin Prospect to CAD (computer-aided disco) and Tech-Noir.
Tech-Noir played their own material in Swedish clubs before first Lindén and then Tränk exited the group.  Berggren asked Ulf Ekbert to take the place of Tränk, and the quartet chose the new name Ace of Base, because they were "masters of their studio", which happened to be in the basement of a car-repair shop.
In 1991, the group responded to a newspaper advertisement from producer John Ballard looking for new talent.  Ballard wasn't ready to commit to Ace of Base, but he did help them connect with Klas Lunding at Telegram Records.  The group recorded a demo ("Wheel Of Fortune), but Telegram did not sign them, and no other Swedish label expressed interest either.  Finally, Ace of Base convinced independent label Mega Records to accept them.  After some starts and stops, the song reached some charts in Europe.
After hearing the song "Another Mother" by Kayo, Ace of Base felt that was the sound they were searching for.  Ace of Base contacted the song's producer, Denniz PoP, and sent the group a demo of a song called "Mr. Ace".  The cassette got stuck in the player in his car, so Denniz listened to the song over and over, and agreed to produce it.
That song became "All That She Wants".  After first releasing the song in October of 1992, it went to #1 in Denmark.  Eager to capitalize on the song's success, Mega Records pressured Ace of Base to record an album, which they did so hastily within a few weeks.   
The resulting album, Happy Nation, became a big hit in Denmark, and interest was sparked elsewhere in music.  Ace of Base signed a contract with Metronome/PolyGram (now absorbed by Universal Music), but the American division of the company turned them down.  Soon, "All That She Wants" went to #1 for eight weeks in Germany, and hit #3 in Sweden. 
The U.K. drove "All That She Wants" to #1 for 3 weeks, and Australia did the same.  But the response in America was the same:  "the band will never do well in the States."  But the key is finding a person to believe in you, and there aren't few better than Clive Davis, who by then had founded Arista Records.  Davis heard the music, and signed the band to a recording contract.  
But Davis had the groups record some new songs, including their follow-up hit "The Sign", which became the new title for the album.  In its run of the charts in the U.S., "All That She Wants" faced competition from Mariah Carey's "Dreamlover" and "Hero", "I Swear" by All 4 One, their own "The Sign", "That's The Way Love Goes" and "Again" by Janet Jackson, "I'd Do Anything For Love" by Meat Loaf, "All For Love" by Rod Stewart, Bryan Adams, and Sting, "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" by Elton John, "Stay (I Missed You)" by Lisa Loeb, and "Breathe Again" by Toni Braxton. 


 A year after its initial release, "All That She Wants" finally became the breakthrough single for this Swedish group.  It soared to #1 in every country in the world, except a peak of #2 in the United States, France, Ireland, and Norway, #3 in New Zealand and Sweden, and #4 in Finland and the Netherlands.  In the U.S., it peaked at #2 for 3 weeks, with 18 weeks in the Top 10 overall, and spent 9 weeks at #1 on the Top 40 chart.   
"All That She Wants" sold over one million singles and helped sell over 10.5 million albums in the United States alone, and the world total has exceeded 23 million albums.  It is one of a select group of songs since 1993 to achieve one million radio airplays.
An incredible group of songs in that set, and more magic is coming your way tomorrow on Inside The Rock Era!


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