Monday, June 22, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #180-171

 Welcome to the only place in the world where you can hear Usher's "Yeah!" alongside "Dizzy" by Tommy Roe, where the Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, John Denver, the Carpenters, and Adele co-exist.  While the severe fragmentation of radio splintered popular music into a million pieces, it also put Rock Era fans into neatly-arranged labels, assuming they only liked one style of music whose songs all sounded the same and whose tight formats reduced playlists to songs from a limited number of years, and whose said playlists contained but a sliver of the Rock Era in terms of musical variety.

Those radio stations may ignore history, and play music that all sounds the same.  Enter Inside The Rock Era, which saw the need, both historically and aesthetically, to feature news and music from all years and all styles of the Rock Era.  The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*, first produced in 1979, used to be featured on radio stations because they played all the songs on the list.  But with the splintering of radio in the late 70's and 80's, those radio stations do not exist anymore.  You will never hear an Elvis Presley song followed by one by Bruno Mars.  And that's really too bad, because fans of both songs really miss out on not expanding their horizons.

Radio's loss is your gain as a follower of Inside The Rock Era.  Here, 60 years into the Rock Era (on July 9, 2015), you can hear not just some, but ALL of the great songs that make up the best music since 1955.  We have presented a total of 320 songs thus far, and have another outstanding lineup in this segment:


Cathy's Clown
 Everly Brothers
"Such emotion.  A class act."
"Dreamy harmony."
"Great guitars."
'Phenomenal.  One of the best duos of all-time."
"Definitely one of my favorites.  Their voices blended so beautifully."
"WOW!  Awesome!"
"Voices as smooth as honey."
This brotherly act toured with their parents, country stars Ike and Margaret Everly, throughout their childhoods.  In 1955, Don and Phil Everly moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and found work with Roy Acuff's publishing firm.  The duo first struck it big with a song that Felice and Boudleaux Bryant gave them--"Bye Bye Love" in 1957.
After three years recording for Cadence Records, the Everly Brothers switched to Warner Brothers in a deal that was reported to be the first million dollar recording contract.  Reportedly, the Brothers disagreed with royalty checks from Cadence, and the offer from Warner Brothers represented security.  After all, rock and roll had dominated the charts for only five years, and no one knew if it would last.  The Everlys did their part to assure the longevity of the Rock Era, but even they probably didn't guess that in 2015, the Rock Era would be celebrating its 60th birthday.
"Cathy's Clown", written by the duo after they returned home from a tour, was inspired by Ferde Grofe's "Grand Canyon Suite".  The duo released the single from their album A Date with the Everly Brothers.
In April of 1960, "Cathy's Clown" could be heard on the radio along with other current songs such as "It's Now Or Never" by Elvis Presley, "The Theme From 'A Summer Place'" by Percy Faith, and "El Paso" from Marty Robbins.
Five years into the Rock Era, this was the first single to simultaneously top charts in both the United States and the United Kingdom.  "Cathy's Clown" roared to #1 for 5 weeks in the U.S. (with 9 weeks in the Top 10, an impressive number for that period) and #1 for 7 weeks in the U.K.
"Cathy's Clown" has sold over eight million copies worldwide.  It continues to chalk up airplay, now certified as over three million.
The Everly Brothers' sound influenced not only on the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Simon & Garfunkel, but hundreds of groups who followed.


I Wanna' Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)
Whitney Houston

"An amazing song!"
"A very touching song by Whitney; her legacy lives on."
"One of my all-time favorite songs."
"The best!  Love it!"
"A classic."


George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam of Boy Meets Girl wrote this song, an encore for the duo that also gave Whitney "How Will I Know".  Merrill and Rubicam met when they both performed at a wedding in Seattle, Washington, and they began playing clubs in the Northwest of the United States.  Imagine the feeling when Whitney Houston recorded and had a big hit with something you wrote, then being asked by her to provide another song.  Merrill remembered:

I think the biggest deal for Shannon and me was that we had had this meteoric success with "How Will I Know",
that was the biggest thing that had ever happened for us in our career, and then to be asked to come up with another one, well, we just looked at each other.  We thought, "Well, that's kind of what this is about, it's not about the one song and goodbye.  This is part of the fun of it, this is gonna be something that we want to continue, so we just went to work."


Narada Michael Walden performed some magic on the song; it originally had a country flavor to it, but Walden changed it into a dance song.  Rubicam explained the pair's intentions to Richard Seal for his book One Moment in Time:  Whitney Houston:

I pictured somebody single wishing that they could find that special person for themselves.  It wasn't, '"I wanna go down the disco and dance," really.  It was, "I wanna do that dance of life with somebody."  That was the thought behind the song.  So we sent our demo version off to Clive Davis (head of Arista Records) and he loved it.

Whitney recorded the song in October of 1986 and
released in April of 1987 from her album Whitney on Arista Records.  It faced some decent competition, but only two other Top 500* songs were included in that competition:  "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" and "With Or Without You" by U2.

"I Wanna' Dance With Somebody" became Whitney's fourth #1 song.  It went to #1 for 2 weeks, with 9 weeks in the Top 10 on the overall chart, #1 for 3 weeks on the AC chart and #2 for 2 weeks on the R&B chart, so a great mass appeal hit.  It also charted at #1 in the U.K., Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, #2 in Ireland and #3 in Austria.

"I Wanna' Dance With Somebody" sold four million copies worldwide, Whitney's second-biggest seller after "I Will Always Love You", which sold 15 million.  The song returned to the Hot 100 in 2012 after Whitney's death.
Houston won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, American Music Awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Female Vocalist and Favorite Soul/R & B Female Vocalist, Billboard Awards for Top Album Artist--Female and Top Pop Singles Artist--Female and a Soul Train Music Award for Album of the Year, Female.

"I Wanna' Dance With Somebody" sold 2 million singles and helped sell 14 million albums.  It has picked up 2 million in radio airplay.




Black Velvet
Alannah Myles

"Another one of those very hypnotic blues gems with the haunting guitar....just a perfect song....
"A fantastic song, haunting melody and such a brilliant singer."

"Brilliant song."

"Oooooo,,,, pleasure :))))"

"What an amazing song."

"Really sexy song."

"One of the best songs ever."


Songwriters Christopher Ward and David Tyson came up with this gem, recorded by Alannah Myles on her self-titled album.    In fact, it was Ward and Tyson who came up with the songs for Myles' demo tape that earned her a contract with Atlantic Records. 
Ward was inspired to write the song when he worked for the Canadian channel MuchMusic as a VJ.  Ward traveled to Memphis, Tennessee to cover the 10th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death.  Taking note of the passion that Presley fans had, Ward wrote lyrics based on what Elvis meant to his fans and what it must have been like growing up in the South when Presley's star was hot.  Although the lyrics don't specifically mention Elvis Presley, the King is the subject of the song.  A big thank-you to Songfacts for interpretations of the lyrics in "Black Velvet": 

"Jimmy Rogers on the Victrola up high" - Jimmy Rogers, an early Blues singer, influencing Elvis (the baby) at an early age.  A Victrola is a brand of record player. 


"Mama's dancin' with baby on her shoulder" - Gladys Presley dancing with the infant Elvis.
"Black velvet and that little boy's smile" - Many paintings of Elvis were done on a canvas of black velvet.  From the beginning, female fans were drawn to Elvis's "little boy smile", although those swaying hips were pretty hard to miss. 
"Up in Memphis, the music's like a heatwave"  Elvis recorded his first songs at Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, the epicenter of early rock music that also recorded Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis.
"White lightning, bound to drive you wild" - rock music and booze--the cause of more problems over the last 60 years than one can imagine.

"Mama's baby's in the heart of every school girl" - A reference to the baby in the early part of the song, being loved by all the young girls.
"Love Me Tender leaves 'em cryin' in the aisle"  "Love Me Tender" was one of Presley's biggest career hits in 1956.
"The way he moved, it was a sin, so sweet and true" - Elvis' legendary hips swivel, the Pelvis.

"Every word of every song that he sang was for you. In a flash he was gone, it happened so soon, what could you do?" - Elvis died suddenly on August 16, 1977.
"Black Velvet" debuted on the charts in January of 1990, when it faced "Vision Of Love" from Mariah Carey, "Another Day In Paradise" by Phil Collins, Madonna's "Vogue", and "Listen To Your Heart" by Roxette.

Myles jumped to #1 for 2 weeks, and hit #7 on the Adult Contemporary chart in the U.S.  "Black Velvet" also reached #1 in Canada, Norway, Sweden & Switzerland, #2 in the U.K., Germany, New Zealand and Austria, #3 in Australia and the Netherlands, and #4 in Ireland.  Myles captured the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Performance.

Myles' album became the top-selling album in Canadian history, with the single selling over half a million copies in the U.S.  "Black Velvet" has been played over four million times.
Myles has said that she signed her recording contract when she was young and without representation (a definite no-no).  Myles had to pay $7 million for her first three albums before she could receive any royalties.  Many may have assumed she was living high on the hog, but instead, Alannah lived in poverty, sometimes struggling to come up with rent money. 





I Honestly Love You
Olivia Newton-John
"Very beautiful song."
"The most beautiful song ever sung."
"Olivia sings from the heart."
"One of the greatest songs and singers of all-time."
"A song that touches my heart."
"Her beautiful voice brings me tears of joy."
"My all-time favorite song."
"Pure and beautiful."

This superstar's grandfather was Max Born, a Nobel Prize-winning German scientist who was the best friend of one Albert Einstein.  Her father, Bryn, once contemplated a career as an opera singer before deciding to be an academic himself, teaching at King's College in Cambridge and then moving his family to Australia when he obtained a job as dean of Ormond College in Melbourne.
Such was the genealogy that ran through Olivia Newton-John's blood.  In her, though, that music gene was strong, and after winning a talent contest that included a trip to England as a prize, she set off with friend Pat Carroll to sing in pubs.  Although Carroll left when her visa expired, Olivia stayed, and eventually landed a spot on Cliff Richard's television series. 
Newton-John joined the group Toomorrow (correct spelling) before beginning a solo career.  She had a few hits, then exploded onto the scene in 1974.

Jeff Barry and Peter Allen wrote this classic; many years later, Allen recorded it on his album Continental American.  Allen also wrote "Don't Cry Out Loud" for Melissa Manchester.  John Farrar, Olivia Newton-John's producer, chose the song from a group of demos that had been sent in.  Farrar used to be in Cliff Richard's group The Shadows, before turning to songwriting, arranging, and producing.

Olivia recorded the song in January of 1974, and released the single from the album Long Live Love in the U.K. and the album If You Love Me, Let Me Know in the U.S. 

Olivia went up against great songs such as "Best Of My Love" by the Eagles, "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" by Elton John, "Annie's Song" from John Denver, "Mandy" by Barry Manilow, "Band On The Run" by Paul McCartney & Wings, Harry Chapin's classic "Cat's In The Cradle", "Rock Your Baby" by George McCrae, "Black Water" by the Doobie Brothers, "My Eyes Adored You" by Frankie Valli, and Linda Ronstadt's "You're No Good".
 "I Honestly Love You" rose to #1 for 2 weeks on the Popular chart and #1 for 3 weeks on the Adult chart, and it hit #6 on the Country chart.  Clearly, a mass appeal hit to be ranked in the Top 10 in the three major genres.  The song also topped charts in Canada and Australia.

The song won Grammy Awards For Record Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, American Music Awards for Favorite Female Vocalist Pop/Rock, Favorite Single--Country and Favorite Female Vocalist--Country, and the People's Choice Award for Favorite Female Musical Performer.

"I Honestly Love You" sold 1 million singles, helped sell 2.5 million albums, and has chalked up 4 million in radio airplay.


Wind Beneath My Wings 
Bette Midler

"A beautiful song."
"This song is timeless."
"Powerful lyrics.  Just an amazing song."
"This song is AWESOME!"
"Beautiful music."
"A fantastic song."
"Love this song so much."
"Amazing song.  Makes me cry every time I listen to it."

Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley wrote this song in 1982 and recorded a demo of it.  But try as they did, Silbar and Henley could not find anyone to record the song.  Bob Montgomery recorded a demo of his own, changing the song from a mid-tempo version to a ballad.  It was Roger Whittaker that was the first to include the song on an album, then other artists followed, including Sheena Easton, Gladys Knight & the Pips (retitled "Hero"), Lou Rawls, and B.J. Thomas.  Rawls had the biggest hit of the bunch, charting at #10 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  Gary Morris reached #4 on the Country chart, but failed to make either the Hot 100 chart or the Adult Contemporary chart with it.
Six years later, Bette Midler needed a song for a dramatic scene at the end of her movie Beaches in which the character played by Barbara Hershey died.  Midler found this song, and turned it into a classic.  "Wind Beneath My Wings" debuted in March of 1989, a time when Rock Era fans could also hear "Listen To Your Heart" by Roxette, "Like A Prayer" by Madonna, "The Living Years" from Mike + the Mechanics, and "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys.
"Wind Beneath My Wings" reached #1 for 2 weeks and reached #2 for 2 weeks on the AC chart, and also hit #1 in Australia, #4 in New Zealand and #5 in U.K.
"Wind Beneath My Wings" won the prestigious Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 1990.  The song sold over one million singles, helped sell four million albums, and is one of The Top 100* in radio airplay with over six million.
In 2004, Midler's version was ranked #44 in the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Songs special featuring the top songs in the history of American cinema.
After Midler scored her smash hit, people came out of the woodwork to record the song, including Perry Como, Willie Nelson, Judy Collins, and Patti LaBelle.  "Wind Beneath My Wings" is now one of the most-performed songs of all-time. 





Tears In Heaven
Eric Clapton


"Beautiful song."
" This is one of the most emotionally powerful songs of all time.  Beautiful tune and wonderful lyrics."
"Wonderful song."
"This song is so beautiful; you can feel his loss and the lyrics are pure genius..."
"Best song--awesome!"
"Great song!"
"This is just too beautiful."
"A very touching song."


When Eric Clapton's son Conor fell out of a 53rd floor window in New York City to his death and Eric wanted to record a song about his loss, he turned to Will Jennings to come up with the lyrics.  Jennings was a veteran songwriter with songs such as "Higher Love" by Steve Winwood, "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion, and "Up Where We Belong" by Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes to his credit.  Jennings recalled the experience:
Eric and I were engaged to write a song for a movie called 'Rush'.  We wrote a song called "Help Me Up" for the end of the movie... then Eric saw another place in the movie for a song and he said to me, "I want to write a song about my boy."  Eric had the first verse of the song written, which, to me, is all the song, but he wanted me to write the rest of the verse lines and the release ('Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees...'), even though I told him that it was so personal he should write everything himself.  He told me that he had admired the work I did with Steve Winwood and finally there was nothing else but to do as he requested, despite the sensitivity of the subject. This is a song so personal and so sad that it is unique in my experience of writing songs.

In his 2007 autobiography, Clapton wrote about the song.  
 I wrote this one ("Tears In Heaven") to ask the question I had been asking myself ever since my grandfather had died. Will we really meet again?  It's difficult to talk about these songs in depth, that's why they're songs.  Their birth and development is what kept me alive through the darkest period of my life.  When I try to take myself back to that time, to recall the terrible numbness that I lived in, I recoil in fear.  I never want to go through anything like that again.  Originally, these songs were never meant for publication or public consumption; they were just what I did to stop from going mad.  I played them to myself, over and over, constantly changing or refining them, until they were part of my being.

"Tears In Heaven" debuted on the charts in February of 1992, facing songs such as "End Of The Road" by Boyz II Men, "Black Or White" by Michael Jackson, "Under The Bridge" from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Save The Best For Last" by Vanessa Williams and Mariah Carey's "Can't Let Go".
"Tears In Heaven" rose to #2 for 4 weeks with 12 weeks in the Top 10, and it peaked at #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  The song made it to #1 in Canada, Ireland and New Zealand. 

"Tears In Heaven" captured Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, World Music Awards for World's Best-Selling Rock Artist of the Year and Best-Selling British Artist of the Year, and an MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video.
To date, the song has sold over one million singles, helped to sell two million albums, and has been heard over five million times.







"This song is maddingly catchy."
"Best song made in the '60s."
"Listen to this and you're in '60s heaven."
"I love this song."

"Timeless classic."

"Beautiful song."

"Pure magic."

"A true gem of our lifetimes."

This amazing group formed out of a group of musicians who stayed after closing to perform at the famous Troubadour in Hollywood, California.  The large group first called themselves the Inner Tubes, and, after reducing their members to 13, they became The Men and performed regularly at the Troubadour.  Several members subsequently left, and the group chose the new name of the Association. 
Up until this album, the Association had been with Valiant Records.  They were Valiant's "Cash Cow", saving the shaky label and singly transforming them into a million dollar company.  In 1967, Warner Brothers Records bought Valiant with one thing in mind--get the Association on their label.  The group's songwriting and harmonies were superb, and they became one of the top acts of the 60's.
The group went through another change in 1967--Hawaiian' born Larry Ramos came from the New Christy Minstrels to replace guitarist Gary Jules Alexander, who left the group to study meditational philosophy in India.
Here is one of 21 songs from 1967 to make The Top 500 Songs*; 1967 is tied with the years 1973 and 1978 for the second-most songs in the special, but well behind 1969, which places 27.

This incredible song was written by Ruthann Friedman, who happened to be in the right place at the right time.  Friedman became friends with another songwriter, Beach Boys lyricist Van Dyke Parks, who introduced her to another California supergroup, the Association.  That group loved her song "Windy", and turned the song into one of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.

Friedman's mother wanted her to be a secretary, but she got off that career path and flew from the Bronx in New York to California.   It wasn't going extremely well--she had written over 100 songs before "Windy", and not one had been recorded by a major artist.  That all changed in 1967.

Friedman says that the Windy in her song was another singer/songwriter.  There has been a lot of stories about the subject of her song, and Friedman does nothing to clear the record up.  In her 2014 interview with Songfacts, Friedman said: 

I was sitting on my bed - the apartment on the first floor of David Crosby's house in Beverly Glenn - and there was a fellow who came to visit and was sitting there staring at me as if he was going to suck the life out of me.  So I started to fantasize about what kind of a guy I would like to be with, and that was Windy - a guy (fantasy). The song took about 20 minutes to write.


And yet she said on her official website in 2012:

There are many explanations of who Windy actually was in Ruthann's life.  She would have you know, she being me, Ruthann Friedman, that none of them are true.  Windy was indeed a female and purely a fictitious character who popped into my head one fine day in 1967...

Friedman also says that she now realizes she wrote the song about herself and how she wanted to be.

Producer Bones Howe made several changes to the initial song to make it into the classic, including changing the structure from a waltz to standard 4/4 time, added the bass line to open the song, added the great recorder solo by Association member Terry Kirkman, and organized the backing vocals for the group.

Sounds like Howe played a key role in the song, which gave him his first #1 as a producer.  That alone gives him a lot to be proud of, but Howe did it again with the songs "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" and "Wedding Bell Blues" by the 5th Dimension.

Guitarists Larry Ramos and Russ Giguere shared the lead vocals on "Windy".  But if any of you thinking making a classic such as this is easy...the Association started the recording session early in the afternoon.  They didn't finish until 6:30 the next morning.  AND, they then had to catch a flight at 8:30 a.m. to perform in Virginia that night!  Their voices were so strained that Howe had everyone in the studio, including the songwriter Friedman, singing by the end of the song.

Some of the top session musicians of the Rock Era, the same ones who played for Simon & Garfunkel, the Beach Boys and Frank Sinatra, as well as hundreds of other artists, played on most of the Association's early songs.  "Windy" was recorded in several sessions with different musicians, so it is difficult to determine who played on the final version, but drummer Hal Blaine, bassist Joe Osborn, guitarist Ray Pohlman and keyboardist Larry Knechtel were all there at the sessions. 

The Association released the single in May of 1967 from their album Insight Out.

It was one of the golden times of the Rock Era, when "Windy" went up against classics such as "Light My Fire" by the Doors, "Groovin'" by the Rascals, "Ode To Billie Joe" by Bobbie Gentry, "The Letter" by the Box Tops, "Happy Together" from the Turtles, the Association's own "Never My Love", "All You Need Is Love" and "A Day In The Life" by the Beatles, "Respect" by Aretha Franklin, "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison, "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" by Frankie Valli, and "Up, Up And Away" by the 5th Dimension.  
"Windy" zoomed to #1 for 4 weeks with 9 weeks in the Top 10.  It became the third song written by a woman to reach #1 in the Rock Era, following "Poor Little Fool" (written by Sharon Sheeley for Ricky Nelson in 1960) and "Dominique", written by The Singing Nun (Sister Luc-Gabrielle), who also sang it.  The world wouldn't have to wait long for another.  The following month, Bobbie Gentry brought her classic "Ode To Billie Joe" to the top.

"Windy" sold one million singles, helped sell 2.5 million albums in the U.S. alone, and has been played over four million times. 

Blaine also played on "Never My Love" and "Along Comes Mary" by the Association, as well as on great songs such as "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "Mrs. Robinson", "The Boxer", Cecilia", "Homeward Bound", "I Am A Rock" and "A Hazy Shade Of Winter" by Simon & Garfunkel,  "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In", "Wedding Bell Blues" and "Up, Up And Away" by the 5th Dimension, "Close To You" and "Top Of The World" by the Carpenters, "The Way We Were" by Barbra Streisand, "Can't Help Falling In Love" and "Return To Sender" by Elvis Presley, "Good Vibrations", "I Get Around", "California Girls", "Fun, Fun, Fun" "God Only Knows" "Help Me, Rhonda" and "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys, "I Got You Babe" by Sonny & Cher, "I'm Sorry" by John Denver, "Dizzy" by Tommy Roe, "Love Will Keep Us Together" by the Captain & Tennille, "Indian Reservation" and "Kicks" by Paul Revere & the Raiders, "Monday, Monday" and "California Dreamin'" by the Mamas and the Papas, "Rhythm Of The Rain" by the Cascades, "Mr. Tambourine Man" by the Byrds, "Theme From 'Mahogany'" by Diana Ross, "Strangers In The Night" by Frank Sinatra, "Cracklin' Rosie" by Neil Diamond, "Da Doo Ron Ron" by the Crystals, "Eve Of Destruction" by Barry McGuire, "Half-Breed" by Cher, "Poor Side Of Town" and "Baby, I Need Your Loving" by Johnny Rivers, "Everybody Loves Somebody" by Dean Martin, "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes, and "The Little Old Lady From Pasadena" and "Dead Man's Curve" by Jan & Dean, just to name some of the best.


On Bended Knee
 Boyz II Men

"What a great, great song."
"Just love this song."

"Their harmonies are captivating."


"So amazing."



"Gives me goosebumps."
Here we have one of the hottest acts of the 1990's. 

You can look far and wide, but you won't find too many groups that recorded better songs with better harmonies.  Their voices blend together so perfectly that they seem like brothers, and two of them are.  Their a cappella harmonies are to die for.  Here's another fact about this incredible supergroup--they accumulated 50 weeks at #1 in their career.  Only three acts in the Rock Era are ahead of them in that department--you may have heard of them:  Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and Mariah Carey. 

The group's origins were in the group Unique Attraction, when Nathan Morris formed an act while at the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts.  The other members left after graduation except Nathan's brother Wanya and co-founder Marc Nelson.  A restocking of the group was necessary, so to speak, and Shawn Stockman was hired after the other members heard a solo of his in the school choir.  Then one day, while the group was rehearsing, Michael McCary walked in and started singing with the startled band.
McCary's voice was so good that they invited him along.  In 1989, the group snuck backstage at a local concert to sing the New Edition song "Can You Stand The Rain", a cappella for New Edition member Michael Bivens, who was forming the spinoff group Bell Biv DeVoe with other members of the New Edition.  Bivens and everyone else present were blown away; Bivens so much so that he became the manager and producer of the group.   
But in the delay in recording their own material, co-founder Nelson left, leaving the group as a foursome.  Finally, that foursome signed with Motown Records and released their debut album, Cooleyhighharmony, in 1991.  From the instant Rock Era fans heard their magical sound, it had the same effect on them that Bivens and others had experienced.  Cooleyhighharmony sold nine million copies, and, after recording the monster hit "End Of The Road" for the movie Boomerang, Boyz II Men set out to record their second album.   

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis wrote this for the group for their album IIIn November of 1994, "On Bended Knee" faced competition from Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love To You" and "Water Runs Dry", "Take A Bow" by Madonna, "All I Wanna' Do" from Sheryl Crow, "Stay (I Missed You)" by Lisa Loeb, and "Creep" by TLC.

"On Bended Knee" replaced "I'll Make Love To You" at #1, the first time that an artist had replaced itself at the top since the Beatles did it in 1964, when "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "She Loves You" and "Can't Buy Me Love" set a streak of 14 weeks at #1 with three different songs.

"On Bended Knee" accumulated 6 weeks at #1, 5 at #2, and an additional 4 at #3 for an incredible 15 weeks in the Top 3.  It also led the way on the Top 40 chart for 7 weeks, was #2 for 2 weeks on the R&B chart, and #8 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  It also went to #1 in the U.K., #4 in New Zealand, and #7 in Australia.

The single sold over one million singles and helped sell 12.5 million albums.  Boyz II Men Won a Grammy Award for Best R & B Album, American Music Awards for Favorite Band and Best Soul Album, Blockbuster Awards for Favorite CD and Favorite R & B CD and a World Music Award for Best Musical Group.  "On Bended Knee" has not yet topped one million in radio airplay.




I'll Be There
Jackson 5
"My favorite song."
"Beautiful song."

"An awesome song by the greatest family music group of all-time."


"The harmonies of the brothers are truly beautiful."

"One of the best Motown tracks ever."

"The Jackson 5 at their very best."

"My favorite."

And then we have this legendary act.

Writer and producer Hal Davis met the Jackson 5 as soon as they signed with Motown, and he picked them up at the airport to begin year-long rehearsals before recording their debut album.  All the group did was chalk up three #1 songs in three releases, and this song made it four.

This was the first hit by the Jackson 5 not written by "The Corporation", a collection of writers based in California, unlike most of the writers for Motown, who were located at the headquarters in Detroit, Michigan.  Davis, Bob West, Willie Hutch, and Motown head Berry Gordy combined to write this one. 

Davis had received a song written by West.  That same song had already gone to the A&R department at Motown, but had come back with no one showing much interest.  West's song was a ballad, and the Jackson 5 had exploded out of the gate with infectious, up-tempo songs.  Recording a ballad as single #4 would be a gamble.  But it was one that Davis wanted to take:  "Very few tunes have come along in my lifetime that I knew were just natural,"  he said.  "I first heard it just on the keyboards.  I loved the melody, but knew it needed some improved lyrics."

Hutch, Davis and West re-wrote the song, but hadn't completely finished when they played it for Gordy.  The Motown boss knew right away what he had, and helped finish the lyrics. 

The Jackson 5 recorded this classic at Hitsville West in Los Angeles in June of 1970.  Michael and Jermaine Jackson shared lead vocals on the song.  The group released "I'll Be There" as a single on August 28 from their Third Album. 

There were a host of great songs out, including George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord", "Close To You" and "We've Only Just Begun" by the Carpenters, "Black Magic Woman" by Santana, "Fire And Rain" from James Taylor, "Your Song" by Elton John, "Knock Three Times" from Tony Orlando & Dawn, "Rose Garden" by Lynn Anderson, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Diana Ross, and "Lookin' Out My Back Door" by Creedence Clearwater Revival. 

"I'll Be There" was a monster hit--#1 for 5 weeks, with 11 weeks in the Top 10, and #1 for 6 weeks on the R&B chart.  It also charted at #4 in the U.K., and helped sell two million albums for the Jackson 5.

"I'll Be There" made it four #1's in a row for the group, following "I Want You Back", "ABC", and "The Love You Save".  More importantly, it showed that the Jackson 5 could also record a ballad, and do it extremely well.     

Michael Jackson, in his autobiography Moon Walk, said that "I'll Be There" was the song that solidified the Jackson 5's careers. 

The song sold over 4 million copies in the U.S. and 6 million worldwide.  

Andy Williams released his version in 1971, and Green Day often performed a medley in their concerts that included this song.  In 1992, Mariah Carey became one of the few artists in history to take a #1 song and also hit #1 with it.



Un-Break My Heart 
Toni Braxton

"Unforgettable song."
"Great melody with excellent lyricks and arangements.  Excellent."
"An incredible song.  One of the classics."
"The best ever."
"So beautiful."
"It's amazing."
"Love this song--up, up, up."

All this artist did was pick up three Grammy Award wins for her self-titled debut album.  On the heels of that release, she scored her first career #1 song with "You're Makin' Me High", one of the great songs on the "Waiting To Exhale" Soundtrack.  In the music business, though, it's always about what's next.  And what was next for Toni Braxton was even bigger.
Song #171* was written by the great Diane Warren, one of the legendary songwriters of the Rock Era.  Diane gave some insight into her songwriting process:
Songs usually come to me from a title, a chorus, or a drum beat.  "Un-Break My Heart" popped into my head, and I thought, "I don't think I've heard that before, that's kind of interesting."  I started playing around on the piano with these chords and did a key change, and then I knew, "OK, this is magic."
Warren took it to L.A. Reid, president of Arista Records. Reid thought it would be a great addition for Toni Braxton's second album.  Reportedly, Braxton didn't originally like the song, not wanting to record "another heartbreak song".  But Reid, another individual with some pretty good ears, convinced Braxton to record it.  We get the feeling that she grew to like it, for her vocal performance on the song was amazing. 
Toni recorded this classic at The Record Plant and Chartmarker Studios in Los Angeles for her album Secrets.  She also assumed more control for her sophomore effort, co-producing the album. 

Beginning in November of 1996, the song faced "You Were Meant For Me" by Jewel, No Doubt's "Don't Speak", "Macarena" by Los Del Rios, and "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)" by the Backstreet Boys.  Good songs there, but extending the competition to The Top 15 songs out at the time necessitates going to some pretty average songs. 

Against that competition, "Un-Break My Heart" rose to #1 for 11 weeks overall, while it presided at #1 for 14 weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart.  It also reached #1 in Austria, Sweden and Switzerland, and hit #2 in Germany, Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway, #5 in Canada and Finland, and #8 in France. 

Braxton won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Female Vocal Performance and Billboard Awards for  Top R & B Artist, Top Female R & B Artist, Top Adult Contemporary Artist and Top Adult Contemporary Single .

"Un-Break My Heart" has sold one million singles and 8.5 million albums.  It has yet to top one million in radio airplay.

We know these 10 classics leave you wanting more, and Inside The Rock Era will be there for you tomorrow with another set.  Join us then!

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