Wednesday, January 20, 2016

1/20/1934: “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” hits #1

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Paul Whiteman with Bob Lawrence “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”

Writer(s): Jereome Kern/ Otto Harbach (see lyrics here)

First charted: 12/9/1933

Peak: 16 US, 2 GA (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: According to Otto Harbach, Jerome Kern originally composed “Smoke” for 1927’s Showboat. It was supposed to be an uptempo instrumental which accompanied a tap dance routine while scenery was changed, LW-67 although another account had the song originating as a march for a radio program which never happened. TY-70 Harbach suggested refashioning it as a ballad, at which point it was left out of Showboat. LW-67

The song is filled with challenges – such as the octave-and-a-half range for singers and, for players, a surprising key change at the bridge. MM-181 In addition, Harbach works in unlikely words like “chaffed” and “deride” – all leading toward the song’s conclusion about the end of a love affair – and the final line when the title is mentioned for the first time. MM-181

It resurfaced in 1933 for the Broadway musical Roberta. That same year, Paul Whiteman’s Orchestra charted with it, going to #1 the next year. Leo Reisman (#3), Emil Coleman (#4), and Ruth Etting (#15) also charted with the song in 1934. In 1935, the musical was turned into a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film. Irene Dunne performed “Smoke” in the movie. SB Artie Shaw took the song back to the charts in 1941 (#24). It was also used in the 1946 Kern biopic Till the Clouds Roll By. MM-181

Roberta was remade in the 1950s as the new musical and movie, Lovely to Look At. LW-67 Then, in 1958, the doo-wop group the Platters took their million-selling version to the top of the US and UK charts, showcasing “the song’s ability to both transcend time and lend itself to varied interpretations and still remain fresh.” LW-67

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.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hit Parade Hall of Fame

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The Hit Parade Hall of Fame website neither indicates how the Hall came about nor what the criteria are for induction. The Wikipedia page describes the Hall as “an association which highlights musical performers who have been responsible for big hit records over the years.” It also suggests artists, such as Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, are ignored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but honored by the Hit Parade Hall of Fame. A nominating committee selects acts which have at least two top ten records, in any genre, according to Billboard or Cashbox. After nominations are unveiled, the public is allowed to vote. Nominees are revealed in the second week of February and inductees are named in the second week of January. Here are the inductees and nominees from 2007 to 2015.


  • ABBA (2009)
  • Aerosmith (2014)
  • Air Supply (2015)
  • Alabama (2014)
  • Herb Alpert (2009)
  • America (2009)
  • Ames Brothers (2009)
  • Paul Anka (2007)
  • Louis Armstrong (2009)
  • Eddy Arnold (2015)
  • Frankie Avalon (2009)
  • The Beach Boys (2007)
  • The Beatles (2007)
  • The Bee Gees (2008)
  • Harry Belafonte (2009)
  • Tony Bennett (2007)
  • Brook Benton (2009)
  • Chuck Berry (2008)
  • Pat Boone (2007)
  • Bread (2008)
  • Teresa Brewer (2007)
  • James Brown (2010)
  • The Buckinghams (2009)



  • Bobby Darin (2007)
  • Sammy Davis Jr. (2009)
  • Doris Day (2007)
  • Jimmy Dean (2008)
  • The Del-Vikings (2008)
  • John Denver (2008)
  • Jackie DeShannon (2010)
  • Neil Diamond (2007)
  • The Diamonds (2008)
  • Bo Diddley (2010)
  • Dion (2007)
  • Fats Domino (2007)
  • Doobie Brothers (2011)
  • Doors (2009)
  • Drifters (2009)
  • Bob Dylan (2012)


  • Eagles (2008)
  • Earth, Wind & Fire (2011)
  • Duane Eddy (2011)
  • Tommy Edwards (2009)
  • Electric Light Orchestra (2008)
  • The Everly Brothers (2008)
  • Percy Faith (2011)
  • Ferrante & Teicher (2011)
  • The 5th Dimension (2009)
  • Eddie Fisher (2009)
  • Roberta Flack (2015)
  • Fleetwood Mac (2009)
  • Dan Fogelberg (2010)
  • The Fontane Sisters (2009)
  • Tennessee Ernie Ford (2009)
  • Four Aces (2009)
  • Four Lads (2009)
  • Four Seasons with Frankie Valli (2007)
  • Four Tops (2009)
  • Connie Francis (2007)
  • Aretha Franklin (2007)


  • Marvin Gaye (2009)
  • Gerry & the Pacemakers (2010)
  • Don Gibson (2008)
  • Lesley Gore (2009)
  • Al Green (2011)
  • Daryl Hall & John Oates (2011)
  • Roy Hamilton (2008)
  • Jimi Hendrix (2012)
  • Herman’s Hermits (2014)
  • Al Hibbler (2008)
  • Buddy Holly & the Crickets (2009)
  • Johnny Horton (2009)
  • Whitney Houston (2014)
  • The Isley Brothers (2011)
  • The Jackson 5
  • Michael Jackson-2009)
  • Joni James (2009)
  • Sonny James (2009)
  • Tommy James & the Shondells (2008)
  • Jan & Dean (2012)
  • Jefferson Airplane/Starship (2014)
  • Billy Joel (2009)
  • Elton John (2008)
  • George Jones (2009)
  • Tom Jones (2008)


  • Kitty Kallen (2009)
  • KC & the Sunshine Band (2009)
  • Andy Kim (2009)
  • Ben E. King (2015)
  • Carole King (2009)
  • The Kingston Trio (2008)
  • The Kinks (2014)
  • Gladys Knight & the Pips (2009)
  • Frankie Laine (2008)
  • Steve Lawrence (2015)
  • Brenda Lee (2007)
  • The Letterman (2012)
  • Jerry Lee Lewis (2008)
  • Gordon Lightfoot (2010)
  • Little Anthony & the Imperials (2008)
  • Little Richard (2009)
  • Lovin’ Spoonful (2008)


  • The Mamas & the Papas (2009)
  • Barry Manilow (2009)
  • Dean Martin (2008)
  • Al Martino (2009)
  • Johnny Mathis (2007)
  • Reba McEntire (2014)
  • The McGuire Sisters (2009)
  • Clyde McPhatter (2008)
  • Mitch Miller (2008)
  • Roger Miller (2015)
  • Steve Miller Band (2010)
  • Ronnie Milsap (2012)
  • The Miracles (2011)
  • Guy Mitchell (2008)
  • The Monkees (2008)
  • Van Morrison (2014)
  • Anne Murray (2010)
  • Ricky Nelson (2007)
  • Willie Nelson (2010)
  • Olivia Newton-John (2008)
  • Roy Orbison (2007)
  • Tony Orlando & Dawn (2011)
  • Donny Osmond (2011)
  • Marie Osmond (2011)
  • The Osmonds (2011)


  • Patti Page (2007)
  • Dolly Parton (2011)
  • Les Paul & Mary Ford (2009)
  • Peter, Paul & Mary (2009)
  • Pink Floyd (2010)
  • Gene Pitney (2009)
  • Platters (2009)
  • Pointer Sisters (2011)
  • Elvis Presley (2007)
  • Billy Preston (2011)
  • Lloyd Price (2008)
  • Gary Puckett & the Union Gap (2009)


  • The Rascals (aka “The Young Rascals”) (2010)
  • Johnny Ray/The Four Lads (2007)
  • Helen Reddy (2009)
  • Martha Reeves & the Vandellas (2010)
  • Paul Revere & the Raiders (2010)
  • Charlie Rich (2015)
  • Lionel Richie (2011)
  • Righteous Brothers (2010)
  • Johnny Rivers (2008)
  • Marty Robbins (2009)
  • Smokey Robinson (2011)
  • Jimmie Rodgers (2009)
  • Tommy Roe (2010)
  • Kenny Rogers (2008)
  • The Rolling Stones (2009)
  • Linda Ronstadt (2008)
  • Bobby Rydell (2009)
  • Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels (2008)


  • Santana (2010)
  • Jack Scott (2008)
  • Neil Sedaka (2007)
  • David Seville (2010)
  • Del Shannon (2009)
  • The Shirelles (2010)
  • Simon & Garfunkel (2009)
  • Frank Sinatra (2007)
  • Sly & the Family Stone (2011)
  • Spinners (2011)
  • Dusty Springfield (2008)
  • Bruce Springsteen (2011)
  • Sonny & Cher (2008)
  • Jo Stafford (2009)
  • The Staple Singers (2014)
  • Kay Starr (2008)
  • Steely Dan (2014)
  • Ray Stevens (2012)
  • Gale Storm (2008)
  • George Strait (2015)
  • Barbra Streisand (2009)
  • Supremes with Diana Ross (2007)


  • James Taylor (2010)
  • The Temptations (2009)
  • BJ Thomas (2008)
  • Three Dog Night (2009)
  • Johnny Tillotson (2008)
  • Tina Turner (2015)
  • The Turtles (2012)
  • Conway Twitty (2014)
  • Bobby Vee (2009)
  • Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps (2008)
  • Bobby Vinton (2009)


  • Jerry Wallace (2008)
  • War (2008)
  • Dionne Warwick (2009)
  • Dinah Washington (2008)
  • Andy Williams (2009)
  • Roger Williams (2010)
  • Jackie Wilson (2008)
  • Stevie Wonder (2008)


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

1/13/1923: Van & Schenck chart with “Carolina in the Morning”

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Van & Schenck “Carolina in the Morning”

Writer(s): Gus Kahn/ Walter Donaldson (see lyrics here)

First charted: 1/13/1923

Peak: 13 US, 12 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music sales)

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

Review: The song was introduced by Vaudeville performer William Frawley and then quickly added to the musical revue The Passing Show of 1922, RCG where it was sung by Willie and Eugene Howard. JA-33 The show opened on September 20, 1922 at the Winter Garden Theater and closed on December 2, 1922 after 85 performances. SB

In addition to Van & Schenck’s #1 recording of the song, three other versions charted in 1923 – Marion Harris (#4), Paul Whiteman (#5), and the American Quartet (#8). Al Jolson revived it in the movie The Jolson Story (1946) RCG with a version which outsold the original. WK It emerged again in the 1951 Gus Kahn biopic I’ll See You in My Dreams. JA-33 Danny Winchell charted with it in 1952, making it to #30. Bing Crosby, Jimmy Durante, Benny Goodman, Judy Garland, Bill Haley & His Comets, Danny Kaye, Dean Martin, and Dinah Shore have all recorded it. SB Frawley himself sang the song on two different television shows on which he was a star – I Love Lucy and My Three Sons WK and Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore performed it on The Dick Van Dyke Show. WK The song has also been used frequently for Warner Brothers’ Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes cartoons. WK

Both North and South Carolina lay claim to this tune which deals with longing to “return home where ‘The dew is pearly kinda early in the morning’.” RCG “The southern drawl is alluded to by rhyming ‘Carolina’ with ‘finer.’” RCG

Amusingly, the song was written by a New Yorker (Walter Donaldson, born in Brooklyn in 1893) and a German (Gus Kahn, born in Coblenz in 1886). Donaldson wrote more than 600 songs; his best known came in the years between World War I and II. PS Kahn’s family came to the United States in 1891 and settled in Chicago. He had his first song published in 1907 and then wrote lyrics for vaudeville performers in Chicago and New York before moving to California in 1933 to write for movies. Some of his best-known songs are “Pretty Baby” (1916), “Makin’ Whoopee” (1928), and “Liza” (1928). PS

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.


Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie: In Memory of the Chameleon

This is an adapted version of content I originally posted on January 8, 2012 in honor of David Bowie's birthday.

Rock's most celebrated chameleon, David Bowie, is dead at 69 after an 18-month battle with cancer. Born on January 8, 1947 in Brixton, London, England, Bowie left one of the most indelible stamps on rock history as he traversed through a variety of personas from Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke. Rather than rehash the same biographical information which can be found at any news outlet, I'll reflect on how this musician has heavily shaped my personal tastes.

According to, some of Bowie’s closest musical relatives are contemporaries like Lou Reed and Iggy Pop and their bands Velvet Underground and The Stooges respectively. However, Bowie’s reach in shaping the music of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s shows up quickly with the who’s who list of punk and alternative rock bands like Roxy Music, The Ramones, The Clash, Kraftwerk, Talking Heads, Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Cure, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, and The Pixies.

I didn’t “discover” David Bowie until the early ‘80s. I was in high school when “Let’s Dance” hit #1 and presented Bowie as another pop icon who looked good on MTV. I didn’t think that song was all that special, but still enjoyed it and most of the top 40 hits that followed that decade, including “China Girl”, “Modern Love”, “Blue Jean”, his cover of “Dancing in the Street” with Mick Jagger, “”Day-In, Day-Out”, and “Never Let Me Down”.

As I’ve often argued, though, sometimes it’s the most commercial and least-interesting stuff from an artist’s catalog which proves to be the springboard for discovering that artist at his or her best. I moved from Bowie’s ‘80s pop output to classic rock staples like “Changes”, “Fame”, “Space Oddity”, “Rebel Rebel”, “Ziggy Stardust”, “The Jean Genie”, “Young Americans”, and “Golden Years”. Eventually, though, I dipped further into Bowie’s '70s albums and became enthralled with the man who perpetually reinvented his musical identity, working his way through roles as diverse as British folk troubadour, alien rocker, robotic soul singer, and German electronica maven.

Now I can proudly boast to owning all of Bowie’s official studio releases (25+) as well as a slew of live albums and other rarities. I seem to be one of the few who loved his late ‘80s/early ‘90s foray into noise rock with Tin Machine and I thought his 1995 Outside album deserved to be touted as one of those albums which ranked up there with Nine Inch Nails for shaping industrial rock.

Like many Bowie fans, I mourn a world where one can never again say, "Have you heard the new Bowie album?" R.I.P. to rock's greatest chameleon.

Resources and Related Links:

Friday, January 1, 2016

Simon & Garfunkel hit #1 with “The Sounds of Silence” 50 years ago (1/1/1966)

First posted 4/19/2020.

The Sounds of Silence

Simon & Garfunkel

Writer(s): Paul Simon (see lyrics here)

First Charted: November 20, 1965

Peak: 12 US, 11 CB, 12 HR, 50 AC, 1 CL, 7 UK, 2 CN, 2 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 7.0 radio, 193.0 video, -- streaming


About the Song:

Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel started working together as teenagers in 1955, writing “The Girl for Me.” Two years, later, they recorded “Hey, Schoolgirl” as Tom and Jerry and took it to #49 on the Billboard Hot 100. They continued to work under different aliases, with minimal success. By 1964, they were performing on the Greenwich Village coffee house circuit, BR1 but still struggling for their break.

Early that year, Columbia Records’ Tom Wilson signed the duo and they recorded Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.. The album included the single “The Sounds of Silence,” a ballad which featured only vocals and an acoustic guitar. Simon said it took him six months to write the song, one line per day. DT He completed it in February 1964 – in the bathroom TB hence the line “hello darkness, my old friend.” CR Simon said the tiles produced an echo chamber and he found it soothing to work in there with the lights off and the water running. TB

Unfortunately, the single and album failed. Simon returned to England where he’d moved in 1964, and Art Garfunkel went back to graduate school. BR1 Folk music, however, was big in the Boston area, from where Joan Baez and other folkies hailed SJ and a local station started playing “The Sounds of Silence.” Columbia was convinced they’d have a hit if they reworked the song with new electric instrumentation. Wilson, who was producing Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” asked the session’s musicians to add electric guitar, bass, and drums to the song.

The “amplified ‘Silence’…became a hit before Simon and Garfunkel had even heard it.” RS500 In fact, Simon didn’t even know it had been rec-recorded until he picked up a copy of Billboard in the Netherlands. CR Simon said, “It had some level of truth to it and it resonated with millions of people.” DT He told NPR he thought the success of the song was due to “the simplicity of the melody and the words, which are youthful alienation.” DL

Resources and Related Links:

  • Simon & Garfunkel’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 190.
  • CR Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Pages 603-4.
  • DL (6/26/2019). “The Best Songs of All Time – According to Critics and Fans” by Claire Gillespie
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (4/7/2011). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • SJ Bob Shannon and John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York, NY; Warner Brothers, Inc. Pages 12-13.
  • DT Dave Thompson (2011). 1000 Songs That Rock Your World. Krause Publications: Iola, WI. Page 122.
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 74.