Friday, May 12, 2006

100 years ago: Billy Murray hit #1 with “You’re a Grand Old Flag” for the first of 10 weeks

You’re a Grand Old Flag” (aka “Grand Old Rag”)

Billy Murray

Writer(s): George M. Cohan -- (see lyrics here)

First Charted: May 5, 1906

Peak: 110 US, 12 GA, 13 SM, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.67 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Perhaps no other American popular song composer did more to popularize the patriotic song than George M. Cohan.” PS He claimed to be born on the 4th of July, although he was actually born the day before. As part of a vaudeville family, he toured New England and the Midwest during his boyhood. By 1904, he wrote and starred in his first musical, Little Johnny Jones. Two years later, he wrote George Washington, Jr., another Broadway show he wrote, produced and starred in as the character of George Belgrave. The show featured “Grand Old Flag,” the song which arguably made him a superstar. PS

It isn’t too surprising it became so popular. It was “a patriotic song in a snappy tempo sung by a vigorous and enthusiastic performer to an audience that loves America.” RA The song also drew on other beloved hits such as “Dixie” and “Auld Lang Syne.” SS When performing it during the musical, Cohan marched and down the stage waving an American flag. PS He also performed the song in 1932 in his first talking picture, The Phantom President. TY2

Still, the song wasn’t without controversy. Cohan originally called it “The Grand Old Rag,” inspired by a Civil War veteran who fought at Gettysburg. The man held a carefully folded, but tattered flag and said to Cohan, “She’s a grand old rag.” WK Cohan replicated the scene for the musical, but “despite the song’s clear patriotic message, ‘rag’ was considered by many to be an undignified and inappropriate way to refer to the American flag” NRR so Cohan changed the title to “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

Billy Murray, who has been called “the definitive interpreter of Cohan on record,” SS recorded the song under its original title, despite Cohan’s efforts to pull it. WK The controversy didn’t hurt the song; it became the first from a musical to sell more than a million copies of sheet music. SB Murray made it the biggest hit of 1906 WHC and the biggest-selling record of the first decade for Victor Records. DJ


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First posted 5/5/2014; last updated 12/15/2022.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Red Hot Chili Peppers Stadium Arcadium released

Stadium Arcadium

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Released: May 9, 2006

Peak: 12 US, 12 UK, 12 CN, 13 AU

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.68 UK, 7.0 world (includes US + UK)

Genre: alternative rock/funk

Tracks, Disc 1:

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

  1. Dani California (4/4/06, 6 BB, 24 RR, 5 A40, 1 AA, 1 AR, 1 MR, 2 UK, 1 CN, 8 AU, 21 DF) RT
  2. Snow (Hey Oh) (6/3/06, 22 BB, 21 A40, 3 A40, 3 AR, 1 MR, 18 UK, 28 DF) RT
  3. Charlie
  4. Stadium Arcadium
  5. Hump De Bump (4/7/07, 27 AR, 8 MR, 41 UK, 33 DF)
  6. She’s Only 18
  7. Slow Cheetah
  8. Torture Me
  9. Strip My Mind
  10. Especially in Michigan
  11. Warlocks
  12. C’mon Girl
  13. Wet Sand
  14. Hey

Tracks, Disc 2:

  1. Desecration Smile (2/12/07, 27 UK)
  2. Tell Me Baby (7/8/06, 50 BB, 22 A40, 27 AA, 8 AR, 1 MR, 16 UK, 28 DF) RT
  3. Hard to Concentrate (1 DF)
  4. 21st Century
  5. She Looks to Me
  6. Readymade
  7. If
  8. Make You Feel Better
  9. Animal Bar
  10. So Much I
  11. Storm in a Teacup
  12. We Believe
  13. Turn It Again
  14. Death of a Martian

Total Running Time: 122:19

The Players:

  • Anthony Kiedes (vocals)
  • Michael “Flea” Balzay (bass/trumpet/piano/backing vocals)
  • Chad Smith (drums, percussion)
  • John Frusciante (guitar/keyboards/backing vocals)


4.018 out of 5.00 (average of 29 ratings)


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Indulgence has long been a way of life for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, yet they resisted the siren’s call of the double album until 2006’s Stadium Arcadium. Sure, 1991’s breakthrough Blood Sugar Sex Magik was as long as a classic double LP, but such distinctions mattered little in the era when vinyl gave way to CD, and they matter less now, as the CD gradually gives way to digital-only releases. In fact, like how Blood Sugar was the tipping point when the LPs ceded ground to CDs, Stadium Arcadium could be seen as the point when albums were seen as a collection of digital playlists.” AMG

“As good as much of this is, there is a little bit of monotony here” AMG as the Peppers churn out “alternately spacey and sunny pop, ballads, and the occasional funk workout that used to be the Chili Peppers’ signature but now functions as a way to break up the monotony.” AMG

“As a lyricist Anthony Kiedis just isn’t that deep or clever enough to provide cohesive themes for an album of this length; he tackles no new themes here, nor does he provide new insight to familiar topics.” AMG

“He does display a greater versatility as a vocalist, cutting back on the hambone rapping that used to be his signature and crooning throughout the bulk of this album, usually on key.” AMG

“That said, he still has enough goofy tics to undercut his attempts at sincerity, and he tends to be a bit of a liability to the band as a whole; with a different singer, who could help shape and deliver these songs, this album might not seem as formless and gormless.” AMG

The music is also “given a flat, colorless production that has become the signature of Rick Rubin as of late. Rubin may be able to create the right atmosphere for Flea and John Frusciante to run wild creatively – an opportunity that they seize here, which is indeed a pleasure to hear – but he does nothing to encourage them to brighten the finished recording up with some different textures, or even a greater variety of guitar tones.” AMG The Peppers’ songs are “working variations on their signature themes, and they haven’t found a way to make these variations either transcendent or new.” AMG

Dani California, the clearest single here, [is] the one thing that truly grabs attention upon first listen and worms its way into your subconscious, where it just won’t let go, as so much of Anthony Kiedis’ catchiest melodies do.” AMG

“As such, the bare-bone production combined with the relentless march of songs gives Stadium Arcadium the undeniable feel of wading through the demos for a promising project instead of a sprawling statement of purpose.” AMG “Call it the rock version of Peter Jackson’s King Kong: there’s something pretty great and lean buried beneath the excess, but it’s so indulgent, it’s a work that only a fanboy could truly love.” AMG

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First posted 3/29/2008; last updated 11/16/2023.

Friday, May 5, 2006

Today in Music (1956): Elvis Presley’s self-titled debut album hit #1

Elvis Presley (aka “Rock ‘N’ Roll”)

Elvis Presley

Released: March 23, 1956

Recorded: July 5, 1954 to January 31, 1956

Peak: 110 US, 11 UK

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US)

Genre: early rock and roll


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

  1. Heartbreak Hotel (Axton/ Durden/ Presley) [2:08] (3/3/56, 1 US, 2 UK, 3 RB, 1 CW, sales: 2 million, airplay: 2 million) *
  2. I Was the One (Blair/ Demetrius/ Peppers/ Schroeder) [1:11] (3/3/56, 19 US, 8 CW) *
  3. Blue Suede Shoes (Perkins) [1:59] (4/7/56, 20 US, 39 UK, sales: ½ million)
  4. I’m Counting on You (Robertson) [2:22]
  5. I Got a Woman (Charles/ Richards) [2:23]
  6. One-Sided Love Affair (Campbell) [2:10]
  7. I Love You Because (Payne) [2:41]
  8. Just Because (Robin/ Shelton/ Shelton) [2:31]
  9. Tutti Frutti (LaBostrie/ Little Richard) [1:57]
  10. Trying to Get to You (McCoy/ Singleton) [2:32] (11/1/57, 16 UK)
  11. I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry Over You (Biggs/ Thomas) [2:01]
  12. I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin’) (Wakely) [2:22]
  13. Blue Moon (Hart/ Rodgers) [2:40] (9/29/56, 55 US, 9 UK)
  14. Money Honey (Stone) [2:33] (5/1/56, 76 US)
  15. Shake, Rattle and Roll (Calhoun) [2:37] *
  16. My Baby Left Me (Crudup/ Presley) [2:11] (5/26/56, 31 US, 19 UK, 13 CW) *
  17. Lawdy Miss Clawdy (Price) [2:08] (11/8/57, 15 UK) *
  18. I Want You, I Need You, I Love You (Kosloff/ Mysels) [2:40] (5/26/56, 1 US, 14 UK, 3 RB, 1 CW, sales: 1 million) *

* bonus tracks added to the CD reissue

The Players:

  • Elvis Presley (vocals, guitar, piano on “Tryin’ to Get to You”)
  • Scotty Moore (electric guitar)
  • Bill Black (bass)
  • D.J. Fontana, Johnny Bernero (drums)
  • Chet Atkins (acoustic guitar on “I’m Counting on You” and “Money Honey”)
  • Floyd Cramer, Shorty Long (piano)
  • Gordon Stoker, Ben Speer, Brock Speer (backing vocals)


4.328 out of 5.00 (average of 20 ratings)


“As startling a debut record as any ever made” – Bruce Eder, All Music Guide


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Before he was anointed “The King of Rock and Roll,” Elvis Presley recorded for Sun Records, releasing five singles in 1954 and 1955 that merged the sounds of R&B with country music in what became the template for rock and roll. After Elvis topped the country chart with “I Forgot to Remember to Forget,” it was obvious he needed a larger platform to showcase his talents.

Elvis’ new manager, Colonel Tom Parker, had ties to RCA Records and convinced Steve Sholes, the head of the Country and Western and Rhythm and Blues division, to sign Elvis. On November 21, 1955, Sholes paid $35,000 to Sam Phillips, the head of Sun Records, to buy out Elvis’ contract. At the time, “Presley and rock and roll were still untested properties…in the music business.” AMG He was “a white man playing black music, without and established market to break into.” CS-5 The teens who did spend money on rock and roll bought singles, not albums. Rival executives whispered that this was nothing more than “Steve Sholes’ folly.” AMG However, Parker “was a born salesman who was determined to make Elvis a household name.” CS-6

By January, the company got Elvis into the studio to record a chunk of songs which would make it onto his debut album as well as Heartbreak Hotel, which was released as a single on January 27, 1956. It did nothing for about a month but then, thanks in part to appearances on the Dorsey Brothers TV show over four consecutive weeks, the single finally entered the charts on March 3. Television made a star out of Presley as his “boyish charms and unseemly hip thrusts [were broadcast] around the country.” CS-6 “The timely introduction of Top 40 radio” CS-6 also proved a huge factor in Elvis’ success. “Heartbreak Hotel” went on to top the Billboard charts for eight weeks.

RCA wanted to capitalize on the success of the single with an album. Common practice at the time dictated that singles and albums were different entities so “Heartbreak Hotel” was not amongst the songs slated for the album. Seven songs were gathered from Elvis’ four recording sessions in January and compiled with five unreleased songs from Sun Records (I Love You Because, Just Because, Tryin’ to Get to You, I’ll Never Let You Go, and Blue Moon).

The Sun tracks were “mostly country-styled” WK while the newer material leaned more of R&B covers, including Lawdy Miss Clawdy (Lloyd Price, 1952), Money Honey (The Drifters, 1953), Shake, Rattle, and Roll (Big Joe Turner, 1954), I Gotta Woman (Ray Charles, 1954), and Tutti Frutti (Little Richard, 1955).

One song believed to have hit potential was Blue Suede Shoes. The rockabilly number was written by Carl Perkins, a former label mate of Elvis from his Sun days. Because of a promise Sholes made to Phillips, WK the song was withheld as a single until after Perkins had a chance to chart with it. His version became a classic of rock and roll, reaching #2 on the pop charts. Elvis’ version got to #20.

The resulting album “was as startling a debut record as any ever made, representing every side of Elvis’ musical influences except gospel – rockabilly, blues, R&B, country, and pop were all here in an explosive and seductive combination.” AMG The album “proved the selling power” WK of rock and roll as well as Elvis. It was “the first rock & roll album to reach the number one spot on the national charts, and RCA’s first million dollar-earning pop album.” AMG


In 1999, the album was reissued with the six bonus tracks noted in the track listing. Everything from this album is also on the box set The King of Rock and Roll: The ‘50s Masters.

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Other Related DMDB Pages:

First posted 4/9/2008; last updated 3/16/2024.