Saturday, May 9, 1970

The Guess Who hit #1 with “American Woman”

First posted 2/9/2021.

American Woman

The Guess Who

Writer(s): Randy Bachman, Burton Cummings, Jim Kale, Garry Peterson (see lyrics here)


First Charted: March 21, 1970


Peak: 13 US, 12 CB, 11 HR, 1 CL, 19 UK, 13 CN, 43 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.04 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 31.07 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

The Guess Who went through a few name changes from their origins in 1958. They were known as Chad Allan & the Expression in 1965, but released their cover of “Shakin’ All Over” without putting their name on it. Canadian artists actually found it difficult to get airplay in their native country so this was the group’s attempt to avoid that trap. BR1 Instead, the song was credited to “Guess Who?” and the name stuck.

The move worked and they took the song to #1 in Canada. They also reached the peak with “Laughing” and “No Time.” The latter two also reached the top 10 in the U.S. as did “These Eyes.” However, the Canadian group would find its greatest success with “American Woman,” a #1 in both Canada and the United States.

The song has been interpreted as an attack on American politics. Guitarist Randy Bachman said it was an “antiwar protest song” SF and that his group and their audience had a problem with the Vietnam War at the time. Lines such as, “I don’t want your war machines, I don’t want your ghetto scenes” would seem to support that. SF

However, Burton Cummings, the song’s singer and lyricist, told the Toronto Star in 2014 it wasn’t about politics, but how “girls in the states seemed to get older quicker…and that made them, well, dangerous. When I said ‘American woman, stay away from me,’ I really meant ‘Canadian woman, I prefer you.’” SF

The lyrics and music originated through improvisation on stage. Bachman had replaced a broken string on his guitar and when tuning it, started playing a new riff. The rest of the group joined in, including Cummings with the impromptu lyrics. When they saw a kid in the audience making a bootleg recording, they asked him for the tape. WK They were able to write down the words after listening to the tape. SF


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Guess Who
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 273.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

Friday, May 8, 1970

The Beatles released Let It Be

First posted 4/4/2008; updated 10/17/2020.

Let It Be

The Beatles


Released: May 8, 1970


Peak: 14 US, 13 UK, 17 CN, 14 AU


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 0.25 UK, 10.2 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

You can check out the Beatles’ complete singles discography here.

  1. Two of Us [3:36]
  2. Dig a Pony [3:54]
  3. Across the Universe [3:48]
  4. I Me Mine (Harrison) [2:25]
  5. Dig It (Harrison/Lennon/McCartney/Starr) [:50]
  6. Let It Be [4:03] (3/14/70, 1 US, 1 AC, 2 UK, 1 CN, 1 AU, 2x platinum single)
  7. Maggie Mae (traditional) [:40]
  8. I’ve Got a Feeling [3:37]
  9. One After 909 [2:55]
  10. The Long and Winding Road [3:37] (5/23/70, 1 US, 2 AC, 1 CN, 7 AU, platinum single)
  11. For You Blue (Harrison) [2:32]
  12. Get Back [3:07] (4/23/69, 1 US, 1 UK, 1 CN, 1 AU, 2x platinum single)

Songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 35:10


The Players:

  • John Lennon (vocals, guitar)
  • Paul McCartney (vocals, bass)
  • George Harrison (guitar, vocals)
  • Ringo Starr (drums, vocals)

Rating:

3.838 out of 5.00 (average of 23 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

Let It Be would have been a much better album if it was released the way it was conceived. In early 1969, The Beatles started recording what was to be a "back-to-basics" album called Get Back. The project was aborted for what would end up being their last recorded album, Abbey Road. The Beatles returned to the Get Back project in early 1970 with Phil Spector as a producer. Considering the initial concept of the album, the father of the "wall of sound" was an odd choice. Much of the work he has done on the album has been regarded as near-sacrilege.

Richie Unterberger's review in the All Music Guide, says the otherwise melodic Long and Winding Road is "ruined by Spector's heavy-handed overdubs." In Rolling Stone, John Mendelsohn declares the song a "virtually unlistenable…extravaganza of oppressive mush."

Still, an inferior Beatles album would be a triumph for nearly any other band. I Me Mine, and Across the Universe are Spector-ized, but to a lesser degree than ‘Road;’ most of the other tunes seem to have been largely left alone. Despite Spector's touches on the gospel-tinged Let It Be, it remains some of McCartney's best writing.

One after 909, a song that dates back to the band's early days, Get Back, one of The Beatles' best rockers, and I've Got a Feeling give the listener the sense that the original back-to-their-roots goal of the project had definite possibilities.

Lennon's ‘Across the Universe’ is "dreamy, childlike, and dramatic" (Mendelsohn). John and Paul pair up for some lovely harmonizing on Two of Us, "which is at once infectiously rhythmic and irresistibly lilting" (Mendelsohn).

Overall, though, one can't help but agree with Rolling Stone's Ed Ward that everyone is really waiting for the Beatles usual producer George Martin to release the album as it should have been.


Notes: In 2003, Paul McCartney masterminded the controversial retooling of Let It Be as Let It Be…Naked. Rather than restoring the songs to the original rough/demo kind of feel, McCartney simply stripped the songs of producer Phil Spector’s touches and created yet another version of the album. Tracks “Dig It” and “Maggie Mae” are removed and “Don’t Let Me Down” is added. Songs are also resequenced.

Resources and Related Links: