Friday, March 31, 2006

Dresden Dolls “Sing” released


Dresden Dolls

Writer(s): Amanda Palmer (see lyrics here)

Released: March 31, 2006

First Charted: --

Peak: 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.49 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Dresden Dolls formed in Boston in 2000. The duo consisted of singer and multi-instrumentalist Amanda Palmer and drummer, guitarist, and bassist Brian Vigilone. The name was inspired by several connections to the city of Dresden, Germany. The city was home of the pre-war porcelain dolls and was famously firebombed during World War II by a joint British and American aerial attack. In the novel Flowers in the Attic, author V.C. Andrews refers to the “classically blond-haired and blue-eyed protaganists” as the Dresden Dolls. WK The post-punk group The Fall also had a song called “Dresden Dolls.”

The duo released a self-titled EP in 2001 and self-titled album in 2003. Their second album, Yes, Virginia…, was released in 2006. All Music Guide’s Heather Phares said the group “sound more confident than ever, igniting their cabaret-rock with more crazed inventiveness and you-are-there immediacy.” AMG She also said, “Palmer’s lyrics have a mix of sympathy and disdain for the people and subjects in her songs that makes them seem very honest in spite, or perhaps because of, their theatricality.” AMG

The lead single from that album was “Sing,” a song celebrating the power of music as a means of expression. It was only released as a promo to radio stations and never saw an official release for sale. Phares referred to it as one of the album’s “musically and emotionally complex ballads.” AMG

The video features clips of the Dresden Dolls performing, people with different jobs in different locations receiving a CD in the mail from the duo, and people made up to look like living dolls.

The song was covered in 2007 by the Red Paintings on their Feed the Wolf EP.


First posted 2/8/2023.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Fray song “How to Save a Life” released

How to Save a Life

The Fray

Writer(s): Isaac Slade, Joe King (see lyrics here)

Released: March 26, 2006

First Charted: April 15, 2006

Peak: 3 US, 11 DG, 3 RR, 115 A40, 11 AA, 31 MR, 4 UK, 4 CN, 2 AU, 10 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, 1.8 UK, 8.68 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.8 radio, 484.69 video, 1034.33 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Isaac Slade and Joe King formed The Fray in 2002 in Denver, Colorado. They released their debut album, How to Save a Life in 2005. It was certified double platinum on the strength of the lead single, “Over My Head (Cable Car),” which hit the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the top-3 success of the title cut. The song “How to Save a Life” spent more than a year on the Billboard Hot 100.

Guitarist David Welsh said, “The song came about very organically. Isaac had this idea on the piano of this kind of lullaby. Then he concocted this repetitious drum beat that moved the lullaby along with Ben. The lyrics came from an experience Isaac had with a teenager he was mentoring who was struggling with drugs and addiction. It was just a very natural process, the song developed and the lyrics fitted very well.” SF

Isaac elaborated, explaining how it grew out of his experience as a mentor at a camp for troubled teens. “One of the kids I was paired up with a musician. Here I was, a protected suburbanite, and he was just 17 and had all these problems. And no one could write a manual on how to save him.” SF

The song took off in the United States after being used in an episode of the television show Grey’s Anatomy. It became an “unofficial theme” and was used in promotion for the show’s third season. One video of the song even splices scenes from the show with the band performing the song. It was also prominently featured in two episodes of Scrubs during scenes when the main character looks back on awkward moments of his life. The show as also used in One Tree Hill and Big Brother UK.


First posted 7/25/2023.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Jim DeRogatis “The Great Albums”

Jim DeRogatis:

The Great Albums

From the website: “As the never-ending parade of pantheonic lists by MTV, VH1, and Rolling Stone magazine attests, the five-decade history of rock ’n’ roll has produced a canon of classics just like any other art form, from literature, to theater, to film. Inspired by my Chicago Sun-Times colleague and critical hero Roger Ebert, I launched this bi-weekly column in ‘Sunday Showcase’…as an in-depth forum for delving deep into the grooves of rock’s bonafide masterpieces, as well as for shedding light on some lesser-known efforts that deserve to be acknowledged for their genius. In introducing his ‘Great Movies’ column, Roger wrote, "One of the gifts one movie lover can give another is the title of a wonderful film they have not yet discovered." The same is true of music and the Great Albums--so tune in, turn it up, and read on.”

Check out other best-of album lists by individuals/critics here.

These are the articles from the series. Click on the dates before the album titles to see Jim’s original review. Click on the album title to see the DMDB page for the album.

  1. 9/23/2001: Derek and the Dominos Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs (1970)
  2. 10/7/2001: James Brown Live at the Apollo Volume 1 (live, 1962)
  3. 10/21/2001: Nirvana In Utero (1993)
  4. 11/4/2001: The Rolling Stones Let It Bleed (1969)
  5. 11/18/2001: Jethro Tull Aqualung (1971)
  6. 12/2/2001: My Bloody Valentine Loveless (1991)
  7. 12/16/2001: The Beatles Revolver (1966)
  8. 1/13/2002: Patti Smith Easter (1978)
  9. 1/27/2002: Rush 2112 (1976)

  10. 2/10/2002: Ramones Mania (1988)
  11. 2/24/2002: R.E.M. Murmur (1983)
  12. 3/24/2002: Velvet Underground & Nico Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
  13. 4/21/2002: The 13th Floor Elevators The Psychedlic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (1966)
  14. 6/2/2002: David Bowie Heroes (1977)
  15. 6/16/2002: X-Ray Spex Germfree Adolscents (1978)
  16. 6/30/2002: Supertramp Breakfast in America (1979)
  17. 7/14/2002: Bob Marley & the Wailers Confrontation (1983)
  18. 8/11/2002: The MC5 Kick Out the Jams (live, 1969)
  19. 8/25/2002: Public Enemy Fear of a Black Planet (1990)
  20. 9/8/2002: Jane’s Addiction Ritual de lo Habitual (1990)

  21. 10/6/2002: Jefferson Airplane Surrealistic Pillow (1967)
  22. 10/20/2002: Liz Phair Exile in Guyville (1993)
  23. 12/1/2002: Queen A Night at the Opera (1975)
  24. 12/1/2002: Queen A Day at the Races (1977)
  25. 2/9/2003: Teenage Fanclub Bandwagonesque (1991)
  26. 3/9/2003: Ride Carnival of Light (1994)
  27. 4/6/2003: De La Soul 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
  28. 5/4/2003: Black Sabbath Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)
  29. 5/18/2003: Wire Pink Flag (1977)
  30. 6/1/2003: Love Forever Changes (1967)

  31. 6/15/2003: Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde (1966)
  32. 6/29/2003: Tone-Loc Loc-ed After Dark (1989)
  33. 7/13/2003: Barry White The Ultimate Collection (1988)
  34. 9/21/2003: Tori Amos Little Earthquakes (1992)
  35. 10/5/2003: John Cale & Brian Eno Wrong Way Up (1991)
  36. 10/19/2003: Simon & Garfunkel Bookends (1968)
  37. 1/25/2004: Arrested Development 3 Years, 5 Months, & 2 Days in the Life of… (1992)
  38. 6/13/2004: PJ Harvey To Bring You My Love (1995)
  39. 2/5/2006: Common Like Water for Chocolate (2000)
  40. 3/19/2006: Queen Jazz (1979)

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 6/7/2024.

Friday, March 17, 2006

On This Day (1956): Howlin’ Wolf “Smokestack Lightning” charted

Smokestack Lightning

Howlin’ Wolf

Writer(s): Chester Burnett (see lyrics here)

First Charted: March 17, 1956

Peak: 8 RB, 42 UK, 4 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 36.90 video, 64.93 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Howlin’ Wolf was a menancing presence – 6’ 3”, 300 pounds, and size 14 feet. He had “a ferocious vocal power” SS to match, making him “one of the reigning gods of postwar Chicago blues.” SS He was born Chester Arthur Burnett on June 10, 1910 in West Point, Mississippi. He learned to play guitar from legendary blues man Charley Patton.

His maternal grandmother nicknamed him “Wolf” when he was a child, a moniker which his biographers said suited him perfectly. He was “a musician who roamed by himself: a lone wolf. His unusual blue-gray eyes, so like a wolf’s, seemed to glare right through people rather than at them.” SS He was also “a proverbial wolf with women” and “his lupine howl gave him the aura of some unsettled creature of the night.” SS Thanks to numerous childhood bouts with tonsilitis which damaged his vocal cords, his “voice sounded like he subsisted on a diet of broken glass…washed down…with kerosene.” SS

Howlin’ Wolf was already 41 years when Sam Phillips heard him on a Memphis radio show and produced his double-sided debut single “How Many More Years” and “Moanin’ at Midnight” in 1951. Phillips leased the tracks to Chess Records and soon Howlin’ Wolf was working out of Chicago. That same year he recorded “Crying at Daybreak,” an early version of “Smokestack Lightning.” SS It was a song he’d been performing since the early 1930s. It was partially inspired by Charley Patton’s “Moon Going Down,” which used the phrase “smoke light lightning” in reference to a river boat. SS

The song may owes a debt to “Stop and Listen Blues,” a 1930 song by the Mississippi Sheiks that included the line “crying, smokestack black baby; the bells it shine like gold.” SS Howlin’ Wolf employed a similar line – “The smokestack is black and the bell, it shines like gold” – in “Smokestack Lightning.”

In 1954, Howlin’ Wolf re-recorded “Crying at Daybreak” as “Smokestack Lightning.” “While the band stayed on the same chord throughout the song, the tension never relented on this arresting performance from Wolf, Willie Johnson and company.” BH Wolf’s recording featured the famed Willie Dixon Chess session player on bass.

Still, it would be two more years before it was released as a single. Then “the Wolf’s quintessential howling cry rode a hypnotic pounding beat all the way to the Top Ten of Billboard’s rhythm & blues charts.” BH Lightning struck twice as eight years later, Howlin’ Wolf found himself on the UK charts at#42 with the song.


Related Links:

First posted 9/10/2023.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

50 years ago: My Fair Lady opened on Broadway

My Fair Lady

Alan Jay Lerner (music), Frederick Loewe (lyrics)

The Musical

Opened on Broadway: March 15, 1956

Number of Performances: 2717

Opened at London’s West End: April 30, 1958

Number of Performances: 2281

Cast Album

Charted: April 28, 1956

Peak: 115 US, 119 UK

Sales (in millions): 8.0 US

Genre: show tunes


Charted: October 10, 1964

Peak: 14 US, 19 UK

Sales (in millions): 1.5 US

Genre: show tunes


  1. Overture: Orchestra/ Why Can’t the English?
  2. Wouldn’t It Be Loverly? *
  3. I’m an Ordinary Man
  4. With a Little Bit of Luck **
  5. Just You Wait
  6. The Rain in Spain
  7. I Could Have Danced All Night
  8. Ascot Gavotte
  9. On the Street Where You Live
  10. You Did It
  11. Show Me
  12. Get Me to the Church on Time
  13. A Hymn to Him
  14. Without You
  15. I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face

* 2 versions back-to-back on cast album
** appears only on soundtrack

Singles/Hit Songs:

As was common in the pre-rock era, songs from musicals were often recorded by artists not associated with the musical and released as singles. Here are some of the most notable hit singles resulting from the show:

  • “On the Street Where You Live” – Vic Damone (#4, 1956), Eddie Fisher (#18, 1956), Lawrence Welk (#96, 1956), Andy Williams (328, 1964)
  • ”I Could Have Danced All Night” – Sylvia Syms (#20, 1956), Rosemary Clooney (#49, 1956), Dinah Shore (#93, 1956), Ben E. King (#72, 1963), Biddu Orchestra (#72, 1976)
  • ”I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face” – Rosemary Clooney (#70, 1956), Gordon MacRae (#96, 1956)
  • ”With a Little Bit of Luck” – Percy Faith (#82, 1956), Jo Stafford (#85, 1956)
  • ”Get Me to the Church on Time” – Julius LaRosa (#89, 1956)


4.462 out of 5.00 (average of 13 ratings for cast album and soundtrack combined)

Quotable: “The most perfect stage musical ever” – Colin Larkin, Virgin All-Time Top 1000 Albums

Awards (Cast Album): (Click on award to learn more).

Awards (Soundtrack): (Click on award to learn more).

About the Show:

My Fair Lady is “the crowning achievement” AZ for lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and composer Frederick Loewe. In fact, some consider it to be “the most perfect stage musical ever.” CL “It boasts a magnificent score…witty, intelligent, beautiful, and romantic.” NRR This is “a collection of performances that long ago became a ubiquitous and indispensable fixture of American musical theater.” AZ

Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner

After several productions in the 1940s, Lerner and Loewe first tasted major Broadway success with 1947’s Brigadoon. They next worked together on 1951’s Paint Your Wagon before adapting George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion into My Fair Lady. It was a story about “the mythic Greek figure who falls in love with his sculpture.” TM In My Fair Lady, the story focuses on “the relationship between an elocutionist” R-C and “pre-World War I London flower girl Eliza Doolittle, who aspires to a better accent and the social advantages that will come with it.” R-S

The show opened on Broadway on March 15, 1956. It ran for 2717 performances, closing on September 29, 1962. It had what was then the longest run in history for a major musical. W-M The production has been called “the perfect musical.” W-M

Julie Andrews was a “twenty-year-old revelation” ZS as “the fairest of all ladies,” ZS making the “loverly…score soar” ZS with her “glorious voice and emotional range.” ZS Rex Harrison is “effortlessly charming” ZS in his recreation of the stage role as “Professor Henry Higgins (he had also appeared in the film adaptation of…Pygmalion.” R-S He “enjoys every wink of his ironies: When he describes himself, in I’m an Ordinary Man, his exaggerated demeanor suggests his character is anything but ordinary. That Harrison caught this specific dynamic so early in what became a historic extended run is remarkable.” TM

“The show yielded an astounding number of songs that became standards, including the luminous I Could Have Danced All Night and I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” TM Among the other gems in this “embarrassment of riches,” AZ including The Rain in Spain, Wouldn’t It Be Loverly, Why Can’t the English?, and On the Street Where You Live.

As was common in the 1950s, the cast album “was recorded in one marathon fourteen-hour session on March 25, 1956.” TM “Producers tried to schedule the sessions as close to the opening of the musical as possible, thinking that the nuances of the work would be fresh in the performers’ minds.” TM This sometimes backfired, but here Harrison and Andrews “are beyond lively… and the supporting cast – which, as was often the case with Lerner and Loewe, got the meatiest songs – positively sparkles.” TM

“The recording established a new relationship between Broadway productions and record companies; the album’s critical success and popularity with the public were unrivaled at the time of its release.” NRR The cast album spent fifteen weeks atop the Billboard album chart, making it one of the biggest #1 albums in U.S. chart history. What’s incredible, however, is that those chart-topping weeks were spread out over four years time. Billboard magazine named it album of the year – in 1957 and 1958.

The album stuck around on the charts for a total of 480 weeks. Only Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Johnny Mathis’ Johnny’s Greatest Hits have logged more weeks.

For the film version, Harrison and Holloway were back, but since they were making their third recordings of the score, they didn’t have much to add…The result was an acceptable recording that did not surpass the Broadway or London cast albums.” R-S However, despite starring in the Broadway and London stage productions, Julie Andrews was deemed “not enough of a star to carry the movie. (Embarrassingly, by the time the movie opened, Mary Poppins had made her more than enough of a star to do so.) Instead, Audrey Hepburn stepped into the role.” R-S

Hepburn’s singing voice was dubbed by Marni Nixon, who “was an accomplished Hollywood voice ghost, having previously sung for Deborah Kerr in The King and I, Natalie Wood in West Side Story, and Rosalind Russell in Gypsy.” R-S She “was fine…lacked the flair that Andrews would have given it.” R-S

A “1965 Best Picture Oscar capped the show’s decade of prominence.” AZ

Resources and Related Links:

  • R-C All Music Guide review of cast album by William Ruhlmann
  • R-S All Music Guide review of soundtrack by William Ruhlmann
  • AZ review of the cast album by Jerry McCulley
  • CL Colin Larkin (1998). Virgin All-Time Top 1000 Albums. Virgin Books: London, England. Page 201.
  • TM Tom Moon (2008). 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. Workman Publishing Company, Inc.: New York, NY.
  • NRR National Recording Registry
  • ZS Zagat Survey (2003). Music Guide: 1,000 Top Albums of All Time. Coordinator: Pat Blashill. Music Editor: Holly George-Warren. Editors: Betsy Andrews and Randi Gollin. Zagat Survey, LLC: New York, NY. Page 170.

Other Related DMDB Pages:

First posted 3/7/2011; last updated 12/23/2021.