Saturday, June 6, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #340-331

We hope you are hearing the greatest collection of back-to-back classics ever presented.  They are the most popular songs that have stood the test of time from 1955-2015, presented exclusively on Inside The Rock Era:


Angel Of The Morning 
Juice Newton

"One of the best remakes ever."
"Classic song."
"Love it."
"This song is so beautiful".

At #340*, one of 17 songs by artists from the state of New Jersey--and one of 15 songs in The Top 500* from 1981.
Juice Newton was inspired by the music of Bob Dylan and the Byrds, and began performing professionally at age 13.  She joined the trio Silver Spur, which signed a recording contract with RCA Records.  When the group changed labels to Capitol, they were known as Juice Newton and Silver Spur.  She scored a hit as a songwriter with the song "Sweet, Sweet Smile", which was recorded by the Carpenters.   

"Angel Of The Morning", written by Chip Taylor, was a hit for Merilee Rush in 1968, but the highest-charting and best-selling version was recorded thirteen years later by Juice Newton.  Steve Meyer, one of the promotion people at Capitol Records, suggested to Newton that she record the song.   From the 1981 album Juice, "Angel Of The Morning" debuted on the charts in February.

Chief competition came from "Lady" by Kenny Rogers, Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust", "Endless Love" by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie, "Woman" from John Lennon, "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes, "Woman In Love" from Barbra Streisand, Dollly Parton's "9 To 5", "Keep On Loving You" by REO Speedwagon, and "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang.

Juice hit #4 for 4 weeks, and #1 for 3 weeks on the AC chart; "Angel Of The Morning" also reached the Top 10 in Canada and Australia.

Newton was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary/Pop Vocal Performance, Female.  "Angel Of The Morning" went Gold, and the song has been heard over five million times.



Another Day In Paradise 
Phil Collins

"Classic song."
"Awesome--love this song."
"This song is so deep--love it!"
"A great song from a great singer."
"One of the all-time greats".

Up next, one of four songs from 1989 to make the elite Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.

This artist was once a child actor, playing the part of the Artful Dodger in the London production of Oliver, and he was also an extra in the Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night.  His success in the '80s, both as the lead singer, songwriter and drummer with Genesis and as a solo artist, made him one of the hot commodities in that decade.

David Crosby of Crosby, Stills, and Nash sang backing vocals on the track.  Phil later repaid the favor by singing backup on Crosby's 1993 song "Hero".  Collins released the single in 1989 from his album ...But Seriously.  Beginning with its debut in November, "Listen To Your Heart" by Roxette and "Black Velvet" from Alannah Myles are the only two Top 500* songs that Phil encountered during his chart run.

"Another Day In Paradise" went to #1 for four weeks, and 10 of its 18 weeks inside the Top 10, with five weeks at #1 on the more important Adult Contemporary chart.  It was the final #1 song of the '80s.  The song also reached #1 in Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, #2 in the U.K., Austria, Finland, Ireland, #5 in New Zealand, and #8 in France. 
The song was nominated for Song of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, and Best Music Video, Short Form.  "Another Day In Paradise" sold half a million singles and helped sell eight million albums.


 Sweet Child O' Mine
 Guns N' Roses


"You can't beat the classics."
"One of the best guitar solos of all-time."
"One of the best songs ever."

One day while Guns N' Roses was jamming at their house on the Sunset Strip, lead guitarist Slash began playing a melody.  Rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin asked him to play it again.   Stradlin subsequently came up with some chords, Duff McKagan created a bass line, and drummer Steven Adler planned a beat.  Within an hour, the melody Slash had been playing became a song.  Meanwhile, lead singer Axl Rose listened to the musicians downstairs and wrote lyrics to the tune, which he completed the following afternoon.  When it came time for the band's next composing session in Burbank, they had added a bridge and guitar solo to "Sweet Child O' Mine".

As the group was getting ready to record demos, producer Spencer Proffer suggested adding a breakdown at the end of the song.  The members of Guns N' Roses agreed, but weren't sure what to do.  They played the demo back, and Axl started asying to himself, "Where do we go?  Where do we go now? and Proffer suggested that he sing that.
"Sweet Child O' Mine" features one of the great guitar solos of the Rock Era.  The song went to #1 for two weeks in the U.S., and peaked at #4 in Ireland, #5 in New Zealand, #6 in the U.K., and #7 in Canada.
Unfortunately, only three other Top 500* songs were out at the same time, "Groovy Kind Of Love" by Phil Collins, "One More Try" by George Michael, and "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys.  That lack of strong competition keeps a ceiling on "Sweet Child O' Mine".  That can be fixed with a few more million in sales. 

"Sweet Child O' Mine" sold one million singles and helped sell 23 million albums.  It has not yet reached one million in radio airplay.



Dust In The Wind

"This is an awesome song."
"Great song!"
"I love this song so much."
"One of my favorites!"

After several incarnations as the band White Clover, this band finally formed as Kansas in 1972.  Their unique combination of guitars and strings with a progressive rock sound made them a force later in the decade.
The group recorded a demo in a recording studio in Liberal, Kansas and mailed to a friend on the East Coast of the United States with contacts in the record industry.  Several months later, while Kansas was playing a concert, Wally Gold of Kirshner Records called and wanted to see them play live.  Soon afterwards, Kansas signed a recording contract with Kirshner. 
Guitarist Kerry Livgren wrote this song after being inspired by a line he read in a book of Native American poetry--"For all we are is dust in the wind."  That got Livgren thinking, as we all should do, about the true value of material items and the meaning of success.  No matter our possessions or accomplishments, Livgren thought, we all end up back in the ground.
At the time, Kansas was under pressure from Kirshner Records for a follow-up to the group's first hit, "Carry On Wayward Son".  While Livgren was going through his acoustic guitar exercises, his wife suggested that writing lyrics to the patterns would give him his hit song.  He didn't think it was a Kansas-type song, but his wife encouraged him to give it a try, anyway.  "Several million records later, I guess she was right," Livgren told Songfacts
Kansas was nearly finished writing and rehearsing for their album Point of Know Return when producer Jeff Glixman asked if they had any more songs.  Livgren reluctantly played this song on acoustic guitar, insisting they wouldn't like it.  To his surprise, the other members of Kansas loved it and wanted to record it on the album.  The guitar track consists of two guitarists each playing six-string guitars in unison but tuned differently to produce a chimy sound.
"Dust In The Wind" peaked at #6 for 2 weeks, with 7 weeks in the Top 10--another song that on the surface, you wouldn't think would have the strength to make The Top 500*.  It also reached #6 on the Adult Contemporary chart in the United States and #3 in Canada.
When the song first hit the airwaves in January of 1978, it encountered some stiff competition, in fact some of the toughest of the Rock Era:  "How Deep Is Your Love", "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever" by the Bee Gees, "You Light Up My Life" from Debby Boone, Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street", "Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel, "Lay Down Sally" from Eric Clapton, "We Are The Champions" by Queen, "You Make Loving Fun" by Fleetwood Mac, "If I Can't Have You" by Yvonne Elliman, "Blue Bayou" by Linda Ronstadt, Andy Gibb's "Shadow Dancing", "Sometimes When We Touch" by Dan Hill, and "Baby Come Back" from Player.   
"Dust In The Wind" enabled Kansas to headline shows for the rest of the decade.  The single went Platinum, which meant two million in sales back then, helped sell eight million albums, and has registered three million radio airplays. 



Bad Moon Rising 
Creedence Clearwater Revival

"Classic from an incredible group."
"Love this song!"
"Still listening, still rocking, and still loving Creedence in 2015."
"Nothing can be more classic! can beat this tune! SIMPLY SUPERB!!!!!"
"Great sing-along song--one of my favs!"


Is this the happiest doomsday song ever recorded?

Not only were these guys one of the most talented acts in the world; they played what can only be described as perfect, never adding a note or drum beat that wasn't necessary.  They were there at the Newport 69 Festival in Northridge, California, playing to over 150,000 people.  They were there at Woodstock, although because of numerous delays and groups before them playing longer than scheduled, CCR was unfortunately buried in the early morning hours. 

They started out of Portola Junior High School in El Cerrito, California, and were known under various names, including Tommy Fogerty & the Blue Velvets and the Golliwogs.  They signed with local record company Fantasy Records, which relegated them to their subsidiary label Scorpio Records.  Lead singer John Fogerty and drummer Doug Clifford were both drafted for national service in the U.S. military. 

But this amazing group did not give up.  With Fogerty and Clifford back in the fold in 1967, the group sharpened their edge by rehearsing solid for six months.  They also chose a new name:  Creedence Clearwater Revival, Creedence being the name of a friend, Clearwater coming from a beer commercial, and Revival a state of intent, because they were determined to make it in the music business.  Did they ever.

John Fogerty wrote the song after watching the movie The Devil and Daniel Webster.  CCR recorded and released it as the first single from their album Green River.  The group released the song in April, 1969.   

As Thomas Ryan remarks in his book American Hit Radio, "'Bad Moon Rising' perfectly captures the fine line between exhilaration and fear".
"Bad Moon Rising" certainly faced a tough task getting to the top, encountering strong competition from "Get Back" by the Beatles, "Aquarius" by the 5th Dimension, "Honky Tonk Women" from the Rolling Stones, "In The Year 2525" by Zager & Evans, "Time Of The Season" by the Zombies, "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies, "The Boxer" by Simon & Garfunkel, "Get Together" by the Youngbloods, "Dizzy" from Tommy Roe, "Crystal Blue Persuasion" by Tommy James & the Shondells, "Everybody's Talkin'" by Nilsson, "In The Ghetto" by Elvis Presley, "My Cherie Amour" by Stevie Wonder, and "Sweet Caroline" by Neil Diamond.

Yet "Bad Moon Rising" still reached #2 in the U.S., and also hit #1 in the U.K. and Ireland, #3 in Australia, Norway and Sweden, and #8 in Germany and Austria, and #10 in the Netherlands.

"Bad Moon Rising" has sold over two million singles and helped sell over 14.5 million albums.  It has achieved two million airplays since 1969.


Olivia Newton-John

 "The world's most profoundly unique and gifted superstar celebrity...ONJ!"

"Sounds great.  Great tune!"

"One of my favorite songs."  (John Lennon)

"A song that will live forever."


For a while, this enterprising artist joined friend Pat Carroll to found the company Koala Blue.  The stores, which originally contained Australian imports, eventually became a chain of women’s clothing boutiques.  Koala Blue started out successful, but eventually folded.  Now, the name is licensed for a line of Australian wines, confections, and bed and bath products.

In 1980, Olivia Newton-John was coming off the blockbuster hit Grease.  She was thrilled when she was cast opposite the legendary Gene Kelly in Xanadu.  The movie bombed, but the soundtrack is fantastic, and Olivia had a big hand in it.  She collaborated with ELO and longtime friend Cliff Richard, and recorded this song solo.

John Farrar, Newton-John’s producer, wrote “Magic” for her.  The song debuted on the charts in May of 1980, a great time in music when listeners would also hear  "Lady" by Kenny Rogers", "Another One Bites The Dust" and "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" from Queen, "Another Brick In The Wall" by Pink Floyd, "It's Still Rock & Roll To Me" from Billy Joel, Blondie's "Call Me", "All Out Of Love" and "Lost In Love" by Air Supply, "Upside Down" by Diana Ross, "Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer" by Kenny Rogers & Kim Carnes, "Sailing" from Christopher Cross, and "Longer" by Dan Fogelberg.

“Magic” went to the top of the charts for four weeks, and was #1 for five weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart.  It gave Newton-John her third career #1 and spent nine weeks in the Top 10 in the U.S.  It also topped the Canadian chart and reached #4 in Australia and New Zealand.

“Magic” achieved one million in single sales and helped sell four million albums.  "Magic" has pulled one million radio airplays out of its hat thus far.


Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me
Mac Davis


"Love this song."
"Such a great song."

"One of my favorite songs."
"Awesome song!"
"Amazing.  Great music."

This artist paid his dues writing songs for other artists, including Elvis Presley, Kenny Rogers, and Bobby Goldsboro, before writing one for himself.
He started out with a rock band called Kotz as a college student in Atlanta, Georgia.  The group went nowhere, so Mac Davis quit to work as a regional promotion man for Vee Jay Records.  While at Vee Jay, Davis promoted artists such as the 4 Seasons and Gene Chandler, then obtained a similar job at Liberty Records.  
But since Mac was more interested in the songwriting end of the business, he was able to transfer the Liberty's publishing office in Hollywood, California.  Davis wrote "In The Ghetto" and "Don't Cry Daddy" for Presley, "Little Green Apples" for O.C. Smith, "Something's Burning" for Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, and "Watching Scotty Grow" for Goldsboro during this period. 
Davis became a popular guest star on television programs with Glen Campbell, Red Skelton and Johnny Cash.  In 1971, Davis opened for Nancy Sinatra in Las Vegas and did so well that he was signed to be a headliner.  Columbia Records signed him to a recording contract, and Davis hosted his own 90-minute late night television special on NBC.   

Davis released "Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me" as the title song from his 1972 album.  In July, competition included the Moody Blues' "Nights In White Satin", "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Roberta Flack, "Alone Again (Naturally)" by Gilbert O'Sullivan, "Lean On Me" from Bill Withers, the Eagles' "Take It Easy", "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash, "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder, "Saturday In The Park" by Chicago, and "Song Sung Blue" from Neil Diamond.
"Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me" reached #1 for 3 weeks with 9 weeks in the Top 10 in the U.S., and #2 in Canada.
The song went Gold and has posted two million radio airplays.


Can't Smile Without You
Barry Manilow

"Superb song."
"This is great music."
"I totally love this awesome song."
"Really beautiful music.  I am happy."
"Love this song."


This artist was voted best musician at Eastern District High School in Brooklyn.  After graduating from high school, Barry Manilow did many things, but one of them was working in the mailroom at CBS Television in Manhattan, New York, where he dropped off the daily mail to programming boss Fred Silverman.

Christian Arnold, David Martin and Geoff Morrow teamed up to write this song, which Manilow turned into a smash hit from his album Even Now.  The astute among you will remember the song originally done by the Carpenters in 1976—they featured it as the B-side to their hit “Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft” the following year.

Manilow changed the lyrics around for his version and released it as a single.  It made the charts in February, 1978, and went against great songs like "How Deep Is Your Love", "Stayin' Alive", and "Night Fever" by the Bee Gees, "You Light Up My Life" by Debby Boone, "Three Times A Lady" by the Commodores, "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty, "Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel, "We Are The Champions" by Queen, "Lay Down Sally" by Eric Clapton, "If I Can't Have You" by Yvonne Elliman, "Blue Bayou" from Linda Ronstadt, "Shadow Dancing" by Andy Gibb, "Sometimes When We Touch", and "Dust In The Wind" by Kansas.

Manilow made it to #3 for 3 weeks, with 10 weeks in the Top 10.  More important, it was #1 for two weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart. 

"Can't Smile Without You" quickly went Gold, and it has helped sell 9.5 albums in the U.S. alone for Manilow.  Further, the song's popularity is cemented by continued radio airplay, which has now topped the three-million mark.



Ain't No Mountain High Enough
Diana Ross

"It doesn't get any better than this."
"A perfect piece of music!"
"All-time classic no matter what genre you like."

Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson wrote this song for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, who had a hit with it in 1967.  Nick had the idea for the lyric when he first moved to New York City, and was determined that the Big Apple would not get the best of him.  The words "Ain't no mountain high enough" popped into his head, and he called Valerie to help him finish the song.

After leaving the Supremes, Diana Ross re-recorded this song for her debut solo album at the Hitsville USA Studios in Detroit, Michigan on March 13, 14 and 18th of 1970.  Berry Gordy, boss of Motown Records, assigned an outside producer, Bones Howe, to produce Diana's first album.  Howe had major credentials, having produced both "Aquarius" for the 5th Dimension and "Windy" for the Association.

But Howe was dropped from the project before he could complete it, and Ashford and Simpson were asked to produce the album.  The song here at #332* is one of the songs the pair brought to the project.  They came up with a brand new concept for the song, utilizing Diana's speaking voice.  The song features spoken lyrics from Ross that build to a thrilling climax that features Valerie's backing vocals.

Ross released "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" as a single in 1970, and it began its chart run in August.  While it was a current song, one could also hear "Close To You" and "We've Only Just Begun" by the Carpenters, "My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison, Santana's "Black Magic Woman", "Fire And Rain" by James Taylor, "Your Song" by Elton John, "I'll Be There" by the Jackson 5, "Knock Three Times" from Tony Orlando & Dawn, and Lynn Anderson's "Rose Garden".  That's a good group of songs, but not the high number of classics competing with songs that you'll see ranked higher.

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" did rise to the summit for 3 weeks, and scored 9 weeks in Top 10.  Add in the fact that it reached #1 on R&B chart, and #6 on Adult chart, and that equals a lot of listeners. 

The song won Grammy Awards for Best R&B Song and Best Jazz Fusion Performance, Vocal/Instrumental, and Ross was nominated for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.



Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)

"Sexy and soulful...amazing music."
"Beautiful for SO many reasons."
"Great Harmonies!"
"Makes the deepest most-loving part of my soul go back to a time when it all felt so real.... swaying to the soft beat and getting lost*."

The Temptations, known for their great R&B hits in their early years, recorded several "psychedelic soul" songs written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, such as "Runaway Child, Running Wild", "Psychedelic Shack", and "Ball Of Confusion".
Longtime fans of the group did not like the change, and demanded the Temptations return to their roots.  Whitfield obliged, writing this classic in 1969.  But since the psychedelic songs were working, "Just My Imagination" was put on the shelf for a while.  When a Temptations release stalled outside the Top 10, Whitfield decided the time was right to resurrect the song.  The Temptations recorded it for their 1971 album Sky's the Limit on Gordy Records.
Whitfield oversaw the recording of the instrumental track.  Along with Motown's studio group, the Funk Brothers, Jerry Long conducted members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra on horns and strings.  The members of the Temptations loved it.  They put the finishing touches on the song with their vocals on November 24, 1970 at Golden World Studios in Detroit, Michigan, with Eddie Kendricks singing lead. 
At the time, there was a bitter feud between Eddie and Otis Williams.  Kendricks was dissatisfied with Otis's leadership, and the two were not on speaking terms when the Temptations recorded "Just My Imagination".  Nevertheless, while the other members of the group left at six in the  morning, Kendricks remained hard at work for several hours recording takes for his lead vocal.  Kendricks left the group soon after for a solo career, and Paul Williams also left because of health reasons. Recording was completed on December 3 with overdubs.
The Temptations released the song as a single from their album Sky's the Limit, and it began attracting airplay almost immediately in February.
Other songs out at the time included "Joy To The World" by Three Dog Night, "It's Too Late" by Carole King, "My Sweet Lord" from George Harrison, "Your Song" by Elton John, "Me And Bobby McGee" by the late Janis Joplin, "Brown Sugar" by the Rolling Stones, "Knock Three Times" by Tony Orlando & Dawn, "Rose Garden" by Lynn Anderson, "Rainy Days And Mondays" and "For All We Know by the Carpenters, and "Indian Reservation" by Paul Revere & the Raiders.

"Just My Imagination" became the third Temptations song to go to #1.  It remained there for two weeks, and resided in the Top 10 for 9 weeks.  It also topped the R&B chart for three weeks.

"Just My Imagination" has exceeded two million airplays since 1970. 
We began The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era* on May 21, but we won't stop until we reach #1.  Stay tuned tomorrow for another great day of music!

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