Sunday, November 28, 2010

50 years ago: Elvis hit #1 with “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”

Are You Lonesome Tonight?

Elvis Presley

Writer(s): Lou Handman, Roy Turk (see lyrics here)


Released: November 1, 1960


First Charted: November 7, 1960


Peak: 16 US, 16 CB, 14 HR, 22 CW, 3 RB, 14 UK, 11 CN, 16 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 1.0 UK, 9.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 45.1 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

“Are You Lonesome Tonight?,” “one of the more woebegone songs ever written,” SF was penned by Tin Pan Alley songwriters Roy Turk and Lou Handman in 1926. It included a narration based on a speech from William Shakespeare’s As You Like It. It was first recorded by Al Jolson BR and soon after by Vaughn Deleath and Henry Burr. It was revived in 1950 by bandleader Blue Barron KL and made popular again in 1959 by Jaye P. Morgan. BR Barron and Jolson’s versions of the song included the spoken word section, but it wasn’t in all the versions. SF

Prior to managing Elvis Presley, Colonel Tom Parker was the manager for singer Gene Austin. One of his best numbers was “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and a favorite of Parker’s wife Marie. TC He asked Elvis to record it on behalf of his wife. KL Elvis obliged on April 4, 1960, copying “Jolson’s arrangement note for note and almost word for word.” KL The session had “the intimacy of a man singing close to the microphone in the wee small hours.” TC The spoken word section “becomes a lover’s conversation.” TC

Some people were bothered by what they perceived as Elvis’ move away from rock and roll. Indeed he “had grown up considerably since his hard rockin’ days,” TC upon his return from army service in Germany, but this wasn’t exactly a new direction. In 1958, he released “another lost love song with a narration.” KL The B-side for “All Shook Up” was “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin,” a song associated with the Ink Spots. KL

The song was featured on the EP Flaming Star, which wasn’t really a soundtrack to the Elvis movie of the same name since it was his first film to feature him in a dramatic, non-singing role. “Lonesome” was Elvis’ 14th song to top the U.S. pop charts. It debuted at #35, higher than any other Elvis song had entered the chart up to that point. It was on top of the chart two weeks later. It was also his sixth #1 in the UK.


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Elvis Presley
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 81.
  • TC Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Pages 31-2.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 73.
  • SF Songfacts

First posted 3/19/2021; last updated 4/28/2021.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An Alan Jackson Retrospective

First posted 12/5/2020.

A Retrospective: 1989-2010

Alan Jackson

A Brief History: Country singer Alan Jackson was born October 17, 1958 in Newnan, Georgia. He is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and was inducted into the Country Musci Hall of Fame in 2017. He has sold over 75 million records worldwide, had 35 #1 songs, won two Grammys, 16 Country Music Association (CMA) awards, and 17 Association of Country Music (ACM) awards.


Compilations:

The above compilations are spotlighted on this page. The snapshots of the studio albums listed below will indicate all songs featured on any of these compilations, noted with the codes above. Appearing after song titles are the songwriters in italicized parentheses, running times in brackets, and when relevant, the date the song was released as a single and its peaks on various charts. Click for codes to singles charts.


The Studio Albums:
  • Here in the Real World (1990)
  • Don’t Rock the Jukebox (1991)
  • A Lot About Livin’ and a Little ‘Bout Love (1992)
  • Who I Am (1994)
  • Everything I Own (1996)
  • High Mileage (1998)
  • Under the Influence (1999)
  • When Somebody Loves You (2000)
  • Drive (2002)
  • Good Time (2008)


Here in the Real World (1990):

  • Here in the Real World (1/13/90, 3 CW) G1, VB, 34
  • Wanted (6/23/90, 3 CW) G1, 34
  • Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow (10/6/90, 2 CW) G1, VB, 34
  • I’d Love You All Over Again (1/19/91, 12 CW) G1, 34
  • Home (4/20/96, 3 CW) G1, 34


Don’t Rock the Jukebox (1991):

  • Don’t Rock the Jukebox (4/29/91, 13 CW) G1, VB, 34
  • Someday (8/19/91, 11 CW) G1, 34
  • Dallas (12/30/91, 11 CW) G1, 34
  • Midnight in Montgomery (4/25/92, 3 CW) G1, VB, 34
  • Love’s Got a Hold on You (7/13/92, 12 CW) G1, 34


A Lot About Livin’ and a Little ‘Bout Love (1992):

  • She’s Got the Rhythm and I Got the Blues (10/5/92, 11 CW) G1, VB, 34
  • Tonight I Climbed the Wall (2/6/93, 4 CW) 34
  • Chattahoochee (5/21/93, 46 US, 14 CW, sales: ½ million) G1, VB, 34
  • Mercury Blues (9/18/93, 2 CW) G1
  • Who Says You Can’t Have It All (1/29/94, 4 CW) G1, 34


Who I Am (1994):

  • Summertime Blues (6/6/94, 13 CW, airplay: 3 million) G1, 34
  • Gone Country (8/27/94, 11 CW) G1, VB, 34
  • Livin’ on Love (8/29/94, 13 CW) G1, VB, 34
  • I Don’t Even Know Your Name (5/13/95, 11 CW) G1, 34

The Greatest Hits Collection

Alan Jackson


Released: October 24, 1995


Recorded: 1989-1995


Peak: 5 US, 14 CW, -- UK, 14 CN, 46 AU


Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, -- UK, 7.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: country


Tracks: (1) Chattahoochee (2) Gone Country (3) She’s Got the Rhythm and I Got the Blues (4) Midnight in Montgomery (5) Tall, Tall Trees (6) Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow (7) I’ll Try (8) Don’t Rock the Jukebox (9) Livin’ on Love (10) Summertime Blues (11) Love’s Got a Hold on You (12) Who Says You Can’t Have It All (13) Home (14) Wanted (15) I Don’t Even Know Your Name (16) Dallas (17) Here in the Real World (18) Someday (19) Mercury Blues (20) I’d Love You All Over Again


Total Running Time: 66:24

Rating:

4.217 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About The Greatest Hits Collection:

Alan Jackson’s first greatest-hits set collected 18 songs from his first four albums alongside two new songs (Tall Tall Trees, I’ll Try). Every one of these songs hit the top 5 on the country charts and 13 of them went to #1.


Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:

  • Tall, Tall Trees (10/21/95, 12 CW) G1, VB, 34
  • I’ll Try (12/30/95, 11 CW) G1, 34


Everything I Love (1996):

  • Little Bitty (10/26/96, 58 US, 13 CW) G2, VB, 34
  • Everything I Love (1/18/97, 9) G2, VB
  • Who’s Cheatin’ Who (4/12/97, 2 CW) G2, VB, 34
  • There Goes (7/12/97, 11 CW) G2, 34
  • Between the Devil and Me (10/11/97, 2 CW) 34


High Mileage (1998):

  • I’ll Go on Loving You (8/1/98, 3 CW) G2
  • Right on the Money (10/17/98, 43 US, 11 CW) G2, VB, 34
  • Gone Crazy (2/6/99, 43 US, 4 CW) G2
  • Little Man (5/29/99, 38 US, 3 CW) G2, VB


Under the Influence (1999):

  • Pop a Top (10/9/99, 43 US, 6 CW) G2, VB
  • The Blues Man (2/19/00, 37 CW) G2
  • It Must Be Love (4/29/00, 37 US, 11 CW, 0.2 airplay) G2, VB, 34


When Somebody Loves You (2000):

  • www.memory (10/7/00, 45 US, 6 CW) G2, VB
  • Where I Come From (11/25/00, 34 US, 13 CW, 0.3 million) G2, 34
  • When Somebody Loves You (3/10/01, 52 US, 5 CW) G2


Drive (2002):

  • Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning (11/24/01, 28 US, 15 CW, airplay: 0.2 million) G2, VB, 34
  • Drive (For Daddy Gene) (2/2/02, 28 US, 14 CW, 0.2 million) G2, VB, 34

Greatest Hits 2 and Some Other Stuff

Alan Jackson


Released: August 12, 2003


Recorded: 1996-2003


Peak: 11 US, 111 CW, 47 UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): 6.0 US, -- UK, 6.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: country


Tracks, Disc 1: (1) Little Bitty (2) Everything I Love (3) Who’s Cheatin’ Who (4) There Goes (5) I’ll Go on Loving You (6) Right on the Money (7) Gone Crazy (8) Little Man (9) Pop a Top (10) The Blues Man (11) It Must Be Love (12) www.memory (13) When Somebody Loves You (14) Where I Come From (15) Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning (16) Drive (For Daddy Gene) (17) It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere (with Jimmy Buffett) (18) Remember When

Tracks, Disc 2: (1) Job Description (2) Tropical Depression (3) Let’s Get Back to Me and You (4) You Can’t Give Up on Love (5) Hole in the Wall (6) Buicks to the Moon (7) When Love Comes Around (8) The Sounds


Total Running Time: 96:46

Rating:

4.529 out of 5.00 (average of 16 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About Greatest Hits 2 and Some Other Stuff:

Jackson’s second compilation featured 16 songs from the five studio albums he released from 1996 to 2002 as well as ten new songs. 17 of these songs were top-10 country hits; nine of them went to #1.


Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:

  • It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere (with Jimmy Buffett) (6/21/03, 17 US, 18 CW, sales: ½ million, airplay: 0.3 million) G2, VB, 34
  • Remember When (11/8/03, 29 US, 12 CW, sales: 1 million, airplay: 0.3 million) G2, 34
  • Job Description G2
  • Tropical Depression G2
  • Let’s Get Back to Me and You G2
  • You Can’t Give Up on Love G2
  • Hole in the Wall G2
  • Buicks to the Moon G2
  • When Love Comes Around G2
  • The Sounds G2

The Very Best of

Alan Jackson


Released: June 14, 2004


Recorded: 1989-2003


Peak: -- US, 47 UK, -- CN, -- AU


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


Genre: country


Tracks: (1) Gone Country (2) Drive (For Daddy Gene) (3) Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning (4) www.memory (5) It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere (with Jimmy Buffett) (6) Chattahoochee (7) She’s Got the Rhythm and I Got the Blues (8) Midnight in Montgomery (9) Little Man (10 Pop a Top (11) Don’t Rock the Jukebox (12) Little Bitty (13) Here in the Real World (14) Livin’ on Love (15) Who’s Cheatin’ Who (16) Tall, Tall Trees (17) Right on the Money (18) Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow (19) It Must Be Love (20) Everything I Love


Total Running Time: 69:52

Rating:

3.815 out of 5.00 (average of 7 ratings)

About The Very Best of:

This international release was a consolidation of The Greatest Hits Collection and Greatest Hits 2 and Some Other Stuff into a single-disc retrospective.


Good Time (2008):

  • Small Town Southern Man (11/19/07, 42 US, 12 CW) 34
  • Good Time (4/21/08, 40 US, 12 CW, airplay: 0.5 million) 34
  • Country Boy (9/29/08, 49 US, 11 CW) 34

34 Number Ones

Alan Jackson


Released: November 23, 2010


Recorded: 1989-2010


Peak: 37 US, 7 CW, -- UK, 77 CN, 7 AU


Sales (in millions): 0.5 US


Genre: country


Tracks, Disc 1: (1) Ring of Fire (2) Here in the Real World (3) Wanted (4) Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow (5) I’d Love You All Over Again (6) Don’t Rock the Jukebox (7) Someday (8) Dallas (9) Midnight in Montgomery (10) Love’s Got a Hold on You (11) She’s Got the Rhythm and I Got the Blues (12) Tonight I Climbed the Wall (13) Chattahoochee (14) Who Says You Can’t Have It All (15) Summertime Blues (16) Livin’ on Love (17) Gone Country (18) I Don’t Even Know Your Name (19) Tall, Tall Trees

Tracks, Disc 2: (1) As She’s Walking Away (2) Look at Me (3) I’ll Try (4) Home (5) Little Bitty (6) Who’s Cheatin’ Who (7) There Goes (8) Between the Devil and Me (9) Right on the Money (10) It Must Be Love (11) Where I Come From (12) Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning (13) Drive (For Daddy Gene) (14) It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere (with Jimmy Buffett) (15) Remember When (16) Small Town Southern Man (17) Good Time (18) Country Boy


Total Running Time: 132:48

Rating:

4.232 out of 5.00 (average of 11 ratings)

About 34 Number Ones:

It’s not clear what charts are being referenced that suggest Alan Jackson had 34 #1’s since only 25 of these songs hit the top of the Billboard country song chart. Quibbling aside, this is a nice overview of Jackson’s career. The collection features three songs not previously available on an Alan Jackson album. Look at Me was from the 2008 soundtrack Billy: The Early Years and As Long As She’s Walking Away was first released on Zac Brown Band’s You Get What You Give album. Jackson also turns in a cover of Ring of Fire, a song made famous by Johnny Cash.


Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:

  • Look at Me (2008)
  • As She’s Walking Away (with Zac Brown Band) (8/9/10, 32 US, 12 CW, 0.1 million airplay)
  • Ring of Fire (12/11/10, 45 CW)


Resources and Related Links:

Monday, November 22, 2010

Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy released

First posted 12/2/2011; updated 9/24/2020.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Kanye West


Released: November 22, 2010


Peak: 11 US, 12 RB, 16 UK, 11 CN, 6 AU


Sales (in millions): 1.35 US, 0.1 UK, 1.59 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: rap


Tracks:

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

  1. Dark Fantasy (with Teyana Taylor, Nicki Minaj, & Bon Iver) (12/10/10, 60 US)
  2. Gorgeous (with Kid Cudi & Raekwon)
  3. Power (with Dwele) (6/12/10, 22 US, 22 RB, 36 UK, 49 CN, 100 AU, 2x platinum single)
  4. All of the Lights (interlude)
  5. All of the Lights (with Drake & Rihanna) (12/11/10, 18 US, 15 UK, 53 CN, 24 AU)
  6. Monster (with Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, & Bon Iver) (9/18/10, 8 US, 32 RB, 43 CN, 91 AU, platinum single)
  7. So Appalled (with Jay-Z, Pusha T, Prynce Cy Hi, Swizz Beatz, & RZA)
  8. Devil in a New Dress (w/ Rick Ross)
  9. Runaway (with Pusha T) (10/2/10, 12 US, 95 RB, 56 UK, 13 CN, 46 AU, platinum single)
  10. Hell of a Life
  11. Blame Game (with John Legend)
  12. Lost in the World (with Bon Iver)
  13. Who Will Survive in America


Total Running Time: 68:36

Rating:

4.358 out of 5.00 (average of 19 ratings)


Quotable: “There are few more human albums in hip-hop.” – David Amidon, PopMatters.com


Awards:

About the Album:

Kanye West’s fifth album “features themes regarding excess and celebrity.” WK Among the topics he explores are “decadence, grandiosity, escapism, sex, wealth, romance, self-aggrandizement, and self-doubt.” WK The A.V. Club’s Nathan Rabin said it was “darkly funny, boldly introspective, and characteristically fame-obsessed.” WK Prefix magazine’s Andrew Martin said it was a “meditation of fame” in which West laments the burden that goes with it. WK On Fantasy, West “made music as sprawlingly messy as his life” and that he crafted “songs full of the kind of grandiose gestures that only the foolish attempt and only the wildly talented pull off.” RS David Amidon of PopMatters.com said “there are few more human albums in hip-hop.” WK

The latter point raised criticism from some; NME’s Alex Denney said West was “by turns sickeningly egocentric, contrite, wise, stupid and self-mocking.” WK He is “an instinctive consumer with a mouthful of diamonds and furtive bad conscience, a performer who lives the American dream to its fullest with a creeping sense of the spiritual void at its heart.” WK The Independent’s Andy Gill called it “one of pop’s gaudiest, most grandiose efforts of recent years, a no-holds-barred musical extravaganza in which any notion of good taste is abandoned at the door.” WK

The album “received general acclaim from music critics, earning praise for its varied musical style, opulent production quality, and West’s dichotomous themes.” WK “Nobody else is making music this daring and weird.” SH West “goes for the grandeur of stadium rock, the all-devouring sonics of hip-hop, the erotic gloss of disco, and he goes for all of it, all the time.” SH Among the album’s musical diversity were “string sections, Elton John piano solos, vocoder freakouts, Bon Iver cameos, King Crimson and Rick James samples” RS Time’s David Browne said that “few combine disparate elements as smoothly as West” WK while Steve Jones of USA Today said it “easily outstrips anything he’s done.” WK Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield echoed that statement saying it was West’s best album and “his most maniacally inspired music yet.” SH

Critics often referred to the album as a culmination of West’s previous works. Simon Vozick-Levinson of Entertainment Weekly said this takes “the luxurious soul of 2004’s The College Dropout, the symphonic pomp of Late Registration, the gloss of 2007’s Graduation, and the emotionally exhausted electro of 2008’s 808s & Heartbreak.” WK Pitchfork Media’s Ryan Dombal said the album “largely continues where 2007’s Graduation left off in its maximalist hip-hop bent, with flashes of The College Dropout’s comfort-food sampling and Late Registration’s baroque instrumentation weaved in seamlessly.” WK Andy Kellman of allmusic.com said Fantasy “does not merely draw characteristics from each one of them. The 13 tracks…sometimes fuse them together simultaneously.” WK

Power, with its “bracing prog-rock” RS sound, was the first single from the album and garnered West a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance.

The opening cut, Dark Fantasy, “introduces the album’s themes of decadence and hedonism” WK with “a retelling of writer Roald Dahl’s poetic rework of Cinderella.” WK In the song, West references Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology Song)” and Kings of Leon’s “Sex on Fire” as well as musicians Nas and Leona Lewis.

All of the Lights offers a story of a “character who abuses his lover, does prison time, scuffles with her new boyfriend, and subsequently mourns his absence from his child’s life.” WK The song tapped 11 guest singers including Alicia Keys, John Legend, Elton John, Tony Williams, Elly Jackson, and Rihanna. WK The song received Grammy nods for Song of the Year, Best Rap Song, and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.

Devil in a New Dress is a song “about lust and heartache” WK built around a Smokey Robinson sample. One critic described the song’s mix of both sexual and religious imagery “part bedroom allure, part angelic prayer.” WK

Runaway has a “spooky grandeur” RS built on a “piano-based motif comprising a series of sustained descending half and whole notes” WK and a “coda that incorporates light strings and vocoder-singing by West.” WK At about the six-minute mark, “long after the song has already sealed itself in your brain, the sound cuts out and you think it’s over. Then there’s a plinking piano, the feedback of an electric guitar plugging in, some ‘Strawberry Fields’-style cellos and Yeezy himself singing a poignant Robert Fripp-style solo through his vocoder. There’s no way it should work, but it keeps rolling for three more minutes without breaking the spell.” SH Rolling Stone named it the best single of 2010.

Also on the album: Hell of a Life has “a psychedelic rock sample and a narrative about marrying a porn star.” WK There’s also “the spooky space funk of GorgeousSH and “the paranoid staccato strings of Monster.” SH

Indie-folk rocker Bon Iver is sampled for Lost in the World. West turns the original song, “Woods”, and its alienation theme into “the centerpiece of a catchy, communal reverie.” WK

The album closes with Who Will Survive in America, which builds on a sample of “Comment No. 1” by Gil Scott-Heron. The original song is “a blunt, surrealist piece delivered by Scott-Heron in spoken word about the African-American experience and the fated idealism of the American dream.” WK

The album’s artwork, a portrait by George Condo, caused controversy because of its nude depiction of West and an armless winged female (a phoenix). WK

The album was ranked as the top of the year by AlbumoftheYear.org, The A.V. Club, Billboard magazine critics, Pitchfork Media, Rolling Stone, Slant, Time, and The Village Voice. It was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Album. As Rolling Stone said in its assessment of the album in its year-end review, West “made all other music seem dimmer and duller. Is the album dark? Sure. Twisted? Of course. But above all, it's beautiful.” RS

Resources and Related Links: