Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #330-321

Inside The Rock Era's presentation of The Top 500 Songs* is unique in that we neither hand-picked the songs nor had a role in the order, other than to gather the relevant statistics associated with each song's performance--namely single sales, album sales, radio airplay, chart numbers, each song's competition at the time, and awards won.

Stacking any such list with songs from one genre (for example, all hard rock songs), or one decade would not only be a disservice, rife with favoritism and unprofessionalism; it would be inaccurate.

We are celebrating the upcoming 60th birthday of the Rock Era with our special updated version of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*--enjoy!


Upside Down 
Diana Ross


"This song's rhythm is epic and simply wonderful."
"Classic Diana Ross."
"Well written, and Ross's best singing ever."
"Amazing beat, with an incredible bass."
"Simply the best."

 The songwriting team of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, members of Chic, wrote this song for Diana Ross.  Chic enjoyed hits like "Le Freak" and "Good Times" in the 70s, but Rodgers and Edwards wrote many songs for other artists, including "We Are Family" for Sister Sledge and "I'm Coming Out" for Ross.  Rodgers co-wrote "Let's Dance" with David Bowie, and later co-wrote the Daft Punk hit "Get Lucky", and also produced Rod Stewart, Air Supply, Sheena Easton, Duran Duran, Johnny Mathis, Robert Palmer, Joe Cocker, ABC and Sister Sledge.

Getting to write and produce for Ross obviously earned a lot of respect for Rodgers and Edwards.  Nile talked about it in a 2011 interview:

Diana Ross was the first big star we ever worked with and we took it very seriously.  This was the first time in her life somebody cared about who she was; what she was — everyone previously had treated her the way we had treated Sister Sledge — they got her in and said "Sing this".  We (took a more personal approach).

Ross released the single on June 25, 1980 from her album Diana.  It was a solid time in music, that also included "Lady" by Kenny Rogers, "Another One Bites The Dust" from Queen, "It's Still Rock & Roll To Me" by Billy Joel, "Woman" by John Lennon, Blondie's "Call Me", "Woman In Love" by Barbra Streisand, "I Love A Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbitt, "All Out Of Love" and "Lost In Love" from Air Supply, "9 To 5" by Dolly Parton, "Magic" by Olivia Newton-John, "Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer" by Kenny Rogers & Kim Carnes, REO Speedwagon's "Keep On Loving You", and "Sailing" by Christopher Cross.

"Upside Down" topped the U.S. chart for four weeks and achieved an impressive 14 weeks in the Top 10.  It also led the way on the R&B Chart for four weeks, and rose to #1 in Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, #2 in the U.K., France, Austria and the Netherlands, #3 in Germany, Ireland, and Finland, and #5 in Canada.

"Upside Down" sold over one million singles and has been played on the radio over one million times.  It helped earn Ross American Music Awards for Favorite Soul/R & B Single and Favorite Soul/R & B Female Artist.


You Were Meant For Me 

"Absolutely love this song!"
"Great lyrics."

"She had the most beautiful and soothing voice."

"My favorite song."

Rarely does an artist come up with a masterpiece on their first effort, but that is what Alaska-born Jewel Kilcher did with the album Pieces of You.  She co-wrote this classic with Steve Poltz and released it on Atlantic Records as part of the double-sided hit with “Foolish Games”. 

Prior to that, though, Atlantic had Jewel re-record the song.  The first version did not capture much attention, and was cancelled.  So Jewel returned to the studio to record “You Were Meant For Me” a third time.  This third version was the one that was released as a commercial CD and became the hit, and it is featured on a re-release of the album.

The single began receiving significant airplay in March of 1997, and went to #2 for 2 weeks, with another 6 weeks at #3.  Listeners could not get enough of the song, as it established residence in the Top 10 for an incredible 28 weeks, over half a year.  "You Were Meant For Me" was a best-seller for over a year at 61 weeks.  It also landed at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, led the way on the Top 40 chart for four weeks, and showed the ability to span generations and genres by reaching #26 on AOR stations.  It also landed at #2 in Canada and #3 in Australia. 

If a song remains popular for that long, it's logical to assume that it faces pretty good competition over that time.  This included "You're Still The One" and "From This Moment On" by Shania Twain, "Un-Break My Heart" by Toni Braxton, "Don't Speak" by No Doubt, "The Boy Is Mine" by Monica and Brandy, Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On", "Macarena" by Los Del Rios, "Candle In The Wind 1997" by Elton John, "Truly, Madly, Deeply" by Savage Garden.

“You Were Meant For Me” finished as the most-played song of 1997.  It has been certified as having sold one million copies, and it is one of many reasons why Pieces of You has gone over 12 million in sales to become one of The Top 100 Albums of the Rock Era*.  It is one of the few songs since 1996 that has already achieved one million in radio airplay.

Jewel became the first artist in the history of Atlantic Records to be featured on the cover of Time magazine (July 21, 1997).



I Knew I Loved You
 Savage Garden

"So beautiful."
"My favorite song."
"I love the lyrics--the definition of a true love song."
"Snuggle time song."
"Love it!"

Up next, one of 14 songs that Australia has contributed to the elite 500. 

In 1993, multi-instrumentalist Daniel Jones bought an advertisement in the newspaper Time Off looking for a vocalist for his band Red Edge, which Jones had formed with his brothers.  Darren Hayes was the only one to respond, and after a successful audition, joined the group.  Red Edge played clubs, while Hayes and Jones began to write original songs.  In 1994, the two formed a duo, originally called Crush.  They renamed themselves Savage Garden after a lite in the Anne Rice book The Vampire Chronicles--"Beauty was a savage garden." 

By the end of the year, Savage Garden had written enough good songs for a demo tape.  They sent 150 copies to record companies all over the world.  John Woodruff gave them their only positive response, and became the duo's manager.  Woodruff landed a contract for the group with Roadshow Music/Warner Music, and Savage Garden enjoyed a highly successful debut album.    

This next classic was written by  Hayes and Jones.  The two had completed work on their outstanding Affirmation album, but the producers still felt it wouldn't be as successful as their debut release if they didn't have a major hit.  So Darren and Daniel wrote this song specifically for that reason.

This song reached the charts in October of 1997, a time when "Smooth" and "Maria, Maria" by Santana and "Breathe" by Toni Braxton were out.
"I Knew I Loved You" spent 4 weeks at #1 and 17 weeks inside the Top 10 in the United States.  Even more important, it stood tall at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart for an incredible 17 weeks.  Savage Garden also hit #1 in Canada, #3 in New Zealand and Sweden, #4 in Australia, #7 in Norway, and #10 in the U.K.  It was the last song by an Australian to reach #1 in the U.S. until Gotye ended the skid with his #1 "Somebody That I Used To Know" in 2012.

"I Knew I Loved You" sold 500,000 singles and 3 million albums. Savage Garden won Billboard Music Awards for Adult Contemporary Single of the Year and Hot 100 Singles Airplay of the Year.  The song was the most-played song of 1998. 



Get Together 

"If only mankind could live by this song, what a great place this world would be.  Its truly that simple."

"Immortal song."

"Only the best song of all-time."

"Love this song so much!  It's so beautiful."

"One of the all-time classics."

#327* is from the folk group the Youngbloods:  the great Jesse Colin Young on lead vocals and bass, guitarist Jerry Corbitt, Lowell Levinger on guitar and electric piano, and Joe Bauer on drums.  The group performed live for the first time at Gerde's Folk City in New York City's Greenwich Village.  Within months, they were the house band at the CafĂ© Au Go Go and signed a recording contract with RCA Records. 

Chet Powers, who went by the stage name of Dino Valenti in Quicksilver Messenger Service, wrote this timeless classic, but he had to sign the rights to it away when he was thrown in jail for possession of marijuana.  When the Youngbloods recorded it in 1967, they did credit him with writing the song.
"Get Together" appeals to the better angels in all of us, making a plea for peace and brotherhood that hit home to a generation that was determined to make the world a better place.  The Kingston Trio first recorded the song as "Let's Get Together" in 1964 but did not release it as a single.  We Five, famous for the #1 smash "You Were On My Mind", released the song as a follow-up and reached the Top 40.  Judy Collins performed the song at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival, and Joni Mitchell often played the song as an encore in her shows from 1967-1969.
In 1967, the Youngbloods released the song, but it stalled at #62.  Two years later, however, the song was used in a public service announcement on the radio by the National Conference of Christians and Jews as a call to brotherhood.  This sparked new interest in the song, and the Youngbloods re-released the single in 1969.  Isn't it interesting how fate plays a role in our lives?
"Get Together" made its re-entry onto the charts in June.  1967 was a strong year in the Rock Era, but "Get Together" faced strong competition in 1969 as well:  "Get Back" by the Beatles, "Aquarius" by the 5th Dimension, "Honky Tonk Women" by the Rolling Stones, "Suspicious Minds" and "In The Ghetto" by Elvis Presley, "In The Year 2525" by Zager & Evans, "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies, "The Boxer" from Simon & Garfunkel, "Everybody's Talkin'" by Nilsson, CCR's "Bad Moon Rising", "Crystal Blue Persuasion", "My Cherie Amour", and "I Can't Get Next To You" by the Temptations.
"Get Together" rose to #5 for two weeks.  The single sold one million copies, and "Get Together" helped sell 12 million albums.  This classic has now been heard over three million times.


Good Lovin' 
Young Rascals

"Some songs get into your soul and are completely timeless."
"Will always be one of Rock's best."
"Great song!"
 "Fantastic tune!"

"One of the greats from the '60s..."


This group evolved out of the group Joey Dee's Starliters, who scored a #1 hit with "Peppermint Twist".  Keyboardist Felix Cavaliere, percussionist Eddie Brigati and guitarist Gene Cornish were all in Dee's Starliters.  But soon, the group decided to form their own group, adding drummer Dino Danelli.  They had planned on calling themselves the Rascals, until they learned there was already a group called the Harmonica Rascals.

They practiced for months before debuting at the Choo Choo Club in Garfield, New Jersey.  While performing on the Barge, a boat at the Hamptons, Sid Bernstein caught their act.  If that name joggles the memory, it's because Bernstein was the promoter who brought the Beatles to Shea Stadium in New York City.  Bernstein signed them to Atlantic Records. 

Unbeknownst to the group, however, the name the Young Rascals was selected for them and placed on their first 45.  Later, the group was allowed to drop the "Young" and be known as the Rascals.   

Song #326* was written by Rudy Clark and Arthur Resnick. Cavaliere heard the song on a radio station in New York City, and the group soon began performing it at their shows.  The Young Rascals recorded "Good Lovin'" on February 1, 1966.  Co-producer Tom Dowd had the goal of capturing the feel of the group's live sound, and, although the group didn't think they did well on the song, the public disagreed.
The Young Rascals released the single on February 21 from their self-titled album.  The song burst on the radio with the high-energy "1, 2, 3", and it featured a false ending.  Other songs out at the time included "Paperback Writer" and "Nowhere Man" by the Beatles, "When A Man Loves A Woman" from Percy Sledge, "Monday, Monday" and "California Dreamin'" by the Mamas and the Papas, "(You're My) Soul And Inspiration" from the Righteous Brothers, "Homeward Bound" and "I Am A Rock" by Simon & Garfunkel, Frank Sinatra's "Strangers In The Night", "Sunny" by Bobby Hebb, "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones, and "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys. 
"Good Lovin'" became the first of three #1 songs by the Rascals.    It has contributed to 7.5 million albums sold.  "Good Lovin'" was selected as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.



Canadian Sunset
Hugo Winterhalter & Eddie Heywood

"Just beautiful--one of the three best instrumentals of all-time."
"This is one of the most beautiful arrangements that has brought me many years of joy in listening to it over and over again."
"This song is magic."
"A wondrous composition that has truly withstood the test of time."
"Wonderful song--timeless music."

Hugo Winterhalter played saxophone in the orchestra and sang in two choirs at Mount St. Mary's High School near Emmitsburg, Maryland.  He furthered his music education at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied violin and reed instruments.  Hugo became a teacher for several years before playing and arranging for such famous '30s bands as Count Basie and Tommy Dorsey.
Winterhalter also arranged and conducted recording sessions for singers including Dinah Shore, and landed the job of musical director at MGM Records in 1948.  He then moved to Columbia Records, where he scored the hits "Jealous Heart" and "Blue Christmas".
In 1950, Winterhalter signed a new contract with RCA Victor, arranging for artists such as Perry Como, Harry Belafonte, Eddie Fisher and the Ames Brothers.  Hugo also recorded his own music, and teamed up with pianist Eddie Heywood in 1956 for this classic at #325*.   
That Heywood could even collaborate with Winterhalter is in itself a great story.  Heywood received training from his father, Eddie Heyward, Sr., who was also a jazz musician.  The younger Heywood played piano for artists such as Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters in Atlanta, Georgia.
Heywood moved to New Orleans, and then Kansas City, and was in demand for the popular jazz musicians at the time.  Eddie then moved to New York to start his own band, and also sometimes backed up the legendary Billie Holliday in 1941. 
But in 1947, Heywood was stricken with partial paralysis of his hands and could not play piano at all.  Remarkably, though, Eddie made a comeback in 1951.  He wrote and recorded "Land Of Dreams" and "Soft Summer Breeze", the latter a #11 song.  Heywood scored his biggest career hit with "Canadian Sunset". 
"Canadian Sunset" debuted on the Singles chart in June of 1956, where it faced some of the top songs of the Rock Era, including "Heartbreak Hotel", "Don't Be Cruel", "Hound Dog", "Love Me Tender", and "I Want You, I Need You, I Love You" by Elvis Presley, Guy Mitchell's "Singing The Blues", "My Prayer" by the Platters", and others. 

"Canadian Sunset" proved its worth by rising to #2 for 2 weeks against that lineup of heavyweights, and also landed at #7 on the R&B chart.  To date, it has logged over five million radio airplays in the U.S. alone. 
Heywood suffered a second partial paralysis from 1966-1969, but made a second comeback, and continued playing into the 1980s.


Baby Come Back

"A piece of art." 

"Perfect music."


"Amazing song."
"My favorite ever."

This next smash was written by the two founders of Player--lead singer and guitarist Peter Beckett and J.C. Crowley.  The two met at a party in Hollywood, California, and after finding out they had similar musical interests, Beckett and Crowley scheduled a jam session.  When that went well, the two recruited a band and chose the name Player.  The group bounced around labels, first signing with Haven Records, distributed by Capitol, and then Arista.  When Haven folded, they signed on with RSO Records.  Player released the song in October, 1977 as the first single for their self-titled second album.

Besides labelmates "How Deep Is Your Love", "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever" by the Bee Gees and "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" and "Shadow Dancing" by Andy Gibb, Player also faced competition from "You Light Up My Life" by Debby Boone, "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty, "Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel, Queen's "We Are The Champions", "You Make Loving Fun" and "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac, "If I Can't Have You" by Yvonne Elliman, "Blue Bayou" by Linda Ronstadt, and Eric Clapton's "Lay Down Sally".

"Baby Come Back" succeeded "How Deep Is Your Love" by the Bee Gees at #1 in the U.S., just the 19th time that a record label took over from itself at #1.  "Baby Come Back" achieved three weeks at the top, and also hit #10 on the R&B Chart.  It also reached #1 in Canada and #4 in New Zealand.

"Baby Come Back" went over one million copies sold, and has been heard two million times thus far in the U.S. alone.

Beckett later joined the Little River Band, and also wrote the hit "Twist Of Fate" by Olivia Newton-John. Crowley has also written for the Little River Band, Johnny Cash, and Smokey Robinson.   Bassist Ronn Moss later starred on the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful on CBS-TV.


Time Of The Season 

"This is one classy song."
"This song is timeless."
"Fantastic song!"
"This song was a oasis of sound during a time in the United States that was very turbulent.  Such a chill and classy song."
"Some of the best music ever made."

This British act formed back in 1961 in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England.  Their initial name was the Mustangs, but they changed to the Zombies after learning other acts already had claimed that name.  After winning a competition sponsored by The London Evening News, the group signed a recording contract with Decca Records.

The Zombies traveled to the United States to promote their first big hit, "She's Not There".  One of their first shows was at Murray the K's Christmas shows at the Fox Theatre in Brooklyn, New York.  The group played seven performances a day at the Fox. 

In 1967, the Zombies signed with CBS Records and recorded this classic at EMI Studios in London in August.  

Columbia Records supported the album Odessey and Oracle (accidentally misspelled on the LP) because new A&R man Al Kooper strongly believed in them.  Kooper had just left Blood, Sweat & Tears, and this was his first choice as a single.  Several singles flopped, including this one, so Kooper suggested they re-release "Time Of The Season".  

Finally, the song took hold, but it was too late--the Zombies had long since broken up.  So without any promotion from the group, the song still became a big hit, going to #3 for two weeks in the United State and #1 in Canada.  On the surface, that doesn't sound like a Top 500 Song for the Rock Era*, and many outfits which look only at chart numbers won't rank it.  Only thorough, professional organizations will look at other factors in ranking songs--some even do it based on "their own opinions" (the least reliable and least professional). 

We stress the importance of a song's competition in ranking it in the Rock Era.  Not only do chart numbers mean zilch without factoring in competition, but it is the only way one can accurately compare songs across different decades.  In the case of "Time Of The Season", it debuted on the charts in February, with these songs out at the same time:  "Aquarius" by the 5th Dimension, "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" by Marvin Gaye, "Proud Mary" by CCR, "Everyday People" by Sly & the Family Stone, "The Boxer" by Simon & Garfunkel, "You've Made Me So Very Happy" by Blood, Sweat & Tears, Tommy Roe's "Dizzy", and "Crimson And Clover" by Tommy James & the Shondells.

For those that lived through the period, you most likely can easily see why "Time Of The Season" only hit #3.  That competition makes the peak of #3 look most impressive.  It sold over one million copies in the U.S. alone, and another big factor that the song ranks this high is its radio airplay.  At over six million since 1969, "Time Of The Season" is tied for 20th in the Rock Era. 



Crazy For You 

"Classic ballad from Madonna."
"Awesome song!"
"One of my favourites."

John Bettis and Jon Lind wrote this song for Madonna, who recorded it for inclusion in the 1985 movie Vision Quest.  Producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber and music director Phil Ramone were familiar with the relatively unknown singer, who had just signed a recording contract with Sire Records.  Madonna auditioned for the three, who were all impressed, as were executives at Warner Brothers, and Peters tabbed Joel Sill to oversee recording of "Crazy For You". 

Madonna's first recordings of the song didn't please songwriters Bettis and Lind, but producer John "Jellybean" Benitez asked Rob Mounsey to write a new arrangement and he included backing vocals on a new recording.  Bettis and Lind were thrilled with the new version, and everyone was now on board.  

Then, the suits got involved.  Since Madonna was about to release her second album Like a Virgin, Warner Brothers Records didn't want "Crazy For You" to be released, as it would compete with the album.  Mo Ostin, head of Warner Brothers Records, asked Robert A. Daly, chairman of Warner Brothers, to pull the song from the soundtrack.  When Daly summoned Peters and Guber to his office to tell them they had to let go of "Crazy For You", Peters yelled at Daly.  Luckily, music won out over corporate, and Madonna released the single on March 2 on Geffen Records.  

At the time, Rock Era fans could hear the title song from Like a Virgin as well as Madonna's "Material Girl", "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" and "Shout" by Tears for Fears, "We Are The World" from USA for Africa, "Careless Whisper" by Wham!, "Take On Me" by A-ha, "Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon, Foreigner's "I Want To Know What Love Is", "You're The Inspiration" by Chicago, and "One More Night" from Phil Collins. 

"Crazy For You" only spent one week at #1 in the U.S., but it stayed at #2 for four weeks, showing good staying power.  It also landed at #2 on the AC chart, and reached #1 in Canada and Australia, #2 in the U.K., New Zealand, and Ireland and #9 in the Netherlands.  When "Crazy For You" replaced Madonna's own double-sided hit "Angel"/"Into The Groove" in Australia, Madonna became one of the few acts in history to replace themselves at #1 in that country.    

As both Madonna and her producer Benitez had previously recorded primarily dance music, "Crazy For You" was important in that it proved both could be successful with ballads.  The song sold over one million copies, helped sell 13 million albums, and has now been played over two million times. 

Madonna won Billboard Awards for Top Pop Sales Artist, Top Pop Artist (Combined), Top Pop Singles Artist, Top Dance Sales Artist, Top Pop Album Artist--Female and Top Dance Club Play Artist.  She was also nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the Grammy Awards.   




Knock Three Times
 Tony Orlando & Dawn

"Ear candy for the ages..."
"Great song from a great decade."
"Great song!"
"Classic goodness!"

Songwriters L. Russell Brown and Irwin Levine, big fans of the Drifters song "Up On The Roof", wanted to write something similar about apartment life.  As the lyrics go, the singer has fallen in love with a woman who lives directly below him, but he has no idea how she feels about him.  So, he asks her to either knock three times on the ceiling (for a "yes") or two times on the pipe (meaning "no").  The woman does not respond in the song, and we are all left wondering why the guy just didn't talk to her.
At the time this song was recorded, Tony Orlando was working in publishing for CBS Records.  The producers of this song for Bell Records convinced Tony to sing on it after they didn't like the original lead singer.  Orlando had to do this secretly so his label wasn't aware of it.  Tony recorded the song along with Toni Wine and Linda November.

Although the group Dawn was not created yet, the record was credited to Tony Orlando and Dawn.  The single was released and began attracting airplay in November of 1970.  Listen to its competition:  "Joy To The World" by Three Dog Night, "My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison, Santana's "Black Magic Woman", "Fire And Rain" by James Taylor, "We've Only Just Begun" and "For All We Know" by the Carpenters, "Your Song" from Elton John, "I'll Be There" by the Jackson 5, "Rose Garden" by Lynn Anderson, "Me And Bobby McGee" from Janis Joplin, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Diana Ross, and "Just My Imagination" by the Temptations.   

"Knock Three Times" reached #1 for three weeks and also stayed at #2 for four weeks in the United States.  All told, it logged 11 weeks inside the Top 10, and landed at #2 among Adults.  It also went #1 in the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, #2 in Germany, #3 in Ireland and the Netherlands, #4 in Switzerland, and #6 in Austria.
The song went Gold, and has gone over the two-million mark in radio airplay. 
After "Knock Three Times" became a smash hit, Orlando then created Dawn with Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson, and recorded the album Candida.

We find the amazing variety within The Top 500* to be as fascinating as the music itself, and hope you agree.  It is obvious that each faction of the Rock Era loves their music!  We will continue our special presentation of The Top 500 Songs* tomorrow!


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