Tuesday, December 27, 2011

"It Doesn't Matter Anymore".

OK, back to the 50's: A 17 year-old Paul Anka wrote this 1958 pop classic for his touring mate Buddy Holly at his request. Backed by Dick Jacobs' Orchestra, it was one of Holly's 1st recordings with strings - Jacobs wrote the orchestral arrangement 3 hours before the recording session! Anka donated his composer royalties to Buddy's family after his untimely death. It topped the charts in the UK, becoming the first posthumous #1 hit in UK history. It was Holly's last U.S. Top 20 hit, peaking posthumously at #13. Linda Ronstadt charted with it in '74 and it was also masterfully covered by the late great Eva Cassidy.


Comment: Jacobs' pizzicato arrangement for Holly is so different from Anka's original tempo - Ronstadt's and Cassidy's versions are much truer to the original composition. Great tune!

Friday, December 23, 2011

"The Hot Canary" by Florian ZaBach.

OK, more 50's one-hit wonders: This Chicago-born jazz violinist's only hit came in 1951 with a Paul Nero composition. Played on a 1732 Guarnieri del Gesu from Cremona, it made the Top 15 on the Pop charts and sold over one million copies. Artist? Hit?


One of my Dad's faves. A regular on the old Bogen hi-fi.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Songs by Jewish Composers.

OK, in the true spirit of the Season: Twelve of the Top 25 Christmas Songs were written by our Jewish brothers. Name them.....

Answer: Winter Wonderland, The Christmas Song, Sleigh Ride, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Let It Snow, White Christmas, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree, Silver Bells, I'll Be Home For Christmas, A Holly Jolly Christmas.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

"Behind Closed Doors"

OK, back to the 70's: This 1973 Kenny O'Dell classic love ballad was Charlie Rich's first #1 Country hit as well as a solid crossover, peaking at #15 on the Pop charts. Country Song and Single Of The Year as well as a Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. #9 on CMT's 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

"Day After Day (It's Slippin' Away)".

OK, more 60's one-hit wonders: Based upon concerns about overpopulation and dire earthquake predictions in California, this 1969 "novelty" Calypso tune was the only hit for a Cali-based rock band. A collaboration between Jerry Riopelle, Thomas Reynolds (later of Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds) and Davenport, IA native Stuart Margolis (as in "The Rockford Files"). Song? Group?


Friday, December 2, 2011

"Baby (You've Got What It Takes)".

OK, back to the 60's: This 1960 Otis/Stein/Benton soul ballad was first recorded and popularized as a duet by Brook Benton and Dinah Washington. It made the Top 5 on the Pop charts and topped the R&B charts, becoming one of the most popular R&B ballads of the 60's. Covered by Michael Buble and by Anne Murray. It is NOT to be confused with a similarly-titled 1959 Marv Johnson release. Song? For extra credit, name the Marv Johnson tune. But wait, there's more! For FURTHER extra credit, whom was it attributed to and who REALLY wrote it?


Yesterday's answer: "Orange Colored Sky".


Thursday, December 1, 2011

"Orange Colored Sky"

OK, back to the 50's: This 1950 Milton DeLugg/Willie Stein standard was popularized by Nat "King" Cole accompanied by The Stan Kenton Orchestra, peaking at #11. It was one of the first tunes to become a hit from TV exposure. Masterfully covered by Lady Gaga on last week's "A Very Gaga Thanksgiving".


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November 23, 1936.

‎75 years ago today was a landmark day in recorded music history. Robert Johnson recorded eight songs, including his seminal "Crossroads", in wax at the Gunther Hotel in San Antonio, TX. At the same time, a 60 year old Pablo Casals recorded two of Bach's Cello Suites at the Abbey Road Studio in London, establishing him as one of the finest musicians ever.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

"Love Or Let Me Be Lonely".

OK, back to the 70's: This 1970(great year!)Scarborough/Peters/Poree composition was the 2nd Top 10 hit for The Friends Of Distinction and their only Adult Contemporary hit single (#6 on both charts). It also peaked at #13 R&B. Paul Davis' 1982 cover went to #40 Pop and #11 Adult Contemporary. For extra credit name The Friends Of Distinction's first hit.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Liebestraum(e)" by Franz Liszt.

OK, back to the classics: Franz Liszt wrote and published these three technically challenging piano soli in 1850 based on amorous poems by Uhland and Freiligrath. By far the best-loved one is the 3rd, subtitled "Notturno", about "mature and unconditional love". Three separate variations upon the same melody separated by fast and difficult cadenzas, it is a standard on most pianists' repertoires.


Friday, October 14, 2011

"Your Heart Has Changed Its Mind"

OK, more 60's: Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield co-wrote this poignant ballad in 1961. Sedaka recorded it on that same year but did not release in until 1978 on "The Many Sides Of Neil Sedaka", a compilation of his lesser-known songs and B-sides from '58 to '65. Jan and Dean's '62 cover was the B-side to their hit "Tennessee".




Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Why" by Frankie Avalon.

OK, back to the 50's (barely!): This Bob Marcucci/Peter DeAngelis composition sung by Philly-native Frankie Avalon topped the charts during the last week of December of '59, making it the last #1 hit single of the 50's. It was his 2nd and last #1 hit. Donny Osmond's '72 cover peaked at #13. Song? First #1 hit?

Answer: "Why" by Frankie Avalon. His first #1 hit was "Venus" (NOT to be confused with Kevin Meaney's version!).

Saturday, October 8, 2011

"Let It Be" by The Beatles.

OK, more Fabdom: This Macca composition is THE only Beatles tune in which Linda McCartney sang AND their first release in the Soviet Union (1972).

Monday, September 19, 2011

"Papa's Got A Brand New Bag" by James Brown.

OK, back to the 60's: This 1965 James Brown composition is widely recognized as the first "funk" tune, defining the genre. The old man is bold enough to show off some dance moves. Topped the R&B charts and was his first Pop Top 10 hit at #8. It pioneered his funk sound with heavy horns and driving electric guitar. He recorded the vocals in one take and the instruments in less than one hour! Ranked #72 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time and was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in '99.

Yesterday's answer: "Lily The Pink" by The Scaffold.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"Lily The Pink" by The Scaffold.

OK. more 60's: This Liverpudlian comedy/poetry/music trio's only #1 UK hit came in late 1968 with their adaptation of "The Ballad Of Lydia Pinkham", a traditional 19th-century rugby and pub song. Pinkham was an early entrepreneuse, manufacturing a "women's tonic". One of their members, Mike McGear (born Peter Michael McCartney) was Sir Paul's younger brother. It sold over a million copies and was Certified Gold. Graham Nash, Tim Rice and Reg Dwight (aka Sir Elton John) lent background vocals and Cream's Jack Bruce added bass. The Irish Rovers' cover was a minor U.S. hit. Group? Hit?

Yesterday's answer: "In The Quiet Morning" by Mimi Farina. Folk music at its best!

Friday, September 16, 2011

"In The Quiet Morning" by Mimi Farina.

OK, more 70's: This Palo Alto-born singer/songwriter penned a tribute to Janis Joplin shortly after her untimely death in 1970. Her older sister Joan Baez recorded it as part of her 1972 album "Come From The Shadows". She left us in 2001 at the age of 56. Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell". A classic! In my book Jimmy Webb is arguably our greatest living popular composer.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Wichita Lineman" by Glen Campbell.

OK, more 60's: Jimmy Webb wrote this '68 classic ballad while driving along the Kansas-Oklahoma border. He saw a telephone repairman perched atop a pole and thought about his first love affair with a woman whom eventually married another man. A tale of loneliness and yearning for an absent lover. Glen Campbell recorded it with Webb on the Hammond organ. It received 4 Grammy nominations and won one. Topped the Country and Easy Listening charts and peaked at #3 Pop. Ranked #192 among Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.

Yesterday's answer: "Brown Eyed Handsome Man" by Chuck Berry. John Fogerty's seminal "Centerfield" was his best-selling post-CCR album. He played every instrument, did all the vocals and, other than for 2 "bonus tracks", wrote all the songs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Uyw5_z4ElA

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"Brown Eyed Handsome Man" by Chuck Berry.

OK, back to the 50's: Chuck Berry wrote and recorded this controversial '56 rock-and-roll/R&B classic after witnessing a California policeman arrest a Hispanic man for loitering only to release him after a woman vouched for him. Berry was widely known for bragging about his penchant for white women. He packs 6 verses into 2:15 minutes! The 5th verse was inspired by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch's "Venus In Furs" and the last verse influenced John Fogerty's '85 "Centerfield". It features Willie Dixon on bass. Buddy Holly's cover was a posthumous hit. Peaked at #5 R&B and is ranked #374 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.

Yesterday's answer: "O-o-h Child" by The Five Stairsteps".

Monday, September 12, 2011

"O-o-h Child" by the Five Stairsteps.

OK, more 70's one-hit wonders: This Chicago-based Burke family quintet was self-dubbed "The First Family Of Soul". They got their name from the way they looked when they stood in line by age. Their only major hit (#8 Pop, #14 R&B) came in '70 with a Stan Vincent composition. An uplifting tune of comfort, hope and optimism during times of adversity. Has been extensively covered and is ranked #392 among Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. Group? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "I'm Down" by The Beatles. One of the most frenetic Beatles tunes. A staple on the tableside jukeboxes at Mastro's Pizza Palace. Amazing that they recorded those three songs in one day!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

"I'm Down" by The Beatles.

OK, more Fabdom: Macca wrote this '65 "frantic rocker" inspired by his hero Little Richard. The B-side for "Help", it was never included in any of the original Beatles albums. Recorded on the same day as "I've Just Seen A Face" and "Yesterday"! Sir Paul used it to open his set during the 2001 "Concert For New York City" to benefit the surviving first responders of 9/11/01.

Yesterday's answer: "Livin' thing" by ELO.

"Livin' Thing" by ELO.

OK, more 70's: Rumors abound as to the meaning of this '76 ELO Jeff Lynne composition. Anti-abortion? Loss of virginity? Environmental causes? Lynne himself has said that it is about love gone wrong. Background vocals by Patti Quatro (Suzi's sister - who can forget Leather Tuscadero on "Happy Days"?!). Peaked at #13. Part of the "Boogie Nights" soundtrack ('97).

Yesterday's answer: "Mr. Lonely" by Bobbi Vinton. KILLER falsetto! His other 3 #1 hits were "Roses Are Red", "Blue Velvet", and "There, I've Said It Again".

"Mr. Lonely" by Bobby Vinton.

OK, back to the 60's: Bobby "The Polish Prince" Vinton co-wrote this tear-jerker with Gene Allen in '62 while serving in the Army. First recorded by Buddy Greco (#64 in'62). A soldier overseas with no word from home. Vinton's version was released in '64 as the Vietnam War escalated and quickly topped the charts. The last of his four #1 hits and the only one which was not a cover. Song? For extra credit, his other 3 #1 hits?

Yesterday's answer: "You've Really Got A Hold On Me" by The Miracles. As with so many of their other R&B covers of the day, in my humble opinion The Beatles' version was FAR better than the original!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"You've Really Got A Hold On Me" by The Miracles.

OK, back to the 60's: Smokey Robinson wrote this '62 ballad possibly about his then wife Claudette and inspired by Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home To Me". A man is so taken by a woman that he can't leave her even though she mistreats him. It topped the R&B charts for The Miracles (their 2nd #1 hit after "Shop Around") and peaked at #8 Pop. Originally the B-side to the forgettable "Happy Landing". Famously covered by The Beatles the following year with John on lead vocals, George on harmony and Sir George Martin on piano. Also covered by The Supremes and The Temptations. Mickey Gilley took it to #2 on the Country charts in '84. KILLER version by Haley Reinhart on this year's American Idol. Inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame.

Yesterday's answer: "Duke Of Earl" by Gene Chandler. Other hit :"Groovy Situation". Sha Na Na performed towards the end of Woodstock "sandwiched" between The Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Hendrix (that would be a little intimidating!).

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Duke Of Earl" by Gene Chandler.

OK, more 60's two-hit wonders: Chicago native Eugene Dixon was the lead singer for The Dukays in '60 when they recorded this Williams/Dixon/Edwards R&B/doo-wop classic. Inspired by Earl Edwards, the group's founder. Dixon assumed a stage name, left the group and was able to release his first and biggest hit in '62 under his new name. It topped the charts for 3 weeks. Covered by Sha-Na-Na at Woodstock. Stage name? Biggest hit? For extra credit - other hit?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkKwIswu0Fc

Yesterday's answer: "You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" by Dusty Springfield. Mary Isobel Catherine Bernardette O'Brion aka "The Queen of White Soul" left us in '99 at the age of 59. Her first hit came in '63 with "I Only Want To Be With You".

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"You Don't Have To Say You Love Me" by Dusty Springfield.

OK, back to the 60's: 26 year-old contestant Dusty Springfield was sitting in the audience at the '65 San Remo Festival when she heard co-writers Pino Donaggio and Jody Miller perform "Lo Che Non Vivo (Senza Te)" and was moved to tears. Two non-songwriter friends added English lyrics and she recorded her '66 version in one day in 47 takes (!) on a stairwell. A tale of unrequited love, she called it "good old schmaltz". It topped the UK charts and peaked at #4 in the U.S. Ranked #491 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.

Yesterday's answer: "Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard" by Paul Simon. From Adrienne Adams: "My favorite song in 8th grade! I'll bet Pat Boone would have suggested "Julio and I Down by the School Yard" to appeal to a broader audience. :-)". As with Carly Simon's "You're So Vain", we might never know the truth about this song!

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard" by Paul Simon.

OK, back to the 70's: Considered one of the great enigmas in modern pop music, this 1972 Paul Simon tune was released on his first "Art-less" self-titled solo album. The grammatically incorrect title makes it even more appealing! Two boys from Queens get into some serious mischief but we'll probably never know the nature of the offense. Anti-war protest, homosexuality, drug use...??? Could the "radical priest" be Vietnam War activists Frs. Berrigan or Yale chaplain Rev. Wm. Sloane Coffin? Hmmmm....??? It peaked at #22 U.S. and #15 UK. Just last year Simon called the song "a bit of inscrutable doggerel"!

Yesterday's answer: "England Swings (Like a Pendulum Do)" by Roger Miller. Such a different tune for Roger Miller.

Friday, September 2, 2011

"England Swings (Like A Pendulum Do)" by Roger Miller.

OK, back to the 60's: In the middle of the 60's Nashville Sound era Roger Miller wrote and performed this '65 crossover hit - a stereotypical picture of the London cultural and fashion scene of the day. Peaked at #3 Country, #8 Pop and topped the Easy Listening charts. Covered by Petula Clark and by Pat Boone in '67.

Yesterday's answer: "Operator" by William Spivery. The Manhattan Transfer's debut album remains a masterpiece. We saw them in Des Moines shortly after moving to Iowa in '81. Incredible concert!

"Operator" by William Spivery.

OK, back to the 50's: This long-time Cleveland resident was born in '31 and was an upholsterer and car seat repairman by trade but also penned a Gospel classic in the 50's. It was popularized by and became The Manhattan Transfer's first successful chart single in '75 (#22 on Billboard's Hot 100). It remains a staple in churches and karaoke bars. Other compositions include "Mr. John" ('64), a tribute to JFK and "Non-Violent Man" ('68) about Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. He left us in '04 at the age of 73. Gospel hit? Composer?

Yesterday's answer: "It Must Have Been Love" by Roxette. Other 3 U.S. #1 hits: "The Look" ('89), "Listen To your Heart" ('89) and "Joyride" ('91). Anyone who plays a Rickenbacker is OK in my book!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"It Must Have Been Love" by Roxette.

OK, back to the 90's: One-half of this Swedish duo, Per Gessle wrote this power ballad in '87 but it sat "gathering dust" until it was unearthed two years later when they were contacted to provide a song for the 1990 Gere/Roberts film "Pretty Woman". The movie propelled it to #1 in the U.S. and quite a few other countries. A lonely cold winter day after a breakup. The group's 3rd #1 U.S. single (they subsequently had one more U.S. #1). The #2 selling single of 1990 after "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips. Duo? Hit? For extra credit, other 3 #1 hits?

Yesterday's answer: "Help Me" by Joni Mitchell. OK, I'm an old folkie. I saw Joni Mitchell in '76 at The Spectrum in Philly - one of the best concerts ever. She opened with "Help Me". Unfortunately saw her again a few years later at the Valley Forge Music Fair during her "jazz phase" - horrendous! First time I've ever walked out of a concert - together with many others. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4oY8ojxp_8

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Help Me" by Joni Mitchell.

OK, more 70's: This 1974 confession of troubled love remains Joni Mitchell's biggest-selling single and her ONLY Top 10 hit (#7) during her illustrious musical career. Accompanied by jazz-fusion ensemble Tom Scott's L.A. Express. Still unclear as to whether it was dedicated to Glenn Frey of The Eagles or percussionist John Guerin from Tom Scott's group, both of whom she had affairs with at the time. Ranked #282 among Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.

Yesterday's answer: "By The Time I Get To Phoenix" by Glen Campbell. Although it is geographically incorrect, Frank Sinatra called it "the greatest torch song ever written". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qox4uMRcEd4


"By The Time I Get To Phoenix" by Glen Campbell.

OK, back to the 60's: A 21 year-old Jimmy Webb wrote this '65 torch song during his breakup with Susan Ronstadt, Linda's cousin. First recorded by Johnny Rivers. Glen Campbell had his first Top 40 hit with his cover in '67, taking it to #2 Country, #26 Pop and #12 Easy Listening. It won him two Grammys and is ranked #450 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.

Yesterday's answer: "Ain't That A Shame" by Fats Domino. Originally titled "Ain't It a Shame". Pat Boone also suggested renaming it "Isn't It A Shame" to appeal to a "broader" audience but it was quickly nixed by the producers.

"Ain't That A Shame" by Fats Domino.

OK, more 50's: Fats Domino co-wrote this 1955 breakup tune with Dave Bartholomew. It topped the R&B charts and peaked at #10 Pop. Pat Boone's cover later on that year topped the white Pop charts making it THE first bona fide crossover hit. It was Boone's first hit single. Part of the "American Graffiti" ('73) soundtrack and ranked #431 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. Legend goes that during a concert Fats Domino invited Pat Boone on stage. He showed a big gold ring and said "Pat Boone bought me this ring."

Yesterday's answer: "Come Monday" by Jimmy Buffett. I've always enjoyed playing the Amaj7/Dmaj7 transition on the bridge - a stroke of songwriting genius! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiYfQSD4Xao

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"El Relicario"

Okey, mas viejeras del a~o de las guacaras: Nacido en Almeria, Jose Padilla compuso este pasodoble en el 1914 con letra por Oliveros y Castellvi. El debut por Mary Focela no fue exitoso. Raquel Meller la convirtio en un exito internacional en el '20. La melodia alegre contrasta con la mortal herida que sufre el torero. En el '52 se hizo la cancion tema de la campa~a presidencial de Dwight D. Eisenhower. Cantada por Sara Montiel en "El Ultimo Cuple". Cancion? Para credito extra, los otros 2 exitos de Jose Padilla?

Resuesta: "El Relicario". Sus otros dos exitos fueron "La Violetera" y "Valencia".

"Come Monday" by Jimmy Buffett.

OK, back to the 70's: This '74 crossover composition was Jimmy Buffett's first Top 40 hit, peaking at #30 Billboard Hot 100, #3 Easy Listening and #58 Country. He dedicated it to his wife - missing her and his family while on tour and looking forward to being reunited. Part of his "Big 8" songs that he performs in every concert.

Yesterday's answer: ‎"That's Life (That's Tough)" by Gabriel and The Angels. A toughie with help from my dear sister Gina.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

"That's Life (That's Tough)" by Gabriel and The Angels.

OK, more 60's one-hit wonders: The only hit for this Philly-based doo-wop quintet came in '62 with a Richard Kellis composition on the Swan label. The group was formed in '57 and evolved from The Five Sharps. They followed it in '63 with the suggestive but unsuccessful "The Peanut Butter Song" with "All Work - No Play (makes Jack the President)" about JFK as its B-side. Group? Only (minor!) hit?

Yesterday's answer: "Lonesome Town" by Ricky Nelson. I always wonder how much further Ricky Nelson's career would have gone had Elvis not been on the scene.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"Lonesome Town" by Ricky Nelson.

OK, back to the 50's: This Baker Knight ballad was a #7 hit for Ricky Nelson in '58. Best known as the background song during the famous $5.00 milk shake scene between John Travolta and Uma Thurman at Jack Rabbit Slim's in "Pulp Fiction"('94). During his outstanding career Nelson had 53 tunes on Billboard's Hot 100, 36 Top 40 hits and 19 Top 10 hits. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in '87.

Yesterday's answer: "Out Of Limits" by The Marketts. It was originally titled "Outer Limits" but they got into a little copyright trouble with the TV show so they renamed the song. Great memories of our dear friend Gilberto "Tito" Mercado playing it on the old Kent electric at Yeo's house!

"Out Of Limits" by The Marketts.

OK, back to the 60's: This Hollywood, CA-based surf-rock garage/studio instrumental band had 3 Top 40 hits during their brief career. The first one was "Surfer Stomp" in '62, peaking at #31. Their cover of the "Batman Theme" (which, by the way, they did NOT compose) hit #17 in '66. Their biggest hit (#3 in '64) was based upon a popular TV mystery show which ran between '63 and '65. Part of the "Pulp Fiction" ('94) soundtrack. Masterfully covered by the Ventures. Group? Biggest hit?

Yesterday's answer: "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor. The unique video features mostly a close-up of her face as she sings - towards the end two tears run down her cheeks. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUiTQvT0W_0&ob=av3e

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinead O'Connor.

OK, more 90's one-hit wonders: Prince wrote this '90 ballad for one on his protegee bands. It was instead recorded by a controversial Irish singer/songwriter - her only chart hit. Prince did not participate in the production of the record or its video, causing quite a rift between the two of them. Won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance and earned 2 other nominations - she boycotted the ceremony. Topped the charts in 17 countries and is ranked #162 among Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. Artist? Song?

Yesterday's answer: Nicanor Zabaleta. One of my Dad's faves. He elevated the harp to a higher level much like Segovia did with the classical guitar.

Nicanor Zabaleta

OK, more bio: Born in 1907 in San Sebastian, Spain, this virtuoso became the preeminent harpist of the 20th century along with Carlos Salzedo from France. His father, also a musician, bought him a used harp at age 7. He helped popularize the harp and secured its respect as a solo instrument with his tireless touring and recording, selling more than 4 million records. While touring in Puerto Rico in '50 he met Graziela whom he married in '52. He was once quoted as saying, "...but you see, the harp is not so difficult"(!). He died in '93 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Yesterday's answer: "What You're Doing" by The Beatles. Young Jim McGuinn and David Crosby were so impressed after watching "A Hard Day's Night" that they immediately went out and bought a 12-string Rickenbacker and a Gretsch Country Gentleman respectively and the rest is jingle-jangle folk-rock history!

"What You're Doing" by The Beatles.

OK, more Fabdom: Even though the music is upbeat, this '64 Macca composition was based upon his rocky relationship with Jane Asher as their breakup was imminent. Part of "Beatles For Sale" (UK)/"Beatles VI" (U.S.). One of the very rare Beatles tunes to start with a drum intro. Classic 12-string Rickenbacker jingle-jangle pervasive motif repeated after each verse in the same instrumental voicing. It inspired a young Jim "Roger" McGuinn 6 months later as he recorded "Mr. Tambourine Man" with The Byrds.

Yesterday's answer: "Cavatina" (Theme from "The Deer Hunter") . One of my Top 10 favorite movies. Such a sweet melody in contrast to the harsh reality of the Vietnam conflict.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


OK, more 70's: British jazz musician Stanley Myers composed this neoclassical piece for the piano in the early 70's. Guitar virtuoso John Williams asked him to transpose it for guitar and he first recorded it in '73. Shortly thereafter Cleo Laine added lyrics and recorded it as "He Was Beautiful" accompanied by Williams, charting in the UK. It is best known as the theme for the 1978 Oscar-winning movie "The Deer Hunter". English tenor Paul Potts included it in his debut album.

Yesterday's answer: "Eight Days A Week". Ringo was prone to Yogi Berraisms on a smaller scale.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Eight Days A Week" by The Beatles

OK, more Fabdom: Two versions exist as to the inspiration for this 1964 Macca composition. One is a malapropism from Ringo and the other a quote from a chauffeur that drove him to John's house. We'll never know. Released in the UK on "Beatles For Sale" and in the U.S. on "Beatles VI". Never released as a single in the UK, in the U.S. it topped the charts in '65 with "I Don't Want To Spoil the Party" as its B-side. FIRST song that The Beatles took to the studio unfinished to "polish" during the session and the FIRST Beatles song to begin with a "fade-in".

Yesterday's answer: "Save The Last Dance For Me". I had the privilege of seeing Bucky and John Pizzarelli in Ames shortly after moving to Iowa 30 years ago - now, THAT'S GUITAR! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-XQ26KePUQ

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"Save The Last Dance For Me" by The Drifters.

OK, back to the 60's: Doc Pomus was struck with polio at an early age and ambulated with crutches. His wife was a Broadway dancer and actress. In this 60' Latin-melody collaboration with Mort Shuman he shows his vulnerability and fear especially when they would go out to parties. It topped both the Pop and R&B charts and is ranked #182 among Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. First recorded by The Drifters with Ben E. King on lead vocals and the great Bucky Pizzarelli on Spanish guitar. Produced by Leiber and Stoller and co-produced by a young and yet unknown Phil Spector. Masterfully covered by Jay and The Americans. (Lyricist Jerry Leiber left us yesterday at the age of 78.)

Yesterday's answer: Blood, Sweat and Tears. "And When I Die", "Spinning Wheel" and "You Make Me So Very Happy". Garibaldi coined the phrase "blood, toil, tears and sweat" in 1849. Teddy Roosevelt also used it in 1897. Most famously spoken by Sir Winston Churchill while addressing The House of Commons of Parliament in 1940: "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.".
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtsCxbBHXsw&feature=fvst http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxWSOuNsN20

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Blood, Sweat And Tears.

OK, back to the 60's: This popular brass-driven jazz-rock ensemble was formed in '67 in NYC. Original leader Al Kooper came up with their name after playing a late-night gig with an injured hand and is loosely based upon a 1940 speech by Sir Winston Churchill. They had three #2 hits in '69 but NEVER topped the charts. Group? Three '69 #2 hits?

Yesterday's answer: "Shop Around".

"Shop Around" by The Miracles.

OK, back to the 60's: Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy co-wrote this '60 soul classic in 20 minutes. A mother's advice to her son on how to find the perfect woman. Originally written for Barrett Strong, it was instead recorded by The Miracles. First recording for Motown and for the group to top the R&B charts and to sell one million copies. Grammy Hall Of Fame 2006; #495 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. Toni Tennille altered the lyrics from a woman's perspective and The Captain and Tennille's cover peaked at #4 Pop in '76.

Yesterday's answer: "See You Later, Alligator". Their other two million-selling singles were "(We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock" and "Shake, Rattle and Roll". p://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDiA7PeYMm8

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"See You Later, Alligator".

OK, more 50's: This '55 12-bar R&B classic was written and first recorded by Bobby Charles based upon a popular catchphrase of those days. An ethnic Cajun, it was widely assumed he was black. The best-known version came from Bill Haley and His Comets that same year. They sped it up from a shuffle to pure rock and roll. Featured in their '56 movie "Rock Around The Clock", THE first major rock and roll film. It was their 3rd and last million-selling single.

Yesterday's answer: "I'm Walking To New Orleans". Many assumed that Bobby Charles was black - he was an ethnic Cajun.

"I'm Walking To New Orleans" by Fats Domino.

OK, back to the 60's: Bobby Charles wrote this 1960 R&B classic for his hero Fats Domino in 15 minutes. Domino invited Charles to his home in The Big Easy but he had to politely decline as he didn't have a car and would have had to walk a great distance. Dave Bartholomew arranged it and added orchestral strings, a rarity in those days. #6 Pop, #2 R&B. Robert "Bobby Charles" Guidry, a native Cajun, left us last year at the age of 71.

Yesterday's answer: "You Always Hurt The One You Love". Cute scene in "Blue Valentine" - she does a tap dance to the song - worth watching.

"You Always Hurt The One You Love"

OK, back to the 40's: This beautiful Allan Roberts/Doris Fisher pop ballad topped the charts for The Mills Brothers in '44. Clarence "Frogman" Henry's '61 cover hit the Top 20. Memorable rendition by Ryan Goslin sung to Michelle Williams in "Blue Valentine" (2010).

Yesterday's answer: "(I Don't Know Why) But I Do". Played during the scene where Forrest gets Jenny out of the car and punches out her boyfriend.

"I Don't Know Why (But I Do)" by Clarence "Frogman" Henry.

OK, back to the 60's: Clarence "Frogman" Henry's biggest hit (#4) came in 1961 with a Paul Gayten/Robert "Bobby Charles" Guidry swamp-pop ballad. Featured in Fiat Cinquecento TV ads in the 70's (remember those little things?) and part of the "Forrest Gump" soundtrack ('94).

Yesterday's answer: "Misty Blue" by Dorothy Moore. Part of the "Phenomenon" soundtrack. http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=RMONGMDEerI



Friday, August 12, 2011

"Misty Blue" by Dorothy Moore.

OK, back to the 60's: Bob Montgomery, Buddy Holly's high-school singing partner, wrote this '66 Pop/C&W/R&B standard for Brenda Lee in 20 minutes. When she refused to record it both Eddy Arnold (#3) and Wilma Burgess (#12) had C&W hits with it that year. The best-known version is Dorothy Moore's, her biggest hit. She recorded it in one take in '73, peaking at #3 Pop and #2 R&B in '76. It became an international hit and has been covered over 200 times.

Yesterday's answer: "Little Deuce Coupe" by The Beach Boys. Good old days of innocence when guys sang about fast cars, surfing and pretty girls! Brian could write melodies like no one else but was not well versed in the SoCal car/surfing lingo. Roger Christian and subsequently Gary Usher were masters at that!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"Little Deuce Coupe" by The Beach Boys.

OK, back to the 60's: This '63 street drag racing tale was Brian Wilson's first collaboration with DJ and lyricist Roger Christian. An ode to a souped-up 1932 Ford Model B. Released as the flip-side to "Surfer Girl", it was The Beach Boys' first charting B-side at #15 and the title track of their 4th studio album. It remains Brian Wilson's favorite Beach Boys car song. This was Brian's first effort as a producer and David Marks' last recording as the group's rhythm guitarist. With Hal Blain on drums instead of Dennis, it also marks the group's first use of studio musicians.

Yesterday's answer: "Don't Get Around Much Anymore". The opening line "Missed the Saturday dance..." has often been misheard as "Mr. Saturday dance" and "Mr. Saturday night". Of course, who can forget " 'scuse me while I kiss this guy" and "the horse on 7th Avenue"?!

"Don't Get Around Much Anymore"

OK, back to the 40's" Duke Ellington penned and instrumentally recorded this jazz standard in '40 as "Never No Lament". Bob Russell "retrofitted" lyrics in '42/'43 and renamed it. It charted in '43 for The Ink Spots (#2) and for Glen Gray and The Casa Loma Orchestra (#7). "A jilted lover prefers to stay home rather than be haunted by memories of happier days spent at dances and nightspots". The opening line is one of those famous often-misheard lyrics. Again, masterfully covered by Willie Nelson on his '78 "Stardust" album.

Yesterday's answer: "Come Softly To Me" by The Fleetwoods. Originally titled "Come Softly", it was considered risque and suggestive (!) so it was renamed "Come Softly To Me" even though that line does not appear in the song. "Mr. Blue" topped the charts in Nov. '59. Their telephone exchanges in Olympia were FLeetwood2 and FLeetwood7.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Come Softly To Me" by The Fleetwoods.

OK, back to the 50's: Gretchen Christopher and Gary Troxel were high-school seniors in Olympia, WA when they composed this '59 romantic ballad while waiting for a ride home from school. They recorded it a capella at Christopher's home with another female classmate, calling themselves "Two Girls And A Boy". The original song title was changed by a Dolphin Records executive afraid that it might have been "too suggestive". The group was also renamed based upon their telephone exchange (remember those?). It was subsequently instrumentally overdubbed with the only percussion being the sound of car key in Troxel's hands. THE first group to have two #1 hits during the same year. Group? Song? For extra credit name their other '59 #1 hit.

Yesterday's answer: "Susie Q". CCR defined "roots rock" even before the term was even coined - no fancy electronics - just pure raw talent!

Monday, August 8, 2011

"So Much In Love" by The Tymes.

OK, more 60's: This Philly-based vocal ensemble started out in '56 as The Latineers. After acquiring a new lead singer in '60 they changed their name. Their first and biggest hit came in '63 with a Williams/Jackson/Strighis collaboration that topped the charts. It starts out with birds singing and the sound of the ocean surf. Elected as one of the "Songs Of The Century" in 2001. Part of the "Fast Times At Ridgemont High" soundtrack ('82). Art Garfunkel's cover peaked at #11 Adult Contemporary in '88. It was also the 1st hit for R&B group All-4-One, peaking at #5 in '93. Group? Song?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

"Susie Q"

OK, back to the 50's: Louisiana native Dale Hawkins wrote this '57 blues-infused rockabilly classic and recorded it in less than one hour with 15 year-old James Burton on lead guitar. The title is based upon a 1930's dance. Peaked at #7 R&B and #27 Pop. Creedence Clearwater Revival's '68 8:37 min. cover was their first single and launched their career, peaking at #11. Their only Top 40 hit not written by John Fogerty.

Yesterday's answer: "On The Sunny Side Of The Street". Willie's "Stardust" album is one of those that I would need if I were stranded on a deserted island - a masterpiece! http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=vZmgv1ywdkw

"On The Sunny Side Of The Street"

OK, back to the 30's: This '30 McHugh/Fields bouncy, cheerful and optimistic jazz standard became a welcome relief to depression-weary listeners. It debuted on the short-lived B-way musical "Lew Leslie's International Revue". Harry Richman and Ted Lewis and His Orchestra charted with it in '30. The best-known version came in '45 by Tommy Dorsey and The Sentimentalists. My favorite happens to be Willie Nelson's on his '78 "Stardust" album.

Yesterday's answer: "I Heard It Through The Grapevine".

Saturday, August 6, 2011

"I Heard It Through The Grapevine".

OK, more 60's: Barrett Strong co-wrote this '66 Motown psychedelic soul classic with Norman Whitfield based upon a painful episode in his own love life. A man finds out his woman is cheating on him. First recorded by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. Marvin Gaye's '68 version was his first #1 hit, became his signature song and, at 7 weeks, was Motown's longest-running #1 tune. Backup vocals by The Andantes; accompanied by The Funk Brothers and The Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Ranked #80 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time and inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame. Part of "The Big Chill"('83) and "Remember The Titans" ('01) soundtracks. Creedence Clearwater Revival's '70 version was 11 minutes long - one of their very few covers. Who can forget the Claymation California Raisins in '86 - their signature tune?!

Yesterday's answer: "Act Naturally". Even being a non-drummer myself, Ringo was always my favorite Beatle. Ultra cool bloke!

Yesterday's answer: "So Much In Love" by the Tymes. The Tymes are one of the very few acts that have had only one #1 hit in the US and the UK with different songs ("Ms Grace" - UK #1 in '75).

"Act Naturally'

OK, more 60's: This '63 Russell/Morrison collaboration was Buck Owens and The Buckaroos' first #1 Country hit. Also covered by Loretta Lynn. The Beatles' '65 version featured Ringo on lead vocals and peaked at #47. Released as the B-side to "Yesterday" and on "Yesterday And Today", they played it during their 3rd Ed Sullivan Show appearance and on their famous Shea Stadium concert. Buck Owens and Ringo released a single and video in '89 (#27 Country).

Yesterday's answer: "Mon Homme (My Man)". God, I love La Mome Piaf - you can just hear the tobacco and the alcohol in that voice!

"Mon Homme (My Man)".

OK, back to the 20's: This Charles/Pollack/Willemertz/Yvain French ballad was first recorded in 1916 by chanteuse Jeanne "Mistinguett" Bourgeois. The English version was popularized by Fanny Brice in '21 (Grammy Hall-Of-Fame '99). Billie Holiday released a jazz/blues version. Edith Piaf covered it in French in '40. Rediscovered by Barbra Streisand in '65 during her B-way run in"Funny Girl", the movie role of which earned her the Best Actress Oscar in '68. Sung by Diana Ross in '70 during her final live appearance as a Supreme. Masterful versions by Sara Montiel in Spanish and by Lea Michele on "Glee".

Yesterday's answer: "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On". Dennis Quaid nailed it in the movie! http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=8yRdDnrB5kM

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On".

OK, more Killerdom: Dave "Curlee" Williams and James Faye "Roy" Hall (aka Sonny David) were drunk in a boat on Lake Okeechobee when they wrote this '55 rockabilly classic. First recorded by Big Maybelle produced by a young Quincy Jones. Jerry Lee "The Killer" Lewis recorded a SMOKIN' version at Sun Records in '57 - his 2nd single and his 1st hit, topping the R&B and Country charts and peaking at #3 Pop. He debuted it on The Steve Allen Show and, almost immediately, many radio stations banned it because of its "suggestive" lyrics. Ranked #61 on Rolling Stones' 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.

Yesterday's answer: "Hound Dog". It remains The King's best-selling single. http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=5XUAg1_A7IE

"Hound Dog"

OK, back to the 50's: Leiber and Stoller were still teenagers when they penned this 12-bar blues classic first recorded by Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton in '52 (#1 R&B). Freddie Bell and The Bellboys reworked the lyrics in '55. The best-known version was Elvis Presley's from '56. The King and his band heard Bell in Vegas, rearranged it and the rest is rock & roll history. He debuted it on The Milton Berle show before a TV audience of 40 million without his guitar to hide his gyrations - the outcry earned him the epithet "Elvis The Pelvis". It was his concert- closing number for many years. Ranked #19 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time and was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in '88. The B-Side to "Don't Be Cruel", it remains THE only A and B side individual #1 single in the U.S. It topped the charts for 11 weeks. Part of the "American Graffiti", "Grease" and "Forrest Gump" soundtracks.

Yesterday's answer: "All Along the Watchtower". Hendrix's guitar solo consistently figures among the best ever in most polls and in a 2008 poll conducted by a panel of experts for Total Guitar Magazine, this was voted the best cover song of all time.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"All Along The Watchtower"

OK, more 60's: After his motorcycle accident in '66 Bob Dylan spent a year of quiet introspection recovering both physically and spiritually. He altered his lifestyle and turned to The Bible. This 1967 classic from "John Wesley Harding" was inspired by Isaiah 21:5-9. He has performed it live more than any other of his songs. It was popularized by The Jimi Hendrix Experience in '68 - their only Top 40 hit in the U.S. at #20. Interestingly, ever since then Dylan has performed it a la Hendrix on stage. Dave Mason played 12-string acoustic on the recording and filled in on bass after Noel Redding left the sessions in anger. Hendrix himself played the bass line towards the end of the song. His version is ranked #48 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. Featured in the "Forrest Gump" soundtrack.

Yesterday's answer: "Help!" by The Beatles. Great memories of my friends and I standing in line for HOURS at the Cinerama Theater (corner of Fernandez Juncos and Bolivar) in'65 in order to be the first kids in San Juan to watch "Help!".

Monday, August 1, 2011

"Help!" by the Beatles.

OK, more Fabdom: This '65 Lennon composition came from the stress he experienced caused by The Beatles' meteoric rise to fame. It became the title for that year's movie and its soundtrack album. #1 in the U.S. and the UK - #29 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. The first Beatles song to be licensed for a U.S. TV commercial - '85 for Lincoln-Mercury.

Yesterday's answer: "Besame Mucho". Has been translated into over 20 languages. She also wrote "Cachito".

"Besame Mucho"

OK, back to the 40's: Mexican piano prodigy and composer Consuelo Velazquez was not quite 16 and had never been kissed (considered sinful in those days!) when she penned this 1940 enduring pop standard and global phenomenon. Inspired by Granados' "Goyescas" suite. English version by Sunny Skylar in '44. First Recorded by Mexican vocalist Emilio Tuero but popularized in '53 by Chilean Lucho Gatica. Only Mexican song to top the U.S. charts (12 weeks!). Sung by The Beatles as part of their unsuccessful Decca Records audition.

Yesterday's answer: Cole Porter's "Let's Do It (Let's Fall In Love)". Pretty racy lyrics - clever songwriting. If you like Woody Allen DON'T MISS "Midnight In Paris" - his best film in many years.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Let's Do It (Let's Fall In Love)" by Cole Porter.

OK, back to the Roaring 20's: This classic 1928 Cole Porter "list song" debuted in his musical "Paris" sung by Irene Bordoni. It also appeared in the '60 film adaptation of "Can Can". A recitation of increasingly preposterous double-entendres and suggestive lines. Described as "the pioneer pop song to declare openly that sex is fun" - pretty risque for those days! Joan Jett released a punk-rock version in '95. Figures prominently in this year's Woody Allen film "Midnight in Paris", which I HIGHLY recommend.

Yesterday's answer: Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are a-Changin' ". Not that I'm a jangleholic or anything but The Byrds' version just happens to be my fave!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

"The Times They Are a-Changin' " by Bob Dylan.

OK, back to the 60's: Dubbed "the archetypal protest song", this 1963 Bob Dylan folk anthem was inspired by Irish and Scottish ballads as well as by Mark 10:31. Dylan described it as "definitely a song with a purpose", mirroring the turmoil of the era and the Civil Rights movement. Written less than one month before President Kennedy's assassination, Dylan opened a concert with it the night after the tragic event. Ranked #59 among Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. Covered by, among many others, Simon & Garfunkel ('64), Peter, Paul & Mary ('64) and The Byrds ('65).

Yesterday's answers: Mungo Jerry's "In The Summertime". Has anyone ever noticed that the instrumental break in this song is interchangeable with the one from Canned Heat's "Going Up the Country"?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

"In The Summertime" by Mungo Jerry.

OK, more 70's one-hit wonders: Lead singer and guitarist Ray Dorset wrote this 1970 seasonal classic for his British pop-blues band - their first and only U.S. hit (#3). It sold over 16 million copies worldwide. One of the highest selling singles of all time and the world's top-selling summer song. Band? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Come On Down To My Boat" by Every Mother's Son. I was visiting San Francisco in '67 when I first heard it. Great memories! From Kris Karr: "Nice Poldo. There were so many really great songs with flowing harmonies back then. Better production I think than we have now."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Come On Down To My Boat" by Every Mother's Son.

OK, more 60's one-hit wonders: This '67 Was Farrell/Jerry Goldstein pop-rock composition was first recorded by The Rare Breed but failed to chart. An NYC-based pop-folk ensemble took it to #6 in '67, their only hit. Group? Hit?

Yesterday's answer: "Swinging on A Star". " Songwriter Jimmy Van Heusen was at Crosby’s house one evening for dinner, and to discuss a song for the movie "Going My Way". During the meal one of the children began complaining about how he didn’t want to go to school the next day. (Crosby) turned to his son and said to him, “If you don’t go to school, you might grow up to be a mule. Do you wanna do that?”

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Swinging On a Star".

OK, back to the 40's: Jimmy VanHeusen got his inspiration for this pop standard from a rebuke by Bing Crosby to one of his children while having dinner at Crosby's home. He co-wrote it with Johnny Burke for the '44 movie "Going My Way". It topped the charts and won the Oscar for Best Original Song. The Williams Brothers Quartet, including a young Andy Williams, sing backup for Bing on the original recording. It also appeared in a Little Lulu cartoon. Covered by Sinatra in'64 and by Tony Bennett in '98. Grammy Hall Of Fame in '02.

Yesterday's answer: "In The Ghetto" by Elvis Presley. Thank you, thank you very much...!http://www.youtube.com/wat​ch?v=2Ox1Tore9nw