Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Gaslight Anthem “The ’59 Sound” released

The ’59 Sound

The Gaslight Anthem

Writer(s): Brian Fallon, Alex Rosamilia, Alex Levine, Benny Horowitz (see lyrics here)

Released: July 22, 2008

First Charted: January 31, 2009

Peak: 35 MR, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 7.2 video, 26.54 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Gaslight Anthem formed in 2006 in New Jersey. The members consisted of singer and rhythm guitarist Brian Fallon, guitarist Alex Rosamillia, bassist Alex Levine, and drummer Benny Horowitz. Their debut album, 2007’s Sink or Swim, failed to chart but its follow-up, 2008’s The ’59 Sound, reached #70 in the US and 55 in the UK. The album was promoted with four singles. The title cut and lead single was a minor hit on the Billboard alternative rock chart.

CMJ New Music’s Tyler Theofilos said it is “about the exhileration that goes along with raw, driving rock.” WK Brian Fallon said the band tried emulating the sound of late ‘50s soul music because “it seemed like there was a general feeling of excitement going on that I don’t think is necessarily happening right now…That era…is embodied in that Memphis sound.” WK

The song isn’t just a reference to vintage rock but Fallon’s self-built 1959 Fender Bassman amp. SF Alex Levine also used to play a 1959 Fender Bassman. WK

Lyrically the song “is an elegy for a friend who died while the band was elsewhere performing a gig.” WK It was the first song written by Fallon for the album. He said, “I never wrote a song like that before. And I thought it was better than anything else I ever wrote.” WK He explained, “I look at our music as a soundtrack and I look at the lyrics like a movie script. And I try to write them so people are watching the images go by in their head as they’re hearing the lyrics.” SF


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First posted 2/23/2024.

Monday, July 21, 2008

50 years ago: Eddie Cochran “Summertime Blues” charted

Summertime Blues

Eddie Cochran

Writer(s): Eddie Cochran, Jerry Capehart (see lyrics here)

First Charted: July 21, 1958

Peak: 8 US, 11 CB, 8 GR, 13 HR, 11 RB, 18 UK, 10 CN, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 4.1 video, 81.99 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Eddie Cochran was born in Oklahoma City in 1938. He was killed in a car accident in 1960 at 21 years old. Despite his short career, he became a rock ‘n’ roll icon, helped by “the fact that he looked the part more perfectly than anybody but Elvis.” DM He started out recording country and rockabilly songs with the unrelated Hank Cochran SS before teaming with songwriter Jerry Capehart. They scored a top 20 hit in 1957 with “Sittin’ in the Balcony” but then struggled to come up with another hit.

At a session in March 1958, the came up with the idea for the song. As Capehart said, “There had been a lot of songs about summer, but none about the hardships of summer.” SF Cochran sings about the woes of having to get a job to have pocket money, missing out on a date with his girlfriend because his boss schedules him to work late, and his father attacking his son for laziness and subsequently not letting him use the car.

Cochran recorded the song that May with the intent for it to be the B-side of “Love Again,” a song composed by seventeen-year-old Sharon Sheeley, Cochran’s eventual girlfriend. His record company wanted to promote him as “a crooning teen idol,” hence the choice of the ballad as the A-side, SF but it was “Summertime Blues” which became the hit. “Like many of the best songs of the rock ‘n ‘ roll era, ‘Summertime Blues’ was a success thanks to its simplicity and honesty.” TB This was a teenage anthem when “teenagers were still docile.” HL

One of the signatures of the song is the overdubbed bass voice Cochran takes on to simulate out-of-touch adults like his father, boss, and Congressman. SS The voice was inspired by the Kingfish character on radio show Amos ‘n Andy and the overdubbing technique had been pioneered by Les Paul. “The record’s multitracked percussion and guitar sounds accentuate its impact.” SS

That “killer acoustic guitar riff is the heart and soul of the song.” SS Author Dave Thompson called Cochran’s “the riff maker” and noted his influence on “Jimmy Page, Pete Townshend and the next generation.” DT “Would Pete Townshend have created ‘My Generation’ if it wasn’t for this song?” HL

The song has been covered by Blue Cheer (#14 US, 3 CN, 1968), Johnny Chester (#30 AU, 1959), Johnny Hallyday (#1 in France, 1975), Alan Jackson (#1 CW, 1994), Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Olivia Newton-John, Rush (#30 AR, 2004), Brian Setzer, T-Rex, and the Who (#27 US, 38 UK, 1970).


First posted 4/5/2023; last updated 4/14/2023.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

John Mellencamp released “If I Die Sudden”

If I Die Sudden

John Mellencamp

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

Released: July 15, 2008 as an album cut

First Charted: --

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

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.44 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Thematically, John Mellencamp had always written songs that dealt with the struggles and dreams of the average American (“Small Town,” “Pink Houses,” “Rain on the Scarecrow”). He’d also had hits that wallowed in nostalgia (“Jack and Diane,” “Cherry Bomb”) and songs about fighting against the system (“Authority Song”). In the 21st century, Mellencamp delved even deeper into political and social commentary. Middle-age also afforded him the chance to let out the crank old man which had been waiting to emerge since the onset of his career.

He also moved away from chasing hits. In 2009, Mellencamp told Rolling Stone “I am done being a rock star. I have no interest in that, in having the biggest concerts. I have only one interest: to have fun while we’re doing this and maybe have something that somebody might discover.” WK

His previous album, Freedom’s Road, presented Mellencamp as a modern-day Woody Guthrie and Life, Death, Love, and Freedom furthered that image. He tapped T-Bone Burnett as a producer. He was the perfect choice, having established himself as an expert at making music that sounded like it came from another era with Grammy-winning albums like the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack and Raising Sand by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

“If I Die Sudden,” a cut from the Life album, was a perfect sampling of Mellencamp’s “new” sound. Thematically, the pessimistic reflection on mortality and one’s legacy fit perfectly with his now curmudgeonly image. Mellencamp sings, “just put me in a pine box” and “don’t tell anyone/ there ain’t nobody that needs to know / that I’m gone.”

In 2008, John Mellencamp told Mojo magazine that this song “goes back 20 years to an uncle of mine who died at cancer at 58 from smoking. On his death bed he said, ‘I’m an atheist. Do not have a preacher come here and say what a great Christian life I’ve led. I didn’t.’ For me that was like, Wow! You gotta be pretty damn sure of yourself or pretty damn stupid to say that. I couldn’t figure out which one it was.” SF


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First posted 2/1/2022; last updated 6/15/2023.

John Mellencamp Life, Death, Love, and Freedom released

Life, Death, Love, and Freedom

John Mellencamp

Released: July 15, 2008

Peak: 7 US, 162 UK, 21 AU

Sales (in millions): 0.18 US, -- UK, 0.34 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: rock/Americana


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

  1. Longest Days
  2. My Sweet Love (6/10/08, 25 AC, 10 AA)
  3. If I Die Sudden
  4. Troubled Land (11/15/08, 24 AA)
  5. Young Without Lovers
  6. John Cockers
  7. Don’t Need This Body
  8. A Ride Back Home
  9. Without a Shot
  10. Jena (10/2/07, --)
  11. Mean
  12. County Fair
  13. For the Children
  14. A Brand New Song

Total Running Time: 49:40


3.549 out of 5.00 (average of 24 ratings)

Quotable: “One of the most compelling albums of Mellencamp’s career” – Mark Kemp, Rolling Stone

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“After making much of his artistic integrity and opposition to corporate interference for most of his career, John Mellencamp prefaced his previous album, 2007’s Freedom’s Road, by licensing one of its songs, ‘Our Country,’ for use in a television commercial for a truck. The broad exposure for the brief excerpt from the song helped give him his first singles chart entry in eight years, a one-week appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 88; it’s not clear how many trucks it may have helped sell.” AMG

For Life, Death, Love, and Freedom, his 23rd album, Mellencamp “teamed up with producer T-Bone Burnett to create a whole new sound – a set of textured, atmospheric folk and country blues that adds up to one of the most compelling albums of Mellencamp’s career.” RS Burnett is the perfect producer for Mellencamp, bringing the Americana touches that won him Album of the Year Grammys for the O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack (2000) and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ Raising Sand (2007).

That means “there don’t seem to be any songs…that could be used to sell products. The choruses of songs like Longest Days (‘Life is short, even in its longest days’) and John Cockers (‘I ain’t got no friends’) just don’t seem to lend themselves to association with shopping of any kind. And maybe that’s the point.” AMGAMG “There’s not a bright, catchy riff or fist-pumping populist anthem to be found among these brooding, low-key songs about growing old, sick, lonely, and pessimistic.” RS

“Mellencamp’s second consecutive album to use the word ‘Freedom’ in the title is really the 56-year-old singer/songwriter’s reflection on the lack of freedom, along with a life that seems to be almost over, love still idealized (the Buddy Holly-like ‘odd song out’ here, My Sweet Love), and death, plenty of death.” AMG That song is “kick-started by a big Bo Diddley beat and sweetened with female harmonies.” RS

“Musically, Mellencamp seems to have been listening closely to the first five Bob Dylan albums, paying more attention to the first of them, the largely traditional, folk-blues-styled Bob Dylan, than the last, the folk-rock Bringing It All Back Home.” AMG The “gospel hymn If I Die Sudden,” RS “for example, has much of the feel and sound of ‘In My Time of Dyin’’ on Bob Dylan. But unlike the young Dylan, who probably sang such songs without any direct consciousness of his own mortality, the aging Mellencamp, who has survived one heart attack already, brings” AMG “a fuzzy moodiness” RS and “real conviction to his reflections on death.” AMG

“Unfortunately, he is not much reconciled to it. He looks back regretfully on his heedless youth, and he has the sense not only that he personally has failed to fulfill his promise, but that the world he sees around him has declined instead of improving. ‘Everything you were after has gone down the drain,’ he laments in the concluding track, A Brand New Song. This follows For the Children, in which he attempted to muster some hope for the next generation, managing the conclusion, ‘All I can do is my best and be thankful for what we've got.’” AMG

“In truth, the forced pessimism of these songs is consistent for an artist who titled an early album Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did and sang, in the chorus of his most famous song, ‘Jack and Diane,’ ‘Life goes on long after the thrill of living is gone.’ Now, however, he is able to invest it with an assumption of experienced, mature wisdom. Yet it remains as much about him as it is about the world he sees around him.” AMG

“Politically motivated songs like Jena, about the racially charged Jena 6 trial in Louisiana, and Young Without Lovers, a more general plea for tolerance, sometimes strain to deliver a Big Message, with lines like ‘Let the people have the right to be different.’” RS

“The Springsteen-like Don’t Need This Body” and “If I Die Sudden” are “underpinned by distorted guitars and reverb-heavy leads.” RS A Ride Back Home is Mellencamp’s “desperate please to Jesus over spare, ragged guitars. Life’s dark undertones may not make for easy listening, but Mellencamp’s raspy drawl has only gotten more soulful with age.” RS

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First posted 1/20/2009; last updated 2/1/2022.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Katy Perry hit #1 with “I Kissed a Girl”

I Kissed a Girl

Katy Perry

Writer(s): Katy Perry, Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald, Max Martin, Cathy Dennis (see lyrics here)

Released: April 28, 2008

First Charted: May 18, 2008

Peak: 17 US, 16 DG, 2 RR, 16 A40, 27 MR, 15 UK, 19 CN, 16 AU, 7 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, 0.7 UK, 12.9 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.3 radio, 169.1 video, 723.35 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” marked a clear break from her earlier days as a Christian artist. The song’s homosexual theme whipped the prudish into a frenzy and guaranteed an audience looking for controversy. Of course, none of that would have mattered if “I Kissed a Girl” wasn’t “an extremely catchy pure pop hit.” AB’00

The “pop rock song with elements of new wave” WK was assembled by a hit-making machine. Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald helped write Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” which helped her jettison her own overly clean cut image. Max Martin penned “Baby…One More Time” and co-penned “Oops!...I Did It Again” for Britney Spears. Writer Cathy Dennis helped Spears and Kylie Minogue return to the spotlight with “Toxic” and “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” respectively.

Perry has given conflicting accounts that the song was about a female friend she kissed as a teen and that it was a fantasy and she’d never actually kissed a girl. WK Miley Cyrus has said the song was about her; Perry has also said it was inspired by Scarlet Johansson. WK

According to Perry, the chorus popped into her head one night, but she didn’t do anything with it for a year-and-a-half. When she was working in the studio with Dr. Luke on her album, they decided they had to finish it since “it’s so catchy because it won’t get out of our heads.” WK

Dennis Reese, a VP at Capitol, saw the song’s potential and pushed it to radio despite the record company’s initial resistance to release it. It became the Billboard Hot 100’s 1000th number one song of the rock era, marking Perry’s breakthrough. It also topped the charts in 18 other countries. WK

Critics weren’t completely sold on the song. The online All Music Guide said “the problem is not with Katy’s gender-bending, it’s that her heart isn’t in it.” WK Slant criticized the song “because its appropriation of the gay lifetstyle exists for the sole purpose of garnering attention.” WK


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Last updated 7/27/2023.