Saturday, September 6, 1997

Elton John performs “Candle in the Wind” at Princess Di’s funeral: September 6, 1997

First posted 9/6/2011; updated 1/26/2020.

Candle in the Wind 1997

Elton John

Writer(s): Elton John/Bernie Taupin (see lyrics here)


Released: September 13, 1997


First Charted: September 6, 1997


Peak: 114 US, 32 RR, 5 AC, 22 A40, 15 UK, 11 CN, 16 (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 11.0 US, 5.4 UK, 37.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 4.0 radio, 24.9 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Review:

According to Elton John, lyricist Bernie Taupin called “Candle in the Wind” “the best song we’ve ever written.” KL It charted three times in three decades with three versions. The original was a tribute to Marilyn Monroe and hit #11 in 1974 in the U.K. In the U.S., when DJs latched on to “Bennie and the Jets” the planned single release was aborted, RS500 but a live version would hit #6 on the pop chart and #2 on the adult contemporary chart in 1987.

The song’s greatest success came when Princess Diana died in a car crash on August 31, 1997. Elton proposed the idea to Taupin of revising the lyrics as a eulogy. Within the hour, Taupin had faxed the new words to John. HL Elton performed the only public performance of the revamped version at Diana’s funeral for a televised worldwide audience of more than 2.5 billion people. BR1 After the funeral, Elton headed to the studio with famed Beatles’ producer George Martin to record the song. BR1

When released in the U.K., the song went straight to #1 on the strength 658,000 copies sold in a single day. The song amassed 2 million in sales by the end of its second week and logged another million in the next week. MG In 2008, the song had moved more than 5 million, making it the U.K.’s biggest seller ever. MG

The U.S. matched that number just in advance orders BR1 and would go on to 11 million in sales. MG Worldwide, it ranks as one of the top 100 best-selling songs in the world. Only Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”, with estimates as high as 56 million, has sold more. The song topped the charts in 11 countries,” BB100 most notably with an astonishing 45 weeks at #1 in Canada. MG Its 14 weeks atop the U.S. charts make it one of the biggest #1 pop songs in U.S. chart history.


Resources and Related Links:

Sunday, August 31, 1997

Concert: Bob Dylan

image from n-b-u.de/show_kansas_city.htm

Venue: Spiritfest – Liberty Memorial Park; Kansas City, MO
Tour: Never Ending Tour

What I remember most about this show: There were at least a half-dozen of us who went to this outdoor, general admission festival. Jerry, the Bob Dylan fanatic of the bunch, went that morning to stake out a spot up close. The rest of us arrived later and camped out about ten feet from the stage. During the show, we had to lock arms together to preserve our prime spots and keep others from pushing in front of us!


The Set List:

1. Absolutely Sweet Marie
2. It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry
3. Tough Mama
4. You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere
5. Silvio
6. Stone Walls and Steel Bars (Stanley Brothers cover)
7. Mr. Tambourine Man
8. Tangled Up in Blue
9. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
10. Tears of Rage
11. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat

Encore:

12. Like a Rolling Stone
13. Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright
14. Highway 61 Revisited

Saturday, August 30, 1997

Francis Craig's "Near You" Begins Its 17 Week Run at #1 fifty years ago today (8/30/1947)

First posted 8/30/2016; updated 1/23/2020.

Near You

Francis Craig with Bob Lamm

Writer(s):Kermit Goell/Francis Craig (see lyrics here)


First Charted: August 9, 1947


Peak: 117 US, 13 GA, 16 HP, 14 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.5 US, -- UK, 2.5 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming

Awards:

Review:

It shouldn’t be a surprise that with 17 weeks at #1, Francis Craig’s “Near You” was ranked by Billboard magazine as the #1 song of 1947. WK That, however, wasn’t the song’s most significant achievement. Those 17 weeks also make “Near You” the biggest #1 pop song in Billboard history. In fact, Craig also held the record for more than 60 years for the artist with the most consecutive weeks at #1. He was surpassed in 2009 by the Black Eyed Peas – who took TWO songs to accomplish the feat with their back-to-back #1’s for “Boom Boom Pow” (12 weeks) and “I Gotta Feeling”(14 weeks). WK

Astonishingly, though, it was one of only two chart hits for Craig. When “Near You” charted, he was a has-been orchestra leader closing in on his 50th birthday. Francis Craig was a Nashville-based pianist and composer who had led bands since the 1920s, PM including a band at the city’s Hermitage Hotel which he’d led for 20 years. TY He was also a staff member of a Nashville radio station for 25 years, and was on NBC for 12 years TY with a Sunday night network program.

However his dance-band format was out of style in post World War II. Still, he decided to record his theme song, “Red Rose”, for Bullet Records. WK Needing a B-side, TY he also recorded “Near You”. He had written the melody as a gift for his grandchildren and was given an assist on the lyrics by New Yorker Kermit Goell. WK Blind singer and trumpeter Bob Lamm contributed the vocals. WK With 2.5 million copies sold, it was the first major hit on an independent label. PM

In 1977, George Jones and Tammy Wynette took the song back to the top – as a #1 country song. In 1959, Jerry Lee Lewis recorded an instrumental version of the song. WK Others who recorded the song included the Andrews Sisters (#4), Nat “King” Cole, Larry Green (#3), Elliot awrence (#9), Alvino Rey (#9), Andy Williams, and Roger Williams (#10, 1958). WK Milton Berle used “Near You” as his closer on his Texaco Star Theater. It became his theme song for years afterward. WK


Resources and Related Links:

  • Francis Craig’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • JA David A. Jasen. (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Rememberd Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 144.
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 132.
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 66.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 102.
  • WK Wikipedia.org

Saturday, June 28, 1997

Radiohead hit #1 in the UK with OK Computer: June 28, 1997

Originally posted June 28, 2012.

image from nme.com


Release date: 16 June 1997
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Airbag / Paranoid Android (6/7/97, #3 UK) / Subterranean Homesick Alien / Exit Music (For a Film) / Let Down (8/16/97 #29 MR) / Karma Police (8/6/97, #69 UK, #14 MR) / Fitter Happier / Electioneering / Climbing Up the Walls / No Surprises (1/24/98 #4 UK) / Lucky (11/4/95, --) / The Tourist

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.9 UK, 3.0 Europe, 7.5 world

Peak: 21 US, 12 UK

Rating:


Review: OK Computer “is art-rock at its most rewarding and contradictory.” BN Its “astonishing emotional and compositional complexity” BN established “Radiohead as one of the most inventive and rewarding guitar-rock bands of the ‘90s,” AMG even invoking some to call them “The Only Band That Matters.” TL

The album “vigorously defies fast analysis, flip judgment and easy interpretation” RS and “becomes even more impressive with repeated listens.” AMG Radiohead eschewed “many of the obvious elements of guitar rock, creating music that is subtle and textured, yet still has the feeling of rock & roll.” AMG The album is marked by “countless schizophrenic twists and turns.” BN It is “subtly layered but startlingly bombastic, melancholic but beautifully serene, fractured and chaotic but completely sure of its own sonic ambition.” BN It “rejects speed and hooks in favor of languorous texture and morose details.” AZ “It’s a thoroughly astonishing demonstration of musical virtuosity” AMG in which “it’s not always easy to determine which instrument makes which noise. The melodies are unorthodox and tangentia” QM and the “more planetarium-compatible noises” QM garnered comparisons to Pink Floyd. AZ

Thematically, it is a “spooky, atmospheric, intense and paranoid rumination” TL on “the debilitating clutter of modern life and the desire to escape from it.” BN It explores the idea that “the past is being perpetually deleted (with the future yet to be downloaded).” URB It “would be insufferable if it didn’t float along on a procession of gorgeous melodies…punctuated by Thom Yorke’s elastic tenor” TL and ability to shift his voice “effortlessly…from a sweet falsetto to vicious snarls.” AMG

Paranoid Android

Highlights include the “sighing” AMG and “superb Karma PoliceQM as well as “the complex, multi-segmented Paranoid Android.” AMG It is packed with “alternating time signatures, wild dynamic shifts, drama and adrenaline to spare” VH1 is “a ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ for the nineties.” AD Finally, “the slow and emotionally draining closing five minute long epic” ADNo Surprises is Radiohead's prettiest moment to date.” QM

Karma Police


Resources and Related Links:


Award(s):


Saturday, June 14, 1997

Puff Daddy Memorializes Notorious B.I.G.: June 14, 1997

Originally posted June 14, 2011.

On March 9, 1997, rapper Christopher Wallace, better known as The Notorious B.I.G., was gunned down. He was only 24 years old. His 1994 album Ready to Die had made him a superstar. His 1997 album Life After Death, released just two weeks after his death, immortalized him.



The Notorious B.I.G. and Puff Daddy


Devastated over the loss of his best friend, rapper Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs wrote a tribute around samples of The Police’s 1983 #1 hit “Every Breath You Take,” a song featured in the book The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999. Combs tapped singer Faith Evans, B.I.G.’s widow, to sing the song with him alongside R&B group 112. The song made its chart debut on June 14, 1997. It was huge from the onset. According to the 2001 Guinness World Records British Hit Singles book edited by Dave Roberts, it was the first to debut at #1 in both the United States and England. DR-64

It was only the fifth song in history to debut atop the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. (See full list here). Chart tracking methods changed in the 1990s, making the feat possible for the first time. Michael Jackson’s 1995 hit “You Are Not Alone” was the first to accomplish the landmark. As of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” which debuted atop the chart on February 26, 2011, it is still an accomplishment as only twenty songs can boast to doing it.

At its release, “I’ll Be Missing You” claimed the title of biggest selling rap song of all-time. DR-64 With 11 weeks atop the charts, it is also one of the biggest #1 pop songs in U.S. chart history. Only Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” has logged more time on top (although pop-meets-rap group Black Eyed Peas went to #1 for 12 weeks with “Boom Boom Pow” and “I Got a Feeling” hit the summit for 14 weeks).

1997 proved a mixed blessing for Combs. Even as he mourned his friend, he capped one of the most successful years in pop history. His song “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” topped the chart for 6 weeks right after B.I.G.’s death. It was replaced by B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize,” a song which Combs helped write and produce, for three weeks. A three-week stint by Hanson’s “Mmmbop” interrupted the Combs/B.I.G. stranglehold briefly – then “I’ll Be Missing You” began its chart run. It was then supplanted by “Mo Money Mo Problems,” another B.I.G. hit with Combs featured as a writer and producer. All told, Combs spent 22 weeks on top of the Hot 100 chart in 1997 as a writer, producer, and/or performer.

“I’ll Be Missing You” ranks as one of the top 1000 songs of the 20th century according to Dave’s Music Database.






For more information, including special recognitions for acts, songs, and albums, check out individual entries in the DMDB music makers’ encyclopedia for Puff Daddy and the Notorious B.I.G.. Also check out the DMDB pages for Ready to Die and Life After Death for reviews and more details about those albums.