Friday, August 31, 2012

Journey, Pat Benatar, and Loverboy live: August 31, 2012

Loverboy's Mike Reno, Pat Benatar, and Journey's Arnel Pineda;
image from rollingstone.com

Rain, rain, go away...

That would be the general proclamation at an outdoor concert. However, for my brother and I, it worked in our favor. Having grown up on a steady diet of arena rock in the 1980s, my brother and I were well acquainted with the music of Loverboy, Pat Benatar, and Journey. It seemed a more than worthwhile bill, but being cheap, we still only shelled out the minimum amount of bucks to get ourselves general admission seating.

Livestrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, KS

Those seats proved to be as far from the stage as possible, but at least they were covered. Sure, while we watched Loverboy perform the first set, it could have been anyone on the stage and we wouldn't have known the difference, but at least we were dry.


Loverboy, image from classicrockmagazine.com

Loverboy's Set List

  1. Queen of the Broken Hearts
  2. Lovin' Every Minute of It
  3. The Kid Is Hot Tonite
  4. When It's Over
  5. Hot Girls in Love
  6. Turn Me Loose
  7. Working for the Weekend

Loverboy's "Turn Me Loose" live in Vancouver in 2012

Screw being dry. By the end of the Loverboy set, we'd rethought our plan. When we first arrived, we had to pick up our GA tickets and were asked if we wanted to trade them in for floor seats. We were a bit thrown by this, but ultimately opted for dry seats. After Loverboy's set, though, my brother went back to check to see if we could still get ground seats. Sure enough, we were able to trade in our dry seats for wet ones. Now we could actually see what was going on.


Pat Benatar, image from myq105.cbslocal.com

Pat Benatar's Set List

  1. All Fired Up
  2. Invincible
  3. Promises in the Dark
  4. We Belong
  5. You Better Run
  6. Hit Me with Your Best Shot
  7. Love Is a Battlefield
  8. Heartbreaker/Ring of Fire

Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker/Ring of Fire" live in 2012

It rained all through Benatar's set. We headed for the restrooms during the break and loaded up on paper towels to dry our seats and, as best as possible, ourselves. Surely the rain would let up.

It didn't. But it didn't matter. We had good seats (well, visibility wise) and it was our first time seeing Journey in concert. Sure, it wasn't Steve Perry on vocals, but vocalist Arnel Pineda handled himself admirably.


Journey, image from arnelpineda.ning.com

Journey's Set List

  1. Faith in the Heartland
  2. Anyway You Want It
  3. Ask the Lonely
  4. Only the Young
  5. Who's Crying Now
  6. Faithfully
  7. The Star Spangled Banner
  8. Stone in Love
  9. Lights
  10. Neal Schon solo
  11. Wheel in the Sky
  12. Escape
  13. Jonathan Cain solo
  14. Open Arms
  15. La Do Da
  16. Anytime
  17. Be Good to Yourself
  18. Don't Stop Believin'
  19. Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
  20. Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'
In the end, we were wet, but happy. We'd paid for the cheap seats, but got some of the best seats in the house.

Here's Journey performing "Faithfully." The sound quality is terrible, but it is actually video from the KC show!



Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bob Dylan released Highway 61 Revisited: August 30, 1965

image from ign.com


Release date: 30 August 1965
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Like a Rolling Stone (7/24/65, #2 US, #4 UK) / Tombstone Blues / It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry / From a Buick 6 / Ballad of a Thin Man / Queen Jane Approximately / Highway 61 Revisited / Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues / Desolation Row

Sales (in millions): 1.5 US, -- UK, 10.0 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 3 US, 4 UK

Rating:


Review:Highway 61 Revisited is “Bob Dylan’s most relentless and flawless album,” TL but also his “most accessible rock album and its historic importance cannot be understated. This record changed the face of popular music, and serves as proof of his legendary status as one of the true masters of both words and music.” NO

“Taking the first, electric side of Bringing It All Back Home to its logical conclusion, Bob Dylan hired a full rock & roll band” AMG for Highway 61 Revisited. The result? He “invents folk music from the future. Dylan didn’t abandon folk music; he just hauled it forward a few centuries. Out went acoustic hymns of protest, in came a whirlwind of images – mad, random, yet cruelly precise.” BL

Tombstone Blues

“Powered by Mike Bloomfield’s slashing guitar lines and Al Kooper’s bracing, rudimentary organ,” TL “the music combines elements of Mississippi blues and Dylan’s Minnesotan roots, thus the title Highway 61 Revisited, which stretches from Dylan’s homeland to the Delta.” RV Indeed, “the album’s nine tracks ran the spectrum” NO from “blues (It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry) to flat-out garage rock (Tombstone Blues, From a Buick 6, Highway 61 Revisited)” AMG and the “reflective folk-rock” AMG of the “acoustic 11-minute epic, Desolation Row.” NO

Desolation Row

On just a commercial level, “Highway 61 gave Dylan his big break with Like a Rolling Stone,” NO “one of the greatest songs in rock ‘n’ roll history.” RV With its classic organ riff and steady beat” NO to accompany the “pistol-crack snare that opens” TL it, “the six-minute single crushed the limitations of the three-minute pop single, and went on to become a number two hit.” NO It was “a rambling epic that redefined the pop song.” RV

Like a Rolling Stone

“Dylan had not only changed his sound, but his persona, trading the folk troubadour for a streetwise, cynical hipster” AMG and the “voice of a generation.” NO “Throughout the album, he embraces druggy, surreal imagery, which can either have a sense of menace or beauty, and the music reflects that, jumping between soothing melodies to hard, bluesy rock.” AMG This was “an existential album with some of the most vivid lyrics ever heard by the human ear,” RV “all psychic chaos and information overload.” BL

What remains astonishing is that “Dylan brought a level of intelligence to rock music that no one had previously thought possible” NO but simultaneously “it proved that rock & roll needn’t be collegiate and tame in order to be literate, poetic, and complex.” AMG

“The next forty years of Dylan’s career would trace the routes mapped out on this album, and most of these songs remain part of his concert repertoire to this day.” TL


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Award(s):


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Generation X Wants Its MTV, But It’s a VEVO World Now

Originally published in my "Aural Fixation" column on PopMatters.com on August 29, 2012. See original post here.

image from imageshack.us


Gen X’ers may still want their MTV, but the version they loved is as distant a memory as Valley Girl speak, parachute pants, and leg warmers. Wake up and smell the VEVO.
In the summer of 1981, I was psyching myself up for the treacherous journey known as high school. With my geek identity already firmly in place, my adolescence would not be marked by dances, football games, and parties. No, I was destined to wile away my teen years in my parents’ basement consumed by television, music, and crushes on unattainable celebrities.

Luckily, a source for satisfying all three of those needs entered the world that same summer. MTV, born on the 1st of August in 1981, soundtracked not just my youth, but an entire generation. Kids finally saw what some of their favorite artists looked like and were exposed to new music absent from radio playlists. The channel’s programming was dominated by three-to-four minute music promos designed to steer kids directly to the latest mall to unload their allowances at Musicland, Sam Goody, and Camelot.

Martha Quinn, Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood, J.J. Jackson, and Alan Hunter served as navigators and heartthrobs, ushering in a new era where the jockeys who plugged the hits didn’t just have to sound good, but look good. They became stars as big as the musicians they touted.

Fast forward 30 years and the music video’s homeland has shifted from television to the Internet. The territory once staked by MTV has been snatched up by YouTube – with a huge caveat. Much to the dismay of record companies, the Web belongs to everyone. The dawn of the digital age put illegal downloads in the hard drives of anyone with a browser. YouTube allows any owner of a smart phone to post content which may or may not be copyrighted.

Along came VEVO to serve as the delivery system for “official” videos. To pat themselves on the back, they introduced certified awards this past summer. The awards, modeled after gold and platinum records for albums and singles, recognizes VEVO videos seen by more than 100 million pairs of eyeballs.

Being a list addict, I lapped it up. However, the average Gen X’er might be more inclined to throw up. This isn’t a list populated by early classics like Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” or Def Leppard’s “Photograph”. In today’s YouTube world, Justin Bieber’s “Baby” and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” rule the roost.

Justin Bieber's "Baby", #1 on the VEVO list

In fact, as of mid-August, 79 of the 100 videos on the VEVO list are from 2009 on. Only two videos date back to the 20th century: Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” (1983) and Guns N’ Roses’ “November Rain” (1992).

Those two videos could bookend what Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum call the “Golden Age” of MTV (1981-1992) in their book, I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution (Dutton, 2011). On my Dave’s Music Database blog, I aggregated more than 50 sources into a post on the Top 100 Videos of All Time. It serves as a vivid walk down memory lane for anyone who spent the Golden Age plopped in front of the tube. More than half the videos stem from that era and a mere 13 hail from the 21st century. The newest song on the list, Beyonce’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” from 2008, is ancient by VEVO standards.

Why such a drastic change? Among Marks and Tannenbaum’s rationale for capping the Golden Age at 1992 was the birth of reality programming. That year’s show The Real World signified a move away from music videos which, in the minds of Gen X’ers, destroyed MTV.

Check out the comments section on YouTube videos for MTV ads and promos of yesteryear. The scathing attacks start with the observation that the “M” used to stand for music. A mix of resentment and reminiscing follows – it reads like someone recalling good times with an ex before things went sour. A colorful array of profanities generally spices up the bitter diatribes.

It may seem unfathomable that the station once renowned for cutting edge videos like Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and Aha’s “Take on Me” now champions reality-TV stars like Snooki and The Situation. However, here’s something my fellow 40-somethings forget: you aren’t 14, anymore.

It’s okay to fondly remember vegging out to music videos for hours at a time or hanging out at the mall and buying the latest cassettes by Journey and Styx. However, even if MTV, malls, and cassettes were still pillars of modern society, they wouldn’t be central to your life anymore. As soon as marriage, mortgages, and mini-versions of yourself (aka children) entered the picture, MTV was jettisoned. It’s hard to make a priority of seeing a Madonna world premiere video when Junior is screeching at the top of his lungs for his bottle.

You outgrew MTV’s demographic 15-20 years ago. Whereas they haven’t aged in that they maintain an ever-vigilant pursuit of the youth market. Ehow.com says today’s MTV is targeted toward ages 12 to 25 (“What Are the Demographics of MTV Viewers?”, 17 May 2009). When the kids started turning to other sources for music, MTV had to overhaul its programming to stay relevant and profitable. Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes is quoted in I Want My MTV as saying “at some point the ‘M’ in MTV changed from ‘Music’ to ‘Money.’” Network executives aren’t going to alienate their teen and twentysomething base just because Generation X feels nostalgic.

Once upon a time you may have huddled around the lockers in high school halls to profess Tawny Kitaen’s hotness in Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again”. Today’s adolescent whips out a smart phone to show off her homemade video of her singing Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” with her BFF. Meanwhile ,you now gather around the water cooler with co-workers to spout lines like, “Here we go again” when someone asks which political party you’re backing in the USA’s Presidential election.

Even if MTV had never strayed from music, Katy Perry’s “Firework” and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” would rule the roost these days, not Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. As proclaimed in the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star”, the first video to air on MTV, “We can’t rewind, we’ve gone too far / Pictures came and broke your heart.”

It’s time to let go, Generation X – and get your VEVO on.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ultimate Classic Rock’s “Top 100 Classic Rock Songs”

image from ultimateclassicrock.com

UltimateClassicRock.com has a list of the Top 100 Classic Rock Songs. There’s no indication how and when this list was compiled, but they adhere to – in my opinion – the dumb twists of restricting each artist to only one entry. It invites immediate argument not just about where a song ranks on the list, but why this is the one chosen to represent the band. If you only get one Van Halen song, is “Everybody Wants Some” the way to go? How much validity should one give a list which doesn’t have classic rock staples like Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird,” The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall Part II,” The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again,” Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” and – most shockingly of all – the song which consistently tops classic rock lists: Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”? All of these appear in the DMDB’s list of The Top 100 Classic Rock Songs of All Time, an aggregate of 29 lists, including UltimateClassicRock.com’s list.

Still, the songs that are included make for a pretty good starting point for any beginner’s classic rock library. There’s also some nice commentaries to accompany the songs. Of course, this also leads to my second pet peeve about web-based lists. I hate the style of making a reader click through one page at a time to reveal the list. I’m sure you think you’re building suspense or can spread out blog posts to one a day that way, but it is annoying. If you insist on slowly unveiling the list, then at least give the reader the full list at the end and let them go back and click on whatever song titles they want. To that end, I’ve done it for you. Here are the Top 100 Classic Rock Songs, according to UltimateClassicRock.com. Links take you to DMDB pages for the songs. Enjoy.

1. Aerosmith “Sweet Emotion”
2. Led Zeppelin “Kashmir”
3. The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter”
4. AC/DC “Back in Black”
5. The Beatles “A Day in the Life”
6. The Jimi Hendrix Experience “All Along the Watchtower
7. Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody
8. Van Halen “Everybody Wants Some”
9. Pink Floyd “Comfortably Numb”
10. Black Sabbath “Paranoid”

11. The Who “Baba O’Riley”
12. Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine
13. Journey “Don’t Stop Believin’”
14. Lynyrd Skynrd “Sweet Home Alabama”
15. Creedence Clearwater Revival “Fortunate Son”
16. Bruce Springsteen “Born to Run
17. Ozzy Osbourne “Crazy Train”
18. The Doors “L.A. Woman”
19. ZZ Top “La Grange”
20. Eagles “Hotel California

21. Bob Dylan “Like a Rolling Stone
22. Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band “Turn the Page”
23. John Lennon “Imagine
24. Ted Nugent “Stranglehold”
25. Tom Petty “Free Fallin’”
26. Kiss “Rock and Roll All Nite”
27. Derek & the Dominos “Layla
28. Boston “More Than a Feeling”
29. Bowie “Space Oddity
30. Crosby, Stills, & Nash “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”

31. Metallica “Enter Sandman”
32. Deep Purple “Smoke on the Water”
33. Cream “Sunshine of Your Love”
34. Neil Young “Rockin’ in the Free World”
35. The Cars “Just What I Needed”
36. The Allman Brothers Band “Ramblin’ Man”
37. Elton John “Rocket Man”
38. Paul McCartney & Wings “Live and Let Die”
39. Dire Straits “Sultans of Swing”
40. Fleetwood Mac “Go Your Own Way”

41. Heart “Barracuda”
42. Bad Company “Feel Like Makin’ Love”
43. Eric Clapton “Cocaine”
44. Cheap Trick “I Want You to Want Me”
45. Alice Cooper “School’s Out”
46. Judas Priest “Livin’ after Midnight”
47. Thin Lizzy “The Boys Are Back in Town”
48. Rush “Tom Sawyer”
49. The Doobie Brothers “Black Water”
50. Peter Frampton “Show Me the Way”

51. The Police “Roxanne
52. The Guess Who “American Woman”
53. Blue Oyster Cult “Don’t Fear the Reaper”
54. Free “All Right Now”
55. Def Leppard “Photograph”
56. George Harrison “My Sweet Lord
57. Joe Walsh “Rocky Mountain Way”
58. Steve Miller Band “The Joker”
59. The Kinks “You Really Got Me
60. Foghat “Slow Ride”

61. Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble “Pride and Joy”
62. Golden Earring “Radar Love”
63. Billy Joel “Piano Man”
64. Stevie Nicks “Edge of Seventeen”
65. Bachman-Turner Overdrive “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”
66. Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight”
67. Motley Crue “Home Sweet Home”
68. Don Henley “The Boys of Summer”
69. Rod Stewart “Maggie May
70. Talking Heads “Burning Down the House”

71. Janis Joplin “Piece of My Heart”
72. Foreigner “Juke Box Hero”
73. Lou Reed “Walk on the Wild Side”
74. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band “Blinded by the Light”
75. Buffalo Springfield “For What It’s Worth”
76. Nazareth “Hair of the Dog”
77. Mountain “Mississippi Queen”
78. America “A Horse with No Name”
79. Pete Townshend “Let My Love Open the Door”
80. Jefferson Airplane “Somebody to Love”

81. T-Rex “Bang a Gong (Get It On)”
82. The Animals “The House of the Rising Sun
83. The Pretenders “Brass in Pocket”
84. The James Gang “Funk #49”
85. The Marshall Tucker Band “Can’t You See”
86. Steppenwolf “Born to Be Wild
87. War “Low Rider”
88. Yes “Roundabout”
89. John Cougar Mellencamp “Jack and Diane”
90. Ram Jam “Black Betty”

91..38 Special “Hold on Loosely”
92. Grand Funk Railroad “We’re an American Band”
93. George Thorogood & the Destroyers “Bad to the Bone”
94. Blind Faith “Can’t Find My Way Home”
95. Styx “Renegade”
96. Molly Hatchet “Flirtin’ with Disaster”
97. Electric Light Orchestra “Don’t Bring Me Down”
98. The Scorpions “Rock You Like a Hurricane”
99. Kansas “Carry on Wayward Son”
100. Sammy Hagar “I Can’t Drive 55”


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Monday, August 20, 2012

Robert Plant was born: August 20, 1948 / Led Zeppelin’s Top 50 Songs

image from worleygig.com

In honor of Robert Plant’s birthday (born August 20, 1948), here’s a list of the best Led Zeppelin songs. The list was determined by combining the points the songs had in Dave’s Music Database along with a consolidation of 14 specific Led Zeppelin best-of lists. This song was originally posted on the DMDB Facebook page.


The Top 50 Led Zeppelin Songs

1. Stairway to Heaven (1971)
2. Whole Lotta Love (1969)
3. Kashmir (1975)
4. Rock and Roll (1971)
5. Immigrant Song (1970)
6. Over the Hills and Far Away (1973)
7. Black Dog (1971)
8. Dazed and Confused (1969)
9. Heartbreaker (1969)
10. Ramble On (1969)

11. When the Levee Breaks (1971)
12. Going to California (1971)
13. Good Times, Bad Times (1969)
14. The Rain Song (1973)
15. D’Yer Mak’er (1973)
16. Achilles Last Stand (1976)
17. The Ocean (1973)
18. Thank You (1969)
19. Fool in the Rain (1979)
20. Since I’ve Been Loving You (1970)

21. Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You (1969)
22. The Song Remains the Same (1973)
23. What Is and What Should Never Be (1969)
24. Hey Hey What Can I Do (1970)
25. Trampled Under Foot (1975)
26. Moby Dick (1969)
27. Ten Years Gone (1975)
28. All My Love (1979)
29. Living Loving Maid (1969)
30. Communication Breakdown (1969)

31. How Many More Times (1969)
32. Houses of the Holy (1975)
33. Gallows Pole (1970)
34. Bring It on Home (1969)
35. No Quarter (1973)
36. In My Time of Dying (1975)
37. The Wanton Song (1975)
38. The Battle of Evermore (1971)
39. Bron-Y-Aur Stomp (1970)
40. Misty Mountain Hop (1971)

41. Nobody’s Fault But Mine (1976)
42. Dancing Days (1973)
43. Tangerine (1970)
44. The Lemon Song (1969)
45. The Rover (1975)
46. I Can’t Quit You Baby (1969)
47. Your Time Is Gonna Come (1969)
48. In the Evening (1979)
49. That’s the Way (1970)
50. Tea or One (1976)


Awards for Led Zeppelin:


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Saturday, August 18, 2012

“Call Me Maybe” spends 9th week at #1

Updated date.

image from wbur.org

Call Me Maybe

Carly Rae Jepsen

Writer(s): Carly Rae Jepsen/ Josh Ramsay/ Tavish Crowe (see lyrics here)


Released: 9/20/2011


First Charted: 10/22/2011


Peak: 19 US, 4 AC, 14 UK, 14 CN, 15 (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 10.0 US, 1.35 UK, 18.0 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: --


Video Airplay *: 1123.15


Streaming *: 200.00


* in millions

Review:

Carly Rae Jepsen seemed like an overnight sensation when “Call Me Maybe” became what Billboard magazine called its Song of the Summer for 2012. WK However, not only that song, but her career, had roots pre-2012. Jepsen came in third in the fifth season of Canadian Idol and released her debut album, Tug of War, in 2008. SF “Call Me Maybe” emerged in September 2011 as the lead single from EP Curiosity.

Pop singers Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, who were dating at the time, heard the song on Canadian radio and tweeted about it. WK Bieber said it was “possibly the catchiest song I’ve ever heard.” SF By the time the song hit the U.S. charts on March 10, 2012, it had topped the Canadian charts. It would triumph over the U.S. pop charts on June 23, and stay there nine weeks – a record for a song by a Canadian woman. SF It went top ten in twenty-nine countries, hitting #1 in nineteen of them. WK

Jepsen originally wrote the song with Tavish Crowe as a folk tune, but producer Josh Ramsay modified it into “aun upbeat teen pop track that draws influences from dance-pop and disco.” WK The song is about a girl who hopes that she’ll get a phone call from a love-at-first-sight crush. The New York Times’ Jon Caramanica called the song “an eyelash-fluttering flirtation run hard through the Disney-pop model.” WK New York Daily News’ Jim Farber called it “one of the greatest teen pop songs ever recorded” WK and MTV’s Nicole James said it was probably the catchiest song she’d ever heard. WK

“Call Me Maybe” garnered Grammy nominations for Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance. MTV named it the Song of the Year for 2012 WK and it won Best Song at the 2012 Europe Music Awards. SF It won Single of the Year at the 2013 Junos. SF Village Voice ranked it #1 for the year and Billboard ranked it #2. WK This was the most-purchased song on iTunes, the most viewed clip on Vevo, and the best-selling single globally in 2012. SF


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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.

Awards:


Monday, August 13, 2012

Van & Schenck charted with “Ain’t We Got Fun?”: August 13, 1921

As Don Tyler says in his book Hit Parade 1920-1955, this foxtrot from the Roaring Twenties “would have made a good theme song for those hellbent on seeking the fun typical of the era.” TY It “mixes zesty music with a nonsense lyric” RCG about “young people enjoying the times even as a bill collector knocks on the door.” RCG The song also reminds listeners that while the 1920s were typically viewed as a time of economic growth, there was a short depression in 1920-21. The song shows, though, that “despite tough times, most people are resilient and cope with the bad times.” PS Sometimes they can even do it with a sense of humor, showcased by lines like “the rich get richer and the poor get children.”

Arthur West first performed the song in the revue Satires of 1920 JA and George Watts introduced it in vaudeville. TY Then Ruth Roye and the duo of Gus Van and Joe Schenck helped popularize it. TY The latter were a comedy-musical team who not only found success in vaudeville, but Broadway and radio. PM They also had the most successful chart run with the song with their #1 version in 1921. PM

Ain’t We Got Fun?

Two other versions charted in 1921-22: the Benson Orchestra of Chicago took it to #9 and Billy Jones hit #12. PM However, the song has been recorded by many big names over the years. According to lyricsplayground.com, some of the artists who have recorded this song include Chet Atkins, Rosemary Clooney, Bing Crosby, Doris Day, Cliff “Ukelele Ike” Edwards, Bob Hope, Al Jolson, Jack Kerouac, Peggy Lee, Gordon MacRae, Mitch Miler, Debbie Reynolds, Dick Van Dyke, and Margaret Whiting.

The song even figures into literature, including Dorothy Parker’s 1929 award-winning short story “Big Blonde” and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby. SF It also showed up in the 1974 film adaptation of the latter, TY as well as in 1953’s By the Light of the Silvery Moon TY and 1951’s I’ll See You in My Dreams. The latter was a biopic about Gus Kahn, one of the song’s lyricists. JA Eddie Cantor sang it for the 1953 soundtrack for The Eddie Cantor Story. JA Woody Allen also used the song in the 1983 film Zelig. WK Carnival Cruise Lines also used the song in the 1990s in their commercials. JA


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Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Carter Family charted with “Wildwood Flower”: August 11, 1928

Comprised of Alvin Pleasant (A.P., aka “Doc”) Carter, his wife Sara, and her cousin Maybelle, the Carter Family has been called “the first family of country music.” TM They gave the genre its foundation NRR by defining its sound, as well as bluegrass, in the first decades. TM In his book, The Stories Behind Country Music’s All-Time Greatest 100 Songs, Ace Collins asserts that it is “Wildwood Flower” specially which serves as “the cornerstone on which country music finally built its own identity.” CL

Before 1927, country songs were typically recorded as novelties by artists who “knew more about Broadway than they did about hillbillies.” CL However, the Carter Family popularized old folk and mountain songs with their own Appalachian spin. TM In addition their close harmony singing, the Carter Family brought a unique picking style to the genre. NRR The approach introduced more instrumentation to a format which had been vocally driven. Maybelle played the guitar by using her thumb to pick chords on the low strings while she played lead on the high strings. CL

Wildwood Flower

On “Wildwood Flower,” that is apparent in “the song’s 12- (or so) note guitar part” TM recorded on Maybelle’s 19th birthday. TM The song is credited to A.P. Carter, who did not write it, although the Carter Family certain should be credited with their arrangement and popularization of the song. SF In actuality, the lyrics originated from J.P. Webster and Maud Irving’s “I’ll Twine Mid the Ringlets.” SF The tune, which is about a young woman abandoned by her beloved, dates to the 1860s. According to Michael Koppy, an American musicologist, the song’s copyright expired in 1902 and should have stayed in the public domain. SF

Like many of the songs recorded by the Carter Family, this “part ode, part folktale” CL was passed down from generation to generation without the lyrics ever being written down. In the hands of Sara and Maybelle, who have both sung the song, vowels were flattened so “hair” becomes “herr” and “flower” becomes “flarr.” TM The confusing lyrics and unexplained symbolism make the song peculiar, but the melody has kept the song popular for years. NPR


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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Jo Stafford charted with “You Belong to Me”: August 9, 1952

image from relativeesoterica.blogspot.com

Miss Chilton Price was a songwriting librarian at WAVE Radio in Louisville. She wrote a handful of songs and showed them to Pee Wee King, who had composed “Tennessee Waltz.” One of the songs, “Hurry Home to Me,” was as “an American woman’s plea to a sweetheart serving overseas in World War II.” WK After showing it to King and Redd Stewart, who provided vocals for King’s Golden West Cowboys, the setting of the song was retitled “You Belong to Me” and the setting was changed. WK

The once-wartime-themed song became more universal. The lyrics shared a story of the singer saying to a loved one, you “may travel all around the world and see many of the most famous sights,” TY but you belong to me. Price has said they had no part in writing the song, although Stewart’s son claims otherwise. SF It seems likely that King and Stewart tweaked the composition slightly, but mostly received songwriting credits for their work in publicizing the song. WK They’d provided a similar role for “Slow Poke,” a #1 song from 1951.

You Belong to Me

Sue Thompson recorded a version of the song, as did Patti Page as the B-side of her #1 hit “I Went to Your Wedding.” The song was also recorded by Jo Stafford, who’d had more than twenty top-ten hits in less than a decade, including the #1 song “Candy” in 1945. PM However, “You Belong to Me” became the biggest hit of 1952 WHC and of her career. PM

It also topped the U.K. chart, the first for a female singer there. SF Gene Vincent had a rock version with it in 1958 and the Duprees brought a doo-wop version back into the top 10 in 1962. Versions also appeared in the TV series Ally McBeal and in the movies Shrek (2001), Mona Lisa Smile (2003), and Grindhouse (2007). WK


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