Wednesday, June 30, 2010


OK, more 60's: This '69 Clapton/Harrison composition peaked at #60 and was included in Cream's "Goodbye" album. Untitled at first, George wrote "bridge" on the manuscript but his penmanship was so poor that when Eric read it he "came up" with the song's title. One of the very few Cream songs to feature 5 musicians (Harrison on rhythm and Pappalardi on keyboards) and to have Clapton on lead vocals.

Yesterday's answer: "Mr. Sandman" Check out Chet!!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"Mr. Sandman"

OK, back to the 50's: This '54 Pat Ballard composition was recorded by The Chordettes and hit #1 that same year. The chord progression follows the "circle of fifths" for 6 chords in a row! Covered in '78 by Emmylou, Dolly and Linda for "Trio". In '81 Emmylou re-released it as a single with her doing all 3 parts because of contract disputes with the other two. Also covered by Chet Atkins and The Supremes.

Yesterday's answer: "Tonight You Belong to Me". A classic - probably my favorite scene from "The Jerk".

Monday, June 28, 2010

"Tonight You Belong To Me"

OK, going WAY back: This '26 Rose/David composition was first recorded by Irv Kaufman in '26 and revived by Frankie Laine in '52. Patience and Prudence's '56 version peaked at #4. They lip-synced it on Ed Sullivan only to have the record get stuck on "belong" - oh those Milli Vanilli moments! Steve Martin learned to play the uke specifically to record it with Bernardette Peters for "The Jerk".

Yesterday's answer: Bakithi (Baghiti) Khumalo. Comment from dedicatee, Dr. Dan Rogers: "Ooh! Ooh! I know that one. I do. 'Cause I was just talking about him with a true rock wizard. Plus I looked it up on the album cover. It was Bakithi Kumalo. Every once in a while I used to see his name listed as bass player on other albums. I remember Cindi Lauper was one. Don't know the rest. But "Graceland" is one of my all time ... ".! The bass work is astounding! Interestingly "You Can Call Me Al" peaked at #23, however, during a 1993 interview with Larry King, Paul Simon stated that it was "his favorite song" out of all he had written - quite a statement considering his body of work!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bakithi Kumalo.

OK, Dan, here's one for you: This South African fretless bass virtuoso was fixing cars in Soweto to support his sick mother when he was "discovered" by Paul Simon during his 1986 "Graceland" project. He couldn't speak English or read music. His seminal bass run in "You Can Call Me Al" features the second 1/2 of the bass line being the first 1/2 played backwards on an old Washburn fretless!

Yesterday's answer: The Seekers' "I'll Never Find Another You".

Friday, June 25, 2010

"You're So Vain"

OK, for the birthday girl (65 today - EASY!): This singer/songwriter well-known for her morbid stage fright wrote and performed her biggest career hit in late '72, a month after marrying James Taylor. It is about a self-absorbed lover whose identity is STILL the subject of great speculation (Mick, Warren, Cat, Kris, David - we might NEVER know!). #1 for 3 weeks in '73. #72 on Billboard's Greatest Songs Of All Time. Artist? Song?
Yesterday's answer: Miguel Rios' "A Song Of Joy (Himno a la Alegria").

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"Himno A La Alegria" (Ode To Joy) by Miguel Rios.

OK, more one-hit-wonders: This Spanish singer/composer/actor from Granada was one of the pioneers of Spanish rock & roll. His hit, an adaptation of the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, came in '70 at the height of the "Symphonic Rock" era. It peaked at #14 on Billboard's Hot 100 and was Certified Gold by the RIAA. His career was sidetracked when jailed for hashish possession after a concert. Artist? Hit?

Yesterday's answer: "The Dangling Conversation". A masterpiece - English teachers used to LOVE to make us analyze it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"The Dangling Conversation"

OK, more 60's: This '66 Paul Simon composition from "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme" was THE 1st Simon & Garfunkel single release NOT to become a hit (#25). Simon attributed this to its "heaviness". Speaks of failed communication between two lovers - frozen and lifeless, growing apart. The slow disintegration of a relationship - as far apart as the poets each of them fancy.

Yesterday's answer: "Do You Want To Know A Secret?" by The Beatles. Great tune! The B-side is another one of those many understated Beatles masterpieces. Reminds me of growing up in P.R. and listening to both sides on the table jukebox while eating pizza at Mastro's Pizza Palace.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Do You Want To Know A Secret?"

OK, more Mop-Tops: Lennon wrote this tune in '63 during his honeymoon. Inspired by "I'm Wishing" from Disney's '37 "Snow White". First Beatles Top 10 song to feature George as lead singer. One of the few Fab Four tunes not to feature the composer as lead singer. #2 on Billboard in '64. B-Side on the single: "Thank You Girl". Billy J. Kramer And The Dakotas' cover reached #1 in the UK.

Yesterday's answer: Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse Of The Heart". Another one of those EPIC Jim Steinman productions. I never thought anybody could touch Bonnie Tyler but Carly Smithson on Idol came pretty doggone close! BEST VOICE EVER ON IDOL PERIOD!!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Beatles by Don Martin.

Sorry, just couldn't help myself - two of my faves: Don Martin and The Beatles - it just doesn't get any better!

"Total Eclipse Of The Heart" by Bonnie Tyler.

OK, back to the 80's: This '83 Jim Steinman composition was originally intended for Meat Loaf, whose production company refused to pay Steinman's asking price. It was instead recorded by a Welsh singer, this being her biggest hit - peaking at #1. The video was inspired by "Futureworld" ('76). #56 among Greatest Songs Of The 80's. Covered by Tori Amos, Carly Smithson on Idol and by Rachel on Glee. Song? Artist?

Yesterday's answer: "Carolina In My mind" by James Taylor. A staple at his concerts though not one of his biggest commercial successes when released. Karin was a Swedish girl he met at the Spanish island of Ibiza. Covered by Melanie, Crystal Mansion and was a #29 Country hit for George Hamilton IV. (Check out the bell bottoms!)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

"Carolina In My Mind" by James Taylor.

OK, for my sister Gina: This singer/songwriter started penning this classic while in London recording at Apple "with a holy host of others" (musical deities!) and finished it in Ibiza with a Swedish girl. Sir Paul played bass and George sang backup in the original recording (peaked at #67). Homesick - missing his family and his dog. Unofficial school song of the Tar Heels. Covered by Melanie, Crystal Mansion and was a #29 Country hit for George Hamilton IV. Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "The Twist" by Chubby Checker.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

"The Twist" by Chubby Checker.

OK, a little dancin': Ernest Evans grew up in South Philly and was a high school classmate of Fabian. His '60 cover of a Hank Ballard and The Midnighters '59 hit (#16 R&B) is still the only single to top Billboard's Hot 100 twice! In '08 it topped Billboard's list of the most popular singles to have appeared in the Hot 100 since its debut in '58. Only artist to have 5 albums in Top 12 at once. Stage name? Song?

Yesterday's answer: Sir Elton John's "Crocodile Rock". As a non-keyboard player in the 60's, I was still fascinated by the great Farfisa sound (NOT to be confused with the Vox Continental!). Think "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)", "Wooly Bully"...

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Crocodile Rock"

OK, back to the 70's: This '72 Elton John/Bernie Taupin collaboration was Sir Elton's 1st U.S. hit single - 3 wks. at #1 in early '73. A nostalgic look at early rock & roll and his relationship with a girl (!) whom he associated with the music. The unmistakable Farfisa Organ sound "makes" the song. Inspired by The Diamonds' '57 "Little Darlin", by Pat Boone's "Speedy Gonzalez" and by the Australian group Daddy Cool.

Yesterday's answer: "Sleepwalk" by Santo & Johnny (Farina).

Thursday, June 17, 2010

"Sleep Walk" by Santo & Johnny.

OK, back to the 50's: These two Italian-American brothers from Brooklyn composed and played "Deep Sleep" in '58 as part of Mike Dee and The Mello Tones. One of them got a local music store to modify his Gibson acoustic to play like a steel guitar. They left that group and renamed the song, reaching #1 in '59. Brian Setzer's cover won him a Grammy in '98. Duo? Song?

Yesterday's answer: Bobby Vee's "Take Good Care Of My Baby".

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Take Good Care Of My Baby"

OK, back to the 60's: This '61 Carole King/Gerry Goffin composition was a #1 hit for Bobby Vee. It was part of the now infamous '62 Beatles Decca auditions (rejected in favor of The Tremeloes - they're STILL kicking themselves in the behind!). Bobby Vinton (aka The Polish Prince +/- Mr. Lonely) took it to #33 in '68. Also covered by Dion and Gary Lewis and The Playboys.

Yesterday's answer: "Whip It" by Devo. The first time I saw them was on Saturday Night Live doing "Whip It" and "Satisfaction". Gotta love those guys!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Whip It" by Devo.

OK, more one-hit wonders: This Gerald Casale 1980 composition was the biggest hit for his Akron, OH-based New Wave band. Peaked at #14 on Billboard's Hot 100. The band itself funded the $15,000 video. Because of its S&M overtones it was banned from some TV markets - considered "offensive to women". " imitation of Thomas Pynchon's parodies in his book "Gravity's Rainbow". Band? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "As Time Goes By". Dang, that's a romantic one! Ingrid was lookin' mighty good!

Monday, June 14, 2010

"As Time Goes By"

OK, let's go WAY back: This 1931 classic was written by Tin Pan Alley composer Herman Hupfeld. He wrote both music and lyrics - unusual at the time - most songs then were collaborations. Written for the musical "Everybody's Welcome". Sung by Dooley Wilson with Elliot Carpenter on piano in "Casablanca" ('42). Re-released by Rudy Vallee in '42 (#1). AFI's #2 Top Movie Song (2nd to "Over The Rainbow").

Yesterday's answer: "Shout" by The Isley Brothers. Now, waaaaaaaaaaaait a minute! Marvin Isley, younger brother of the original 3, helped the group segue into 70's funk. He died last week at the age of 56.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Shout" by the Isley Brothers.

OK, In Memoriam - a fine bassist left us last week: This '59 hit was written and performed by three siblings - it also had its own dance. Their first Gold Record - peaked at #47. Joey Dee And The Starlighters (later to evolve into The Young Rascals) took it to#6 in '62. Covered by Lulu in '64. Featured in "Animal House" in '78. Group? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Dream Lover" by the late great Bobby Darin - Mr. Cool himself!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

"Dream Lover"

OK, back to the 50's: This classic was written and recorded by Bobby Darin (koolest kat ever to walk the face of the earth!) in '59 with Neil Sedaka on piano. Possibly his most soulful rock ballad. Peaked at #2 in the U.S. and at #1 in the UK. Covered by, among others, Dion and The Belmonts, Glen Cambell/Tanya Tucker in '80, Ricky Nelson in '86 and The Manhattan Transfer.

Yesterday's answer: "Don' Worry, Baby". I remember buying Shut Down Vol. 2 (Mono) in '64 for $3.77! GREAT album! "Fun, Fun, Fun", "The Warmth Of The Sun", "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" AND a cover of "Louie, Louie" where you could actually understand the words!

Friday, June 11, 2010

"Don't Worry, Baby"

OK, more 60's: This B. Wilson/R. Christian ballad was the B-side to The Beach Boys' 1st #1 single, "I Get Around". Peaked at #24. Inspired by a Ronettes hit, Brian's favorite tune. Influenced Lennon's 1980 "(Just Like) Starting Over". A teenage drag racer accepts a challenge and his girlfriend pleads to take her love with him (sob!). On the "Deja Vu" and "Never Been Kissed" soundtracks.

Yesterday's answer: "Joanne" by Michael (Mike) Nesmith - obviously, post-Monkees one-hit wonder.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Joanne" by Michael (Mike) Nesmith.

OK, more one-hit wonders: This multifaceted Houston native penned, among others, "Different Drum" for Linda Ronstadt. Along with Gram Parsons, he is considered one of the pioneers of country-rock. His only solo hit came in '70 (#21 Billboard, #17 Cashbox). He co-produced cult classic "Repo Man" and won the 1st Video Of The Year Grammy in '81. Artist? Hit?

Yesterday's answer: "She's A Woman" by The Beatles. Great tune! John's muted Rickenbacker makes the song.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"She's A Woman"

OK, more Fab Four: This '64 Macca composition was written and recorded the same day (!) as the B-side to "I Feel Fine". Their last single of '64, peaked at #4 on Billboard. First overt drug reference in a Beatles tune. Still unclear as to whether Paul or George played the guitar solo. Chikezie's cover on Season 8 of Idol is, in my opinion, THE best performance EVER on the show.

Yesterday's answer: "There's A Moon Out Tonight" by The Capris. Dang, another ROMANTIC doo-wop ballad!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"There's A Moon Out Tonight" by the Capris.

OK, more one-hit wonders: This Italian-American doo-wop group formed in Ozone Park, Queens, NYC in '57, when all the members were 15. They took their name either from an Italian isle or a 50's Lincoln model. - we'll never know! They recorded their only hit in '58 but it did not hit the charts until early '61, peaking at #3. Group? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Witchi Tai To". Great memories from junior year in high school!

Monday, June 7, 2010

"Witchi Tai To"

OK, a tough one: Jim Pepper adapted this song from an ancient Native American peyote chant he learned from his grandfather. First recorded by his group Everything Is Everything. Only Billboard hit (#69 in '69) to feature a Native American chant. Brewer & Shipley's cover was sung phonetically and got respectable FM airplay.

Yesterday's answer: "Suzanne" by Leonard Cohen. The beautiful Suzanne Verdal was the muse. One of "da man's" most-covered songs - Fairport Convention, Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez, James Taylor and Peter Gabriel, among many others.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


OK, more 60's: This Leonard Cohen classic was inspired by a young dancer - the wife of sculptor Armand Vaillancourt from Montreal. Published as a poem in "Parasites of Heaven". First recorded by Judy Collins in '66, then by Cohen in '67. Covered by, among others, Nina Simone, Neil Diamond and Anni-Frid (Frida) Lyngstad of ABBA.

Yesterday's answer: "Without You". DEFINITELY among the top-10 all-time makeout songs! Carly Smithson did a wonderful version on Idol AND, of course there's always the famous "Ken Lee" video clip in YouTube from Bulgarian Idol.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

"Without You"

OK, more 70's: This Ham/Evans composition was first recorded by Badfinger in '70. Described by Sir Paul as "the killer song of all-time". Harry Nilsson's version hit #1 in '72 and won the Grammy for Best Pop Vocal. Mariah Carey's cover, her best-selling single outside the US, was released 1/15/94, the day Nilsson died and the 22nd anniversary of his recording reaching #1!

Yesterday's answer: "Suspicious Minds" My all-time favorite Elvis tune. Thank you, thank you very much! Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, can cover Elvis without sounding like a buffoon. THE ONLY exception is Dwight - somehow he can do it and he makes it sound great!!!

Friday, June 4, 2010

"Suspicious Minds"

OK, back to The King: This '68 Mark James (Francis Zambon) composition about a dysfunctional and mistrusting relationship jump-started Elvis' career after his Comeback Special. It hit #1 in '69 - the last of his 18 #1 singles. Masterfully covered by Dwight Yoakam for the "Honeymoon In Vegas" soundtrack. Recently performed by Siobhan Magnus on Idol during Elvis Night.

Yesterday's answer: "Grazin' In The Grass" by Hugh Masekela.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

" Grazing In The Grass" by Hugh Masekela.

OK, more one-hit wonders (MORE COWBELL!): This Philemon Hou composition was first recorded by a South African trumpeter. It hit #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 in '68 - one of very few instrumentals to do so. A '69 vocal cover by Friends Of Distinction also made the Top 10 in '69. Song? Trumpeter? More cowbell?

Yesterday's answer: "Summertime, summertime" by The Jamies. Tom and Serena Jameson were siblings. They started out singing in church choirs - easy to tell from their impeccable harmonies. Just one of those little feel-good songs that remind us that summer is (finally!) here.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"Summertime Summertime" by The Jamies.

OK, more seasonal one-hit wonders: This catchy, bouncy T. Jameson/Feller composition peaked at #26 on Billboard in '58. Re-released in '62, peaking at #38. Serena Jameson does the lead vocals backed by a harpsichord. Covered by The Fortunes, Jan & Dean and Sha Na Na and used in Buick and Applebee's commercials. Song? Group?

Yesterday's answer: "Oh Well" .... Can't help it by the shape I'm in... I can't sing, ain't pretty and my legs are thin...also covered by Joe Jackson on the Laughter & Lust album. "...but don't ask me what I think of you, I might not give the answer that you want me to.". My, how the sound changed once Stevie and Lindsey joined - and the rest is rock & roll history!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Oh Well"

OK, back to the 70's: This Peter Green composition was Fleetwood Mac's only chart hit before Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham joined in '74. It's stop-and-go technique was copied by Led Zeppelin in "Black Dog". The Rockets' cover was a Top 40 hit in '79.

Yesterday's answer: "Slaughter On Tenth Avenue".