Saturday, July 30, 2016

7/30/1949: Perry Como hits #1 with “Some Enchanted Evening”

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Perry Como with the Mitchell Ayres Orchestra “Some Enchanted Evening”

Writer(s): Oscar Hammerstein II/ Richard Rodgers (see lyrics here)

First charted: 4/30/1949

Peak: 15 US, 110 HP, 11 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --

Review: The famed Broadway team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein had hits with Oklahoma! and Carousel before finding monstrous success with their musical South Pacific, based on James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific - a collection of nineteen World War II Navy stories. With 69 weeks at #1, the cast album has spent more weeks atop the Billboard album charts than any other album. SS-610

At least part of that success is due to “Some Enchanted Evening,” “the single biggest popular hit to come out of any Rodgers and Hammerstein show.” WK Opera star Ezio Pinza, who played French planter Emile de Becque in the original Broadway production, sings the song to navy nurse Nellie Forbush as a declaration of love. Pinza won the Tony Award for Best Actor for his performance. He also took his version of the song to #7 on the charts, selling a million copies along the way. JA-176

However, Perry Como had the greatest success with his #1 version of the song, hitting the charts on April 30, 1949, just weeks after the show had debuted on Broadway. It was Como’s sixth time at the top and his eighth song to sell at least a million copies. PM-98 In addition to Como and Pinza, five other acts charted with their 1949 recordings of the song – Bing Crosby (#3), John Laurenz (#28), Frank Sinatra (#6), Jo Stafford (#4), and Paul Weston (#9). When the musical was made into a film version, Rossano Brazzi took on the role of Emile while Giorgio Tozzi dubbed the singing. His version of “Some Enchanted Evening” was ranked #28 on the American Film Institute’s “AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs” list. WK

Others who have recorded the song include Harry Connick Jr., Bob Dylan, Art Garfunkel, Jay & the Americans (#13, 1965), Al Jolson, Willie Nelson, Barbra Streisand, the Temptations, and Andy Williams. WK The song was also featured on The Muppet Show (1977, sung by Bert to Connie Stevens), in the movie American Graffiti (1978, sung by Harrison Ford), and on the TV show Ally McBeal (2002, sung by Jon Bon Jovi). WK

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Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

7/26/1913: ”When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” tops the charts

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Chauncey Olcott “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”

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

First charted: 6/21/1913

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

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US (sheet music sales)

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --

Review: 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-210 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-210 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

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Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.


Friday, July 22, 2016

50 years ago: Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton released

Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton

John Mayall’s Blues Breakers

Released: July 22, 1966

Charted: July 30, 1966

Peak: -- US, 6 UK, -- CN, -- AU

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.1 UK

Genre: British blues rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks)

  1. All Your Love (Dixon/ Rush) [3:35]
  2. Hideaway (King/ Thompson) [3:14]
  3. Little Girl (Mayall) [2:33]
  4. Another Man (Mayall) [1:44]
  5. Double Crossing Time (Clapton/ Mayall) [3:00]
  6. What’d I Say (Charles) [4:26]
  7. Key to Love (Mayall) [2:05]
  8. Parchman Farm (Allison) [2:21] (single, 10/66)
  9. Have You Heard (Mayall) [5:54]
  10. Rambling on My Mind (Johnson/ traditional) [3:07]
  11. Steppin’ Out (Bracken) [2:27]
  12. It Ain’t Right (Little Walter) [2:40]

Total Running Time: 37:39

The Players:

  • John Mayall (vocals, piano, organ, harmonica)
  • Eric Clapton (guitar, vocals on “Ramblin’ on My Mind”)
  • John McVie (bass)
  • Highie Flint (drums)


3.736 out of 5.00 (average of 19 ratings)

Quotable: “Perhaps the best British blues album ever cut” – Bruce Eder, All Music Guide

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Rarely has any single record album induced such a shift in popular music.” LP This was the “best LP ever recorded by John Mayall's Bluesbreakers” BE and “perhaps the best British blues album ever cut.” BE This incarnation reinvented “the American blues for a fresh audience whose ultimate response would give rise to subgenres such as heavy metal and other roots-related rock.” LP Mayall sang and played guitar and keyboards while Bassist John McVie (later of Fleetwood Mac) and drummer Hughie Flint “provide a rock-hard rhythm section” BE giving “the tracks an extra level of steel-strung tension and power.” BE

“While their contributions prove immeasurable, they are likewise sadly eclipsed by that of Clapton.” LP “His guitar naturally dominates most of this record.” BE It was his “first fully realized album as a blues guitarist,” BE coming in between his stints with the Yardbirds and Cream, but he “needed precious little time to gestate the blues.” LP His “ability to express himself is uncanny, as if he were a man twice – if not three times – his age.” LP “One can hear the very direct influence of Buddy Guy and a handful of other American bluesmen in the playing.” BE

“The passionate inflections and unforgettable impressions Clapton makes upon these grooves swiftly catapulted him” LP “to the helm of the burgeoning British blues-rock scene” LP and “international exposure as well as legendary guitar rock idol status.” LP

“It became obvious for those involved that the best way to approach making a studio recording was to document the same material that was concurrently being performed by the band night after night in various London area clubs.” LP Credit goes “to producer Mike Vernon for the purity and simplicity of the record; most British producers of that era wouldn’t have been able to get it recorded this way, much less released.” BE

The album combined “originals such as Double Crossing Time and Key to Love with revered blues standards, including Freddie King’s Hideaway and Robert Johnson’s Ramblin' on My Mind – which features Clapton’s very first lead vocal.” LP

The collection “made significant noise on the other side of the Atlantic – where the blues had literally been born, bred, and buttered.” LP In short, “Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton is an invaluable touchtone into primordial pre-metal rock & roll.” LP

Notes: “In 1998, Polygram Records issued a remastered version of this album on CD, featuring both the stereo and mono mixes of the original tracks and new notes.” BE The album was re-released again in 2001 with two bonus cuts (“Lonely Years” and “Bernard Jenkins”) added to the original twelve.

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First posted 3/31/2008; last updated 11/9/2021.

Monday, July 18, 2016

50 years ago: The Beach Boys released “God Only Knows”

God Only Knows

The Beach Boys

Writer(s): Brian Wilson, Tony Asher (see lyrics here)

Released: July 18, 1966 (B-side of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”)

First Charted: July 28, 1966

Peak: 39 US, 38 CB, 38 HR, 1 CL, 2 UK, 6 CN, 17 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 39.65 video, 153.24 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Paul McCartney called “God Only Knows” “the greatest song ever written.” SF U2’s Bono said the string arrangement was “fact and proof of angels.” WK In American in the Sixties, John Robert Greene calls it “one of the most complex – and beautiful – songs in the annals of American popular music.” WK Brian Wilson “attributed the impetus for the song to [co-writer Tony] Asher’s affinity for standards.” WK Asher said it was the pair’s most effortless collaboration. WK

About twenty session musicians were enlisted to play drums, sleigh bells, clarinets, flutes, strings, French horn, accordion, guitars, upright bass, harpsichord, a tack piano, and even the bottoms of two plastic orange juice bottles. WK Initially Brian sang lead on the song, but decided his brother Carl was better suited to the track. He said, “I was looking for a tenderness and a sweetness which I knew Carl had in himself as well as in his voice.” SF According to Carl, Brian said, it fit his “beautiful spirit.” WK Carl had rarely sung lead on Beach Boys’ songs.

The song is sung by a “narrator who asserts that life without their lover could only be fathomed by God.” WK The lyrics have been interpreted as demonstrating a suicidal inclination on the part of the narrator citing lines such as “what good would living do me?” but Asher says that was not his or Wilson’s intention. WK However, the song does reveal how conflicted Wilson was an artist and in his relationships, suggesting his “apparent helplessness in dealing with the other forces in his life.” TC Wilson has simply said he was striving “to write a song that would last forever.” TC

Referencing God in song lyrics and titles was considered taboo at the time. Asher says he and Wilson had long discussions about it, concerned the song wouldn’t get airplay. He believes Wilson agreed to the title because it would be far out and generate controversy. WK Still, out of fear that American radio stations wouldn’t play it, the song was released as the B-side of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” It still managed to crack the top 40.

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First posted 4/29/2021.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Radio Hall of Fame

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As the website says, the mission of the National Radio Hall of Fame & Museum is to “recognize and showcase contemporary talent from today’s diverse programming formats, as well as the pioneers who shaped the medium during its infancy.” It was formed by broadcaster Bruce DuMont. Its first class of inductees was in 1988. There are various categories, but I only list the music/variety (MV) and disc jockey (DJ) inductees from 1988 to 2016.

  • Gene Autry (MV)
  • Dick Bartley (DJ)
  • Martin Block (DJ)
  • Dick Biondi (DJ)
  • Dick Clark (DJ)
  • Jack L. Cooper (DJ)
  • Bing Crosby (MV)
  • Yvonne Daniels (DJ)
  • Rick Dees (DJ)
  • Tommy Dorsey (MV)
  • Dr. Demento (MV)
  • Elvis Duran (DJ)
  • Ralph Edwards (MV)
  • Ralph Emery (DJ)
  • Alan Freed (DJ)
  • Blair Garner (DJ)
  • Arthur Godfrey (MV)
  • Benny Goodman (MV)
  • Karl Haas (DJ)
  • Terri Hemment (DJ)
  • Dan Ingram (DJ)
  • Hal Jackson (DJ)
  • Tom Joyner (DJ)
  • Casey Kasem (DJ)
  • Murray “The K” Kaufman (DJ)
  • Garrison Keillor (MV)
  • Herb Kent (DJ)
  • Kay Kyser (MV)
  • Art Laboe (DJ)
  • Larry Lujack (DJ)
  • Marian McPartland (MV)
  • Robert W. Morgan (DJ)
  • Bruce Morrow (DJ)
  • Scott Muni (DJ)
  • Gary Owens (DJ)
  • Chuck Schaden (MV)
  • Scott Shannon (DJ)
  • Kate Smith (MV)
  • Charlie Tuna (DJ)
  • Ed Walker (MV)
  • Wendy Williams (DJ)
  • William B. Williams (DJ)
  • Dick Wittinghill (DJ)
  • Wolfman Jack (DJ)


Friday, July 1, 2016

7/1/1944: Bing Crosby hits the charts with “I’ll Be Seeing You”

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Bing Crosby with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra “I’ll Be Seeing You”

Writer(s): Irving Kahal/ Sammy Fain (see lyrics here)

First charted: 4/22/1944

Peak: 14 US, 12 GA, 110 HP, 14 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --

Review: Tamara Drasin introduced this “torch ballad” TY-115 about a Parisian love affair in the Broadway musical Right This Way in 1938. The show was a failure, closing after a mere 15 performances. WK Like the musical, the song was initially overlooked. Frank Sinatra recorded it with Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra in 1940, but it didn’t take off at the time. SS-604

In 1944, the song became an inspiration for a film. The movie, named after the song, starred Joseph Cotton and Ginger Rogers as a couple who meet on a train. Both have secrets. She had been convicted of involuntary manslaughter and he was on leave from a military hospital trying to adjust to daily life after suffering from shell shock. WK

By recasting the song as a war anthem, the song was given new meaning through the perspective of “a soldier who saw the image of his beloved in everything around him.” SS-604 In this new context, Bing Crosby, who ruled the music charts and won an Oscar that year for his performance in Going My Way, recorded the song and took it to #1. As Will Friedwald said, “No other singer could so effectively portray so ineffable a sense of absence and loss.” SS-604 It became the go-to song for couples separated by war. MM-166

At that point, the Dorsey/Sinatra version resurfaced and went to #4. Over the years, Judy Collins, Barry Manilow, Johnny Mathis, Willie Nelson, and Neil Sedaka have also sung it. MM-166 Liberace used it as his closing theme for many years. MM-166 The song was referenced in an episode of The Honeymooners and was used in episodes of TV shows Get Smart, Designing Women, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Beavis and Butt-head. It was also used in the movies Yanks (1979), Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989), Misery (1990), Shining Through (1992), The Aviator (2004), and The Notebook (2004). Doc Severinsen and the NBC Orchestra performed it on the final episode of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. WK

Resources and Related Links:

Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.