Friday, August 28, 1998

50 years ago: “Twelfth Street Rag” hit #1 more than 30 years after published

Twelfth Street Rag

Pee Wee Hunt

Writer(s): Euday L. Bowman, Andy Razaf (lyrics – NA - instrumental)


First Charted: June 28, 1948


Peak: 18 US, 2 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 U.S.


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

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“Twelfth Street Rag” has an interesting history. It was first published in 1914 as a piano rag TY by composer Euday L. Bowman. Years earlier, he was walking down 12th street with a friend known as “Raggedy Ed” who said he planned to open a pawn shop on the street. Bowman supposedly shot back that if his friend got rich from the shop, then Bowman would write a song to make himself rich. WK Since the song has become “the most recorded rag of all time,” JA it would be fair to assume Bowman succeeded. No word on the pawn shop.

Actually, Bowman took more than 15 years to write down the music, finally selling it in 1913 to Jenkins Music Company. They thought the arrangement was too difficult and hired C.E. Wheeler to simplify it. WK In 1916, James S. Sumner added lyrics TY and Earl Fuller got the song on the charts for the first time the following year, taking it to #7. Ted Lewis revived the song in 1923, reaching #14. In 1927, Bennie Moten and Louis Armstrong recorded it. WK In 1929, Spencer Williams added new lyrics. TY In 1935, the song charted for a third time – this time with a #19 version by Fats Waller.

The song still wasn’t done transforming. Andy Razaf added new lyrics once again in 1942, TY but it would be another six years before it charted again. This time, however, it had its greatest success. Pee Wee Hunt and his orchestra decided to record the song for Capitol Records. It went on to become one of the biggest records to date for the company, TY selling more than three million and becoming the biggest-selling ragtime song of all time. JA

The song charted two more times by Frankie Carle (#10, 1948) and Liberace (#23, 1954). PM The song was given yet another life when Big Tiny Little’s 1959 recording of the song became the theme for The Joe Franklin Show in the UK. WK The song also made appearances in the movie The English Patient (1996) and in the cartoon series SpongeBob SquarePants. WK


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Pee Wee Hunt
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 201.
  • TY Don Tyler (1985). Hit Parade 1920-1955. New York, NY: Quill. Page 136.
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 599.
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 8/28/2016; last updated 4/23/2021.

Tuesday, August 25, 1998

Alabama: A Retrospective

First posted 9/13/2020; updated 12/5/2020.

A Retrospective: 1980-1998

Alabama

A Brief History:

The country Alabama formed in 1976. After a couple of minor hits in the late ’70s, they took off in the eighties, landing 32 songs on the country song chart, 27 of which went to #1. They picked up five more chart-toppers in the ‘90s giving them a total of 32 trips to the pinnacle, making them the most successful country group of all time. Astonishingly, after a few shake-ups in the drum chair in their early years, the quartet’s lineup remained the same from 1979 through 1998.

  • Randy Owen (vocals, guitar)
  • Jeff Cook (keyboards, fiddle)
  • Teddy Gentry (bass)
  • Mark Herndon (drums)
From 1980 to 1998, Alabama released 14 studio albums, eight of which topped the country charts. Each of these albums has a brief snapshot on this page. Under each album snapshot, songs featured on the anthologies below are noted. If the song charted, the date of the song’s release or first chart appearance and its chart peaks are noted in parentheses. Click for codes to singles charts.

The Studio Albums:

  • My Home’s in Alabama (1980)
  • Feels So Right (1981)
  • Mountain Music (1982)
  • The Closer You Get (1983)
  • Roll On (1984)
  • 40 Hour Week (1985)
  • The Touch (1986)
  • Just Us (1987)
  • Southern Star (1989)
  • Pass It on Down (1990)
  • American Pride (1992)
  • Cheap Seats (1993)
  • In Pictures (1995)
  • Dancin’ on the Boulevard (1997)

The Compilations:


My Home’s in Alabama (1980):

This was actually Alabama’s fourth album, but this was their breakthrough. Their three albums released in the ‘70s had gone nowhere, but after signing to RCA Records, the group went on one of the most impressive chart runs in country music history for the next decade.

  • My Home’s in Alabama (2/2/80, 17 CW) G1*
  • Tennessee River (5/31/80, 1 CW) G1*, G3,FR
  • Why Lady Why (9/20/80, 1 CW) G1,FR

* live version


Feels So Right (1981):

After My Home’s in Alabama launched Alabama, Feels So Right took them into the strasophere. The album sold four million copies in the U.S. fueled by three chart-topping country songs.

  • Old Flame (2/14/81, 1 CW) G1,FR
  • Feels So Right (5/23/81, 1 CW, 20 US, 9 AC) G1,FR
  • Love in the First Degree (10/24/81, 1 CW, 15 US, 5 AC) G1,FR


Mountain Music (1982):

This was Alabama’s best-selling studio album, moving five million copies, thanks to three #1 country songs.

  • Mountain Music (3/6/82, 1 CW) G1,FR
  • Take Me Down (5/29/82, 1 CW, 18 US, 5 AC) G2,FR
  • Close Enough to Perfect (8/28/82, 1 CW, 65 US) FR


The Closer You Get (1983):

This four-million selling album added another three #1 country songs to Alabama’s already stunning track record.

  • Dixieland Delight (2/12/83, 1 CW) G2,FR
  • The Closer You Get (5/14/83, 1 CW, 38 US, 9 AC) G2,FR
  • Lady Down on Love (8/20/83, 1 CW, 76 US, 18 AC) G2,FR


Roll On (1984):

This was Alabama’s fourth album in a row to top four million in sales. In terms of #1 songs, this was Alabama’s most successful album to-date with four songs topping the country charts.

  • Roll on Eighteen Wheeler (1/21/84, 1 CW) G2,FR
  • When We Make Love (4/21/84, 1 CW, 72 US, 8 AC) G3,FR
  • If You’re Gonna Play in Texas You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band (8/4/84, 1 CW) G3,FR
  • There’s a Fire in the Night (11/10/84, 1 CW) FR


40 Hour Week (1985):

This was Alabama’s sixth consecutive multi-platinum record. Their Christmas album, also released that year, would also hit two million in sales and marked the group’s last seller hit that level.

  • There’s No Way (2/9/85, 1 CW) G3,FR
  • 40 Hour Week for a Livin’ (5/18/85, 1 CW) G1,FR
  • Can’t Keep a Good Man Down (8/24/85, 1 CW) FR

Greatest Hits

Alabama


Recorded: 1980-1986


Charted: March 1, 1986


Peak: 24 US, 15 CW, -- UK, 64 CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, -- UK, 5.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: country

Tracks: (1) She and I (2) Mountain Music (3) Feels So Right (4) Old Flame (5) Tennessee River (live) (6) Love in the First Degree (7) 40 Hour Week for a Livin’ (8) Why Lady Why (9) The Fans (10) My Home’s in Alabama (live)


Total Running Time: 48:21

Rating:

4.396 out of 5.00 (average of 5 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About Greatest Hits:

Alabama’s first greatest hits collection mixed two new songs alongside eight songs which had hit the country charts from 1980 to 1985. It’s hard to argue with anything that’s here, but it is worth noting what is absent. At this point in their career, Alabama had already amassed 18 #1 songs on the country charts, but only 7 of them are present here. This collection overlooks The Closer You Get and Roll On completely and only acknowledges Mountain Music and 40 Hour Week with one song each.

  • She and I (1/25/86, 1 CW) G1,FR
  • The Fans G1


The Touch (1986):

Alabama’s first studio album after their first greatest hits collection was also their first album since the ‘70s to sell less than two million copies. It was still a platinum seller with two #1 country songs, one of which was a remake of the Carpenters’ “Touch Me When We’re Dancing.” The next two greatest-hits compilations, however, ignored this album. That was finally corrected with 1998’s For the Record.

  • Touch Me When We’re Dancing (9/20/86, 1 CW) FR
  • You’ve Got the Touch (1/24/87, 1 CW) FR


Just Us (1987):

“Tar Top” was the first non-Christmas song with Alabama as the lead artist to not reach #1 since 1980’s “My Home’s in Alabama.” They shot right back to the top with their next two singles.

  • Tar Top (8/22/87, 7 CW)
  • Face to Face (with K.T. Oslin) (12/5/87, 1 CW) G3,FR
  • Fallin’ Again (4/23/88, 1 CW) G2,FR


Southern Star (1988):

This was Alabama’s second album (after 1984’s Roll On) to land four songs atop the country charts. This was also their eighth and final #1 album during the 1980-1998 era.

  • Song of the South (11/26/88, 1 CW) G2,FR
  • If I Had You (3/11/89, 1 CW) FR
  • High Cotton (8/12/89, 1 CW) G2,FR
  • Southern Star (12/9/89, 1 CW) FR


Pass It on Down (1990):

This was Alabama’s first album since 1980’s My Home’s in Alabama to not top the charts. It did, however, pull off a feat not accomplished by any of their other studio albums – it sent five songs to the top-five of the country chart. “Jukebox in My Mind” spent four weeks on top – the longest for any of Alabama’s #1 songs.

  • Pass It on Down (4/28/90, 3 CW)
  • Jukebox in My Mind (7/28/90, 1 CW) G3,FR
  • Forever’s A Far As I’ll Go (11/17/90, 1 CW, 15 AC) G3,FR
  • Down Home (3/2/91, 1 CW) FR
  • Here We Are (6/8/91, 2 CW) FR

Greatest Hits Vol. II

Alabama


Recorded: 1982-1991


Released: October 8, 1991


Peak: 72 US, 10 CW, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: country

Tracks: (1) Born Country (2) Then Again (3) Dixieland Delight (4) Lady Down on Love (5) The Closer You Get (6) Roll on Eighteen Wheeler (7) Fallin’ Again (8) Song of the South (9) High Cotton (10) Take Me Down (11) Hats Off


Total Running Time: 43:14

Rating:

3.771 out of 5.00 (average of 10 ratings)

About Greatest Hits Vol. II:

The second Alabama compilation mixes three new songs with eight songs which topped the country charts from 1982 to 1989. Five of these songs could have been on the first greatest hits collection, yet there’s still four more #1 country songs from that era not represented on either collection. This set also omits plenty of songs which had been hits since Greatest Hits, completely overlooking the Just Us and Pass It on Down albums, and a total of seven more #1 country chart-toppers.

  • Then Again (9/28/91, 4 CW, 33 AC) G2,FR
  • Born Country (1/11/91, 2 CW) G2,FR
  • Hats Off G2


American Pride (1992):

The album sent four songs to the top-3 of the country chart and went platinum, but peaked at #11, making this Alabama’s first album to miss the top ten since 1979.

  • Take a Little Trip (6/6/92, 2 CW)
  • I’m in a Hurry and Don’t Know Why (9/26/92, 1 CW) G3,FR
  • Once Upon a Lifetime (12/26/92, 3 CW) FR
  • Hometown Honeymoon (4/10/93, 3 CW) FR


Cheap Seats (1993):

This album featured “Reckless” as its lead single. It was the last time Alabama would top the country charts during the 1980-1998 era.

  • Reckless (9/11/93, 1 CW) FR
  • T.L.C. A.S.A.P. (12/18/93, 7 CW)
  • The Cheap Seats (4/16/94, 13 CW)
  • Angels Among Us (12/31/94, 28 CW) G3

Greatest Hits Vol. III

Alabama


Recorded: 1980-1994


Released: September 27, 1994


Peak: 56 US, 8 CW, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, -- UK, 2.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: country

Tracks: (1) Give Me One More Shot (2) We Can’t Love Like This Anymore (3) Tennessee River (4) When We Make Love (5) If You’re Gonna Play in Texas, You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band (6) There’s No Way (7) Face to Face (8) Jukebox in My Mind (9) Forever’s As Far As I’ll Go (10) I’m in a Hurry and Don’t Know Why (11) Angels Among Us


Total Running Time: 38:35

Rating:

3.803 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)

About Greatest Hits Vol. III:

Like the two previous anthologies, this one adds a handful of new songs to hits from throughout Alabama’s career. This set primarily plays catch up, gathering together four songs from the first Greatest Hits era (1980-1986) and three more from the years between that collection and Greatest Hits Vol. II (1986-1991). That means that only two songs from this set were hits since 1991. To be fair, Alabama had only released two studio albums since Greatest Hits Vol. II, but they’d produced eight country hits, making for yet another hits collection from Alabama that overlooks multiple hits from the era it supposedly covers.

  • We Can’t Love Like This Anymore (9/10/94, 6 CW) G3
  • Give Me One More Shot (2/11/95, 3 CW) G3,FR


In Pictures (1995):

While the album did feature three songs which hit the top-five of the country chart, it also showed the slipping audiences for the group with two songs missing the top 10 entirely.

  • She Ain’t Your Ordinary Girl (7/1/95, 2 CW) FR
  • In Pictures (9/30/95, 4 CW) FR
  • It Works (1/13/96, 19 CW)
  • Say I (5/18/96, 38 CW)
  • Tha Maker Said Take Her (7/20/96, 4 CW)


Dancin’ on the Boulevard (1997):

The last studio album from the 1980-1998 era. While the band’s audience had slipped a bit, this album did sell a million copies, giving the group a perfect record with all 14 studio albums from 1980-1998 going platinum.

  • Sad Lookin’ Moon (3/1/97, 2 CW) FR
  • Dancin’, Shaggin’ on the Boulevard (6/28/97, 3 CW)
  • Of Course I’m Alright (10/11/97, 22 CW)
  • She’s Got That Look in Her Eyes (2/14/98, 21 CW)

For the Record: 41 Number One Hits

Alabama


Recorded: 1980-1998


Released: August 25, 1998


Peak: 13 US, 2 CW, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, -- UK, 5.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: country

Tracks, Disc 1: (1) Five O’Clock 500 (2) Keepin’ Up (3) How Do You Fall in Love (4) Tennessee River (5) Why Lady Why (6) Old Flame (7) Feels So Right (8) Love in the First Degree (9) Mountain Music (10) Take Me Down (11) Close Enough to Perfect (12) Dixieland Delight (13) The Closer You Get (14) Lady Down on Love (15) Roll on Eighteen Wheeler (16) When We Make Love (17) If You’re GOnna Play in Texas, You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band (18) There’s a Fire in the Night (19) There’s No Way (20) 40 Hour Week for a Livin’ (21) Can’t Keep a Good Man Down (22) She and I

Tracks, Disc 2: (1) Touch Me When We’re Dancing (2) You’ve Got the Touch (3) Face to Face (4) Fallin’ Again (5) Song of the South (6) If I Had You (7) High Cotton (8) Southern Star (9) Jukebox in My Mind (10) Forever’s As Far As I’ll Go (11) Down Home (12) Here We Are (13) Then Again (14) Born Country (15) I’m in a Hurry and Don’t Know Why (16) Once Upon a Lifetime (17) Hometown Honeymoon (18) Reckless (19) Give Me One More Shot (20) She Ain’t Your Ordinary Girl (21) In Pictures (22) Sad Lookin’ Moon


Total Running Time: ??

Rating:

4.186 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)

About For the Record:

This two-disc collection offered a career retrospective of Alabama from 1980 to 1998, including all 33 songs to top the Billboard country song chart and three new songs. This collection covers nearly all the songs from the three greatest hits plus a whopping fifteen more hits, nine of which hit the top of the country charts, from that same era.

  • How Do You Fall in Love (8/1/98, 2 CW, 82 US) FR
  • Keepin’ Up (11/23/98, 14 CW, 69 US) FR
  • Five O’Clock 500 FR


Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, August 1, 1998

Goo Goo Dolls spend first of 18 weeks atop airplay chart with “Iris”

First posted 1/22/2020; last updated 2/27/2021.

Iris

Goo Goo Dolls

Writer(s):John Rzeznik (see lyrics here)


Released: April 7, 1998


First Charted: April 11, 1998


Peak: 9 US, 118a, 14RR, 22 AC, 117 A40, 2 AA, 8 AR, 15 MR, 3 UK, 18 CN, 15 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 1.2 UK, 6.29 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.8 radio, 217.0 video, 514.0 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

The Goo Goo Dolls formed in 1986, but didn’t really gain traction until almost a decade into their career when “Name” became a top 5 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. They were even more successful with “Iris” in 1998. The song, named after country-folk singer-songwriter Iris DeMent, WK was arguably the biggest pop song in the history of the Billboard charts, despite a #9 peak. Huh?

In the mid-to-late-‘90s, record companies sometimes refrained from releasing radio hits as singles in an effort to drive sales of the album instead. Such songs weren’t eligible for the Hot 100, but would show up on the airplay chart. “Iris” proved a monster at radio, spending an astonishing 18 weeks atop the chart – a feat which, had it been on the Hot 100, would have made it the biggest #1 pop song in the history of the chart. Billboard changed its rules in December 1998, WK but the song had already peaked, accounting for the #9 chart position.

The song also spent a whopping 17 weeks at the pinnacle on Billboard’s Adult Top 40 chart and hit #1 on the alternative rock chart. It was also a #1 on the United States’ Radio & Records chart and reached the top in Australia, Canada, and Italy. WK It was also one of the the best-selling singles of all time in Ireland. WK “Iris” also landed Grammy nominations for Song and Record of the Year.

John Rzeznik, the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls, said he wrote the power ballad with the Nicolas Cage City of Angels character in mind. Cage is an angel helping humans transition to the afterlife, but he falls in love with a human (Meg Ryan). As Rzeznik, said, “This guy is completely willing to give up his own immortality just to be able to feel something very human. And I think, ‘Wow! What an amazing thing it must be like to love someone so much that you give up everything to be with them.” WK


Resources and Related Links: