Saturday, February 28, 1998

Celine Dion hit #1 with “My Heart Will Go On”

My Heart Will Go On

Celine Dion

Writer(s): James Horner/ Will Jennings (see lyrics here)


Released: December 8, 1997


First Charted: December 12, 1997


Peak: 12 US, 110 BA, 19 GR, 19 RR, 110 AC, 3 A40, 12 UK, 16 CN, 14 AU, 6 DF (Click for codes to charts.)


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 1.8 UK, 18.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 366.3 video, 411.03 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

When Titanic was released in 1997, it was the most expensive film ever made. TB Such an oversized budget needed a larger-than-life voice to soundtrack it and Celine Dion was an obvious choice. True, detractors berated her over-the-top performance style and cheesy sentimentality as overwhelming her undeniably huge talent, but since that was often the same criticism of Titanic director James Cameron, hers was just the right voice to help sink one of the most hyped ships of all time.

In actuality, Cameron only wanted instrumental music in the film. FB As Walter Afanasieff, one of the song’s co-producers said, “Cameron didn’t want anything modern in his film…It was a period piece and he wanted to be true to the music of the time.” FB However, when James Horner composed “a melody to die for,” TB lyricist Will Jennings couldn’t resist.

The song had a simple structure, but a range which few pop singers could handle. LW Since Horner had a good relationship with Dion, LW he asked her to record it, even though she didn’t like it initially. FB The originally reluctant director was won over. Jennings says that when Horner played the demo over the movie’s finale, “Cameron had to leave the room to compose himself.” FB

Understandably, the melodramatic song drew eyerolls from some accusing it of being “overwrought and overblown,” TB but the “money-shot line of ‘Near…far…whereeeeeeeever you are’…[made for] an operatic moment of almost Wagnerian pop.” TB Truth be told, after Leonardo DiCaprio slips from his lover Kate Winslet’s grasp and into his watery grave, most of the audience were scrounging for tissues when the song kicked in as the credits rolled.


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First posted 1/7/2015; last updated 7/25/2023.

Saturday, February 21, 1998

“I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover” gets lucky 21 years after it first charted (2/21/1948)

I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover

Art Mooney

Writer(s): Mort Dixon/Harry Woods (see lyrics here)


First Charted: January 24, 1948


Peak: 15 US, 12 HP, 11 GA, 14 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): , 2.0 US (includes 1.0 in sheet music)


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

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

It isn’t often a song waits 21 years to hit #1, but it took that long for “I’m Looking Over a Four-Leaf Clover” to get lucky. The song was written by Harry Woods and Mort Dixon in 1927. Woods was a Tin Pan Alley lyricist who wrote the million-selling songs “When the Red Red Robin Comes Bobbing Along” (1926) and “Side by Side” (1927). AMG-1 Meanwhile, Mort Dixon did some songwriting for Broadway and Hollywood and also wrote hits such as “That Old Gang of Mine” (1923), and “Bye Bye Blackbird” (1926). AMG-2

Their collaborative efforts on “Clover” found success on April 30, 1927 when two versions of the song charted simultaneously. Nick Lucas took the song to #2 while Ben Bernie went to #3. Two weeks later, Jean Goldkette hit the charts with Billy Murray. Theirs hit #10. PM

In 1948, “Four-Leaf Clover” had a resurgence when six different acts charted with the song, including the Uptown String Band, Russ Morgan, Alvino Rey, The Three Suns, and Arthur Godfrey. PM However, the first and biggest of the batch was Art Mooney’s #1 version which featured Mike Pingatore. Originally the banjo player with bandleader Paul Whiteman JA on hits such as 1923’s “Linger Awhile,” TY Pingatore forged a heavy-strumming style which became a blueprint for Dixieland banjoists. JA-99

The song also took on a life beyond the charts. It has become Warner Brothers cartoon favorite, used for Bugs Bunny (Operation Rabbit), Daffy Duck and the Tasmanian Devil (Ducking the Devil), and Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner (Fast and Furry-ous). WK It was parodied as “I’m Looking Over My Dead Dog Rover”, first by Kevin Gershon in 1973 and again by Hank Stu Dave and Hank in 1977. The latter received play on Dr. Demento’s radio show. WK “Clover” has also become a campfire sing-a-long and Scouter favorite. JA


Resources:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Art Mooney
  • AMG-1 All Music Guide (Harry Woods bio)
  • AMG-2 All Music Guide (Mort Dixon bio)
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 99.
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 39.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 523.
  • WK Wikipedia.org


First posted 2/21/2012; last updated 8/6/2022.

Tuesday, February 10, 1998

Neutral Milk Hotel In the Aeroplane Over the Sea released

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea

Neutral Milk Hotel


Released: February 10, 1998


Peak: --


Sales (in millions): 0.39 US, 0.06 UK, 0.45 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: psychedelic rock/new Americana


Tracks:

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

  1. The King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. One [2:00]
  2. The King of Carrot Flowers, Pts. Two & Three (Jeremy Barnes, Julian Koster, Jeff Mangum, Scott Spillane) [3:06]
  3. In the Aeroplane Over the Sea [3:22]
  4. Two-Headed Boy [4:26]
  5. The Fool (Spillane) [1:53]
  6. Holland, 1945 [3:15] (10/13/98, --)
  7. Communist Daughter [1:57]
  8. Oh Comely [8:18]
  9. Ghost [4:08]
  10. Untitled [2:16]
  11. Two-Headed Boy, Pt. Two [5:13]
All songs written by Jeff Mangum unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 39:15


The Players:

  • Jeff Mangum (vocals, guitar, etc.)
  • Jeremy Barnes (drums, organ)
  • Scott Spillane (horns)
  • Julian Koster (Wandering Genie, the singing saw, bowed banjo, accordion, white noise)

Rating:

4.116 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)


Awards:

(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Singer/songwriter Jeff Mangum, born in Louisiana in 1970, formed Neutral Milk Hotel in 1989. The “group” started when Mangum was in high school as a home recording project that was deliberately low-fi, combining psychedelic folk and indie rock. He started working with friends and fellow musicians Robert Schneider, Bill Doss, and Will Cullen Hart. In 1996, he and Schneider recorded the album On Avery Island. Mangum then recruited Jeremy Barnes, Julian Koster, and Scott Spillane to tour with. The four of them went to Denver, where Schneider lived, to record a new album, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, based on demos written by Mangum. It was produced by Schneider.

Musically, Aeroplane combined more traditional rock instruments like guitar and drums with less conventional instruments like the singing saw and uilleann pipes. WK “Mangum’s distorted acoustic guitar rattles and shakes under grandiose instrumental arrangements of accordion, organ, brass and banjo. The faint warble of singing saw dances across the tracks, elevating the sound to mystical heights. Its peculiarities expand the scope of the album, creating a novel vaudeville-esque sound that exudes a refreshing whimsy and sentimentality.” PM

Mangum has said he was heavily influenced by The Diary of a Young Girl, a real-life account from teenager Anne Frank of her time during Nazi occupation during World War II before dying in a concentration camp. Mangum said he spent “about three days crying” and dreamed of traveling back in time to save her. WK Tracks such as Holland, 1945 and Ghost incorporate elements of her life into the lyrics. WK

“The exploration of Mangum’s vibrant youth within the context of historical sorrow unveiled a newfound emotional space for Mangum rife with joy and anguish.” PM The album integrates themes of “neurotic observation [and] sexual awakening” PM as it “voyages through adolescence without flinching and unveiling some bittersweet truths along the way.” PM

“Fans have long argued over the exact meaning of the album.” WK Mark Richardson of Pitchfork said, “It’s like a children’s book or a fairy tale, Where the Wild Things Are, on wax.” WK PopMatters’ P.J. Sauerteig suggested that the album’s central message is about Mangum’s desire to be loved, be it by a love interest or peers or people he idolizes. WK

The album attracted a cult following and received praise as a landmark of indie rock, influencing groups like Arcade Fire and the Decemberists. The popularity took its toll on Mangum and he withdrew from touring and the group soon went on hiatus. They have yet to record another album.

Resources and Related Links:


First posted 6/6/2024.