Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #50-41

If you have been with us since the beginning of the special, kudos to you!  If you haven't, or have missed a segment, go back and listen to those first (it will make you appreciate the songs to come more...).  So beginning on May 21, we have revealed 450 songs so far.  The 50 that remain are the best of 60 years:


Endless Love 
Diana Ross & Lionel Richie
"This song couldn't be any better."
"Great song beautifully sung."
"One of the best songs ever."
"One of the most beautiful songs ever created."
"An awesome and beautiful song."
"Gives me chills."
"Two massive legends on a great song!"

There are 15 songs from the year 1981 in The Top 500*, which is tied for the ninth most from any year in the Rock Era.  That was the year that two singers combined for a dynamite duet.  Diana Ross left the Supremes in 1969 for a great solo career, while Lionel Richie was soon to leave the Commodores for a successful solo career of his own. 
In 1981, film producer Franco Zeffirelli contacted Richie about writing a song for an upcoming movie Zeffirelli was working on.  Zeffirelli then asked Ross about being a co-vocalist with Lionel on a duet.  Richie accepted, and after writing this song, flew to Reno, Nevada for a 3 a.m. recording session.
Lionel Richie was one of the hottest songwriters going in 1981 when he wrote this duet.  In addition to writing hits such as "Three Times A Lady", "Still", and "Sail On" for the Commodores the few preceding years, Richie also wrote the #1 smash "Lady" for Kenny Rogers, and used "Endless Love" as a transition from the Commodores into his solo career.

The song was recorded by Richie and Diana Ross for the movie Endless Love.  After all her years with Motown Records, Diana left Motown two months before "Endless Love" was released, inking a $20 million deal with RCA. 

"Endless Love" debuted on the charts in July, 1981, when Rock Era fans could also hear "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes, Foreigner's "Waiting For A Girl Like You", "Physical" by Olivia Newton-John, "I Can't Go For That" from Hall & Oates , "Who's Crying Now" and "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey, "Every Little Thing Is Magic" by the Police, "Arthur's Theme" by Christopher Cross, and "Angel Of The Morning" by Juice Newton.

It became Ross's 18th career #1 song, counting her 12 as a member of the Supremes.  "Endless Love" is one of the longest-running #1's of the Rock Era, maintaining a stronghold for 9 weeks and spending 13 weeks in the Top 10.  The song showed its mass appeal by chalking up 7 weeks at #1 on the R&B chart and 3 weeks at the top on the Adult Contemporary chart.  It also peaked at #1 in Canada and Australia, #5 in Sweden, #6 in Switzerland, #7 in the U.K., and #8 in Norway.

The song was nominated for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards and the Golden Globe Awards.  Billboard magazine declared "Endless Love" as the greatest duet of all-time.

"Endless Love" has now sold over 2 million singles and over 4 million albums in the U.S. alone.  It has registered 4 million radio airplays.
Mariah Carey and Luther Vandross remade the song in 1994. 


 Mariah Carey
"Love this classic!"
"Really touches the heart."

"Sooooooo beautiful song!"

"Great song at a time when she was America's sweetheart."

"A perfect blend of beauty with MELODY."

"She was so natural here.  Miss this Mariah!"

"This song is my favorite."

"A true classic."

""Beautiful song.  So classic."

This artist from New York set a Rock Era record when each of her first five releases, "Vision Of Love", "Love Takes Time", "Someday", "I Don't Wanna' Cry", and "Emotions" went to #1.  That broke the mark of the Jackson 5, which hit #1 with their first four releases. 

Mariah Carey's streak of Top 5 songs had hit eight when she released this song.  Carey teamed with Dave Hall to write this smash from Mariah's excellent album Music Box.  After the huge success of her debut album, Columbia Records allowed Carey more control over her musical direction, and Mariah included more R&B influences on her second album Emotions.  But when that album was a commercial and critical disappointment, Columbia returned Carey to a style more reflective of her debut release.  Carey talked about her songwriting process:

The way I usually work is I do an untitled song.  We'll grab the hook, whether sampled or created, and use it as the working title.  I wrote the verses first, as well as the melody and the inclusion of several instrumentals.  Sometimes I'll have an idea for a lyrics.  If I'm collaborating with someone, I'll direct them in the direction that I'm going chord wise, because I get all these melody ideas and then I lose them if I don't have someone really good with the keyboard with me.  That's why I tend to collaborate because I lose the ideas by the time I figure out the chord. All these melody ideas just go.

In August of 1993, "Dreamlover" began receiving heavy airplay, facing competition from her own "Hero", "The Power Of Love" by Celine Dion, "The Sign" and "All That She Wants" by Ace of Base, "Breathe Again" from Toni Braxton, "That's The Way Love Goes" and "Again" by Janet Jackson, and "I'd Do Anything For Love" by Meat Loaf.
"Dreamlover" reached #1 for 8 weeks and remained in the Top 10 for 14 weeks.  It posted 8 weeks at #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart and 4 weeks at #2 on the R&B chart.  The song hit #1 in Canada, #2 in New Zealand, #7 in Australia, #8 in the Netherlands, and #9 in the U.K.
"Dreamlover" sold over one million singles and helped sell over six million albums.  To date, it has recorded two million airplays.



Crocodile Rock 
Elton John

"This is the best!"
"Love this song."
"Awesome song!  One of his best."
"A great song!"
"Beautiful song, great time to be alive."
"Best music ever."
"A famous and legendary song."
"One of my favorites. Still a great song after all these years."
"Instantly became one of my favorites."


When this artist was 10, his mother brought home a 45 record of "Heartbreak Hotel" by Elvis Presley for her son.  "I was freaked out," he said.  "The first thing I ever read about Elvis was in a barber's shop, and I couldn't believe it.  I went on from there."
Elton John certainly did.  He won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music when he was 11 years old, and after much work in the years to come, became one of the world's premiere musical artists.

Elton John and Bernie Taupin wrote this song in the summer of 1972 at Château d'Hérouville studios near Paris, France.  John and his band had recorded the 1972 album Honky Château there, and they returned to begin work on a follow-up album.  The LP Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player represented Elton's first release on the parent MCA label, after recording on the subsidiary Uni label up to that point. 

On this song, lyricist Bernie Taupin paid tribute to the music of the early Rock era.  It tells the story of a man who grew up in the '50s and '60s and went often to a restaurant where people danced an obscure dance called the Crocodile Rock.  Because of all the events of the turbulent '60s, however, the little-known dance vanished because no one cared anymore.  The title is a play on the hit "See You Later Alligator" by Bill Haley & the Comets.  Haley's groundbreaking song "Rock Around The Clock" is mentioned in the song, as that is what most of the other youth were listening to while the protagonist was doing the Crocodile Rock.  

"Crocodile Rock" began its ascent up the charts in December of 1972.  Along the way, it faced great songs such as "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" and "Superstition" by Stevie Wonder, "Nights In White Satin" by the Moody Blues, "Killing Me Softly With His Song" from 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, "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash,  and Carly Simon's "You're So Vain". 

"Crocodile Rock" spent 3 weeks at #1 and 9 in the Top 10.  It also reached #11 on the Adult chart and #1 for 4 weeks in Canada.   Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player went to #1 on both sides of the Atlantic. 

The single has sold over two million copies and helped sell over 25.5 million albums in the U.S. alone.  With radio airplay now over 7 million, "Crocodile Rock" is one of the 30 most-played songs in history.



I'll Make Love To You
 Boyz II Men

"One of my very fave songs!!!"
"Beautiful melody and sung beautifully."
"A really awesome song."
"Perfect harmony!!!"
"Beautiful song!"
"Favorite song of all-time."
"OMG!  I love this song!"
"Such a sexy song..."
"Perfect song!"


Babyface wrote this song at #47* for Boyz II Men for their second album II.  Babyface had a few hits of his own in the '80s, such as "Whip Appeal" and "It's No Crime".  Before long, Babyface became much in demand for songwriting and producing, working with Madonna, Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige and many others.  Together with Antonio "L.A." Reid, Babyface formed LaFace Records.  Babyface talked about the writing of "I'll Make Love To You" with
"I'll Make Love To You" was kind of the follow up to "End Of The Road".  I think I wrote it in an apartment here in LA. Once I finished it, the hard part is like when you do one big song like "End Of The Road", it's tough to try to out do it but it was something that was in that line.  When I first submitted it, I think the guys liked it but then at one point the record was voted off their album.  At the last minute they voted it back in again.
In August of 1994, "I'll Make Love To You" entered the charts.  During its run, the Boyz II Men song faced competition from their own "On Bended Knee", "The Sign" by Ace of Base, "I Swear" from All-4-One, Sheryl Crow's "All I Wanna' Do", "Take A Bow" from Madonna, "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" by Elton John, TLC's "Creep", and "Stay ( I Missed You)" by Lisa Loeb.

"I'll Make Love To You" tied the Rock Era record at the time for weeks at #1 that had been set by "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston less than two years before with 14.  "I'll Make Love To You" also resided in the Top 10 for 22 weeks, spent 3 weeks at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and 9 weeks at the top of the R&B chart.  Boyz II Men teamed with Mariah Carey two years later to record what became the current record of 16 weeks at #1 for "One Sweet Day".

Boyz II Men does share the record for most consecutive weeks in which one of their songs were in the Top 2, as between "I'll Make Love To You" and "On Bended Knee", the group spent 26 straight weeks at either #1 or #2.  That mark was tied when the Black Eyed Peas held one of the top two spots with "Boom Boom Pow" and "I Gotta' Feeling" for 26 consecutive weeks. 

"I'll Make Love To You" also vaulted to #1 in Australia and New Zealand, #2 in France, #5 in Norway, #6 in the Netherlands and Sweden, #7 in Ireland, and #9 in Switzerland.

Boyz II Men won Grammy Awards for Best R & B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and Best R & B Album, American Music Awards for Favorite Band, Favorite Soul Single, Favorite Pop Single and Best Soul/R & B Album, Blockbuster Awards for Favorite CD and Favorite R & B CD and a World Music Award for Best International Group.  The group was also nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammys and for Favorite Adult Contemporary Artist and Favorite Album (II) at the American Music Awards.

"I'll Make Love To You" sold over one million singles and helped sell over 13 million albums.  To date, it has achieved over 2 million in radio airplay.



You're Still The One 
Shania Twain

"This is a great song. It is very emotional, and has great lyrics."
"This is so beautiful."
"Ahh classic."
"Just beautiful.  Love the lyrics."
"This song is so perfect."
"What a beautiful song."
"This is a heartwarming classic."
"My favorite."
"Absolutely perfect."

Shania Twain wrote this song for her phenomenally successful album Come on Over along with Robert "Mutt" Lange.  When the two became romantically involved, some people criticized them, with some saying that Twain was just using Lange to advance her career.  Those criticisms led to the writing of "You're Still The One".

Twain said in an interview with Top of the Pops that the couple never intended to write a song about themselves, but that they were influenced by the criticism in the press.
The album version of the song was remixed prior to releasing it as a single to sound less Country and thus appeal to most people.  In February of 1998, "You're Still The One" began a climb up the best-seller charts.  Rock Era fans could also hear "The Boy Is Mine" by Monica and Brandy, "Candle In The Wind '97" by Elton John, Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On", Twain's own "From This Moment On", "Truly, Madly, Deeply" by Savage Garden, "You Were Meant For Me" by Jewel,  and "Quit Playing Games (With My Heart)" by the Backstreet Boys.   

It is easy to see the popularity of "You're Still The One".  The song  peaked at #2 for 9 weeks, one of the biggest #2 songs in history.  Even with those impressive numbers, they were compiled without using album sales, another strength of this song, and more on that later.  Rather than drop off the edge of the earth the way many "flashes in the pan" do, "You're Still The One" camped out in the Top 10 for 23 weeks.  Then you begin to look at mass appeal--is the song only popular with kids, or do other audiences like it?  It was #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart for 8 weeks.  The song also hit #1 in Australia, #3 in Ireland, #7 in Canada, #9 in New Zealand, and #10 in the U.K. and the Netherlands.

Twian captured Grammy Awards for Best Country Song and Best Female Country Vocal Performance, American Music Awards for Favorite Female Artist and Favorite Country Female Artist, and Billboard Awards for Favorite Female Artist of the Year, Top Country Sales Single, and Hot 100 Singles Female Artist.  "You're Still The One" was nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year at the Grammy Awards.

The song went Platinum and helped sell over 24 million albums in the U.S. alone.  With over 7 million airplays, "You're Still The One" ranks in the top 30 for all-time.




Cat's In The Cradle
Harry Chapin

"This song touches me more than anything else I know."
"This is a very thoughtful song with deep meaning."
"Fantastic song! Never fails to send chills down my spine."
"The first time I heard this song it stunned me. I have had a great connection with the song ever since."
"Very strong and inspiring lyrics for all of us."
"A classic. A really great song."
"This song nails it!"
"Love this song!"
"This song is so beautiful. Incredible lyrics."

This masterful storyteller studied trumpet and sang in the Brooklyn Heights (New York) Boy's Choir.  With his brothers Tom and Stephen, Harry Chapin formed a folk group.  When someone sets out to be a musician, you still have to pay the bills, and Harry was a taxi driver in New York City.  In 1969, he produced the boxing documentary The Legendary Champions, which was nominated for an Academy Award.  He recorded some of his own songs for a second documentary, Blue Water, White Death.
While performing at the Village Gate, Chapin heard from Ann Purtill, who saw his performance after seeing a review in the newspaper The New York Times.  Purtill worked for Elektra Records, and suggested that label president Jac Holzman sign Chapin to a recording contract.
Chapin got off the ground, so to speak, with the song "Taxi" in 1972, which set the stage for "Cat's In The Cradle".
This great song tells the story of a father and son who are unable to schedule time to be with each other, and is in fact a stern warning to every man who chooses to bring a child into the world not to ever put their career before family.  The chorus of "Cats In The Cradle" references the Cat's in the Cradle string game, silver spoons, which are often given to babies as christening gifts, and the nursery rhymes "Little Boy Blue and Man in the Moon. 
Harry Chapin wrote this song for his album Verities & Balderdash, adapting it from a poem his wife, Sandy, had written about her first husband and his father.  Chapin also was inspired about his relationship with his son Josh, saying "Frankly, this song scares me to death." 
When Harry and Sandy's son, Josh, was born, it brought new meaning to Sandy's poem, and Harry decided to turn the poem into a song.  Sandy told the story to Songfacts of how her poem came to become a song.
Harry and I would exchange writing of all kinds.  We were always working on each other's writing.  Some of my writing at a certain period were 20-page papers for a doctoral program at Columbia (University).  So it wasn't always that poetic.  But we both looked at each other's stuff.  And then one time he came home and he said, "What have you been doing?"  I showed him "Cat's In The Cradle," and he said, "Well, that's interesting."  You know, sometimes he'd pick up something and put music to it.  And that didn't really grab him at all.  And then after Josh was born, it did.  He picked it up and he wrote music to it.
"Cat's In The Cradle" debuted on the charts in October of 1974, where it faced classics such as "Best Of My Love" by the Eagles, Olivia Newton-John's "I Honestly Love You", "Mandy" by Barry Manilow, "You're No Good" by Linda Ronstadt, "My Eyes Adored You" by Frankie Valli, "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" by Elton John, and "Black Water" by the Doobie Brothers.
"Cat's In The Cradle" soared to #1 overall and #6 on the Adult chart.  The song sold over one million singles and helped sell over one million albums.  It has gone over 4 million in radio airplay, and its continuing relevance to this day is evidenced by the fact that "Cat's In The Cradle"  is one of the most-loved songs on YouTube and other music sites.
Chapin performed over 200 concerts a year, many of them for political and social causes.  Harry co-founded the World Hunger Fund and helped raise over five million dollars toward the cause.  He also performed concerts for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation and for environmental and consumer causes.  After his tragic death after a car accident on July 16, 1981, Chapin's manager, Ken Kragen, established a Harry Chapin Memorial Fund to continue his humanitarian efforts, especially the eradication of world hunger. 


Killing Me Softly With His Song
Roberta Flack

"What a classic song!"
"Such a powerful song that touches the soul."
"One of my favourite songs. Love it."
"A hauntingly beautiful song."
"A beautiful song."
"One of the best songs ever..."
"This is the real deal. Drama and beauty with a great voice."
"Amazing song. Absolute recording excellence."
"Nothing better. What a song."

Shortly after lyricist Norman Gimbel moved to California in the mid-1960s, he was introduced to composer Lalo Schrifrin, who had just written the theme to the landmark television series Mission:  Impossible.  The two wanted to write a Broadway musical together, and Schifrin gave Gimbel the book Hopscotch by Julio Cortáza to read as a possible idea.  Although the book never found its way as a musicial, in chapter 2, the main character described himself sitting in a bar listening to a pianist "kill us softly with some blues".  Gimbel filed the idea away for future reference.
Years later, artist Lori Lieberman said she had written a poem after seeing a Don McLean concert.  Lieberman was struck by the connection she experienced, and particular McLean's song "Empty Chairs".  She was captivated by McLean's song, and gave the poem to Gimbel and told him how much "Empty Chairs" had inspired her.  Gimbel put Lieberman's feelings into words, and gave the lyrics to Charlie Fox, who wrote the music. 
Lieberman recorded the song and released it in early 1972.  Now, Fox disputes that Lieberman had input into the song saying:
We [i.e. Gimbel and Fox] wrote the song and [Lieberman] heard it and said it reminded her of how she felt at [a Don McLean] concert.  Don McLean didn't inspire Norman or me to write the song but even Don McLean thinks he's the inspiration for the song according to his official website!
More on this controversy later.  Roberta Flack happened to hear the song when she was traveling from Los Angeles to New York City and heard Lieberman's version on the in-flight audio program.  Flack remembers her immediate reaction to the song:

The title, of course, smacked me in the face. I immediately pulled out some scratch paper, made musical staves [then] play[ed] the song at least eight to ten times jotting down the melody that I heard.... When I landed, I immediately called  Quincy (Jones) at his house and asked him how to meet Charles Fox. Two days later I had the music.

Flack worked on the song with her band at a studio in Kingston, Jamaica but did not record it at the time.  In September of that year, Flack opened for Marvin Gaye at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles; after performing her encore song, Gaye advised Flack to sing an additional song.  Flack said "I sang "Killing Me Softly..." and the audience went crazy, and he [Marvin] walked over to me and put his arm around me and said, "Baby, don't ever do that song again live until you record it." 

Flack changed the chord structure from the original version and ended the song with a major rather than a minor chord.  She recorded this song November 17, 1972 and released the single January 21, 1973.

"Killing Me Softly With His Song" faced amazing competition from "Crocodile Rock" and "Daniel" by Elton John, "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" from Vicki Lawrence, "Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round The Ole Oak Tree" by Tony Orlando & Dawn, "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash, "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" by Jim Croce, "Superstition" and "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life" by Stevie Wonder, "My Love" by Paul McCartney & Wings, and Carly Simon's "You're So Vain".
"Killing Me Softly With His Song" commanded the day with 5 weeks at #1 and 9 weeks in the Top 10 and showed its mass appeal by reaching #2 on the Adult chart.  It also peaked at #1 in Canada, #3 in the Netherlands, #4 in Norway, #6 in the U.K., and #10 in Ireland.

As Flack had won Record of the Year in 1972 for her song "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", she became the first person to win the honor two consecutive years when "Killing Me Softly With His Song" repeated the feat.  It also won Grammys for Song of the Year and Best 
Pop Vocal Performance, Female.

"Killing Me Softly With His Song" went Gold and helped sell over 3.5 million albums.  It is one of the most-played songs in history with over 5 million radio airplays.

The dispute over how the song came to be was settled when articles from the early 1970s were found, all of them vindicating Lieberman.  In The Daily News (April 5, 1973), Gimbel was quoted as saying:

She [Lori Lieberman] told us about this strong experience she had listening to McLean ("I felt all flushed with fever / Embarrassed by the crowd / I felt he had found my letters / And read each one out loud / I prayed that he would finish / But he just kept right on…").  I had a notion this might make a good song so the three of us discussed it.  We talked it over several times, just as we did for the rest of the numbers we wrote for this album and we all felt it had possibilities.


In 1996, the Fugees enjoyed a #1 hit with their cover of the song.  In 1999, Flack's version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.




Joy To The World
 Three Dog Night


"Killer song!"
"Love this song so much! Respect the classics!"
"This is one of the best songs ever."
"A great song!"
"Absolute classic and timeless words."
"One of my all-time favorite songs."
"Legendary song!  Just amazing!"
"This song has to be one of the happiest songs ever written."
"Always loved the energy of the song.  One of those songs for all-time."

Before this talented act formed, Danny Hutton worked for Walt Disney Productions and Hanna-Barbera, where he recorded voices for animated programs.  Hutton signed a recording contract with MGM Records, and released songs on that label.  Cory Wells was the lead vocalist for the Enemies, the house band at Whisky A Go Go in Los Angeles.  The two met Hutton there, but they didn't hook up immediately.

About a year and a half later, Hutton called Cory, and the two auditioned their friend Chuck Negron for a group they were forming.  Negron began his career singing at the Apollo Theater in the neighborhood of Harlem in Manhattan, New York.  The three singers recruited lead guitarist Mike Allsup, organist Jim Greenspoon, bassist Joe Schermie and drummer Floyd Sneed to form Three Dog Night.
The supergroup got its name from an old Australian Aborignal saying they had heard.  If it was cold at night, one slept with their dogs to keep warm.  If it was fairly cold, they would sleep with one dog, colder still, two dogs.  A three dog night was the coldest of all.  But Three Dog Night was anything but, scoring 21 hits, including 10 Top 10's, and The #43 Song of the Rock Era*.
Hoyt Axton wrote this song originally for a planned animated television special called The Happy Song.  That special never came to be, so Axton, who at the time opened for Three Dog Night, pitched it to the group.  The opening line, "Jeremiah was a bullfrog" has caused much consternation over the years.  Why would someone say a phrase like that to open a song?  Axton explained that he had already written the chorus and melody, and added some placeholder lyrics with the intention of finishing the song later.  Axton told The Oregon News-Review:
Jeremiah was an expedient of the time.  I had the chorus for three months.  I took a drink of wine, leaned on the speaker, and said "Jeremiah was a bullfrog."  It was meaningless.  It was a temporary lyric.  Before I could rewrite it, they cut it and it was a hit.

Three Dog Night recorded the song at American Recording Company in Los Angeles, originally recording "Joy To The World" as just another song to finish their album.  However, disc jockey Larry Bergman played the song in Seattle, Washington, and reaction was so strong that Three Dog Night eventually released it as a single from their album Naturally.  Bergman told Songfacts about his role in breaking the song:
I was the DJ who first played "Joy To The World" on the radio that caused it to start its journey to #1.  I was working at radio station KISW-FM at the time.  It was the sister station to the number one radio station in Seattle, KJR-AM.  My job was to select odd cuts from albums by popular artists, not necessarily their hits, and record them on tape for on-air use. I remember I needed to find one more song to fill a tape I was producing and came across "Joy To The World".  It was on the second side, last cut on their Naturally album.  I put it on the tape and played it on the air. 
Within the hour the KJR DJ (Gary Shannon) came running over from the AM side and asked where I got that song.  "People were calling," he said.  I told him and he had me record it on to another tape for him.  He took it and played it on KJR and within a few weeks it went to #1 in Seattle.  It wasn't long after that the song reached #1 on 'Billboard'.  The station got a gold record for it and Three Dog Night came to Seattle to launch their next album.
In March of 1971, Rock Era fans could hear "Joy To The World" alongside other greats such as "How Can You Mend A Broken Heart" by the Bee Gees, "It's Too Late" by Carole King, "Knock Three Times" from Tony Orlando & Dawn, Janis Joplin's "Me And Bobby McGee", "Brown Sugar" by the Rolling Stones, "Rainy Days And Mondays" and "For All We Know" from the Carpenters, "Just My Imagination" by the Temptations, James Taylor's "You've Got A Friend", "Indian Reservation" by Paul Revere & the Raiders, and "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye. 
"Joy To The World" rushed to #1 for 6 weeks and spent 11 weeks in the Top 10.  When "Joy To The World" climbed to #1, Axton and his mother, Mae, became the first mother and son to have each written a #1 song in the Rock Era.  May co-wrote "Heartbreak Hotel", the first #1 song for Elvis Presley.  "Joy To The World" also reached #1 in Canada.
The song sold over 1 million singles and helped sell over 21 million albums in the U.S. alone.  It is now approaching 3 million in radio airplay.

Axton gave Three Dog Night another hit a year later, writing "Never Been To Spain" for them.




One Sweet Day 
Mariah Carey with Boyz II Men

"So sad but beautiful."

"Goosebumps... Just wow."

"Luv this song! Very meaningful."

"Great song of the heart. Love it."

"I love this song!"


"This song has so much meaning."

"Two awesome acts together on a masterpiece."

"This is eternal."

The smash at #42* is one of five songs from the year 1996 to make the elite special.  It is one of the great collaborations of the Rock Era, written by Mariah Carey, Walter Afansieff and the members of Boyz II Men:  Wanya Morris, Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman, and Michael McCary.  Carey and Boyz II Men were inspired by sufferers of the AIDS epidemic, and wrote the song about specific people in their lives. 

Prior to the collaboration, Carey's friend and past songwriting partner David Cole (see above) died from AIDS.  Carey had written the chorus before meeting with Boyz II Men, whose members also had a similar idea they were developing.  Together, the two superstar artists combined to finish the song.  Carey explained how "One Sweet Day" came to be:     

I wrote the initial idea for "One Sweet Day" with Walter, and I had the chorus...and I stopped and said, "I really wanna' do this with Boyz II Men," because...obviously I'm a big fan of theirs and I just thought that the work was crying out for them, the vocals that they do, so I put it away and said, "Who knows if this could ever happen, but I just don't wanna' finish this song because I want it to be our song if we ever do it together.  [The] whole idea of when you lose people that are close to you, it changes your life and changes your perspective.

When they came into the studio, I played them the idea for the song and when [it] was finished, they looked at each other, a bit stunned, and told me that  Nathan Morris had written a song for his road manager who had passed away.  It had basically the same lyrics and fitted over the same chord changes. It was really, really weird, we finished the song right then and there.  We were all kinda' flipped about it ourselves.  Fate had a lot to do with that.  I know some people won't believe it, but we wouldn't make up such a crazy story.

After they began working on the song, Carey began working other lyrics into the chorus to relate to the AIDS epidemic that had exploded in the mid-1990s.  Mariah's sister Alison had been diagnosed with HIV in 1988 when she was just 27. 
The members of Boyz II Men had also lost their road manager, Kahili Roundtree, who had been shot in the elevator of a parking garage.  Nathan Morris began writing a song in memory of Roundtree when Sony executive Tommy Mottola called and asked if the group would be interested in doing a duet with Carey.  Carey was recording at the Hit Factory in New York City, and Mariah played the melody and the hook for Boyz II Men.  Morris sang the melody and lyrics of what he had written, and the two songs were merged to make "One Sweet Day". 

In December, 1995, "One Sweet Day" began receiving heavy airplay on radio stations.  During its chart run, it competed with great songs such as Mariah's own "Fantasy", "Because I Loved You" from Celine Dion, "Kiss From A Rose" by Seal, "Waterfalls" by TLC, and "Gansta's Paradise" by Coolio.  While the competition for "One Sweet Day" was good, it wasn't as strong as other songs ahead of it.      
"One Sweet Day" hit #1 and did not let go, remaining at the top for a record-breaking 16 weeks.  It also went to #1 for 11 weeks on the Top 40 chart, #1 for 10 weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #2 for 9 weeks on the R&B chart.  Add up those audiences and you get a lot of people that love the song.  "One Sweet Day" also jumped to #1 in Canada and New Zealand, #2 in Australia and the Netherlands, #4 in Ireland, #5 in France and Denmark, #6 in the U.K. and Norway, and #7 in Sweden.
The song captured an American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist(Carey), a World Music Diamond Award and Special Achievement Award, Billboard Awards for Special Award and Hot 100 Singles Artist Of The Year (Carey) and a Soul Train Award for Career Achievement (Carey).

"One Sweet Day" was nominated for Record of the Year and Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the Grammy Awards and Top Hot 100 Singles at the Billboard Awards.
"One Sweet Day" has sold over 2 million singles and helped sell over 16 million albums.  It has chalked up 1 million radio airplay, not near as much as others in this range, and is somewhat limited by that factor.  More radio airplay would give it a boost.  In 2011, that crazy magazine, Rolling Stone, conducted a poll to determine the best collaboration of all-time.  This is what the unprofessional people at Rolling Stone do when they get a result that they don't agree with; they poo-poo the results.  When "One Sweet Day" topped their poll, the magazine had the gall to say:

The song wouldn't have won if the Mariah Carey fans hadn't stuffed the ballot boxes in this poll.  Most of you reading this probably don't think it's the greatest duet of all time.  You're probably enraged to see it here.  We understand.

The  editors at Rolling Stone would be shocked to see just how out of touch they are if they polled the general public instead of their limited sample of readers.  All this time, they thought they knew it all, when in actuality, they know very little about people and their musical tastes.


She Loves You

"I love this song!"
"This song is so amazing."
"A classic of rock & roll."
"One of the best songs ever!"
"This song rocks!"
"Great song--the Beatles are so inspiring."
"This song is brilliant."
"This song is so genuine. So happy and fun."
"One of my all-time favorites."  
John Lennon and Paul McCartney began writing this song on June 26, 1963 while on tour in Newcastle upon Tyne, and finished it the next day at McCartney's family home in Liverpool, England.  Paul remembers the two playing the finished product on acoustic guitar to his father Jim immediately after the song was completed:
We went into the living room [and said] "Dad, listen to this. What do you think?  And he said, "That's very nice son, but there's enough of these Americanisms around.  Couldn't you sing "She loves you, yes, yes, yes!".  At which point we collapsed in a heap and said "No, Dad, you don't quite get it!".
"She Loves You" became a huge hit in the U.K. long before it spread out of the Beatles' homeland.  The Beatles recorded the song July 1, 1963 at EMI Studios in London. 
The group released the single August 23, 1963 in the U.K.
The group had already become a phenomenon in Great Britain, and thousands of fans had ordered the next single as early as June.  These advance orders totaled over 500,000 by the time the single was released.  "She Loves You" spent 18 weeks in the British Top 3, and finished the year as the best-selling song of 1963. 
The Beatles released the single September 16 in the United States.  It didn't initially catch on in the U.S., but when "I Want To Hold Your Hand" became a huge hit, Swan Records re-released "She Loves You", and this time, it was a monster.

"She Loves You" faced homegrown competition from "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "Can't Buy Me Love", "Love Me Do", "Please Please Me", and "Twist And Shout", as well as other great songs such as "My Guy" by Mary Wells.
"She Loves You" spent five weeks at #2 behind "I Want To Hold Your Hand", then replaced it for two weeks.  All told, it resided in the Top 10 for 11 weeks, and also held on to #1 for 9 weeks in Canada. 
"She Loves You" was included on The Beatles' Second Album.  When that album overtook the group's Meet the Beatles! in May, it marked the first time that an artist had replaced themselves at #1 on the Album chart. 
The German division of EMI believed the Beatles would only be popular in Germany if the group recorded their songs in German.  Thus, the Beatles recorded "Sie Liebt Dich" on January 29, 1964 at the Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris.  Since the original two-track recording had been scrapped, the Beatles had to record a new rhythm track, and then added the new vocals in German.  The song was translated by Camillo Felgen.
"She Loves You" still ranks as the eighth best-selling single of all-time in the U.K. with sales approaching two million copies.   In the United States, the single has yet to be certified Gold.  It has, however, helped sell over 44 million albums in the U.S. alone.  The song is also held back form ranking higher because it has only been certified for 1 million radio airplays.

As successful as these 10 classics are, and as great as they are, there are 10 that are even better, and those will be unveiled tomorrow exclusively on Inside The Rock Era! 

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