Music

Tune Tuesday: March 19, 1969

Posted on Updated on

Sonny James Image One
Image Credit: freecovers.net
Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame 2006

Fifty years ago, today, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot Country chart was Only the Lonely by Sonny James, a cover version of a song written by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson. Referred to as the Southern Gentleman for his personality and manner, James, born James Hugh Loden, had 22 #1 hits from 1960 to 1979. He and Bobbie Gentry hosted the very first Country Music Association‘s (CMA) award show in 1967. He was the first country music performer to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1957, the first country music star to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1961 and the first country artist to have his music sent into space in 1971, having recorded a special song for the Apollo 14 crew. He produced Marie Osmond‘s first solo hit Paper Roses.

Lyrics:
Dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah
Ooh-yay-yay-yay-yeah
Oh-oh-oh-oh-wah
Only the lonely

Only the lonely (dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah)
Know the way I feel tonight (ooh-yay-yay-yay-yeah)
Only the lonely (dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah)
Know this feelin aint right (dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah)

There goes my baby
There goes my heart
They’re gone forever
So far apart

But only the lonely
Know why
I cry
Only the lonely

Dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah
Ooh-yay-yay-yay-yeah
Oh-oh-oh-oh-wah
Only the lonely

Only the lonely
Know the heartaches I’ve been through
Only the lonely
Know I cried and cried for you

Maybe tomorrow
A new romance
No more sorrow
But that’s the chance – you gotta take
If your lonely heart breaks
Only the lonely

Dum-dum-dum-dumdy-doo-wah

Tune Tuesday: March 5, 1969

Posted on Updated on

Sly & The Family Stone Image One
Photo Credit: usa-hit-parade.blogspot.com

Fifty years ago, today, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts was Everyday People by Sly and the Family Stone. Written by Sylvester Stewart and released November 1968, the song was somehow a plea for unity and, pride of diversity, at the same time, along with pleas for peace, and equality, between differing races and social groups.

From The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:

Sly and the Family Stone took the Sixties ideal of a generation coming together and, turned it into deeply groove-driven music. Rock’s first integrated, multi-gender band became funky Pied Pipers to the Woodstock Generation, synthesizing rock, soul, R&B, funk and psychedelia into danceable, message-laden, high-energy music. In promoting their gospel of tolerance and celebration of differences, Sly and the Family Stone brought disparate audiences together during the latter half of the Sixties. The group connected with the rising counterculture by means of songs that addressed issues of personal pride and liberation in the context of driving, insistent and sunny-tempered music that fused rock and soul, creating a template for Seventies funk.

Notable covers of the song were recorded by Joan Jett, Aretha Franklin, Arrested Development, Maroon 5 and Billy Paul. The single made it to #5 on Billboard’s Hot 100 for 1969.

Lyrics:
Sometimes I’m right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I’m in
I am everyday people, yeah, yeah

There is a blue one
Who can’t accept the green one
For living with a fat one
Trying to be a skinny one
Different strokes
For different folks

And so on and so on
And scooby dooby dooby
Oh sha sha
We got to live together

I am no better and neither are you
We are the same, whatever we do
You love me, you hate me, you know me and then
You can’t figure out the bag I’m in
I am everyday people, yeah yeah

There is a long hair
That doesn’t like the short hair
For being such a rich one
That will not help the poor one
Different strokes
For different folks

And so on and so on
And scooby dooby dooby
Oh sha sha
We got to live together

There is a yellow one
That won’t accept the black one
That won’t accept the red one
That won’t accept the white one
Different strokes
For different folks

And so on and so on
And scooby dooby dooby
Oh sha sha
I am everyday people

Addendum:
In 1961, Billboard added a new category called Adult Contemporary. Prior to that, from 1958 to 1960, everything fit into either Hot 100, R & B or Country. In 1963, Billboard 200 was added and in 1964, Top Country Albums. As of 2018, Billboard now has 87 individual categories. Choosing a number #1 song in any of these categories could fill up a blog, if a blogger was so inclined. Previously, I tried to showcase Hot 100s and added Alternative Rock, Mainstream Rock, Country and, R&B. It is a lot of work and if I tried to cover all the new categories, well…they would find my dead body, slumped over the keyboard.

Under normal circumstances, I go backwards each week by five years. I love music so, I’m going to have to shift gears, soon, to cover #1 songs in some categories other than the coveted Hot 100. I may end up going backwards five years every month instead of every week. We shall see… ~Vic

Tune Tuesday: February 26, 1964

Posted on

The Beatles Image One
Photo Credit: moptoptours.com

Fifty-five years ago, today, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart was I Want to Hold Your Hand. Written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, it was recorded October 17, 1963, at EMI Studios in London.

From The Beatles Dot Com:

[…] it was the first Beatles record to be made using four-track equipment. It was also the group’s first American number one, entering the Billboard Hot 100 chart on 18 January 1964 at number forty-five and starting the British Invasion of the American music industry.

The Beatles Image Two
Photo Credit: beatlephotoblog.com

From The Beatles Bible:

“A telegram came through to Brian from Capitol Records of America. He came running in to the room saying, ‘Hey, look. You are number one in America!’ I Want To Hold Your Hand had gone to number one. Well, I can’t describe our response. We all tried to climb onto Big Mal’s back to go round the hotel suite: ‘Wey-hey!’ And that was it, we didn’t come down for a week.”

~Paul McCartney

“It was such a buzz to find that it had gone to number one. We went out to dinner that evening with Brian and George Martin. George took us to a place which was a vault, with huge barrels of wine around. It was a restaurant and its theme was… well, the bread rolls were shaped like penises, the soup was served out of chamber pots and the chocolate ice cream was like a big turd. And, the waiter came ’round and tied garters on all the girls’ legs. I’ve seen some pictures of us. There is a photograph around of Brian with the pot on his head. It was a great feeling because we were booked to go to America directly after the Paris trip, so it was handy to have a number one. We’d already been hired by Ed Sullivan so, if it had been a number two or number ten we’d have gone anyway but, it was nice to have a number one. We did have three records out in America before this one. The others were on two different labels. It was only after all the publicity and the Beatlemania in Europe that Capitol Records decided, ‘Oh, we will have them.’ They put out I Want To Hold Your Hand as our first single but, in fact, it was our fourth.

~George Harrison

The Beatles Image Three
Image/Photo Credit: beatles.ncf.ca (Ottawa Beatles Site)
Los Angeles Times Article 02-10-1964 (left)
Ed Sullivan Show Shots 02-09-1964 (right)

From the Ottawa Journal:

Will We All Become Beatle Nuts?
Here’s What the Reviewers Say…

“Anyone who is not a teenage girl obviously is unqualified to comment on the sight of The Beatles in action. Heaven knows we’ve heard them enough. It has been impossible to get a radio weather bulletin or time signal without running into “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” And now, having seen the four performers on Ed Sullivan’s show Sunday night, Beatlemania is even more of a mystery to an elderly viewer.”

~Cynthia Lowry (Associated Press)

“It is now clear why President de Gaulle has been giving England such a hard time about the Common Market. He undoubtedly saw The Beatles and decided nothing doing. As you certainly know, America saw the four-member rock’n’roll British group live on television last night. Pandemonium reigned. Vive La France.”

~Rick DuBrow (United Press International)

“”You can tell right away its The Beatles and not anyone else,” is the opinion of a 15-year-old specialist on the topic who saw them on the Ed Sullivan show. The age of 15 (or 16, or 14 or 13) is essential in Beatle experts. And, so, taking the above axiom as gospel, an attempt was made to find out just what is musically unique about the English group that is now visiting our shores.”

~Theodore Strongin (The New York Times)

“It seems The Beatles came, sang and conquered…all that is but, the TV reviewers. Most of the time, these reviewers have real troubles finding something to write about. Ask them… When Elvis Presley first appeared on the popular musical scene and made his TV début, did they praise him? No. In fact, most beat singers who come under the TV reviewer’s eagle eye rarely receive a word of praise. It seems obvious the reviewers came to bury the teenage favorites and not to praise them. Again, the teenage taste has been mocked. As long as this superior feeling is put across, the younger generation will continue to make their idols…and won’t give a darn who likes them.”

~Sandy Gardiner (Ottawa Journal)

Though this song didn’t win any awards, The Beatles did receive The Best New Artist award at the 7th Annual Grammy Awards.

Lyrics:
Oh yeah, I’ll tell you something,
I think you’ll understand,
Then I’ll say that something,
I wanna hold your hand,
I wanna hold your hand,
I wanna hold your hand.
Oh please say to me
You’ll let me be your man,
And please say to me,
You’ll let me hold your hand,
Now let me hold your hand,
I wanna hold your hand.
And when I touch you
I feel happy inside,
It’s such a feeling
That my love I can’t hide,
I can’t hide, I can’t hide.
Yeah, you got that something,
I think you’ll understand,
When I feel that something,
I wanna hold your hand,
I wanna hold your hand,
I wanna hold your hand.
And when I touch you
I feel happy inside,
It’s such a feeling
That my love I can’t hide,
I can’t hide, I can’t hide.
Yeah, you got that something,
I think you’ll understand,
When I feel that something,
I wanna hold your hand,
I wanna hold your hand,
I wanna hold your hand.

Tune Tuesday: February 19, 1959

Posted on

Lloyd Price Image One
Photo Credit: youtube.com

Sixty years ago, today, the #1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts was Stagger Lee. The song references a murder that took place on December 27, 1895 (though some accounts say Christmas night). “Stag” Lee Shelton, born in Texas on March 16, 1865 (the same year John B. Stetson started his famous cowboy hat company), owner of the Modern Horseshoe Club, shot William “Billy” Lyons at the Bill Curtis Saloon after an argument.

From the St. Louis Globe-Democrat December 28, 1895:

William Lyons, 25, a levee hand, was shot in the abdomen yesterday evening at 10 o’clock in the saloon of Bill Curtis, at Eleventh and Morgan Streets, by Lee Sheldon [sic], a carriage driver. Lyons and Sheldon [sic] were friends and were talking together. Both parties, it seems, had been drinking and were feeling in exuberant spirits. The discussion drifted to politics, and an argument was started, the conclusion of which was that Lyons snatched Sheldon’s [sic] hat from his head. The latter indignantly demanded its return. Lyons refused, and Sheldon [sic] withdrew his revolver and shot Lyons in the abdomen. When his victim fell to the floor Sheldon [sic] took his hat from the hand of the wounded man and coolly walked away. He was subsequently arrested and locked up at the Chestnut Street Station. Lyons was taken to the Dispensary, where his wounds were pronounced serious. Lee Sheldon [sic] is also known as ‘Stag’ Lee.

Quote from Cecil Brown (author of Stagolee Shot Billy):

“Lee Shelton belonged to a group of pimps known in St. Louis as the ‘Macks’. The Macks were not just ‘urban strollers’. They presented themselves as objects to be observed.”

Lloyd Price Image Two
Image Credit: amazon.com

Shelton’s first trial in July, 1896, ended in a hung jury. The second trial in October 1897 returned a guilty verdict and a sentence of 25 years in prison at Jefferson Penitentiary. Shelton was pardoned and released from prison by Governor Folk on Thanksgiving in 1909. He returned to prison in May of 1911 for robbery & assault. He was granted an additional parole by Governor Hadley on February 8, 1912 but, died in the prison hospital of tuberculosis in March as Missouri’s Attorney General, Elliot Major, objected.

The original version of this song was the Stack O’ Lee Blues from 1924. It has some shocking lyrics and has absolutely nothing to do with the Stagger Lee version penned by Price and Harold Logan.

This song has been covered by Pat Boone (can you imagine?), Ike & Tina Turner, The Righteous Brothers, James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Doc Watson, The Youngbloods and, even, Huey Lewis and the News.

[I grew up dancing to this song. It was a shagging staple. Have you ever seen Shag: The Movie? ~Vic]

Analog Version

Shag: The Movie

Fellow blogger Badfinger always lists lyrics. I will take his lead.

Lyrics
The night was clear and the moon was yellow
And the leaves came tumblin’ down…

I was standin’ on the corner
When I heard my bull-dog bark.
He was barkin’ at the two men
Who were gamblin’ in the dark.

It was Stagger Lee and Billy,
Two men who gambled late.
Stagger Lee threw a seven,
Billy swore that he threw eight.

“Stagger Lee,” said Billy,
“I can’t let you go with that.
You have won all my money,
And my brand-new Stetson hat.”

Stagger Lee went home
And he got his. 44.
He said, “I’m goin’ to the ballroom
Just to pay that debt I owe.”

Go, Stagger Lee

Stagger Lee went to the ballroom
And he strolled across the ballroom floor.
He said “You did me wrong, Billy.”
And he pulled his. 44.

“Stagger Lee,” said Billy,
“Oh, please don’t take my life!
I’ve got three hungry children,
And a very sickly wife.”

Stagger Lee shot Billy
Oh, he shot that poor boy so hard
That a bullet went through Billy
And broke the bartender’s bar.

Go, Stagger Lee, go, Stagger Lee!
Go, Stagger Lee, go, Stagger Lee!

Tune Tuesday: February 12, 1954

Posted on

Eddie Fisher Image One
Image Credit: 7digital.com

Sixty-five years ago, today, the #1 song on Billboard (pre-hot 100 era) was Oh! My Pa-Pa (O Mein Papa) performed by Eddie Fisher. A lamentation, sung by a young woman grieving the loss of her clown-father, the song was written by Swiss composer Paul Burkhard in 1939 for the musical Der schwarze Hecht (The Black Pike). Reproduced and re-issued in 1950 as Das Feuerwerk (The Firework), the musical was made into a German film, Fireworks, in 1954 starring Lilli Palmer.

Translated, and adapted, into English by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons, Fisher and Hugo Winterhalter’s orchestra recorded the song in December 1953 at Webster Hall in New York City.

Eddie Fisher Image Two
Image Credit: 45cat.com

Trumpeter Eddie Calvert had a #1 with an instrumental version of the song in the UK at the very same time Fisher’s version was the #1 in the US.

On March 8, 1967, television audiences were treated to a version of the song by Jim Nabors, in character as Gomer Pyle, in the Season 3 episode (#85) “Sing a Song of Papa”. On October 24, 1991, Krusty the Clown sang the song as O mein Papa on The Simpsons in the Season 3 episode Like Father, Like Clown, a twist on the young woman’s sorrow over her father.

This song has been covered by many other artists, including The Everly Brothers, Connie Francis, Ray Anthony (last surviving member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra), The Bobbettes, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Björk (as “Pabbi minn”).


 


 


 

Tune Tuesday: February 5, 1949

Posted on Updated on

Evelyn Knight Image
Image Credit: tias.com

Seventy years ago, today, the #1 song on Billboard (pre-hot 100 era) was A Little Bird Told Me by Evelyn Knight, backed up by the Stardusters. Written by Harvey Oliver Brooks, the song was recorded by five different artists with Knight’s version being the only number one. Harvey Brooks was the first black American to write a major motion picture’s complete score: I’m No Angel, starring Mae West.

The Stardusters Image
Image Credit: pinterest.com
The Stardusters with Mary McKim

In 1950, this particular song was the subject of a landmark court case between Supreme Records in Los Angeles and Decca Records in London, England. Supreme Records founder Albert Patrick sued Decca over copyright infringement as his company had recorded and released the song with singer Paula Watson before Decca’s version was released with Knight & The Stardusters. Patrick was furious and filed for $400,000 claiming plagiarism of the arrangement.

The court ruled in favor of the defense stating that musical arrangements were not copyrightable, as style could not be protested under the law. The case opened the door for cover versions. Supreme went bankrupt shortly afterwards and Paula Watson went to work for Decca.

Tune Tuesday: January 29, 1944

Posted on Updated on

Glen Gray & Casa Loma Orchestra Image One
Image Credit: hotmusiccharts.com

Seventy-five years ago, today, the #1 song on Billboard (pre-hot 100 era) was My Heart Tells Me (Should I Believe My Heart?) by Glen Gray, his Casa Loma Orchestra and singer Eugenie Baird. Written by Harry Warren (Lullaby of Broadway, Jeepers Creepers & That’s Amore) with lyrics by Mack Gordon (Chattanooga Choo-Choo), this was the theme for the 1943 musical film Sweet Rosie O’Grady. Betty Grable sang the song in the movie.

Glen Gray & his Orchestral version was number one for five weeks from January 29 to February 26, boosted by the popularity of the musical. As a popular standard for the 1940s, other well-known artists with their own versions include Etta Jones (1961), Frank Sinatra (1945), Nat King Cole (1958) and Tony Bennett (1955). Glenn Miller & his orchestra had a go in 1944, broadcasting to German soldiers. From Dance in the City (Page 191):

“One of the paradoxes of the Nazi terror was that SS officers themselves demonstrated a fondness for swing (Vogel, 1962).

Mike Zwerin (1985), in his exploration of jazz under the Nazis, described a Luftwaffe pilot who switched on the BBC hoping to catch a few bars of Glenn Miller before bombing the antenna from which these forbidden sounds were being broadcast. Allied propagandists recognised the potential for exploiting the contradictory allure that jazz possessed with Nazi society.

The sound barrier of 1944 was marked on the one hand by the music of the Nazi marches and on the other by the big band swing of Glenn Miller. The Allies attempted to exploit the popularity of swing inside Germany. On October 30, 1944, Miller’s swing tunes were aimed at German soldiers through the American Broadcast Station in Europe (ABSIE) in an effort to persuade them to lay down their arms.

Major Miller addressed German soldiers in their own language with the assistance of Ilse Weinberger, a German compere and translator. Ilse introduced Glenn Miller as the ‘magician of swing’ and, through a strange act of cultural alchemy, tunes like Long Ago and Far Away and My Heart Tells Me were rendered in German by vocalist Johnny Desmond.”