Monday, June 1, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #390-381

Now you see what the staff of Inside The Rock Era has been working on for the last nine months!  At this point, we get to finally sit back and enjoy the music with you!  If we did our work right, the songs keep getting better and better.  Here are 10 more:

Bobby Hebb
"Awesome song!"
"A brilliant song."
"Forever a classic."
"A magical song."
"My favorite song of all-time."

This artist's parents were both blind musicians, and that talent ran in the Hebb family.  Bobby and his brother Harold began performing as a duo in Nashville, Tennessee when Bobby was three years old. 
Hebb wrote this in tribute to John F. Kennedy, but also in tribute to his brother, who was killed by a mugger on that same tragic day of November 23, 1963.  Bobby wrote the song in less than 48 hours, choosing, in his words, to "have a 'sunny' disposition instead of a 'lousy' one.  As he said,
All my intentions were to think of happier times & pay tribute to my brother – basically looking for a brighter day – because times were at a low.  After I wrote it, I thought 'Sunny' just might be a different approach to what Johnny Bragg was talking about in 'Just Walkin' in the Rain.

Hebb recorded the song at Bell Sound Studios in New York City for his album Sunny.  By June of 1966, "Sunny" was on most radio stations, going against other current songs such as "Cherish" by the Association, "Paperback Writer" and "Eleanor Rigby" from the Beatles, "When A Man Loves A Woman" by Percy Sledge, "Monday, Monday", by the Mamas and the Papas, Frank Sinatra's "Strangers In The Night", "You Can't Hurry Love" by the Supremes, Simon & Garfunkel's "I Am A Rock", "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones, "Good Lovin'" by the Young Rascals, and "Summer In The City" from Lovin' Spoonful. 

Sunny" rose to #2 for 2 weeks overall and #3 on the R&B chart.  The song sold over one million singles, and ranks in The Top 100 of the Rock Era* in radio airplay with over five million.  The success of the song led to Bobby Hebb getting a dream gig opening for the Beatles. 

It is one of the most covered songs in history. Frank Sinatra, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and hundreds of other artists have remade this song.  Cher recorded it in the '60s as a tribute to her partner, Sonny Bono.



All For Love Stewart, Bryan Adams & Sting

"Three great singers and a wonderful song."
"Awesome collaboration."
"Simply beautiful."
"Genios inolvidables!!!"
"One of my favorites."

Eight songs from the year 1994 are of the quality necessary to make the Elite 500*.  Here's one of them. 

With Jim Vallance, former drummer of Prism, Bryan Adams began his career writing songs for acts that included Loverboy, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, KISS and Bonnie Tyler.  Adams became one of the biggest stars of the 1980's.  Rod Stewart went to the same school (William Grimshaw) as Ray and Dave Davies of the Kinks.  He later went on to front the group Faces before beginning a highly successful solo career.  Gordon Sumner got his start playing bass with the Ronnie Pierson Trio aboard Princess Cruise ships.  Sumner was given a nickname of Sting while he was in the Newcastle Big Band in 1972, because of a yellow and black hooped T-shirt that reminded people of a bee.  Sting helped form the Police before also venturing out on a solo career.

The three superstars combined to sing the theme song for the movie The Three Musketeers.  Adams co-wrote the song along with famed producer Robert John "Mutt" Lange and Michael Kamen.  The single was released in November of 1993. 
Among the songs "All For Love" faced were "Dreamlover" and "Hero" by Mariah Carey, ""All That She Wants" and The Sign" by Ace of Base, "The Power Of Love" by Celine Dion, "Breathe Again" by Toni Braxton, "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" by Elton John, Janet Jackson's "Again", and "Stay (I Missed You)" by Lisa Loeb.
"All For Love" rose to the top, #1 for three weeks in the U.S., and spent 14 weeks in the Top 10.  It also attained #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  The song also hit #1 in Germany, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, #2 in the U.K., #3 in the Netherlands, #5 in New Zealand, and #7 in France.
"All For Love" has sold over one million singles and has reached one million in radio airplay.



Nowhere Man 


"One of the most poignant and underrated Beatles songs ever."
"The harmonies sound like ancient stars in the universe..."
"Fantastic songwriting."
"Could be my fave Beatles song of all...the throbbing bass...the dual guitars cutting through the emptiness like machetes...Ringos' straight-up beat...the harmonies...and of course, Johns' sardonic, coolly dismissive vocals/lyrics...exquisite musical perfection... :)"
"Pure classic--love it"


Here we are nearly 120 songs into The Top 500 for the Rock Era* and only two Beatles songs played thus far.  What you'll notice is that the cream really does rise to the top; rest assured that many of the legendary group's songs rank very high on the list. 

This group made their live debut on August 7, 1957 at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England.  Back then, they were known as the Quarry Men.   

The great John Lennon wrote this song.  Lennon said that he had spent five hours trying to write a good song, and he finally gave up and lay down.  "Then 'Nowhere Man' came, words and music, the whole thing as I lay down," Lennon said.

Bandmate Paul McCartney said of the song: 

"That was John after a night out, with dawn coming up.  I think at that point, he was a bit...wondering where he was going, and to be truthful so was I.  I was starting to worry about him".

The Beatles recorded this classic on October 21-22 of 1965 and included it on their U.S. album Yesterday...and Today.  Lennon, McCartney, and George Harrison sing the song in three-part harmony.  "Nowhere Man' appears in the movie Yellow Submarine.  The song was quickly added to radio station playlists in March of 1966. 

"Nowhere Man" became one of the most popular songs in the Beatles' repertoire, and was one of the songs the group performed in their final concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California in August, 1966.

"Nowhere Man" is another of the strong #3 songs, achieving that position against strong competition, coming from "When A Man Loves A Woman" by Percy Sledge, "Monday, Monday" and "California Dreamin'" by the Mamas and the Papas, "(You're My) Soul And Inspiration" by the Righteous Brothers, "Homeward Bound" and "I Am A Rock" by Simon & Garfunkel, "Good Lovin'" by the Rascals, "Strangers In The Night" by Frank Sinatra, and "Paint It Black" by the Rolling Stones.

But where "Nowhere Man" really gained on other songs was in its sales.  Not only did it sell one million singles, but it helped sell 19 million albums for the Beatles in the U.S. alone.  It has been played over two million times. 


Let's Hear It For The Boy
Deniece Williams


"Great song for the mood!"

"This song brings me sunshine. It's feels good :)"

"Amazing song."

"Great happy tune.. we need more of these!"

Up next, a song from one of The Top Soundtracks of the Rock Era*, the exciting Footloose.  Its record of five Top 50 hits is matched only by Saturday Night Fever and Xanadu.
This artist once was a student at Morgan State College in Baltimore, Maryland studying to be a nurse.  After enrolling at Purdue University, Deniece Williams married and had two children.  She was settling into her life. 
Just then, Stevie Wonder, who heard recordings Williams had made in 1967, called her up and invited her to audition for his backing vocal group.  Williams performed with the group for about a month but got homesick and returned to work at Mercy Hospital in Chicago, Illinois.  But Wonder didn't give up on her.  He called Deniece again, and this time, she became a permanent member of Wonder's entourage, contributing on the four best albums of his career:  Talking Book in 1972, Innervisions in 1973, Fulfillingness' First Finale in 1974 and Stevie's masterpiece, Songs in the Key of Life, in 1976.  Williams then began a solo career, enjoying the hits "It's Gonna' Take A Miracle" and the #1 "Too Much, Too Little Too Late" (with Johnny Mathis).
Dean Pitchford, who had worked on the movie Fame, wrote the screenplay and composed all the lyrics for the movie Footloose.  He co-wrote the song "Somebody's Eyes" with Tom Snow, the same duo that had written "You Should Hear How She Talks About You" for Melissa Manchester.  But as production continued on Footloose, director Herbert Ross did not feel the song was working in the scene, so Pitchford and Snow went back to work.  This time, they strived for an uplifting song. 
The first time Deniece Williams recorded this song, it wasn't what everyone wanted.  So, she flew from Los Angeles to New York City to record another take.  This time, it was perfect.  When Williams saw the completed movie, she thought the scene where they used her song was great.   "If I had come to the film without the music in and they asked me what segment I wanted my song to be in, I would have chosen that segment," said Williams.

After the title song from Footloose paved the way, "Let's Hear It For The Boy" was released as a single.  

It faced competition from "Hello" by Lionel Richie, "What's Love Got To Do With It" by Tina Turner, Michael Jackson's "Thriller", "When Doves Cry", "Jump" by Van Halen, "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins, "Time After Time" by Cyndi Lauper, "Dancing In The Dark" by Bruce Springsteen, and "Missing You" by John Waite.
"Let's Hear It For The Boy" shot up to #1 for 2 weeks, spent 9 weeks in the Top 10, and reached #1 on the R&B chart for 3 weeks.

The song topped two million in sales, and helped the great "Footloose" Soundtrack sell over nine million copies.  "Let's Hear It For The Boy" has achieved two million in radio airplay.



Walk Right In
 Rooftop Singers

"Looooooooooooove it!"
"Great song with an amazing riff."
A great classic!"
"The are perfect.  One of the best songs!"


Gus Cannon wrote this song in the country blues genre, which was recorded by Cannon's Jug Stompers in 1929 and released on Victor Records.   This is the title song from the album by the Rooftop Singers on Vanguard Records, which debuted on the charts in January of 1963.
Composer Claude Fran├žois gained notoriety with this song that he sang in French ("Marche tout droit").  Without that song, one wonders if the Fran├žois song "comme d'habitude", which later became famous in the English version as "My Way" by both Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, might have never been written. 
Erik Darling of Baltimore, Maryland had become fascinated with folk music at a young age.  He would hang out in Greenwich Village's Washington Square in New York City to listen to the music.  He learned how to play banjo and guitar, and was inspired after seeing a concert by the Weavers when he was 18.  Five years later, Darling formed a group that eventually became the Tarriers, which included Alan Arkin.  Arkin decided to concentrate on his main love, acting, and of course became famous.
Darling still wanted to be in a group, and when Pete Seeger left the Weavers in 1958, Erik was invited to take his place.  Darling spent four-and-a-half years with the Weavers before striking out on his own again.  When he heard Cannon's song, Darling changed the lyrics a bit, and recruited two friends (Bill Svanoe and Lynne Taylor) to sing it with him.
Darling wanted to record the song with two 12-string guitars, but there weren't many to be found outside of pawn shops.  Darling ordered two from the Gibson Guitar Company, and waited six months to receive them. 
The Rooftop Singers were a blessing to the 79-year-old Cannon, who was living in a little house by the railroad tracks in Memphis, Tennessee, and had almost frozen the previous winter, until he parted with his beloved banjo for $20 worth of coal.  Cannon not only earned publishing profits from "Walk Right In", but a recording contract with Stax Records to boot following the success of the song.
Other great songs out at the same time as "Walk Right In" included "Return To Sender" by Elvis Presley, "Rhythm Of The Rain" by the Cascades, "Big Girls Don't Cry" from the 4 Seasons, "I Will Follow Him" by Little Peggy March, "He's So Fine" by the Chiffons, and "Telstar" by the Tornadoes.

"Walk Right In" went to #1 for 2 weeks, #1 for 5 weeks on the Adult chart, and even reached #4 on the R&B chart.  It also hit #1 in Australia and #10 in the U.K.  The song was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Folk Recording.  This great song has been played over two million times.



Time After Time
Cyndi  Lauper

"The best song of all-time for me."
"Just perfect."
"AMAZING song."
"Real music."

Cyndi Lauper wrote this song with Rob Hyman, who also sang backup, for her debut album She's So Unusual.  As a space filler, she used the words "Time After Time" for the chorus, named after a title she had seen in a TV Guide magazine, the great movie Time After Time, which starred Mary Steenburgen and Malcolm McDowell.  As the writing process progressed, Cyndi found it was difficult to take the words out because they fit the song better.

Hyman had been in a group with Eric Bazilian and Rick Chertoff in Philadelphia.  When Chertoff became a producer at Columbia Records, he remained in touch with Hyman and Bazilian, who formed the group the Hooters.  Lauper needed backup musicians, so Chertoff brought Lauper to a club called The Bottom Line to see the Hooters.  They played on her debut album, which gave them the spark they needed, and the Hooters enjoyed the hits "And We Danced", "All You Zombies", and "Day By Day".  They went on to write for and produce many artists, including Jon Bon Jovi, Ricky Martin and Joan Osbourne. 

Epic Records originally wanted this song as the lead single from Lauper's album.  However, Lauper was afraid that releasing a ballad would define her, and convinced the label to release "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" first.   

So, "Time After Time" was released as the second single.  It went to #1 in the U.S. for two weeks and spent nine weeks in the Top 10--it was a huge song among Adults, reigning at #1 on the AC chart for three weeks.  The song also peaked at #1 in Canada, #2 in Ireland, #3 in the U.K. and New Zealand, #5 in Austria and the Netherlands, #6 in Germany and Australia,  #7 in Switzerland, #9 in France, and #10 in Sweden.

"Time After Time" competed with "Hello" by Lionel Richie, "What's Love Got To Do With It" by Tina Turner, "Thriller" by Michael Jackson, "When Doves Cry" from Prince, Van Halen's "Jump", "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins, "Missing You" from John Waite, "Dancing In The Dark" by Bruce Springsteen, "Let's Hear It For The Boy" by Deniece Williams, and "Footloose" by Kenny Loggins. 

"Time After Time" sold over one million singles and helped the album sell over six million.  The smash hit helped Cyndi beat out Madonna for Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards, and it earned Lauper an American Music Award for Favorite Female Pop/Rock Vocalist.  "Time After Time" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Song of the Year, and was nominated for a Billboard Award for Best Female Performance.  It received a BMI Pop Award, and has now been played five million times on the radio.


I'm Every Woman
Whitney Houston

"Incredible song from Whitney Houston."
"Classic from Whitney."
"The most touching song."
"Lovely :)"
"Whitney sang this this song with so much fire."

Whitney Houston began her career at age 8, singing "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah" with The New Hope Baptist Junior Choir in Newark, New Jersey.  Within four years, Houston was requested for backing vocals for artists such as Chaka Khan and Lou Rawls.

Older fans of the Rock Era remember this song as originally done by Chaka Khan in 1978, which represented her first foray as a solo performer away from the group Rufus.  The great songwriting team of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson penned the song for Khan, which peaked at #21.
Whitney Houston recorded her cover of "I'm Every Woman" for the movie The Bodyguard.  Whitney changed the first verse to read "Whatever you want, whatever you need..."  She released the song on January 2, with great songs such as her own 'I Will Always Love You" and "I Have Nothing", "End Of The Road" by Boyz II Men, "That's The Way Love Goes" by Janet Jackson, "A Whole New World" by Peabo Bryson and Regina Belle and "If I Ever Fall In Love" by Shai providing competition in its run up the charts.  

"I'm Every Woman" reached #4 for two weeks, and accumulated 8 weeks in the Top 10 in the United States, with a peak of #3 for 5 weeks on the R&B chart.  It also hit #1 in Canada, #4 in the U.K., Ireland and the Netherlands, #5 in New Zealand, #7 in Sweden, and #10 in Finland.  

Houston won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, Billboard Awards for Top Pop Singles Artist, Top Pop Singles Artist--Female, Top Pop Album, Top R & B Album and Top R & B Singles Artist, American Music Awards for Favorite Pop/Rock Female Vocalist, Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist, Favorite Soul/R & B Female Artist, Favorite Pop/Rock Album and Favorite Soul/R&B Album, and World Music Awards for World's Best-Selling Overall Recording Artist, World's Best-Selling Pop Artist of the Year, World's Best-Selling R&B Artist of the Year, World's Best-Selling American Recording Artist of the Year, and World's Best-Selling Female Recording Artist of the Era.
Whitney was also nominated for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female at the Grammys and Hot Adult Contemporary Artist at the Billboard Awards.  The song went Gold, and helped sell over 22 million albums.



For All We Know 

"Amazing song."
"What a gorgeous composition and melody."
"So, so beautiful!  Otherworldly... if you just listen to the music/orchestration of this song it's so moving, then you had in that voice, THEE VOICE! perfection!"
"Simply magnificent."

This incredible duo attracted major attention when they performed "The Girl From Ipanema" and "Iced Tea" to win the Battle of the Bands Contest at the Hollywood Bowl in California while part of a jazz trio.  Neely Plumb of RCA Records was impressed, and signed The Richard Carpenter Trio to a contract.  Four songs were recorded but never released.
Karen and Richard Carpenter then formed the group Spectrum with John Bettis.  Despite performances at famous locations like the Whiskey A Go Go, the Troubadour, and Disneyland, the band split up, although Bettis would be a key contributor to their future.  Karen and Richard then recorded some songs at the home of one of the top session musicians in L.A., bassist Joe Osborn.
These songs came to the attention of Herb Alpert, head of A&M Records, and the Carpenters were born.  They exploded on the scene in 1970 with the classics "Close To You" and "We've Only Just Begun". 
For their next release, the duo recorded this song for the movie Lovers and Other Strangers.  It was written by Fred Karlin, Robb Wilson (Robb Royer) and Arthur James (Jimmy Griffin).  Royer and Griffin were founding members and key components of the great group Bread. 
By February, "For All We Know" was going strong, with the Carpenters competing with heavyweights such as Three Dog Night ("Joy To The World"), George Harrison ("My Sweet Lord"), Elton John("Your Song"), then a newcomer like the Carpenters, the recently departed Janis Joplin ("Me And Bobby McGee"), the Temptations ("Just My Imagination"), Marvin Gaye ("What's Going On"), Paul Revere & the Raiders ("Indian Reservation"), as well as Lynn Anderson's great song "Rose Garden".
"For All We Know" was originally recorded by Larry Meredith.  The song was also a hit in the U.K. for Shirley Bassey, and has since been covered by numerous artists, including Petula Clark, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis, Andy Williams, Sammy Davis, Jr., Vikki Carr, Carol Burnett, Tommy Mottola (yes that Tommy Mottola), and Richard Clayderman. 

But the famous one, the one which makes The Top 500* for 60 years, is the one by the Carpenters.  Their version hit 
#3 for 2 weeks, and landed at #1 for three weeks on the Adult chart.  "For All We Know" sold one million singles, helped sell 11.5 million albums, and has been played over three million times in the last 44 years.  "For All We Know" captured the Academy Award for Best Original Song.



Time In A Bottle
Jim Croce

"This song is genius."
"LOVE this song."
"What a melody!"
"I love it."

Jim Croce wrote this classic after learning his wife Ingrid was pregnant in December, 1970.  Croce recorded it on his debut album You Don't Mess Around with Jim.  ABC Records did not plan on releasing it as a single, but after Croce died in a plane crash on September 30, 1973, the song's lyrics had added meaning.
"Time In A Bottle" was featured in the television movie She Lives on September 12, as Croce was finishing work on the album I Got A Name.  Television stations which aired the movie were deluged with calls from viewers who wanted to know where they could buy the song.  The next day, ABC Records had received orders for 50,000 copies of the album You Don't Mess Around With Jim. 

Eight days later, Croce performed at Northwestern Louisiana University.  A small private plane was waiting at Natchitoches to take Jim and his entourage to the next destination.  Shortly after an aborted take-off, the plane crashed into a tree.  All passengers died.  After 30 years of struggling, Croce had experienced a year of incredible success.  Now, he was dead.  "Time In A Bottle" began receiving play as an album track, and demand for a single release increased. 
"Time In A Bottle" was released before the end of the month, and reached #1 14 weeks after Croce's death.  It posted two weeks at #1 on the Popular chart and two weeks at #1 on the Adult chart as well in the United States, and also topped the Canadian charts. 

The song faced great competition from "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Bennie And The Jets" by Elton John, "The Way We Were" by Barbra Streisand, "The Most Beautiful Girl" by Charlie Rich, "Sunshine On My Shoulders" by John Denver, "Love's Theme" from the Love Unlimited Orchestra, "Seasons In The Sun" by Terry Jacks, "The Loco-Motion" by Grand Funk, Steve Miller's "The Joker", Chicago and "Just You 'N Me", and "Midnight Train To Georgia" by Gladys Knight & the Pips.

 "Time In A Bottle" has sold over one million copies.




"One of the most haunting voices of all-time.  Superb."
"Timeless classic...beautiful voice."
"Absolute vocal magic by a singer who never fails too give me goose bumps."
"A voice like an angel  Top ten female vocalist of all time, no question."
"HOT music."

Leon Russell teamed up with Bonnie and Delaney Bramlett to write this great song.  Richard Carpenter noticed the song after hearing Bette Midler sing it on The Tonight Show.  Carpenter couldn't wait to arrange it and record it with his sister Karen.
Richard introduced the song through an oboe.  Karen recorded her vocal in just one take, using lyrics that had been scribbled on a paper napkin.  Critics praised her vocal for its intensity and emotional nature.  She said in a 1972 interview:
 I've seen enough groupies hanging around to sense their loneliness, even though they usually don't show it.  I can't really understand them, but I just tried to feel empathy and I guess that's what came across in the song. 

The truth, as we now know, is that Karen also struggled with loneliness, and no doubt this was tough for her to sing.  The duo recorded the song on their sophomore album Carpenters, and released "Superstar" as a single in August of 1971.

At that time, "Superstar" had to navigate the following songs:  "American Pie" by Don McLean, "Imagine" by John Lennon, "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart, "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" by the Bee Gees, "You've Got A Friend" by James Taylor, "Family Affair" by Sly & the Family Stone, "Gypsys, Tramps And Thieves" by Cher, "Indian Reservation" by Paul Revere & the Raiders, "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" by Paul and Linda McCartney, and Aretha Franklin's "Spanish Harlem". 

Only "Maggie May" kept "Superstar" from reaching #1 on the Popular chart, but among Adults (quickly becoming the vast majority of Rock Era listeners), "Superstar" went to #1 for two weeks.  It also reached #3 in Canada, and received considerable airplay in the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand.
"Superstar" went Gold, and helped sell over 12 million albums.  Richard was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist.  "Superstar" has topped two million in radio airplay. 
We hope you enjoyed those 10 songs.  Tomorrow, we pick up right where we left off at #380.  In the meantime, be sure to catch past segments!

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