Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #380-371

Paraphrasing one of the songs in this segment, "You picked a fine time to find us".  We are presenting the brand new, updated for 2015 signature special of Inside The Rock Era.  We began on May 21, so if you haven't already heard those songs, go back and do that first.  You can find handy Checklists* throughout the special, or you can easily find links to the first few segments on the left-hand side of the website.

We are saluting the big 60th birthday of the Rock Era, timing The Top 500 Songs* to conclude on July 9.  That just happens to be 60 years to the day that "Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley & the Comets hit #1.  It was the first rock & roll song to reach #1, ushering in what we have come to know as the Rock Era.

380 more songs to go until we reach the summit!



 Usher Featuring Lil Jon & Ludacris

"Best song ever made!"
"This song is awesome."
"Love this song."

Here's one of 17 songs that the state of Texas has contributed to the all-time Top 500* for the last 60 years.
It took an entire songwriting stable to come up with this song.  Usher, Lil' Jon, Sean Garrett, Patrick J. Que Smith, Ludacris, Robert McDowell and LRoc all combined for "Yeah". 
Usher recorded it on his outstanding and very personal album Confessions.  It hit the airwaves in January of 2004.

While Usher recorded a great album, few others at the time did, and his songs "Burn" and "My Boo" (with Alicia Keys) were the only other Top 500* songs to compete with. 

"Yeah" ruled the ruled the charts for 12 weeks before Usher became one of the few artists of the Rock Era to replace themselves at #1 with the follow-up "Burn".  "Yeah!" remained a fixture on radio station playlists with 24 weeks in the Top 10.  You'll notice that number is considerably more than most songs in the Top 500*.  This is because of less competition--less songs competing for spots in the Top 10, more weeks piled up by the songs that get there.  Usher also topped the R&B chart for 9 weeks. 

"Yeah" reached #1 in the U.K., Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and Switzerland, and made it to #2 in Hungary and #4 in Sweden.

Usher was nominated for Artist of the Year at the Grammy Awards, where he won for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Best Contemporary R & B Album.  The song also won a BMI Award for Pop Songwriter of the Year (for Lil Jon), and American Music Awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Album, Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist, Favorite Soul/R & B Album and Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist.
"Yeah" sold 2 million singles and helped sell 10 million copies of Confessions.



Samantha Sang
 "Love this song!"

"This song is so well done."

"Awesome tune."


"Tight song."


This artist, who enjoyed her only big hit with this song, made her radio debut at the age of eight.  Shortly after her 15th birthday, she left her homeland of Australia for London, where she performed at leading venues with artists such as the Bee Gees, the Hollies and Herman's Hermits.
We go back to 1978, one of the magical times of the Rock Era, in which the Bee Gees came closer than anyone else to the Beatles' record of owning each of the Top 5 songs, which they did in April of 1964. 
The Brothers Gibb achieved their feat in March.  They didn't monopolize the charts with each of the Top 5 songs like the Beatles did, but they wrote five of the Top 10.  The Bee Gees not only had #1 ("Night Fever") and #2 ("Stayin' Alive"), but they also wrote previous #1 "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water" for brother Andy Gibb, future #1 "If I Can't Have You" for Yvonne Elliman, and this smash for fellow Australian Samantha Sang as well.  
The Bee Gees recorded their version of the song in 1994 that was later included on their 2001 compilation Their Greatest Hits:  The Record.   
Sang first met Barry Gibb in 1969 when he wrote and produced the single "The Love Of A Woman" for her.  They reunited in Paris, France in 1977 and Samantha asked Barry for another song.  He gave her the choice of "Emotion" or "Our Love (Don't Throw It All Away)".  Sang recorded "Emotion" in April, 1977 at Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida, and younger brother Andy Gibb recorded the latter. 
"Emotion" peaked at #3 in that competitive time of the Rock Era, and racked up 10 weeks in the Top 10.  Besides the aforementioned songs, "Emotion" competed with "How Deep Is Your Love" from the Bee Gees, "You Light Up My Life" from Debby Boone, "Don't Stop" and "You Make Loving Fun", by Fleetwood Mac, "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty, "Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel, "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" by Andy Gibb, "We Are The Champions" by Queen, Linda Ronstadt's "Blue Bayou", and "Lay Down Sally" by Eric Clapton.    
"Emotion" sold over two million singles, and has been played over four million times to date.


I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues
Elton John

"This song is just awesome."
"Beautiful song."
"What incredible talent!"
"Amazing song."

This superstar won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music when he was just 11 years old, then joined the R&B group Bluesology shortly afterwards.  Although he had paid his considerable dues, working his fingers to the bone for little pay in writing songs that other artists recorded, he was hailed as an "overnight sensation" in 1969.  He personified the '70s, with its glitter and flamboyance, but make no mistake about it, Elton John's music has stood and will stand the test of time.
Inside The Rock Era recently named Elton as The #1 Artist of the Seventies*, and it wasn't close.   

This song was a comeback for Elton John and Bernie Taupin after a break of a few years.  Elton's 17th studio release, Too Low for Zero, was the first album written entirely with Taupin since Blue Moves in 1976.  EJ also reunited with members of his longtime band:  bassist Dee Murray, drummer Nigel Olsson, lead guitarist Davey Johnstone and percussionist Ray Cooper.  Johnstone helped Elton with the music, while Taupin penned the lyrics to this song.
Taupin wrote the words as a love letter to his wife, Toni Russo, who is the sister of actress Rene Russo.  Said Taupin:

I wrote this in Montserrat, an island that, tragically, no longer exists.  Basically, it's a letter home with a small tip included about making the most of time, not wishing it away just because you can't be with the one you love.  Time is precious; read books, paint a picture, bake a cake.  Just don't wallow, don't be content.

The reunited team that made for a Midas Touch in the 70's summoned more magic in the studio.  They recorded "I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues" in 1982 at AIR Studios in Montserrat.  Stevie Wonder played harmonica on the track.
The song debuted on the charts in October of 1983, going against others such as "Every Breath You Take" by the Police, "Thriller" from Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie's "Hello" and "All Night Long", "Tell Her About It" and "Uptown Girl" by Billy Joel, "Islands In The Stream" by Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton, "Jump" by Van Halen, "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins, "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" by Bonnie Tyler, and "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins.
"I Guess That's Why They Called It The Blues" went to #4 overall in the U.S., but rang up three weeks at #2 on the all-important Adult chart.  It peaked at #5 in the U.K.  The song has helped sell over 11 million albums and has now topped four million in radio airplay.    



I'm Sorry 
John Denver


"This song always brings a tear to my eye.  Beautiful words."
"Outrageous song."
"Just great!"
"Denver's songs send shivers down my spine now that he isn't here anymore.  The world misses him."
"Seriously one of the best songs I've ever heard."

Here's one of 15 songs from 1975 to qualify for The Top 500*.

A former Red Raider from Texas Tech, this artist became one of the most beloved of all-time.  And it's no wonder--at the peak of his popularity, John Denver's fans were said to range in age from 3 to 99.  With three #1 singles in 1975, the magazine Newsweek proclaimed him as "the most popular singer in America". 
Denver parlayed his time studying architecture at Texas Tech into a job as a draftsman in Los Angeles, all the while trying to break into the music business.  He got that chance when Leadbetter's nightclub, a folk music center near UCLA, hired him as a regular performer.  In 1966, there was an opening in the folk group the Chad Mitchell Trio.  Approximately 300 musicians applied, but Denver was selected to replace founder Chad Mitchell.
In 1975, John Denver achieved one of The Top Double-Sided Hits of the Rock Era*.  "Calypso" remains one of The Top #2 Songs of the Rock Era*, while "I'm Sorry" gains inclusion into the coveted Top 500 Songs Club*.  Denver included both on his great album Windsong, the title of which John used to name his new record label in 1975.
By the summer, "I'm Sorry" was saturating U.S. radio markets.  "I'm Sorry" achieved a rare Triple #1 (#1 Popular or overall, #1 Adult, and #1 Country) against competition that included "Lyin' Eyes", "Take It To The Limit", and "One Of These Nights" by the Eagles, "Island Girl" by Elton John, "Love Will Keep Us Together" by the Captain & Tennille, Barry Manilow's "I Write The Songs", "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Jive Talkin'" by the Bee Gees, and "Theme From 'Mahogany'" by Diana Ross. 
"I'm Sorry" went Gold, helped sell over 4.5 million albums, and has been played over two million times since 1975.



Lookin' Out My Back Door
Creedence Clearwater Revival

"The best of the best."
"The happiest song of all-time."
"One of the greats."
"This is what music is all about."

This band may have come out of the San Francisco Bay Area, but their music and lyrics sounded as if they were from New Orleans.  They were first known as Tommy Fogerty and the Blue Velvets, then became the Golliwogs.  They evolved their sound, mixing rhythm and blues with Cajun rhythms, and, after a final name change to Creedence Clearwater Revival, were ready to conquer the world. 

At the time this song came out, Creedence was red-hot, having churned out 13 hits in about a year-and-a-half.  After touring throughout Europe in 1970, they returned to their studio in San Francisco, California to begin work on their fifth album. 

John Fogerty wrote "Lookin' Out My Back Door".  The lyrics that refer to "a parade passing by" were inspired by a book by Dr. Seuss that Fogerty had read as a kid called To Think (That) I Saw It On Mulberry Street

The album Cosmo's Factory is widely considered to be CCR's finest moment.  The name is the result of an inside joke made by Doug Clifford, who said that working with Fogerty "was like working at a factory", after the strict work ethic the group went through.   "Cosmo" was Clifford's nickname given to him because he was fascinated with cosmic things. 
"Lookin' Out My Back Door" picked up airplay in August of 1970.  It is one of six CCR songs to peak at #2; it also registered seven weeks in the Top 10 during a relatively competitive time of the Rock Era.  The song was out the same time as "Close To You" and "We've Only Just Begun" by the Carpenters, James Taylor's "Fire And Rain", "I'll Be There" by the Jackson 5, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Diana Ross, "War" by Edwin Starr, and "All Right Now" by Free. 
"Lookin' Out My Back Door" posted single sales of two million, and helped sell 12.5 million albums for Creedence.  To date, it has been played over two million times in the U.S. alone.



Island Girl
Elton John

"One of his best songs."
"Fantastic song."
"Awesome song."
"Superb!  Great voice and great music."
 "One of my favorites--always loved this song."

From 1972 to 1976, Elton John was as hot as nearly any artist has been in a five-year period in the history of Rock Era.  An incredible 14 of his 16 releases in that time reached the Top 10, with 11 of those going to the Top 5 and six hitting #1. 
Early in 1975, Elton made history when his autobiographical album, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, became the first album of the Rock Era to debut at #1.  Nowadays, it's common because there is little competition.  Back in 1975, it was a big deal.  Five months later, EJ repeated the achievement with his album Rock of the Westies.
The latter featured a lineup of musicians different than Elton's fans were used to.  He had fired both long-time drummer Nigel Olsson and bassist Dee Murray in April.  John replaced them with drummer Roger Pope, who had played on three previous EJ albums, and bassist Kenny Passarelli, who had previously played for Stephen Stills.  Elton also hired keyboardist James Newton-Howard and guitarist Caleb Quaye, another musician who had played on early Elton John albums. 
Elton's concerts were still high in demand.  His 15 shows that year drew over 250,000 people, then he played before 110,000 people in two shows at Dodger Stadium.  Those two shows in Los Angeles were the first time that the venue had allowed rock concerts since the Beatles played there in 1966.
"Island Girl" debuted in October, 1975, a time from which we also heard "Lyin' Eyes" and "Take It To The Limit" by the Eagles, "I'm Sorry" by John Denver, "I Write The Songs" by Barry Manilow, "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Theme From 'Mahogany'" by Diana Ross, and "Rhinestone Cowboy" by Glen Campbell.
"Island Girl" knocked "Bad Blood" out of the #1 position, a song which Elton sang with Neil Sedaka, and stayed there for three weeks.  It peaked at #4 in Canada and New Zealand.  "Island Girl" sold over two million singles and helped sell 13 million albums.  It has now topped three million in radio airplay.



Nobody Does It Better
Carly Simon

"Love this song!"
"Carly is out of this world!"
"My favorite James Bond theme song."
"Fantastic performance--amazing."

This daughter of Richard Simon, co-founder of Simon & Schuster publishers, tried another part of the arts, and became one of the most successful female artists of all-time.  After being spotted at The Bitter End, the historic nightclub in New York City's Greenwich Village, Carly Simon and sister Lucy signed a recording contract with Kapp Records.
But the Simon Sisters split when Lucy got married.  Carly then met Albert Grossman, who was Bob Dylan's manager.  Carly signed a management deal with Grossman, but the arrangement blew up when Grossman told Carly he wanted to promote her as "a female Dylan".  After many years of singing jingles for radio commercials, Carly was rediscovered in 1969 by Jac Holtzman, boss of Elektra Records. 
 This time, everything clicked, and things began happening for Carly.  She scored the #1 smash "You're So Vain" in 1972 among five big hits, and was called upon in 1977 to sing a song on an upcoming James Bond movie.
Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager wrote this next song, but they didn't write it for a movie.  Producer Richard Perry convinced the pair to submit the song for his project The Spy Who Loved Me, the newest movie in the James Bond saga.  It was the first James Bond theme song to be titled something other than the title of the movie since Dr. No in 1962.  Hamlisch and Bayer Sager reworked the lyrics to include the movie title.
"Nobody Does It Better" was released as a single in August of 1977, and competed for airplay against "How Deep Is Your Love" and "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees, "You Light Up My Life" from Debby Boone, "Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel, "Dreams" "You Make Lovin' Fun" and "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac, "Sir Duke" by Stevie Wonder, "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" by Andy Gibb, "We Are The Champions" by Queen, and "Blue Bayou" by Linda Ronstadt.

"Nobody Does It Better" went to #2 for three weeks overall, including piling up 8 weeks in the Top 10, and dominated the Adult chart at #1 for 7 weeks.  It also placed at #1 in Canada and #7 in the U.K.
The single was certified Gold, and the song has now been played over three million times.  In 2004, "Nobody Does It Better" was selected as the 67th-greatest song as part of the 100 Songs 100 Years Series by the American Film Institute.




I Can't Tell You Why

"Such a great song."
"Best song ever."
"Love it!"
"Their music is timeless."
"Magnificent--great vocals by Timothy B."

This legendary group formed in August of 1971 when guitarists Glenn Frey and Bernie Leadon and drummer Don Henley, three members of Linda Ronstadt's backing band, were signed by David Geffen, boss of Asylum Records.  Geffen booked them to play four sets a night for a month to tighten their act.  Bassist Randy Meisner came on board, and the Eagles were born.
The group traveled to London to record their debut album, and their first single release, "Take It Easy" reached a very underrated #12 in 1972.  Seven years later, the pressure and jealousies that go hand in hand with being in a rock band took their toll on the Eagles.  The group announced a hiatus, though they didn't say for how long. 
But prior that extended time off, the Eagles gave us one of their best career albums--The Long Run in 1979, which gave us this great song at #373*.  

"I Can't Tell You Why" was on the radio the same time as current hits "Another Brick In The Wall" by Pink Floyd, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" from Queen, "It's Still Rock & Roll To Me" by Billy Joel, Michael Jackson's "Rock With You", Blondie's "Call Me", "The Rose" by Bette Midler, "Coward Of The County" by Kenny Rogers, "Babe" by Styx, "Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer" by Rogers & Kim Carnes, Olivia Newton-John's "Magic", "Lost In Love" by Air Supply, and "Longer" from Dan Fogelberg.

"I Can't Tell You Why" peaked at #8 for 3 weeks, certainly not on the surface a candidate for The Top 500*.  But to correctly and professionally gauge a song's popularity, and ranking in the Rock Era, one must consider many, many more factors than just what a trade paper happened to assign a "song ranking" to.  For there are many factors that the trade paper did not consider in their initial ranking, and much has happened since then.  Songs continued to sell or stopped selling, albums became more or less popular, and, like a fine wine, some songs have aged better than others.

By 1980, Adult Contemporary was well on the way to becoming the top music format.  And that's common sense--there are now far more adults that like rock & roll than teenagers.  And people in the industry were quickly learning that adults didn't like the same music they did when they were kids.  The #3 AC peak of "I Can't Tell You Why" is far more indicative of its popularity than the #8 ranking on the "Popular" chart referred to above.

Then consider that "I Can't Tell You Why" has helped sell 24 million Eagles albums in the U.S. alone.  You will notice that number is considerably greater than any song around it in The Top 500*.  While album sales are just one factor, that huge advantage more than makes up for assigned song rankings by a trade paper, and they help propel the song into the elite list.  By the way, other Eagles songs are not far away from The Top 500* for the same reason. 

Then add in the fact that "I Can't Tell You Why" has garnered three million radio airplays, and it is very deserving of a spot in any all-time Rock Era ranking.

Kenny Rogers

"Beautiful song!"
"Classic song."
 "So simple but so pure."

"Classic hit."

"I just love this song."

This superstar was once in a rockabilly group called the Scholars in the 1950's.  The versatile Kenny Rogers then joined a jazz trio called the Bobby Doyle Three.  After the breakup of that group in 1965, Kenny turned to producing, writer, and session singer for acts such as Mickey Gilley and Eddy Arnold.  Rogers later joined the New Christy Minstrels for a short time before becoming dissatisfied with that group's direction. 

We're up to another big hit from the former leader of the First Edition, which scored hits such as "Something's Burning", "Ruby, Don't Take My Love To Town", and "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)".  The First Edition recorded their debut album in 1967 and made their television debut the following January on The Smothers Brothers' Comedy Hour.  When the First Edition split up in 1974, lead singer Rogers signed a solo recording contract with United Artists Records. 

Roger Bowling and Hal Bynum wrote this song for Kenny.  Rogers released the song in January, 1977 as the second single from his self-titled album. 
"Lucille" reached #5 for two weeks overall, #10 on the Adult chart, and #1 for two weeks on the Country chart in the U.S., 
#1 in the U.K. and Canada, #2 in New Zealand and Ireland, #3 in Switzerland, #7 in Australia, and #8 in Austria.

"Lucille" encountered some of the toughest competition of the Rock Era:  "Hotel California" and "New Kid In Town" by the Eagles, "Evergreen" by Barbra Streisand, "Dreams", "Go Your Own Way" and "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac, "Tonight's The Night" by Rod Stewart, "Sir Duke" by Stevie Wonder, "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" by Andy Gibb, "Dancing Queen" by ABBA, "Nobody Does It Better" by Carly Simon, and "When I Need You" by Leo Sayer.

"Lucille" won a Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance, Male,  and Country Music Association Awards for Single of the Year and Song of the Year.

"Lucille" not only went Gold, but has helped sell over 24 million albums.  It has gone over two million in radio airplay. 




Elvis Presley

"Lovely music".


"Beautiful and moving song."

"The best song ever."

"What an artist--what a voice!"


Here's one of six songs from the year 1961 to make this exclusive Top 500*

"It's Now Or Never" had been good to Elvis Presley as his 13th #1 song, so Presley turned to another turn-of-the-century Italian song for release the following year.  "Surrender" was based on the 1902 song "Torna a Sorrento" ("Come Back To Sorrento") by Ernesto and Giambattista de Curtis.  Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman wrote the English lyrics for the song. 

When Elvis returned to the RCA Studios in Nashville, Tennessee after being in Hollywood, Presley recorded 13 gospel songs, twelve of them released on the album His Hand in Mine in December of 1960.  But Elvis also recorded one secular song, "Surrender", which included Floyd Cramer on piano and Boots Randolph on saxophone. 
Presley released the song, which immediately was added by radio stations in November.  Other songs out at the same time included his own "Are You Lonesome Tonight", Del Shannon's "Runaway", and "Tossin' And Turnin'" by Bobby Lewis.

While "Surrender" was conquering the charts, Presley appeared in concert in Hawai'i, his last live appearance for seven years. 
One by one, Elvis watched other songs surrender their positions, until this classic reached #1 for two weeks--it spent eight weeks in the Top 10.  "Surrender" also moved to #1 in the U.K., #2 in Italy and Norway, and #6 in Germany.
"Surrender" sold over two million singles and over 23 million albums.
Some amazing songs in that group, and the next 10 are even better.  Join us tomorrow on Inside The Rock Era!

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