Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #200-191

While you have heard the most amazing variety of classic music ever in the last 300 songs, there are even better listening pleasures in store.  Hang on as we dive into The Top 200*:


Uptown Girl 


 "An amazing song."
"Doesn't date at all--it's timeless."

"Excellent--I love this song."

"Great song!"


"Great happy song!"


"One of the catchiest songs ever."


This artist was dating supermodel Elle McPherson at the time he wrote this song, originally called "Uptown Girls".  Joel said that he was playing the piano while on vacation in the Caribbean.  When he looked up, there were McPherson, Christie Brinkley and Whitney Houston (who was more a model than a singer at that point) marveling at his piano playing.  Joel thanked his creator that all three gorgeous women were interested in him, began dating McPherson, and wrote the song.   

When McPherson moved to Europe, Joel started dating Brinkley.  He reworked some of the lyrics in the song, and when it was done, it was about Christie.  Joel always considered himself a hard-working, regular guy, and the song was inspired by his amazement that he could attract such glamorous women.  In an interview with Q magazine, Billy said:  "The fact that I can attract such a beautiful woman as Christie should give hope to every ugly guy in the world!"  

Joel, who also said his musical inspiration for the song was the Four Seasons, recorded the album An Innocent Man as a tribute to '60s music.

Brinkley was in the video, playing the Uptown Girl, while Billy portrayed a mechanic working on her car.  The two married in 1985.

Joel released the single in September of 1983.  "Uptown Girl" peaked at #3 for 5 weeks in the United States, which on the surface doesn't sound like a #200* song of the Rock Era.  But remember that chart numbers are skewed based on competition at the time, and they don't take into account what has happened since the song was released (the durability factor).
But "Uptown Girl" also accumulated 10 weeks in the Top 10, and was #2 for 4 weeks on the much more popular Adult Contemporary format.  Then, the competition it faced comes into play:  "Every Breath You Take" by the Police, "Thriller" by Michael Jackson, "Hello" and "All Night Long" by Lionel Richie, Irene Cara's classic "Flashdance", Billy's own "Tell Her About It", "Islands In The Stream" by Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton, "Jump" by Van Halen, "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins, "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" by Bonnie Tyler, "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" by Elton John, and "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins.
Then consider that "Uptown Girl" went Gold and helped sell an astonishing 28 million albums in the U.S. alone.  And, the song continues to be hot, topping two million in radio airplay.  
This was Joel's only #1 single in the U.K. and it also went to #1 in Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand, #3 in Norway, #4 in Canada, and #10 in the Netherlands.


Monday, Monday
 Mamas and the Papas

"I Love this song!"
"Perfect song."
"A great one by the Mamas and Papas."
"So beautiful!"

"Great song."

"This song is amazing!"

"Classic for the ages."

The Mamas and the Papas attracted attention with their outrageous dress and superb harmonies.  Years before their formation, John Phillips was in a folk trio called the Journeymen, that also included Scott McKenzie (of "San Francisco (Be Sure To Wear Some Flowers In Your Hair)" fame).  Dennis Doherty, meanwhile, was a member of the folk trio the Halifax Three. 

While touring with the Journeymen, Phillips wanted to know what the opening act sounded like.  The opening act happened to be the Halifax Three, and Phillips was impressed. 

Ellen Cohen, who adopted the stage name of Cass Elliott, recorded two albums with another trio, the Big Three.  When the Big Three and the Halifax Three broke up, Doherty and Elliott formed a group with Zal Yanovsky and John Sebastian (both who would go on to form Lovin' Spoonful) called the Mugwumps. 

Holly Michelle Gilliam met John at the Hungry I in San Francisco, California in 1961 and married shortly afterwards.  When the Journeymen and the Mugwumps disbanded in 1964, John and Michele formed the New Journeymen with Doherty. 

Eventually all four principle players ended up together in California living at Barry McGuire's house.  McGuire, who scored the big hit "Eve Of Destruction", introduced them to producer Lou Adler of Dunhill Records.  Adler signed the four after hearing the songs that would make up their first album.    They came up with the name Mamas and the Papas, and Adler had them record backing vocals for McGuire on his song "California Dreamin'".  Later, McGuire's vocals were erased and the Mamas and the Papas recorded their own.   

While the Mamas and the Papas were getting ready to release "California Dreamin'", Doherty pushed songwriter John Phillips to give the group some new material.  Phillips said he would come back in the morning with a song with universal appeal.  Ignoring the catcalls from the other members of the group, Phillips did indeed come up with this the next morning, a song about the feeling that every working person in the world gets after a weekend in which they must start another week at work.

The group recorded this in Los Angeles with top-notch session musicians, including drummer Hal Blaine, Joe Osborn on bass, Larry Knechtel on keyboards, and P.F. Sloan playing guitar.  It is remarkable how many Top 500 Songs* included the musicians above.

While "California Dreamin'" was moving up the charts, radio stations began playing "Monday, Monday" as an album track from the album If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears.  So when the group released it as a single, it quickly rose to #1, becoming the second consecutive #1 song to contain a false ending, taking over from the Young Rascals' "Good Lovin'".
"Monday, Monday" remained at #1 for three weeks, and registered 8 weeks in the Top 10.  While popular, it went against classics such as "When A Man Loves A Woman" by Percy Sledge, "Paperback Writer" and "Nowhere Man" by the Beatles, "Strangers In The Night" by Frank Sinatra, "(You're My) Soul And Inspiration" by the Righteous Brothers, Simon & Garfunkel's "Homeward Bound" and "I Am A Rock", "Sunny" from Bobby Hebb, "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones, and the aforementioned "Good Lovin'". 
"Monday, Monday" sold over one million copies and ranks in The Top 100 for the Rock Era* in radio airplay with over five million.  The Mamas and the Papas won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

Neil Diamond, the 5th Dimension, Dionne Warwick, Petula Clark, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Wilson Phillips, the Cowsills, Jay and the Americans, and the Beau Brummels are among the artists who have covered the song.



Bobby Goldsboro

"OMG!  Here come the tears!  I love this song so much."
"My wife died of cancer and this song always brings back great memories."

"Beautiful song."

"One of my all-time favorites."

"Sad and Wonderful at the same time."

"I used to laugh at this song until my spouse passed away eight weeks ago and realized how shallow I was."

"Still my favorite sentimental song--unforgettable..."

"This song is magic."

Bobby Russell wrote this song, and it wasn't Russell's one and only claim to fame.  He also wrote the classic "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" for then wife Vicki Lawrence, which we will be hearing in just a bit, as well as O.C. Smith's 1968 hit "Little Green Apples". 

How Goldsboro got ahold of the song is an interesting story.  Bobby was at home in Nashville, Tennessee when Larry Henley of the Newbeats ("Bread And Butter) came by and played a new song that Russell had played for him.  It so happened that Russell's office at Acuff-Rose Music was right across the street, so Goldsboro and Henley went over to see Russell.  
Russell played it on guitar for the two, but at the time, Goldsboro didn't feel anything for it.  A few weeks later, however, Goldsboro and his producer, Bob Montgomery, were looking for new material, and Montgomery took Goldsboro to Russell's office.  The three tried to come up with something for Goldsboro's album, when Goldsboro said "How about that song you played a few weeks ago?"
Russell played "Honey" again, and this time, both Goldsboro and Montgomery loved it.  By this time, Russell had already given to song to Bob Shane of the Kingston Trio, but he told Goldsboro that if the song flopped, he could record it.       

Shane's version received regional airplay, but did nothing nationally, so Goldsboro recorded "Honey" at the RCA Studios in Nashville.  Goldsboro told the newspaper New Musical Express:

I think 'Honey' is a very emotional song, but it's not like what I call a sick song, a death song.  Actually what it is, very simply, is just a guy remembering little things that happened while his wife was alive and to me that's not sick at all.

Bobby secured some of the pros in the business to play the backing track--musicians who moved to Nashville after working at FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  Goldsboro released the single from his album of the same name, which had originally been called Pledge of Love

"Honey" debuted on the charts in March of 1968, where it went head-to-head with songs such as "Mrs. Robinson" and "Scarborough Fair" by Simon & Garfunkel, "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" by Otis Redding, "Love Is Blue" by Paul Mauriat, "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by the Rolling Stones, "Lady Madonna" by the Beatles, and "This Guy's In Love With You" by Herb Alpert.  The quality of those songs is great, but the quantity of high caliber songs is not, keeping "Honey" from placing much higher.  

"Honey was a #1 smash of 5 weeks in the United States, with 10 weeks in the Top 10, a very impressive number for the era.  The song also spent two weeks at #1 on the Adult chart, and three weeks at #1 on the Country chart.  The Trifecta on the three most popular formats is evidence of its universal appeal.  It went to #2 in the U.K., and when re-released in 1975, it went back to its familiar spot of #2.  The song also topped the Australian charts for four weeks, and went to #1 in Canada.  "Honey" sold over one million copies, but its airplay numbers have stagnated in recent years, another factor for its drop over the last 15-20 years.

Goldsboro was a pretty big star before and after his classic "Honey", and he hosted his own variety show on television from 1972-1975.  Henley later wrote "Wind Beneath My Wings" for Bette Midler.
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and this song has been flattered many times over.  The Four Tops, Dean Martin, Gary Puckett & the Union Gap, Andy Williams, Patti Page, Ray Conniff and the Singers, Roger Miller, Lynn Anderson, Ed Ames, Eddy Arnold, Percy Faith, Tammy Wynette, and Bj√∂rn Ulvaeus  of ABBA are some of the dozens of artists that have recorded "Honey".


You Don't Bring Me Flowers
Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond

"Simply beautiful."
"Such an iconic moment in song."
"It doesn't get much better than this."
"A classic duet."
"One of the most beautiful songs ever sung."
"Quite possibly the best duet ever done."

We hope you are enjoying The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*, which will continue until July 9.  July 9 will mark 60 years to the day that "Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley & the Comets reached #1, the first Rock song to do so.  We are up to a song that came about in a most unique and unusual way.

This song about a couple in a downwardly spiraling relationship was written by Marilyn and Alan Bergman, who also gave us such great songs as "The Way We Were" by Barbra Streisand, "The Windmills Of Your Mind" by Dusty Springfield and Sting, "It Might Be You" by Stephen Bishop, "How Do You Keep The Music Playing" by James Ingram & Patti Austin, and "I Believe In Love" by Kenny Loggins.  The Bergmans have also written for Michael Jackson, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Ray Charles, James Ingram, Johnny Mathis, Liza Minelli, and Fred Astaire.

Marilyn Bergman told the story of Song #197* at an Extended Songwriters' Workshop for ASCAP:

Neil Diamond was at a dinner party with Norman Lear, the television producer, and he asked if Norman had any great television series coming up, because he'd like to write the theme song.  And Norman said, "Yes, I've got a show that we're getting ready to do a pilot on called All That Glitters, and I don't have the main title for it.  Neil offered to write it, and Norman asked that he write it with us.  So we wrote this 45-second (because that's all the time we had for a theme) song called "You Don't Bring Me Flowers."  The show was about the reversal of roles; a woman-dominated society was the premise of the show. 

Now, between the time that the song was written and the pilot was filmed, the premise of the show changed, and the song didn't fit anymore.  So we scrapped it, and about six or eight months later we ran into Neil, and he said that he was doing the song on the road and that everybody liked it.  We said, 'What song?  It's 45 seconds long!'  He said, "Well, I do a little instrumental part, then I come back," and we decided to finish the song, and he recorded it.

Diamond and Barbra Streisand both recorded versions of the song, with Diamond placing it originally on his album I'm Glad You're Here with Me Tonight and Barbra including it on her album Songbird.  O.K., those kind of things happen all the time.  Here's where it gets interesting.

Gary Guthrie, a producer at radio station WAKY-AM in Louisville, Kentucky, had an idea to splice the two songs together.  Guthrie tells the fascinating story of the birth of "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" by Barbra & Neil:

There's some misinformation about how Barb and Neil came about.  For example, most accounts have me listed as a 'deejay' even though I was rarely on the air. The short story is this: Becky, my wife, and I were going through a very amiable divorce.  The previous Fall, we had heard Neil's version at a friend's house and I noticed how it made her cry.  Fast forward to Spring '78 and Barbra's (another of Becky's favorites) new album came out and, dadumm, there it was again. There was just something that clicked in my head and I decided to do it for her. 

 Since we weren't really sleeping in the same bed at that time, my nights were open and I'd hang out at the station and play with the mix, then take it in to Bill Purdom or whoever and have them play while I went out to my car and listened to how it sounded. There was a lot of back and forth with that late at night before I ever unleashed it on the daytime public.  Once I did, however, all hell broke loose.  Requests, record store calls, you name it.  I had two friends who had an in at Columbia - one who had been their Nashville VP and one who was their local guy in Miami - and I asked both to help me get this up the ladder.  They did their job well.

Diamond said that the fact that both versions were recorded in the same key using the same arranger made it easier to fit together.  Neil said,

 Barbra and I somehow received some copies of these, and we looked at each other and a light bulb appeared in a bubble above our head and we said, "Hey, let's go in and do it for real."  It was an enormously successful record.

The duet was made easier by the fact that both superstars were signed to Columbia Records, so lawyers couldn't get involved in the project.  Columbia, in fact, was compelled to release the song, as news about the spliced hit was spreading like wildfire, from Good Morning America on ABC-TV to People magazine to the BBC in London.  Another fact that made the song so believable and successful:  Streisand and Diamond had been friends since they were in the school choir at Erasmus High School in New York City.  They had remained in touch, and the pair's chemistry and artistry made the duet a very convincing one.  Bob Gaudio, who worked magic for the Four Seasons, produced the song.

So in October of 1978, Streisand and Diamond entered the studio to begin work.  Gaudio had a full orchestra on standby in the lobby of the recording studio in case they were needed, but as the two legends began working, it was clear that their performance was going to be so good that it didn't need much backing.  Gaudio spent a few hours recording the vocals, then Alan Lindgren and Diamond worked on the orchestral arrangement.  According to an interview with Songfacts, Gaudio said that the process was surprisingly smooth and that they were able to release the single quickly, capitalizing on the momentum that had been building from the spliced version Guthrie had put together.

Diamond included the duet as the title song on his next studio album, and it can also be found on Streisand's compilation album Barbra Streisand's Greatest Hits Volume 2.
When this amazing duet was released, it faced competition from "Three Times A Lady" by the Commodores, "My Life" by Billy Joel, "Too Much Heaven" by the Bee Gees, Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive", "Kiss You All Over" from Exile, "Le Freak" by Chic, "Hopelessly Devoted To You" by Olivia Newton-John, "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?" by Rod Stewart, "Reminiscing" by the Little River Band, and "What A Fool Believes" from the Doobie Brothers.

"You Don't Bring Me Flowers" reached #1 for 2 weeks, with 10 weeks in the Top 10, and also hit #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  Since its release, it has sold over two million singles and helped sell 14 million albums in the U.S. alone.   

"You Don't Bring Me Flowers" was nominated for Song of the Year.  For Guthrie's part in the song's success, Columbia honored him by presenting the radio producer with a Gold record.  Diamond gave Guthrie flowers, appropriately enough, and Streisand sent him a telegram.



Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree
 Dawn Featuring Tony Orlando

"Classic song."
"Massive hit."
"What a beautiful song."
"Simple yet so timeless."


"Great lyrics, great story, great music."


"One of the classics."

And that brings us to Song #196*.  Irwin Levine and Larry Brown wrote this song based on the true story of a convict returning from jail and hoping to find the one he loved waiting for him.  When the song became a smash hit, it stirred up quite a brewhaha.  

In 1971, the newspaper The New York Post featured a story called "Going Home" about a man returning from jail.  In it, Post columnist Pete Hamill wrote about how college students on a bus trip met an ex-convict who was watching for a white handkerchief on a roadside oak in Brunswick, Georgia.  Hamill claimed to have talked to someone who told him the story. 

Levine and Brown could have gotten the inspiration for the 1973 song from that story, although they denied this.  Hamill sued them for copying his story without giving credit, but Levine and Brown, said they had heard the story in the military.  The man in the real-life story saw a white handkerchief around the tree, but Levine and Brown changed it to a yellow ribbon because it made for a better song. 

Reader's Digest reprinted "Going Home" in June, 1972, and ABC-TV telecast a dramatized version of the story in which James Earl Jones starred in the role of the returning ex-con.  A month and a half after that, Levine and Brown registered for copyright of "Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round The Ole Oak Tree".

The Mitch Miller song "(Round Her Neck) She Wears a Yeller Ribbon", featured in the 1949 John Wayne movie She Wore A Yellow Ribbon, is likely where Levine and Brown got the idea for the yellow ribbon.  Miller likely got his song title from the 19th century practice that some women allegedly had of wearing a yellow ribbon in their hair to show their devotion to a husband or lover serving in the U.S. Cavalry.

In reality, the story of a convict who had told his love to tie a ribbon to a tree outside of town is an American folk tale, dating to before 1959.  And Hamill dropped his lawsuit after folklorists working for Levine and Brown provided evidence of the story that had been collected before "Going Home" was published.

Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson took the name "Dawn" from the daughter of their record company promotions man, Steve Wax.  Dawn released the single February 19, 1973 from their album Tuneweaving.
Competition for "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" included classics such as "Crocodile Rock" and "Daniel", by Elton John "Killing Me Softly With His Song" by Roberta Flack, "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" by Vicki Lawrence, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" by Jim Croce, "Live And Let Die" and "My Love" by Paul McCartney & Wings, Carly Simon's "You're So Vain", "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye, "Superstition" and "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" by Stevie Wonder, and "Kodachrome" by Paul Simon. 

"Tie A Yellow Ribbon" exploded to #1 for four weeks, spent 11 weeks in the Top 10, and showed good durability with 23 weeks as a best-seller.  It also topped the Adult chart in the U.S. for two weeks.  The song also reached #1 in the U.K., and soared to #1 in Australia for seven weeks and #1 in New Zealand for 10 weeks. 
"Tie A Yellow Ribbon" finished the year as the top-selling song in both the United States and the U.K., quite an accomplishment.  The song sold over one million singles, and has achieved over three million radio airplays.

The yellow ribbon became a national symbol in the United States in 1980 when Americans put them around trees to remember the hostages abducted and being held in Iran.  Since then, nearly everyone with a cause as used the yellow ribbon as a symbol. 

In the 2014 Hong Kong protests in one of the only major civilized countries that doesn't allow its persons to be free, pro-democracy protestors and sympathetic musicians on the street performed the song in reference to the yellow ribbons tied to railings that had become a popular symbol of the movement. 


The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia
Vicki Lawrence

"I love this song--one of the best story songs ever done."
"Great song!"

"Love it!!!"

"Beautiful music."

"What an amazing song!"

"Will always be a classic."


"This song is awesome!"

At #195*, we have one of the great story songs of the Rock Era. 
Vicki Lawrence was the valedictorian of her senior class in high school in 1967.  While in high school, she auditioned for and earned a spot in the group The Young Americans, who toured and performed at the Academy Awards, and gave Lawrence a chance to meet Johnny Mathis and Louis Armstrong, among others.
Lawrence entered a contest known as Miss Fireball of Inglewood (California) for the local fireman's ball.  A reporter there noted that Lawrence bore a striking resemblance to comedian Carol Burnett.  Lawrence won the contest, and her mother suggested she write a letter to Burnett and include a copy of the newspaper article.  Lo and behold, Burnett happened to be looking for someone to play her younger sister on her upcoming television show, and the letter led to Carol hiring Lawrence to be on The Carol Burnett Show.
Bobby Russell, meanwhile, wrote this song, but couldn't find anyone to record it.  He offered it to Cher, but her husband Sonny Bono turned it down on her behalf, although Cher did not find out until years later that she was offered the song.  Russell's wife, who happened to be Vicki Lawrence, grabbed it and ran with it, including it as the title song from her album.  Russell also wrote the huge hit "Honey", giving him two of The Top 500 Songs*.    
In February of 1973, "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" picked up airplay in one of the most competitive times of the Rock Era.  Other songs out at the time included "Crocodile Rock" and "Daniel" by Elton John, "Killing Me Softly With His Song" by Roberta Flack, "Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round The Ole Oak Tree" by Tony Orlando & Dawn, Jim Croce's "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown", "Superstition" and "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" by Stevie Wonder, "My Love" from Paul McCartney & Wings, and "Kodachrome" by Paul Simon. 
 "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" raced to #1 for 2 weeks overall and #6 on the Adult chart in the U.S.; it was also #1 in Canada.  The song sold over one million singles, and has passed four million in radio airplay.

In one of the few instances in which a movie was created after a song title, rather than the other way around, Kristy McNichol starred in the film in 1981.

The Boy Is Mine 
Monica & Brandy

"One of my favorite songs ever."
"Love this duet.  Both singers did an awesome job."
"A classic."
"What an awesome song!"
"Great song."
"This song is legendary."
"Their vocals are amazing."
"Love this song!"

Two of the most promising new female vocalists at the time, Brandy and Monica, hooked up for this musical tug of war between two women who wanted the same guy.  Lucky guy!

Brandy wrote this song with help from LaShawn Daniels, Japhe Tejeda, Fred Jerkins III and Rodney Jerkins.  Brandy originally wrote the song as a solo effort, but after listening to it, thought it would work well as a duet, and asked her label (Atlantic Records) to contact Monica about collaborating with her.  Atlantic got ahold of Clive Davis, president with Arista Records (Monica's label), who gave his blessing to the project.

Both singers recorded their vocals at Record One Studios in Hollywood, California.  Monica re-recorded her vocals again at the DARP Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, and that is the take that you hear on the song.

The song was included on both artists' second albums, Never Say Never by Brandy and The Boy Is Mine by Monica.  It is something of an answer song to Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney's "The Girl Is Mine" in 1982.  Answer songs were common in the '50s and '60's--since then, not so much.

"The Boy Is Mine" debuted on the charts in May of 1998, when it faced great songs such as "You're Still The One" and "From This Moment On" by Shania Twain, "Candle In The Wind 1997" by Elton John, "My Heart Will Go On" from Celine Dion, "Truly, Madly, Deeply" by Savage Garden, and "You Were Meant For Me" by Jewel.

Just as the advertising slogan said, "Get double the pleasure", both Brandy and Monica scored their first #1 song with the duet.  "The Boy Is Mine" became the second song in the history of the Rock Era to leap from beyond #20 to #1 (#23-1) in a single week, following the Beatles "Can't Buy Me Love", which catapulted from #27 into the #1 position.  It was the first time in 18 years that two solo females combined for a #1 song, with the last being Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer in 1979 with "No More Tears (Enough is Enough)".  

Like the two female characters in the song, once "The Boy Is Mine" reached #1, it didn't want to let go.  The song is one of the longest-running #1 songs of the Rock Era, dominating the position for 13 weeks. and spending 18 weeks lodged in the Top 10.  It was a #1 R&B song as well.  "The Boy Is Mine" attained the rank of #1 in Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands, #2 in the U.K., Ireland, France and Norway, #3 in Sweden and Switzerland, #5 in Germany, and #6 in Austria.  

"The Boy Is Mine" was the best-selling song of the year in the United States, with over 2.6 million units sold.  The song won a Grammy Award for Best R & B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal, American Music Awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist and Favorite Soul/R & B Female Artist, and Billboard Awards for Top 100 Sales Single, Top R & B Sales Single and Top Dance Maxi-Single.  It was also nominated for Record of the Year and Best R&B Song at the Grammys.  The video was nominated for Video of the Year and Best R&B Video at the MTV Video Music Awards.   




All Night Long (All Night)
Lionel Richie

"This song is literally ALIVE.  Its beautiful.   Full of contagious feel good energy--I love it."

"One of the best."

"A classic jam song."



"Feel like dancing!"

"This song is so great."

"If I had a hall of fame for the great party songs of all time, this song would be a first ballot no doubter."

Lionel Richie was the main songwriter and lead singer of one of the 70's biggest groups, the Commodores.  He went out on his own beginning with his duet with Diana Ross--"Endless Love", then went to work on his first solo album.  That debut was highly successful, and Richie knew he needed a strong follow-up.  Song #193* is one of the fruits of his labor.

Richie wrote and co-produced "All Night Long" for his album Can't Slow Down.    He included joyful words from several languages in the song.  "Karamu" is Swahilian for a party accompanied by a feat.  "Liming" is what people in the Caribbean say for getting together, and "Fiesta" is Spanish for party.  As for "Tambo liteh sette mo-jah!  Yo!  Jambo jambo...Lionel made that one up.  As he told Q magazine:

I called the U.N. and said 'I need something African for the breakdown in this song I'm writing.'  They informed me that there are thousands of different African dialects.  I couldn't believe it.  One region doesn't have any idea what the other is taking about.  So, 'Tambo liteh sette mo-jah!'?  I made it up on the spot.  Now I think that 'Jambo' might have a meaning in Swahili (it does- "hello"), but you gotta be careful because it might mean 'welcome' in one dialect and you might get your head cut off for saying it in another.

Richie told CNN about his songwriting focus: 

  What I try to write about are real events.  There will always be an easy like Sunday morning.  There will always be an endless love.  There will always be an all night long."

As for this song, Lionel told the newspaper The Epoch Times that this song was born from his vacations in the Caribbean:

I'm one of those guys that—I don't look for something new.  I look for what people do everyday.  And I noticed that, anytime I would come on vacation, everybody who can rap is on vacation doing a calypso dance.  Everybody who's singing Opera, they conform to some form of calypso or some form of reggae.  So when I went back to do "All Night Long" it was very simple.  All I had to do was find that beat that everybody dances to when they go on vacation.

Richard Marx would later go on to find fame as a solo artist later in the decade, but Marx sang backing vocals for Richie on this song and others on Lionel's debut.

In September of 1983, "All Night Long" faced competition from "Every Breath You Take" by the Police, Lionel's own "Hello", "Thriller" by Michael Jackson, "Flashdance" by Irene Cara, "Tell Her About It" and "Uptown Girl", from Billy Joel, "Islands In The Stream" by Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton, "Jump" from Van Halen, Phil Collins' "Against All Odds", "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" by Bonnie Tyler, "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" by Elton John, and "Footloose" from Kenny Loggins.

"All Night Long" was a giant--#1 for 4 weeks with 13 weeks in the Top 10 in the U.S. on the Singles chart, #1 for 4 weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #1 for 7 weeks on the R&B chart.  It would make The Top 500 of the Rock Era* in all three of those formats.  "All Night Long" also hit #1 in the Netherlands, #2 in the U.K., #3 in Norway, #4 in New Zealand, and #8 in Austria, Sweden, and Switzerland.

The song sold over one million singles and helped sell over 11 million albums in the United States alone.  It has topped one million in radio airplay, and helped Richie win Grammy Awards for Album of the Year and Producer of the Year and the ASCAP Award for Songwriter of the Year.

This song became an anthem for the Iraqi people as they were waiting to be saved from the terrible regime of Saddam Hussein.  The people were so starving for liberation that when it finally came, they danced in the streets to "All Night Long".  These days, Richie is pretty much of a phenomenon in many Arab countries, including Iraq.

Richie performed "All Night Long" at the closing ceremony of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.




My Heart Will Go On 
Celine Dion

"Best song ever written!"
"Amazing song and amazing voice."



"Phenomenal song."

"Absolutely beautiful."

"There is not a more beautiful song ever."

"Most powerful song from a beautiful person."

Will Jennings and James Horner combined to write Song #192*.  Jennings has written the lyrics to many songs, including "Higher Love", "The Finer Things", "While You See A Chance", and "Back In The High Life Again" for Steve Winwood, "Looks Like We Made It" for Barry Manilow, "Tears In Heaven" for Eric Clapton, "I'll Never Love This Way Again" for Dionne Warwick, and "Didn't We Almost Have It All" by Whitney Houston. 

Horner originally composed the music as an instrumental used in several scenes of the movie Titanic.  The main theme of the song was inspired by "Flying Dutchman" by Jethro Tull.  Horner then aspired to write a full vocal to the song that would be featured at the end of the tear jerker movie, so he brought Jennings in on the fun. 
This classic was recorded at Wallyworld and the Record Plant in Los Angeles and The Hit Factory in New York City.  Dion  released the single produced by Walter Afanasieff beginning December 8, 1997 in Germany and Austria and January and February of 1998 in the rest of the world from the "Titanic" Soundtrack and Celine's studio album Let's Talk About Love
Afanasieff was the original producer for Mariah Carey, and played a key role in her success.  He has also produced top artists such as Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Lionel Richie, Kenny Loggins, Richard Marx, Christina Aguilera, Destiny's Child, Michael Bolton, George Benson, Johnny Mathis, Toni Braxton, Josh Groban, Kenny G, Luther Vandross, Jordin Sparks, Leona Lewis and Andrea Bocelli.
"My Heart Will Go On" faced competition from "You're Still The One" and "From This Moment On" by Shania Twain, "Candle In The Wind 1997" by Elton John, "The Boy Is Mine" from Brandy & Monica, "You Were Meant For Me" by Jewel, "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)" by the Backstreet Boys, and "Truly, Madly, Deeply" by Savage Garden.  

"My Heart Will Go On" went to #1 in every major country in the world, one of only a handful of songs in the Rock Era to do that.  In the United States, the song rose to #1 for 2 weeks overall, but #1 for 10 weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart and #1 for 10 weeks on the Top 40 chart.    It remained at #1 for 17 weeks on the Eurochart Hot 100.  It topped the Switzerland chart for 15 weeks, the French and German charts for 13 weeks each, was #1 for 11 weeks in both the Netherlands and Sweden, spent 10 weeks at the top in Belgium, Denmark, Italy and Norway, 6 weeks at #1 in Ireland, 4 weeks at #1 in Australia and Austria, 2 weeks at the pinnacle in Spain and the U.K., and 1 week at #1 in Finland. 

 It finished 1998 as the world's best-selling song.  All told, "My Heart Will Go On" sold over two million copies in Germany to rank as one of the most popular singles in history, sold over 1.5 million copies in the U.K., sold over 1.2 million copies in France, and earned Gold and Platinum awards the world over.  In the United States, the song sold
 half a million singles and helped sell 28 million albums.
When it came time to honor the best in music for the year, this song was quite decorated.  Dion won Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best Song Written for a Motion Picture or For Television, American Music Awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Female Vocalist and Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist, a World Music Diamond Award, and a People's Choice Award for Favorite Female Musical Performer.


Vision Of Love
Mariah Carey

"I truly believe this is the strongest debut from any artist."
"No one in this earth can even imagine how much I miss this Mariah."
"That voice!  That special powerful voice!"
"Gives me goose bumps.  Mariah just nailed it."
"A classic.  So much power and emotion from her voice."
"Love this song.  True timeless classic."
"All time fav."


While in high school in 1986, this superstar began writing music, at first with friend Gavin Christopher, before meeting Ben Margulies.   Before the year was out, Mariah Carey and Margulies had written seven songs for Mariah's demo tape.  Carey described to Fred Bronson how she came to meet her new songwriting partner:   

We needed someone to play keyboards for a song I did with Gavin Christopher.  We called someone and he couldn't come, so by accident we stumbled on Ben.  Ben came to the session, and he can't really play keyboards very well-he's really more of a drummer-but after that day, we kept in touch, and we just sort of clicked as writers.

Carey and Ben Margulies wrote this stunning song, and Mariah recorded it on her demo for Columbia Records.  Brenda K. Starr introduced Mariah to Tommy Mottola, the future head of Sony Entertainment, and Mottola was instantly impressed, leading to a recording contract.  Mottola wanted "Vision Of Love" re-recorded, so Carey and a group of assembled musicians met at Skyline Studios in New York City.  Carey's vocals from the demo were used as backing vocals for the final version of the song.  Carey released the single May 15, 1990 on her self-titled debut album.  Top competition at the time came from "It Must Have Been Love" by Roxette and "Vogue" by Madonna.

"Vision Of Love" rose to #1 for 4 weeks overall and #1 for 3 weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart in the United States. It also peaked at #1 in Canada and New Zealand, #8 in the Netherlands, #9 in the U.K. and Australia, and #10 in Ireland.

The song has half a million singles and helped sell over 15 million albums.  "Vision Of Love" has now been heard over 2 million times since 1990. 

The magazine The New Yorker named "Vision of Love as "the Magna Carta of melisma" for its influence on popular and R&B singers in the time since it was released.

"Vision Of Love" gave Carey a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and Best New Artist, and the song was nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.  It did win the Song of the Year Award at the BMI Pop Awards, and Carey won Favorite Soul/R & B Female Artist at the American Music Awards, a World Music Diamond Award and Special Achievement Award, a Billboard Award for Top Female Album Artist and later a Soul Train Award for Career Achievement.
Some incredible songs in there, and they just keep getting better!  Join Inside The Rock Era tomorrow as we continue to count 'em down!

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