Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Top 30 Songs by Diane Warren

The October 29, 2011 issue of Billboard has a feature on songwriter Diane Warren (“Diane Warren Teams up with Universal Music Group for International Publishing Deal”). Usually such features come accompanied with best-of lists, but this one did not. Since they didn’t make such a list, I will. Here are the top 30 songs written by Diane Warren, as determined by Dave’s Music Database. By the way, the link on #1 goes to a DMDB blog entry which was coincidentally written just this week!

1. Un-Break My Heart…Toni Braxton (1996)
2. Because You Loved Me…Celine Dion (1996)
3. How Do I Live…LeAnn Rimes (1997)
4. I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing…Aerosmith (1998)
5. Look Away…Chicago (1988)
6. Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now…Starship (1987)
7. How Do I Live…Trisha Yearwood (1997)
8. There You’ll Be…Faith Hill (2001)
9. Love Will Lead You Back…Taylor Dayne (1990)
10. Blame It on the Rain…Milli Vanilli (1989)

11. Don’t Turn Around…Ace of Base (1994)
12. When the Night Comes…Joe Cocker (1989)
13. Missing You Now…Michael Bolton with Kenny G (1992)
14. How Can We Be Lovers…Michael Bolton (1990)
15. If You Asked Me To…Celine Dion (1992)
16. When I See You Smile…Bad English (1989)
17. Can’t Fight the Moonlight…LeAnn Rimes (2000)
18. Rhythm of the Night…DeBarge (1985)
19. By the Time This Night Is Over…Kenny G with Peabo Bryson (1993)
20. If I Could Turn Back Time…Cher (1989)

21. I’ll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me…Expose (1993)
22. For You I Will…Monica (1997)
23. When I’m Back on My Feet Again…Michael Bolton (1990)
24. Time, Love & Tenderness…Michael Bolton (1991)
25. I Learned from the Best…Whitney Houston (1999)
26. I Get Weak…Belinda Carlisle (1988)
27. I Don’t Wanna Live Without Your Love…Chicago (1988)
28. Set the Night to Music…Roberta Flack with Maxi Priest (1991)
29. I’ll Be Your Shelter…Taylor Dayne (1990)
30. Just Like Jesse James…Cher (1989)

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Saturday, October 29, 2011

The T.A.M.I. Show was taped for television broadcast: October 28-29, 1964

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The T.A.M.I. Show is a 1964 concert film. T.A.M.I. was an acronym for Teenage Awards Music International, sometimes for Teen Age Music International. Free tickets were given out to local high school students to see two live performances taped at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on October 28 and 29. Director Quentin Tarantino has said it ranks “in the top three of all rock movies” AZ and’s Donald Leibenson says it is “arguably the very best rock-concert movie ever made.” AZ

Jan and Dean, who also performed, served as the hosts for a slew of significant rock ‘n’ roll and R&B acts from the time. Over two hours, audiences were treated to performances from The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye, Gerry & the Pacemakers, Lesley Gore, Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas, The Miracles, The Rolling Stones, and The Supremes.

However, the most-talked about performance from the show belonged to James Brown. Producer Rick Rubin has said it “may be the single greatest rock & roll performance ever captured on film.” WK The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards has said that performing after Brown may have been the biggest mistake his group ever made. WK

The movie gained legendary status because, after its original airing in December 1964, it was not officially released until 2010. Fans had to make do with bootlegs of the performances.

  • National Film Registry

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Friday, October 21, 2011

Time Magazine: All-TIME 100 Songs

Time Magazine:

All-TIME 100 Songs

In 2011, Time magazine critics crafted their “All-TIME 100 Songs” list of what they called “the most extraordinary English-language popular recordings since the beginning of TIME magazine in 1923.” Their list was unranked, but the songs have been ranked here based on their overall status in Dave’s Music Database.

This is a bizarre list. While it should be commended for its breadth in representing different genres and eras, it constantly creates head-scratching moments. In the Elvis Presley canon, how is “Jailhouse Rock” more listworthy than “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Dog,” or “Don’t Be Cruel”? Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” over “Stairway to Heaven” and “Whole Lotta Love”? Madonna’s “Borderline” instead of “Like a Virgin” or “Like a Prayer”?

The DMDB works hard to recognize the subjectivity of any list. Still, there are some oversights that are overwhelming glaring. When you scroll to the bottom of the list, it’s baffling to try to understand how Time decided Lucinda’s “Pineola” and Lil Wayne’s “Georgia Bush” seemed more noteworthy than Bill Haley & the Comets’ “We’re Gonna Rock Around the Clock,” the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” the Beatles’ “Hey Jude,” John Lennon’s “Imagine,” the Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” and Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” (all in the top 10 of all time according to the DMDB).

Click here to see other lists from publications and/or organizations.

1. Bing Crosby with the Ken Darby Singers “White Christmas” (1942)
2. Michael Jackson “Billie Jean” (1982)
3. Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody” (1975)
4. Nirvana “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (1991)
5. The Beatles “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (1963)
6. Marvin Gaye “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (1968)
7. Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive” (1977)
8. Judy Garland “Over the Rainbow” (1939)
9. Sinéad O’Connor “Nothing Compares 2 U” (1990)
10. OutKast “Hey Ya!” (2003)

11. Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers with Leo Reisman’s Orchestra “Cheek to Cheek” (1935)
12. Elvis Presley “Jailhouse Rock” (1957)
13. Chuck Berry “Johnny B. Goode” (1958)
14. Bessie Smith with Louis Armstrong “St. Louis Blues” (1925)
15. Stevie Wonder “Superstition” (1972)
16. Les Brown with Doris Day “Sentimental Journey” (1945)
17. Ray Charles “What’d I Say” (1959)
18. The Ronettes “Be My Baby” (1963)
19. Beyoncé “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) ” (2008)
20. Buddy Holly and The Crickets “That’ll Be the Day” (1957)

21. The Beach Boys “God Only Knows” (1966)
22. Paul Robeson “Ol’ Man River” (1928)
23. Les Paul with Mary Ford “How High the Moon” (1951)
24. Patsy Cline “Crazy” (1961)
25. Kanye West with Jamie Foxx “Gold Digger” (2005)
26. Joy Division “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (1980)
27. The Jackson 5 “I Want You Back” (1969)
28. Little Richard “Tutti Frutti” (1955)
29. Billie Holiday “Strange Fruit” (1939)
30. Lady Gaga “Bad Romance” (2009)

31. The Supremes “Where Did Our Love Go” (1964)
32. Cab Calloway “Minnie the Moocher (The Ho De Ho Song)” (1931)
33. New Order “Blue Monday” (1983)
34. Woody Guthrie “This Land Is Your Land” (1944)
35. David Bowie “Heroes” (1977)
36. Fleetwood Mac “Dreams” (1977)
37. Prince “Kiss” (1986)
38. Duke Ellington “It Don’t Mean a Thing if It Ain’t Got That Swing” Duke Ellington (1932)
39. Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott “Get Ur Freak On” (2001)
40. Public Enemy “Fight the Power” (1989)

41. The Who “Baba O’Riley” (1971)
42. The Andrews Sisters “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” (1941)
43. The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter” (1969)
44. Roy Orbison “Crying” (1961)
45. Pulp “Common People” (1995)
46. Donna Summer “I Feel Love” (1977)
47. Hank Williams “Cold, Cold Heart” (1951)
48. The Carter Family “Wildwood Flower” (1928)
49. Bruce Springsteen “Thunder Road” (1975)
50. Mahalia Jackson “Move on Up a Little Higher” (1948)

51. Stan Getz & Astrud Gilberto “The Girl from Ipanema” (1964)
52. Radiohead “Paranoid Android” (1997)
53. George Jones “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (1980)
54. Bob Dylan “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (1965)
55. Ramones “I Wanna Be Sedated” (1978)
56. Louis Armstrong “Stardust” (1931)
57. Tupac Shakur (2pac) with Dr. Dre & Roger Troutman “California Love” (1996)
58. Crosby, Stills & Nash “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” (1969)
59. James Brown “Get Up, I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine” (1970)
60. Johnny Cash “Folsom Prison Blues” (1955)

61. Jay-Z “99 Problems” (2004)
62. R.E.M. “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” (1987)
63. Boney M “Rivers of Babylon” (1978)
64. Black Sabbath “Iron Man” (1970)
65. Spike Jones “Der Fuehrere’s Face” (1942)
66. Lena Horne “Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin' All the Time)” (1942)
67. Aretha Franklin “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You” (1967)
68. Frank Sinatra “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” (1956)
69. Madonna “Borderline” (1984)
70. Loretta Lynn “Coal Miner’s Daughter” 1970)

71. Dolly Parton “Jolene” (1973)
72. Ethel Merman “I Got Rhythm” (1930)
73. Funkadelic “One Nation Under a Groove” (1978)
74. Al Jolson “My Mammy” (1928)
75. The Band “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” (1969)
76. Led Zeppelin “Immigrant Song” (1970)
77. Otis Redding “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” (1965)
78. Metallica “Master of Puppets” (1986)
79. Kitty Wells “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels” (1952)
80. Betty Hutton “It Had to Be You” (1944)

81. The Notorious B.I.G. “Juicy” (1994)
82. Arcade Fire “Wake Up” (2005)
83. Ray Heatherton “Where or When” (1937)
84. Ella Fitzgerald “Baby It’s Cold Outside” (1949)
85. Janelle Monáe with Big Boi “Tightrope” (2010)
86. Big Star “September Gurls” (1974)
87. Wu-Tang Clan “C.R.E.A.M. (Cash Rules Everything Around Me)” (1994)
88. Velvet Underground “Rock and Roll” (1970)
89. Joni Mitchell “A Case of You” (1971)
90. LCD Soundsystem “All My Friends” (2007)

91. Pet Shop Boys “Being Boring” (1990)
92. A Tribe Called Quest with Busta Rhymes “Scenario” (1992)
93. Richard Thompson “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” (1991)
94. Bonnie Raitt “Angel from Montgomery” (1971)
95. Willie Mae “Big Mama’ Thornton “Ball and Chain” (1968)
96. Fela Kuti “Zombie” (1976)
97. Peter Tosh “Equal Rights” (1977)
98. Odetta Holmes “Take This Hammer” (1955)
99. Lucinda Williams “Pineola” (1992)
100. Lil Wayne “Georgia Bush” (2006)

Resources/Related Links:

First posted 3/30/2021.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

First Rock and Roll Record box set released

The First Rock and Roll Record

Various Artists

Released: October 20, 2011

Recorded: 1916-1956

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

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

Genre: rock/pop/country/R&B/blues


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

Disc 1:

  1. Unknown Artist “The Camp Meeting Jubilee” (1916)
  2. Trixie Smith “My Man Rocks Me with One Steady Roll” (1922)
  3. Jim Jackson “Kansas City Blues” (1927)
  4. Charley Patton “Going to Move to Alabama” (1929)
  5. Hank Williams “Move It on Over” (8/9/47, 4 CW)
  6. Tampa Red “It’s Tight Like That” (1927)
  7. Clarence “Pinetop” Smith “Pinetop’s Boogie Woogie” (2/9/29, 20 US)
  8. Jimmy Blythe “Jimmy Blues” (1925)
  9. Blind Roosevelt Graves “Crazy About My Baby” (1929)
  10. Washboard Rhythm Kings “Tiger Rag” (1932)
  11. Boswell Sisters “Rock and Roll” (11/10/34, 7 US)
  12. Benny Goodman with Helen Ward “Get Rhythm in Your Feet” (1934)
  13. The Harlem Hamfats “Oh Red!” (1934)
  14. Mississippi Jook Band “Skippy Whippy” (1936)
  15. Robert Johnson “Cross Road Blues” (1936)
  16. Benny Goodman with Gene Krupa “Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)” (4/9/38, 7 US)
  17. Ella Fitzgerald “Rock It for Me” (2/19/38, 19 US)
  18. Sister Rosetta Tharpe “Rock Me” (1938)
  19. Bob Wills “Ida Red” (1938)
  20. Big Joe Turner “Roll ‘Em Pete” (1938)
  21. Buddy Jones “Rockin’ Rollin’ Mama” (1939)
  22. John Lee Williamson “New Early in the Morning” (1940)
  23. Will Bradley “Down the Road a Piece” (1940)
  24. The Andrews Sisters “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” (3/1/41, 6 US)
  25. Virginia O’Brien “Lullaby (Rock-a-Bye Baby)” (1941)

Disc 2:

  1. Lionel Hampton &nd His Orchestra “Flying Home” (5/11/40, 23 US, airplay: 1 million)
  2. Illinois Jacquet “Blues, Pt. 2” (1944)
  3. T-Bone Walker “Mean Old World” (1942)
  4. Judy Garland “The Joint Is Really Jumpin’ Down at Carnegie Hall” (1943)
  5. Gertrude Niesen “Rockin’ the Town” (1938)
  6. Nat “King” Cole “Straighten Up and Fly Right” (4/15/44, 9 US, 1 CW, 1 RB)
  7. Sister Rosetta Tharpe “Strange Things Happening Every Day” (1944)
  8. Helen Humes “Be Baba Leba” (12/15/45, 3 RB)
  9. Joe Liggins & His Honeydrippers “The Honeydripper” (10/20/45, 13 US, 1 RB, sales: 1 million)
  10. Arthur Smith & His Cracker Jacks “Guitar Boogie” (7/10/48, 25 US)
  11. Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup “That’s All Right, Mama” (1946)
  12. Louis Jordan “Let the Good Times Roll” (12/21/46, 2 RB)
  13. Freddie Slack with Ella Morse “The House of Blue Lights” (5/18/46, 8 US)
  14. The Delmore Brothers “Hillbilly Boogie” (1946)
  15. Pee Wee King “Ten Gallon Boogie” (1947)
  16. Wynonie Harris “Good Rocking Tonight” (5/1/48, 1 RB)
  17. Wild Bill Moore “We’re Gonna Rock, We’re Gonna Roll” (1947)
  18. Muddy Waters “I Can’t Be Satisfied” (9/18/48, 11 RB)
  19. Amos Milburn “Chicken Shack Boogie” (1948)
  20. Bill Haley “Rovin’ Eyes” (1948)
  21. The Orioles “It’s Too Soon to Know” (11/6/48, 13 US, 1 RB)
  22. Stick McGhee “Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee” (4/2/49, 26 US, 2 RB)
  23. Erline Harris “Rock and Roll Blues” (1949)
  24. Jimmy Preston “Rock the Joint” (1949)
  25. Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five “Saturday Night Fish Fry” (10/8/49, 21 US, 1 RB, sales: 1 million)
  26. Fats Domino “The Fat Man” (2/18/50, 2 RB, sales: 1 million)
  27. Goree Carter “Rock a While” (1949)

Disc 3:

  1. Hardrock Gunter “Gonna Dance All Night” (1950)
  2. Arkie Shibley & His Mountain Dew Boys “Hot Rod Race” (1950)
  3. The Dominoes “Sixty Minute Man” (8/25/51, 17 US, 1 RB, sales: 1 million)
  4. Les Paul & Mary Ford “How High the Moon” (3/31/51, 1 US, 3 HP, 1 CB, sales: 1 million)
  5. Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats “Rocket 88” (5/12/51, 1 RB)
  6. Charli Gracie “Boogie Woogie Blues” (1951)
  7. Big Mama Thornton “Hound Dog” (3/28/53, 1 RB)
  8. Charli Gracie “Rockin' an’ Rollin’” (1952)
  9. Lloyd Price “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” (5/17/52, 1 RB, sales: 1 million)
  10. The Dominoes “Have Mercy Baby” (5/24/52, 1 RB)
  11. The Clovers “One Mint Julep” (4/19/52, 2 RB)
  12. The Crows “Gee” (3/6/54, 14 US, 2 RB)
  13. Bill Haley & His Comets “Crazy Man Crazy” (5/23/53, 12 US)
  14. Ray Charles “Mess Around” (6/19/53, 3 RB)
  15. Clyde McPhatter & the Drifters “Money Honey” (10/31/53, 1 RB)
  16. The Johnny Burnette Trio “Honey Hush” (1953)
  17. Big Joe Turner “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” (5/8/54, 22 US, 1 RB)
  18. The Chords “Sh-Boom” (7/3/54, 5 US, 3 HP, 1 CB, 2 RB)
  19. Sunny Dae & the Knights “Rock Around the Clock” (1954)
  20. Ray Charles “I Gotta Woman” (1/22/55, 79 US, 78 HR, 1 RB)
  21. Hank Ballard & the Midnighters “Work with Me, Annie” (6/5/54, 22 US, 1 RB)
  22. The Robins “Riot in Cell Block #9” (1954)
  23. LaVern Baker “Tweedle Dee” (1/15/55, 14 US, 3 CB, 1 RB, sales: 1 million)
  24. Bo Diddley “Bo Diddley” (5/7/55, 6 US, 29 HR, 1 RB)
  25. Chuck Berry “Maybellene” (8/6/55, 5 US, 5 CB, 4 HR, 1 RB, sales: 1 million)
  26. Little Richard “Tutti Frutti” (11/26/55, 17 US, 10 CB, 2 RB, 29 UK)
  27. Carl Perkins “Blue Suede Shoes” (3/3/56, 2 US, 2 CB, 1 HR, 1 CW, 2 RB, 10 UK, sales: 1 million, airplay: 2 million)
  28. Elvis Presley “That’s Alright, Mama” (7/17/04, 3 UK, sales: ½ million)
  29. Bill Haley & His Comets “We’re Gonna Rock Around the Clock” (5/10/54, 1 US, 1 HP, 1 CB, 1 HR, 3 RB, 1 UK, 26 CN, 1 AU, sales: 25 million)
  30. Elvis Presley “Heartbreak Hotel” (3/3/56, 1 US, 1 HP, 1 CB, 1 HR, 1 CW, 3 RB, 2 UK, 1 CN, 3 AU, sales: 5 million, airplay: 2 million)

Total Running Time: 3:46:28


4.685 out of 5.00 (average of 6 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Rock & roll as an American musical form is very much like a delta, collecting elements from jazz, blues, country, gospel, R&B, show tunes, and whatever else was floating around into a high-charged, rambunctious music that defined and drove pop culture…So where is the start of all this?” AMG “It’s an unanswerable question, but the search for rock’s origins digs up many a treat” AP via this three-disc collection. “It delves back to the middle of the first world war, raking through blues, country, gospel, R&B, jazz and showtunes in search of clues.” AP

“You could say that The First Rock and Roll Record is exhaustive to a fault.” AP “The first CD seems less interested in music than in semantics” AP as it “explores songs from the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s that feature rocking and/or rolling in the lyrics.” AMG “You start to wonder if the compilers think that there was any music released in America in the ‘30s and ‘40s that didn’t have an influence on the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, up to and including Judy Garland’s The Joint Is Really Jumpin’ Down at Carnegie Hall and the Andrews Sisters’ Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” AP

It always seems to have referred to transcendence of one kind or another… For those attending 1916’s Camp Meeting Jubilee, it was all about fervent prayer. For Trixie Smith – a more forthright lady than you might expect to meet in 1922 – it involved the more straightforward matter of availing yourself of a man in possession of an enormous penis and limitless stamina: by the end of My Man Rocks Me, she’s apparently been having it off non-stop for a hugely impressive nine hours.” AP “Fans of Marc Bolan might find their jaws dropping at Georgia bluesman Tampa Red’s frantic 1927 debut single It’s Tight Like That.” AP

“Midway through the second CD, however, things become noticeably more linear.” AP It is packed with songs that “if they weren’t actually rock ‘n’ roll, sounded so much like it as to make the argument academic: Amos Milburn’s Chicken Shack Boogie, Stick McGhee’s Drinking Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee, Fats Domino’s The Fat Man, the latter a fabulous, million-selling testament to the New Orleans’ singer’s qualities that suggests he might have got on a treat with Trixie Smith.” AP There’s also “Les Paul and Mary Ford’s timelessly amazing How High the Moon, the first single in the modern world to suggest the recording studio itself was a player in all this.” AMG

You also get a clear sense of how everything new owes a debt to the past. “Everyone who has read a little about rock’s origins knows Bill Haley’s Rock Around the Clock bore a suspicious resemblance to Hank Williams’ blackly comic 1947 tale of marital discord Move It on Over, or about the line that connects Robert Johnson’s handful of 1930s recordings to the musical explosion of the ‘60s.” AP

It wraps up appropriately with Elvis Presley and the first song he recorded after jumping from Sun Records to RCA for a then “unprecedented sum of $40,000.” BR As the King of Rock and Roll’s first ascension to the throne, Heartbreak Hotel is “as close to a template for the perfect rock & roll single as one is likely to find.” AMG The liner notes refer to it as “everything a rock and roll record should be.”

The compilers admit that they haven’t reached a definitive answer as to what the first rock and roll record is, but cheekily suggest that “whatever it is, it’s probably here.” In the end, though, this collection “is proof that sometimes, the evidence is more interesting than the verdict.” AP

Notes: The liner notes reference the Jim Dawson and Steve Propes’ book What Was the First Rock ‘n’ Roll Record?, noting that 37 of the 50 songs referenced in that book are included in this collection. A now dead link offers one the chance to download the other 13 songs, which are Jack McVea’s “Open the Door, Richard” (1946), Lonnie Johnson’s “Tomorrow Night” (1948), John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillen” (1948), Professor Longhair’s “Mardi Gras in New Orleans” (1949), Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” (1950), Hardrock Gunter’s “Birmingham Bounce” (1950), Hank Snow’s “I’m Movin’ On” (1950), Ruth Brown’s “Teardrops from My Eyes” (1950), Johnnie Ray with the Four Lads’ “Cry” (1961), Billy Haley & the Saddlemen’s “Rock the Joint” (1952), Hank Williams’ “Kaw-Liga” (1953), the Penguins’ “Earth Angel (Will You Be Mine)” (1954), and Johnny Ace’s “Pledging My Love” (1954).

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 11/17/2020; last updated 2/5/2022.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

50 years ago: Patsy Cline charted with “Crazy”


Patsy Cline

Writer(s): Willie Nelson (see lyrics here)

Recorded: August 21, 1961

First Charted: October 9, 1961

Peak: 9 US, 13 CB, 11 HR, 2 AC, 2 CW, 14 UK, 56 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 22.73 video, 61.28 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Before Willie Nelson became one of country music’s top singers, he broke into the industry as a songwriter. After Faron Young took Nelson’s “Hello Walls” to the top of the country charts, seemingly everyone in town wanted a Willie song. Patsy Cline was looking for a follow-up to “I Fall to Pieces” which had potential to cross over to the pop charts. AC She loved “Funny How Time Slips Away”, but Billy Walker, whose relationship with Nelson went back to their Texas days, AC got to it first.

Cline was furious, but Willie and Billy thought her voice was perfect for another song Walker had demoed. AC When told the song title was “Crazy,” she shot back, “It sure is.” RS500 She was looking for the up-tempo fare she was more accustomed to singing. A slow-torch song was not what she had in mind. NPR

Cline’s producer, Owen Bradley, was convinced of the song’s potential, believing it to be well suited to “her vocal talents and expressive style.” NPR “With a lush arrangement and understated backing vocals” RS500 alongside the “slow-burn sex appeal” RS500 she infused in the lyrics, she made the song her own. She recorded the vocal in one take, no less. TC It was “a perfect vehicle to showcase [her] poignant, heartbreaking voice and superb musicianship.” NRR It “bears the marks of Nelson’s idiosyncratic personality – it’s pop and jazz and western and not quite pure country.” TC

It became more than just Cline’s signature tune and what Willie Nelson called “the favorite of anything I ever wrote.” AC As the top jukebox single of all time NPR and her only top ten pop hit, “Crazy” launched a new sound in country music called “countrypolitan” RS500 which gained popularity in the wake of rock and roll’s explosive success. NRR Sadly, Cline herself wouldn’t be around to see where country music was headed; she died in a plane crash in March 1963.


Related Links:

First posted 8/21/2011; last updated 10/31/2021.

Friday, October 7, 2011

50 years ago: “Moon River” hit the chart

First posted 4/10/2020; updated 3/15/2021.

Moon River

Henry Mancini with Audrey Hepburn

Writer(s): Henry Mancini (music)/ Johnny Mercer (lyrics) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: October 7, 1961

Peak: 11 US, 5 CB, 7 HR, 11 AC, 44 UK, 14 CN (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 34.3 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

This song, written for the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, ranks #4 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest movie songs. The movie, directed by Blake Edwards, was an adaptation of Truman Capote’s book Holly Golightly. Henry Mancini, hot off his success composing for TV’s Peter Gunn, was tapped to write the score.

When he needed, as his wife Virginia said, a “haunting song that would depict Holly Golightly as a little girl from a small town who is trying to be very sophisticated in big, bad New York City,” SS he turned to Johnny Mercer, one of his songwriting idols. Like the movie’s main character, Mercer left his home in the south for “the glittering lights of a sophisticated New York.” CR He was “firmly established as one of the great American composers” CR and co-founded Capitol Records in 1942, but hadn’t had a hit in years. SS

The result was a song which “neatly pivots on nostalgia for a lost youth and the romance of the future.” CR It “was both a little folksly and a little elegant.” JV The song won Grammys for Record and Song of the Year. Over the years, three different artists took it to #1 on three different charts. The original topped the adult contemporary chart, Jerry Butler took it to #1 in New Zealand, and Danny Williams reached the pinnacle on the UK chart. WK Louis Armstrong, Judy Garland, Morrissey, R.E.M., Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart, Barbra Streisand, and Sarah Vaughan have also recorded the song. WK

Mancini drew his musical inspiration from the script and Audrey Hepburn, the film’s star CR and “the reigning queen of Hollywood.” SS He said her “big eyes gave me the push to get a little more sentimental than I usually do.” CR After seeing the movie with Mancini’s score, Hepburn wrote him a letter, saying, “A movie without music is a little bit like an aeroplane without fuel. However beautifully the job is done, we are still on the ground and in a world of reality. Your music has lifted us all up and sent us soaring.” CR

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Henry Mancini
  • CR Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 667.
  • JV David Jenness and Don Velsey (2006). Classic American Popular Song. Routledge: New York, NY. Page 196.
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volumes I & II). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Pages 475-6.
  • WK Wikipedia

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Was Grunge the Last American Musical Revolution?

Originally published in my "Aural Fixation" column on on Oct. 4, 2011. See original post here.

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To borrow a phrase from my kids’ favorite cartoon, Phineas and Ferb, “Why, yes. Yes it was.” While music constantly evolves, every generation since the beginning of recorded music has introduced a game-changing genre. Until now.

Ragtime was the popular style of choice at the onset of the 1900s. It eventually gave way to jazz. The Swing Era in the ‘30s transformed into the Sing Era in the ‘40s. Rock ‘n’ roll altered the musical landscape in the ‘50s and punk and grunge emerged in the ‘70s and ‘90s as evidence that rock wasn’t dead.

This month marks the 20th anniversary of what has been called the Year of Grunge. The year 1991 saw the releases of Nirvana’s Nevermind and Pearl Jam’s Ten. Those albums put Seattle on the musical map and flannel and army boots in every sullen American teen’s wardrobe. Adolescent angst was back in vogue and came soundtracked with a brand new anthem, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.

Of course, Nirvana and Pearl Jam would acknowledge that they no more birthed grunge than any other genre’s tent pole artists invented their respective forms of music. Grunge offered plenty of contemporaries with which to share credit. Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone, Mudhoney, and the Screaming Trees are among the most frequently cited.

It isn’t just that multiple artists fell under the grunge banner. There were also a slew of predecessors who laid the groundwork. Analyze the alternative rock and indie scene of the late ‘80s and one can see the seeds of grunge being sown. Rewind another decade and it becomes clear how much grunge was really just recycled punk.

In fact, the flagship grunge and punk groups – Nirvana and the Sex Pistols – share more than a few similarities. Both grew out of eras when disenfranchised youth were tired of pop radio and music journalists were fond of writing articles sounding rock ‘n’ roll’s death knell.

The Sex Pistols emerged from the gloomy rain-soaked London scene in 1975 while Nirvana surfaced from the gloomy rain-soaked Seattle scene from the late ‘80s. Both groups exploded after signing with major labels and releasing hugely successful and rebellious singles – “Anarchy in the U.K.” for the Pistols and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for Nirvana.

They were also fronted by oversized personalities that aggressively railed against the frustrations of their generations, even if the establishment was less than overjoyed. Then again, joy didn’t enter the picture for the bands, either. Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and the Pistols’ Johnny Rotten were troubled, angry young men who found no peace with their bands’ phenomenal successes and the greater audience upon which it afforded them opportunities to spew their venom.

Strong, destructive personalities brought about quick demises for both bands which roughly coincided with the lifespans of their respective genres. Cobain and the Pistols’ Sid Vicious suffered from heroin addiction, drug overdoses, and volatile relationships. Sid was charged with murdering girlfriend Nancy Spungen before his own death in 1979 which some call an overdose and others call a suicide. In 1994, Cobain’s suicide had conspiracy theorists insisting that his wife Courtney Love had him killed.

Parallels can also be drawn between the genres’ runner-ups – Pearl Jam and The Clash. These bands also claimed lots of attention in the spotlight, but less than their genre’s flag bearers. Both bands survived beyond their genres’ peaks and gained reputations for political activism within and beyond their music.

Of course, punk and grunge also grew out of similar circumstances. The bands tapped into teen’s frustration with the nation’s political climates which had left them feeling downtrodden. They were also responses to the by-the-numbers dance pop which ruled radio.

Both genres were embraced as back-to-basics rock ‘n’ roll bands which reminded the public that the music was supposed to be raw and raunchy. They were responses to bloated and over-the-top rock which, either took itself too seriously – such as progressive rock in the ‘70s, or not seriously enough – like the hair bands of the ‘80s. Performances were about frontmen who screamed and jumped around on stage and musicians who thrashed wildly on their instruments.

Of course, just as grunge was really just punk mixed with a dose of heavy metal, punk was largely a return to garage rock. In reality, every “new” genre of music is really a reshaping of the previous generation’s music. Every decade’s new batch of teens seeks out a way to distance themselves from the status quo with a new sound – one which the elders don’t understand and turn up their noses at, saying “this isn’t music.”

However, the 20th anniversary of grunge is an uncomfortable reminder that music hasn’t given us anything “new” on such a grand scale since then. This generation still awaits its musical revolution. 

We have, however, experienced one of recorded music’s greatest revolutions in regards to how music is delivered and marketed. The beginning of the 20th century saw sheet music and piano rolls. The phonograph forever changed music in that it now became about hearing actual performances from artists. Over the decades, radio, juke boxes, eight track and cassette tapes, and compact discs all played important roles in letting the music reach the masses.

However, none of those forms had the reach and impact of the Internet. In just over ten years, the way people access music has been permanently altered – for better or worse. A few clicks of the mouse or one’s mobile phone and any song imaginable is there for the listeners’ pleasure. However, much to the chagrin of the record companies, illegal downloads have ravaged their business while also giving consumers more control than ever before.

Perhaps it’s precisely because of the digital revolution that we have not seen a generation-defining genre since grunge. For one genre to so completely saturate the market requires, well, a music industry with immense control over the market. Has downloading destroyed the hope for any new genre domination? I hope not. I’d like to think that in a small club in some metropolitan area there’s a local band slogging it out that’s destined to get music journalists salivating. The magazine headlines will boldly ask “Are they the next big thing?” and hopefully we can respond that, “Yes. Yes they are.”