Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #230-221

You have found the music special that the world is talking about--The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*, just in time to help us celebrate the upcoming 60th birthday of the Rock Era.  It isn't everyday that you hear songs of this quality played back-to-back, in fact, with the severe splintering and fragmenting of radio over the last 30 years, it is likely you have never heard anything like this before.

Inside The Rock Era has presented 270 songs so far in the special that began May 21, and you can hear the next set by joining us after the jump:

Lady Madonna

"This is a terrific song with a piano riff that just draws you in."
"One of the greatest songs from the Beatles."
"A classic."
"Awesome genius."
"One of the best Beatles songs, and that's saying a lot."
"This is legendary."


Our next classic was credited to Lennon-McCartney, and although John helped write the lyrics, it was primarily Paul's.  In an interview with David Rowley for Rowley's book All Together Now, McCartney said:

"Lady Madonna" was me sitting down at the piano trying to write a bluesy boogie-woogie thing ... It reminded me of Fats Domino for some reason, so I started singing a Fats Domino impression.  It took my other voice to a very odd place. 

The Beatles recorded the song in five takes on February 3 and 6 of 1968 at EMI Studios in London before leaving for India to learn Transcendental Meditation from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.   Jazz musician Ronnie Scott played the tenor saxophone solo.  The group released "Lady Madonna" as a single on March 15.  It was the final Beatles release on Capitol Records in the U.S. and Parlophone in the U.K.  All future songs were released on their own Apple Records.  The song was released as a stand-alone single, although it has been included on many compilations, including Hey Jude and the "Blue Album" (Beatles 1967-1970).

"Lady Madonna" faced competition from "Mrs. Robinson" and "Scarborough Fair" by Simon & Garfunkel, "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" by Otis Redding, Paul Mauriat's beautiful "Love Is Blue", "Honey" by Bobby Goldsboro, and "This Guy's In Love With You" by Herb Alpert.

"Lady Madonna" reached #4 for three weeks, a seriously underrated placing, considering that "Lady Madonna" sold over one million copies in the U.S. alone and helped sell over 29 million albums.  It has topped two million in radio airplay.
Domino recorded the song himself later in the year.


Sugar, Sugar 


"One of my all-time favorite songs."

"One of the best feel-good songs ever done."

"Great song!"


"Love this song!"

"One of the all-time greats"

"Super, super song!"

Jeff Barry and Andy Kim wrote this song, performed by the fictional teenagers known as the Archies in the Saturday morning cartoon series The Archie Show.  Obviously in a cartoon show in which a band performs a song, there are real live people behind those cartoon characters.  Don Kirshner, a prolific promoter who created the Monkees, also assembled the Archies.  

Ron Dante sang lead, accompanied by Toni Wine and Andy Kim.  Those are the three that make up the sound of The #229 Song of the Rock Era*.  Also assisting with handclaps is one Ray Stevens, he of "The Streak" and "Everything Is Beautiful"  fame.

The Archies first released the song in May of 1969 on Calendar Records, but it didn't do that well.  In mid-July, the song was re-released as a single on the album Everything's Archie, and this time, "Sugar, Sugar" took off.

Promotion men at Kirshner Records played the song for radio station personnel before telling them the song was by a fictional group.  Only after they received tremendous response from DJ's did the promotion men reveal that the song was by the Archies.  Another stroke of genius was when Post Cereal placed millions of 45's of "Sugar, Sugar" on the back of their Super Sugar Crisp cereal boxes.
Lest anyone think this classic by the group of assembled musicians was a fluke, or not deserving, a look at the other songs out at the time proves them wrong.  "Sugar, Sugar" did not claim its place in history because there was nothing else at the time, and it thus "won by default".  It did so in one of the best times in music history. 

 These are just some of the songs the song competed with:  "Something", "Come Together", and "Get Back" by the Beatles, "Aquarius" by the 5th Dimension, "Honky Tonk Women" by the Rolling Stones, "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" by B.J. Thomas, "Someday We'll Be Together" from Diana Ross & the Supremes, "In The Year 2525" by Zager & Evans, "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley, "Wedding Bell Blues" by the 5th Dimension, "Everybody's Talkin'" by Nilsson, "Get Together" from the Youngbloods, "Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and "Crystal Blue Persuasion" from Tommy James & the Shondells.

"Honky Tonk Women" by the Rolling Stones couldn't hold on to #1 because "Sugar, Sugar" knocked it off.  And the Archies' smash was not a fad, or "the flavor of the moment".  It held off the above songs to register four weeks at #1, and spent a solid 12 weeks in the Top 10 and 22 total weeks as a best-seller.  "Sugar, Sugar" also chalked up eight weeks at #1 in the U.K., so it was very much a universal, worldwide smash.  It also went to #1 in Canada, Germany, Ireland, Austria and Norway, #2 in Denmark and Switzerland, #3 in Switzerland, #5 in Australia.  "Sugar, Sugar" sold over one million singles and has now surpassed two million in radio airplay to become the #1 bubblegum song of the Rock Era.

Kim of course went on to score the smash #1 hit "Rock Me Gently" in 1974.  Dante sang lead on the song "Tracy" by the Cuff Links--he became an accomplished producer who later produced "Mandy" for Barry Manilow and "Heartbreaker" for Pat Benatar, among others.  Wine wrote "A Groovy Kind Of Love" for the Mindbenders and later Phil Collins, and "Candida" for Tony Orlando & Dawn.

As some of you have probably surmised, the lyric "Pour a little sugar on me, baby" provided the inspiration for the 1987 Def Leppard smash "Pour Some Sugar On Me".


Return to Sender
Elvis Presley

"Love this song!"

"Great bass line, timeless song."
"Catchiest tune ever."
"A classic."
"Just amazing."
"One of the greats."

This classic became hit # 60 in just six years for the King of Rock & Roll. 

Written by Winfield Scott and Otis Blackwell, this song tells the tale of a man that keeps sending letters to a love interest only to have them returned.  The year after the song came out, the U.S. Postal Service replaced postal "zones" with zip codes, but in 1962, the line "no such zone" referred to the zone of the addressee.  Elvis Presley recorded "Return To Sender" March 27, 1962 at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, California.  Boots Randolph on saxophone and drummer Hal Blaine are among the musicians on the track.  Elvis performed the song in his movie Girls!  Girls!  Girls!   

Presley released the single September 5 on RCA Records.  Elvis did not face tough competition comparatively, but these three great songs were out:  "Walk Right In" by the Rooftop Singers, "Rhythm Of The Rain" by the Cascades, and "Big Girls Don't Cry" by the 4 Seasons.

Presley scored one of The Top #2 Songs of the Rock Era* with this one--#2 for five weeks, with 10 weeks in the Top 10.  He also landed at #5 on the R&B chart, and he was able to hit #1 in the U.K. and Ireland.

The song has sold 2 million singles and helped sell 22.5 million albums.  It has been played over one million times on the radio.

The U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative Elvis Presley stamp on January 8, 1993, on what would have been Presley's 58th birthday.  Enterprising collectors smartly put the stamps on letters with false addresses that day, so that they would come back marked "Return To Sender" and become collector's items. 


Everybody Wants To Rule The World
 Tears For Fears

"I will always love this song."
"Great song!"
"Such a great tune."
"A perfect song."
"Great song--brings back the memories."
"Awesome music."

We're up to Song #227*, written by Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley, and Chris Hughes.  Originally, it was something of an afterthought while Tears for Fears were recording their album Songs from the Big Chair.  Orzabel said that he regarded the song as "a lightweight that would not fit with the rest of the album".  The song's origins contained the phrase "everybody wants to go to war", but producer Hughes convinced the duo to re-record it.  The group did, and changed the phrase to "everybody wants to rule the world, borrowing a line from the 1980 Clash song "Charlie Don't Surf".   Orzabal explained the recording process:

It was written and recorded in two weeks and was the final track to be added to the 'Songs from the Big Chair' album. The shuffle beat was alien to our normal way of doing things.  It was jolly rather than square and rigid in the manner of 'Shout', but it continued the process of becoming more extrovert.

"Everybody Wants To Rule The World" debuted in March of 1985, and fought off songs such as "Like A Virgin", "Material Girl", and "Crazy For You" by Madonna, "Saving It All For You" by Whitney Houston, "We Are The World" from USA for Africa, George Michael's "Careless Whisper", "Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon, "I Want To Know What Love Is" by Foreigner, "You're The Inspiration" from Chicago, "One More Night" by Phil Collins, and "Take On Me" by A-ha.
"Everybody Wants To Rule The World" ironically itself ruled at #1 for 2 weeks, with 8 weeks in the Top 10--it also placed at #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  Although it was Tears for Fears' introduction in the U.S., the group had already scored seven hits in their native country.  The song also roared to #1 in Canada and New Zealand, and #2 in the U.K., Australia, Ireland, and the Netherlands.  
"Everybody Wants To Rule The World" not only helped the album sell five million copies; it is another classic that has topped five million in radio airplay.


Always On My Mind
Willie Nelson
"So soulful."
" Words are inadequate to describe the emotions he elicits."

"The best!"

"So great.  Lovely and sensitive."

"Awesome song."

"Nice music."

"I will always love this song."


Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher and Mark James wrote this much-demanded song.  Elvis Presley (who reached #9 with it in the U.K.), Brenda Lee, and the Pet Shop Boys (who scored a #1 U.K. hit with it in 1987) are 3 of the more than 300 artists who have recorded it, but the most famous by far belongs to Willie Nelson.

Carson said he wrote the song in 10 minutes at his home but did nothing with it until about a year later.  While Wayne was in the recording studio, producer Chips Moman asked him about recording the song, but reminded him that it needed a bridge.  Carson went up upstairs to work on the song on the piano, where Christopher and James helped him finish it.

The song was then passed on to one of Presley's bodyguards, who gave it to Elvis.  Moman also happened to produce Song #226* for Nelson years later. 
Willie's version debuted on the chart in March of 1982 from the album Always On My Mind.

Rock Era fans tuned into their radios to hear "Always On My Mind", along with the other popular songs of the day, such as Survivor's "Eye Of The Tiger", "I Love Rock 'N Roll" by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Journey's "Open Arms", "Ebony And Ivory" by Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder, Foreigner's "Waiting For A Girl Like You", "Physical" from Olivia Newton-John, "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" by Chicago, "I Can't Go For That" from Hall & Oates, and "Hurts So Good" and "Jack & Diane" by John Cougar.

"Always On My Mind" only reached #5 for 3 weeks on the Singles chart at the time, but was a solid #2 song for 7 weeks on the more important chart at the time, the Adult Contemporary chart.  With a #1 ranking on the Country chart, Nelson pulled off a rare Trifecta--Top 5 on the three major charts.  The song also reached #8 in Ireland and #10 in Canada. 

"Always On My Mind" won Grammy Awards for Best Country Song, Song of the Year and Best Country Vocal Performance, Male, and Country Music Association Awards for Song of the Year, Single of the Year, and helped earn Nelson an honor for Album of the Year.

"Always On My Mind" has sold 2 million singles, and helped sell 7.5 million albums.  With over five million airplays, "Always On My Mind" is another song in this range to rank in the top 500 of the Rock Era in radio airplay.

In 2008, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. 


Strangers In The Night
Frank Sinatra
"This guy...he had it going on!"
"Feels like I was born in the wrong era--so nostalgic."
"Amazing song and great singer."

"Great lyrics, great instrumental backing, just the epitome of bliss."

"Great classic."

"My favorite."

"What a song."

Ivo Robic originally wrote this song for a music festival in Croatia; Robic recorded versions of it in Croatian ("Stranci u Noci") and in German ("Fremde in der Nacht").   Charles Singleton and Eddie Snyder later wrote the English lyrics for the song.

Bert Kaempfert rewrote the song for use as an instrumental (titled "Beddy Bye") in the movie A Man Could Get Killed, and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Song from a Motion Picture. 

Frank recorded "Strangers In The Night" April 11, 1966, with Glen Campbell on rhythm guitar and famous drummer Hal Blaine.  Campbell told the newspaper The Daily Mail that the musicians were under pressure to finish the song quickly, as Bobby Darin and Jack Jones were also recording the song.   "We did the whole song in two takes", Campbell said.  "We were all in the studio together, Frank and the band.  They spliced together the best bits of both versions for the final record."

 Sinatra ad-libbed the "Dooby dooby doo" at the close of the song.  Animator Iwao Takamoto, who created the cartoon dog Scooby-Doo, said that the name for his character came from Frank's ad-lib.

Stan Cornyn, who wrote album notes for Frank said of Sinatra:

He leans into the front end of 'Strangers' and starts singing all the way to 'The End.'  And there's no chop-choppy phrasing along the way.  No dit-dit-dit.  It comes out mmmmmmmmm all the way.  If he runs out of gas on a phrase, which is a very rare bird for the man, then he runs out of gas two-and-a-half miles after anybody else would.  He sings like he's got an extra tank of Texaco in his tummy.

Producer Jimmy Bowen was instrumental in helping Sinatra get the jump on Darin and Jones.  Charles Pignone, Senior Vice President of Frank Sinatra Enterprises, said: 

They did the recording session, and then Jimmy actually pressed some acetates and sent them out to disc jockeys. He actually paid people or paid stewardesses in certain cities to take these acetates on a plane then drop them off at a city to disc jockeys because he was aware that Jack Jones had recorded the song, and it was going to come out in a specific time, and he wanted Frank to get airplay on it.

Sinatra released the single in May of 1966 on his own label, Reprise Records, as the title cut from the album Strangers in the Night.

"Strangers In The Night" was current during one of the best times of the Rock Era.  Rock Era fans heard it right alongside great songs such as "Paperback Writer" and "Eleanor Rigby" by the Beatles, "When A Man Loves A Woman" by Percy Sledge, "Monday, Monday" from the Mamas and the Papas, "Cherish" by the Association, "You Can't Hurry Love" by the Supremes, "(You're My) Soul And Inspiration" by the Righteous Brothers, "Sunny" from Bobby Hebb, "I Am A Rock" from Simon & Garfunkel, "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones, "Good Lovin'" from the Rascals, Lovin' Spoonful's "Summer In The City", and "Sunshine Superman" by Donovan.

Against that monster lineup, "Strangers In The Night" hit #1 overall, and Sinatra knocked "Paperback Writer" out of the #1 spot.   He also presided at #1 for a sensational 7 weeks on the Adult chart.  "Strangers In The Night" also topped the U.K. chart for three weeks on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.  It was a huge hit for Sinatra, who scored his first #1 song in 11 years.

The song won Grammy Awards for Record of the Year, Best Vocal Performance, Male, Best Arrangement Accompanying A Vocalist Or Instrumentalist, and Best Engineered Recording, and helped Sinatra win Album of the Year.

"Strangers In The Night" has chalked up six million in radio airplay since 1966, to rank in the Top 50 in airplay in history.

The Supremes, Aerosmith (which recorded an instrumental version), Barry Manilow, Petula Clark, Johnny Rivers, Brenda Lee, Bette Midler, Connie Francis, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Shirley Bassey, the Ventures, Cake, and Vikki Carr are among the hundreds of other artists who have covered the song over the years.


The Most Beautiful Girl
Charlie Rich

"Definitely a classic."
"Always loved this great song."

"Timeless lyrics."

"It's a classic and the music is beautiful."

"Great song and lyrics."

"Evergreen song from Charlie Rich."

"Classic, classic, classic."

This country artist recorded for 39 years before landing a #1 song.  While in the U.S. Air Force, Charlie Rich sang with a group called the Velvetones.  After returning to Arkansas to work on the family farm, Charlie Rich still had the music bug, but making a living from it seemed only a remote possibility.  Then Margaret Ann, Charlie's wife, sent a tape of his songs to saxophonist Bill Justis.  Justis had scored a big hit with the instrumental "Raunchy", and introduced Rich to Sam Phillips of Sun Records. 

Shortly afterwards, Rich achieved a #22 hit with "Lonely Weekends".  Sun went out of business in the early '60s, when Rich recorded briefly for RCA's subsidiary, Groove Records, before moving on the Mercury.  Rich began to shift his focus from rockabilly to country, and signed with Epic Records later in the decade.  The Top 15 song "Behind Closed Doors" paved the way for more success.

Which brings us to Song #224*.  In 1968, Norris Wilson recorded "Hey Mister", written by he, Bill Sherrill, and Rory Michael Bourke.  Five years later, Charlie Rich recorded his version of the song, also using a portion of Wilson's song "Mama McCluskie", for his album Behind Closed Doors
In September of 1973, Rock Era fans could hear "The Most Beautiful Girl" along with other current songs such as "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Bennie And The Jets" by Elton John, "The Way We Were" from Barbra Streisand, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "Time In A Bottle" by Jim Croce, "Live And Let Die" from Paul McCartney & Wings, "Sunshine On My Shoulders" by John Denver, "Love's Theme" by the Love Unlimited Orchestra, "Seasons In The Sun" by Terry Jacks, "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye, "Midnight Train To Georgia" by Gladys Knight & the Pips, Grand Funk's "We're An American Band" and "The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band.  That's another incredible group of songs. 

"The Most Beautiful Girl" pulled off the rare feat of achieving #1 on the three most popular music formats in the U.S.:, #1 Popular for two weeks, #1 on the Adult chart for three weeks, and #1 on the Country chart for three weeks.  Rich achieved the same trifecta in Canada, and also reached  #2 in the U.K. and Ireland, #3 in the Netherlands, #5 in Denmark, #7 in Australia, #8 in Norway, and #10 in France. 

"The Most Beautiful Girl" sold one million singles, helped sell four million albums, and has been played over four million times since 1973.  Rich won Country Music Association Awards for Album of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year.

Andy Williams, Englebert Humperdinck,  and Anni-Frid Lyngstad of ABBA (a Swedish version called "Vill du låna en man?") are among those who have covered the song.




Save The Last Dance For Me

"Beautiful.  Love it!"

"So beautiful--charming, sexy song."

"So classy."

"This song is amazing."

"Fabulous singing, great call and response chorus, and harmonies to die for!!!"

"A classic with great accompaniment. 



This group featured two distinct lineups in its great history.  There are the Original Drifters, started by the great tenor Clyde McPhatter with brothers Gerhard and Andrew Thrasher and later joined by the great bass voice of Bill Pinkney, and there is the second lineup of the group that featured lead singer Ben E. King.
After McPhatter returned from performing in the Special Services of the United States Military, he did not rejoin the group, but chose instead to begin a solo career.  Numerous personnel changes took place in the ensuing transitional years as the Drifters continued to be a force without McPhatter.
In 1958, Drifters manager George Treadwell, who owned the group's name, enacted a complete substitution in the lineup, despite having a year's worth of bookings at the Apollo Theatre in Manhattan, New York.  This had the effect of discontinuing the existing Drifters, as Treadwell hired the vocal group the Crowns to be the new Drifters.  Treadwell had seen the Crowns perform at the Apollo, and was especially impressed with the group's lead singer, Benjamin Nelson (who later adopted the stage name of Ben E. King).  The new lineup, consisting of lead singer King, tenor Charlie Thomas, baritone Dock Green, and bass Elsbeary Hobbs, would come to be known as The New Drifters. 
Atlantic Records assigned Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to supervise the recording sessions for the new lineup.  The pair were known for writing songs such as "Hound Dog", "Jailhouse Rock" and "Don't" for Presley, as well as "Searchin'", "Poison Ivy", "Yakety Yak" and "Charlie Brown" for the Coasters.  After writing "There Goes My Baby" and a couple of other hits, Leiber and Stoller turned to other songwriters for material.  Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman had written for the Crowns and knew King's voice, so they got the call. 

Pomus wrote the lyrics about a very personal experience.  One night, he found a wedding invitation, and he recalled a most vivid memory from his wedding.  He remembered watching his bride dancing with their guests while he, suffering from polio, was bound to a wheelchair.  The song tells Pomus's perspective of wanting his wife to have fun dancing, but then reminds her who will be taking her home.  Pomus stayed up all night writing the song, and the last words he wrote, "Save the last dance for me" became the title.  

King, one of the recent additions to Rock and Roll Heaven this year, sang lead on the song.  Ahmet Ertegun, head of Atlantic Records, told King how the song was inspired by Pomus watching his wife dance with other men at his wedding, and Ben E. drew on that story for the emotion behind the lyrics.

The Drifters released "Save The Last Dance For Me" as the B-side to "Nobody But Me".  But Dick Clark broke the song when he flipped the 45 over and played it on his television show American Bandstand.

In September of 1960, Rock Era fans could tune in the radio and hear "Save The Last Dance For Me" with other current hits such as "It's Now Or Never" and "Are You Lonesome Tonight" by Elvis Presley and "Georgia On My Mind" by Ray Charles.  Just as has been the case in the last 15 years or so, classics were rare in the '50s, and one had to go well beyond The Top 500* to find the Top 15 songs out at the time.
"Save The Last Dance For Me" became the Drifters' only #1 hit, charting at #1 for 3 weeks and spending 9 weeks in the Top 10 on the Popular chart and 1 week at #1 R&B.  The song also hit #2 in the U.K.

The song was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and to date, has been played over seven million times.  Although "Save The Last Dance For Me" certainly has received great airplay, neither the single nor any albums that the song has been featured on have been certified as selling one million copies, and that is keeping the song from being ranked higher. 
Leiber and Stoller also penned both "Stand By Me" and "Spanish Harlem" when King set out on a solo career.

Pomus also wrote "This Magic Moment" for the Drifters, "Little Sister", "(Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame" and 'Surrender" for Elvis Presley, "Suspicion" for Terry Stafford, and "Can't Get Used To Losing You" by Andy Williams.


Alicia Keys

"Love this jam!"

"Just super."


"Love that voice!"

"One of my favourite songs."

"I feel every word and every note."

This artist played classical piano growing up, and studied artists like Mozart, Beethoven, and Chopin.  She signed a recording contract with Columbia Records out of high school, but she did not release an album in four years with Columbia.  Clive Davis, being the astute judge of talent that he is, lured her away to his own J Records label. 
This was the first single from Keys, who was 20 years old at the time. Listeners were no doubt amazed at this new talent, thinking she was about the brightest star to come around in years. Which is pretty much what she has been in the years since.

Alicia Keys recorded this amazing song, which opens with a bit of Chopin,  December 6, 2000 at KrucialKeys Studios in New York City.  She released "Fallin'" March 3 of 2001 as her debut single.  

"Fallin" prevailed at #1 for 6 weeks, and it spent 5 weeks at #2, for an amazing 11 weeks in the Top 2, and 19 in the Top 10.  It also went to #1 on the R&B chart for four weeks.  The song also reached #1 in New Zealand and the Netherlands, #2 in Germany, Norway, and Switzerland, #3 in the U.K., Ireland, and Austria, #5 in France, and #7 in Australia and Sweden. 

"How You Remind Me" by Nickelback was the only high-quality song out at the time.  "Fallin'" will have to make up for that by getting increased sales and airplay compared to other songs rated ahead of it.

Keys had these thoughts later in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:

There were so many people who didn't believe in it, because it went so much against the state of radio at the time.  And just the journey of writing it - about how when you love someone but you're in and out, the struggle...  When I sing it, I remember the years and years it took to get to a place where people would hear it, and I'm just so grateful.

"Fallin'" became one of the top-selling singles of 2001. 

"Fallin'" won Grammy Awards for Song of the Year, Best R&B Song, and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance--it was also nominated for Record of the Year.  Keys received a nomination at the Billboard Music Awards for Hot 100 Single of the Year, and "Fallin'" was also nominated for Outstanding Song and Outstanding Music Video at the 2002 NAACP Image Awards.


Where Did Our Love Go

"What a classic."



"Love this song!"

"Oh my... I soooooo LOVE this!!"

"Just plain perfect."

"Great vocal on an incredible song."

The dream team songwriting trio of Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote this winner for the Supremes, and it proved to be an unbeatable combination over the next several years.  But the songwriters first offered it to the Marvelettes, who turned it down, in one of the biggest mistakes of their career.  Dozier tells us about it in the book Chicken Soup For the Soul:  The Story Behind The Song:

I originally cut this track with the Marvelettes in mind.  In fact, I cut it in [lead singer] Gladys Horton's key, which was much lower than Diana Ross'.  At that time, at Motown, the policy was that the songwriters had to pay for the tracks we cut if it didn't get recorded by one of their artists.  It never entered my mind that the Marvelettes wouldn't like the song.  I had the chorus and went to the office to talk with Gladys and played it for her.  She said, "Oh, honey, we don't do stuff like that.  And it's the worst thing I ever heard."  She was adamant about it.  I was shocked.
I knew I was in deep trouble if I didn't hurry and get someone to do the song because I wasn't about to pay for the track.  I went through the Motown artist roster and went all the way to the bottom of the list and there were the Supremes, better known in those days as the 'no hit Supremes.'  I told them it was tailor made for them, knowing that they had nothing going on at the time and needed a song.  Much to my surprise, they said no.  Gladys (Horton of the Marvelettes) had told them I was looking for someone to record it.  I wasn't giving up.  Brian (Holland), Eddie (Holland) and I finally persuaded them to do it, convincing them that it was their saving grace and they couldn't refuse it.  We had already had Top 40 hits with Martha & the Vandellas but they hadn't had recordings of any significance yet.

Mary Wilson of the Supremes said the group was desperate to have a hit. The girls were afraid if they didn't score soon, their parents would make them go to college. "I went to Eddie and I cried," Wilson said. "I told him, 'You don't understand, we've got to get a hit record right now.' He said, 'Don't worry, trust us, this is going to be a smash.'" Finally, the Supremes agreed to record it, and they went into Studio A of the Motown Hitsville U.S.A. studios in Detroit Michigan on April 8 of 1964. The footstomps on this song were recorded at the studio, which features mahogany wood floors that enhance enchos, footstomps and fingersnaps.

 After mixing and production, the group released the single June 17, and it later became the title song from their album.  Other songs out at the time included "A Hard Day's Night", "Twist And Shout", "Love Me Do", and "And I Love Her" by the Beatles, the Animals classic "The House Of The Rising Sun", "Oh, Pretty Woman" by Roy Orbison, "I Get Around" by the Beach Boys, "My Guy" from Mary Wells, and "Chapel Of Love" by the Dixie Cups.

"Where Did Our Love Go" went to #1 for 2 weeks with 9 weeks in the Top 10 overall, and it hit #1 for 2 weeks on the R&B chart.
After eight singles had flopped, the Supremes finally hit paydirt with the song the Marvelettes had turned down.  Six weeks after release, while the Supremes were part of Dick Clark's American Bandstand Caravan of Stars tour, "Where Did Our Love Go" reached #1.  The Supremes began the tour at the bottom of the bill; by the end of the tour, they were the headline act.  
"Where Did Our Love Go" started the now legendary group on their way.  It was the first of a record five straight #1 songs, a feat that wouldn't be topped until the Bee Gees scored six in a row in 1977-79.  The song helped sell 11.5 million albums, and "Where Did Our Love Go" has topped three million in radio airplay.
The Supremes also recorded "Where Did Our Love Go" in German.  
Don't miss tomorrow's episode, as we continue our climb up The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*!

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