Friday, October 31, 2008

100 years ago: “Take Me Out to the Ball Game" hit #1

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Billy Murray & the Haydn Quartet

Writer(s): Jack Norworth/Albert von Tilzer (see lyrics here)

First Charted: October 24, 1908

Peak: 17 US, 12 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.03 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“The unofficial anthem of American baseball” RCG has been “affectionately referred to…as the ‘other’ national anthem.” SH It is “one of the most easily recognized songs in America,” SH behind only “Happy Birthday” and “The Star Spangled Banner.” SH

Surprisingly, neither the song’s composer (Albert Von Tilzer) nor lyricist (Jack Norworth) had ever seen a baseball game prior to writing the song. PS Rumor has it that Norworth’s lyrical inspiration came from a sign reading “Baseball Today – Polo Grounds” which he saw while riding the subway. SH

The song has become a “seventh inning stretch requirement” PS which has been sung at nearly every U.S. professional baseball game for the last 100 years, PS but it got its start on vaudeville where Norworth’s wife, singer Nora Bayes, introduced it. JA-188 In 1908 Billy Murray’s recording of the song with the Haydn Quartet became the biggest song of the year. WHC Harvey Hindermeyer and Edward Meeker also had top 5 hits with their 1908 recordings of the song. PM

Most people only know the refrain, but the full song showcases a story in which Katie tells her beau she would rather go to a baseball game than a show, only to find her team losing. RCG Norworth “shrewdly crafted [the words] so as not to name or favor any one team” SH while Von Tilzer gave the song its “waltz-like rhythms and unforgettable melody.” SH

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Billy Murray
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for The Haydn Quartet
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc.
  • PS Lessons in America’s Popular Music History
  • RCG The Old Songs (1900-1929)
  • SH Songwriters Hall of Fame Towering Song Award
  • PM Joel Whitburn (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954 (1986). Record Research, Inc: Menomonee Falls, WI. Page 589.
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Record Research, Inc.: Menomonee Falls, WI. Page 15.

First posted 7/10/2012; last updated 4/17/2021.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Marillion Happiness Is the Road released

Happiness Is the Road


Vol. 1: Essence:

Vol. 2: The Hard Shoulder:

Released: October 20, 2008

Peak: -- US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: neo-progressive rock

Tracks on Vol. 1: Essence:

Song Title [time] (date of single release)

  1. Dreamy Street [2:02]
  2. This Train Is My Life [4:50]
  3. Essence [6:29]
  4. Wrapped Up in Time [5:06]
  5. Liquidity [2:12]
  6. Nothing Fills the Hole [3:23]
  7. Woke Up [3:40]
  8. Trap the Spark [5:43]
  9. A State of Mind [4:33]
  10. Happiness Is the Road [10:05]
  11. (blank) [1:59]
  12. Half-Full Jam [6:48] (unlisted track)

Tracks on Vol. 2: The Hard Shoulder:

Song Title [time] (date of single release)

  1. Thunder Fly [6:24]
  2. The Man from the Planet Marzipan [7:55]
  3. Asylum Satellite #1 [9:32]
  4. Older Than Me [3:11]
  5. Throw Me Out [4:01]
  6. Half the World [5:08]
  7. Whatever Is Wrong with You [4:16] (10/1/08, --)
  8. Especially True [4:37]
  9. Real Tears for Sale [7:34]

Music by Marillion. Lyrics by Steve Hogarth.

The Players:

  • Steve Hogarth (vocals, percussion)
  • Steve Rothery (guitar)
  • Pete Trewavas (bass)
  • Mark Kelly (keyboards)
  • Ian Mosley (drums)


3.480 out of 5.00 (average of 16 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Released exclusively through their website, Happiness Is the Road was released as two separate albums: Essence and The Hard Shoulder Taken together, they are “that rare breed of double-CD that is rich in great songs, with really very little in the way of filler. In short, this is a great CD.” GB

“Alongside their signature rock orchestration, Happiness Is the Road also references elements of pop, dub and soul and draws influence from artist’s as diverse as The Beach Boys and Marvin Gaye to Interpol, The Doors, Traffic, Pink Floyd and David Bowie. The album also sees Marillion experimenting with a host of new instruments including, Dulcimers, Glockenspiels a Harmonium, French Horns and even Sleigh bells a Harp and Zither.” MA

Making and Marketing the Album:

Marillion once again bypassed record companies and employed crowd-funding to finance the album before recording even began, as they had with Anoraknophobia in 2001 and Marbles in 2004. Buyers received a special edition box of both albums accompanied by book-style artwork created by “Spanish artist Antonio Seijas in cooperation with Marillion’s long-time designer Carl Glover.” WK “As with Marbles, the names of everyone who pre-ordered before a certain date are listed in the special edition.” WK

In an unprecedented move, Marillion also “made the album available for free [on September 19, 2008] on peer-to-peer file sharing networks as 128 kbps WMA files. When any of these tracks is first played, a pop-up box appears asking listeners to give the band their email address in return. This was used to contact downloaders with offers on Marillion merchandise. Everyone who submitted their e-mail address is also given the option to download the tracks as 128 kbps MP3 files without DRM, but is asked not to share these on any networks.” WK “Paul Williams, who edits record industry publication Music Week, said Marillion had always been ‘pretty ground-breaking in terms of doing things differently and they have a very loyal fanbase’…Taking that into consideration, he said, the download plan would ‘probably work for them quite successfully.’” KY

Subscribers of the ‘Front-Row Club’ can order a high-quality (256 kbps) download. “In most of the world, the physical formats are only available via mail-order from the band’s website; as of October 2008, retail versions are available in the USA and Poland only.” WK


The first album, entitled Essence, “is the more ambitious of the two.” GB It “is an adventurous musical trip exploring life’s biggest question: ‘What’s it all about?’” MA “With… quieter, layered passages focusing on Mark Kelly’s keyboards,” GB it “starts out hazily, foggy, moody, repressed in cuts appropriately titled Dreamy Street, Essence, and so on.” MT “The music here actually recalls the musical ebb and flow of Marbles…Song titles like…Woke Up and Nothing Fills the Hole also seem to suggest a running conceptual theme about the search for personal meaning. Regardless of what it’s about, this is quite simply gorgeous sounding music, and nowhere more so than when the vocal chorus kicks in with a thundering crescendo of glorious sound on the track A State of Mind.” GB

This is followed by the more reflective sounding title track, where Hogarth’s nearly spoken vocal weaves around Kelly’s haunting keyboard textures. From there, H’s vocal grows to a more impassioned wail, as Steve Rothery’s guitar soars above it all.” GB “Inspiration…came from H’s visit to the doctor during mid-tour stress-exhaustion. The Dutch doctor prescribed not drugs, but a book called The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle; the book expounds on man’s addictive tendency to obsess with past and future whilst denying the present moment – the only real thing in life – and the only path to happiness. This proved to be the creative ‘essence’ for the lyrics of this” MA “highly introspective set.” MT

The Hard Shoulder:

The second CD, subtitled The Hard Shoulder, “is another beast altogether,” MT both “meatier and a good deal more propulsive, the yang to Essence’s yin, lush as all get-out and vaulting, muscular.” MT It “finds the band stretching out and displaying their musical chops a bit more.” GBShoulder is the release that finally reconciles and indexes the old Marillion with the new, which should bring exclamations of surprise from even the most grizzled reactionaries.” MT

Thunder Fly opens the second disc with a muscular sounding guitar riff that somewhat recalls The Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer,’ while at the same time continuing the ebb and flow with dreamy sounding keyboards and vocal harmonies. This song is definitely a standout, ending with yet another one of Rothery’s soaring guitar parts.” GB

The Man from the Planet Marzipan is “punchy as hell, an infectious rhythm trapping the listener deliriously into offset beats and floating keyboards.” MT It “finds the rhythm section of bassist Pete Trewavas and drummer Ian Mosley locking into a tight little funk groove that serves as the launchpad for more of Kelly’s keyboard textures and Rothery’s dazzling guitar wizardry. The band basically plays their asses off here.” GB

“The synth-orchestral swells alone in Asylum Satellite #1 will quicken the heart of every progfan alive, recalling…Pink Floyd, and the hallowed mellotronic elders, while Steve Rothery is, if anything, even more experimental in his tones and effects than has previously been the case during a long evolutionary refinement of approach.” MT

“The Beatles influence once again rears its head in Throw Me Out, where the string arrangement recalls the psychedelic, yet decidedly British feel of the Sgt. Pepper era, while Mosley’s drumming kicks things into a more modern context.” GB

The first single, Whatever Is Wrong with You, “which celebrates a lover’s eccentricities,” MA “is an uptempo rocker where Mosley’s power drumming eventually makes way for a searing guitar solo from Rothery.” GB “Marillion have once again invited fans to be a part of the process with a contest (the winner will receive £5000) to make their own video for the first single and upload their interpretation to YouTube. The winning video will be determined on December 1 by the video most viewed on YouTube.” MA “In addition, there will be a further £5000 prize for the video judged by the band to be the best.” WK

Notes: The hidden track that closes out disc 1 “is listed as Half-Empty Jam on the download version, but was changed just prior to the CD release of the album.” WK

Resources and Related Links:

Other Related DMDB Pages:

First posted 10/25/2008; last updated 3/6/2022.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Blender Magazine's 100 Greatest American Albums

First posted 10/18/2008; updated 8/3/2020.

Blender Magazine:

100 Geatest American Albums

In October 2008, Blender Magazine created a list of the 100 Greatest American Albums. I’m sure Canada will be surprised to learn that two of their favorite singers – Neil Young and Joni Mitchell – have been declared American by Blender. The magazine is now defunct, but here’s the original list, flaws and all:

1. Madonna The Immaculate Collection (1990)
2. Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill (1986)
3. Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
4. Stevie Wonder Innervisions (1973)
5. Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction (1987)
6. Ramones Ramones (1976)
7. Blondie Parallel Lines (1978)
8. Chuck Berry The Great Twenty-Eight (compilation: 1955-64, released 1982)
9. Nirvana Nevermind (1991)
10. Joni Mitchell Blue (1971)

11. Public Enemy It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
12. Metallica Metallica (1991)
13. Michael Jackson Off the Wall (1979)
14. The Beach Boys Pet Sounds (1966)
15. Marvin Gaye Let’s Get It On (1973)
16. Ray Charles Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (1962)
17. The Velvet Underground & Nico Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
18. Prince & the Revolution Purple Rain (soundtrack, 1984)
19. Neil Young & Crazy Horse Rust Never Sleeps (1979)
20. James Brown Sex Machine (live, 1970)

21. Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde (1966)
22. Robert Johnson King of the Delta Blues Singers (archives: 1936-37)
23. R.E.M. Murmur (1983)
24. Parliament Mothership Connection (1976)
25. The Notorious B.I.G. Life after Death (1997)
26. Van Halen Van Halen I (1978)
27. Al Green Call Me (1973)
28. Aerosmith Rocks (1976)
29. Beck Odelay (1996)
30. Little Richard Grooviest 17 Original Hits! (compilation: 1955-59)

31. Louis Armstrong The Complete Hot Five and Hot Seven Recordings (box set, recorded 1925-28, released 2000)
32. Curtis Mayfield Superfly (soundtrack, 1972)
33. Hank Williams 40 Greatest Hits (compilation: 1947-53)
34. Steely Dan Katy Lied (1975)
35. The B-52s The B-52s (1979)
36. Chic Risqué (1979)
37. Beastie Boys Paul’s Boutique (1989)
38. Aretha Franklin I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967)
39. Elvis Presley The Sun Sessions (archives, recorded 1954-55, released 1976)
40. Hole Live Through This (1994)

41. The Jimi Hendrix Experience Electric Ladyland (1968)
42. Patti Smith Horses (1975)
43. Sly & the Family Stone There’s a Riot Goin’ On (1972)
44. Dr. Dre The Chronic (1992)
45. Pearl Jam Vs. (1993)
46. Run-D.M.C. Raising Hell (1986)
47. Various Artists produced by Phil Spector Back to Mono (box set: 1958-69, released 1991)
48. Miles Davis Kind of Blue (1959)
49. Eminem The Slim Shady LP (1999)
50. Kiss Destroyer (1976)

51. Joni Mitchell Court and Spark (1974)
52. Randy Newman 12 Songs (1970)
53. A Tribe Called Quest The Low-End Theory (1991)
54. Frank Sinatra In the Wee Small Hours (1955)
55. Bob Dylan & The Band The Basement Tapes (recorded 1967)
56. Rage Against the Machine Evil Empire (1996)
57. Mary J. Blige My Life (1994)
58. Grateful Dead American Beauty (1970)
59. Wu-Tang Clan Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993)
60. Paul Simon Graceland (1986)

61. The Coasters 50 Coastin’ Classics (compilation: 1954-68)
62. Bruce Springsteen Darkness on the Edge of Town (1978)
63. Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison (live, 1968)
64. Gram Parsons Grievous Angel (1974)
65. Billie Holiday Lady in Satin (1958)
66. The Modern Lovers The Modern Lovers (recorded 1973, released 1976)
67. Pavement Slanted and Enchanted (1992)
68. TLC Crazy Sexy Cool (1994)
69. Lynyrd Skynyrd Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd (1973)
70. Prince Sign ‘O’ the Times (1987)

71. LL Cool J Radio (1985)
72. Carpenters Singles: 1969-1981 (compilation: 1969-81)
73. Pixies Surfer Rosa (1988)
74. Aretha Franklin Lady Soul (1968)
75. Lauryn Hill The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
76. Muddy Waters At Newport (live: 1960)
77. Jane’s Addiction Nothing’s Shocking (1988)
78. Elvis Presley From Elvis in Memphis (1969)
79. Woody Guthrie Dust Bowl Ballads (1940)
80. Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral (1994)

81. Various Artists Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era (compilation: 1965-68)
82. De La Soul 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
83. Minutemen Double Nickels on the Dime (1984)
84. Buddy Holly 20 Golden Greats (compilation: 1955-59)
85. Willie Nelson Red Headed Stranger (1975)
86. Neil Young After the Gold Rush (1970)
87. R.E.M. Automatic for the People (1992)
88. DJ Shadow Endtroducing… (1996)
89. Talking Heads Remain in Light (1980)
90. Weezer Weezer (aka “The Blue Album”) (1994)

91. Eagles Hotel California (1976)
92. Lucinda Williams Lucinda Williams (1988)
93. Tori Amos Under the Pink (1994)
94. Nirvana In Utero (1993)
95. Harry Nilsson Nilsson Schmilsson (1972)
96. Kid Rock Devil Without a Cause (1998)
97. The Doors The Doors (1967)
98. The Replacements Let It Be (1984)
99. Stevie Wonder Fulfillingness’ First Finale (1974)
100. Otis Redding Otis Blue (1965)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Kings of Leon charted with “Use Somebody”

Last updated 2/27/2021.

Use Somebody

Kings of Leon

Writer(s): Caleb Followill, Nathan Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill (see lyrics here)

Released: October 4, 2008

First Charted: December 8, 2008

Peak: 4 US, 13 AC, 12 AAA, 25 AR, 13 MR, 2 UK, 8 CN, 2 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 4.07 US, 1.8 UK, 6.64 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.7 radio, 323.5 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“Kings of Leon took several years and several albums to catch on with American audiences, but 2008’s Only by the Night finally did the trick. ‘Use Somebody’ is the album’s peak, an elegant and soulful mid-tempo song about being separated by geography from the one you love. Vocalist Caleb Followill was perfection at making longing seem sexy and romantic.” TG New Musical Express magazine’s Gavin Haynes called the song “the best ‘80s power ballad of 2008.” WK

Caleb wrote it as an apology to bandmates after a drunken fight. He was recovering from shoulder surgery at his farmhouse in Tennessee and, as he said, “allowed myself to be vulnerable in my writing…No longer trying to be a tough guy and admitting I need the people around me.” SF

Still, he didn’t want to embrace its hit potential. He told Q magazine “It’s got the exact same chords as Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes ‘Up Where We Belong.’ It was so immediate that I thought it was terrible. I thought it was a pop song.” SF That may be why he told Uncut magazine that he “felt immediately that it was a big song and it scared me away.” SF

The song spent 77 weeks in the top 75 of the UK charts, making it one of the five longest runners of all time. One of the other five? “Sex on Fire,” the first single from the Only by the Night album. WK The song won Grammys for Record of the Year, Best Rock Song, and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group.

Resources and Related Links:

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Chris Charlesworth 25 Albums That Rocked the World!

Chris Charlesworth:

25 Albums That Rocked the World!

This book by Chris Charlesworth was published in 2008. Here’s the description at “From Elvis Presley’s Sun Sessions to Radiohead’s OK Computer, here is the very best of rock and pop music of the Twentieth Century. A consumer's critical guide to the music, enabling the reader to select the very best of an artist's repertoire before making a buying decision.”

The unranked list is featured here, alphabetized by the name of the recording acts.

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

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 12/12/2021.