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!​ch?v=vCWdCKPtnYE​ch?v=1oU7M4OeSRM​ch?v=1oU7M4OeSRM​ch?v=uq4pe0cKQc0

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"?​ch?v=wvUQcnfwUUM

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."​ch?v=50b-Q-Z1bF0

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?”​ch?v=iTUKHMlbYGA​ch?v=XYAUAELUSts​ch?v=nWKXU0ApF08

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...!​ch?v=2Ox1Tore9nw​ch?v=yWg2vLEyRZc

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"In The Ghetto" by Elvis Presley.

OK, more Kingdom: This '69 Mac Davis composition was originally titled "The Vicious Circle" and it was Elvis' first recording to carry a socially-conscious message. Tackling generational poverty, it signaled a major comeback for The King with his 1st Top 10 hit in 4 years, peaking at #3. It also marked the 1st time he recorded in Memphis since '56. Lisa Marie Presley recorded a virtual duet with her father in 2007 - it topped iTunes sales and part of the proceeds went to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Yesterday's answer: "You Are My Sunshine". It is one of Louisiana's state songs. Davis used to it singing during campaign rallies while riding on his horse "Sunshine".​ch?v=gX_uKoWFs88​ch?v=Pj0GPTEU198​ch?v=1ivZD68IHmg​ch?v=Rfyac3FwVds​ch?v=a8o4os6Um6g

"You Are My Sunshine"

OK, back to the 30's: Former Louisiana governor Jimmie Davis co-wrote this '39 classic with Charles Mitchell based upon an Oliver Hood tune. First recorded in '39 by The Pine Ridge Boys and by The Rice Brothers Gang. Davis recorded it in '40 backed by the Charles Mitchell Orchestra. Bing Crosby (#20 in '41) and Gene Autry popularized it. Ray Charles took it to #7 in '62. It has been translated into over 30 languages and has been covered by over 300 artists.

Yesterday's answer: "Never My Love" by The Association.​ch?v=munErg-ykYU​ch?v=G34cKlFPX4U​ch?v=0YjreDMsdFI

"Never My Love" by The Association.

OK, more 60's: Composer brothers Don and Dick Addrisi first offered this '67 romantic ballad to The Lettermen who rejected it. L.A.'s The Association first recorded it and, by the time it was Certified Gold, it had already been covered 16 times. Certified Platinum, #2 Billboard, #1 Cashbox. BMI's song with 2nd most U.S. airplay in the 20th Century surpassed only by "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' " and followed by "Yesterday". The 5th Dimension's cover peaked at #12 in '71 and Blue Suede's at #7 in '74.

Yesterday's answer: "The Letter" by The Box Tops. Thompson's father gave him the opening line "Give me a ticket for an AEROPLANE" and he ran with it. Other Box Tops hits include "Neon Rainbow", "Soul deep" and "Cry Like A Baby".​ch?v=BQaUs5J2wdI​ch?v=4RnjWLVyMps

"The Letter" by The Box Tops.

OK, more 60's: Nashville tunesmith Wayne Carson Thompson penned this '67 smash hit after his father gave him the opening line. A yet-unnamed "bunch of greenhorns who had never cut a record" recorded it in 30 takes (!). They were first dubbed The Devilles before settling on their subsequent name. Lead singer Alex Chilton was not quite 17 during the sessions. It topped the charts for 4 weeks, was the top hit of '67, sold over 4 million copies, earned a Gold Disc and is ranked #363 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. The last #1 hit under 2 minutes in length. Joe Cocker's '70 version hit the Top Ten. Group? Song?

Yesterday's answer: "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry. One of the most instantly recognizable tunes in rock. Inspired by Johnnie Johnson, the B. may come from Berry, who was born on Goode Ave. in St. Louis.​ch?v=AEq62iQo0eU​ch?v=OkQWv18Trw0​ch?v=C7s1_YQxzhs​ch?v=GsyL4O5ej_Y

"Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry.

OK, back to the 50's: Chuck Berry dedicated this somewhat autobiographic '55 rock & roll classic to his long time pianist. Curiously, Lafayette Leake tickled the ivories on it rather than the dedicatee. The title also alludes to the street where Berry was born in St. Louis. The signature opening guitar riff comes from Carl Hogan on Louis Jordan's "Ain't That Just Like A Woman". Peaked at #2 R&B and #8 Pop in '58. #1 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitar Songs Of All Time. Classic version by Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly on "Back To the Future" ('85). Killer rendition by The Beach Boys to close their '64 "Beach Boys Concert" album.

Yesterday's answer: "Java" by Al Hirt.​ch?v=ERNdH-0OcXc​ch?v=WJGRgzRrqFU

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

"Java" by Al Hirt.

OK, back to the 60's: The first and biggest hit for this New Orleans trumpeter and bandleader was a '63 instrumental adaptation of a cut from Allen (Tousan) Toussaint's '58 album "The Wild Sounds Of New Orleans". It is named after a race horse. A million-seller, it peaked at #4 on Billboard's Hot 100, topped the Easy Listening charts and won a Grammy in '64 - an amazing accomplishment for an instrumental at the height of Beatlemania! Trumpeter? Hit?

Yesterday's answer: "Addicted". I discovered Cheryl Wheeler (and Mary Chapin Carpenter) by accident. Channel surfing landed on TNN's "Nashville Now" with Ralph Emery in '86. She had just released her self-titled debut album. She blew me away! You haven't lived until you've seen her on stage!​ch?v=nKHSBHahwiA


OK, back to the 80's: This poignant and emotional '86 Cheryl Wheeler composition was, according to her, "inspired by a conversation with (her) sister who was trying to decide if she should stay in a relationship. The man comes by less and less, but the woman doesn't want to call it off. At first, things were great, but now (they) are getting worse. She wants to call it off, but she can't. " Featured in her self-titled debut album. The late great Dan Seals topped both the U.S. and Canadian Country charts with his cover (minus the last verse) in '88, his 8th straight #1 hit.

Yesterday's answer: "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. The Boss and The Big Man at their best!​ch?v=KngiJUNdsu0

"Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band.

OK, back to the 70's: With a working appellation of "Wings For Wheels", The Boss went through several titles AND girls in the song, including Angelina and Christine, before settling on a final name and heroine. The opening track for his seminal '75 "Born To Run" album, it was inspired by Roy Orbison "...singing for the lonely...". The title is taken from a '58 Robert Mitchum film. On stage it was a showcase for Clarence "The Big Man" Clemons' sax prowess - he left us on June 18.

Yesterday's answer: "You're Sixteen" by Johnny Burnette. From Jeff Bluml: "I think that this is the only album that all three of The Beatles actually all performed on, at different times, after the break up. Ringo actually acknowledges all three as the album fades if I remember correctly."​ch?v=ayoHwvbriOM​ch?v=8ainB6qnWBI

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"You're Sixteen" by Johnny Burnette.

OK, back to the 60's: This Memphis native was a founding member of The Rock And Roll Trio. His first hit, "Dreamin' ", peaked at #11 in 1960. His biggest hit was a Sherman Brothers composition that went up to #8 in '60 and was a Certified Gold Disc. Part of the "American Graffiti" soundtrack ('73). Ringo Starr's '74 cover topped the charts. It features Harry Nilsson on background vocals and Macca on kazoo, making it the only #1 hit to feature a kazoo solo. Carrie Fisher appears on the '78 video. Artist? Biggest hit?

Yesterday's answer: Andrew Jones' "When You Dance" by The Turbans and Fred Perris' "In The Still Of the Night" by The Five Satins.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


OK, a little history coming your way: The first time the term "doo-wop" appeared in print was in the Chicago Defender in '61. D.J. Gus Gossert is widely credited with coining the phrase. Early "doo-wop" variation uses include "Good Loving" by the Clovers ('53), "Never" by The Dundees aka The Calvanes ('54) and "Mary Lee" by the Rainbows ('55). Name the first two songs to actually use "doo-wop" in their refrains.

Yesterday's answer: "Slow Down". Never get tired of listening to The Young Rascals' self-titled debut album. A classic!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Slow Down"

OK, more 50's: This Larry Williams rhythm and blues classic was first recorded by him in '58 as the B-side to his "Dizzy Miss Lizzie". John Lennon was an avid fan of Williams and this tune was a staple of the early Beatles' stage repertoire. They released it in '64 as the B-side to "Dizzy Miss Lizzie" in the UK and as the B-side to "Matchbox" in the U.S., peaking at #25 on Billboard's Hot 100. The Young Rascals covered it in their self-titled debut album in '66 (my favorite version).

Yesterday's answer: "What A Wonderful World". A song that'll make anyone's day.​ch?v=SzJY96m3lkg​ch?v=uEBBGSgO16M​ch?v=V1bFr2SWP1I

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"What A Wonderful World"

OK, back to the 60's: This bright and optimist '68 Thiele/Weiss composition was a breath of fresh air amidst the turmoil of the late 60's. First offered to Tony Bennett who declined it. Louis Armstrong recorded it for $250 so his orchestra could get paid! The biggest hit single in the UK in '68, it was not promoted in the U.S. "Discovered" in the U.S. in '87 as part of the "Good Morning, Vietnam" soundtrack, it peaked at #32 in '88. This was THE last song performed on-stage by the late great Eva Cassidy before her untimely death in '96. Beautiful medley with "Over The Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole in '93.

Yesterday's answer: "Let It Be Me". One of my all-time faves. You haven't lived until you hear Phil and Don doing this live on stage.​ch?v=k4n4UQtJRpw​ch?v=XIJbXJ5sot8​ch?v=WvREm7w4slk​ch?v=i22xbY4u2​ch?v=6WL-wpIlxmwiI​ch?v=jA7PY5qaJyU

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Let It Be Me"

OK, back to the 50's: Becaud co-wrote the beautiful romantic ballad "Je T'Appartiens" with Delanoe in 1955 and first recorded it in French. Mann Curtis provided English lyrics and it was covered under its new title by Jill Corey in '57. The Everly Brothers popularized it and took it to #7 in '60 - the first time they used strings in one of their recordings. It also charted for Betty Everett/Jerry Butler (#5 in '64), Glen Campbell/Bobbie Gentry (#36 in '69) and Willie Nelson (#2 country in '82).

Yesterday's answer: "She's Not There" by The Zombies. "Tell Her No" and "Time Of The Season" were their other Top 10 hits.​ch?v=f5IRI4oHKNU​ch?v=bEEW5mWU2nI​ch?v=La-9bHte8R8​ch?v=6cYdH46HqpE​ch?v=oc7b62El_fk

Monday, July 11, 2011

"She's Not There" by The Zombies.

OK, more British Invasion: This Rod Argent composition was The Zombies' first single and their biggest hit, peaking at #2 U.S. and #12 UK in '64. Argent's distinctive keyboard line on the Hohner Pianet marked the first use of the electric piano as lead instrument during the British Invasion. Recorded in one take (!), the chord progressions were inspired by Brian Hyland's "Sealed With A Kiss". #297 on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Masterfully covered by The Ventures on their "Knock Me Out!" album. Santana's version peaked at #27 in '77. For extra credit, name the Zombies' two other Top 10 hits.

Yesterday's answer: "Foggy Mountain Breakdown". A staple of rural chase scenes. Steve Martin's talent never ceases to amaze me - aside from all his other credentials he's a very respectable 5-string banjo player.​ch?v=APl9fRFmdC0​ch?v=icMTVV5Lwaw

Sunday, July 10, 2011

"Foggy Mountain Breakdown"

OK, back to the 40's: This 1949 instrumental bluegrass classic was written by Earl Scruggs and first recorded by Flatt and Scruggs. Considered one of the most challenging 5-string banjo pieces. Used during chase scenes on "Bonnie and Clyde" in '67. Peaked at #55 Pop and at #58 Country. Scruggs' re-recording in 2001 with Steve Martin on 2nd banjo won him a Grammy the following year. It is on the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry.

Yesterday's answer: "Rain" by The Beatles. BINGO! One of my Beatles faves. Paul's bass work is beyond words. Killer video - still can't believe there's only 2 left.​ch?v=bdrGS__yg6Q

Saturday, July 9, 2011

"Rain" by The Beatles.

OK, more Fabdom: This '66 Lennon composition was released as the B-side to "Paperback Writer" and has been called "The Beatles' finest B-side". Inspired by the foul weather they encountered in Melbourne. Recorded during the "Revolver" sessions, it marks The Beatles' first use of "backward vocals" recording and the group's first music video. Ringo considers it his "best drumming ever" and Paul's complex bass line on the '64 Rickenbacker 4001S is, in my opinion, his opus magnum on bass. It peaked at #23 and is ranked #463 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.

Yesterday's answer: "Along Comes Mary" by the Association. ... just like The Stones' "Lady Jane".​ch?v=sYJhhKSXOBo​ch?v=CzJbRUEzl3Q

"Along Comes Mary" by The Association.

OK, back to the 60's: Described as "a paean to marijuana", this 1966 Tandyn Almer composition was L.A.-based The Association's first hit, peaking at #7. The great Leonard Bernstein used it as an example of the Dorian Mode in his "Young People's Concert - What Is A Mode?" - "...and that is why (song title) sounds so primitive and earthy". Covered by The Manhattan Transfer and was a minor hit for The Baja Marimba Band.

Yesterday's answer: "Hit The Road, Jack" by Ray Charles. His other two POP #1's were "Georgia On My Mind" and "I Can't Stop Loving You". He had others on the R&B charts.​ch?v=Q8Tiz6INF7I

Monday, July 4, 2011

"Hit The Road, Jack" by Ray Charles.

OK, more 60's: Percy Mayfield penned and first recorded this rhythm and blues standard in 1960. His good friend Ray Charles took it to #1 in both the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B charts in '61. The second one of Charles' three #1 hits. His then lover Margie Hendricks of The Raelettes sings the lead background vocals. Grammy winner in '61 for Best Male R&B Recording. No. 377 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. Very popular in sporting events when a player is ejected or replaced. For extra credit name Ray Charles' other 2 #1 Pop hits.

Yesterday's answer: "Peggy O" by Simon and Garfunkel. Some may consider this heresy but, in my book, "Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M." is Simon and Garfunkel's best album. It tanked commercially as it was released during The Beatles' apogee. As good as folk music gets!​ch?v=dTGDZ1-zOaE​ch?v=AX9Vhv4akxc​ch?v=S733bko5y00

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"Peggy O" by Simon and Garfunkel.

OK, more traditional folk: This angelically-harmonized folk ballad was featured in Simon and Garfunkel's '64 debut album "Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M.". Based upon "The Bonnie Lass o'Fyvie", an old Scottish folk song from the 1600's. A captain of the Irish dragoons falls in love with a beautiful Scottish girl who does not return his affection. Narrated in third person by one of his soldiers. The title "evolved" into "Fennario" over the years and was adapted to the War of 1812 and the American Civil War. Dylan recorded it for his first album in '62 and Joan Baez performed it in '63 as "Fennario". Sung also by The Chad Mitchell Trio, The Journeymen and The Grateful Dead.

Yesterday's answer: "Full Moon And Empty Arms". In my book the Piano Concerto No.2 is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written.​ch?v=JwnJzm-kubE​ch?v=Q8KxMmUlmKc

Saturday, July 2, 2011

"Full Moon And Empty Arms"

OK, more pop songs based on the classics: Tin Pan Alley composers Ted Mossman and Buddy Kaye wrote this 1945 ballad based upon the third movement (allegro scherzando) of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C-minor, Op. 18. Popularized that same year by Frank Sinatra. Beautiful rendition by the Platters.

Yesterday's answer: "Tonight We Love". How can you go wrong with ol' Pyotr Ilyich?!​ch?v=3gbePjrkIiM​ch?v=vH5ohi4A2Q4​ch?v=Yk-D5VtfzEA

"Tonight We Love"

OK, more pop tunes inspired by the classics: Tenor saxophonist and bandleader Freddy Martin's biggest hit was this 1941 adaptation of the first movement of Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 in B-flat minor, Op. 23. First recorded instrumentally, lyrics were soon added and it was re-recorded with Clyde Roger on vocals.

Yesterday's answer: "Could It Be Magic?" by Barry Manilow.

"Could It Be Magic" by Barry Manilow.

OK, more pop tunes inspired by the classics: Barry Manilow co-wrote this '73 ballad with Adrienne Anderson for his debut album. He re-released as a single in '75, peaking at #6. Based upon Chopin's Prelude in C-minor, Op. 28, No. 20. Melissa Manchester figures in the lyrics.

Yesterday's answer: "The Song Of The Volga Boatmen". From my dear friend Dr. Andy Romeu: "I think of it as a funeral march, and cartoon music." Strife!

"The Song Of The Volga Boatmen"

OK, more 1800's: Inspired by Ilya Repin's famous painting of "burlaks" from the days of Tsarist Russia, this traditional shipboard working song was first published by Mily Balakirev in 1866. Popularized by Russian basso Feodor Chaliapin. Glenn Miller's jazz adaptation topped the charts in '41. It has become a musical symbol of toil, doom, despair and devotion to duty. Used frequently in Tom & Jerry, Bugs Bunny and The Three Stooges shorts.

Yesterday's answer: "Stranger In Paradise". I grew up listening to Bing Crosby's (my Dad's fave) version on the old Hi-Fi.

Friday, July 1, 2011

"I'm Always Chasing Rainbows".

OK, more pop tunes based upon the classics: This 1917 pop standard was written by Carroll and McCarthy for the 1918 musical "Oh, Look!". It is based upon Chopin's "Fantasie-Impromptu". Performed by Judy Garland in the '41 movie "Ziegfeld Girl" and "revived" by Perry Como in '46.

Yesterday's answer: "The Look Of Love". In her heyday Ursula Andress was mighty inspiring!

"Stranger In Paradise".

OK, more pop tunes based upon the classics: This beautiful romantic ballad was composed by Wright and Forrest for the musical "Kismet". It was inspired by Borodin's "Gliding Dance Of The Maidens" from his "Polovtsian Dances". Tony Bennett's 1953 version is perhaps its most popular rendition.

Yesterday's answer: "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows". One of many beautiful tunes from the WWI era. To my dear nephew David Garcia: "I'm sure you play it masterfully!"