Friday, October 31, 2008

“Take Me Out to the Ball Game" hit #1 100 years ago today (10/31/1908)

First posted 7/10/2012; updated 4/12/2020.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Billy Murray & the Haydn Quartet

Writer(s): Jack Norworth/Albert von Tilzer (see lyrics here)

First Charted: October 24, 1908

Peak: 17 US, 12 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.03 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

“The unofficial anthem of American baseball” RCG has been “affectionately referred to…as the ‘other’ national anthem.” SH It is “one of the most easily recognized songs in America,” SH behind only “Happy Birthday” and “The Star Spangled Banner.” SH

Surprisingly, neither the song’s composer (Albert Von Tilzer) nor lyricist (Jack Norworth) had ever seen a baseball game prior to writing the song. PS Rumor has it that Norworth’s lyrical inspiration came from a sign reading “Baseball Today – Polo Grounds” which he saw while riding the subway. SH

The song has become a “seventh inning stretch requirement” PS which has been sung at nearly every U.S. professional baseball game for the last 100 years, PS but it got its start on vaudeville where Norworth’s wife, singer Nora Bayes, introduced it. JA-188 In 1908 Billy Murray’s recording of the song with the Haydn Quartet became the biggest song of the year. WHC Harvey Hindermeyer and Edward Meeker also had top 5 hits with their 1908 recordings of the song. PM

Most people only know the refrain, but the full song showcases a story in which Katie tells her beau she would rather go to a baseball game than a show, only to find her team losing. RCG Norworth “shrewdly crafted [the words] so as not to name or favor any one team” SH while Von Tilzer gave the song its “waltz-like rhythms and unforgettable melody.” SH

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Blender Magazine's 100 Greatest American Albums

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In October 2008, Blender Magazine created a list of the 100 Greatest American Albums. I’m sure Canada will surprised to learn that two of their favorite singers – Neil Young and Joni Mitchell – have been declared American by Blender. With flaws and all, here’s the list:

1. Madonna: The Immaculate Collection (1990)
2. Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill (1986)
3. Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
4. Stevie Wonder: Innervisions (1973)
5. Guns N’ Roses: Appetite for Destruction (1987)
6. Ramones: Ramones (1976)
7. Blondie: Parallel Lines (1978)
8. Chuck Berry: The Great Twenty-Eight (1965)
9. Nirvana: Nevermind (1991)
10. Joni Mitchell: Blue (1971)

11. Public Enemy: It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
12. Metallica: Metallica (aka 'The Black Album') (1991)
13. Michael Jackson: Off the Wall (1979)
14. Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (1966)
15. Marvin Gaye: Let’s Get It On (1973)
16. Ray Charles: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (1962)
17. Velvet Underground & Nico: Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
18. Prince & the Revolution: Purple Rain (1984)
19. Neil Young: Rust Never Sleeps (1979)
20. James Brown: Sex Machine (1970)

21. Bob Dylan: Blonde on Blonde (1966)
22. Robert Johnson: King of the Delta Blues Singers (1936-37)
23. R.E.M.: Murmur (1983)
24. Parliament: Mothership Connection (1976)
25. The Notorious B.I.G.: Life after Death (1997)
26. Van Halen: Van Halen (1978)
27. Al Green: Call Me (1973)
28. Aerosmith: Rocks (1976)
29. Beck: Odelay (1996)
30. Little Richard: Grooviest 17 Original Hits! (1955-59)

31. Louis Armstrong: The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings (1928)
32. Curtis Mayfield: Superfly (1972)
33. Hank Williams: 40 Greatest Hits (1953)
34. Steely Dan: Katy Lied (1975)
35. The B-52s: The B-52s (1979)
36. Chic: Risque (1979)
37. Beastie Boys: Paul’s Boutique (1989)
38. Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967)
39. Elvis Presley: The Sun Sessions (1955)
40. Hole: Live Through This (1994)

41. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Electric Ladyland (1968)
42. Patti Smith: Horses (1975)
43. Sly and the Family Stone: There's a Riot Goin' On (1971)
44. Dr. Dre: The Chronic (1992)
45. Pearl Jam: Vs. (1993)
46. Run-D.M.C.: Raising Hell (1986)
47. Various Artists, produced by Phil Spector: Back to Mono (1958-69)
48. Miles Davis: Kind of Blue (1959)
49. Eminem: The Slim Shady LP (1999)
50. Kiss: Destroyer (1976)

51. Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark (1974)
52. Randy Newman: 12 Songs (1970)
53. A Tribe Called Quest: The Low End Theory (1991)
54. Frank Sinatra: In the Wee Small Hours (1955)
55. Bob Dylan & The Band: The Basement Tapes (1967)
56. Rage Against the Machine: Evil Empire (1996)
57. Mary J. Blige: My Life (1994)
58. Grateful Dead: American Beauty (1970)
59. Wu-Tang Clan: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)
60. Paul Simon: Graceland (1986)

61. The Coasters: 50 Coastin’ Classics (1954-68)
62. Bruce Springsteen: Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)
63. Johnny Cash: At Folsom Prison (1968)
64. Gram Parsons: Grievous Angel (1974)
65. Billie Holiday: Lady in Satin (1958)
66. The Modern Lovers: The Modern Lovers (1973)
67. Pavement: Slanted and Enchanted (1992)
68. TLC: Crazy Sexy Cool (1994)
69. Lynyrd Skynyrd: Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd (1969)
70. Prince: Sign ‘O’ the Times (1987)

71. LL Cool J: Radio (1985)
72. Carpenters: Singles – 1969-1981 (1969-81)
73. Pixies: Surfer Rosa (1988)
74. Aretha Franklin: Lady Soul (1968)
75. Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
76. Muddy Waters: At Newport (1960)
77. Jane’s Addiction: Nothing’s Shocking (1988)
78. Elvis Presley: From Elvis in Memphis (1969)
79. Woody Guthrie: Dust Bowl Ballads (1940)
80. Nine Inch Nails: The Downward Spiral (1994)

81. Various Artists: Nuggets – Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (1965-68)
82. De La Soul: 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
83. The Minutemen: Double Nickels on the Dime (1984)
84. Buddy Holly: Greatest Hits (1955-59)
85. Willie Nelson: Red-Headed Stranger (1975)
86. Neil Young: After the Gold Rush (1970)
87. R.E.M.: Automatic for the People (1992)
88. DJ Shadow: Endtroducing… (1996)
89. Talking Heads: Remain in Light (1980)
90. Weezer: Weezer (1994)

91. Eagles: Hotel California (1976)
92. Lucinda Williams: Lucinda Williams (1988)
93. Tori Amos: Under the Pink (1994)
94. Nirvana: In Utero (1993)
95. Nilson: Nilson Schmilsson (1972)
96. Kid Rock: Devil Without a Cause (1998)
97. The Doors: The Doors (1967)
98. The Replacements: Let It Be (1984)
99. Stevie Wonder: Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974)
100. Otis Redding: Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul (1965)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Kings of Leon charted with “Use Somebody”

Updated 1/19/2019.

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Use Somebody

Kings of Leon

Writer(s): Caleb Followill, Nathan Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill (see lyrics here)

Released: 10/4/2008

First Charted: 12/8/2008

Peak: 4 US, 13 AC, 12 AAA, 25 AR, 13 MR, 2 UK, 8 CN, 2 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales *: 4.07 US, 1.29 UK, 5.5 world (includes US + UK)

Radio Airplay *: 0.7

Video Airplay *: 210.77

Streaming *: --

* in millions


“Kings of Leon took several years and several albums to catch on with American audiences, but 2008’s Only by the Night finally did the trick. ‘Use Somebody’ is the album’s peak, an elegant and soulful mid-tempo song about being separated by geography from the one you love. Vocalist Caleb Followill was perfection at making longing seem sexy and romantic.” TG New Musical Express magazine’s Gavin Haynes called the song “the best ‘80s power ballad of 2008.” WK

Caleb wrote it as an apology to bandmates after a drunken fight. He was recovering from shoulder surgery at his farmhouse in Tennessee and, as he said, “allowed myself to be vulnerable in my writing…No longer trying to be a tough guy and admitting I need the people around me.” SF

Still, he didn’t want to embrace its hit potential. He told Q magazine “It’s got the exact same chords as Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes ‘Up Where We Belong.’ It was so immediate that I thought it was terrible. I thought it was a pop song.” SF That may be why he told Uncut magazine that he “felt immediately that it was a big song and it scared me away.” SF

The song spent 77 weeks in the top 75 of the UK charts, making it one of the five longest runners of all time. One of the other five? “Sex on Fire,” the first single from the Only by the Night album. WK The song won Grammys for Record of the Year, Best Rock Song, and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group.

Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.