Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #90-81

You have found it!  The only place in the world that is playing The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era* in time for the 60th birthday celebration!  We have 10 more classics lined up right after the jump:

The Power Of Love
Celine Dion

"What an awesome song!"
"My favorite song..."
"Strong and powerful with a sentimental touch."
"I love this song forever."
"Great song!"
"Song that truly touches the heart ❤️❤️❤️."
"Powerful...just beautiful!"

This superstar wrote her first song, "Ce n'était qu'un rêve" ("It Was Only A Dream") when she was age 12.  Her brother, Michel Dondalinger Dion mailed her recording to René Angélil after he saw Angélil's name in the credits for a Ginette Reno album.  René Angélil was moved to tears by Celine Dion's voice and became her manager.

In 1981, Angélil mortgaged his house to pay for Dion's first song, "La voix du bon Dieu" ("The Voice Of The Good God").  The song was a huge hit in Quebec, Canada, and Dion's star began to rise when she won Top Performer and Best Song honors at the Yamaha World Popular Song Festival in Tokyo with "Tellement j'ai d'amour pour toi" ("I Have So Much Love For You").
Dion's aspirations of being a singer were such that she underwent dental surgery and went to school to perfect her English.  Celine released her first English album, Unison, in 1990, which contained the hit "Where Does My Heart Beat Now".  By 1993, Dion had scored seven hits, including "If You Asked Me Too", "Love Can Move Mountains", and "Beauty And The Beast". 
Jennifer Rush co-wrote and originally recorded this song, which seemed destined to be a classic by someone.  Laura Branigan gave it a shot, and Air Supply covered it as well.  But when Celine Dion recorded it, it was the magic touch needed to take the song over the top.
Dion released the single from her third studio album, The Colour of My Love.  "The Power Of Love" faced competition from "Dreamlover" and "Hero" by Mariah Carey, "I Swear" by All 4 One, "All That She Wants" and "The Sign" from Ace of Base, "Again" from Janet Jackson, "All For Love" by Rod Stewart, Bryan Adams and Sting, "Stay (I Missed You)" by Lisa Loeb and "I'd Do Anything For Love" by Meat Loaf.
"The Power Of Love" won the ASCAP Pop Award for Most Performed Song in the U.S.  It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, an American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Single, and Billboard Music Awards for Hot 100 Single of the Year and Hot Adult Contemporary Single of the Year.

"The Power Of Love" scored four weeks at #1 and 16 weeks in the Top 10 overall and #1 for four weeks on the Adult Contemporary chart as well.  It also rose to #1 in Canada and Australia, #3 in France, #4 in the U.K., #6 in Sweden, and #7 in New Zealand.
The song sold over one million copies and helped sell 13 million albums.  It is one of a select group of songs in the last 20 years to top one million radio airplays.

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face
Roberta Flack

"The mid 60's through the early 70's was a time unmatched in musical history. This classic treasure is absolute proof."
"Just beautiful"
"Truly heart-stopping beauty."

"Just absolutely gorgeous...amazing voice."

"Beautiful...very sentimental."

"One of the best songs ever written."

"The first time ever I heard this song.. I had tears in my eyes. It's the definition of perfect music."


This song was part of an amazing period in 1972 that saw "Without You" by Nilsson, "Heart Of Gold" by Neil Young, and "A Horse With No Name" by America hit #1 in succession, and Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" took over at #1 from America.  We cannot stress enough how important competition is in ranking songs; otherwise, chart numbers mean nothing.  More on Flack's competition later.

Folk singer Ewan MacColl wrote this song in 1957 for Peggy Seeger, who was in a play and called Ewan for song suggestions for a romantic scene.  MacColl wrote this classic in less than an hour, and played it over the phone for his wife to use in her play.

Several other artists recorded it, most notably the Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, the Brothers Four and Gordon Lightfoot.

Prior to this song, Roberta Flack had released two albums with not much fanfare.  She recorded "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" for her Atlantic Records debut album First Take.  By this time, Flack was quite familiar with the song, as she performed it regularly during Sunday afternoon brunches in a Washington, D.C. restaurant.  Even this song didn't do well at first.  Years later, however, Clint Eastwood was filming a movie called Play Misty for Me about a disc jockey and needed a romantic song for a scene with Donna Mills.  Eastwood remembered the song, and called Flack for permission to use it in the film.  That exposure prompted Atlantic Records to release the song as a single.
From the moment the song was released, the record-buying public couldn't get enough of it.  "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" hit the charts in March of 1972, encountering stellar competition from "American Pie" by Don McLean, Led Zeppelin's "Stairway To Heaven", "Without You" by Nilsson, "Alone Again (Naturally)" by Gilbert O'Sullivan, "A Horse With No Name" from America, "Heart Of Gold" by Neil Young, "Lean On Me" from Bill Withers, "Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me" by Mac Davis, "Take It Easy" by the Eagles, "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green, and "Song Sung Blue" from Neil Diamond. 

"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" was another mass appeal song in this range of The Top 500*--can you detect a theme?  The song roared to #1 for 6 weeks and spent 11 weeks lodged inside the Top 10 in the very competitive market shown above, and also ruled the Adult chart for 6 weeks.  It also reached #1 for 3 weeks in Canada. 
The song sold over one million singles and helped sell 2.5 million albums in the U.S. alone.  It has gone over the four million mark in radio airplay.  A tremendous amount going for this song.

Dozens of artists have recorded the song, including Elvis Presley, Diana Ross, the Temptations, Air Supply, Richard Marx, Petula Clark, George Michael, Bobby Vinton, Johnny Mathis, Laura Branigan, Don McLean, and the Chi-Lites.

One Of These Nights

"Great song."
"Always LOVED this tune."
"One of my favorite songs."
"This song is fantastic!"
"Great track!"

"Classic rock song!"

"Amazing song!"

Many people consider the 1975 album by this group to be the one that launched them from stardom to superstardom.  To be sure, the Eagles had recorded some great music in their first three years, including many "hidden gems" that the world didn't discover until after One of These Nights came out.  Sometimes in music history, such as with the Beatles, Mariah Carey, and others, an artist will score their first big hit and immediately, their music takes hold.  In the case of the Eagles, like fine wine, their music has aged extremely well.
The group of course enjoyed their first hit in 1972 with "Take It Easy", which we have already heard in The Top 500 Songs*.  After that initial success, the Eagles had both hits ("Witchy Woman" and "Best Of My Love") and misses, although the #22 song "Peaceful Easy Feeling" and #32 hit "Already Gone" are now as sought after as the group's big hits. 

But, as chart numbers go, "Best Of My Love" was the group's first big hit, a #1 song in 1974.  In between studio albums, the group released the compilation album Their Greatest (1971-1975).  Radio programmers and music directors soon learned of the tremendous pent-up demand for Eagles product, when the album became the top-seller of the Rock Era.  Perhaps that newfound knowledge triggered a run of 11 consecutive Top 20 hits from 1974-1980, making the Eagles one of the most consistent artists of the era. 

Guitarist Glenn Frey and drummer Don Henley wrote this gem for the Eagles as the title from their 1975 album.  Don Felder came up with the bass line which opened the song.  Frey talked about the meaning of the song in an interview with Phonograph Record:

 It's like, puttin' things off... Everybody I'm sure has said, "One of these nights I'm gonna'..."  Gonna' drive back to that restaurant and take that waitress in my arms, whatever.  Find that girl, make that money, buy that house.  Move to that country.  Any of that stuff.  Everyone's got his ultimate dream, savin' it for "someday."  And "someday' is up to you".

In 1975, Bill Szymczyk had become the group's producer, and One of These Nights was their first full album together.  The Eagles had experienced difficulties with previous producer Glyn Johns, who wanted to keep the Country sound of the Eagles, complete with its pedal steel guitar, etc., while the group wanted to rock and roll.  Good career choice!  Szymczyk, who previously produced the James Gang, was a perfect fit. 

In May of 1975, "One Of These Nights" hit the charts, when you could also hear current songs such as "Philadelphia Freedom" by Elton John, "Love Will Keep Us Together" by the Captain & Tennille, and "When Will I Be Loved" by Linda Ronstadt.  Although those are the only other Top 500* songs the Eagles faced with this one, there were 12 other songs that just missed the elite list that we heard in the Prelude*.  The competition for "One Of These Nights" wasn't as strong as some in this range, but stronger than most songs in The Top 500*.

This great song became the Eagles' second consecutive #1 song that remained in the Top 10 for 10 weeks.  "One Of These Nights" has helped sell over 39 million albums to rank in The Top 30 of all-time in that department.  It is approaching two million in radio airplay.

Eagles Greatest Hits 1971-1975 was the first album to receive the new Platinum Award from the Recording Industry Association of America, signifying 10 million units sold.  The album continues to sell well to this day, going over the 29-million mark in the United States and over 42 million in sales worldwide. 

We Can Work It Out

"Very beautiful lyrics."
"Great song."
"Such a relatable song."
"One of my all-time favorites."
"Pure genius."
"Great, great, great song!"
"Long live great music!"

Paul McCartney wrote this song about his girlfriend, actress Jane Asher.  The two split in 1968, and Paul then met the love of his life, Linda.
I took it to John to finish it off, and we wrote the middle together.  Which is nice: "Life is very short. There's no time for fussing and fighting, my friend."  Then it was George Harrison's idea to put the middle into 3/4 time, like a German waltz. That came on the session, it was one of the cases of the arrangement being done on the session.
The Beatles recorded "We Can Work It Out" over two sessions, October 20 and 29 in 1965, at EMI Studios in London.  The combined 11 hours spent on the song were by far the most time the Beatles had devoted to a single track at that point in their career.
Released in December as a double-A side single with "Day Tripper", the single became one of The Top Double-Sided Singles of the Rock Era*.  The Beatles made a promotional film to support "We Can Work It Out", one of the first music videos ever produced.

In its battle up the charts, "We Can Work It Out" faced classics such as "The Sound Of Silence" and "Homeward Bound" by Simon and Garfunkel, "Turn!  Turn!  Turn!" by the Byrds, "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers, and "Get Off Of My Cloud" from the Rolling Stones.  The story of competition for "We Can Work it Out" is similar to the Eagles' above--many songs out at the time are right on the cusp of The Top 500*

"We Can Work It Out" rose to #1 for 3 weeks; the song became the fastest-selling Beatles song since "Can't Buy Me Love" in 1964.  It gave the group six consecutive #1 singles, although in addition to those hits, B-sides from the period also charted.  Some organizations say the group had six #1 songs in a row, and this isn't true, because the B-sides charted but did not reach the Top 10.  The correct way to say it is that the Beatles had six straight #1 singles, not six straight #1 songs.  "We Can Work It Out" was the 11th #1 song for the Beatles in just two years, and it also went to #1 in the U.K., Canada, and Ireland.

The song sold over one million singles and helped sell over 32 million albums.  To date, "We Can Work It Out" has been played over four million times.
Stevie Wonder had a quality remake of this song in 1970, which reached #13.

Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head
B.J. Thomas

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

"Great song!"


"Love that song!"

"Beautiful song from a great movie."

"This song will forever be a favorite to me."

"Timeless and classic song."

"So beautiful."

"Amazing song!"

The songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David was one of the most effective the world had ever seen, penning the early hits "(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance" and "Only Love Can Break A Heart." for Gene Pitney.  When they began to write songs for a woman who had sang backup on several of their other songs, the fate of Dionne Warwick, Bacharach, and David became intertwined--and highly successful. 
Over the next several years, Warwick recorded 60 Bacharach-David compositions, including a stunning 19 Top 10 hits, and songs such as "Walk On By", "I Say A Little Prayer", and "Do You Know The Way To San Jose?".  Along the way, Bacharach and David also wrote "This Guy's In Love With You" for Herb Alpert, "The Look Of Love" and "Wishin' And Hopin'", which became huge hits for Dusty Springfield, "What The World Needs Now Is Love" by Jackie DeShannon, and "What's New Pussycat?", which became a big hit for Tom Jones.  But Bacharach & David's first million-seller was this classic at #86*.
Bacharach & David were called upon to write songs for the movie Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid, starring the first pairing of acting legends Paul Newman and Robert Redford.  Bacharach & David fashioned the song "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" as the theme to the movie.  However, first Ray Stevens and then Bob Dylan had turned them down.  Can anyone imagine how bad either of those two versions of the song would have been compared to the one we have come to know?
Meanwhile, B.J. Thomas was under contract with Scepter Records, also the home to Warwick.  Warwick was aware of the predicament of Bacharach & David, namely, having a theme song written and needing a good singer to record it.  She took a copy of Thomas' song "Hooked On A Feeling" to Bacharach and convinced Burt to give him a shot. 
The "B.J." in B.J. Thomas stands for "Billy Joe."  Thomas started singing with a church choir in Houston when he was 14.  Besides the aforementioned "Hooked On A Feeling", Thomas had enjoyed a Top 10 hit of his cover of the Hank Williams song "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" in 1966 and the underrated song "The Eyes Of A New York Woman" the year before.
At the time, Thomas was just getting over laryngitis that gave the song a raspy feel that the film's producers liked.  Eight weeks later, Thomas recorded another version that was released as the single in October of 1969.  Said Thomas, "I was in the right place at the right time, and probably got their best song ever."  B.J. recorded seven takes of the song, the first six of which Bacharach turned down, and the single version includes the memorable trumpet solo of Chuck Findlay.  

The song began climbing the charts in November of 1969, facing competition from "Let It Be", "Something", and "Come Together" by the Beatles, "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel, Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds", "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies, "Someday We'll Be Together" by Diana Ross & the Supremes, "Wedding Bell Blues" by the 5th Dimension, "Venus" from the Shocking Blue, "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" by Steam, "Down On The Corner" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, and "I Can't Get Next To You" by the Temptations.
"Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" registered 4 weeks at #1 and an impressive 13 weeks in the Top 10 overall, and went to #1 for 7 weeks on the Adult chart.  It also reached #1 in Canada and Norway, #3 in New Zealand and #9 in Ireland.
Six months later, "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" had sold a whopping two million copies.  To date, the song has helped sell 13.5 million albums.  Bacharach and David won the Oscar for Best Song From A Motion Picture at the 1970 awards, where Thomas performed it.  Bacharach also won for Best Score.
In 2004, the song came in #23 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs special of the top songs in American cinematic history.  Last year, "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. 
Bacharach & David would go on to write two other classics, "One Less Bell To Answer" for the 5th Dimension and "Close To You" for the Carpenters.

Alone Again (Naturally)
Gilbert O'Sullivan

"Beautiful song :)"
"Beautiful and special song."
"A sad and emotional song but still love it."
"A masterpiece!"
"Best song ever!"
"I cry every time I listen to this song.  It's magical."
"So touching..."
"Love it so much."

This Irish artist moved to England with his family when he was 13.  Ray O'Sullivan went to art college and joined the bands the Doodles and the Prefects during this time.  His career began to take shape when he mailed a demo tape and a photo of himself dressed in knee-length trousers, a waistcoat, hob-nail boots and a hat to Gordon Mills.    "He looked like a young Charlie Chaplin," Mills said.  Mills had made a name for himself in managing the careers of Tom Jones and Engelbert Humperdinck.
 Mills let O'Sullivan keep the look temporarily, but made him change his stage name to Gilbert.  Later went "Alone Again (Naturally)" began climbing the charts, Mills changed O'Sullivan's style to a preppy look with a collegiate sweater. 

The song debuted in June of 1972, encountering great competition from "Nights In White Satin" by the Moody Blues, "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" from Roberta Flack, "Lean On Me" by Bill Withers, "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash, "Take It Easy" by the Eagles, "Baby, Don't Get Hooked On Me" by Mac Davis, Neil Diamond's "Song Sung Blue", and Chicago's "Saturday In The Park". 

"Alone Again (Naturally) was another monster hit--#1 for 6 weeks, with 11 solid weeks in the Top 10.  It also reached spent 6 weeks atop the Adult chart in the U.S., and reached #3 in the U.K.  

The classic was nominated for Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.  It was the second-biggest seller of the year behind only Don McLean's "American Pie", and has now sold over two million singles.  "Alone Again (Naturally) has also chalked up three million radio airplays. 

 Up until 1982, O'Sullivan did not have ownership of his master tapes or his copyrights, but won both back in a court decision.Mills told Time magazine.



Bennie And The Jets 
Elton John

"This is such an amazing song!"
"Timeless art by one of the amazing artists of our time."
"Amazing song."
"One awesome tune here."

"It's perfect!"

"Best song ever!"



"One of the best songs ever written."

Elton John and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin recorded the albums Honky Chateau and Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player at Château d'Hérouville's Strawberry Studios in France.  The results were so positive that producer Gus Dudgeon, Elton, Bernie, and Elton's band returned there to work on an ambitious project in May of 1973.
"Bennie And The Jets" tells the story of a fictional band.   Taupin has said that the lyrics satirize the music industry of the 1970s.  The greed and glitz of the scene is reflected by Taupin's words "We'll kill the fatted calf tonight, so stick around, you're gonna hear electric music, solid walls of sound."  Taupin told Esquire magazine:
 "Bennie And The Jets" was almost Orwellian - it was supposed to be futuristic.  They were supposed to be a prototypical female rock 'n' roll band out of science fiction. Automatons.

 Elton came up with the notion to stutter the first part of the title:  "B-B-B-Bennie..."  Taupin liked it as he thought it worked well with the futuristic, robotic theme of his lyrics for the song.
After recording the song "Bennie And The Jets", Elton and the band members thought it was far different than anything else they had recorded.  During the mix of the song, Dudgeon added reverb effects, applause and other audience sounds from Elton's previous concerts and a loop from the live Jimi Hendrix album Isle of Wight to give the song a "live concert" feel.
Although Elton John recorded "Bennie And The Jets" for his  album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, he was set against releasing it as a single, believing it would fail.  But radio station CKLW in Windsor, Ontario, Canada began playing it heavily, and it soon became the #1 song in Detroit, Michigan.  The attention that "Bennie And The Jets" got caused stations in both the United States and Canada to add the song to their playlists, forcing Elton's hand.  He finally agreed to let MCA release the single on February 4, 1974.
Among the competition for "Bennie And The Jets were these standouts:  his own "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me", "The Way We Were" by Barbra Streisand, "The Most Beautiful Girl" from Charlie Rich, "Sunshine On My Shoulders" by John Denver, "Love's Theme" from the Love Unlimited Orchestra, "Seasons In The Sun" by Terry Jacks, "Band On The Run" by Paul McCartney & Wings, "Time In A Bottle" from Jim Croce, "The Loco-Motion" by Grand Funk and "The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band.

"Bennie And The Jets" became a #1 song with 9 weeks in the Top 10.   It also reached #15 on R&B chart, which landed Elton a guest appearance on Soul Train on May 17, 1975.  The song also rose to #1 in Canada.

The song went Gold on April 8, Platinum on September 13 the following year, and by summer of 1976, it had sold 2.8 million copies.  "Bennie And The Jets" has helped sell 30.5 million albums, and has been played over 4 million times in the U.S. alone.

In concert, Elton will rarely play "Bennie And The Jets" verbatim to the studio version, and will often make drastic changes, such as the elaborate version he played during his concert in New York City's Central Park in 1980.

Beat It 
Michael Jackson

"It's awesome!"
"That guitar sends shivers down my spine."
"Great song!"

"One of the best songs of history."

"I love this song!"

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

"Best song ever."

"I love this song!!!♥"

"Awesome song by one of the best artists ever."

Song #83* contains one of the most-famous guitar solos of all-time, and represented a real coup for Michael Jackson and producer Quincy Jones when they got elite guitarist Eddie Van Halen to play on the song.  In getting this iconic musician of a legendary hard rock group, Jackson took the ability for a Motown artist to cross over with white audiences, and specifically the hard rock crowd, to a new level.  Van Halen later performed the song on stage in Dallas, Texas during the Jackson 5's "Victory Tour".
Jones encouraged Jackson to write a rock & roll song for the album.
I wanted to write a song, the type of song that I would buy if I were to buy a rock song... That is how I approached it and I wanted the children to really enjoy it—the school children as well as the college students.

Jackson combined with Rod Templeton to write lyrics  that reflect courage in the face of defeat and dislike of violence, whilst also referring to the childhood abuse Jackson faced at the hands of his father Joseph.  Templeton also happened to produce Van Halen, which was another key factor in getting Eddie to come on board.  In the music video, Jackson is depicted as bringing two rival gangs together through music and dancing.  Indeed, Jackson got the inspiration for his song from the classic 1957 musical West Side Story.  Among the first words heard in the movie, in a scene where some gang members have encroached onto rival turf, is the emphatic line, "beat it."
For his part, Van Halen first thought that he was receiving a prank call when contacted by Jones.  After realizing that the caller on the other end of the line was indeed Quincy, Van Halen agreed to record a guitar solo free of charge as a favor to Jones.  The rest of the band, Van Halen's manager, and everyone else who knew about it, thought Eddie was crazy to agree to this, but Van Halen has repeatedly said "I knew what I was doing – I don't do something unless I want to do it."
Jackson & Jones gave Eddie the freedom to write the solo himself, and Van Halen recorded it after Michael and Quincy arrived at his house with a rough version of the song.  Guitarist Steve Lukather of Toto, who also played on the song, said,
Initially, we rocked it out as Eddie had played a good solo—but Quincy thought it was too tough.  So I had to reduce the distorted guitar sound and that is what was released. 

We all know how hot Van Halen's solo was, but according to Templeton, in an interview with Q magazine, a mystery blaze broke out in the control room as Eddie played.
Eddie was playing and the monitor speakers literally caught on fire.  The speaker caught fire and were all thinking, like, "This must be really good, this solo!"  The technicians had to race into the control room with fire extinguishers and put it out.
Lukather's Toto mates Steve Porcaro (synthesizer) and Jeff Porcaro (drums) and renowned keyboardist Greg Phillinganes also play on this amazing song.  Toto had just been recognized the year before with six Grammy Awards the year before for their superb album Toto IV.  
When finished, the pleased Jones declared that it was exactly what he wanted.  Jackson released the single "Beat It" on February 3, 1983 from his red-hot album Thriller.  The song went up against Jackson's own "Billie Jean", "Every Breath You Take" by the Police, "Flashdance" by Irene Cara, "Tell Her About It" from Billy Joel, "Down Under" by Men at Work, "Maneater" from Hall & Oates, "Total Eclipse Of The Heart" by Bonnie Tyler, and Lionel Richie's "Truly".

 "Beat It" toppled the above competition to score three weeks at #1 with 10 weeks in the Top 10 overall, with 1 week at #1 on the R&B chart.  When Jackson's #1 hit "Billie Jean" from the album was on its way down, both songs were in the Top 5 at the same time, a feat matched by few others in the Rock Era.  It also peaked at #1 in the U.K., Canada, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, #2 in Germany, Australia, France, and Switzerland, #6 in Austria, and #8 in Norway.

The song sold over two million singles, and has helped sell 45 million albums in the U.S. alone.  The one detracting factor from the song--it hasn't yet topped one million in radio airplay.
Jackson won Grammy Awards for Album of the Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, Best Engineered Recording, Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male, Producer of the Year and Record of the Year, American Music Awards for Special Award of Merit, Favorite Pop/Rock Male Vocalist, Favorite Pop/Rock Album (for both Thriller and Number Ones), Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist, Favorite Soul/R&B Album (for both Thriller and Number Ones), Favorite Pop/Rock Video, and Favorite Soul/R&B Video, and a World Music Diamond Award.

"Beat It" was inducted into the Music Video Producers Hall of Fame.


The Twist
Chubby Checker
1960 and 1962

"The best dance song of all-time!"

"Superb classic!!"

"One of the greatest records ever!"

"It's a classic..."

"Groundbreaking too!"


"The number one song on the planet!"

"I love this song!"


At #82*, the only song to go to #1--twice! 
Hank Ballard and the Midnighters originally recorded this song, hitting #28 with it in 1960.  But the Twist goes back as far as the 19th century, although we doubt the meanings are the same.  There was a song called "Grape Vine Twist" in 1844.  In 1938, Jelly Roll Morton sang "Mama, mama, look at sis, she's out on the levee doing the double twist" in the song "Winin' Boy Blues". 
Cal Green, guitarist for the Midnighters, said the group picked up the general idea of the song from Brother Joe Wallace of the gospel group the Sensational Nightingales.  Ballard based the melody on a song he recorded the year before called "Is Your Love For Real?" which in turn borrowed from The Drifters' 1955 song "What 'Cha Gonna Do?"  The Midnighters recorded the song in a studio in Florida for Vee-Jay Records in 1958 with slightly different lyrics. 
"The Twist" became popular on a television dance show in Baltimore, Maryland, hosted by disc jockey Buddy Dean.  Dean recommended the song to Dick Clark of American Bandstand.  Clark's audience loved it too, but Dick was wary of Ballard, who had a reputation for raunchy songs.  Back then, people were responsible; now, disc jockeys throw anything on.  Thus, Clark searched for a local artist to record the song.  
Through several auditions, Clark found a young man named Ernest Evans, a chicken plucker who liked to sing on the job.  He could do great impersonations of the popular stars of the time such as Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, and the Coasters.
Due to payola laws, Clark could not have financial dealings with record companies, but had a good rapport with Cameo-Parkway Records in Philadelphia.  The label supervised Evans' version and when it came time to release it, Clark wanted Ernest to come up with a stage name.  Clark's wife suggested to Evans that he use a take off on Fats Domino:  Chubby for Fats and Checker for Domino. 
So it was that Ernest Evans became Chubby Checker, and after he performed the song on August 6, 1960 on American Bandstand, the tremendous exposure launched the song all the way to #1.  When Chubby recorded it, he gave birth to the great dance craze called the Twist.     
Then in 1962, the twist belatedly caught on, with celebrities giving the dance their best shot.  Indeed, the dance bridged the generation gap because both kids and adults could do it, and adults loved Checker's song.  Soon, there were long lines at the Peppermint Lounge in New York City of people waiting to get in to do the twist.  The dance craze caused "The Twist" to appear on the charts again, and, after Checker performed the song on The Ed Sullivan Show, once again, it went to #1.  It is truly a remarkable feat, and the song went a long ways toward getting adults to accept the new music called rock & roll.    

All told, the song spent 3 weeks at #1 with 13 weeks in the Top 10, and hit #2 for 3 weeks on the R&B chart.  "The Twist" has gone over five million in radio airplay.
In its two separate chart runs, "The Twist" battled competition from "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "Georgia On My Mind" from Ray Charles, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by the Tokens, "Big Bad John" by Jimmy Dean, Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling In Love" and "It's Now Or Never", "Save The Last Dance For Me" by the Drifters, and "Hey!  Baby" by Bruce Channel.

The Twist was a worldwide phenomenon. Checker recorded versions in Italian, German and French, and the second time around, the song was a worldwide hit.  To understand the significance of the song, here is a short list of songs in the succeeding years to feature "Twist" in the title:

"Twistin' U.S.A" by Danny & The Juniors (#27)

"Twistin' Bells" by Santo & Johnny (#49, a Christmas song)

"(Let's Do) The Hully Gully Twist" by Bill Doggett (#66, instrumental)

"Kissin' And Twistin'" by Fabian (#91)

"Let's Twist Again" by Chubby Checker (#8)
"The Peppermint Twist" by Danny Peppermint (#54)
"Twistin' U.S.A." by Chubby Checker (#68)
A re-released "The Twist" hits #1 on January 13, and stays there for 2 weeks. It is replaced by "Peppermint Twist - Part I" by Joey Dee & The Starliters, which holds the top spot for 3 weeks.

"Slow Twistin'" by Chubby Checker w/ Dee Dee Sharp (#3)
"Dear Lady Twist" by Gary (U.S.) Bonds (#9)
"Twist, Twist Senora" by Gary (U.S.) Bonds (#9)
"Twistin' The Night Away" by Sam Cooke (#9)
"Percolator (Twist)" by Billy Joe & The Checkmates (#10, instrumental)
"Soul Twist" by King Curtis & The Noble Knights (#17, instrumental)
"Twist And Shout" by The Isley Brothers (#17)
"Hey, Let's Twist" by Joey Dee & The Starliters (#20)
"Twistin' Matilda (And The Channel)" by Jimmy Soul (#22)
"Twist-Her" by Bill Black's Combo (#26, instrumental)
"Bristol Twistin' Annie" by The Dovells (#27)
"Twistin' Postman" by Marvelettes (#34)
"The Alvin Twist" by The Chipmunks (#40)
"Twistin' With Linda" by The Isley Brothers (#54)
"Meet Me At The Twistin' Place" by Johnnie Morisette (#63)
"Patricia - Twist" by Perez Prado (#65, instrumental)
"Twistin' All Night Long" by Danny & The Juniors w/ Freddy Cannon (#68)
"La Paloma Twist" by Chubby Checker (#72)
"Ev'rybody's Twistin'" by Frank Sinatra (#75)
"Oliver Twist" by Rod McKuen (#76)
"Do You Know How To Twist" by Hank Ballard (#87)
"The Basie Twist" by Count Basie (#94, instrumental)
"Guitar Boogie Shuffle Twist" by The Virtues (#96, instrumental)
"Tequila Twist" by The Champs (#99, instrumental)
In 2013, The Library of Congress added "The Twist" to its National Recording Registry for long-term preservation. 

 Fleetwood Mac

"A classic!"
"I love this song.  Awesome group."
"One of my all-time favs."
"This is such a beautiful song."
"Undoubtedly one of my all-time favorite songs."
"Gorgeous song!"
"This song is so awesome!"
"T for tremendous!"
"This song is so chill.  Love it!"

At the time Fleetwood Mac was recording their album Rumours, they did it amidst much upheaval.  Drummer and founding member Mick Fleetwood was going through a divorce, bassist John McVie was separating from his wife, keyboardist Christine, and guitarist Lindsey Buckinghamd and lead singer Stevie Nicks were ending their eight-year relationship.  Buckingham told Blender magazine:

 We had to go through this elaborate exercise of denial, keeping our personal feelings in one corner of the room while trying to be professional in the other.

Nicks wrote "Dreams" at the Record Plant studio in Sausalito.  Nicks told Blender how the song came to be:


One day when I wasn't required in the main studio, I took a Fender-Rhodes piano and went into another studio that was said to belong to Sly, of Sly & the Family Stone.  It was a black-and-red room, with a sunken pit in the middle where there was a piano, and a big black-velvet bed with Victorian drapes. 

I sat down on the bed with my keyboard in front of me.  I found a drum pattern, switched my little cassette player on and wrote "Dreams" in about 10 minutes.  Right away, I liked the fact that I was doing something with a dance beat, because that made it a little unusual for me.

After Stevie completed the song, she presented it to the other members, and Fleetwood Mac recorded the basic track the next days.  The guitars and bass were added later in Los Angeles.
"Dreams" began climbing the charts in April of 1977.  At the time, Rock Era fans could hear "Hotel California" by the Eagles, their own "Go Your Own Way" and "Don't Stop", "Sir Duke" by Stevie Wonder, "I Just Want To Be Your Everything" by Andy Gibb, "Dancing Queen" by ABBA, "Lucille" by Kenny Rogers, "Best Of My Love" by the Emotions, "When I Need You" by Leo Sayer and "Nobody Does It Better" by Carly Simon. 
"Dreams" became a #1 song overall and #11 on the Adult chart.  It reached #6 in the U.K. and Ireland and #10 in Canada.  Rumours won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
To date, the song has sold over one million singles and helped sell a phenomenal 29.5 million albums in the United States alone.  With over 5 million radio airplays, "Dreams" ranks among the Top 100 most-played songs of all-time.

And now you are more up to date than anyone else in the world that hasn't heard today's segment on The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.  Join us tomorrow for #80-71!

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