Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Happy 80th Birthday Willie Nelson! / His Top 80 Songs

image from michaelcorcoran.net

Dave’s Music Database initially posted its ranking of the top 10 Willie Nelson songs on its Facebook page in response to a July 12, 2010, Paste magazine list of The 10 Best Willie Nelson Songs. That list has been updated and expanded to a top 80 list here in honor of Nelson’s 80th birthday. Included are songs written by Nelson but performed by others (noted in parentheses) and songs Nelson covered which have DMDB higher-ranked versions by other artists (*).

Crazy (live with Diana Krall & Elvis Costello,
in honor of Nelson’s 70th birthday)

1. Crazy (recorded by Patsy Cline, written by Willie Nelson; 1961)
2. Always on My Mind (1982)
3. On the Road Again (1980)
4. Good Hearted Woman (live with Waylon Jennings, 1975)
5. Georgia on My Mind (1978) *
6. Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain (1975)
7. Hello Walls (recorded by Faron Young, written by Willie Nelson; 1961)
8. Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys (with Waylon Jennings, 1978)
9. To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before (with Julio Iglesias, 1984)
10. Funny How Time Slips Away (recorded by Billy Walker, written by Nelson, 1961)

Always on My Mind

11. My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys (1980)
12. Blue Skies (1978) *
13. Pancho and Lefty (with Merle Haggard, 1983) *
14. Beer for My Horses (with Toby Keith, 2002)
15. Angels Flying Too Close to the Sun (1981)
16. Night Life (recorded by Paul Buskirk, written by Nelson, 1959)
17. City of New Orleans (1984)
18. Mona Lisa (1981) *
19. Heartbreak Hotel (with Leon Russell, 1979) *
20. If You’ve Got the Money, I’ve Got the Time (1976) *

On the Road Again (live with various artists at the 2012 CMA Awards)

21. Whiskey River (live, 1978)
22. Help Me Make It Through the Night (1979) *
23. Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning (1982)
24. Me and Paul (1971, re-recorded in 1985)
25. The Highwayman (with Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, & Kris Kristofferson; 1985)
26. Let It Be Me (1982)
27. Uncloudy Day (1976)
28. Nothing I Can Do About It (1989)
29. Fire and Rain (1975) *
30. Seven Spanish Angels (with Ray Charles, 1984)

Good Hearted Woman (live with Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, & Kris Kristofferson)

31. Living in the Promiseland (1986)
32. Forgiving You Was Easy (1985)
33. Remember Me When the Candle Lights Are Gleaming (1976)
34. Just to Satisfy You (with Waylon Jennings, 1982)
35. Bloody Mary Morning (1974)
36. All of Me (1978) *
37. Faded Love (with Ray Price, 1980) *
38. Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer) (1973)
39. Yesterday’s Wine (1971)
40. Everything’s Beautiful in Its Own Way (with Dolly Parton, 1982)

41. The Party’s Over (1967)
42. I’d Have to Be Crazy (1976)
43. My Own Peculiar Way (1965)
44. Mr. Record Man (1962)
45. Good Times (1968)
46. Bring Me Sunshine (1968)
47. Sweet Memories (1979)
48. If You Can Touch Her at All (1978)
49. Touch Me (1962)
50. Something to Brag About (with Mary Kay Place, 1977)

Georgia on My Mind (live with Ray Charles)

51. Baby It’s Cold Outside (with Norah Jones, 2009) *
52. She’s Not for You (1965)
53. If I Were a Carpenter (with Sheryl Crow, 2007) *
54. Half a Man (1963)
55. Take It to the Limit (with Waylon Jennings, 1983) *
56. Heartaches of a Fool (1981)
57. America the Beautiful (2001) *
58. Healing Hands of Time (1965)
59. Without a Song (1983)
60. Crazy Arms (1979) *

Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain (live with Shania Twain)

61. I’m a Memory (1971)
62. Mendocino County Line (with Lee Ann Womack, 2002)
63. Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other (2006)
64. Midnight Rider (1979) *
65. There You Are (1989)
66. I Loe You a Thousand Ways (1977)
67. Why Do I Have to Choose (1983)
68. I Still Can’t Believe You’re Gone (1974)
69. One in a Row (1966)
70. You Ought to Hear Me Now (1977)

Willie Nelson and Faron Young discuss “Hello Walls”

71. Little Old Fashioned Karma (1983)
72. Blackjack County Chain (1967)
73. It’s Not Supposed to Be That Way (1976)
74. Time of the Preacher (1975)
75. Little Things (1968)
76. Family Bible (1971)
77. Shotgun Willie (1973)
78. Sad Songs and Waltzes (1973)
79. It Was a Very Good Year (with Ray Charles, 2004) *
80. Reasons to Quit (with Merle Haggard, 1983)

Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys (live with Matchbox 20)


Awards:

Funny How Time Slips Away/Night Life


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Friday, April 26, 2013

George Jones – Top 50 Songs

image from georgejones.com

Farewell to the Possum (nicknamed because of the shape of his nose and facial features). Country singer/songwriter and guitarist George Jones is dead, age 81, from hypoxic respiratory failure. Born on 9/12/1931 in Saratoga, Texas, the man became regarded as one of the greatest country singers of all time (he ranks #6 according to the DMDB). Jones got his start singing on radio stations KTXJ in Jasper, TX, and KRIC in Beaumont, TX. He served in the U.S. Marines from 1950-52 and recorded rockabilly as Thumper Jones and Hank Smith. He joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1969, the same year he married country singer Tammy Wynette, his third of four wives.

He struggled with alcohol and drug abuse in his life, earning him the nickname “No Show Jones” for missed shows in the late 1970s. One of the famous stories about his alcoholism occurred when second wife, Shirley Corley, hid the car keys to keep him from driving to the liquor store so he hopped on a riding mower instead. However, fourth wife Nancy Sepulvado, to whom he was married from 1983 until his death, is credited with rescuing him from drinking and cocaine.

In honor of the country legend, here are his top 50 songs, according to the DMDB. As always, DMDB lists are determined by creating an aggregate list from multiple other best-of lists and factoring in chart success, sales, airplay, and awards. In addition, 13 George Jones best-of lists were figured into the mix. Also, the number of appearances on 7 different compilations of Jones’ music were factored in.

George Jones: His Top 50 Songs

1. He Stopped Loving Her Today (1980)
2. She Thinks I Still Care (1962)
3. The Grand Tour (1974)
4. White Lightning (1959)
5. Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes (1985)
6. Tender Years (1961)
7. A Good Year for the Roses (1970)
8. A Picture of Me without You (1972)
9. Still Doin’ Time (1981)
10. Why Baby Why (1955)

11. The Window Up Above (1960)
12. I Always Get Lucky with You (1983)
13. The Race Is On (1964)
14. The Door (1974)
15. If Drinkin’ Don’t Kill Me, Her Memory Will (1981)
16. Golden Ring (with Tammy Wynette, 1976)
17. She’s My Rock (1984)
18. Choices (1999)
19. Tennessee Whiskey (1983)
20. Bartender’s Blues (with James Taylor, 1978)

21. We’re Gonna Hold On (with Tammy Wynette, 1973)
22. The One I Loved Back Then (The Corvette Song) (1985)
23. Color of the Blues (1958)
24. Just One More (1956)
25. Walk Through This World with Me (1967)
26. I’ll Share My World with You (1969)
27. I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair (1992)
28. We Can Make It (1972)
29. Aching Breaking Heart (1962)
30. When the Grass Grows Over Me (1968)

31. You Comb Her Hair (1963)
32. I’m Not Ready Yet (1980)
33. Take Me (1965)
34. Wine Colored Roses (1986)
35. Who Shot Sam (1959)
36. Near You (with Tammy Wynette, 1976)
37. Mr. Fool (1963)
38. Accidentally on Purpose (1960)
39. Love Bug (1965)
40. Yesterday’s Wine (with Merle Haggard, 1982)

41. I’m a People (1966)
42. The King Is Gone (So Are You) (1989)
43. A Girl I Used to Know (1962)
44. As Long As I Live (1968)
45. Once You’ve Had the Best (1973)
46. We Must Have Been Out of Our Minds (with Melba Montgomery, 1963)
47. These Days I Barely Get By (1975)
48. Her Name Is… (1976)
49. I Can’t Get There from Here (1967)
50. What My Woman Can’t Do (1973)


Awards:


Resources and Related Links:

The Death Knell Sounds Again: The History of Music Industry Whining

Originally published in my "Aural Fixation" column on PopMatters.com on April 25, 2013. See original post here.

image from tumblr.com


If the Chicken Little music industry pundits are to be believed, the sky is falling. A business which makes billions of dollars a year can’t stop whining about how illegal downloading, streaming, and Internet radio are sending them to the poor house. There’s one problem with their complaints – we’ve been hearing them since the beginning of recorded music history more than a century ago.
I blame Thomas Edison. Thanks to his indefatigable curiosity and perpetual instinct to invent, he steered the world into the dawn of a new age: recorded music history. In 1877, he laid down a recitation of “Mary Had a Little Lamb”, and shortly thereafter, we fell down the rabbit hole.

If it weren’t for his voice-recording phonograph, we might not presently be enduring the horrible curse of being able to listen to any music we want anytime, anywhere, and any way we choose. Damn you, Mr. Edison! Look what fury you hath wrought!

Edison ruined the music industry – or at least how the form in which it was known 136 years ago. Before the invention of sound recording, the music business was built on sheet music sales. Once Edison let the cat out of the bag, the big bucks moved to recording music, away from sheet music distribution.

image from heykiki.com

Stuart Banner wrote a piece for Bloomberg.com (“The First Time Tech Ruined the Music Business”, 14 December 2012) stating:

“The music business was in turmoil at the turn of the century. Technological innovation had made songs much easier to copy, and established artists foresaw their sales plummeting. The companies that had once dominated the industry were rapidly losing ground to upstarts who produced new devices for playing music. The established companies urged Congress to tighten up the law to prohibit copying, while the innovators argued that any such change would only harm consumers.”

Here’s the kicker. While this sounds like a modern assessment of the music industry, it actually describes the state of the business in 1900. Record execs haven’t stopped griping since.

So let’s take a look at the current reasons why a multi-billion-dollar industry would have the public belief the whole system is falling apart – and when these supposedly new problems first surfaced.


The music industry can’t survive with competing formats or delivery systems.

We’ve heard for more than a decade how the compact disc is suffering a slow death at the hands of the MP3. Clearly this is a late-20th/early-21st century development, right? Uh, no. Try 19th century.

Edison's phonograph, image from wikipedia.org

Within roughly a decade of Edison’s invention of the phonograph, Emile Berliner thrust his alternative, the gramophone, upon the world in 1888. It relied on a disc instead of a cylinder, thus introducing the first “my format’s better than your format” battle.

Thankfully, the dilemma never reared its ugly head again – except for the introduction of piano rolls (1896), 78 RPM records (1906), 33 1/3 RPM records (1928), the LP (1948), the 7” single (1951), the cassette (1964), the 8-track (1966), the compact disc (1978), MTV (1981), the MP3 (1990), streaming (1995), Napster (1999), Pandora (2000), iTunes (2003), YouTube (2005), and Spotify (2008). If some of these dates sound earlier than you expected, well, let that be a lesson to you. These formats did not storm the industry and decimate them overnight.  (Source: PBS.org (““Chronology: Technology and the Music Industry”, 24 May 2004).

image from rateyourmusic.com


The industry can’t compete with free, or nearly free distribution of music.

Record companies have lobbed their legal heft at Internet radio and streaming services like Pandora and Spotify in the claim that such services are ruining the recording industry. However, radio first “threatened” the music business over 80 years ago.

image from thesociety.org.au

The ‘20s saw the mass-production of commercial radio. Record companies were so terrified of the new medium that they signed their major artists to contracts forbidding them from doing radio work. As we all know, once every household in America had a radio, recorded music went away forever.

image from sheltonstella.files.wordpress.com

Oh, wait. It didn’t. As has happened dozens of times, the music industry adapted – even if it had to get over its initially panicked reaction, first – and transformed radio into a means to promote music sales.

As for the effect of modern-day services like Pandora and Spotify, Hugo Vanessen notes in a Storify.com article (“The Effect of Spotify and Pandora on the Music Industry”, March 2013) that the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said sales actually saw a slight rise in 2012 after 14 years of decline. The article suggests the industry may owe the turn of fortune to Spotify and Pandora. Spotify founder Daniel Ek is quoted in the article as saying, “Old media are always afraid of new media… because when a new media appears on the scene you have to change in order to keep up.” In other words, if the industry would stop panicking and embrace progress, it would be much better off.


No one will buy music if they can listen and share for free.

This brings us to the dumbest move in the music business in recent memory. After Napster hit in 1999, peer-to-peer file sharing exploded. Convinced illegal downloading would bring the industry to its knees, record companies screamed bloody murder and got the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to take on the image-shattering move of suing everyday music fans. After all, if your customer is fleeing from your company, the best way to woo them back is to chase them down with a legal machete and mercilessly (and publicly) flog them, right?

image from news.cnet.com

As far back as the 1890s, the invention of the jukebox meant no one needed to buy music for their home ever again. At the height of its popularity in the ‘50s, the jukebox was a staple at diners and drive-ins. Teens could hang out with friends at the local burger joint and wait for someone else to drop a dime to listen to the latest rock ‘n’ roll chartbuster. Ah, that fateful day when the record companies announced they were closing up shop for good because no one was buying music, anymore.

Oh wait. That didn’t happen? Well, at least not until blank cassettes threatened to destroy the sale of the beloved LP. The record honchos got the 1909 Copyright Statute amended in 1971 so that those horrible teens who swapped albums with friends could be chased down with legal machetes and mercilessly (and publicly) flogged. Wait – is anyone else experiencing déjà vu?

image from theocmd.com

Don’t shed too many tears for those poor record execs. In the ‘80s, they pulled off a major coup: a percentage of the profits from the sale of every blank tape. Once again, they managed to weather the storm.


The availability of individual songs will kill the album.

In 1948, the 12” disc, better known as the LP, was introduced. Within three years, a 7” format – the single – hit the market. The funeral procession for the death of the music industry began immediately.

image from microcosmologist.com

Yeah, yeah. I think you see the pattern by now. The reality was that both formats stuck around for decades and gave customers choices. Of course, with billions of potential bucks to be made, the record company fat cats considered customer choice a negative factor on their bottom lines and set out to destroy the single.

In the ‘80s, blockbuster albums like Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A., and Prince’s Purple Rain generated hit after hit and sent fans to record stores in droves. By the ‘90s, record company execs made a concentrated effort to squash the single, often creating massive radio hits (No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak”, Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris”) which weren’t available as commercially available singles. Fans had no choice but to buy the more expensive album.

The CD Era: Death of the Single,
image from blogs.houstonpress.com

Think of it like this. If you go to the grocery store to buy potatoes, they are available individually or by the bag. In the digital age, the return of customer choice – and the ability to buy one song at a time – sent the music biz into a tizzy because it can no longer sell you a sack of potatoes when you only want one. Let the violins play.

* * *

I won’t deny that record companies have taken a hit in the 21st century. However, for all their finger-pointing, they may be pointing at the wrong culprits. In an ABC.net article (“The real reason why the music industry collapsed”, 25 May 2012), Nick Ross graphs the number of albums sold per person from 1973 to 2009. There’s an obvious spike in the ‘90s to more than five album purchases per person. The number peaked in 1994, so when Napster launched five years later, the numbers were already in decline. Numbers dipped back to pre-‘90s levels of two to four album purchases per person. The record industry didn’t so much tank as return to normalcy. 

Matthew Lasar acknowledges in an arstechnica.com article (“Did file-sharing cause recording industry collapse? Economists say no”, 23 March 2011) that global recorded music sales had dropped to about $15 billion in 2010 after being just shy of $27 billion in 2000. However, he argues, these numbers coincide with a global economic downturn in the ‘00s.

image from arstechnica.net

A graph at Ultimate-Guitar.com (“Why Music Industry Observations Suck”, 1 November 2011) looks at US sales dating back to 1999 up to projected sales for 2014. It suggests that since 2009, sales have practically leveled off to just shy of $6 billion a year.

Wake up, music industry folks. Technology and consumers are constantly evolving. Instead of fighting to derail technological advances in the music industry you are certain will destroy your livelihood. Figure out how to embrace change. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter. Music, and the way it is delivered and heard, will change whether you like it or not. If you want to blame anyone, though, I say it’s that evil Thomas Edison’s fault.

Thomas Edison with - an iPopd?,
image from farm4.staticflickr.com


Monday, April 22, 2013

Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” named a Songwriter Hall of Fame Towering Song

image from blackenterprise.com


Writer(s): Sam Cooke (see lyrics here)

First charted: 9 January 1965

Peak: 31 US, 46 CB, 9 RB (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --


Review: On April 22, 2013, Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" joined an elite group when it became only the 18th song given the Towering Song award by the Songwriter Hall of Fame. The song which “became an anthem of the civil rights movement in the United States” NRR owed its existence to a black man determined to outdo a white man’s commentary on racism. Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” “profoundly inspired and disturbed” RS500 Sam Cooke, who said at the time, “Jeez, a white boy writing a song like that?” RS500

Cooke responded with an introspective protest song which tapped into his personal experiences and captured the pain and suffering of a greater whole. He gave first-person accounts of segregation and an event in which he and members of his entourage were arrested for disturbing the peace at a white motel in Shreveport, Louisiana, RS500 while also mourning the accidental drowning death of his infant son. RS500

Despite its “weary tone” WK and the negative circumstances which birthed the song, it is a “hopeful tome and vision for a multi-cultural society” SH which has been called the soul singer’s “most significant and enduring composition.” SH It also served as “Cooke’s farewell address and final hit.” RS500 He recorded “Change” in December 1963, WK but it wasn’t until after he was fatally shot a year later at a Los Angeles motel that the song was released as a single.

Its reach is demonstrated by the myriad of artists who have covered the song. Among the 500+ versions are those by The Band, Jon Bon Jovi, Billy Bragg, Terence Trent D’Arby, Bob Dylan, Gavin DeGraw, Aretha Franklin, the Fugees, Al Green, R. Kelly, Otis Redding, the Righteous Brothers, Seal, The Supremes, Three Dog Night, Tina Turner, and Bobby Womack.


Resources and Related Links:


Award(s):


Friday, April 19, 2013

Daft Punk released “Get Lucky”

Updated 11/28/2018.

image from youtube.com

Get Lucky

Daft Punk with Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers

Writer(s): Thomas Bangalter, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Nile Rodgers, Pharrell Williams (see lyrics here)


Released: 4/19/2013


First Charted: 4/27/2013


Peak: 2 US, 18 AC, 29 AA, 37a RB, 5 MR, 14 UK, 2 CN, 11 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 7.0 US, 1.82 UK, 11.34 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: 0.25


Video Airplay *: 602.51


Streaming *: 200.00


* in millions

Review:

For the lead single for fourth album, Random Access Memories, French dance duo Daft Punk released the feel-good party song “Get Lucky.” The song was a move away from Daft Punk’s pure house music of the past to a more funk style. SF The song is “about the good fortune of connecting with someone as well as sexual chemistry.” WK It went top ten in more than 30 countries. WK On the day of release, “Get Lucky” garnered more streams on Spotify in the UK and U.S. than any other song had to that point. SF

The Guardian’s Michael Cragg said “it was the best thing Pharrell Williams has been involved with for a long time” WK while Pitchfork said the song’s “real elegance lies in the hands of Nile Rodgers.” WK The New Yorker’s Sasha Frere-Jones echoed that sentiment, saying Rodgers’ performance was “as close to magic as pop comes.” WK BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac said Daft Punk weren’t making electronic dance music, but “real music to dance to.” WK PopCrush’s Amy Sciarretto said “it represents all that’s right with electronic music.” WK

They reached out to Nile Rodgers, best known for his work with Chic. They met him at a listening party in New York City for their 1997 album, Homework and acknowledged his influence in their song “Around the World.” WK After a series of scheduling conflicts, they finally came together to collaborate on three songs which ended up on Random Access Memories. For “Get Lucky,” Rodgers stripped down what they’d recorded to just drums, plugged in his 1959 Fender Stratocaster, and went searching for a groove. SF He kept playing with guitar lines until, as he said, he saw “both guys smiling. Then I thought, ‘OK, I’m there.’” SF He told The Daily Telegraph, “In my way of composing, of feeling if something is grooving, it’s got to himt me in the soul.” SF He said collaborating with them makde him realize that he needed “to be in the studio with people…I just started going in with whomever I could” SF

The duo met Pharrell Williams at a Madonna party and he offered his services, jokingly saying “if you just want me to play a tambourine, I’ll do it.” SF Pharrell met with the duo in Paris and shared of his material that coincidentally was inspired by Rodgers, unaware they were already working with him. SF They looked at each other and then played a clip of the riff Rodgers had already given them. Williams jokingly refers to the duo as “the robots,” talking about them as if they came from another planet, but marveling at their ability to write “human” music. 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: