Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #370-361

We are showcasing 10 classics per day in our special countdown in 2015 of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.  There have been some amazing songs already, but we're ready with 10 more:


The Devil Went Down To Georgia
Charlie Daniels Band

"I absolutely love this song.  The story-telling ability is incredible."

"Dynamite tune."

"Fantastic song."

"My all-time favorite song--a classic."

"One of the best songs ever."


The leader of this act at #370* worked as a session musician in Nashville, Tennessee, and played bass on three Bob Dylan albums in 1969 and 1970 and on recordings by Leonard Cohen.

Vasser Clements wrote the basic melody to this song an octave lower, a song called "Lonesome Fiddle Blues".  In 1979, the Charlie Daniels Band moved it up an octave and wrote the words to it.  They called it "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" and recorded it for their album Million Mile Reflections

The song tells the story of a fiddle player named Johnny, who is challenged by Satan to a fiddling contest.  If Johnny wins, he wins a fiddle of gold, but if the Devil wins, he takes Johnny's soul.  The song is included in the blockbuster movie Urban Cowboy.  "How fast can you dance it?" Daniels asked movie choreographer Patsy Swayze.  "How fast can you play it?" she replied.

The phrase "Fire on the mountain, run, boys, run" is from the traditional fiddle song "Fire On The Mountain".  "The devil's in the house of the rising sun" refers to "The House Of The Rising Sun", made popular by the Animals.  "Chicken in the bread pan pickin' out dough" is about a well-known square dance patter.   

Daniels played the fiddle solos for both the Devil and Johnny.  As Charlie says, "The Devil's just blowing smoke.  If you listen, there's just a bunch of noise.  There's no melody to it, nothing at all.  And of course, Johnny's saying "You can't beat the Devil without the Lord."    

The lyrics seem to have been inspired by the American Civil War poem The Mountain Whippoorwill by Stephen Vincent Benet, who won the 1929 Pulitzer Prize.  He wrote the poem after reading in the Literary Digest how a young Lowe Stokes had beaten the elder statesman of Georgia fiddlers, Fiddlin' John Carson, at the 1924 Atlanta Fiddlers' Convention. 

"The Devil Went Down To Georgia" picked up airplay in June, encountering competition from "My Sharona" by the Knack, "Heartache Tonight" by the Eagles, Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive", "Reunited" by Peaches & Herb, "She Believes In Me" and "You Decorated My Life" from Kenny Rogers", "Babe" by Styx, "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" by Michael Jackson, and "Still" by the Commodores.

The song still hit #3 for two weeks, was a #1 Country hit, and also received airplay on Adult Contemporary stations at #30.  "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" also rose to #1 in Canada.

The group's signature hit is not only a Platinum single, but has helped sell over 13 million albums in the United States alone.   "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" helped the group win the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and Country Music Association Awards for Single of the Year and Musician of the Year. 

Daniels was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in 2008 and the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2009.




Midnight Train To Georgia
Gladys Knight & the Pips

"What an incredible song."
"Sung with such a deep, soulful touch.  The Pips just make it better.  Love this song."
"Sweet soul music."
"Best song ever."
"Amazing!  Magnificent song."


When one thinks of actress Farrah Fawcett, thoughts don't often go to the Rock Era, but the origins of this classic can actually be traced to her.

In 1970, songwriter Jim Weatherly called Lee Majors, a friend of his who had just started dating Fawcett.  Weatherly and Majors had played college football and were in a flag football league together.  Fawcett answered the phone.  She said Lee wasn't home and that she was packing to take a midnight plane to Houston to visit her folks.  The line seemed like a great song, Weatherly thought to himself. 

If you're a songwriter, or really an artist of any kind, you have to strike when the inspiration is hot.  When Weatherly got off the phone, he grabbed his guitar and wrote "Midnight Plane To Houston" in about 45 minutes.  He was especially happy with the line 'I'd rather live in her world than live without her in mine".     

In 1971, Weatherly signed a contract with manager and publisher Larry Gordon, who encouraged Jim to record an album of his songs, that would improve his chances that other artists would record them.  He included "Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)" as well as "Midnight Plane To Houston".  Cissy Houston recorded the latter, but changed the title to "Midnight Train To Georgia". 

In 1973, Weatherly signed a contract with Buddah Records.  As fate would have it, Gladys Knight & the Pips, who didn't feel they were being promoted properly by Motown Records, signed with Buddah two weeks later.  Neil Bogart, then the head of Buddah, called Weatherly and asked if he would produce them.       

When Jim Weatherly's song "Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye") began climbing the charts for Gladys Knight & the Pips in 1973, Knight asked Weatherly if he had another love song the group could do.  Weatherly gave her "Midnight Train To Georgia". 
Knight wanted to change some of the lyrics to the song, such as "So he's leaving a life he's come to know" instead of "we've come to know".  To Weatherly's credit, he allowed Gladys & the Pips artistic freedom with the song.  Producer Tony Camillo recorded the backing tracks at Venture Sound Studios in Hillsborough, New Jersey.  Camillo brought in Randy Brecker and Alan Rubin on trumpet, Michel Brecker and Lewis Del Gatto on saxophone, and Meco Monardo and Dave Taylor on trombone, which really spiced up the song.  Monardo would score a #1 hit of his own later in the decade with the "Star Wars" theme.  

When the rhythm and horn tracks were mixed, Camillo took the tape to the group in Detroit, Michigan.  Knight's brother, Merald "Bubba" Knight, wanted Gladys to record some ad-libs in the song.  "Gladys," he said, "the song is begging for it."  

But when Knight got to the ad-lib section, she couldn't come up with anything.  So Bubba went into the booth and fed the words to her on her headset.  On the next take, Bubba fed her the lines--"Gonna' board, gotta' board, the midnight train" and "My world, his world, our world" and "I've got to go, I've got to go", etc.   

This was indeed the magic touch that the song needed, and probably is the difference between being a big hit and one of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.  The group included it on their 1973 album Imagination.   

All it did beginning in September was go to #1 for two weeks, racking up eight weeks in the Top 10, go to #1 for four weeks on the R&B chart, and reach #19 on the Adult chart. 

And "Midnight Train" did this against classics like "The Way We Were" by Barbra Streisand, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" by Elton John, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" by Jim Croce, "The Most Beautiful Girl" by Charlie Rich, "Sunshine On My Shoulders" by John Denver, "Love's Theme" by the Love Unlimited Orchestra, "Live And Let Die" by Paul McCartney & Wings, "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye, "Seasons In The Sun" by Terry Jacks, "Time In A Bottle" by Jim Croce, and "The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band. 

Gladys Knight & the Pips won a Grammy For Best R & B Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus and and American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Single, and they have since been honored with a SoulTrain Heritage Award for Career Achievement.  In 1999, "Midnight Train To Georgia" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.


Help Me Rhonda
Beach Boys

"Great song!"

"Best song in the world."

"A total classic--timeless."

"Doesn't get any better than this."

"The original rebound song."


Is there a real Rhonda?  Mike Love of the Beach Boys says there isn't, but adds "There are a lot of girls named Rhonda out there who have gotten remarks related to that song all their lives."

This classic was originally released as "Help Me, Ronda" in 1965 on the album Beach Boys Today!  An alternate take was pressed for the single release, titled "Help Me Rhonda", and released on the album Summer Days (And Summer Nights!) later in the year.

"Help Me Rhonda" was the first single to feature Al Jardine on lead vocal.  The group recorded the song at United Western Recorders in Hollywood, California on January 8 and 19, with Chuck Britz engineering and Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys producing.  Glen Campbell played guitar, Carole Kaye played bass, Hal Blaine was on drums, and Daryl Dragon, later of the Captain & Tennille fame, played organ.

As Wilson explained to Goldmine magazine: 


We did two versions of "Help Me Rhonda".  We did one with the ukulele and we did one with guitars.  We chose to use the guitar version.  I heard myself singing lead on it originally and then I turned it over to Al.  I produced the Beach Boys so I decided who would sing lead.  I just had a sixth sense about who should sing what songs. 


Jardine was actually going to quit the group after recording the album Surfin'.  He had a big career planned for himself as a dentist, and being in a rock & roll group that was probably going to break up after a few months was diverting him from his career.  But when "Surfin' U.S.A." became a Top 3 single, Brian called Jardine and asked if he would like to tour with the group.  Jardine returned from his dental studies on the East Coast and rejoined the group permanently.
"Help Me Rhonda" picked up popularity in April, when other songs out at the same time included "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones, "Eight Days A Week" and "Ticket To Ride" by the Beatles, "I Can't Help Myself" by the Four Tops, "Mr. Tambourine Man" by the Byrds, the Beach Boys' own "California Girls", "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers, "I Got You Babe" by Sonny & Cher, "Stop!  In The Name Of Love" by the Supremes and "Crying In The Chapel" by Elvis Presley.

"Help Me Rhonda" gave the group their second #1 song after "I Get Around" the year before.  It stayed there for two weeks.  "Help Me Rhonda" helped the Beach Boys sell over 12 million albums in the U.S. alone.  It has been played over two million times.


If I Can't Have You
Yvonne Elliman

"Disco classic!"
"Beautiful song!"
"So awesome."
"One of the greatest songs of all-time".


Yvonne Elliman scored her first big hit in 1976 ("Love Me") with the help of producer Freddie Perren, who also produced "Boogie Fever" of the Sylvers and collaborated with Gloria Gaynor on the anthem "I Will Survive".  Barry Gibb wrote "Love Me", and since that ballad launched Elliman's career, the original intention was that Yvonne's contribution to the "Saturday Night Fever" Soundtrack would be another ballad written by Barry and his brothers, Maurice and Robin, called "How Deep Is Your Love".  The Bee Gees recorded "If I Can't Have You" for the film. 
However, Robert Stigwood, manager of the Bee Gees and chairman of RSO Records, who was the executive producer of Saturday Night Fever, decided that the Bee Gees should record the ballad and Elliman should record "If I Can't Have You".  Interesting how fate works.  Both songs happen to be in The Top 500*.
Elliman set about recording the song, which she did at Le Chateau in Horouville, France in January and February of 1977, and the song was completed in September at Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles.  Dee Murray, bassist with Elton John for many years, played on the track.
By the time the new year rolled around, Yvonne was a big part of it.  "If I Can't Have You" quickly climbed the charts, despite facing great songs like the three Bee Gees tunes--"How Deep Is Your Love", "Stayin' Alive" and "Night Fever", Debby Boone's "You Light Up My Life", "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty, "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, "Shadow Dancing" by Andy Gibb, "Blue Bayou" by Linda Ronstadt, and "Dust In The Wind" by Kansas.

There aren't a lot of songs from the Rock Era that could crack the Top 10 against that lineup.  Incredibly, "If I Can't Have You" became the fourth #1 song from the "Saturday Night Fever" Soundtrack, allowing it to eclipse the mark of three set by the Beatles for the "Magical Mystery Tour" Soundtrack.  That is still an all-time record for #1's from a soundtrack album.
"If I Can't Have You" put together 10 solid weeks in the Top 10 and also peaked at #9 on the Adult Contemporary chart in the U.S., and went to #1 in Australia and Canada, #4 in the U.K., #5 in France and #6 in New Zealand.
Elliman's smash sold over one million copies and of course was a big reason why the album sold 15 million in the U.S. alone and won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.  "If I Can't Have You" has been played over three million times since 1978.



Rock Your Baby
George McCrae

"Love the song and the memories..."

"This is one smooth jam."

"An all-time great."

"Superior groove."

"To anyone who lived when this song came out, I'm jealous."

Before this artist landed an international smash, he had pretty much given up on music.  His wife Gwen was an aspiring singer, and George McCrae had not enjoyed much success.  He decided to study criminal justice and focus on Gwen's music career, but after two years, decided he would give music one more try.
Prior to their days as KC and the Sunshine Band, Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch worked at T.K. Records.  They had written songs for other artists at T.K., but wanted to write one for themselves.  However, the vocals were way to high for Casey to sing.  According to Fred Bronson of Billboard, they had two male singers in mind--George McCrae and Jimmy Horne.  When McCrae came into the studio the next day, he gave it a shot.  In just two takes, Mc Crae hit the high notes perfectly.
The single was released in 1974, and was on the radio the same time as "Bennie And The Jets" and "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" by Elton John, "I Honestly Love You" by Olivia Newton-John, "Annie's Song" by John Denver, "Band On The Run" by Paul McCartney & Wings, and "The Loco-Motion" by Grand Funk.

The song reached #1 for two weeks overall and topped the R&B chart in the United States and presided at #1 for three weeks in the U.K.  It also went to #1 in Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.

"Rock Your Baby" is one of 40 songs that have sold over ten million copies worldwide (two million in the U.S.).  The song has been played over one million times.


Band On The Run
 McCartney & Wings

"Love this song so much."
"High quality chords and lyrics."
"One of McCartney's best...just a classic song."


For their 1973 album, Paul McCartney wanted to take his group to Lagos, Nigeria so they could record the album "in a tropical setting".  However, Paul ended up playing most of the instruments himself, since guitarist Henry McCullough quit the group a few weeks before the trip, and an hour before the flight was due to take off, drummer Denny Seiwell quit as well. 
McCartney combined a medley of song fragments that vary in style from folk to funk to make this one.   "Band On The Run" is a three-part medley, with the first section being a slow ballad, the second featuring a funk rock style, and the song finishing in a country-type section.  In that sense, it comes as close to classical music, with its different segments of varying tempos, moods and key changes, as nearly any song in the Rock Era.  McCartney did a lot of this with the Beatles on their albums Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road, since it was a way to use unfinished songs.  The song "A Day In The Life", which we have already heard in The Top 500*, is an example of two Beatles songs combined to make one.

McCartney was inspired by a comment that fellow Beatle George Harrison had made during a meeting of the Beatles' Apple Records.  During the meeting, Harrison said "If we ever get out of here..."  As McCartney said, "He was saying that we were all prisoners in some way [due to the ongoing problems with their company Apple … I thought it would be a nice way to start an album."   
The theme of freedom and escape coincided with Harrison, John Lennon and Ringo Starr firing manager Allen Klein in March, 1973, which led to improved relations between McCartney and his former bandmates.  The hiring of Klein by the other Beatles, which McCartney had objected to, was one of the final straws in the breakup of the band.

Paul McCartney noted the notorious drug busts of musicians of the late 1960s and early 1970s were also used as the theme of the song, which references a "desperado" image he attributed to bands like the Eagles and the Byrds.  McCartney, who had been having legal trouble involving pot possession, said,
We were being outlawed for pot ... And our [Wings'] argument on ['Band on the Run'] was 'Don't put us on the wrong side ... We're not criminals, we don't want to be. So I just made up a story about people breaking out of prison.
Demos for this song and others on the album were stolen at knifepoint shortly after Wings arrived in Lagos to begin recording the album.  So much for "tropical location", right?  So the lyrics for "Band On The Run" had to be reconstructed from memory, and were changed to reflect the group's current status--"stuck inside the four walls of the small, cell-like studio".  McCartney, his wife Linda, and bassist Denny Laine recorded "Band On The Run" at EMI's studios in Lagos, then completed it with overdubs at AIR Studios in London.  McCartney also invited former Cream member Ginger Baker to play percussion on the song.
"Band On The Run" is the title song from the 1973 album by Paul McCartney and Wings.  The song was released as the second single from the album after "Jet" paved the way.
The song picked up airplay in April going head-to-head against songs such as "Bennie And The Jets" and "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" from Elton John, Olivia Newton-John's "I Honestly Love You", "The Way We Were" by Barbra Streisand, "Sunshine On My Shoulders" by John Denver, "Love's Theme" from the Love Unlimited Orchestra, "Annie's Song" by John Denver, "Seasons In The Sun" by Terry Jacks, "Piano Man" by Billy Joel, and "Rock Your Baby" by George McCrae. 
"Band On The Run" went against that competition and rose to #1.  It also reached #1 in Canada, #3 in the U.K., and #7 in the Netherlands.  Wings won Grammys for Best Engineered Recording, Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus, and for Best Historical Album (several years later), .
"Band On The Run" sold over one million copies and helped Wings sell over eight million albums.



My Girl

"Awesome.  Back in the day and now."

"'My Girl' is a classic!"

"Adore it!"

"I love this song so much."

"The guitar riff is perfect."

This classic was written and produced by Smokey Robinson and Ronald White; Robinson also penned the #1 "My Guy" for Mary Wells in 1964. 
"My Girl" was the first Temps single to feature David Ruffin on lead.  Previously, Eddie Kendricks and Paul Williams carried the load, and Ruffin had joined the group in place of Elbridge Bryant.  While the Temptations toured as part of the Motortown Revue, Robinson heard the Temptations segment of the show.  Smokey was impressed with Ruffin when he heard David sing solo on a cover of the Drifters' "Under The Boardwalk", and wanted to write a song with Ruffin singing lead. 
Robinson saw Ruffin as a "sleeping giant" in the group with a unique voice.  He felt that if he could come up with the right song for David's voice, he would have a smash hit.  Specifically, Robinson was looking for something that Ruffin could "belt out" yet something that was also "melodic and sweet".  
Robinson wrote the song in the Apollo Theater in New York City during the tour.  He was working on a song on a piano at the theater when White came over and helped him out.  When the Temptations heard it, they convinced Robinson to let them record it instead of Smokey's group, the Miracles.  Robinson, who was Berry Gordy's "go to guy" at Motown, agreed, and when they returned to Detroit, Robinson and White produced the session.
"My Girl" was the song that not only Robinson but that the Temptations had been looking for, for it became their first career #1 song.  The track was recorded in Studio A of the Hitsville USA Studios in Detroit, Michigan on September 25, November 10, and November 17 of 1964.  The Temptations came up with their own trademark background vocals, and White played the signature guitar riff at the beginning of the song and underneath the versed.  The group included the song on their album The Temptations Sing Smokey.
The Temptations released "My Girl" as a single on Gordy Records, and it went all the way to the top.  "My Girl" amassed eight weeks in the Top 10, and presided at #1 for six weeks on the R&B chart.  A look at the song's competition at the time makes the achievement all the more impressive:
"You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers, "I Feel Fine" and "Eight Days A Week" by the Beatles, "Downtown" by Petula Clark, and "Stop!  In The Name Of Love" and "Come See About Me" by the Supremes were all vying for airplay and sales at the same time as "My Girl". 
Yet "My Girl" went Platinum, which in those days meant two million singles sold, and helped sell over eight million albums in the U.S. 



Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough
Michael Jackson


"Love this song.  This is my jam."

"Love this song a lot!"

"One of the greatest tunes of all-time."

"La classe."


In 1978, Michael Jackson decided to make the move to split from his brothers and record solo exclusively.  Jackson starred in the movie The Wiz, playing the Scarecrow opposite Diana Ross' Dorothy.  After completion, Jackson approached the film's musical director, Quincy Jones, and asked if he knew of any producers he could work with for a solo album.  Jones was intrigued, and took on the project himself.  Together, the two began working on the album Off the Wall
Jackson told Dick Clark how "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" came to be,


I just came up with the melody.  It's about forces and the power of love.  I started singing it around the house and kept singing it.  I went into a 24-track studio we have at home.  I told (younger brother) Randy what to play on piano.  I did percussion and piano, and when I played it for Quincy, he loved it.

"Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" became the first single from the album on Epic Records.  The song features a six-piece horn section  (2 trumpets, alto sax, tenor sax, trombone, and baritone sax).  Louis Johnson of the Brothers Johnson played bass.  "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" was the first solo release for which Jackson had creative control, and it was also Jackson's first release away from Motown.  He released the song July 10.  

Although no one at the time of course could pretend to know what was in store for MJ, we can now look back and realize that the album Off the Wall launched Jackson as a superstar solo performer, and opened the door to incredible success in the years that followed.  James Montgomery of MTV  said that "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough", along with Off the Wall's other three singles, "showcased (or, more specifically, unleashed) Jackson's talents as a (sic) entertainer, a vocalist, a writer and, most importantly, as a leading man." 

"Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" encountered competition from his own "Rock With You", "My Sharona" by the Knack, "Heartache Tonight" by the Eagles, "Coward Of The County", "You Decorated My Life", and "She Believes In Me" by Kenny Rogers, "Reunited" by Peaches & Herb, "Babe" By Styx, Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff", "Still" by the Commodores, and "The Devil Went Down To Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band.

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" went to #1 in the United States and was also #1 on the R&B chart for 5 weeks.  It also landed at #1 in Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, and Norway, and #2 in Sweden and the Netherlands, #3 in the U.K. and Canada, #4 in Switzerland, and #10 in Ireland.  

The song went Platinum (which was awarded for a two-million seller back then), and has contributed to 24 million in album sales in the U.S. alone (9 million for Off the Wall).  "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance Male, and Jackson won American Music Awards for Favorite Male Soul Artist, Favorite Soul Single and Favorite Soul Album and Billboard Awards for Top Black Artist and Top Black Album.


You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
Stevie Wonder

"Always loved this.  What a masterpiece."
"Classic song."
"Beautiful classic song about love."
"Beautiful...simply beautiful."
"Great song!"


Stevie Wonder wrote this song for Syreeta Wright, the woman who he married in 1970.  Wright, also a teacher of transcendental meditation, was instrumental in encouraging Stevie's spiritual growth.  Wonder recorded "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" impromptu at Electric Lady Studios in New York City, which he would keep booked while he was in the area.  Wright began working as a secretary at Motown Records, and co-wrote "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours".  Wonder subsequently produced Syreeta's first two albums in 1972 and 1974.

Wonder's band included David Sanborn on horns and Ray Parker, Jr. on guitar--Ray would go on to found the group Raydio and enjoy solo success in the 1980's.  The first vocalist we hear is Jim Gilstrap, and the female singer who follows is Gloria Barley.  Stevie is the third vocalist heard on the song. 

"You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" was nominated for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards.

Competition at the time included "Crocodile Rock" and "Daniel" by Elton John, "Killing Me Softly With His Song" by Roberta Flack, "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" by Vicki Lawrence, "Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round The Ole Oak Tree" by Tony Orlando & Dawn, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" by Jim Croce, "My Love" by Paul McCartney & Wings, Paul Simon's "Kodachrome", and "You're So Vain" by Carly Simon. 
"You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" went to #1 overall, #1 for two weeks on the Adult chart, and #3 on the R&B chart.  That is exposure to a wide diversity of music fans, and success at all three levels of the most popular radio formats in the U.S. 

"You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" has sold an estimated two million singles and helped sell 11.5 million albums in the U.S.  Wonder won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male.  He has also received the Billboard Century Award, the World Music Legend Award and the Soul Train Heritage Award for Career Achievement.


Hoplelessly Devoted To You
Olivia Newton-John


"Beautiful song. Beautiful film."

"GREAT Song."

"One of my favorites."

"This song is so beautiful, an incredible vocal performance from Olivia."


Twenty-one songs from the great year of 1978 are included amongst the all-time best for the last 60 years.  Here's one of them...
This superstar once had a 13-week guest residency on Cliff Richar'ds show, "It's Cliff Richard" on BBC-TV.  Her first big hit was a cover of Bob Dylan's song "It's Not For You" in 1971.  She built a career by performing everything from Country to Adult Contemporary to Rock.

In 1978, Olivia Newton-John landed a role opposite John Travolta in the movie version of the popular Broadway musical, Grease.  Travolta was about the hottest thing on the planet after his landmark performance in the movie Saturday Night Fever the year before.
But halfway through filming, a solo promised to Newton-John in the movie was yet to be written.  John Farrar, Olivia's producer, wrote the song and submitted it to the movie's production team for approval.  Shooting and recording took place after the rest of the film was finished. 
"Hopelessly Devoted To You" was released as a single in June, and began picking up radio stations galore in July.  During its chart run, it was played alongside great songs such as "Three Times A Lady" by the Commodores, "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty, "More Than A Woman" and "Too Much Heaven" by the Bee Gees, "My Life" by Billy Joel, "Shadow Dancing" from Andy Gibb, "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond, "Kiss You All Over" by Exile, and "Le Freak" by Chic.
Newton-John still took 'Hopelessly Devoted To You" to #3 for two weeks, with eight weeks in the Top 10 in the U.S.  With "Summer Nights" (her duet with John Travolta from the movie) also in the Top 5 at the time, Olivia became the second woman (after Linda Ronstadt) to score two simultaneous Top 5 songs.  "Hopelessly Devoted To you" also landed at #7 on the Adult Contemporary chart and achieved significant airplay among Country radio stations.  The song also went to #1 in Canada and Ireland, #2 in the U.K. and Australia, and #6 in New Zealand.
"Hopelessly Devoted To You" was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards.  The single went Gold and helped sell 10 million albums, and the song has topped two million in radio airplay.  Olivia also won a Favorite Film Actress award from People's Choice, and she was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical at the Golden Globe Awards.

With those 10 songs, we must wrap up today's segment.  Leaves you hungry for more, huh?  Be sure to catch the next 10 tomorrow on Inside The Rock Era!

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