Providing Disco & Karaoke Since 19770113 266 8963 0113 266 8963
Posted by: In: Other 31 Aug 2022 Comments: 0


112-Andy Williams-Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.

1968-Number 5 single.

Best Bit-At 1.25. Didn’t your mother tell you it’s rude to stare.

Howard Andrew Williams (see also best songs 914) was born on December 3rd, 1927, in Wall Lake, Iowa, United States, he died on September 25th, 2012, of bladder cancer at the age of 84. Andy Williams first started singing with his three older brothers Bob, (1918-2003) Don, who was born in 1922, and Dick Williams (1926-2018) at the age of 10. The four ‘Williams Brothers’ appeared in four movies between 1944-1947, and were also the backing singers on Bing Crosby’s (1903-1977) (see also best songs 934-457 and 259) 1944 recording of ‘Swinging on a Star.’ The four brothers went their separate ways in 1951, but in the early 1990’s Andy Williams twin nephews Andrew and David continued the family tradition by recording together as the ‘Williams Brothers,’ recording five Albums, and releasing 12 singles.

Andy Williams is one of the worlds best selling artists with sales in excess of 100 million records, his discography includes 43 studio Albums released between 1956-2007, and 79 singles issued between 1948-2003. In America on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, he has achieved 28 top 40 hits, with ‘Butterfly’ from 1956 giving him his only chart topper, while in the UK, 21 of his singles have made the top 40, with ‘Butterfly’ again being his only Number 1 song. Andy Williams is also remembered for his television variety show ‘The Andy Williams Show’ which ran from 1962 to 1971, which featured many of the worlds top artists as guests, the show also introduced the ‘Osmond Brothers,’ (see also best songs 642) who became regulars on the show.

‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ was co-written by the legendary songwriting team of Bob Crewe, (1930-2014) and Bob Gaudio, (see also best songs 1007-914-863-739-499-393-284-164 and 83) and was first recorded by Franki Valli (see also best songs 739-284 and 83) who took the song to Number 2 on Billboard in 1967. With the Franki Valli version not being a hit in the UK, Andy Williams took advantage taking his recording to Number 5 in 1968. In 2002 Williams re-recorded the song as a duet with the English actress Denise Van Outen, and this time the song made Number 23 on the chart. Other notable cover versions of the song come from the ‘Boystown Gang,’ (see also best songs 863) who reached Number 4 in the UK in 1982, and the American singer and rapper Lauryn Hill who recorded her version in 1997, which was then issued as the ‘hidden track’ on her 1998 Album ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.’ Her version was nominated for a Grammy Award for ‘Best Female Pop Vocal Performance’ in 1999, becoming the first hidden track to ever receive a Grammy nomination. The song was also used as part of a medley by the ‘Lettermen’ in 1967, (Billboard Number 7) and by the ‘Pet Shop Boys’ in 1991, also as part of a medley (UK Number 4.) In 2019 the American Electronic musician ‘Surf Mesa’ remixed a cover version of the song as a single, under the title ‘ILY (I Love You Baby.’) which reached Number 23 on Billboard, and Number 22 in the UK.

Speaking about the song Franki Valli has said,’It’s a very, very tough song to do badly. When the song is that strong to start off with, that’s the kind of song you look for.’

‘Pardon the way that I stare, there’s nothing else to compare. The sight of you leaves me weak, there are no words left to speak.’

Posted by: In: Other 30 Aug 2022 Comments: 0


113-Run-D.M.C. vs. Jason Nevins-It’s Like That.

1998-Number 1 single.

Best Bit-At 0.02. It’s kind of ironic that the group who were so influential in changing ‘Rap’ music from using a ‘Disco’ beat to a ‘Rock’ sound should have their biggest success with a ‘Dance’ record.

Run-D.M.C. (see also best songs 305) were formed in 1983 in Hollis, Queens, New York City, United States, by Joseph Ward Simmons, (DJ Run) Darryl McDaniels, (DMC) and Jason William Mizell, (Jam Master Jay) (1965-2002) they remained officially active until Mizell was murdered in 2002. There have been occasional re-unions between Simmons and McDaniels since 2012. More than any other Hip-Hop act Run D.M.C. are responsible for changing the sound and style of the genre. Before Run D.M.C. Rap music was mainly performed over a ‘Disco’ beat, with the majority of the Rappers bragging about their lifestyle and sexual conquests. Run D.M.C. were the main protagonists in the cultural change as they created a new ‘street’ sound with sparse hard hitting beats, and socially conscious lyrics, using two turn tables and a microphone. Their clothing was also radically different to what up until then had been the stereotypical flashy attire of the ‘old school’ rapper, of tight leather, chest baring shirts, gloves and hats, and rhinestones. Run D.M.C. incorporated a more ‘street’ sense of style such as ‘Kangol’ hats, ‘Cazal’ glasses, leather jackets, and unlaced ‘Adidas’ shoes. Their lyrics would be an influence on groups such as ‘NWA’ (see also best songs 564 and 128) and ‘Public Enemy,’ (see also best songs 578 and 37) as well as helping to usher in the ‘Rap/Rock’ era, where they influenced the likes of ‘Red Hot Chilli Peppers,’ (see also best songs 977) and Linkin Park. The discography of Run D.M.C. includes seven studio Albums released between 1984-2001, and 30 singles issued between 1983-2014, of which four made the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, with ‘Walk This Way’ with Aerosmith charting the highest at Number 4 in 1986 (see also best songs 305.) In the UK Run D.M.C. have charted on six occasions, with this song being the most successful.

Although this remixed version of ‘It’s Like That’ is one of the best selling songs worldwide, having reached Number 1 in 12 countries, with sales in excess of 5 million copies, it failed to chart in America, only reaching Number 113 on Billboard. Run D.M.C. released the original version of ‘It’s Like That’ as their first single in 1983,the lyrics tackle social and political problems, and tell listeners to abandon prejudice and take on a positive outlook. In 1997 Jason Nevins remixed ‘It’s Like That’ adding an ‘Electronic’ dance beat. There is also a very memorable video that helped the songs popularity, but due to the songs upbeat vibe, and the video’s dance scene, there is no doubt that ‘It’s Like That’s’ social commentary is not recognised.

Jason Nevins was born on December 15th, 1972, in Los Angeles, California, United States, he is a songwriter, music producer, and is best known for remixing, with his greatest successes being with this song, and also ‘Cruise,’ which was a 2012 Number 4 hit on Billboard for the ‘Florida Georgia Line featuring Nelly.’ Initially Nevins only issued a small amount of copies of ‘It’s Like That’ on 10 inch vinyl in 1997, but as the DJ’s in the clubs began to play the song, it grew and grew in demand.

‘You should’ve gone to school, you could’ve learned a trade, but you laid in the bed where the bums have laid. Now all the time you’re crying that you’re underpaid, it’s like that (what?) and that’s the way it is, Huh!’

Posted by: In: Other 29 Aug 2022 Comments: 0


114-Marvin Gaye-What’s Going On.

1971-It has never charted in the UK.

Best Bit-At 0.08. Marvin Gaye may have been a Soul Legend, but he really wanted to be a ‘NFL’ football player. He was good friends with the Detroit Lions players Mel Farr, (1944-2015) and Lem Barney, and when they would meet up they would greet each other by saying ‘Whats Going On.’

Marvin Gaye (see also best songs 723 and 183) was born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr. on April 2nd, 1939, in Washington D.C. United States, he died after being shot in the chest, and his shoulder, by his father Marvin Gay Sr. on April 1st, 1984, he was 44 years old. Marvin Gaye was intervening in a fight between his parents, and had become involved in a physical altercation with his father. Marvin Gaye Sr, (1914-1998) was initially charged with first-degree murder, but the charges were reduced to voluntary manslaughter following a diagnosis of a brain tumour. He was given a suspended six-year sentence and probation, and died at a nursing home in 1998.

It was in 1960 after auditioning for ‘Motown’ president Berry Gordy that Marvin Gaye was signed to ‘Tamla,’ which was a subsidiary of ‘Motown’ records, it was at this time that Gaye started spelling his surname with an added ‘e’, in the same way as Sam Cooke (see also best songs 156) had done. Gaye also did this to silence rumours of his sexuality, and also to put more distance between himself and his father. Marvin Gaye would go on to record 25 studio Albums, which have been issued between between 1961-2019, and 83 singles released between 1961-2015. In America on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart he has achieved 40 top 40 singles, with three of those songs reaching Number 1, while in the UK he has charted on 17 occasions, with ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’ making Number 1 in 1968.

‘What’s Going On’ was co-written by Al Cleveland, (1930-1996) Renaldo Benson, (1936-2005) and Marvin Gaye, who was also the songs producer. The song went on to peak at Number 2 on Billboard, selling in excess of 2 million copies, and becoming Motown’s biggest selling single up to that point. The original idea for the song came from Renaldo Benson of the ‘Four Tops.’ (see also best songs 650) He had been on the groups tour bus in Berkeley, California, on May 15th, 1969, when he witnessed police brutality and violence in that city’s ‘Peoples Park’ during a protest held by anti war activists, in what was later to become known as ‘Bloody Thursday’. Benson took his idea for the song to Motown staff songwriter Al Cleveland who helped develop the song. Benson offered the song to the Four Tops but they refused it because of it’s subject matter, so he then took it to Marvin Gaye who added many of his own ideas.

Initially Marvin Gaye had problems in convincing Motown to release ‘What’s Going On,’ because Berry Gordy who at that time was also the brother-in-law of Gaye felt that if Gaye was to release a ‘protest song’ it would not go down well with his fan base, and also the wider general public who only really knew Gaye for his love songs. Eventually Gaye got his own way, and the song was released, Berry Gordy has said,’For years, people have written that I stood in the way of this song’s release, and that Marvin had threatened never to record for me again if I didn’t put it out, that must make for great reading, but none of it is true.’

‘Mother, mother, there’s too many of you crying. Brother, brother, brother, there’s far too many of you dying. you know we’ve got to find a way to bring some lovin’ here today.’

Posted by: In: Other 28 Aug 2022 Comments: 0


115-Gary Glitter-I’m the Leader of the Gang (I Am)

1973-Number 1 single.

Best Bit-At 2.36. I can imagine that many people are looking at this artists name in shock and horror, and also at it’s inclusion in the best songs list, which of course is totally understandable. Many other artists in this list have also committed atrocious crimes, and Gary Glitter’s atrocities are among the most infamous. For the record I state it is the song and not the singer that is worthy of inclusion.

Gary Glitter was born Paul Francis Gadd on May 8th, 1944, in Banbury, Oxfordshire, England. Gadd was first arrested in November 1997 after a technician discovered pornographic images of children on the hard drive of a laptop that he had taken to a computer retailer in Bristol for repairs, this led to his first sentence of four months in prison. The findings on the computer damaged his reputation and legacy with the general public, and brought what remained of his music career to an abrupt end. On February 5th, 2015, Gadd was finally brought to justice in the UK after spending many years abroad, including being incarcerated in Vietnam. On February 27th, 2015, he was convicted of attempted rape, for counts of indecent assault, and one of having sex with a girl under the age of 13. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison, and is currently held in ‘HM Prison The Verne’, in Dorset, England. The discography of Gary Glitter includes seven studio Albums released between 1972-2001, and 42 singles issued between 1972-2005, of which 18 have reached the UK top 40, with three of those making Number 1. While in America only his first two singles have charted, with ‘Rock and Roll Part 2’ reaching Number 7 on Billboard in 1972.

‘I’m the Leader of the Gang (I Am’) which spent four weeks at Number 1 in the UK in July 1973 was co-written by Gary Glitter, and Mike Leander, who was also the songs producer. Mike Leander was born Michael George Farr on June 30th, 1941, in Walthamstow, England, he died from cancer in 1996 at the age of 54. Prior to joining forces with Gary Glitter in 1968, Leander had worked as a producer and engineer at ‘Decca’ and ‘Bell’ records. In 1967 at the request of Paul McCartney he helped arrange the Beatles’ ‘She’s Leaving Home’ from the ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ Album, as the Beatles’ staple producer and arranger, George Martin was unavailable at the time. Leander thus became the only orchestral arranger other than Martin to work on the recording of a Beatles basic track.

‘I’m the Leader of the Gang (I Am’) should be filed under ‘Glam Rock’ and is one of the defining songs of the genre. Gary Glitter and Mike Leander co-wrote a further 11 top 10 UK hit singles together, including two other UK Number 1’s, ‘I Love You Love Me Love (1973) and ‘Always Yours (1974.) Although Gary Glitter was backed by the ‘Glitter Band’ for television, and live appearances, the majority of the instrumentation on the songs was actually played solely by Leander in the studio, with Glitter providing the vocals.

‘I’m the Leader of the Gang (I Am’) only has a few cover versions. In the UK, in 1993 the ‘comedy’ Rock band ‘Green Jelly’ featuring the American wrestler Hulk Hogan reached Number 25, while in America in 1974 ‘Brownsville Station’ reached Number 48 on Billboard with their version. In 1997 the British girl group the ‘Spice Girls’ covered the song for their musical comedy film ‘Spice World’. Glitter originally made a cameo appearance in the film, but his scene was deleted after his child pornography possession arrest.

‘I can take you high as a kite every single night, I can make you jump out of bed, standing on my head, who’d ever believe it, come on come on.’

Posted by: In: Other 27 Aug 2022 Comments: 0


116-Norman Greenbaum-Spirit in the Sky.

1970-Number 1 single.

Best Bit-At 3.19. Probably the most famous ‘One Hit Wonder’ of them all.

A ‘One Hit Wonder’ (in my opinion) is an artist or group who have a Number 1 single, and never reach the top 40 again. The act may have hits in other countries, but as long as they never chart again in that said territory, then the rule applies. On this ‘1000 Best Songs’ countdown there are six qualifiers, the other five are are, best songs 990-698-496-467 and 101.

Norman Joel Greenbaum was born on November 20th, 1942, in Maiden, Massachusetts, United States, he was raised in an Orthodox Jewish household, and attended Hebrew school at the local synagogue. Prior to his solo career he had been a member of the American Psychedelic Rock band ‘Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band,’ who released one studio Album in 1967, and four singles between 1967-1968, which included their novelty song ‘The Eggplant That Ate Chicago,’ which was written by Greenbaum, and reached Number 52 on the Billboard Hot 100 in America in 1967. After the split of ‘Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band’ Greenbaum pursued a solo career as a Folk artist, which was when he submitted his original first version of ‘Spirit in the Sky’ to Erik Jacobsen who was producing for ‘Reprise Records’ at that time. Greenbaum was signed by ‘Reprise Records’ and went on to release three solo studio Albums between 1969-1972, and nine singles in the same time period.

‘Spirit in the Sky’ was written by Norman Greenbaum, and produced by Erik Jacobsen, who radically rearranged the acoustic ‘Folk’ rendition Greenbaum had initially sent him, adding electric guitar, synthesised effects, and Gospel styled backing singers. Prior to working with Greenbaum, Jacobsen had great success as the producer of three Albums for ‘The Lovin’ Spoonful,’ which included seven Billboard top 10 singles, one of which was the 1966 Number 1 ‘Summer on the City.’ Jacobsen is also remembered for producing the Folk singer Tim Hardin, (1941-1980) and also for producing nine Albums for Chris Isaak between 1985-2006.

Norman Greenbaum has explained the meaning of ‘Spirit in the Sky,’ ‘What did we grow up watching? Westerns! These mean and nasty varmints get shot and they wanted to die with their boots on. So to me that was spiritual, they wanted to die with their boots on. The song itself was simple, when you’re writing a song you keep it simple of course. It wasn’t like a Christian song of praise it was just a simple song. I had to use Christianity because I had to use something. But more important it wasn’t the Jesus part, it was the spirit in the sky. Funny enough, I wanted to die with my boots on.’ Greenbaum has also gone on to say,’I’m just some Jewish musician who really dug gospel music. I decided there was a larger Jesus gospel market out there than a Jehovah one.’

‘Spirit in the Sky’ became a UK Number 1 single in 1970, and peaked at Number 3 on Billboard in America, and has sold in excess of 2 million copies worldwide to date. In the UK the song has also been to Number 1 for two other acts as well. In June 1986 the British Rock band ‘Doctor and the Medics’ spent three weeks at Number 1 with their version, and then in March 2003 the English singer Gareth Gates teamed up with comedy act the ‘Kumars’ to record the song for that years British ‘Comic Relief’ charity single.

‘When I die and they lay me to rest, gonna go to the place that’s the best. when I lay me down to die, goin’ up to the spirit in the sky,’

Posted by: In: Other 26 Aug 2022 Comments: 0


117-John McDermott-Danny Boy.

1992-It has never charted in the UK.

Best Bit-At 2.29. The lyrics are set to the traditional Irish melody ‘Londonderry Air.’ Prudish Victorians who were concerned that ‘Londonderry Air’ bore too close a resemblance to the phrase ‘London Derriere,’ preferred to refer to it by the title ‘An air from County Derry.’ Heaven only knows what they would have made of some of today’s lyrics.

The lyrics to ‘Danny Boy’ were written in 1910 by by Frederick Weatherly, who was born on October 4th, 1848, in Portishead, Somerset, England, he died on September 7th, 1929, after a short illness at the age of 80. During his lifetime, Weatherly who was also a lawyer wrote the lyrics for an estimated 3,000 songs, including the religious ‘The Holy City,’ (1892) and the wartime song ‘Roses of Picardy’ (1916.)

Weatherly originally wrote ‘Danny Boy’ to a different tune, and there are conflicting stories as to how he came about finding the one that is now known, but in all probability the melody was introduced to Weatherly by his sister-in-law Margaret Enright who was an Irish American. According to Weatherly’s great grandson Anthony Mann, Enright visited Weatherly in 1912, and sung him ‘Londonderry Air,’ which is a traditional Irish melody that had originated in ‘County Londonderry’ sometime in the 17th Century, and had become popular with Irish settlers in America over many years. Margaret Enright probably knew of ‘Londonderry Air’ through the Irish Folk song collector Jane Ross, (1810-1879) who collected a number of traditional songs and then sent them to George Petrie, (1790-1866) who published them with other songs as ‘Ancient Music of Ireland,’ in 1855.

‘Danny Boy’ has continued to grow in stature over the years, and is often performed on important occasions,such as major sporting events, it is also one of the most requested songs to be played at funerals. There are various interpretations as to what the songs lyrics actually mean. Some think it refers to Irish people and their descendants who live outside the island of Ireland, and some have even suggested that it might refer to a gay relationship, but the most accepted one is that the song is a message from a parent to his son who is going off to war, or participating in the Irish uprising.

‘Danny Boy’ has been recorded multiple times, with the first being by Elsie Griffin (1895-1989) in 1915. Many of Pop Music’s biggest names have performed the song, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Bing Crosby, although no version of the song has ever charted inside the top 40 in the UK, or America.

The version I have chosen is the 1992 recording by John McDermott, who was born on March 25th, 1955, in Glasgow, Scotland, and then emigrated with his family to Canada in 1965. McDermott is a ‘tenor’ who is best known for singing ‘Celtic Music,’ and has toured the world both as a solo artist, and as part of ‘The Irish Tenors,’ of which he was a member from 1998-2000. McDermott has issued 34 Albums between 1992-2014, and in 2000 he launched the ‘McDermott House’ in Washington D.C., a transitional home for homeless veterans.

‘Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling, From glen to glen, and down the mountain side. The summer’s gone, and all the roses falling, It’s you, it’s you must go and I must bide.’

Posted by: In: Other 25 Aug 2022 Comments: 0


118-David Bowie-Heroes.

1977-Number 24 single. After Bowie’s death in 2016 the song re-entered the chart, and this time it peaked at Number 12.

Best Bit-At 3.59. In 2009 the finalists for the British television music competition ‘The X Factor’ released a version of ‘Heroes’ for the ‘Help for Heroes’ charity, Regarding this version, the writer Nicholas Pegg who is considered to be the worlds most noted authority on the life and work of David Bowie wrote that it introduced, ‘A new generation to David Bowie, by subjecting one of his greatest songs to the anodyne arrangements, Eurovision key-changes, and sub-Mariah Carey karaoke yodeling, which are the core ingredients of The X Factor’s ongoing mission to eradicate real music from planet earth.’

Tired with the stresses of fame, touring, and his lifestyle, Bowie (see also best songs 807-440-334-302-209-186-47-31 and 5) uprooted to make a complete change when moving to West Berlin, Germany, in late 1976. This was where his three consecutively released Albums known as the ‘Berlin Trilogy’ were conceived,’Low,’ (1977) ‘Heroes,’ (1977) and ‘Lodger’ (1979.)

‘Heroes’ is track 3 on side 1 of David Bowie’s 12th studio Album of the same name, and was the first of two singles taken from the Album, the other being ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ ‘Heroes was co-written by Bowie, and Brian Eno, (see also best songs 766-302-190-109 and 57) who collaborated on all three Albums of the ‘Berlin Trilogy,’ with the production being credited to Bowie, and Tony Visconti, (see also best songs 386-302 and 209) who had worked with Bowie on many previous occasions.

From where David Bowie was living at the time, he looked out of the window at the Berlin Wall, and had seen Tony Visconti kissing his girlfriend, the backing singer Antonia Maass. At that time Visconti was still married to Mary Hopkin (see also best songs 692) but their marriage was failing, and this got Bowie thinking about couples who had to steal moments together because they were being kept apart by the Berlin Wall divide of East and West Germany. Bowie also got inspiration for the song from Otto Mueller’s (1874-1930) painting ‘Lovers Between Garden Walls’ (1916.) Bowie and Iggy Pop (see also best songs 701 and 219) had seen the painting at Berlin’s ‘Brucke Museum,’ which depicts an embracing couple between two walls, representing the brutality of World War I. Bowie also took inspiration from Alberto Denti di Pirajno’s (1886-1968) book ‘A Grave for a Dolphin.’ (1956) which concerns a doomed love affair between an Italian soldier, and a Somalian girl during World War II, ‘Heroes’ is a song about two lovers, one from East Berlin, and the other from the West. Under constant fear of death, they dream they are free, swimming with dolphins.

‘Heroes’ has been a slow burner, it is one of those that has grown in popularity over the years, and is now considered to be one of Bowie’s greatest songs, having initially only reached Number 24 in the UK, and totally failing to reach the Billboard Hot 100 in America. Bowie has said,’This is a strange phenomenon that happens with my songs Stateside. Many of the crowd favourites were never radio or chart hits, and “‘Heroes'” tops them all.’ Following his death in 2016 the German government thanked Bowie for ‘Helping to bring down the wall,’ adding,’ You are now among Heroes.’

‘I, I can remember, standing by the wall, and the guns, shot above our heads, and we kissed, as though nothing could fall. And the shame, was on the other side, oh, we can beat them, forever and ever. Then we could be heroes just for one day.’

Posted by: In: Other 24 Aug 2022 Comments: 0


119-Richard Harris-MacArthur Park.

1968-Number 4 single.

Best Bit-At 4.52. The odds were totally stacked against this one even seeing the light of day. At 7 minutes and 21 seconds it was far too long to be played on the radio, the lyrics appeared unfathomable, it was written in a Classical Music style, and to top it all off it was sung by an actor.

‘MacArthur Park’ was written by Jimmy Webb (see also best songs 846 and 1) at the request of the music producer Bones Howe, who asked Webb to create a pop song with different movements and changing time signatures. Webb came up with ‘MacArthur Park,’ but the group the ‘Association’ whom Howe had intended the song for refused to record it, stating it was ‘unorthodox.’

The lyrics for ‘MacArthur Park’ were inspired by Jimmy Webb’s breakup with his girlfriend Susie Horton. ‘MacArthur Park’ is in Los Angeles, California, which was where the two of them would sometimes meet for lunch during 1965, Horton worked for a life insurance firm whose offices were located just across the street from the park. Webb has said about the songs lyrics,’It was meant to be symbolic, and referred to the end of a love affair. Everything in the song was visible. There’s nothing in it that’s fabricated. The old men playing checkers by the trees, the cake that was left out in the rain, all of the things that are talked about in the song are things I actually saw. And so it’s a kind of musical collage of this whole love affair that kind of went down in MacArthur Park, back then I was kind of like an emotional machine, like whatever was going on inside me would bubble out of the piano and onto paper.’ Jimmy Webb wrote a number of songs which were inspired by his breakup with Susie Horton, including ‘By the Time I Get to Phoenix’ (see also best songs 1.)

‘MacArthur Park’ was first recorded by the acclaimed Irish actor Richard Harris, (1930-2002) Harris and Webb had first met at a fundraiser in East Los Angeles. At first Webb didn’t take Harris seriously when he suggested that they make a record together, but when sometime later Harris again made the same suggestion, Webb presented Harris with several of his songs, including ‘MacArthur Park.’ Richard St John Francis Harris was born on October 1st, 1930, in Limerick, Ireland, he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease in August 2002, and after being hospitalised with pneumonia he died on October 25th, 2002, at the age of 72. Harris was one of Ireland’s most celebrated actors, with his first starring role being in ‘This Sporting Life,’ (1962) and his final film appearance was as ‘Dumbledore’ in ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.’ (2001.) Harris recorded 14 Albums between 1967-1992, and has appeared on 11 soundtrack and compilation Albums issued between 1988-2008. He has released 17 singles, with ‘MacArthur Park’ being the only one to chart, reaching Number 1 in America, and Canada, as well as reaching the top 10 in many other countries.

Richard Harris recorded ‘MacArthur Park’ for his debut Album ‘A Tramp Shining,’ (1968) which was the first of two Albums that Jimmy Webb wrote and produced for him, the other being ‘The Yard Went On Forever (1969.) ‘MacArthur Park’ has also charted on two other occasions on Billboard in America. In 1971 The Four Tops (see also best songs 650) made Number 38 with their recording, while in 1978 Donna Summer (1948-2012) reached Number 1 with her Giorgio Moroder, and Pete Bellotte (see also best songs 78 and 11) produced ‘Disco’ version.

‘MacArthur’s Park is melting in the dark, all the sweet, green icing flowing down. Someone left the cake out in the rain, I don’t think that I can take it ’cause it took so long to bake it, and I’ll never have that recipe again, oh no.’

Posted by: In: Other 23 Aug 2022 Comments: 0


120-Frank Sinatra-My Way.

1969-Number 5 single.

Best Bit-At 3.13. ‘My Way’ is the most requested song by people to be played at their funerals, presumably it’s the Frank Sinatra version, and not the one by Sid Vicious.

‘My Way’ is also the title track of Frank Sinatra’s 1969 Album, and was the only single released from it, ‘My Way’ has since gone on to become one of Frank Sinatra’s (see also best songs 877-567-469 and 73) signature songs. Having spent a total of 75 consecutive weeks inside the UK top 40 between 1969-1971, it holds the record for the longest stay on the chart.

It was the Canadian born singer/songwriter Paul Anka who having heard the original French version called ‘Comme d’habitude’ sung by Claude Francois (1939-1978) while he was on holiday in the South of France, then flew to Paris to negotiate the rights to the song, and agreed to share royalty’s with the songs writers Claude Francois and Jacques Revaux. The original French recording which has absolutely nothing to do with Paul Anka’s re-written lyrics tells the tale of a couple who are falling out of love, and their marriage is coming to an end.

Paul Anka had Frank Sinatra in mind when he re-wrote the lyrics, he had been having dinner with Sinatra in Florida and ‘a couple of mob guys,’ during which Sinatra said,’I’m quitting the business, I’m sick of it, I’m getting the hell out.’ Anka’s lyrics tell of a man looking fondly back on a life he lived on his own terms. Of writing the lyrics to ‘My Way’ Paul Anka has said,’At one o’clock in the morning, I sat down at an old IBM electric typewriter and said, ‘If Frank were writing this, what would he say?’ And I started, metaphorically, ‘And now the end is near.’ I read a lot of periodicals, and I noticed everything was ‘my this’ and ‘my that’. We were in the ‘me generation’ and Frank became the guy for me to use to say that. I used words I would never use: ‘I ate it up and spit it out.’ But that’s the way he talked. I used to be around steam rooms with the Rat Pack guys, they liked to talk like Mob guys, even though they would have been scared of their own shadows.’

Paul Anka was born on July 30th, 1941, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, he became a ‘teen idol’ at the age of 16 when his song ‘Diana’ became an international hit, reaching Number 1 in Canada, and the UK, and Number 2 in America. He would go on to release 29 studio Albums between 1958-2013, and 93 singles between 1956-1996, with four of those topping the charts in his native Canada. Other very well known Paul Anka compositions include ‘Puppy Love,’ (Billboard Number 2, 1960) and UK Number 1 in 1972, when it was covered by Donny Osmond. Anka also had great success in the 1970’s when teaming up with the American singer Odia Coates (1941-1991) for three consecutive Billboard top 10 singles, including the 1974 chart topper ‘(You’re) Having My Baby.’)

‘My Way’ has been covered on numerous occasions by other artists over the years. In 1970 the Welsh singer Dorothy Squires (1915-1998) took her recording to Number 25 in the UK, with it charting at the same time as Sinatra’s version. In 1977 a live recording was posthumously released for Elvis Presley, (1935-1977) which peaked at Number 9, but the most famous, and controversial cover is by Sid Vicious (1957-1979) who recorded his version for the Sex Pistols (see also best songs 576-92 and 27) 1978 Album ‘The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle,’ with many new lyrics. Paul Anka has said that he was ‘Somewhat destabilised by the Sex Pistols version. It was kind of curious, but I felt he (Sid Vicious) was sincere about it.’

‘For what is a man, what has he got, If not himself, then he has naught. To say the things he truly feels, And not the words of one who kneels. The record shows I took the blows, And did it my way.’

Posted by: In: Other 22 Aug 2022 Comments: 0


121-Monkees-Daydream Believer.

1967-Number 5 single.

Best Bit-At 2.15. The song is about the ‘seven year itch.’

The Monkees were the brainchild of Bob Rafelson, (1933-2022) and Bert Schneider (1933-2011) who after watching the Beatles films ‘A Hard Days Night,’ (1964) and ‘Help!’ (1965) were inspired to make a television sitcom about four young men trying to make a name for themselves as a ‘Rock ‘N Roll’ band. The show proved to be very successful running from 1966-1968, over two seasons, and 58 episodes. An advertisement had been placed in the ‘Daily Variety,’ and ‘The Hollywood Reporter,’ to which 437 applied, with the eventual four who were selected to become the ‘Monkees’ being Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, (1942-2021) Peter Tork, (1942-2019) and Davy Jones (1945-2012.) The Monkees remained active until officially breaking up in 1970, but there have been many re-unions over the years, leading to new recordings, and touring, although rarely with all four members together at the same time. In total there have been 16 studio Albums issued between 1966-2018, and 24 singles in the same time period. In America on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, they have achieved seven top 40 hits, with three of those songs reaching Number 1, while in the UK, they have charted eight times, with ‘I’m a Believer’ making Number 1 in 1966. The Monkees are one of the worlds best ever selling bands with sales in excess of 75 million records worldwide.

The Monkees were very much considered second class ‘musical’ citizens in their day by many in the music industry and the press, who heavily criticised them for being manufactured, and also for their lack of supposed musical talent. but history now shows them in a much more favourable light. They are now seen as a forerunner to what was to become the ‘Boy Band,’ and lead singer Davy Jones is considered an inspiration for future teen idols such as David Cassidy, (1950-2017) and Justin Bieber.

‘Daydream Believer’ was the first of two singles released from the Monkees fifth studio Album ‘The Birds, the Bees & the Monkees’ from 1968, it was written by John Stewart, and produced by Chip Douglas, who had also worked with the Monkees on many previous occasions. John Stewart (1939-2008) was a prolific songwriter who is said to have written over 600 songs. and recorded around 50 Albums. Apart from ‘Daydream Believer’ his biggest chart success came in 1979 when his song ‘Gold’ reached Number 5 on Billboard, and was also a top 5 hit in Canada and Australia. Stewart who had been a member of the ‘Folk’ group the ‘Kingston Trio’ between 1961-1967 wrote ‘Daydream Believer’ shortly after leaving that group to embark on a solo career.

John Stewart has explained the songs meaning,’Married couples start out in a idealistic haze, but after a few years it wears off, and each see the other as he or she really is, this is supposedly when genuine love is proven.’ Stewart’s original lyrics were ‘Now you know how funky I can be, (one meaning of funky being smelly.) RCA records objected to the Monkees singing ‘funky’ and insisted on a word change to ‘happy,’ which Stewart detested, stating that it ‘Completely reversed the meaning of the line, and would not make sense in the context of the song.’ Stewart eventually relented, and said,’The proceeds from ‘Daydream Believer’ kept me alive for all these years.’

‘7-A. What number is this to? 7-A, okay, don’t get excited man, it’s ’cause I’m short, I know.’