2021 song draft
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Eight pick.
I remember when I heard Possession on the radio the first time. I was driving home from work and I was immediately in love. The music was stunning, her voice was stunning and I was captivated. Who is she, I thought to myself (I had no idea that Sarah McLachlan had two previous albums). I found the Fumbling Towards Ecstasy CD as fast as I could. It is a fantastic album. There is not a bad song on it.
When Surfacing came out in July 1997, I snatched it, too. It was released to coincide with the Lilith Fair. Though Fumbling Towards Ecstasy remains my favorite of her albums, Witness is my favorite single. The sixth track, it was never released as a single, has no chart information what-so-ever and it remains in the shadow of Building A Mystery, Sweet Surrender, Adia and, in particular, Angel. The album is one of two that reached #2 on the Billboard 200. It was the #1 album on Billboard’s Canadian Albums chart on August 2, 1997 and on Canada’s RPM Top Albums/CDs chart on July 28, 1997.
As an odd bit of trivia, this album is mentioned in the Starr Report, Ken Starr‘s investigation of the Monica Lewinsky Scandal, as was Altoid Mints, the movie Titanic, Billie Holliday, Elvis, Spinach Dip, Starbucks and Leaves of Grass. Monica apparently liked track #5.
This song speaks to me on so many levels. It’s a beautiful piece with beautiful lyrics… ~Vic
Make me a witness
Take me out
Out of darkness
Out of doubt
I won’t weigh you down
With good intention
Won’t make fire out of clay
Or other inventions
Will we burn in heaven
Like we do down here
Will the change come
While we’re waiting
Everyone is waiting
And, when we’re done
As we carried the weight
And died for the cause
Is misery made beautiful
Right before our eyes
Will mercy be revealed
Or blind us where we stand
Lilith Fair @ 20 (Billboard Article/Gil Kaufman/07-05-2017)
Sarah McLachlan Named In Starr Report (MTV News/09-16-1998)
Starr Report Unearths New Bedfellows (The Hartford Courant/Rock Critic Roger Catlin/09-17-1998)
The Pop Life: Musical Damage In Starr Report (The New York Times/Neil Strauss/09-24-1998/Web Archive)
No Official Video
Live From Mirrorball
Sarah Discussing The Surfacing CD
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Seven pick.
Pat Benatar exploded on the music scene in the Summer/Fall of 1979 with her debut album In The Heat of the Night. I was in 8th grade and the first song I remember hearing on the radio from the album was Heartbreaker. I went to my hometown’s only mall and headed into a store called Stereo Village. I wanted this song and, when I asked for it, the guy trying to help me automatically thought I was talking about Led Zepplin. When I mentioned Pat Benatar’s song, he didn’t know what I was talking about. He told me to sing some of the music for him…so, my 13 year old self obliged, right there in the middle of the store, “in front of God and everybody” (Southern colloquialism). He still didn’t know the song but, said “Nice voice!” I never did get that 45 and a few months later, rolling into the new decade, We Live For Love was released in February and, I liked it even better than Heartbreaker. Crimes of Passion, her sophomore album, came out the following August and the hits kept coming. You Better Run (The Young Rascals cover) became the second video broadcast on the debut of MTV, behind Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles (a 45 I managed to get my hands on). I was a devoted fan at that point without owning a single song or album. By the time of my 16th birthday, a young man I was dating presented me with the Crimes of Passion album. I was overjoyed.
I nearly got to see her perform during the 1986 Seven the Hard Way tour. It started in January 1986 and stopped, abruptly, in April. She was a mom by then and family pressures caused cancellations. Greensboro Coliseum lost out. I did get to see her for the Can’t Stop Rockin’ tour in 1995 in Raleigh. Prior to those two, my mother considered me too young to see the earlier concerts. 😭
Gravity’s Rainbow was her ninth, and the last studio album to be in the Billboard 200 chart in the top 100s, peaking at #85 on June 19, 1993 and making it to #44 in Canada for one week on July 31, 1993. Named after the Thomas Pynchon novel, it was also the last album released on Chrysalis Records. It was not one of her better albums, statistically speaking but, it yielded three singles, two of which, I love. My favorite album of hers is, of course, the tour that got cancelled in 1986. That being said, after all these years of her music catalog, Somebody’s Baby is my favorite single, released July 5, 1993 (my second favorite single is Le Bel Age). She and Spyder James had already geared down quite a bit, releasing the blues-themed True Love in 1991, to much less fanfare than Wide Awake in Dreamland from 1988. True Love was her first album that did not rate with RIAA.
I am a fan of Benatar like Hans & Max are of the Beatles. I love this one because of the lyrics, the mood, the blend of the music and her stunning voice, though, in this piece, it is not quite as “up there” as when she sings Invincible (she has a four octave range). I am normally indifferent to most lyrics, choosing to immerse myself in musical arrangements and wonderful voices but, the writing speaks to my heart and I confess that, the first time I heard this, it brought me to tears. ~Vic
BenatarGiraldo (Official Website)
Gravity’s Rainbow (RockWired/Brian Lush/06-12-2018)
Pat Benatar (Hip Online/01-05-2008)
Pat Benatar: Gravity’s Rainbow (Rolling Stone/Andrea Odintz/2003/Web Archive)
Richmond: Benatar’s Rise to Fame (Richmond Times-Dispatch/Nicole Kappatos/04-11-2017/Web Archive)
Live On Leno
Regis & Kathie Lee Show (Stripped Down Short Version)
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Six pick.
Moving into 1986… My first introduction to R.E.M. wasn’t the radio or MTV. It was an odd video channel on Cablevision in the early 80s in my NC hometown (my mom only had basic cable…no MTV). I’ve talked at great length with Max (Powerpop Blogger) about this obscure video channel. I remember two VJs, one named “Dr. John” (not the musician) that wore blue scrubs and one named “Carrot Top” (not the comedian), that, of course, was a red-headed dude. I have no idea where this channel broadcast from but, it was a seriously stripped down operation. It was just rotating VJs, sitting at a desk, talking into a camera…and playing music videos. The first video I recall seeing was Radio Free Europe, the Murmur version, not the Hib-Tone single (I later found out). I was immediately hooked but, totally missed who the band was. (Interestingly, the Hib-Tone version was recorded at Drive-In Studios in Winston-Salem, NC and the Murmur version was recorded at Reflection Studios in Charlotte, NC.) Fast forward to the end of my senior year of high school and I see some of So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry) on MTV. I had no idea that this was the same band. It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college, when Driver 8 came out (another one I like), that a buddy of mine told me who R.E.M. was…a college band out of the University of Georgia (Bulldogs). Every piece of music of theirs that I was lucky enough to catch, I loved. Finally, in 1987, The One I Love broke thru to #9 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and they seemed to be everywhere. Their highest charting hit was Losing My Religion, getting to #4 in 1991. Out of their entire catalog, which is gi-hugic, Fall On Me wound up being my favorite, with my introductory piece, Radio Free Europe, coming in second. I wish I had seen them live.
Bit of odd trivia…five strange degrees of separation. R.E.M. had a manager by the name of Jefferson Holt. He was with them until 1996 when they got rid of him for sexual harassment. Jefferson Holt is from Chapel Hill and his mother is named Bertha “B” Holt. She was an NC State Rep. from 1975 to 1994, representing my home county (and another one). She was quite the pioneer, advocating for the ERA and married rape victims (which is ironic as hell considering her son’s behavior). My paternal grandmother was in Democratic politics in the 60s, 70s & 80s, running for local office, herself (and on first-names basis with several governors). She campaigned heavily for her favorites and “Bee” Holt was one of them. I met Bee Holt several times as a kid and remember all of her “Bee” 🐝 paraphernalia all over my grandmother’s house.
I guess this makes me closer to R.E.M. than Kevin Bacon! 😉 😊 ~Vic
Released 0n August 11, 1986, it was the third track from the album Lifes Rich Pageant. It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #96 the weekend of October 4, peaking at #94 on October 11 before finally disappearing from the chart on October 25. It did better on the Album Rock Tracks, making it to #5 for one week on September 6.
“Of the genuinely new songs, Peter Buck’s basic music track for Fall On Me dated back to July of 1985, when Stipe had written a lyric about acid rain [but], the song had been virtually re-written, melody and lyrics, by the time it came to be recorded. Stipe, who declared in 1991 that “…this may be my favourite song in the R.E.M. catalogue…”, has described the final version as “…pretty much a song about oppression.” Trainspotters might like to know that the counter-melody used in the second verse is actually the song’s original tune.
Johnny Black (2004)
Reveal: The Story of R.E.M.
His Favorite Song
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Five pick.
Pulling myself out of 1978, I am moving into the 1980s. ~Vic
John Mellencamp‘s Scarecrow album was released on August 5, 1985, 25 days prior to my 19th birthday and six weeks before I started my sophomore year of college. God, what an album. This was Mellencamp’s version of Born In The USA (I own both albums). Roots rock/Heartland rock was the music in the background of my graduation from high school and subsequent foray into college. Minutes To Memories was not an official release from the album but, it managed to make it to #14 on the Top Rock Tracks for one week as a non-single album track. It spoke volumes to me…
“You are young and you are the future
So, suck it up, tough it out
Be the best you can.”
Written by Mellencamp and his childhoon friend George M. Green, it is the #4 track on the album and Mimi Mapes sang backing vocals. Scarecrow made it to #2 on the Billboard 200 chart the week of November 16, 1985 (coming underneath Born In The USA, twice) and stayed for a couple of weeks, stuck behind the Miami Vice Soundtrack.
“I wrote a song called [You’ve Got To] Stand For Something,” [Mellencamp] explains, “but, I never did say what you should stand for…except your own truth. That song was supposed to be funny, too and, I hope people got that. But, I think that’s the key to the whole LP…suggesting that each person come to grips with their own individual truth […] and try to like themselves a little bit more. Find out what you as a person are […] and don’t let the world drag you down. People should have respect for and believe in themselves.”
A deeply felt sense of responsibility and an equally motivating need to atone for past missteps seem to define Scarecrow. On the midtempo Minutes to Memories, Mellencamp tells the story of a young boy riding home to Indiana after a trip to the South. In the next seat on the bus is a seventy-seven-year-old retired steelworker lecturing the child on how to live, backing his advice with experience. “My family and friends are the best things I’ve known,” he instructs, and the child, a budding rebel, chuckles to himself at how out of touch the old dog is.
Easing into the final verse, Mellencamp hushes his band. In a voice just above a whisper, he suddenly shifts the tale from third to first person. He’s the kid on the Greyhound and, his inability to comprehend, let alone act on, the wisdom he was given then, still haunts him… “Now that I’m older I can see he was right.” [T]hen Mellencamp reveals that he’s telling this story to his own son. He knows he’s being silently scoffed at as surely as his travel companion was two decades earlier. Still, he accepts it and the band rocks out.
There is no official video of this song but, the below is one guy’s idea.
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Four pick.
I nearly abandoned the rest of the 1970s for the 1980s until Quinn’s pick. Listening, again, to Tears for Fears reminded me of how much I love a saxophone in rock music. I think I might stay in 1978 for a little while. It was a good year, musically…for me, anyway. I can remember buying this 45 at a Woolworths in my hometown’s only mall. I also remember playing it on my little suitcase record player. I was eleven at the time. There’s not much that Gerry Rafferty put out that I didn’t like. ~Vic
A Scotsman (I am from Clan MacPherson), Rafferty’s first band was The Humblebums (founded in 1965), joining comic Billy Connolly and Tam Harvey in 1969. Harvey departed shortly afterwards and, in 1971, Rafferty recorded his first solo album when he and Connolly parted company. In 1972, he joined with Joe Egan to form Stealers Wheel, their biggest hit being Stuck In The Middle With You from their first, self-titled album. After disbanding in 1975, legal issues over Stealers Wheel prevented him from releasing new material for three years.
Baker Street, the second track from the album City To City, was released February 3, 1978 or, possibly, January 20, 1978, depending and entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart the week of April 22, 1978. It made it to #2 the week of June 24, 1978 and stayed there, stuck behind Andy Gibb‘s Shadow Dancing, for six weeks (as a side note, my paternal aunt gave me the Shadow Dancing 8-track album for my twelfth birthday and it was shoved into a brand new stereo system from my parents):
“…Baker Street was a smash and it allegedly took some serious chart chicanery to keep it out of the #1 spot. [It] stalled out at #2 right as […] Gibb’s Shadow Dancing was in the midst of its seven-week run at #1. According to legend, the chart tabulators at Billboard had actually figured out that Baker Street had finally ascended to the #1 spot in one of those [seven] weeks and they’d called the new chart into the producers at Casey Kasem’s radio show, America’s Top 40 [sic]. But, because of a last-minute correction, Kasem had to re-record the end of that week’s show, putting Shadow Dancing back on top.
According to rumor, Bill Wardlow, Billboard chart director, made the call to keep Shadow Dancing at #1. Wardlow had supposedly gone to dinner with Andy Gibb’s managers and he’d mentioned that Baker Street had knocked Shadow Dancing out of the #1 spot. Gibb had been scheduled to perform at a Billboard-sponsored show in New York and his label threatened to pull him from the bill if Billboard didn’t keep Shadow Dancing on top…so that’s why Baker Street never got to #1. This is all pure speculation and hearsay but, it’s a good story. Record labels have been doing everything in their power to game the Billboard charts ever since those charts began and it certainly seems possible that Baker Street could’ve been a casualty of all that.
“While doing a bit of research the other day, I found myself poking around the edition of Billboard dated February 17, 1973 (PDF), as one does.
Here’s some of what’s inside:
Willis “Bill” Wardlow has been named associate publisher of Billboard. Over the next several years, Wardlow would be responsible for occasionally jiggering the Billboard charts to reward or punish record labels and to do favors for industry friends. As we learned a few years ago, his manipulations led to Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” spending only 12 hours at #1.”
40 Years Later: Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street ~ The Most Controversial No. 2 Song Ever? (DJ Rob Blog/04-17-2018)
Baker Street: The Mystery of Rock’s Greatest Sax Riff (The Atlantic/Adam Chandler/12-17-2015)
Scott Paton: Billboard Insider Comment (The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ Website/AT40 From The Inside/09-16-2013)
Smoking The Bible
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Three pick.
I can’t recall the first time I heard Driver’s Seat but, the song entered Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart on July 21, 1979. I was twelve and I was immediately hooked. It was released in 1978 but, took a while to gain any traction. It managed to get to #15 for a couple of weeks, sandwiched between Bad Case Of Loving You (Doctor, Doctor) by Robert Palmer and Born To Be Alive by Patrick Hernandez. It was the first track from Sniff ‘n’ The Tears debut album Fickle Heart and was the band’s only hit despite fifteen albums, spanning 1978 to 2020.
The history of this British rock band is a little sketchy. Colin Larkin, the British Editor-in-Chief of The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, stated in the 1997 edition that they “had been gigging in England as early as 1974” but, an Athens Calling interview in 2018 reflects 1972. A Jason Ankeny, writing for All Music, stated that lead singer/songwriter Paul Roberts dissolved the band after not being able to get a record deal. Drummer Luigi Salvoni talked Roberts into re-forming the band with Mick Dyche, Loz Netto, Chris Birkin and Alan Fealdman. Ankeny has the actual musician line-up all wrong in comparison to the official website. There is also no mention of Noel McCalla as backing vocals for the time period. The name of the band apparently came from their manager, as Roberts had hay fever and sniffed a lot.
The band is still active as of 2001 as a quartet, with Roberts & Salvoni still working together. ~Vic
Top of the Pops 1979 (Proper Line-Up)
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round Two pick.
I grew up around lots of music. My dad had his tastes, my mom had hers and I got some exposure to my grandparents music, too. There was plenty of Elvis, Buddy Holly, Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, Gene Pitney, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, The Ventures, The Beach Boys, instrumental music (think Hugo Montenegro or Paul Mauriat), funny stuff like Ben Colder/Sheb Wooley, Ray Stevens or David Seville (my dad’s stuff), The Four Seasons, Motown, soul music, beach music (my mom’s stuff), big band music (my paternal grandparents) and, bluegrass, country and Latin/jazz (maternal grandparents). One song, in particular, that reminds me of my dad the most is Cathy’s Clown. When I was a kid, my dad liked to just get in the car, drive around and listen to the radio. It was, literally, No Particular Place To Go. When I became an adult, we’d still get in the car and cruise. He and I would sing Cathy’s Clown, together, with me taking Phil’s harmony. I still own my dad’s original 45. ~Vic
Written by Don, it was recorded in March and released in April 1960. It was recorded live, in a single take, with both brothers sharing a microphone. Floyd Cramer was on piano, Floyd Chance on bass and Buddy Harman on drums. An odd song, it has a chorus and bridges but, no verses. It was their first single for Warner Bros. It spent five weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, one week on the Billboard’s R&B chart and seven weeks at #1 on UK’s Singles chart. It was their biggest selling single and their last #1 after Wake Up Little Susie and All I Have to Do Is Dream.
The song is ranked at #150 Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and it was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2013. Covers have been done by Reba McEntire and Neil Sedaka (1983) with McEntire’s version reaching #1 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and Canada’s RPM Country Tracks chart in 1989. There is even a Jan and Dean version on Filet Of Soul Redux: The Rejected Master Recordings (2017).
“We owe those guys everything. They started it all.” ~Bob Dylan
Additional Reading & References:
The Everly Brothers: That Sibling Sound (BBC News/2014)
Cathy’s Clown ~ The Everly Brothers (Library of Congress/PDF)
Recording Cathy’s Clown (Steve Hoffman Music Forum)
Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show 1960
Hanspostcard has a song draft challenge. This is my Round One pick. I will be posting these per decade.
Having grown up on the East Coast/Mid-Atlantic, one thing my state is known for is shagging (for the Brits, no, that is not what it means). While my grandparents did the Jitterbug as youths, my parents shagged (a descendant of the Jitterbug), as did my classmates and I. This song, in particular, was my favorite to shag to, though I enjoyed many beach music songs. ~Vic
Released either in May (per Rolling Stone Magazine) or April 24, 1959 (per Wikipedia), it was written by Benjamin Nelson (Ben E. King), Lover Patterson and George Treadwell. Produced by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the song hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot R&B chart (July) and, #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 (August).
This is the second version of The Drifters under Treadwell’s management, crafted from the Five Crowns: Ben E. King, Charlie Thomas, Doc Green and Elsbeary Hobbs with James “Poppa” Clark being rejected for alcohol issues. With this line-up, There Goes My Baby was their first single and King’s debut as lead singer. It was unusual for its time, being the first commercial R&B/Soul recording with strings, arranged by Stan Applebaum, and a Brazilian Baiãon groove. Phil Spector studied the production style under Leiber & Stoller.
Ben E. King and The Drifters (The Vocal Group Hall of Fame Foundation/Inducted 2000)
John Gilliland’s Pop Chronicles (The Drifters & Ritchie Valens/Track 2/University of North Texas Digital Library)
There Goes My Baby (The Art of Rock Music Listening Guide/University of Albany/PDF)
Things You Didn’t Know About The Drifters (Pop, Rock & Doo Wopp/Joe Mirrione/April 10, 2020)