Saturday, March 22, 1980

Pink Floyd hit #1 with “Another Brick in the Wall”

Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)

Pink Floyd

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


Released: November 23, 1979


First Charted: December 1, 1979


Peak: 14 US, 13 CB, 15 HR, 42 AR, 15 UK, 16 CN, 2 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 1.1 UK, 4.26 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 643.0 video, 460.98 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In Pink Floyd’s early years, they released some successful singles in the UK, but gradually became much better known as an album act by their blockbuster 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon. This helped establish the progressive and psychedelic group “as a credible group keen to distance themselves from the fads and fashions of the singles market.” HL

With their 1979 album, The Wall, Pink Floyd undertook their most ambitious endeavor yet, crafting a double album built around the concept of alienation as shaped by the album protaganist’s construction of an imaginary wall to shield him from the outside world.

To everyone’s surprise, the band opted to promote the album with their first single in eleven years. TB The song, “Another Brick in the Wall, Part II,” was singer/songwriter and bassist Roger Waters’ “vicious attack on teachers…inspired by the cruelty of his own schoolmasters.” RS500

The unexpected US and UK chart-topper owed its success to guitarist David Gilmour’s last-minute suggestion to have the chorus sung by school children. HL While initially intended only for the background, the strong results led to the choir being featured up front in the vocals instead. TB

The apartheid regime of South Africa ironically fed right into Waters’ message when they banned the song because the black school children were adopting it as a protest against the country’s repressive educational system. TB


Resources:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Pink Floyd
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. London, England: Blandford Books. Page 143.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (2004). “500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 185.


Related Links:


First posted 4/24/2021; last updated 8/3/2022.

The Jam’s “Going Underground” debuted at #1 in the UK

Going Underground

The Jam

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


Released: March 10, 1980


First Charted: March 22, 1980


Peak: 17 CL, 2 CO, 13 UK, 50 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 0.25 UK


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 13.9 video, 37.85 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Jam were an English punk rock/new wave band which formed in 1972 and released six studio albums before their breakup in 1982. Their first chart single was 1977’s “In the City” from their debut album of the same name. Their success steadily grew until their tenth chart entry, “Going Underground,” debuted atop the UK charts. It was the first song to do so in six years. KL Despite The Jam’s success in their homeland, they never reached the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.

The Jam were actually touring the United States when they found at “Going Underground” hit #1. Drummer Rick Buckler said, “It was a shock when we got to #1, otherwise we wouldn’t have been in the states…We had a good drink that night. However, everyone wanted to be back in Britain. We made out we had all come down with a virus. We canceled the rest of the tour of the States. We flew back to Britain on Concorde to record ‘Going Underground’ on Top of the Pops for the following week.” SF

The song wasn’t intended as a single. It was supposed to be the B-side of “Dreams of Children,” but “Going Underground” became the hit. “Striking the right balance aggressive punk posturing, Beatlesque guitar and catching singalong pop to create perfect harmony, the single would become The Jam’s defining release.” XFM

“Going Underground” might appear to be about London’s tube rail system, but it wasn’t. KL Singer Paul Weller wrote it in protest of the British Conservative government’s policy to spend taxpayers’ money on building their nuclear arsenal instead of funding other government programs. SF The song references the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979. KL


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Jam
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 259.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia
  • XFM Mike Walsh (editor) (2010). The XFM Top 1000 Songs of All Time. Elliott & Thompson Limited: London, England. Page 205.


First posted 10/13/2021.

   

Wednesday, March 12, 1980

Billy Joel’s Glass Houses released

First posted 3/6/2011; updated 9/22/2020.

Glass Houses

Billy Joel


Released: March 12, 1980


Peak: 16 US, 9 UK, 17 CN, 2 AU


Sales (in millions): 7.0 US, 0.1 UK, 11.2 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: pop/rock singer-songwriter


Tracks:

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

  1. You May Be Right (3/15/80, 7 US, 2 CL, 48 AC, 6 CN, 28 AU, gold single)
  2. Sometimes a Fantasy (10/11/80, 36 US, 12 CL, 21 CN)
  3. Don’t Ask Me Why (8/2/80, 36 US, 8 CL, 1 AC, 4 CN)
  4. It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me (5/13/80, 1 US, 1 CL, 45 AC, 14 UK, 1 CN, 10 AU, 2x platinum single)
  5. All for Leyna (4/12/80, 17 CL, 40 UK)
  6. I Don’t Want to Be Alone
  7. Sleeping with the Television On
  8. C’Etait Toi (You Were the One)
  9. Close to the Borderline (25 CL)
  10. Through the Long Night


Total Running Time: 35:06

Rating:

3.653 out of 5.00 (average of 12 ratings)


Quotable: “The closest Joel ever got to a pure rock album.” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


Awards:

About the Album:

“The back-to-back success of The Stranger and 52nd Street may have brought Billy Joel fame and fortune, even a certain amount of self-satisfaction, but it didn’t bring him critical respect, and it didn’t dull his anger. If anything, being classified as a mainstream rocker – a soft rocker – infuriated him, especially since a generation of punks and new wave kids were getting the praise that eluded him.” STE

“Instead of turning out to be a fiery rebuttal to his detractors, the album is a remarkable catalog of contemporary pop styles, from McCartney-esque whimsy (Don’t Ask Me Why) and arena rock (All for Leyna) to soft rock (C’etait Toi [You Were the One]).” STE

“Comparatively a harder-rocking album than either of its predecessors, with a distinctly bitter edge, Glass Houses still displays the hallmarks of Billy Joel the pop craftsman and Phil Ramone the world-class hitmaker. Even its hardest songs – the terrifically paranoid Sometimes a Fantasy, Sleepin’ with the Television On, Close to the BorderlineSTE and “the snarl of the motorcycle-ridingt You May Be RightDB “have bold, direct melodies and clean arrangements, ideal for radio play.” STE

“Plenty of panicked mainstream rock stars were trying to ‘go New Wave’ at the time. Thanks to his innate brattiness and gift for stylistic wandering, Joel was able to pull it off better than just about anyone.” DB With a sound that “ironically is closer to new wave pop than rock,” STEJoel showed on the “Cars-imitating It’s Still Rock and Roll to MeDB that it “came naturally to him.” DB

The Stranger and 52nd Street were fine albums in their own right, but it’s nice to hear Joel scale back his showman tendencies and deliver a solid pop/rock record… [that is] the closest Joel ever got to a pure rock album.” STE

Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, March 8, 1980

50 years ago: “Happy Days Are Here Again” goes to #1

Happy Days Are Here Again

Ben Selvin

Writer(s): Milton Ager, Jack Yellen (see lyrics here)


First Charted: March 1, 1930


Peak: 12 US, 11 GA, 3 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


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


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

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Happy Days” was originally written for the movie Chasing Rainbows and sung by Charles King and Bessie Love. JA It accompanied a scene where World War I soldiers learn the war has ended. TY Unfortunately, the song was cut from the film. When movie producer Irving Thalberg heard the song played at Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel, he wanted to know why such a great song wasn’t in the movies. When he found out it had been cut from one of his own films, he immediately had it put back. Unfortunately, the movie was a failure. RCG

However, the “bright and tuneful” RCG song which urged everyone to “sing a song of cheer again” found life beyond the film. The publishers took it to George Olsen, whose orchestra played it at the Pennsylvania Hotel Ballroom in Manhattan a few days after the October 1929 stock market crash. RCG Jack Yellen, the song’s lyricist, recalled the dining room being populated with “gloom-stricken diners.” Olsen directed his singers to “sing it for the corpses” and, according to Yellen, “after a couple of choruses, the corpses joined in…[and] before the night was over, the hotel lobby resounded with what had become the theme song of ruined stock speculators as they leaped from hotel windows.” SS

The song became an unofficial anthem for the Great Depression. Franklin D. Roosevelt used it in his 1932 Presidential campaign and it was adopted by the Democratic party SB as their “unofficial theme song for years to come,” WK being used again in campaigns by Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. RCG

Three versions of the song charted in 1930. Ben Selvin and Benny Meroff each took it to the top; Leo Reisman’s orchestra, with a vocal from Lou Levin, hit #3. Judy Garland adopted the song as an allegory of her life. RCG The song has been featured on more than 70 commercially-released albums and in more than 80 films. WK Some of the notable recordings were by Mitch Miller and Barbra Streisand. WK


Resources:

  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 69.
  • RCG RimChiGuy.com The Old Songs (1900-1929)
  • SB Songbook1.wordpress.com
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Page 364.
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 47.


Related Links:


First posted 3/8/2016; last updated 7/25/2022.