Thursday, December 25, 1997

Today in Music (1847): “O Holy Night” premiered

12/25/1847: “O Holy Night” premiered

O Holy Night (Minuit, Chrétiens)

Adolphe Adam (music), Placide Cappeau (French lyrics), John Sullivan Dwight (English lyrics)

Writer(s): Adolphe Adam (music, Placide Cappeau (French lyrics), John Sullivan Dwight (English lyrics) (see lyrics here)

Premiered: December 25, 1847

First Charted: January 1, 1997 (Martina McBride)

Peak (all versions): 12 AC, 41 CW, 39 UK, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions – all versions): -- radio, 233.12 video, 147.71 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In 1843, Placide Cappeau, a French poet and wine merchant, wrote the Christmas poem “Minuit, Chrétiens” at the request of his parish priest. The original text “offers connotations of the birth of Jesus and the subsequent redemption of humanity.” GMN The idea that all men and women could have souls was considered highly radical. It was also controversial that Cappeau was an atheist. Similarly, Adolphe Adam, who composed accompanying music for the poem that year, was not Christian, but a Jew.

The song was premiered in 1847 by opera singer Emily Laurey, a friend of Adam’s. She performed it at the Christmas midnight mass in the church of St. Jean-Baptiste et Jean l’Évangeliste. WE In 1855, John Sullivan Dwight, a Unitarian minister, music critic, and editor, WK translated the words into English in 1855. His version focused on the universality of the human spirit. GMN

The song was at the center of a unique historical event in 1871 during the Franco-Prussian War. A French soldier suddenly stood up in his trench in the middle of the fighting on Christmas eve and started singing “O Holy Night.” Legend has it that the Germans started singing one of their own carols and hostilities ceased for 24 hours and the soldiers celebrated Christmas. GMN

On Christmas Eve in 1906, the song again took center stage when a Canadian inventor named Reginald Fessenden started playing “O Holy Night” into a microphone. Sailors across the Atlantic were stunned to hear music and a man’s voice from the wireless machine that usually transmitted morse codes. GMN

Among the artists who have recorded the song over the years: Clay Aiken (2004, #37 AC), Andrea Bocelli, Boy Band (2022, #14 AC), Mariah Carey, Tracy Chapman, Nat “King” Cole, Celine Dion, the Drifters, Edens Edge (2012, #59 CW), Ella Ftizgerald, Josh Gracin (2006, #59 CW), Josh Groban (2002, #1 AC), Il Volo (2013, #27 AC), Mahalia Jackson, Ladywell Primary School (2012, #39 UK), Richard Marx (2011, #19 AC), Martina McBride (1997, #41 CW), LeAnn Rimes (2003, #14 AC), and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The 1963 version by Andy Williams is featured in the DMDB book Dave’s Faves: The Grand Library.


First posted 12/20/2023.

Monday, December 1, 1997

Robbie Williams charted with “Angels”


Robbie Williams

Writer(s): Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers, Ray Heffernan (see lyrics here)

Released: December 1, 1997

First Charted: December 13, 1997

Peak: 53 US, 25 RR, 10 AC, 21 A40, 4 UK, 18 CN, 40 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 1.8 UK, 2.13 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 260.61 video, 309.32 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Robbie Williams first gained fame in the British boy band Take That in the early ‘90s before striking out on his own in 1996. As a solo artist, he has topped the UK singles chart seven times. However, “Angels,” which peaked at #4, is his best-selling single. In a VH1 poll in the UK, this was voted the best song which should have topped the charts. SF At the 2005 Brit Awards, it was voted the best song of the previous 25 years. WK

Irish Independent called it an “epic ballad” WK and ShortList’s Dave Fawbert called it a “genuinely brilliant song.” WK Billboard magazine’s Larry Flick praised the song as a “sweet ballad that never gets sappy.” He said “the lyric is thoughtful and ear-grabbing, and his smoky, crisp vocal is a sheer delight. All that and a chorus to kill for.” WK

The song is about loved ones who’ve died and come back as guardian angels to offer protection and affection. In 2005, Britons voted it the song they most wanted played at their funerals. WK Detractors referred to Williams as “a glorified cabaret singer” and attacked this song as his attempt at a mainstream song in a Britpop style. SF

Williams claimed he wrote the song with collaborator Guy Chambers about his aunt and uncle. He said they were inspired to write the chorus by watching a water fountain while sitting outside a café. However, Irish singer/songwriter Ray Heffernan says he wrote the son in 1996 after his partner had a miscarriage. By chance, he met Williams in a Dublin pub and showed him the song and the two of them recorded a demo of the song. Williams then said and Chambers significantly rewrote the song. Williams’ management paid Heffernan £7,500 (about $10,000 in U.S. dollars) for the rights to the song.


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First posted 10/15/2021.

Saturday, November 29, 1997

Green Day charted with “Time of Your Life”

Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)

Green Day

Writer(s): Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, Tré Cool (see lyrics here)

Released: December 23, 1997

First Charted: November 29, 1997

Peak: 11a US, 12 RR, 11 A40, 4 AA, 7 AR, 2 MR, 11 UK, 5 CN, 2 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 0.6 UK, 5.75 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.8 radio, 101.30 video, 471.26 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The punk-rock trio Green Day formed in 1987 in California. After two independently released albums, they made their major label debut in 1994 with Dookie. The blockbuster sold more than 10 million copies fueled by three chart-topping songs at alternative rock radio. The follow-up, 1995’s Insomniac, wasn’t as big, but still sold two million copies and produced two top-10 alternative rock hits. The next album, 1997’s Nimrod, followed the same pattern with two million more in sales and two more alternative rock hits. The second of those was “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” which spent thirteen weeks at #2.

The band’s singer, Billie Joe Armstrong, wrote the song in 1993 about his girlfriend, Amanda. She moved to Ecuador to live with her family and continue with her schooling. SF He wrote the song about his anger regarding her leaving, calling it “Good Riddance.” He said it was “about trying to be cool, accepting that, in life, people go in different directions.” SF

He shared it with his bandmates during the Dookie sessions, but its “mellow, contemplative lyrics with acoustic music” WK were too sonically different than the punk style of that album. They took another stab at it during the Nimrod sessions, adding strings to the song. It became a hit, but it also resulted in a high rate of returns at record stores from fans who thought it was too different than what they expected. SF

The band was surprised to find that it became a staple at high school proms. Many graduating seniors interpreted the lyrics as a nostalgic reflection of their time in school. In 2015, Rolling Stone magazine named it one of the 20 best graduation songs of the past 20 years. WK


First posted 11/1/2022.

Tuesday, November 25, 1997

Yes Open Your Eyes released

Open Your Eyes


Released: November 25, 1997

Peak: 151 US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: progressive rock


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

  1. New State of Mind [6:00] (single, --)
  2. Open Your Eyes [5:14] (9/22/97, 33 AR)
  3. Universal Garden [6:16]
  4. No Way We Can Lose [4:56]
  5. Fortune Seller [5:00]
  6. Man in the Moon [4:41]
  7. Wonderlove [6:06]
  8. From the Balcony [2:43]
  9. Love Shine [4:37]
  10. Somehow, Someday [4:47]
  11. The Solution [5:25]
  12. The Source [16:21]

All songs written by Anderson, Howe, White, Squire, and Sherwood.

Total Running Time: 72:06

The Players:

  • Jon Anderson (vocals)
  • Steve Howe (guitar, backing vocals, mandolin, banjo)
  • Chris Squire (bass, backing vocals, harmonica)
  • Alan White (drumers, percussion, backing vocals)
  • Billy Sherwood (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, recording, mixing)


1.885 out of 5.00 (average of 5 ratings)

About the Album:

In 1996 and 1997, Yes released a pair of albums known as Keys to Ascension and Keys to Ascension 2. Both were double albums which included live material from 1996 along with new material. The lineup featured Anderson, Squire, Howe, White, and keyboardist Rick Wakeman. The albums were produced by Billy Sherwood.

Sherwood met Chris Squire in 1989. The Yes lineup at that time featured Squire, Anderson, White, Tony Kaye, and Trevor Rabin. Anderson reunited with Yes bandmates’ Howe, Wakeman, and Bill Bruford while Rabin focused on solo work. Squire, White, and Kaye recruited Sherwood as a possible Yes member, but he was uneasy about replacing Anderson as a frontman. He did, however, contribute to Yes’ 1991 Union album and played guitar and keyboards on the band’s 1994 tour in support of Talk.

Sherwood and Squire formed a strong writing partnership and toured as the Chris Squire Experiment in 1992. They were developing songs for an album to be called Chemistry when Sherwood was enlisted for Yes, becoming an official member in 1997 after Wakeman left the group. Two of the songs the pair had developed for that project, Open Your Eyes (originally called “I Wish I Knew”) and Man in the Moon, were re-worked for Yes.

Sherwood then sent tapes of early versions of Wonderlove, Love Shine, New State of Mind, and Universal Garden to Anderson, who liked the songs, recorded vocals for them, and sent them back to Sherwood. White then recorded new drum tracks and, as Sherwood said, “all of a sudden it had that [Yes] flavor.” WK Howe, who came in toward the album’s completion, has said he and Anderson had little input on the songs, WK although they did contribute From the Balcony.

While Sherwood served as the band’s primary keyboardist, the album also included work from Russian keyboardist Igor Khoroshev as a guest on a few songs. He was brought on board at the request of Anderson and Howe, who’d heard tapes of him. He then joined the band on their 30th anniversary 12-month world tour and became a full member after the tour.

The album was poorly received, becoming one of their least successful commercially. Entertainment Weekly’s Chuck Eddy criticized Yes as “neither as self-indulgent nor as magnificent as they’re capable of being.” WK Stereogum was even harsher, saying it was “written at a child’s level of musical sophistication.” WK

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First posted 7/25/2021.

Friday, November 21, 1997

50 years ago: Thelonious Monk recorded “Round Midnight”

‘Round Midnight

Thelonious Monk

Writer(s): Thelonious Monk, Cootie Williams, Bernie Hanighen (see lyrics here)

Recorded: November 21, 1947

First Charted: --

Peak: -- (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 2.5 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“Jazz is often romanticized as the sound of the city at night when the bustle has died down…but few of its composers ever managed to capture that last call feeling, and none did it quite like Thelonious Monk.” NPR “Round Midnight” is, according to, “the most-recorded jazz standard written by any jazz musician.” JS Jazz legend Herbie Hancock called it “a cornerstone in the whole evolution of jazz.” NPR It has even been called the “National Anthem of Jazz.” JS

Pianist Thelonious Monk wrote the “darkly beautiful ballad with an after-hours feel” JS around 1940 or 1941. Monk’s producer, Harry Colomby, claims an early version may have been written as far back as 1936 when Monk was 19. WK In the book Thelonious Monk: His Life and Music, Thomas Fitterling says he wrote it even earlier when he was 18. JS

Regardless of when he wrote it, Monk didn’t copyright it until September 24, 1943 under the title “I Need You So” with lyrics he wrote. WK He didn’t record it himself until November 21, 1947, WK by which time it was already well known NPR Trumpeter Cootie Williams recorded the song on August 22, 1944, after being persuaded by pianist Bud Powell. WK There are different accounts as to whether or not Williams modified the song, but he ended up with a writing credit. JS

New lyrics were added by Bernie Hanighen, a songwriter and producer, and published on November 27, 1944, under the title “Grand Finale.” WK Jackie Paris introduced this new vocal version in 1949. JS In 1946, trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie embellished the song JS with a new intro that was originally the end of his arrangement of “I Can’t Get Started.” WK It became a standard part of the song. JS

Miles Davis recorded the song several times in the ‘50s and it became one of his signature songs. WK His “show-stopping performance of the song at the 1955 Newport Jazz Festival” JS was considered a major turning point for the song, Davis, and the world of jazz in general because it introduced the song to the jazz public at large. JS By the end of the ‘50s, the song “was firmly entrenched as a jazz standard” NPR thanks to Davis and versions by Dexter Gordon and Sarah Vaughan. NPR

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First posted 4/21/2021.

Saturday, November 8, 1997

Natalie Imbruglia “Torn” charted


Natalie Imbruglia

Writer(s): Scott Cutler, Anne Preven, Phil Thornalley (see lyrics here)

Released: October 27, 1997

First Charted: November 8, 1997

Peak: 42 US, 111 BA, 112 GR, 111 RR, 4 AC, 114 A40, 3 AA, 12 MR, 2 UK, 112 CN, 2 AU, 18 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 1.8 UK, 4.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.9 radio, 369.27 video, 592.09 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Record company greed was never more blatantly obvious than in the ‘90s. It became a regular practice to delay or withhold altogether the release of a single in an effort to drive sales for the album instead. This made for some interesting chart disparities. Because the Billboard Hot 100 required songs to be released as singles, there were songs like the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” and No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak” that topped the airplay chart for 18 and 16 weeks respectively but were cheated out of the chance to potentially rank amongst the biggest #1 songs of all time.

While those were both well-known acts, new artists fell victim to the practice as well – perhaps none more so than Natalie Imbruglia. The singer/songwriter and actress was born in Australia in 1975. She gained fame in her native country through the soap opera Neighbours before moving to London to launch a music career. Her debut album, Left of the Middle, was released in 1997 and sold seven million copies worldwide. The lead single, “Torn,” was a top-5 hit in multiple countries but only reached #42 in the United States on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it spent eleven weeks atop the airplay chart and was a major #1 hit on competitors’ charts like the Gavin Report and Radio & Records that didn’t hamper songs with the same rules as the Billboard Hot 100.

The “lyrics immaculately captured the contradictory dilemmas of everyday life.” TB The song is a “tale of a romantic breakup, from the disappointed but clear-eyed perspective of a woman who’s come to realize that the magic she thought was there isn’t.” SS It was written in 1991 by Scott Cutler and Anne Preven with producer Phil Thornalley. It was intended as a solo release for Preven. Her American rock band Ednaswap performed it live but didn’t initially release it. It was then recorded in 1993 in Danish by singer Lis Sørensen and became a hit in Demark. Ednaswap then recorded the song in 1995 and, a year later, it was recorded by American-Norwegian singer Trinie Rein and became a top-ten hit on the Norwegian charts.

In 1997, Imbruglia released her version of the song with Thornalley on bass and rhythm guitars. Her version earned worldwide attention and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Billboard’s Larry Flick said it “has an infectious melody that will warm the hearts of anyone with a hankering for a slice of pure pop.” WK Music historian Steve Sullivan called it “the most pleasantly inescapable song on pop radio in 1998.” SS


First posted 8/9/2023.