Friday, August 31, 2018

50 years ago: Janis Joplin charted with “Piece of My Heart”

Piece of My Heart

Big Brother & the Holding Company

Writer(s): Jerry Ragovoy, Bert Berns (see lyrics here)

First Charted: August 31, 1968

Peak: 12 US, 14 CB, 14 HR, 1 CL, 9 CN, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.03 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 53.6 video, 154.6 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee bio, Janis Joplin is described as “the greatest white urban blues and soul singer of her generation.” RH In 1968, she was still forging that voice, having come off a triumphant performance at the Monterey Pop Festival the summer before. Her San Francisco-based group, Big Brother & the Holding Company, charted soon after with their self-titled debut, but it stalled at #60. Their second album, Cheap Thrills, fared better, spending a whopping eight weeks atop the charts.

The same week the album launched its chart run, Janis & Co. hit the Billboard Hot 100 with their maiden entry, “Piece of My Heart.” The song peaked at #12, but reached iconic status. It has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame and is featured on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of “The Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.”

The song was written by Jerry Ragovoy and Bert Berns. Erma Franklin, the sister of Rock Hall inductee Aretha Franklin, recorded the song in 1967 and took it to the top ten in the R&B charts. Big Brother & the Holding Company’s rendition a year later has become the definitive version, but it has been notably covered by others, including Dusty Springfield, Sammy Hagar, Faith Hill, and as a duet between Melissa Etheridge and Joss Stone.

Joplin embarked on a solo journey after Cheap Thrills, but her days were numbered. A heroin overdose cut her life short at 27 years old on October 4, 1970. 1971’s Pearl and “Me and Bobby McGee” were posthumous #1 hits.


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First posted 8/31/2011; last updated 7/24/2022.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Today in Music (1968): The Byrds charted with Sweetheart of the Rodeo

Sweetheart of the Rodeo

The Byrds

Charted: August 30, 1968

Peak: 77 US, -- UK

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: country rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to charts.

  1. You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere (Bob Dylan) (4/2/68, 74 US, 45 UK)
  2. I Am a Pilgrim (traditional) (9/2/68, --)
  3. The Christian Life (Charles Louvin, Ira Louvin)
  4. You Don’t Miss Your Water (William Bell)
  5. You’re Still on My Mind (Luke McDaniel)
  6. Pretty Boy Floyd (Woody Guthrie)
  7. Hickory Wind (Bob Buchanan, Gram Parsons)
  8. One Hundred Years from Now (Parsons)
  9. Blue Canadian Rockies (Cindy Walker)
  10. Life in Prison (Merle Haggard, Jelly Sanders)
  11. Nothing Was Delivered (Dylan)

Total Running Time: 32:35

The Players:

  • Roger McGuinn (vocals, acoustic guitar, banjo)
  • Chris Hillman (bass, mandolin, acoustic guitar, vocals)
  • Gram Parsons (acoustic guitar, piano, organ, vocals)
  • Kevin Kelley (drums)


3.927 out of 5.00 (average of 27 ratings)


Sweetheart wasn’t the first country-rock album, but with its gorgeous three-way harmonies and sweet pedal steel, it remains the best.” – David Cantwell,


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“After Chris Hillman dragged new friend Gram Parsons into the Byrds, they made an album as close to a country masterpiece as a rock act could ever make.” DCSweetheart wasn’t the first country-rock album” DC – “the first bona fide country-rock album is often cited as being Safe at Home by Parsons’ previous group, The International Submarine Band” WK – “but with its gorgeous three-way harmonies and sweet pedal steel, [Rodeo] remains the best.” DC “At a time when most rock fans viewed country as a musical ‘L’il Abner’ routine, the Byrds dared to declare that C&W could be hip, cool, and heartfelt.” MD “No major band had gone so deep into the sound and feeling of classic country (without parody or condescension) as the Byrds did on Sweetheart.” MD

“The album has proved to be a landmark, serving…as a blueprint… for the entire nascent 1970s Los Angeles country-rock movement. The album was also influential on the outlaw country and new traditionalist movements, as well as the so-called alternative country genre of the 1990s and 2000s.” WK

“The Byrds were hardly strangers to country music, dipping their toes in the twangy stuff as early as their second album,” MD “but Sweetheart of the Rodeo represented their fullest immersion into the genre thus far.” WK It was quite “a stylistic move away from the psychedelic rock of the band’s previous LP, The Notorious Byrd Brothers.” WK “Large sections of the group’s counter-culture following were alienated by its contents, resulting in the lowest sales of any Byrds album up to that point.” WK

“The album was also responsible for bringing Gram Parsons, who had joined The Byrds prior to the recording of the album, to the attention of a mainstream rock audience for the first time.” WK Becoming a member of the Byrds became “an important chapter in Parsons' personal and musical crusade to make country music fashionable for a young audience.” WK

Originally, the album was intended to explore a diverse range of genres within 20th century American music. However, the vastness of the concept was trumped by a more immediate need – recruiting new members. David Crosby and Michael Clarke left in late 1967, leaving Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman as the only original members. They recruited Hillman’s cousin, Kevin Kelley, as their drummer and did a brief tour as a trio. Once Parsons joined in February 1968 “as a pianist and lead guitarist, his deep love of C&W soon took hold, and Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman followed his lead” MD and “the album instead became purely a country record.” WK

“While many cite this as more of a Gram Parsons album than a Byrds set, given the strong country influence of McGuinn’s and Hillman’s later work, it’s obvious Parsons didn’t impose a style upon this band so much as he tapped into a sound that was already there, waiting to be released.” MD

They tapped some country classics for the album, including “the traditional I Am a Pilgrim, which had been popularized by Merle Travis in the late-1940s” WK and “the Cindy Walker-penned Blue Canadian Rockies, which had been sung by Gene Autry in the 1952 film of the same name.” WK

They also included “a couple of contemporary country songs: Merle Haggard’s maudlin convict's lament, Life in Prison; and Luke McDaniel’s You’re Still On My Mind, a sorrowful tale of a heartbroken drunkard failing to find solace at the bottom of a bottle. Additionally, The Byrds gave William Bell’s Stax hit, You Don’t Miss Your Water, a country flavored make-over, highlighted by the band’s trademark crystal clear harmonies.” WK

The group also recorded “definitive covers…of songs by Bob Dylan (You Ain’t Going Nowhere), [Woody] Guthrie (Pretty Boy Floyd), and the Louvin Brothers (The Christian Life).” DC

Parsons brought some of his songs to the session as well. “The achingly beautiful” MD Hickory Wind was “written by Parsons and former International Submarine Band member, Bob Buchanan, during an early 1968 train ride from Florida to Los Angeles. One Hundred Years from Now has a quicker tempo than most of the material on Sweetheart of the Rodeo and functions as a speculation on current human vanities and how they might be viewed by successive generations.” WK

Before the album was even released, Parsons’ efforts to recruit more members to steer the band’s sound created a power struggle with McGuinn. On top of that, there was an accusation that Parsons was still under contract to Lee Hazelwood’s LHI record label. Between that – and speculation that McGuinn didn’t want Parsons to have such a dominant presence on the album – Parsons’ vocals were replaced with McGuinn’s on “The Christian Life”, “You Don’t Miss Your Water”, and “One Hundred Years from Now”. Parsons still sang lead on “Hickory Wind”, “You’re Still on My Mind”, and “Life in Prison” but was reportedly “still infuriated…as late as 1973.” WK By the time the album was released, Parsons had left the band.

As important as the album is viewed now, it was greeted with “a great deal of resistance and hostility from the ultra-conservative Nashville country music establishment who viewed The Byrds as a group of long-haired hippies attempting to subvert country music.” WK At the same time, “the band’s shift away from psychedelic music alienated much of its pop audience.” WK


“Columbia’s 1997 CD reissue of the album improves on the masterpiece by adding…four cuts [‘The Christian Life,’ ‘Life in Prison,’ ‘You’re Still on My Mind,’ and ‘One Hundred Years from Now’] with Gram Parsons singing lead.” MD Non-album tracks “You Got a Reputation,” “Lazy Days,” “Pretty Polly,” and the instrumental “All I Have Are Memories” are also included.

The 2003 Legacy Edition balloons the collection into a 40-track, 2-CD collection that boasts a slew of outtakes and songs not appearing on previous editions, “including everything from the official LP itself, the six outtakes and alternates from the [1990 Byrds] box set…and even a 1968 radio commercial for the album.” RU

“Disc two leads off with three of the four songs [‘Sum Up Broke,’ ‘One Day Week,’ and ‘Truck Drivin’ Man’] from the 1966 non-LP singles by Gram Parsons' pre-Byrds group, the International Submarine Band, along with three songs [‘Blue Eyes,’ ‘Luxury Liner,’ and ‘Strong Boy’] from the International Submarine Band's sole album, Safe at Home.” RU That disc also includes plenty of alternate takes.

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First posted 2/23/2008; last updated 3/21/2024.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

In Concert: Melissa Etheridge, 8/29/18

image from

Venue: Grinders at Crossroads; Kansas City, MO

Considering Etheridge is from Leavenworth, Kansas, this was a hometown show of sorts. She interspersed a number of stories with her songs, joking with the audience at one point about how often she remembered seeing shows where the performer didn’t know if he/she was in Kansas or Missouri. The show relied heavily on nostalgia, pulling the entire set list from albums released from 1988-1995, meaning she touched nothing from the last twenty-plus years of her career.

She somewhat daringly played five non-hit album cuts mid-show with only "If I Wanted To" thrown in the middle of them. The highlight of the show was during the 15-minute-plus encore of “Like the Way I Do” when she joined the drummer on his kit to play a lengthy drum solo, er, duet. See video clip below from another show. Drum duet starts at about the 8:45 point of the video.

Set List:

1. No Souvenirs 2
2. Similar Features 1
3. Let Me Go 2
4. I Want to Come Over 5
5. Royal Station 4/16 2
6. Yes I Am 4
7. If I Wanted To 4
8. Ruins 4
9. An Unusual Kiss 5
10. Shriner’s Park 5
11. Chrome Plate Heart 1
12. Come to My Window 4
13. Bring Me Some Water 1
14. I’m the Only One 4


15. Like the Way I Do 1

Like the Way I Do (live, 3/17/18)

Select Discography:
  • 1 Melissa Etheridge (1988)
  • 2 Brave and Crazy (1989)
  • 3 Never Enough (1992)
  • 4 Yes I Am (1993)
  • 5 Your Little Secret (1995)

Byron Harlan: His Top 50 Songs

First posted 8/29/2013; updated 5/29/2019.

Tenor singer born Byron George Harlan on 8/29/1861 in Kansas. Died 9/11/1936. Worked as a ragtime and minstrel singer and balladeer, recording as a solo artist (1899-1919), in a duo with Arthur Collins (01-18), and with the Big Four Quartet (01) and Columbia Comedy Trio (07). He was friends and neighbors with Thomas Edison.

Harlan has five songs featured in the DMDB book The Top 100 Songs of the Pre-Rock Era, 1890-1953 – “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and “The Darktown Strutters’ Ball” are duets with Arthur Collins while “School Days,” “My Gal Sal,” and “Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie” are solo recordings.

For a complete list of this act’s songs and albums honored by the DMDB, check out the DMDB Music Maker Encyclopedia entry.

Top 100 Songs

Dave’s Music Database lists are determined by song’s appearances on best-of lists as well as chart success, sales, radio airplay, streaming, and awards.

AC = Arthur Collins, FS = Frank Stanley. His 23 songs which peaked at #1 on the U.S. pop charts are noted.

DMDB Top 1%:

1. Alexander’s Ragtime Band (w/ AC, 1911) #1
2. School Days (When We Were a Couple of Kids) (1907) #1
3. My Gal Sal (1907) #1
4. Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie (1906) #1
5. Darktown Strutters’ Ball (w/ AC, 1918) #1
6. The Aba Daba Honeymoon (w/ AC, 1901) #1
7. Hello, Central, Give Me Heaven (1901) #1
8. Put Your Arms Around Me Honey (I Never Knew Any Girl Like You) (w/ AC, 1911) #1
9. Down Where the Wurzburger Flows (w/ AC, 1902) #1
10. Blue Bell (w/ FS, 1904) #1

DMDB Top 5%:

11. When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam’ (w/ AC, 1913)
12. The Right Church But the Wrong Pew (w/ AC, 1909) #1
13. The Good Old U.S.A. (1906) #1
14. Under the Yum Yum Tree (w/ AC, 1911) #1
15. Where the Morning Glories Twine Around the Door (1905) #1
16. Hurrah for Baffin’s Bay (w/ AC, 1903) #1
17. I Love the Ladies (w/ AC, 1914) #1
18. Everybody’s Doin’ It Now (w/ AC, 1912)
19. Always in the Way (1903)
20. Daddy’s Little Girl (1906)

21. Keep on the Sunny Side (1906)
22. Camp Meetin’ Time (w/ AC, 1906) #1
23. Oh How She Could Yacki Hacki Wicki Wachi Woo (That's Love in Honolulu) (w/ AC, 1916) #1
24. Alabama Jubilee (w/ AC, 1915)
25. Nobody’s Little Girl (1907) #1
26. Tammany (w/ AC, 1905)
27. Coax Me (w/ AC, 1905)
28. Would You Care? (1905)
29. Oh, You Circus Day (w/ AC, 1912)
30. All Aboard for Dreamland (1904) #1

31. Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! (The Boys Are Marching Along) (w/ FS, 1910) #1
32. The Old Grey Mare (Whiffle Tree) (w/ AC, 1918)
33. Tell Me Pretty Maiden (w/ FS, Joe Belmont, & Flordora Girls, 1901) #1
34. When the Harvest Days Are Over, Jessie, Dear (1901)
35. Melinda’s Wedding Day (w/ AC, 1913)
36. Down Among the Sugar Cane (w/ AC, 1909)
37. Down in Jungle Town (w/ AC, 1908)
38. They're Wearing 'Em Higher in Hawaii (w/ AC, 1917)
39. Snookey Ookums (w/ AC, 1913)
40. The Mansion of Aching Hearts (1902) #1

41. There Never Was a Girl Like You (1908)
42. In the Shadows of the Pines (with A.D. Madeira, 1900)
43. The Cubanola Glide (w/ AC, 1910)
44. The Wedding of Reuben and the Maid (w/ AC, 1901)
45. My Gal Irene (w/ AC, 1908)
46. The Battle Cry of Freedom (w/ FS, 1905)
47. Waiting for the Robert E. Lee (w/ AC, 1912)
48. Won’t You Come Over to My House? (1907)

DMDB Top 10%:

49. That Mesmerizing Mendelssohn Tune (w/ AC, 1910)
50. Two Blue Eyes (Two Little Baby Shoes) (1907)

51. Under the Anheuser Busch (w/ AC, 1904)
52. Two Rubes in a Tavern (w/ FS, 1902)
53. Under the Bamboo Tree (w/ AC, 1903)
54. Parody on “Hiawatha” (w/ AC, 1903)
55. The Blue and the Gray (The Mother’s Gift to Her Country) (1900)
56. The International Rag (w/ AC, 1913)
57. Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet (1910)
58. In My Merry Oldsmobile (w/ AC, 1905)
59. Please Mamma Buy Me a Baby (1903)
60. The Leader of the German Band (w/ AC, 1906)

61. There’s No Place Like Home (1903)
62. Longing for You (1905)
63. How Ya Gonna Keep ‘Em Down on the Farm After They’ve Seen Paree (1919)
64. Down in Chattanooga (w/ AC, 1914)
65. Sugar Moon (w/ AC, 1910)
66. Celebratin’ Day in Tennessee (w/ AC, 1914)
67. The Honeymoon Glide (w/ AC, 1911)
68. The Message of the Old Church Bell (1905)
69. And a Little Bit More (w/ AC, 1907)
70. Sunbonnet Sue (1908)

71. I’m Crazy ‘Bout It! (w/ AC, 1906)
72. I'm Going Back to Dixie (aka “I Want to Be in Dixie”) (w/ AC, 1912)
73. Meet Me in Rose-Time, Rosie (w/ FS, 1909)
74. The Birds (w/ Joe Belmont, 1902)
75. First Rehearsal for the Huskin’ Bee (w/ FS, 1902)
76. I’m a Twelve O’Clock Fellow in a Nine O’Clock Town (1917)

DMDB Top 20%:

77. Out in an Automobile (w/ AC, 1906)
78. It Makes Me Think of Home, Sweet Home (1905)
79. Casey Jones (w/ AC, 1910)
80. Are You Sincere? (1908)

81. It Looks Like a Big Night Tonight (w/ AC, 1908)
82. Chicken Reel (w/ FS, 1911)
83. Here Comes My Daddy Now (w/ AC, 1913)
84. The Memphis Blues (w/ AC, 1915)
85. On a Monkey Honeymoon (w/ AC, 1910)
86. Down Where the Big Bananas Grow (w/ AC, 1910)
87. Moonlight in Jungle Land (w/ AC, 1910)
88. Minstrel Parade (w/ AC, 1915)
89. Yip-I-Addy-I-Ay! (w/ AC, 1909)
90. Paddle Your Own Canoe (w/ AC, 1906)

91. Goodbye Little Girl Goodbye (1904)
92. Yaaka Hula Hickey Dula (w/ AC, 1916)
93. Long Boy (Goodbye, Ma! Goodbye, Pa! Goodbye, Mule) (w/ the Peerless Quartet, 1918)
94. A Picnic for Two (1905)
95. Camp Meeting Band (w/ AC, 1914)
96. By Heck (with Will Robbins, 1915)
97. My Wife’s Gone to the Country (Hurah! Hurah!) (w/ AC, 1909)
98. Down in Dear Old New Orleans (w/ AC, 1913)
99. School Mates (1909)
100. It’s Great to Be a Soldier Man (1907)


Sunday, August 26, 2018

On This Day (1968): The Beatles “Revolution” released


The Beatles

Writer(s): John Lennon, Paul McCartney (see lyrics here)

Released: August 26, 1968

First Charted: August 30, 1968

Peak: 12 BB, 11 CB, 12 GR, 2 HR, 1 CL, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 1.21 UK, 10.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 84.92 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The B-side of the Beatles’ biggest single was no also-ran throwaway. Like most of the group’s songs on the flip side, “Revolution” was a nice contrast to its twin. John Lennon hoped his combative rocker, “Revolution,” would be the A-side, TB but he was usurped by Paul McCartney’s sing-along composition “Hey Jude,” desinted for chart-topping status. It was the Fab Four’s first release in their new Apple label.

“Lennon self-righteousness could be a wonder to be behold.” DMThe song features a “ferocious fuzztone rock and roll attack and Lennon snarling “You can count me out.’ Not a progressive sentiment but as regards those who went around carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, he was right.” DM

In essence, Lennon was embracing the inspiration for political protests and need for social change, especially in regards to opposition against the Vietnam War, but questioned the violent tactics advocated by some extremists. The song’s mention of Mao was a reference to the Maost idea embraced by some activitsts at the time advocating for social change in society through a purging of its non-progressive elements. WK

To his bandmates dismay, Lennon insisted “Revolution” be a single. Upon its release, the political left viewed the song as a sign that the Beatles were out of step with the more radical elements of the counterculture and betraying their cause. WK When the song showed up on The White Album “as a softened up blues” DM Lennon changed the line “You can count me out” to “You can count me in.”

Critics have praised “the intensity of the band’s performance and the heavily distorted guitar sound.” WK In 1987, it was the first Beatles’ recording licensed for a television commercial which resulted in a lawsuit from the surving members of the group. WK


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First posted 9/12/2023.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Happy Birthday, Elvis Costello! / His Top 50 Songs

image from

Elvis Costello was born Declan McManus in Liverpool, England, on August 25, 1954. He came out of the British punk/new wave scene in 1977 and became one of the most celebrated musicians of all time with his diverse abilities for dipping his toe into multiple musical genres including R&B, country, and classical. While these lists reflect a definite emphasis on his work from the ‘70s and ‘80s, Costello continues to make adventurous music. His fans never know just where he might go on his next album.

Sales, chart date, awards, and appearances on best-of lists are factored into the song and album lists. The song list also includes appearances on Elvis Costello specific lists and compilations.

The Top 50 Elvis Costello Songs


1. Alison (1977)
2. Watching the Detectives (1977)
3. Radio Radio (1978)
4. Oliver’s Army (1979)
5. Pump It Up (1978)

Watching the Detectives

6. What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding? (1979)
7. Everyday I Write the Book (1983)
8. Accidents Will Happen (1979)
9. Veronica (1989)
10. Shipbuilding (1983)

Radio Radio

11. I Don’t Want to Go to Chelsea (1978)
12. Man Out of Time (1982)
13. I Want You (1986)
14. Beyond Belief (1982)
15. I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down (1980)

Oliver’s Army

16. Lipstick Vogue (1978)
17. Clubland (1981)
18. A Good Year for the Roses (1981)
19. The Other Side of Summer (1991)
20. The Only Flame in Town (1984)

Pump It Up

21. 13 Steps Lead Down (1994)
22. New Lace Sleeves (1981)
23. The Angels Want to Wear My Red Shoes (1977)
24. Watch Your Step (1981)
25. High Fidelity (1980)

26. Two Little Hitlers (1979)
27. New Amsterdam (1980)
28. Pills and Soap (1983)
29. All This Useless Beauty (1996)
30. Less Than Zero (1977)

What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding?

31. Brilliant Mistake (1986)
32. Tokyo Storm Warning (1986)
33. Indoor Fireworks (1986)
34. Tramp the Dirt Down (1989)
35. This Town (1989)

Everyday I Write the Book

36. Baby Plays Around (1989)
37. Kinder Murder (1994)
38. So Like Candy (1991)
39. Almost Blue (1982)
40. Party Party (1982)

Accidents Will Happen

41. King Horse (1980)
42. Mystery Dance (1977)
43. Riot Act (1980)
44. Hurry Down Doomsday (1991)
45. Sulky Girl (1994)


46. I Wanna Be Loved (1984)
47. Psycho (1979)
48. I’m Not Angry (1977)
49. Tiny Steps (1978)
50. Let Him Dangle (1989)



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