Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #290-281

One of the reasons we started Inside The Rock Era four years ago was that there existed (and still exists today) a plethora of misinformation about the music we all love.  Up until now, a handful of magazine editors in a back room told you what the most popular songs, albums, and artists of all-time were.  Some people believed this was reality.  That would be like saying only magazine editors and critics know what is good music.  We believe you deserve better than that.  You know what is good music, not them.

In doing our music specials, we don't decide for you what you like; rather, we collect discernible information about what Rock Era fans like, tabulate the results and the collective average of 300 million people and report the findings to you.

We are coming up on the halfway point to the most spectacular music special you have heard in your lifetime, The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*, a period which is now approaching 60 years!  Here are the next 10 entries:   




I Just Can't Stop Loving You
Michael Jackson and Siedah Garrett 

"It's just such an amazing song."
"My favorite song of all-time."
"Love this song!"
"The beginning gives me chills."
"Great song."
"OMG this song is beautiful."




Jackson wrote and co-produced the song along with mentor Quincy Jones.  He recorded it in May of 1987 along with Siedah Garrett.  But Garrett sharing the billing with one of the most popular performers on the planet was a last-minute decision after first Barbra Streisand and then Whitney Houston turned down requests by Michael.
Garrett, who co-wrote another song on the album, "Man In The Mirror", did not know she would be singing the song until the day of the recording session.  In fact, she reported to the studio thinking she would be singing overdubs of "Man In The Mirror".  Imagine her surprise when she was told she would sing a duet with the King of Pop.
Jackson and Garrett also recorded the song in Spanish ("Todo Mi Amor Ere sTĂș") and French "Je Ne Veux Pas La Fin De Nous". 
Jackson released the song as the first single from his album Bad on July 20, 1987.  It was an across-the-board smash, reaching #1 on the Popular, Adult Contemporary (#1 for 3 weeks), and R&B charts, three of the biggest audiences in the United States. 
"I Just Can't Stop Loving You" got the ball rolling on the album, becoming the first of five consecutive #1 hits from the album to set an all-time record that stood until Katy Perry tied it in 2011.    

The song hit #1 in the U.K., Canada, Ireland, and the Netherlands, #2 in Germany, Canada, and Switzerland, #5 in New Zealand, and #10 in Australia.

"I Just Can't Stop Loving You" helped Jack win a Grammy for Best Engineered Recording, American Music Awards for Artist of the Century, Favorite Pop/Rock Album (for the compilation album Number Ones), and Favorite Soul/R&B Album (Number Ones), a World Music Diamond Award, Billboard Awards for Spotlight Award, Top Black Artist, Blues & Soul and Outstanding Artist of the Year and a Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B Album of the Year, Male.

"I Just Can't Stop Loving You" sold over one million singles, helped sell over 25 million albums in the U.S. alone, and has garnered one million radio airplays.



Go Your Own Way 
Fleetwood Mac

"One of my favorites."
"Terrific song from the classic 'Rumours' album."
"Great song, great album, great band."


We're up to a persevering group whose sum is far greater than its parts.  Individually, the members of Fleetwood Mac are not amongst the all-time best at their instruments.  But add them all up, and the Mac was one of the top forces in music in the 70's.  They started out in 1968, and managed to keep the group together despite numerous personnel changes, including guitarists Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer, and Bob Welch. 

This British blues-rock group scored a major coup when they landed Americans Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham.  With an album under their belt, the new-look Fleetwood Mac exploded in 1977 with their release of the album Rumours.

Buckingham got things rolling with the first single, "Go Your Own Way", which he wrote and sang lead on.  It began its run up the charts in January.   

Trade papers at the time did not have the wherewithal to know how to factor in album sales, a huge mistake in the industry.  But we do, and make up for their shortcomings in our rankings.  Those trade papers only showed a peak of #10 for the song.  A more accurate reflection of the song's popularity at the time came from the Netherlands, where it hit #1.   

Even without the album sales, one can see that "Go Your Own Way" had plenty of competition keeping it down--"Hotel California" and "New Kid In Town" by the Eagles, "Evergreen" by Barbra Streisand, Fleetwood Mac's own "Dreams", "Sir Duke" by Stevie Wonder, "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" from Andy Gibb, "Tonight's The Night" by Rod Stewart, "Dancing Queen" from ABBA, "Lucille" by Kenny Rogers, "When I Need You" by Leo Sayer, and "Southern Nights" by Glen Campbell.  

But then you factor in the fact that "Go Your Own Way" has helped sell over 41 million albums in the U.S. alone, and its standing begins to rise.  It helped Rumours win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, and has now topped one million in radio airplay.   

Nicks said in an interview with Mojo magazine:  "'Dreams' and 'Go Your Own Way' are what I call the 'twin songs'.  They're the same song written by two people about the same relationship. 

"Go Your Own Way" was included on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's list of The 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.




Stop!  In The Name Of Love

"Such a classic song."
"This song is so amazing."
"Classic soul."
"It really is a perfect, 10/10 song.  Perfect lyrics, gorgeous melody, and a classic chorus."

"SO fantastic."

"The best."

This was written by the Motown songwriting team Holland/Dozier/Holland.  Lamont Dozier got the idea for the title after an argument he had with his girlfriend. In the heat of battle, he yelled, "Stop in the name of love!." They both started laughing and Dozier knew the line had to be a song title.

The Supremes recorded the song on January 5, 7 and 11 of 1965 at the Hitsville U.S.A. Studios in Detroit Michigan.  They released the single on February 8, 1965 from the group's sixth album, More Hits by the Supremes

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

"Stop!  In The Name Of Love" endured that competition to go all the way to the top for two weeks, making the Supremes the first artist in the Rock Era to score four #1 songs in a row.  The super trio made it five a few months later with "Back In My Arms Again".  "Stop!  In The Name Of Love" also spent three weeks at #2, and peaked at #2 for four weeks on the R&B chart.  The song went to #1 in Germany, #3 in Canada, and #7 in the U.K.  "Stop!  In The Name Of Love" sold one million singles and helped sell 9.5 million albums in the U.S. alone.

The Supremes classic was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Rock & Roll Group Vocal Performance.  The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.




You've Made Me So Very Happy
 Blood, Sweat & Tears

"This song makes me so very happy."
"Love it!  Love it!"
"A great classic."
"One of my favorites!"
"What a great song!"
"Love this piece."

Brenda and Patrice Holloway, Frank Wilson, and Berry Gordy, Jr. wrote this song, and Brenda recorded it in 1967.
Al Kooper created Blood, Sweat & Tears as an experimental rock group with horns.  The overwhelming success of the project paved the way for other similar acts--groups such as Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire may not have hit the mainstream if not for B S & T.  Kooper wanted the group to revive this Motown song, but he left the group before they began to go into the executive portion of the business, so lead singer David Clayton-Thomas took over the project.  The group recorded "You've Made Me So Very Happy" at Nashville West Studios in Los Angeles for their self-titled album in 1969.

Blood, Sweat & Tears released the song as a single, and in March, it began attracting airplay.  This in itself was a substantial achievement, as great songs such as "Get Back" by the Beatles, "Aquarius" from the 5th Dimension, "Proud Mary" and "Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Sly & the Family Stone's "Everyday People", "The Boxer" from Simon & Garfunkel, "Crimson And Clover" by Tommy James & the Shondells, "Time Of The Season" by the Zombies, "Traces" from the Classics IV, Tommy Roe's "Dizzy", Elvis Presley's "In The Ghetto", and "My Cherie Amour" by Stevie Wonder were all out at the same time.

Blood, Sweat & Tears still achieved #2 for three weeks, and also received significant airplay on both the Easy Listening and the R&B charts.

The group's popularity is evidenced by their appearance at the Atlanta Pop Festival that year before 140,000 fans.  Blood, Sweat & Tears received the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.  "You've Made Me So Very Happy" sold over one million singles and helped sell at least six million albums.  Along with "Spinning Wheel" and "And When I Die", Blood, Sweat & Tears became the first act in music history to achieve three Gold singles on an album.  Song #287* has now been played over three million times.



Olivia Newton-John

"I love this song soooo much!"
"Love this song."
"Great classic."

While this star hinted in the movie Grease that there was another side to her not previously seen in the "innocent girl" image she had through the early years of her career, that image was blown to pieces by this song.  Some radio programmers banned the song because of its content.  Where are those programmers when you need them with rap music?

Steve Kipner and Terry Shaddick wrote this song for Olivia Newton-John for her 1981 album Physical.  Kipner also wrote "Hard Habit To Break" for Chicago and "Genie In A Bottle" for Christina Aguilera.

Olivia released the song in September on MCA Records.  Listeners couldn't get enough of it, as two million singles were shipped immediately. 

 In October, 1981 "Physical" began being played on the radio, when it faced competition from "Endless Love" by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie, "Waiting For A Girl Like You" by Foreigner, "Open Arms", "Don't Stop Believin'", and "Who's Crying Now" by Journey, "I Can't Go For That" by Hall & Oates, "Always On My Mind" from Willie Nelson, "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by the Police, and "Arthur's Theme" from Christopher Cross.  

 "Physical" dominated the charts, holding on to #1 for 10 weeks, with 15 weeks in the Top 10 in the United States.  The song thus was part of a three-way tie at the time for the second-most weeks at #1 with Guy Mitchell's "Singing The Blues" and Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life".  Only Elvis Presley's double-sided smash "Don't Be Cruel"/"Hound Dog" (with 11 weeks) had spent more time at the top.  For 9 of the 10 weeks, "Waiting For A Girl Like You" by Foreigner was #2.  When Hall & Oates finally overtook "Physical" at the top, the #2 song was still "Waiting For A Girl Like You".  "Physical" also peaked at #7 in the U.K. 

 It won a Billboard Awards for Top Pop Single and Olivia won the honor of Favorite Singles Artist of the Year, while the song also won a Grammy Award for Video of the Year.  It as nominated for the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
In addition to the two million singles sold, "Physical" helped sell two million albums in the U.S. alone.  It has garnered one million airplays. 



Don't Stop Believin'

"Great song!"

"I love this song."

"One of my favorites!"

"Steve Perry's performance is classic!"

"Best song ever."

"Classic rock." 

This time-tested classic only got to #9 when it was first released.  However, a simple look beyond the chart numbers reveals the true popularity of the song.

Part of the song's appeal could very well be that, unlike most songs which repeat a chorus several times, Journey didn't bring in the chorus for "Don't Stop Believin'" until the end of the song, essentially having the effect of making listeners long for more when the song was through.

Lead singer Steve Perry wrote the lyrics while Journey was performing a series of shows in Detroit, Michigan.  Perry found himself up late in his hotel room, unable to sleep, staring out the window. 

I was digging the idea of how the lights were facing down, so that you couldn't see anything.  All of a sudden, I'd see people walking out of the dark, and into the light.  And the term 'streetlight people' came to me.  So Detroit was very much in my consciousness when we started writing.

The song was formed by Journey in its Oakland rehearsal spot.  Elite lead guitarist Neal Schon developed the bass part, the chugging guitar line and the sweeping chords featured in the chorus.  Keyboardist Jonathan Cain had recently joined Journey, and his addition arguably made the group the most talented rock group in the world.  Cain wasted no time making an immediate contribution--it is his keyboard work that you hear on the open of "Don't Stop Belivin'".

In October of 1981, the song started its run up the charts, when Rock Era fans could also hear ""Endless Love" by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie, "Waiting For A Girl Like You" by Foreigner, "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John, "I Can't Go For That" by Hall & Oates, their own "Who's Crying Now" and "Open Arms", "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" by the Police, "Arthur's Theme" from Christopher Cross,

In addition to its placing at #9 on the Popular chart, "Don't Stop Believin'" reached #8 on the Mainstream Rock chart.  
"Don't Stop Believin'" hit #2 in Canada, #4 in Ireland, and #6 in the U.K.  While the song above, Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" spent 10 weeks at #1, "Don't Stop Believin'" has passed it--here's why.

In 2008, iTunes announced that "Don't Stop Believin'" led every song released before the 21st century in downloads.  Incredibly, the song ranked #72 in downloads in 2008, over 26 years after its release.  In 2009, "Don't Stop Believin'" went over three million in downloads, and in 2014, topped the six-million mark in the United States alone.  It now ranks just outside the top twenty in the best-selling digital songs of all-time.

Perry had some insight into why the song has remained so popular over the years in an interview with Planet Rock radio station in Great Britain:

 Personally, it's something that means a lot to me. Everybody has emotional issues and problems, and the song has helped me personally to not give up, and I'm finding a lot of people feel that.
The song has now sold over 10 million singles and helped sell 25 million albums in the U.S. alone.  It has topped one million in radio airplay.  We suspect that if the download trend continues, the song will continue to climb in the years to come. 




Love's Theme
 Love Unlimited Orchestra

"Barry White was a musical genius."
"A classic that stands with Beethoven, Chopin, Bach, and Mozart."
"There are few songs that can compare with this Beautiful song."
"My favorite instrumental!"

After a troubled childhood, which resulted in this artist being sent to the Reese school in Los Angeles, a center for incorrigible youth, Barry White found himself.  White had hit bottom at age 17.  His brother Darryl was murdered in a fight with a rival gang, and Barry was thrown into jail after stealing $30,000 worth of tires.  While in jail, White listened to the Elvis Presley song "It's Now Or Never", an experience he later credited with changing the course of his life.  Music has a way of doing that.
After his release from jail, White joined the quintet The Upfronts, then he became a session musician and arranger.  Barry subsequently got a job as A& R man for Mustang Records.  While there, he discovered a female trio called Love Unlimited, and became their manager and producer.  White helped the group sign a recording contract with UNI Records, and produced their first album.  In 1972, White signed himself and Love Unlimited to newly re-launched 20th Century Records.  Barry recorded his first album in 1973, which included "I'm Gonna' Love You Just A Little More, Baby".
White wrote and produced this classic at #284*.  Featuring a lush orchestral arrangement and the wah-wah guitar, many music critics feel it had a significant influence on the Disco Era, which began in earnest the following year. 
The Love Unlimited Orchestra was a 40-piece unit formed by White to back his music and his female group Love Unlimited.  Gene Page arranged the string parts.  White's original plan was to create vocals for the song, but he changed his mind after hearing Page's beautiful arrangement.  White loved the backing track so much that he decided not to add the vocals, and that is how it became "Love's Theme".   
 Barry included "Love's Theme" on his Rhapsody In White album as well as the album Under The Influence Of... by Love Unlimited.   
The song could be heard at the same time as "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Bennie And The Jets" by Elton John, "The Way We Were" by Barbra Streisand, "The Most Beautiful Girl" from Charlie Rich, "Sunshine On My Shoulders" from John Denver, "Band On The Run" by Paul McCartney & Wings, "Seasons In The Sun" by Terry Jacks, "Midnight Train To Georgia" by Gladys Knight & the Pips, Jim Croce's "Time In A Bottle", "The Loco-Motion" from Grand Funk, "The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band, and "Just You 'N Me" by Chicago.

"Love's Theme" became one of a select few instrumentals to go all the way to #1 on the Popular chart; it also scored two weeks at the top on the Adult chart, and #10 on the R&B chart.   The song also topped the Canadian chart. 

The great song went Gold and helped sell over 3.5 million albums.  "Love's Theme" has now gone over three million radio airplays.



El Paso 
Marty Robbins

"One of the most amazing songs ever."
"One of the classics."
"One of my all-time favourites too. Love the guitar backing and harmony."
"Very, very beautiful."
"Excellent, makes me feel every emotion."

Robbins wrote this amazing song in a car as he and his family were traveling through Texas on the way to Arizona.  The song is written with a Western theme complete with drama, violence, and romance.  At 4:19, "El Paso" was considerably longer than the established norm for songs at the time, but Columbia Records went against the trend and released the single as is in October of 1959.  Just to cover their tracks, Columbia released an edited version of the song on the flip side (3 minutes), but DJ's as well as the public overwhelmingly preferred the full version. 

"El Paso" went on to become a Country standard, with its dramatic narrative which ends in the death of the protagonist, its shifts between past and present tense, and haunting harmonies from Bobby Sykes and Jim Glaser.  Grady Martin's Spanish guitar work is another highlight that gives the song a Tex-Mex sound.  Robbins based the character Faleena on a schoolmate of his in the fifth grade--Fidelina Martinez. 

Robbins recorded the song for his album, Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs.  By November of 1959, "El Paso" was pretty much the talk of the land.  To make history, though, it would have to get past great songs such as Bobby Darin's "Mack The Knife", "Cathy's Clown" by the Everly Brothers, "Stuck On You" by Elvis Presley, and "Theme From 'A Summer Place'" by Percy Faith.
When "El Paso" rocketed to #1 in January of 1960, it became the first song over four minutes to reach #1, and a full 42 seconds longer than any other #1 that year ("Georgia On My Mind" by Ray Charles was the next-longest at 3:37.) 

"El Paso" spent two weeks at #1 9 in the Top 10, and a phenomenal seven weeks at #1 on the County chart.  The latter makes "El Paso" one of the biggest Country hits of the Rock Era.   

The song helped sell over 3.5 million albums, and won a Grammy Award for Best Country & Western Performance.  To date, Marty's classic has been played over three million times.


Homeward Bound 
Simon & Garfunkel
"Great lyrics for the ages."
"This song is so beautiful."
"This is in the echoes of my mind."
"How incredibly talented were these two men??? Wow!"
"Great music from two great talents."
Paul Simon lived in Brentwood, Essex, England when he wrote this next classic.  He was traveling by train after a gig in Liverpool, and was stuck at the station in Widnes.  He had met a woman named Kathy Chitty, and was depressed and homesick.   So, Paul came up with this song, which had a double meaning for him.  He wanted to get home to Brentwood, but he also longed to return to the United States.  Paul told Song Talk magazine his memories of the song:

That was written in Liverpool when I was traveling.  What I like about that is that it has a very clear memory of Liverpool station and the streets of Liverpool and the club I played at and me at age 22.  It's like a snapshot, a photograph of a long time ago.  There's something naive and sweet-natured  about my early songs, and I must say I like that about it. They're not angry.  And that means that I wasn't angry or unhappy.  And that's my memory of that time: it was just about idyllic.  It was just the best time of my life, I think, up until recently, these last five years or so, six years... This has been the best time of my life.  But before that, I would say that that was.
Simon wrote down some lyrics on a scrap of paper while in Widnes, and finished the song in London.  Simon & Garfunkel recorded "Homeward Bound" December 14, 1965 in a late-night session in New York City with producer Bob Johnson.  Johnston had been working on Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited album at the time.  Ralph Casale played electric guitar on the song, and according to Ralph, Dylan regulars Al Kooper (organ) and Bobby Gregg (drums) played on the track as well.  Simon & Garfunkel released it January 19 of the following year on the album Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme on Columbia Records.

The duo had just struck paydirt with "The Sound Of Silence", and their follow-up was important to their career.  In February, "Homeward Bound" got off the ground.  In addition to their own "The Sound Of Silence", "Homeward Bound" faced competition from "We Can Work It Out" and "Nowhere Man" by the Beatles, "Unchained Melody" and "(You're My) Soul And Inspiration" by the Righteous Brothers, "When A Man Loves A Woman" from Percy Sledge, "Monday, Monday" and "California Dreamin'" by the Mamas and the Papas, "Good Lovin'" from the Young Rascals, and "Barbara Ann" from the Beach Boys.

"Homeward Bound" peaked at #5 for two weeks, which based on that one factor wouldn't be enough to sniff The Top 500*.  But unlike some outfits, we don't stop at a song's chart number in calculating the elite 500, but rather research and consider all the other factors.

For instance, lost to the organizations that determine a #5 peak for the song is the fact that "Homeward Bound" helped sell over 17.5 million albums.  Add in the fact that the song has been played over four million times, and you then have an impressive resume on your hands.  

"Homeward Bound" also went to #2 in Canada, #4 in the Netherlands, and #9 in the U.K.





Barry Manilow

"I have loved this song since I first heard it."
"A great song from Manilow!"
"I have no words...;) so beautiful;)"
"Classic love song!"
"This song RULES!"

This artist started his first instrument, the accordion, at age seven.  He has come a long ways since then.  He was voted Best Musician at Eastern District High School in Brooklyn, New York, then attended the New York College of Music and the prestigious Julliard.  Shortly after getting a job in the CBS mailroom at age 18, a director encouraged him to do some musical arranging.  Barry Manilow proceeded to write an Off Broadway adaptation of The Drunkard, which enjoyed a long run. 

This next classic was written by Scott English and Richard Kerr, and originally recorded by Kerr under the title "Brandy".  Clive Davis, the boss of Bell Records (which soon became Davis's Arista Records), encouraged Manilow to record it.  Barry didn't think much of it, but recorded it as an album cut.  It turns out, however, that Davis wanted it to be the first single from his album Manilow II.  Barry later told Billboard, "I figured it was risky for new artists to release a ballad.  But Davis said, 'This is a very special ballad, I'm telling you.'  So I listened to him." 
Three years had passed since English had recorded it, and since that time, Looking Glass had scored a #1 smash with "Brandy (You're A Fine Girl)".  To avoid confusion, Manilow changed the title to "Mandy".  He also omitted two lines from the fourth verse:  "Riding on a country bus/No one even noticed us." 

"Mandy" hit the airwaves in November of 1974, a time when songs such as "I Honestly Love You" and "Have You Never Been Mellow" by Olivia Newton-John, "Best Of My Love" by the Eagles, "Cat's In The Cradle" by Harry Chapin, "You're No Good" from Linda Ronstadt, "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" by Elton John, and "Black Water" by the Doobie Brothers" were out. 

"Mandy" reached #1 on both the Popular chart (1 week) and the Adult chart (two weeks).  It sold over one million singles, and helped sell 7.5 million albums.  It has achieved four million in radio airplay. 

Kerr later teamed up with Will Jennings to write the Manilow hits "Looks Like We Made It" and "Somewhere In The Night".

We're glad you joined the party!  The 60th birthday of the Rock Era is coming up July 9, and we're celebrating with The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era!*  We'll unveil another 10 tomorrow!

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