Monday, July 6, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #40-31

The unveiling of 10 more incredible songs, as we feature Songs #40-31:


Are You Lonesome To-night? 
Elvis Presley

"Love that song!"

"Perfect song."

"One of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard."

"His voice never fails to make me melt."

"Always my favorite song."

"Beautiful OMG."

"Just fantastic!"

"Amazing song."

"A classic tearjerker."

We are beginning to get into the stratosphere of the Rock Era.  Each year, thousands of artists dream of recording a song that will wind up as successful as these.
Roy Turk and Lou Handman wrote this song way back in 1926, one of the oldest songs in The Top 500*.  Several people recorded it (Al Jolson, Charles Hart, Vaughn De Leath, the duo of Jerry Macy and John Ryan, and the Blue Barron Orchestra).  None came close to this version at #40*.  The line "You know someone said that the world's a stage, and each must play a part" is based on William Shakespeare's play As You Like It.
Colonel Tom Parker, manager of Elvis Presley, suggested to Elvis that he record "Are You Lonesome To-night?", as it was Parker's wife, Marie's, favorite song.  After Elvis Presley returned from his two-year service in the United States Army, he recorded it in the early morning hours of April 4, 1960 at RCA Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.  Elvis recorded two takes, clearing the studio of everyone but himself and producer Steve Sholes and turning out the lights in the room.  After the second take, Presley told Sholes, "Throw that tune out!  I can't do it justice!"
Sholes told engineer Bill Porter to ignore Presley's request and asked him to record it one more time.  Elvis came through brilliantly and that was the take that was kept as the master.
RCA executives delayed release of the song because they thought it did not fit Presley's style.  Finally, management gave in and Presley released the single November 1, 1960 from his album Elvis Is Back!.  Five thousand copies were sent to disc jockeys with a sleep showing a smiling Presley against a blue background.

Early Rock Era fans could hear "Are You Lonesome To-night?" during the same period as Elvis's "It's Now Or Never", "Save The Last Dance For Me", by the Drifters and "Georgia On My Mind" by Ray Charles.  The lack of substantial competition somewhat diminishes the chart successes shown below.
One month after release, "Are You Lonesome To-night?" reached #1 on both sides of the Atlantic.  Orders for the single began at 900,000 copies the first week and climbed to 1,200,000 during the second.  The song remained at #1 for 6 weeks in the U.S.  It spent 11 weeks in the Top 10 and also peaked at #3 on the R&B chart.
It was Presley's 15th career #1 song, far and away the most of the Rock Era to that point.  "Are You Lonesome To-night?" has sold over 4 million singles and helped sell over 26 million albums.  To date, however, the song has not been credited for one million radio airplays by Broadcast Music, Inc., which seems quite odd.



Nights In White Satin
Moody Blues

"My favorite above all!"
"One of my favorites...classic."
"So powerful--the music and lyrics are out of this world."
"It's so flowing you almost find your self swaying like a Cobra being charmed from a basket.  It doesn't get much better than this."
"Beautiful beyond words.  Just heavenly."

"One of the greats of all-time."


A nineteen year-old Justin Hayward wrote Song #39*, first featured on the Moody Blues  album Days of Future Passed.  Hayward got the idea for the song when a woman gave him a set of white satin sheets.  Hayward talked about the song in an interview with Daily Express Saturday magazine in 2008:

I wrote our most famous song, "Nights in White Satin", when I was 19.  It was a series of random thoughts and was quite autobiographical.  It was a very emotional time as I was at the end of one big love affair and the start of another.  A lot of that came out in the song.
Hayward took the place of Denny Laine in the group.  Prior to joining the Moody Blues, Hayward signed a publishing contract with Lonnie Donegan's company, Tyler Music.  That wound up giving Donegan a significant share of the royalties for this and other songs that Hayward wrote early in his career.  Dongegan's skiffle sound in the '50s influenced the Beatles and the Who, before Donegan moved over to the business side of the industry.
Days of Future Passed was one of the first examples of a concept album.  It was based around different times of the day, for example "Dawn Is A Feeling" and "Tuesday Afternoon".  "Nights In White Satin" was the last track on the album because it was about nighttime.
The group recorded the song October 8, 1967.  The "orchestral" sounds in the main body of the song were produced by  keyboardist Mike Pinder's Mellotron.  The spoken-word poem heard around the six-minute mark of the song is called "Late Lament".  Drummer Graeme Edge wrote the verses for the poem, which were read by Pinder.  Credit on the album is given to The London Festival Orchestra, which actually never existed.  It was the name given to the musicians gathered to play on the album.   
The Moody Blues released the single November 10.  As record companies were hesitant to release singles over 3 minutes in those days, "Nights In White Satin" underperformed on the charts.  The single released was a very chopped 3:06.  There are several other versions of the single that are also listed at 3:06, but actually run 4:26 or longer. 
This is similar to the situation with the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling", which we have already heard in The Top 500*.  The hope was that by the time DJ's realized the song was much longer than the 45 said, it would already be a hit.  Of course, most intelligent Music Directors insisted that their station play the album version, which became the classic.  
"Nights In White Satin" reached #19 in the U.K. the first time around. By 1972, radio stations were more accepting of longer songs--to wit, "Hey Jude" by the Beatles, "Layla" by Derek & the Dominoes, "Stairway To Heaven" by Led Zeppelin, and "American Pie" by Don McLean.  To take advantage of this trend, "Nights In White Satin" was re-released, and this time, popularity spread around the globe.

In August of 1972, the song faced competition from "Crocodile Rock" by Elton John, "Lean On Me" from Bill Withers, "Alone Again (Naturally)" by Gilbert O'Sullivan, "Take It Easy", "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash, "Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me" by Mac Davis, Carly Simon's "You're So Vain", "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder, "Burning Love" from Elvis Presley, "Saturday In The Park" by Chicago, and "Witchy Woman" by the Eagles. 

 "Nights In White Satin" went to #2 for 2 weeks in the United States, #1 in Canada and #9 in the U.K.  The song charted a third time in the U.K. when it was released in 1979, when "Nights In White Satin" climbed to #14.

The song sold over 1 million singles and helped sell over 2.5 million albums.  It has achieved airplay of over six million.





 Rock Around The Clock
Bill Haley & the Comets

"The first classic of the Rock Era!"

"Incredible how this one song inspired so many. A true classic if there ever is one."


"Rock & Roll's national anthem."

"A classic of rock & roll."

"One of my favorites and I'm 14."

"This song rocks!"

"Amazing guitar solo."

"Super!  The catchiest song of all-time."

Max C. Freedman and James E. Myers (using the pseudonym "Jimmy De Knight") wrote "Rock Around The Clock" in late 1952.  The song in its original form was vastly different than the standard we know by Bill Haley & the Comets; in fact, research as shown that it sounded more like a popular instrumental at the time, "The Syncopated Clock" by Leroy Anderson. 

It was not the first rock and roll record, nor the first successful rock & roll song, but until a type of music can actually rule the roost, it's just a passing fad.  One rock & roll song in the Top 10 means that nine songs reflect the dominant music of the era, and a few hit songs doesn't make an era or a time of dominance.  When "Rock Around The Clock" went to #1 in both the United States and the U.K., the Rock Era was born, one in which rock & roll was king.  Beginning with "Rock Around The Clock", music began to change, and soon, rock & roll songs dominated the Top 10.
Although Myers said the song was written specifically for Haley, Haley & the Comets were not able to record the song right away, and Sonny Dae and His Knights were the first to do so, on March 20, 1954.  Through the books Bill Haley by John Swenson and Rock Around the Clock by Jim Dawson, we are able to trace the history of this landmark song from its origins to its groundbreaking success.
"Rock Around The Clock" was copyrighted with the United States Library of Congress on March 31, 1953.  The songwriters offered the song to Haley after his hit "Crazy Man, Crazy" that same year.  Haley and his group began performing the song live--bassist Marshall Lytle and drummer Dick Richards said the first performances of the song were at Phil and Eddie's Surf Club in Wildwood, New Jersey.
Unfortunately, Dave Miller, producer of the group, would not allow Haley to record it on his label, Essex Records.  Swenson suggests in his book that there was a feud between Myers and Miller.  Haley said that he brought the sheet music for the song into the studio at least twice, but Miller ripped up the music each time. 
With Haley & the Comets unable to record the song, Myers turned to Dae & His Knights, who recorded it on Arcade Records, which coincidentally was owned by Haley's manager, Jack Howard.  This version was a regional success but nothing more, and it too sounded different from the version Haley would later record.
Haley left Essex Records in the spring of 1954 and signed with Decca Records--this really is the key event.  No way was Dave Miller going to stop the Rock Era.  The first recording session took place April 12, 1954 at the Pythian Temple Studios in New York City (135 West 70th Street).
Producer Milt Gabler (uncle of actor Billy Crystal) insisted the band work on the song "Thirteen Women (And Only One Man In Town)", which Gabler saw as the group's first single on Decca.  Near the end of the session, Haley & the Comets recorded "Rock Around The Clock", but reportedly, Haley's vocals were drowned out by the music.  The band did a second take while Sammy Davis, Jr. waited his turn for a recording session.  Pianist Johnny Grande says that the only reason a second take was recorded was that the drummer made an error.  
In any case, the engineers at Decca combined the two versions into one.  Session musician Danny Cedrone played the famous guitar solo.  Cedrone died on June 17, 1954 when he fell down a stairway, and he never got to see his efforts become legendary. 
 Gabler said about the song:     

I was aware that rock was starting.  I knew what was happening in the Philadelphia area, and "Crazy Man, Crazy" had been a hit about a year before that.  It already was starting and I wanted to take it from there.

Haley & the Comets released the single May 20, 1954 as the B-side to "Thirteen Women".  Most listeners had not heard the term "rock and roll", so Decca found it difficult to describe the song.  The label on the 45 called it a "Novelty Foxtrot".  The song made the Cashbox chart, but did not chart on Billboard.  Then, producers of the movie Blackboard Jungle called and wanted to use it in their movie in the opening credits.   

According to recent research, the producers were looking for a song to represent the type of music that the youth of 1955 were listening to.  Glenn Ford, one of the stars of the movie, borrowed several 45's from his son's collection to aid in this cause, one of which was "Rock Around The Clock".  Out of that group of 45's, this was the song the producers chose. 

Blackboard Jungle premiered March 25, 1955.  The version used in the movie, however, is different from that on the record.  In the movie, the saxophone solo is featured in the first break and the guitar solo in the second, while the version on the 45 features the guitar solo first and then the sax solo.

Inclusion in the movie resulted in a surge in popularity for "Rock Around The Clock", and it was re-released in May of 1955.  On May 14, 1955, the song re-entered the Billboard charts.  On July 9, 1955, "Rock Around The Clock" became the first rock and roll song to reach #1 in the United States, an achievement it repeated on music charts throughout the world.  Inside The Rock Era's music special, The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era* was timed so that it concluded on July 9, 2015, 60 years to the day that the Rock Era began. 
Perhaps in a testament to the song's significance and staying power, it remained at #1 for eight weeks, and finished the year as the #2 song of 1955, according to Billboard.  At the time, Billboard listed three charts:  Best Sellers in Stores, Most Played By Disc Jockeys, and Most Played in Jukeboxes.  "Rock Around The Clock" topped all three charts and was a consensus #1.
To give you an idea what music was like before "Rock Around The Clock", the #1 songs preceding it were "Let Me Go Lover" by Joan Weber, "Hearts Of Stone" by the Fontane Sisters, the great "Sincerely" by the McGuire Sisters, "The Ballad Of Davy Crockett" by Bill Hayes, the beautiful instrumental "Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White" by Perez Prado, "Dance With Me Henry (Wallflower)" by Georgia Gibbs, and the instrumental "Unchained Melody" by Les Baxter.  Beginning with "Rock Around The Clock", the sound of popular music changed.   
In November, 1955, "Rock Around The Clock" re-entered the U.K. charts and rose to #1 for a total of five weeks.  In 1956, the song came back on the U.K. charts and hit #5.  The single was re-released again in 1968, when it reached #20, and again in 1974, when it hit #12. 
"Rock Around The Clock" spread like wildfire to teenagers around the globe.  Independent label Festival Records in Australia released it, and it became the hottest-selling song there.  Columbia Pictures capitalized on the new craze by hiring Haley and the Comets for two movies, Rock Around the Clock in 1956 and Don't Knock the Rock the following year.  The group toured Europe, bringing rock & roll to that continent for the first time. 
Through re-releases and the medley "Swing The Mood" by Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers, "Rock Around The Clock" appeared on charts in either the U.S. or U.K. for five consecutive decades.  No other song in history can claim this achievement.
"Rock Around The Clock" was featured as the theme to the 1974 movie American Graffiti, and a re-recorded version was used as the theme for the television show Happy Days in its first two seasons.
In 1982, "Rock Around The Clock" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  The song was ranked #50 in the American Film Institute's series 100 Years...100 Songs to celebrate the best songs in American cinema history.
"Rock Around The Clock" became the first single to sell over one million copies in the U.K.  As for worldwide sales, it is impossible to say exactly what the figure is.  There are estimates of 15-22 million, and others ranging from 35-40 million.  Guinness Book of World Records certified that the single was second in worldwide sales only to Bing Crosby's 1942 recording of "White Christmas", both with over 25 million units sold.  An additional 100 million copies of "White Christmas" have been sold counting other versions of the song.



Another One Bites The Dust 
"This song is untouchable!"
"I love it!  One of the coolest songs ever!"
"This is my favorite song."
"Amazing song."
"What a great song."
"Absolute classic."

In 1972, Queen was invited to showcase new recording hardware at DeLane Lea Studios in Great Britain.  While the group recorded a demo tape, engineers Roy Thomas Baker and John Anthony listened.  Anthony had worked with the group when they were known as Smile, and he and Baker were so impressed with Queen that they recommended to their employers, Trident Audio Productions, that the group be signed to a recording contract.  Later in the year, executives at Trident did just that after seeing the group live in concert.
Bassist John Deacon wrote this winner, featured on Queen's album The Game.  Deacon talked about the song to Songfacts:
I'd been wanting to do a track like "Another One Bites The Dust" for a while, but originally all I had was the line and the bass riff.  Gradually, I filled it in and the band added ideas.  I could hear it as a song for dancing but had no idea it would become as big as it did.  The song got picked up off our album and some of the black radio stations in the U.S. started playing it, which we've never had before.  Michael Jackson actually suggested we release it as a single.  He was a fan of ours and used to come to our shows.
Queen recorded the song at Musicland Studios in Munich, West Germany.  Lead guitarist Brian May told Mojo magazine:  
Freddie Mercury loved this track.  Freddie sung until his throat bled on "Another One Bites The Dust".  He was so into it.  He wanted to make that song something special.

In August, 1980, "Another One Bites The Dust" debuted on the charts, when it faced great songs such as "Lady" by Kenny Rogers, "Woman In Love" by Barbra Streisand, "It's Still Rock & Roll To Me" by Billy Joel, "Woman" by John Lennon, "All Out Of Love" by Air Supply, Dolly Parton's "9 To 5", "Magic" by Olivia Newton-John, "Angel Of The Morning" by Juice Newton, REO Speedwagon's "Keep On Loving You", "Upside Down" from Diana Ross, "Sailing" by Christopher Cross, "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang, and "I Love A Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbitt.  That is some of the best competition faced by any of the songs in The Top 500*.  
"Another One Bites The Dust" reached #1 for 3 weeks, and spent an impressive 15 weeks in the Top 10.  It showed amazing mass appeal by peaking at #2 for 3 weeks on the R&B chart and #28 on the Adult Contemporary chart.  The song also went to #1 in Canada, #2 in New Zealand, #5 in Australia, #6 in Germany, Ireland, and Austria, and #7 in the U.K.
The song was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.
"Another One Bites The Dust" has sold over 7 million singles worldwide, 2 in the U.S.  It has helped sell over 17.5 million Queen albums and has logged over 5 million radio airplays.



Love Me Tender 
Elvis Presley

"Love this one💜"



"Just beautiful."

"My favorite song."

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

"Beautiful! 😍"

"Awesome, just love it."

"Great song.  Just super!"

Ken Darby wrote this song under the pseudonym "Vera Matson", the name of his wife, along with Elvis Presley, for Presley's movie Love Me Tender.  It is one of few songs in which Elvis was given songwriting credit.  As a result of Presley's publishing deal, songwriters had to agree to give Elvis 50% of the royalties if they wanted him to sing it.  "Love Me Tender" was adapted from a Civil War ballad called "Aura Lee", published in 1861.  W.W. Fosdick wrote the words to "Aura Lee" while George R. Poulton composed the music.  Barbershop quartets and college glee clubs performed the song, also sung at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
Prior to release, Presley performed "Love Me Tender" on The Ed Sullivan Show.  The next day, RCA received one million advance orders.  The huge demand for the song had an additional effect; the movie that was originally called The Reno Brothers was renamed Love Me Tender to take advantage of the song's popularity.  
Elvis recorded it August 24, 1956 at 20th Century Fox Studios in Los Angeles.  "Love Me Tender", the first theme of 31 Presley movies, did not appear on any of Presley's albums until 1958, when it was included on Elvis' Golden Records.  There was another unique aspect of the song--movie producer David Weisbart did not allow Presley's regular musicians--guitarist Scotty Moore, standup bassist Bill Black and drummer D.J. Fontana--to play on the soundtrack album.  Instead, Presley was backed by the Ken Darby Trio.  Darby expressed his feelings on what it is like to work with Presley:  

He adjusted the music and the lyrics to his own particular presentation.  Elvis has the most terrific ear of anyone I have ever met.  He does not read music, but he does not need to. All I had to do was play the song for him once, and he made it his own!  He has perfect judgment of what is right for him. He exercised that judgment when he chose "Love Me Tender" as his theme song.


Elvis released the single October 6.  It rose to #1 for 5 weeks and hit #3 on both the R&B and the Country (then called Country & Western) charts.  Among the songs out at the time were Presley's "Hound Dog" and "Don't Be Cruel", "Singing The Blues" by Guy Mitchell, and "Young Love" by Tab Hunter.  
When "Love Me Tender" replaced the double-sided smash "Hound Dog"/"Don't Be Cruel" at #1, it marked the first time that an artist had replaced themselves at #1 in the Rock Era.  Presley's 16 consecutive weeks at #1 also held the Rock Era record until it was tied by Boyz II Men in 1994 and Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men in 1996 (with "One Sweet Day") and then broken by Usher in 2004 with 19 consecutive weeks.  The Black Eyed Peas then obliterated the mark in 2009 with 26 weeks when their #1 song of 12 weeks, "Boom Boom Pow", was replaced by another song from the group, "I Gotta' Feeling", which remained at #1 for 14 weeks.
"Love Me Tender" has sold over 4 million singles and helped to sell over 37.5 million albums in the U.S. alone.  It has chalked up over 3 million radio airplays.  
Many artists have covered the song:  Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Linda Ronstadt, Barry Manilow, Connie Francis, the Platters, Johnny Mathis, B.B. King, Tony Bennett, Ricky Nelson, Pat Boone, B.J. Thomas, Cliff Richard, Della Reese, Johnny Nash, Duane Eddy, Percy Sledge, and Richard Chamberlain.  But none have topped Presley's version.


Get Back

"Great song!"
"One of my favorites."
"Great track."
"Awesome! Always sounds so current and new...astounding!"
"It's perfect!"

We're up to Song #35*, one of 29 songs in The Top 500* by the Beatles.  That is far and away the most songs by any artist, and many of the songs by the group are ranked very high.  Elvis Presley is second with 16 songs in the elite list.
Paul McCartney is the chief songwriter of "Get Back", though credited to Lennon-McCartney as was the pair's practice. The melody grew out of an old-fashioned jam session on January 7, 1969 while the Beatles rehearsed on the sound stage at Twickenham Studios in London.  During the course of the jam, McCartney introduced some lyrics, reworking "Get back to the place you should be" from guitarist George Harrison's "Sour Milk Seas" into "Get back to where you once belonged".
Two days later, McCartney came up with the "Sweet Loretta" verse and brought it back to the group, and McCartney finished the song from there.  The Beatles recorded "Get Back" from January 21-30, 1969.  Keyboardist Billy Preston, who had been recruited by Harrison to deter bickering among the fractured Beatles, joined the group in the studio from January 22. 
The group released "Get Back" April 11 in the U.K. and May 5 in the United States.  At the time, Rock Era fans could also hear current songs such as "Aquarius" by the 5th Dimension, "Honky Tonk Women" by the Rolling Stones, "In The Year 2525" by Zager & Evans, "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies, "The Boxer" from Simon & Garfunkel, "Get Together" from the Youngbloods, "Dizzy" by Tommy Roe, "Crystal Blue Persuasion" by Tommy James & the Shondells, "Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, "In The Ghetto" by Elvis Presley, and "My Cherie Amour" by Stevie Wonder.  This is another example of some of the finest competition faced by a song in The Top 500*.
The single debuted at #1 in the U.K., the first song in history to do so, and held on to the top spot for 6 weeks.  "Get Back" rose to #1 for 5 weeks in the U.S. with 9 weeks in the Top 10, and also hit #1 in West Germany, Canada, Australia, France, New Zealand, and Ireland.
"Get Back" has topped 4 million in single sales and has helped sell over 39 million albums, to rank in The Top 35 in that department.  To date, the song has logged over 4 million radio airplays.
"Get Back" was originally going to be the title of the album, based on the concept of the Beatles getting back to their roots and playing new songs for a live audience.  Eventually, the group scrapped the idea of a live album, and engineer Glyn Johns was asked to put the album together from what were essentially rehearsal tapes.  When Johns was finished, the album sat around while the movie Let It Be was being edited.  During the ensuing time, the Beatles recorded and released the album Abbey Road, and in September of 1969, John Lennon told the other members of the group that he was leaving. 
After John Lennon had Phil Spector produce his solo single "Instant Karma", which Harrison played on, the two asked Spector to produce the Get Back album, which was retitled Let It Be.  Spector remixed the songs with full orchestrations using his "Wall Of Sound" technique.  Spector did this without informing McCartney, which further angered Paul, and on April 14, 1970, McCartney announced he was quitting the Beatles.  The album that was supposed to represent the raw sound of the Beatles returning to their roots was instead released as Spector's highly-produced final album. 



Kenny Rogers

"I love this song...such a classic!"
"Beautiful. A voice with a totally unique quality that reaches deep inside."
"Great song with amazing lyrics."
"Some songs touch your soul when the beauty of the words and melody come together."
"A perfect song."
"♥ ♫ ♥ VERY FAVORİTE SONG ♥ ♫ ♥"
"Very beautiful this song."
Lionel Richie wrote this song specifically for Kenny Rogers, and it was part of an eight-year streak in which Richie wrote at least one #1 song.  That tied Paul McCartney's Rock Era record of eight consecutive years when he was with the Beatles from 1964-69 and then wrote the #1 song "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey" in 1970 that Paul and wife Linda recorded. 
Rogers told Billboard magazine:
I hate to get stagnant, to do the same things over and over again.  I was about to explode.  I needed new input and that's where Lionel came in.  I went to who I thought was the very best in that field.  The Commodores have done what I've tried to do:  they haven't limited themselves to any one area.  I loved "Three Times A Lady".  I think that's probably one of the best records ever cut."
Upon learning that Richie had written a song for him, Rogers immediately jumped on a jet to Las Vegas, Nevada to meet him.  Richie played a demo of "Lady" for Rogers, who loved the song and promptly recorded it.  Said Rogers, "I love songs that are female orientated and that's the market I wanna' get."
Prior to this song, Rogers had enjoyed considerable success on the Country chart, but had never recorded a #1 song in his career on the Popular chart.  "Lady" exhibited the mass appeal strength that we talked about earlier as being a key factor in the ranking of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.  More on the considerable across-the-board success of "Lady" later.  

During the recording session, Richie said:
We kept it simple:  there are only four rhythm musicians plus string and horn players.  There are no gimmicks with Kenny, so the last thing you would ever want to do is put an arp or a synthesizer behind him.  He doesn't need that; Kenny sells lyrics.
"Lady" quickly debuted on the charts in October of 1980, facing competition from great songs such as "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes, Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust", "Woman In Love" by Barbra Streisand, "All Out Of Love" by Air Supply, John Lennon's "Woman", "I Love A Rainy Night" by Eddie Rabbitt, "Upside Down" by Diana Ross, "9 To 5" from Dolly Parton, "Angel Of The Morning" by Juice Newton, Olivia Newton-John's "Magic", "Keep On Loving You" by REO Speedwagon, "Sailing" from Christopher Cross, and "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang.
"Lady" jumped to #1 for 6 weeks with 13 weeks in the Top 10 on the Popular, or overall chart.  It also went to #1 for 4 weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart, #1 on the Country chart, and even reached #42 on the R&B chart.  Those are great numbers and reflect performances in four genres with million of fans, indeed making up approximately 80% of the musical audience on radio stations in 1980.  "Lady" also reached #2 in Canada and #6 in New Zealand.
The song has sold over one million singles and helped sell over 19.5 million albums.  It has garnered over 4 million airplays on the radio since 1980.
Richie later told the newspaper The Metro News,
 When I wrote the song for Kenny, I called my lawyer and said: "If I put my voice on this it's going to be a smash, I want it."  My lawyer said: "If you give it to Kenny, it will be bigger than you ever thought."  Now this was true.  What I did not realize was that not only did I have my crowd, I picked up all of Kenny's following too.  And that happened to be the rest of the world.

Richie added to those comments in an interview with Paul Grein of Billboard magazine:
It's the same situation Paul Anka was in.  He could have sung "My Way", but there comes a time when you realize that an outside association may enhance your career a little bit more than if you try to it all by yourself.  And working with Kenny has given me a great opportunity to meet people in the business.  We've developed a great relationship that will probably last the lifetime.
The association resulted in Richie signing with Kenny's manager, Ken Kragen, as a solo artist.


Billie Jean 
Michael Jackson

"This beat and bass line is one of my favorite all-time intros."
"Immortal music."
"Amazing song."

"This song is my favorite."

"A classic for the ages."

"This song is perfect."


"One of the all-time best performances."



Here's one of 10 songs from the year 1983 to make The Top 500*.  Counting the family group the Jackson 5 and his solo releases, Michael Jackson has 10 songs in the elite group.
Jackson wrote the song for his sixth studio album Thriller.  Michael said on several occasions that "Billie Jean" was based on girls that the Jackson 5 encountered at their concerts: 

Billie Jean is kind of anonymous.  It represents a lot of girls. They used to call them groupies in the '60s.  They would hang around backstage doors, and any band that would come to town they would have a relationship with, and I think I wrote this out of experience with my brothers when I was little.  There were a lot of Billie Jeans out there.  Every girl claimed that their son was related to one of my brothers.
There were two main disputes between Jackson and producer Quincy Jones concerning "Billie Jean".  Jones wanted to cut Jackson's 29-second intro, which was the longest he had ever had.  "Michael, we've got to cut that intro", Jones later recalled to Blender magazine:
He said:  "But that's the jelly!"[...] "That's what makes me want to dance."  And when Michael Jackson tells you, "That's what makes me want to dance", well, the rest of us just have to shut up.
Quincy also wanted Jackson to change the title to "Not My Lover", concerned that people would think the song was about tennis player Billie Jean King.  Jackson won on both accounts, and we don't think too many people thought Jackson was writing about King.
 "Billie Jean" features the great bass playing of Louis Johnson, formerly with the Brothers Johnson ("I'll Be Good To You", "Strawberry Letter 23" and "Stomp!").  Famed saxophonist Tom Scott played the lyricon on the track.  In addition, Jones told engineer Bruce Swedien to create a drum sound that no one had ever heard before, and told Swedien to add a different element:  "sonic personality".  Swedien told Blender about what he did to achieve that sound in "Billie Jean":
What I ended up doing was building a drum platform and designing some special little things, like a bass drum cover and a flat piece of wood that goes between the snare and the hi-hat.  The bottom line is that there aren't many pieces of music where you can hear the first three or four notes of the drums, and immediately tell what the piece of music is. But I think that is the case with 'Billie Jean' — and that I attribute to sonic personality.
 Swedien mixed the song 91 times before it was finished.  In January of 1983, "Billie Jean" debuted on the Singles chart.  During its run, the song faced classics such as "Every Breath You Take" by the Police, "Flashdance" from Irene Cara, Jackson's own "Beat It", "Down Under" by Men at Work, "Maneater" from Hall & Oates, "Up Where We Belong" by Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes, and "Truly" by Lionel Richie. 
On March 25, 1983, Jackson performed "Billie Jean" at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in California as part of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Motown Records--Motown 25:  Yesterday, Today, Forever.  After performances by Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, and Mary Wells on that evening, the Jacksons performed together for the first time in eight years, singing a medley of their hits.  After singing "I'll Be There", they left Michael alone on the stage.
Jackson addressed the audience, then began his performance with a pose--his right hand on his hat and his left leg bent.  Michael then threw the hat aside and lip synced to "Billie Jean".  During the musical interlude, Jackson then did something which cemented his status as a pop icon--he glided backwards on his toes in the first public performance of what became known as the moonwalk.  Fifty million people saw the performance and Jackson's dance routine earned him an Emmy nomination.  Famous dancer Fred Astaire and entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr., both childhood idols of Jackson's, called Michael to commend him on his performance.  At the time, sales of Thriller were already through the roof, and the moonwalk only served to increase them even further.
"It was a moment that crossed over in a way that no live musical performance ever had," editor Steve Daly of Entertainment Weekly said.  VH1 and Entertainment Weekly ranked the moonwalk as the "6th-greatest rock and roll television moment".  Jackson also helped promote "Billie Jean" through Jackson's Pepsi commercials, although in filming one of them, a firework exploded and Jackson's hair caught fire.  Jackson's scalp was severely burned and he required reconstructive surgery to repair it. 
"Billie Jean" spent 7 weeks at #1 and 11 in the Top 10.  It topped the R&B chart for 9 weeks and peaked at #9 on the Adult Contemporary chart, another example of an across-the-board smash.  "Billie Jean" also vaulted to #1 in the U.K., Canada, Australia, France, Ireland, and Switzerland, #2 in Germany, New Zealand, Austria, the Netherlands, and Sweden, #3 in Finland, and #6 in Norway.
"Billie Jean" helped the Thriller album become the top-selling album of all-time, both in the United States and worldwide.
Jackson owned both the #1 single and album on both sides of the Atlantic, becoming just the sixth artist of the Rock Era (after the Beatles, the Monkees, Simon & Garfunkel, Rod Stewart, and Men at Work) to do that.  Beyoncé later became the seventh artist to achieve the feat.
Jackson won Grammy Awards for Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male,  Best Engineered Recording, Best New R & B Song, Producer of the Year and Best R & B Vocal Performance, Male, American Music Awards for Special Award of Merit, Favorite Pop/Rock Male Vocalist, Favorite Pop/Rock Album (for both Thriller and Number Ones), Favorite Pop/Rock Single, Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist, Favorite Soul/R&B Album (for both Thriller and Number Ones), and Favorite Soul/R&B Single, and the World Music Diamond Award.

To date, the single has topped 4 million units and "Billie Jean" has helped sell 45 million albums, which ranks in The Top 10 of the Rock Era in that factor of the formula.  "Billie Jean" has been played over 1 million times.  The huge sales and low airplay for this range balance out to come up with the rank of #33*.
"Billie Jean" became the first video by a black artist to receive regular rotation on MTV, which at the time stood for "Music Television".  

All Shook Up
Elvis Presley

"OMG..... I'm All Shook Up... Love this*****"
"What an awesome voice."
"Beautiful song."

"This song was a classic."

"One of the best songs in the world."

"So much soul from one of the coolest singers ever."

"Absolutely brilliant! Love it!"

"Awesome, awesome song!"  
This legend places 16 songs in The Top 500 of the Rock Era*.  Elvis Presley ranks second to the Beatles as the most-represented artists in the elite group.  No one else has more than 10.
Otis Blackwell wrote this song in the offices of Shalimar Music in 1956.   Elvis Presley received songwriting credit as according to an interview he did the following year, Elvis came up with the phrase "All Shook Up".
Presley had a medical checkup at Kennedy Veterans Hospital on January 4, a preliminary to joining the United States Army the following year.  Later in the month, Presley appeared on network television for the last time for several years when he made his third appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.  This is the episode in which Elvis is shown from the waist up. 
Elvis recorded the song January 12, 1957 at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, California.  He released the single March 22, 1957.
"All Shook Up" faced competition from Presley's own "Jailhouse Rock" and "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear", "Wake Up Little Susie" and "Bye Bye Love" by the Everly Brothers", Sam Cooke's You Send Me", "Young Love" by Tab Hunter, and "Little Darlin'" by the Diamonds.
"All Shook Up" achieved a Triple #1--#1 on the Popular chart for 9 weeks, #1 on the R&B chart for 4 weeks, and #1 Country.  "All Shook Up" became Presley's first #1 song in the U.K., remaining there for seven weeks.
The song has sold over 4 million singles and helped sell over 34 million albums in the United States alone.  To date, "All Shook Up" has been played over 2 million times.
All told, Presley owned the #1 song for nearly half of 1957--25 weeks, a feat he repeated from his first year of 1956.

How Deep Is Your Love 
Bee Gees

"Without a doubt, one of the classics of all-time."
"How great is this song!"
"Beautiful awesome song."
"One of the best songs ever."
"Unforgettable song. Paradise."
"Timeless and priceless song by one of the legends of the Rock Era."
"Love this song."



After the Bee Gees finished mixing songs for the album Here at Last...Bee Gees...Live, the group began recording songs for a new studio album.  Then came the call from manager Robert Stigwood requesting songs for the movie Saturday Night Fever.  The Bee Gees sent Stigwood five new songs for the soundtrack, one of which was "How Deep Is Your Love". 
Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb wrote the song.  Although keyboardist Blue Weaver is not officially credited amongst the songwriters, he played a key role in the development of the song.  Co-producer Albhy Galuten said in the 2015 book The Bee Gees by Melinda Bilyeu, Hector Cook, and Andrew Môn Hughes: 
One song where Blue [Weaver] had a tremendous amount of input.  There was a lot of things from his personality.  That's one where his contribution was quite significant, not in a songwriting sense, though when you play piano, it's almost like writing the song.  Blue had a lot of influence in the piano structure of that song.
Weaver talked about his keyboard part in the book:
One morning, it was just myself and Barry in the studio.  He said, "Play the most beautiful chord you know", and I just played, what happened was, I'd throw chords at him and he'd say, "No, not that chord", and I'd keep moving around and he'd say, "Yeah, that's a nice one" and we'd go from there. Then I'd play another thing - sometimes, I'd be following the melody line that he already had and sometimes I'd most probably lead him somewhere else by doing what I did.
The Bee Gees recorded the song at Château d'Hérouville near Paris, France, with additional recording at Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida.  The group had by this time become renowned for their incredible harmonies, and Robin talked about the vocals for "How Deep Is Your Love" with Daniel Rachel for the book The Art of Noise:  Conversations with Great Songwriters: 
If you listen to "How Deep is Your Love" you think it's a single voice but it's me and Barry singing in unison, which produces a nice sound, as it does on "New York Mining Disaster".  There's a sound that we do, it's almost like a single voice, but it isn't, and it's not double-tracked, it's two voices together.  It's something that we've done a lot.
When finished, the group discussed giving the song to Yvonne Elliman to record, but Stigwood told them, "You've got to do this song yourself; you should not give it to anybody."  Instead, Elliman recorded another song the Gibb brothers had written, "If I Can't Have You". 
In September, 1977, "How Deep Is Your Love" began climbing the charts.  Only 11 of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era* faced tougher competition.  During that time, Rock Era fans could also hear classics such as the Bee Gees' own "Night Fever" and "Stayin' Alive", "Don't Stop" and "You Make Loving Fun" by Fleetwood Mac, "Just The Way You Are" by Billy Joel, "Baker Street" from Gerry Rafferty, "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" and "Shadow Dancing" by Andy Gibb, "We Will Rock You"/"We Are The Champions" by Queen, "If I Can't Have You" by Elliman, Linda Ronstadt's "Blue Bayou", "Sometimes When We Touch" by Dan Hill, and "Lay Down Sally" from Eric Clapton.  

"How Deep Is Your Love" started one of the hottest streaks of the Rock Era.  It was the first of what would become a record six consecutive #1 songs in the United States, beaten only by Whitney Houston's mark of seven straight years later (1985-1988).  The song also set a Rock Era record at the time with 17 weeks in the Top 10. 

"How Deep Is Your Love" raced to #1 for 3 weeks on the Popular chart in the United States, and presided at #1 for 6 weeks on the more-important Adult Contemporary chart.  The song was a worldwide smash, hitting #1 in Canada, France & Finland, #2 in Ireland, #3 in the U.K. and Australia, #4 in Sweden, #5 in Norway, #6 in New Zealand, and #8 in the Netherlands. 
This won the 1977 Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance By A Group.  The song was also nominated for Best Original Song at the Golden Globe Awards. 
"How Deep Is Your Love" has sold over 1 million singles and helped sell over 19.5 million albums in the U.S. alone.  It has been played over 6 million times on the radio.

If you haven't heard all of the 47 segments of The Top 500 Songs*, this is a good time to go back and catch up.  Find one of the handy Checklists* on Inside The Rock Era, and we'll see you back here tomorrow as we enter The Top 30*. 

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