Friday, November 30, 1979

Pink Floyd “Mother” released on The Wall

Mother

Pink Floyd

Writer(s): Roger Waters (see lyrics here)


Released: November 30, 1979 (album cut)


First Charted: --


Peak: 4 CL, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 90.6 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Pink Floyd had been around more than a decade when they released The Wall in 1979. It gave them the biggest hit of their career with the #1 song “Another Brick in the Wall Part II.” The album became one of the biggest of all time, spending 15 weeks atop the Billboard album chart and nabbing more than 30 million in sales worldwide.

The double album told a story of a rock star spiralling downward, reliving the traumas of his past and becoming increasingly disconnected from the present. “The wall” was a metaphor for all the barriers and obstructions in our lives. “Another Brick in the Wall Part II” got school children around the world chanting the lines “we don’t need no education, we don’t need no thought control” in protest of the role educational institutions have in steering young minds to conformity.

“Mother,” a much quieter song without the fist-pumping, anthemic quality was just as powerful for railing against the scars inflicted by family. The Roger Waters-penned tune is the ultimate “mommy issues” rant. It is riddled with the dilemma of an adult still insecurely turning to his mother for approval and advice. The narrator asks her if they’ll like his song, if he should trust the government, and if his love interest is good enough for him.

In the context of the album, the song frames how the rock star, Pink, has partially come to feel his sense of alienation because of his upbringing by an overprotective mother. His father died during World War II leaving her to raise Pink alone. Waters sings the questions posed by Pink while guitarist David Gilmour steps in for vocal duties on the part of the mother’s responses, promising to put all of her fears into him, not let him fly, and – most importantly – help him build his wall.

Waters specifically explained the song is about “the idea that we can be controlled by our parents’ views on things like sex. The single mother of boys, particularly, can make sex harder than it needs to be.” WK While the album was semi-autobiographical, he has said the song “isn’t a portrait of my mother, although one or two of the things in there apply to her as well as to, I’m sure, lots of other people’s mothers.” SF


Resources:


Related Links:


First posted 7/10/2022; last updated 8/3/2022.

Saturday, November 24, 1979

Stevie Wonder’s Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants released

Journey Through the Secret Life of Planets

Stevie Wonder


Charted: November 24, 1979


Peak: 4 US, 4 RB, 8 UK, 25 CN, 24 AU


Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.1 UK, 4.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: R&B


Tracks:

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

  1. Earth’s Creation
  2. The First Garden
  3. Voyage to India
  4. Same Old Story
  5. Venus Flytrap and the Bug
  6. Ai No, Sono
  7. Seasons
  8. Power Flower
  9. Send One Your Love (instrumental)
  10. Race Babbling

Tracks, Disc 2:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks)

  1. Send One Your Love (11/3/79, 4 US, 5 CB, 12 HR, 12 RR, 1 AC, 5 RB, 52 UK, 7 CN)
  2. Outside My Window (3/1/80, 52 US, 55 CB, 43 AC, 56 RB, 52 UK, 77 CN)
  3. Black Orchid (1/26/80, 63 UK)
  4. Ecclesiastes
  5. Kesse Ye Lolo de Ye
  6. Come Back as a Flower
  7. Seed's a Star/Tree Medley
  8. Secret Life of Plants
  9. Tree
  10. Finale


Total Running Time: 90:05

Rating:

3.352 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)

About the Album:

Perhaps the most curious album in Stevie Wonder’s career, this concept album about plants was ostensibly a soundtrack for Walon Green’s documentary The Secret Life of Plants, based on the book of the same name by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. The film’s producer, Michael Braun, described each visual image to Wonder in detail and Gary Olazabal, the sound engineer, would specify the length the passage needed to be. Wonder then added appropriate musical accompaniment. WK

The record is loaded with ethereal experiments, many of them sound-effect laden instrumentals and dull intercultural experiments (Voyage to India). The album represented the first use of the Computer Music Melodian, a digital sampling synthesizer. WK It’s all so gently arranged that it might put you to sleep. The album can be seen as a precursor to New Age music.

There were a few oddball vocals. For example, on Same Old Story, Wonder tried translating the complex, scientific findings of Jagadish Chandra Bose as detailed in the book. Bose had developed instruments to measure plants’ response to stimuli. WK

Most observers didn’t know what to make of it at the time. It was seen as “too much of a departure from his string of melodic albums.” WK The album is now sometimes revered by critics looking for an argument (as someone once said about Dylan’s 1970 Self Portrait).

Still, Wonder was so popular that the album still peaked at number four on the pop albums chart. Send One Your Love was a hit and Outside My Window scraped the middle regions of the pop charts.

Resources and Related Links:


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 6/20/2008; last updated 8/3/2021.

Saturday, November 17, 1979

Pretenders “Brass in Pocket” charted

Brass in Pocket

Pretenders

Writer(s): Chrissie Hynde, James Honeyman-Scott (see lyrics here)


First Charted: November 17, 1979


Peak: 14 US, 13 CB, 15 HR, 10 RR, 1 CL, 1 CO, 12 UK, 5 CN, 2 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 8.7 video, 132.55 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“By the time Chrissie Hynde and her Pretenders released their seminal hit ‘Brass in Pocket,’ the band was already on its third lineup – and that’s before they had any chart success. Their third single, ‘Brass in Pocket’ was their first U.K. No. 1 and reached No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100.” UCR She said, “The market was wide open for a band like ours with a girl vocalist and solid, simple, straight ahead rock songs. It sounds perfect on the radio, too.” TC

“The brass in the song’s titular pocket is meant to mean ‘money,’ picked up from a bit of Yorkshire slang Hynde heard from a member of another band. Hynde’s vocal imbues that brass with a far greater meaning: It’s an emblem of confidence, a symbol of the certainty the singer feels when she considers what she wants and how she will achieve it.” UCR

The song was significant for showing that “a central role in rock’s power and impact – the bandleader, the frontperson, the boss – could just as easily be filled by a woman as a man.” UCR It was also “one of many great singles to emerge from a musical era awkwardly known as ‘new wave.’” UCR The term “conjures images of synth-drenched pop and Flock of Seagulls haircuts” UCR but was really “about a level of artistic integrity that vanished in the rock indulgences of the ‘70s and was made possible by the deck-clearing ferocity of punk.” UCR

The Pretenders had “punk rock credibility but unlike most other punk groups they could play. Honeyman-Scott’s guitar parts bristled with ideas – sparkling melodic touches that complemented Hynde’s prickly lyrics. Chambers and Farndon put a soulful bedrock under Hynde whether she was bitter or wistful – as is the case with ‘Brass in Pocket.’” TC


Resources:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Pretenders
  • TC Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Pages 291-3.
  • UCR UltimateClassicRock.com (6/20/2013). “Top 100 Classic Rock Songs


Related Links:


First posted 7/22/2022; last updated 9/5/2022.

Saturday, November 10, 1979

Eagles “Heartache Tonight” hit #1

Heartache Tonight

Eagles

Writer(s): Glenn Frey, Don Henley, J.D. Souther, Bob Seger (see lyrics here)


Released: September 18, 1979


First Charted: September 28, 1979


Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 11 HR, 14 RR, 38 AC, 1 CL, 40 UK, 12 CN, 13 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 5.6 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Eagles formed in 1971 as a country-rock band. Thanks to rotating band members, their sound became more album-rock oriented, reaching its zenith with 1977’s Hotel California, one of the biggest albums of all time. Singer and drummer Don Henley acknowledged, “We probably peaked on Hotel California.” FB “The band was road-weary and partied out. They were snorting legendary amounts of coke. They hated each other. They didn’t want to be a band anymore.” SG However, they managed one more album – 1979’s The Long Run – before their demise.

Glenn Frey said, “Everything changed for me during The Long Run. There was so much pressure that Don and I didn’t have any time to enjoy our friendship.” FB He said, “I knew the Eagles were over halfway through The Long Run.” FB

While not as well-received as Hotel California, The Long Run sold well and spawned three top-10 hits. The first of those, “Heartache Tonight,” would give the Eagles their last #1 hit. It “is a breakup song, but it’s not a sad one. Singing in his usual tight harmony with Henley, Frey considers the forthcoming end of a relationship as if it’s an inevitability.” SG “Frey sounds surly and impatient, as if he would like this cataclysm to hurry up and happen. He also sounds vaguely horny…He wants the breakup, and he wants the breakup sex.” SG

“The song is built around a big, rude, almost glam-rock drum-stomp…Guitars purr and snarl. Frey starts out in a high, clenched upper register and moves onto pseudo-blues shouting.” SG The song came about when Frey was listening to Sam Cooke records with J.D. Souther, a longtime friend and collaborator with the band who’d co-written their chart-topping hits “Best of My Love” and “New Kid in Town.” Frey and Souther came up with a few verses and Bob Seger, “who’d been a bit of a mentor to Frey in his pre-Eagles days, wrote the chorus…on the spot and sang it to Frey over the phone.” SG Frey and Henley finished the song later.


Resources:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Eagles
  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 514.
  • SG Stereogum (2/28/2020). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia


Related Links:


First posted 6/30/2022.

Thursday, November 1, 1979

50 years ago: Fats Waller releases “Ain’t Misbehavin’”

Ain’t Misbehavin’

Fats Waller

Writer(s): Fats Waller, Harry Brooks, Andy Razaf (see lyrics here)


Released: November 1, 1929


First Charted: November 9, 1929


Peak: 17 US, 11 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


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

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Waller, a New York City-born pianist and organ accompanist during the ‘20s, collaborated on several Broadway musical scores…[and] broke through as one of the country’s most popular entertainers due to his playful, high-spirited vocals, and distinctive stride piano style, and jazz accompaniment. PM

“Ain’t Misbehavin’” was written for the 1929 all-black revue Hot Chocolates and debuted by Louis Armstrong, who credited the revue with launching his career. TY It was so popular it moved to Broadway, RCG where Armstrong made his bring-the-house-down debut. JA It ran “for a very respectable 219 performances, seventh best out of the thirty-four musicals that opened in 1929.” SS

Armstrong also recorded the song JA and charted with it (#7) in 1929, as did Leo Reisman (#2), Bill Robinson with Irving Mills (#8), Gene Austin (#9), and Ruth Etting (#16). However, it was Waller’s own piano solo version (#17) which became the classic. JA Waller would sing the song with Ada Brown in the film Stormy Weather (1943) JA and it was featured in 1951’s The Strip (1951). MM

In 1937, Teddy Wilson took the song back to the top 10. Ray Charles, Nat “King” Cole, Billie Holiday, Earth Kitt, Kay Starr, Dinah Washington, and Hank Williams Jr. also recorded the song. RCG Comedian George Burns made it his signature song, announcing to his partner Gracie Allen that he “could sing a million songs” to which she’d reply, “Yeah, but you only know one.” Then George would start singing the jingle for whoever was sponsoring his radio show, but it would turn into “Ain’t Misbehavin’.” RCG


Resources:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Fats Waller
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 5.
  • MM Max Morath (2002). The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Popular Standards. New York, NY; Penguin Putnam Inc. Page 149.
  • RCG RimChiGuy.com The Old Songs (1900-1929)
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Page 449.
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 46.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 435.


First posted 11/1/2016; last updated 12/27/2021.