Saturday, July 31, 1971

James Taylor hit #1 with “You’ve Got a Friend”

You’ve Got a Friend

Carole King

Writer(s): Carole King (see lyrics here)

Released: February 10, 1971 (album cut)

First Charted: --

Peak: 7 CL, 6 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 86.49 video, 128.91 streaming

You’ve Got a Friend

James Taylor

First Charted: May 29, 1971

Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 2 HR, 11 AC, 1 CL, 4 UK, 2 CN, 25 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK, 1.2 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 46.45 video, 187.71 streaming

Awards (James Taylor):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Carole King):

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About the Song:

Carole King was “a New Yorker and Brill Building pop merchant” TB who, with then husband and songwriting partner Gerry Goffin, earned a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. By the turn of the ‘70s, however, she garnered the credentials for a second Hall induction as a performer as she “became the queen of the laidback and mainly acoustic songs of Pacific adult reflection” TB that characterized the decade’s singer/songwriter movement and even more specifically the musicians who lived and worked in the Laurel Canyon era of Los Angeles.

King’s song, “You’ve Got a Friend,” “encapsulated that style.” TB She wrote it during sessions for her Tapestry album as well as James Taylor’s Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon in January 1971. King, Taylor, Joni Mitchell, and Danny Kortchmar perform on both versions. Kortchmar and Taylor had been friends since they were kids and Taylor and King were long-time friends as well. FB

In April 1971, King released the double-A side single “It’s Too Late”/ “I Feel the Earth Move” to promote the Tapestry album. It went to #1 in June 1971 for five weeks and was knocked from the top by Paul Revere & the Raiders’ “Indian Reservation.” After one week at the pinnacle, that song succumbed to Taylor’s version of “You’ve Got a Friend.”

King said “the song was as close to pure inspiration as I’ve ever experienced. The song wrote itself. It was written by something outside myself, through me.” WK Taylor said King wrote the song in response to his line “I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend” in his song “Fire and Rain.” WK She didn’t, however, write it with the intent of him or anyone else specifically recording it. However, she said “when James heard it he really liked it and wanted to record it.” WK Taylor has said the song had particular resonance for him because he had recovered from depression shortly before hearing it. RC

When King’s version was released on the Tapestry album, Rolling Stone critic Jon Landau called it her “most perfect new song.” WK Author James D. Perone said Taylor’s version had “anthem-like qualities” similar to Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” SS He described the song’s themes as “a universal, sister/brotherly, agape-type love of one human being for another.” WK The song won Grammys for Song of the Year and Best Pop Male Vocal Performance.


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First posted 3/16/2021; last updated 4/28/2024.

Friday, July 2, 1971

T-Rex “Get It On (Bang a Gong)” released

Get It On (Bang a Gong)


Writer(s): Marc Bolan (see lyrics here)

Released: July 2, 1971

First Charted: July 10, 1971

Peak: 10 US, 12 CB, 10 HR, 1 CL, 14 UK, 12 CN, 14 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.4 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 27.4 video, 202.96 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This glam-rock classic was originally released in the UK as “Get It On,” but got re-titled as “Bang a Gong (Get It On)” for its American release to avoid confusion with a song of the same name by the band Chase. Under any name, the song was “T. Rex’s shining moment and their biggest selling hit.” UCR It was one of four #1’s and 11 top tens for the group in the UK. In the U.S., nothing else came close to the success of “Bang a Gong;” the group’s next biggest hit was “Telegram Sam” at #67.

“The hypnotic groove of this…song begs you to play it repeatedly. The boogie-like piano, backup vocals from Flo and Eddie of the Turtles, and Bolan’s sassy guitar give way to the simple but suggestive lyrics that radiate like the ‘hub-cap-diamond-star-halo’” line UCR and other lyrics he came up with on the spot. SF The song also included saxophone form Ian MacDonald of King Crimson and may or may not have featured Yes’ Rick Wakeman on piano. WK

Bolan said he wrote the song in an effort to emulate Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie.” Not only did he use the song’s riff, but used the slightly edited line “and meanwhile, I’m still thinking” at the fade of “Get It On.” WK Tony Visconti, who produced the song, says it was an unscripted ad-lib. WK

Fourteen years later, a remake of the song made its way back to the top-10 in the United States, even besting the original position by a notch. The cover was done by the Power Station, a supergroup which combined the talents of Robert Palmer with members of Duran Duran. Blondie covered the song in 1978, Witch Queen had a #8 disco hit with it in 1979, and U2 covered the song in 2020 with Elton John on piano. The Damned and Frankie Goes to Hollywood also recorded versions. SF Joan Jett says this is one of the songs she used to learn to play guitar. UCR


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First posted 7/22/2022.

The Doors “Riders on the Storm” charted

Riders on the Storm

The Doors

Writer(s): John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek, Jim Morrison (see lyrics here)

Released: June 1971

First Charted: July 2, 1971

Peak: 14 BB, 12 CB, 4 GR, 12 HR, 11 AC, 1 CL, 22 UK, 5 CN, 10 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.4 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 288.0 video, 399.98 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Riders on the Storm” was the second single released from the Doors’ sixth album, L.A. Woman. All six of the group’s studio albums reached the top ten and went platinum.

“The recording is driven by session player Jerry Scheff’s walking bassline and Ray Manzarek’s energetic electric piano, and has a more mature, blues-derived sound compared to The Doors’ earlier work.” TB Bruce Botnick was promoted from engineer to producer after Paul Rothchild dropped out, apparently unhappy with the group’s direction. TB It has been reported that he was specifically disappointed with “Riders on the Storm,” referring to it as “cocktail music.” WK Krieger confirmed that although Rothchild has said he made the comments about “Love Her Madly.” WK

The song has been called “psychedelic rock, jazz rock, art rock…and a precursor of gothic music.” WK It features one of lead singer Jim Morrison’s “strongest vocal performances.” TB and “mark[ed] a return to form…after a couple of years of lesser recordings.” TB Like their #1 hit “Light My Fire,” the “rambling album cut – which stretched beyond the seven-minute mark – had to be edited down for the singles market but lost little of its mesmeric, foreboding charm.” TB

Morrison wrote lyrical references to hitchhiking in the song. While attending Florida State University in 1962, he often hitchhiked to Clearwater, 280 miles away, to see a girl named Mary Werbelow. Those journeys apparently left scars on Morrison who later wrote a play he wrote called The Hitchhiker (An American Pastoral) in which he was going to play a hitchhiker who goes on a murder spree. SF The idea appears to be inspired by Billy “Cockeyed” Cook, a hitchhiking killer who was the subject of the 1953 film, The Hitch-Hiker. WK

The song evolved out of a jam session in which the band were playing was inspired by “Ghost Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend,” a country song written by Stan Jones and popularized by Vaughn Monroe. SF Keyboardist Ray Manazarek also noted that some lines refer to Morrison’s love, Pamela Courson. WK

Sadly, “Riders on the Storm” became the group’s swan song” TB since Morrison died as the song hit the charts. While no autopsy was performed, WK his death on July 3, 1971, in Paris has been attributed to a “drug-induced heart attack.” TB He was only 27.


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First posted 4/21/2024; last updated 4/25/2024.