Saturday, July 27, 2013

50 years ago: Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” hit #1 on country charts

Ring of Fire

Johnny Cash

Writer(s): June Carter, Merle Kilgore (see lyrics here)

Released: April 19, 1963

First Charted: June 1, 1963

Peak: 17 US, 14 CB, 14 GR, 13 HR, 17 US, 12 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.2 US, 0.5 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 62.9 video, 315.81 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

While it has become one of Johnny Cash’s signature hits, “Ring of Fire” wasn’t his originally. June Carter, who Cash married in 1968, wrote the song with Merle Kilgore and her sister Anita originally recorded it. She released it as “(Love’s) Ring of Fire” on her album Folk Songs Old and New and as a single. WK

Cash heard Anita’s version and claimed he had a dream in which the song was accompanied by Mexican horns. He told Anita he’d give her six months and if her version wasn’t a hit, he was going to record it how he felt it. He recorded it the same year with mariachi-style horns. WK His version topped the country charts for seven weeks.

There are claims that Carter saw the phrase “love is like a burning ring of fire” underlined in an Elizabethan poetry book that belonged ot her uncle, A.P. Carter. WK At the time, she and Cash were married to other people, but were friends and singing partners. She was “driving around aimlessly one night, worried about Cash’s wildman ways – and aware that she couldn’t resist him.” RS500 When they married in 1968, Merle Kilgore (the co-writer on “Ring of Fire”) was the best man. SF

Cash’s career had waned slightly in the early ‘60s; he hadn’t hit #1 since 1959’s “Don’t Take Your Guns to Town.” Cash’s version of “Ring of Fire” was “a forceful blend of his image and musical attitude” AMG which helped develop his image of “The Man in Black.” The phrase “fell into a ring of fire” sounded “intimidating and dangerous” AMG and like “something an outlaw would do.” AMG


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First posted 10/31/2021; last updated 7/12/2023.

Friday, July 26, 2013

100 years ago: ”When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” hit #1

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Chauncey Olcott

Writer(s): Chauncey Olcott, George Graff Jr., Ernest R. Ball (see lyrics here)

Released: May 1913

First Charted: June 21, 1913

Peak: 17 US, 1 GA, 7 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

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


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In 1912, tributes like this one to a romanticized Ireland were common in America as well as England. This one in particular, though, became a favorite of Irish immigrants in the pre-World War I years RCG and has become a perennial St. Patrick’s Day fave. JA Amusingly, this “waltz-like tune” RCG was written by Chauncey Olcott and George Graff Jr. with music by Ernest Ball – none of whom were Irish. SF Of course, many American-born citizens have Irish ancestry, including Olcott, whose mother was born in Ireland. SF

Olcott introduced the song when he sang it in his 1913 Broadway production of The Isle O’Dreams, which was based on a play set in Ireland. SF While the show opened and closed in under a month, SF Olcott’s commercial recording of the song was a hit, topping the charts that summer. Harry MacDonough would also take the song to the top five that year. Four years later, during World War I, John McCormack recorded the song again and took it to #4.

The song was used as the opener for Duffy’s Tavern, a radio show which ran from 1941 to 1951. WK It was revived in Irish Eyes Are Smiling, a 1944 biopic about Ernest Ball, and in 1947 for the Olcott biopic My Wild Irish Rose. JA It became a favorite again years later when Morton Downey sang it more than a thousand times on the air on his radio show. RCG The song has been recorded on more than 200 singles and albums and performed by singers such as Perry Como, Bing Crosby, Connie Francis, Roger Whittaker, and Frank Sinatra.

In 1985, the song garnered attention when U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney convened for a summit on St. Patrick’s Day. The two jointly sang “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling,” which caused the Canadian press to extensively criticize Mulroney. WK


First posted 7/26/2016; last updated 11/20/2022.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

People’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame

There have been 20 induction classes since the People’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame was founded in 2010 by Ted Cogswell. It is really just his pet project and not an official organization. The concept was to announce a ballot of eligible performers once a month to align with the eligibility period of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Consequently, those up for consideration on the first ballot had to be eligible for the Rock Hall in 1986 (meaning they had to have a record at least 25 years old at that time). The second ballot was for the 1987 eligibility year and so on. The general public was then allowed to vote on the nominees and those who received more than 50% of the popular vote were inducted. Here are the inductees thus far, with the number of their classes in parentheses:











  • Bob Marley & the Wailers (11)
  • The Mamas and the Papas (7)
  • Paul McCartney (11)
  • The MC5 (7)
  • The Steve Miller Band (13)
  • The Miracles (3)
  • Joni Mitchell (12)
  • The Monkees (7)
  • The Moody Blues (6)
  • Van Morrison (8)
  • Motorhead (20)
  • Mott the Hoople (10)


  • Rick Nelson (3)
  • The New York Dolls (19)
  • Roy Orbison (2)
  • Parliament-Funkadelic (12)
  • Les Paul (6)
  • Carl Perkins (2)
  • Wilson Pickett (4)
  • Pink Floyd (8)
  • Gene Pitney (7)
  • The Platters (6)
  • The Police (18)
  • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (17)
  • Elvis Presley (1)
  • Pretenders (20)
  • Prince & the Revolution (19)


  • Queen (14)
  • Ramones (17)
  • The Rascals (6)
  • Otis Redding (2)
  • Lou Reed (14)
  • Jimmy Reed (11)
  • Paul Revere & the Raiders (4)
  • The Righteous Brothers (6)
  • The Rolling Stones (4)
  • The Ronettes (4)
  • Roxy Music (16)
  • Todd Rundgren (14)
  • Rush (14)


  • Sam and Dave (5)
  • Santana (10)
  • Bob Seger (11)
  • The Sex Pistols (17)
  • Del Shannon (6)
  • The Shirelles (7)
  • Simon and Garfunkel (5)
  • Paul Simon (15)
  • Sly & the Family Stone (8)
  • The Small Faces (10)
  • Dusty Springfield (6)
  • Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band (14)
  • The Staple Singers (11)
  • Steely Dan (14)
  • Steppenwolf (14)
  • Rod Stewart (12)
  • The Stooges (11)
  • The Supremes (4)


  • Talking Heads (18)
  • The Temptations (4)
  • Thin Lizzy (12)
  • Traffic (8)
  • T. Rex (9)
  • Ike & Tina Turner (3)
  • Big Joe Turner (6)


  • Ritchie Valens (3)
  • Van Halen (19)
  • The Velvet Underground (7)
  • The Ventures (4)
  • Gene Vincent (2)




The Top 50 New Wave Albums of All Time

New Wave:

The Top 50 Albums

“New Wave” is one of the more difficult genres to define, because as says, it was “a catch-all term for the music that directly followed punk rock” in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Even that is misleading, however, because punk and new wave co-existed in that era.

In general, punk was marked by simplistic three-chord music and a D.I.Y. attitude while new wave was artier in style and fashion and typically infused with a dose of electronics. According to Wikipedia, new wave was “first considered the same as punk rock before being identified as a genre of its own right, incorporating aspects of electronic and experimental music, mod subculture, disco, and 1960s pop music.” Wikipedia says the term “new wave” was first used in the early 1970s by critics like Nick Kent and Dave Marsh in defining groups like the Velvet Underground and New York Dolls. In 1976, the term began showing up in UK magazines as a way of defining “music by bands not exactly punk, but related to, and part of the same musical scene.”

As the list below shows, much of new wave falls in other categories, including goth (Joy Division, The Cure), punk (The Clash), new romanticism (Duran Duran, Culture Club), proto-punk (Television), synth-pop (Depeche Mode, Human League, Tears for Fears), and early Britpop (The Smiths). This list was created by aggregating 27 lists (see resources at bottom of page).

Check out other best-of-genre/category lists here.

1. Joy Division Closer (1980)
2. Elvis Costello & The Attractions This Year’s Model (1978)
3. The Cars The Cars (1978)
4. Blondie Parallel Lines (1978)
5. Talking Heads More Songs about Buildings and Food (1978)
6. Pretenders Pretenders (1980)
7. Talking Heads Remain in Light (1980)
8. Devo Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo (1978)
9. Gang of Four Entertainment! (1979)
10. Television Marquee Moon (1977)

11. The Police Outlandos D’Amour (1978)
12. Joy Division Unknown Pleasures (1979)
13. Elvis Costello & the Attractions Armed Forces (1979)
14. The Human League Dare! (1981)
15. New Order Power, Corruption, and Lies (1983)
16. Duran Duran Rio (1982)
17. Joe Jackson Look Sharp! (1979)
18. The Smiths The Queen Is Dead (1986)
19. The Clash London Calling (1979)
20. Elvis Costello My Aim Is True (1977)

21. XTC Drums and Wires (1979)
22. Tears for Fears Songs from the Big Chair (1985)
23. The Pop Group Y (1979)
24. The Jam Sound Affects (1980)
25. Ultravox Vienna (1980)
26. Devo Freedom of Choice (1980)
27. Talking Heads Fear of Music (1979)
28. Public Image Ltd. Metal Box (aka “Second Edition”) (1979)
29. Pere Ubu The Modern Dance (1978)
30. Simple Minds New Gold Dream 81-82-83-84 (1982)

31. The B-52’s The B-52’s (1979)
32. The Police Synchronicity (1983)
33. Nick Lowe Jesus of Cool (1978)
34. New Order Substance (compilation: 1981-87, released 1987)
35. ABC Lexicon of Love (1982)
36. Squeeze Argybargy (1980)
37. The Cure Boys Don’t Cry (1980)
38. The Go-Go’s Beauty and the Beat (1981)
39. Duran Duran Duran Duran (1981)
40. The Cure Dinstinegration (1989)

41. Siouxsie & the Banshees The Scream (1978)
42. U2 Boy (1980)
43. The Slits Cut (1979)
44. Talking Heads :77 (1977)
45. The Police Zenyatta Mondatta (1980)
46. Depeche Mode Black Celebration (1986)
47. Tears for Fears The Hurting (1983)
48. Yazoo Upstair’s at Eric’s (1982)
49. Big Country The Crossing (1983)
50. Talking Heads Speaking in Tongues (1983)

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 7/14/2013.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Top 50 Punk Rock Albums of All Time


The Top 50 Albums

Thanks to seeing a couple different posts on Facebook of L.A. Weekly’s recent list of the top 20 punk albums of all time, I decided it was time for the Dave’s Music Database version of the list. As with all DMDB lists, this is an aggegrate of multiple best-of lists, 43 in this case. See sources at the bottom of the page.

Check out other best-of-genre/category lists here.

1. The Sex Pistols Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977)
2. The Clash The Clash (1977)
3. Ramones Ramones (1976)
4. The Clash London Calling (1979)
5. Black Flag Damaged (1981)
6. Dead Kennedys Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980)
7. The Damned Damned Damned Damned (1977)
8. Buzzcocks Singles Going Steady (compilation: 1977-79, released 1979)
9. The Stooges Raw Power (1973)
10. Minutemen Double Nickels on the Dime (1984)

11. The Misfits Walk Among Us (1982)
12. Bad Brains Bad Brains (1982)
13. Wire Pink Flag (1977)
14. The Descendents Milo Goes to College (1982)
15. Hüsker Dü Zen Arcade (1984)
16. X Los Angeles (1980)
17. The MC5 Kick Out the Jams (1968)
18. New York Dolls New York Dolls (1973)
19. Ramones Rocket to Russia (1977)
20. Green Day Dookie (1994)

21. The Stooges Fun House (1970)
22. Richard Hell & the Voidoids Blank Generation (1977)
23. Stiff Little Fingers Inflammable Material (1979)
24. Rancid And Out Come the Wolves (1995)
25. Minor Threat Complete Discography (1990)
26. The Dead Boys Young, Loud & Snotty (1977)
27. The Damned Machine Gun Etiquette (1979)
28. Discharge Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing (1982)
29. Social Distortion Mommy’s Little Monster (1983)
30. Gang of Four Entertainment! (1979)

31. The Germs GI (1979)
32. The Misfits Static Age (1997)
33. Refused The Shape of Punk to Come (1998)
34. Patti Smith Horses (1975)
35. Television Marquee Moon (1977)
36. X-Ray Spex Germ-Free Adolescents (1978)
37. Operation Ivy Energy (1990)
38. The Modern Lovers The Modern Lovers (1973)
39. Suicide Suicide (1977)
40. Blink-182 Enema of the State (1999)

41. The Undertones The Undertones (1979)
42. Fugazi Repeater (1990)
43. Bad Religion Suffer (1988)
44. Hüsker Dü New Day Rising (1985)
45. The Dead Kennedys Plastic Surgery Disasters (1982)
46. Crass The Feeding of the 5000 (1978)
47. Fear The Record (1982)
48. Circle Jerks Group Sex (1981)
49. The Cramps Songs the Lord Taught Us (1980)
50. NOFX Punk in Drublic (1994)

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First posted 7/13/2013; last updated 2/9/2022.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Elvis makes legendary recordings at Sun Studios: July 5-6, 1954

l to r: Elvis Presley, Bill Black, Scotty Moore, Sam Phillips
image from

Elvis Presley’s Sun recordings from July of 1954 are considered by some to be the beginning of rock and roll. Many historians would argue that rock and roll’s origins predate Elvis and can’t be tied to one event or recording, but Elvis’ brief tenure with Sun is indistibutably monumental in the development of rock and roll.

The July 5-6 session was not the future King of Rock and Roll’s first time to record with Sun. Nearly a year earlier, he paid $3.98 to the Memphis Record Service, now commonly known as Sun Studio, to record “My Happiness” and “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin.” In January 1954, he returned to record “I’ll Never Stand in Your Way” and “It Wouldn’t Be the Same Without You.”

That May, Sun Studio head Sam Phillips found a demo of “Without You” and, in a search for a white performer who could sing blues and boogie-woogie, he brought Elvis back in the studio. Local Western swing musicians Scotty Moore (electric guitar) and Bill Black (slap bass) rehearsed songs on July 4 and met at Sun the next couple days to record a few songs.

Scotty Moore talks about the sessions

The first song they recorded was “I Love You Because.” After a few more country-oriented songs, Elvis started playing around with Arthur Crudup’s blues song “That’s All Right, Mama.” Also among the songs they recorded were a faster version of bluegrass musician Bill Monroe’s “Blue Moon of Kentucky” and “Harbor Lights.”

“Mama” and “Kentucky” were released as a single before the end of the month and garnered some success in the South. The trio would record at Sun through 1955 before Phillips sold Presley’s contract to RCA for a then-record $35,0000 to $40,000, depending on the source. It was in 1956 that Elvis would claim the throne as the King, but he’d established himself as royalty via those 1953-55 Sun recordings.

Elvis Presley Awards:

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Friday, July 5, 2013

100 years ago: “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine” hit #1

The Trail of the Lonesome Pine

Henry Burr & Albert Campbell

Writer(s): Ballard MacDonald (words), Harry Carroll (music) (see lyrics here)

First Charted: June 21, 1913

Peak: 13 US, 11 GA, 16 SM (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 (sheet music)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.02 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This song about the old west was inspired by the 1908 novel by John Fox, SM which was set in the Cumberland Mountains of Kentucky. It “appears to be a ‘cowboy’ song, but it is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.” TY2 The singer tells us about his girl, who lives in a cabin in the mountains “where a lonesome pine stands.” TY2 He plans to marry her, but meanwhile is waiting underneath that pine tree. They carve their names “under the moonlight in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia on the trail of the lonesome pine.” SM

Muriel Window interpolated the song into The Passing Show of 1914. TY2 Henry Burr teamed up with Albert Campbell, his cohort in the Peerless Quartet, for a #1 version of the song. Between them they scored a whopping 34 #1 songs. Burr topped the charts 16 times on his own and eight times with Campbell, who had three #1’s of his own. With the Peerless Quartet, they had seven songs reach the pinnacle. PM

Elsie Baker and James F. Harrison also recorded the song, taking it to #9 that same year. PM The song was also featured in the stage play The Trail of the Lonesome Pine and its 1936 film adaptation. WK In 1937, Laurel & Hardy sang a “delightful and comic” TY2 version of the song in the movie Way Out West In 1975, their version got to #2 in the UK, thanks to its inclusion on Laurel & Hardy – The Golden Age of Hollywood Comedy, an album of dialogue and songs. WK DJ John Peel championed the song on his Radio 1 evening show. WK

The song is popular in square dancing and was the favorite song of novelist, playright, and poet Gertrude Stein. WK


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First posted 2/27/2023.