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


27-Sex Pistols-Pretty Vacant.

1977-Number 6 single.

Best Bit-At 0.26. Arguably the best ‘Boy Band’ in the world ever, and as an added bonus, they were pretty….vacant.

The Sex Pistols (see also best songs 576 and 92) were formed in London, England, in 1975 by Johnny Rotten, (John Lydon) (vocals) (see also best songs 967 and 323) Steve Jones, (guitar) Paul Cook, (drums) and Glen Matlock, (bass) Matlock was replaced by Sid Vicious, (John Simon Ritchie) (1957-1979) (bass) in February 1977. The Sex Pistols remained active until 1978, but have since reformed to tour without Matlock in 1996, and then again between 2002-2003, and 2007-2008. The Sex Pistols got their name from their manager Malcolm McLaren (1946-2010) (see also best songs 751) who was trying to promote his clothing store ‘Sex.’ McLaren has said that he chose the name to invoke ‘Sexy young assassins,’ and has said that the word ‘Pistol’ was a double entendre.

‘Pretty Vacant’ was the third of four singles released from the Sex Pistols only studio Album ‘Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols,’ from October 1977. The Album was originally going to be called ‘God Save Sex Pistols,’ but the title was changed based on a phrase suggested by Steve Jones. Jones has said that he picked up the phrase ‘Never mind the bollocks’ from two fans who would always say it to one another. Johnny Rotten has explained its meaning as a working-class expression to ‘stop talking rubbish.’ The Album has been described as a ‘game changer,’ with the Sex Pistols considered to be amongst the most influential groups in the development of Popular Music since the mid 1970’s. Artists who have stated a debt to the band include Morrissey, Nirvana, and Guns N’ Roses, with Noel Gallagher (see also best songs 1006-758 and 15) in 2013 saying about ‘Pretty Vacant,”One of the first things you learn when you pick up the electric guitar is that riff.’ He then further commented, ‘I made 10 Albums, and in my mind they don’t match up to that, and I’m an arrogant bastard. I’d give them all up to have written that, I truly would.’

The writing of ‘Pretty Vacant’ is credited to Cook, Jones, Lydon, and Matlock, but the likelihood is that the song is the work of Glen Matlock, with some of the lyrics improvised by Lydon, ‘Pretty Vacant’ has three producer credits, they being Chris Thomas, Bill Price, (1944-2016) and Dave Goodman, (1951-2005) as no records were kept of who was sat in on each recording, the three agreed to share credit for all 11 tracks on the Album.

Speaking in 2022 Glen Matlock said that he drew inspiration to write ‘Pretty Vacant’ from the 1976 ‘Punk Rock’ song ‘Blank Generation,’ by Richard Hell and the Voidoids.’ Matlock said,’Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren brought back it back from the United States and told Sex Pistols to write a song like ‘Blank Generation.’ Matlock has said that the phrase ‘Blank Generation’ got him thinking about the desperation and hopelessness many in London felt. He reworked it into ‘Pretty Vacant,’ and wrote the single about the concept with John Lydon. He went on to say, ‘I kind of misunderstood what his song was all about, you gotta put the songs in the context of what was going on for a bloke like me in mid ’70’s London, with the three-day week, and the IRA bombings and power cuts, against the fact I was a young man who met some interesting people who was trying to form a ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll’ band. Pretty Vacant is a primal scream kind of thing, we don’t know what we’re gonna do, but we’re gonna do it anyway. Malcolm had been saying to us all the time, you must write a manifesto. I’m proud of the fact that when people were coming up with a song about a girl or dancing or something, I wrote ‘Pretty Vacant’ before John (Lydon) wrote ‘Anarchy in the U.K.’ It’s not a competition, but that’s just the way it evolved.’

In my opinion ‘Pretty Vacant’ oozes sarcasm, with Johnny Rotten saying what is the point of trying to tell you what we think because you ain’t gonna listen, you don’t think we have a brain capable of understanding. But the telling line when the sarcasm stops is,’So stop you’re cheap comment,’cos we know what we feel.’

‘There’s no point in asking, you’ll get no reply. Oh just remember a don’t decide. I got no reason it’s all too much, you’ll always find us out to lunch.’

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


28-Diana Ross-Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.

1970-Number 6 single.

Best Bit-At 4.36. Eat your heart out ‘Lhotse,’ ‘Kangchenjunga,’K2,’ and ‘Everest,’ because when it comes to hitting the heights, this song towers above them all.

Diana Ross (see also best songs 900-519-365 and 183) was born on March 26th, 1944, in Detroit, Michigan, United States, her mother named her Diane, but the birth certificate was mistakenly filled out with the name Diana, her family and friends have called her Diane all of her life. It wasn’t until 1965 that she began using the name ‘Diana’ professionally, from the mistake on her birth certificate, surprising her fellow ‘Supremes’ (see also best songs 1001-411-212 and 148) group members, Florence Ballard, (1943-1976) and Mary Wilson, (1944-2021) who had only ever known her as Diane.

Since leaving the Supremes at the request of Motown supremo Berry Gordy in 1970, Diana Ross has released 25 solo studio Albums between 1970-2021, and 91 singles between 1970-2022. In America on the Billboard Hot 100 singles top 40 chart, away from the Supremes she has achieved 27 hits, with six of those songs reaching Number 1. In total on Billboard she has had 18 Number 1 singles, as she also had 12 as a member of the Supremes. In the UK Diana Ross has had 47 top 40 hit singles away from the Supremes, with ‘I’m Still Waiting,’ (1971) and ‘Chain Reaction,’ (1985) both reaching Number 1. For the discography of the Supremes see best songs 148.

‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ was originally written in 1966 by Nikolas Ashford, (1941-2011) and Valerie Simpson, (see also best songs 1001-703-359 and 228 ) the pair would eventually marry in 1974. As well as writing for others they have also recorded as a duo, and also as solo artists, they are probably best remembered for their 1984 hit ‘Solid,’ which reached Number 12 on Billboard, and Number 3 in the UK.

The British Soul singer Dusty Springfield (1939-1999) (see also best songs 882 and 171) had heard ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,’ and wanted to record it for herself, but Ashford and Simpson who wanted to work for Motown records, and knowing that they had a good song on their hands, turned down Springfield’s request, and waited for Motown to come calling. They didn’t have to wait too long, as in 1967 the Motown duo of Marvin Gaye, (1939-1984) (see also best songs 723-183 and 114) and Tammy Terrell, (1945-1970) recorded the song, and took it to Number 19 on Billboard. Ashford and Simpson would go on to write further hits for the duo including ‘Your Precious Love,’ (Billboard Number 5) and ‘You’re All I Need to Get By’ (Billboard Number 7, and UK Number 19.)

In 1968 Diana Ross & the Supremes recorded a version of ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ as a duet with fellow Motown group The Temptations for their collaborative Album ‘Diana Ross & the Supremes Join the Temptations,’ (see also best songs 1031-1001-777 and 569) the song appears as track 3 on side 1 of the Album, with the lead vocals being shared by Diana Ross, and Dennis Edwards (1943-2018.) In 1970 Diana Ross was in need of a big hit in order to kick start her solo career, and Ashford and Simpson talked her into recording a radical re-make of ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,’ with new lyrics written by Nikolas Ashford, and featuring a style similar to Gospel, with elements of Classical Music strings, and horns, with spoken word passages from Diana Ross. The backing singers on the track included Ashford and Simpson, and Motown’s female session singers ‘The Andantes,’ (see also best songs 1001-823-650-411 and 114) with the songs instrumentation being provided by Motown’s in house band the ‘Funk Brothers’ (see also best songs 948-650-569-414-382-212 and 148.)

‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ was the second of two singles released from Diana Ross’ self titled debut solo studio Album from 1970, and was produced by Ashford and Simpson. The song was the follow up to her debut solo single ‘Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand’) which was also written by Ashford and Simpson. Whereas ‘Reach Out and Touch’ stalled at Number 19 on Billboard, ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ did indeed prove the breakthrough, by making the Number 1 spot, and proving that Diana Ross could be every bit as successful as a solo artist as she had been with the Supremes.

‘And if you should miss my lovin’ one of these old days. If you should ever miss the arms that used to hold you so close, or the lips that used to touch yours so tenderly. Just remember what I told you, the day I set you free.’

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


29-William Orbit-Adagio for Strings-(Ferry Corston Remix.)

1999-Number 4 single.

Best Bit-At 3.57. The songs composer was born in 1910, and wrote this piece of music in 1936, had he lived long enough I wonder if he would have loved or hated this rendition?

‘Adagio for Strings’ was written as a Classical piece of music by Samuel Barber as part of his larger work ‘String Quartet, Op. 11.’ between 1935-1936, the piece was written to be performed by only a ‘String Orchestra. ‘Adagio for Strings’ was performed for the first time on November 5, 1938, by the Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini, (1867-1957) conducting the ‘NBC Symphony Orchestra’ in a radio broadcast from the ‘NBC Studio 8H’ in New York City. ‘Adagio for Strings’ has been performed at many historical occasions, including being broadcast over radio at the announcement of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death in 1945. It was also played at the funeral’s of Albert Einstein in 1955, and performed in a national radio broadcast following the funeral of assassinated President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Samuel Osmond Barber was born on March 9th, 1910, in West Chester, Pennsylvania, United States, he died of cancer on January 23rd, 1981, at the age of 70. Barber is remembered as one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th Century. The American music critic Donal Henahan (1921-2012) said,’Probably no other American composer has ever enjoyed such early, such persistent, and such long lasting acclaim.’

William Orbit was born William Mark Wainwright on December 15th, 1956, in Palmers Green, Enfield, London, England. One of his first major breakthroughs in music came in 1990 when working under the name ‘Bassomatic,’ he scored his first chart hit in the UK with ‘Fascinating Rhythm,’ which reached Number 9. William Orbit has an extensive list of production work for others including four Albums by Madonna, and also Albums by the likes of U2, Blur, and Robbie Williams, he has also released 12 solo studio Albums between 1987-2022. In 1995 Orbit released his sixth solo studio Album ‘Pieces in a Modern Style,’ the Album was withdrawn from sale almost immediately because certain tracks hadn’t received the correct clearance, these tracks were replaced with others when the Album was re-issued in 2000. ‘Pieces in a Modern Style’ is William Orbit’s interpretation of ‘Classical Music,’ as well as Barber, Orbit also covers the work of other composers including Ludvig van Beethoven, (1770-1827) and Georg Friedrich Handel (1685-1759.)

William Orbit’s version of ‘Adagio for Strings’ is very true to Barber’s original, and it goes without saying that both versions would comfortably get a place in this countdown, but it is the truly outstanding Ferry Corsten ‘Dance Remix’ that I have chosen. Ferry Corsten was born on December 4th, 1973, in Rotterdam, Netherlands, he is one of the leading pioneers in the genres of ‘Trance,’ and ‘Progressive House Music.’ Corsten has issued six studio Albums between 2003-2017, and remixed hundreds of tracks, he has also had hit singles in Europe using the names ‘System F,’ and ‘Gouryella.’

‘Adagio for Strings’ started out life as a very sombre, but emotionally gripping piece of music, but then 63 years later it was transformed into an uplifting dance anthem. I wonder what Samuel Barber would have made of seeing thousands of young people under one roof, with their hands in the air, dancing in a trans like state to his ‘Adagio for Strings.’ Starting out life in 1936, and having every generation since listen in awe, this song has gone from ‘Classical Music,’ to classic ‘Dance Music.’

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


30-Chuck Berry-Johnny B. Goode.

1958-It has never charted in the UK.

Best Bit-At 0.01.’I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet, but you kids are gonna love it.’

I suppose that very famous quote from the film ‘Back to the Future’ is true, as this song never saw the light of day in the UK chart in 1958, and yet the horrendous ‘My Ding-A-ling’ would give Chuck Berry his only UK Number 1 in 1972, proving that fact can be stranger than fiction.

Charles Edward Anderson Berry (see also best songs 548 and 308) was born on October 18th, 1926, in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, he died of a heart attack on March 18th, 2017, at the age of 90. Chuck Berry is considered one of the most important figures in the development of ‘Rock Music,’ inspiring the next generation, which included the Beatles, and The Rolling Stones. John Lennon (1940-1980) said of Berry,’If you tried to give ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll’ another name, you might call it Chuck Berry.’ The discography of Chuck Berry includes 20 studio Albums released between 1957-2017, and 45 singles issued between 1955-2017. In America on the Billboard Hot 100 top 40 singles he has 14 top 40 hits, with the aforementioned ‘My-Ding-a-Ling’ making Number 1 in 1972. While in the UK, 12 of his singles have reached the top 40, with ‘My-Ding-a-Ling’ being his only chart topper.

‘Johnny B. Goode’ was written by Chuck Berry in 1955, it was recorded in January 1958, and issued as a single on March 31st, 1959, it later appeared on Chuck Berry’s third studio Album ‘Chuck Berry Is on Top’ released in July 1959. ‘Johnny B. Goode’ was produced by the brothers Leonard Chess, (1917-1969) and Phil Chess, (1921-2016) who had both co-founded ‘Chess Records’ (this songs label) in 1950. ‘Johnny B. Goode’ is credited as ‘The first Rock ‘N’ Roll’ hit with subject matter being about ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll’ stardom.’ Berry wrote the song about a semi-literate ‘country boy’ from the New Orleans area, who plays a guitar ‘Just like ringing a bell,’ and who might one day have his “Name in lights,’ Berry did acknowledge that the lyrics were partly autobiographical. Berry also told us that the guitar player was ‘good’, and part of the songs title is taken from where Berry was born, at 2520 Goode Avenue, in St. Louis. ‘Johnny B. Goode’ was also initially inspired by Johnnie Johnson, (1924-2005) whom Berry had previously worked with since 1952, playing on several of Berry’s recordings, although he did not perform on this song. When Berry originally wrote the lyrics he used the line,’That little coloured boy can play,’ but was advised (probably by the Chess brothers) to change the line to ‘That little country boy could play,’ in order to assure it being played on the radio.

As I have said so often during this countdown, nothing in ‘Pop Music’ is totally original, and Chuck Berry certainly owes a great debt to those he idolised from the previous generation. The iconic guitar intro to ‘Johnny B. Goode’ borrows from the opening of the song ‘Ain’t That Just Like a Woman,’ by the American ‘Jump Blues’ artist Louis Jordan, (1908-1975) with the American R&B performer Carl Hogan (1917-1977) playing that guitar part on that 1946 recording. Chuck Berry also paid tribute to the American ‘Blues’ musician ‘T Bone Walker,’ (1910-1975) who was another of his idols, by ‘borrowing’ from Walker’s 1950 song ‘Strollin’ With Bones,’ for the guitar break midway through ‘Johnny B. Goode.

‘Deep down in Louisiana close to New Orleans, way back up in the woods among the evergreens. There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood, where lived a country boy named Johnny B. Goode, who never ever learned to read or write so well, but he could play a guitar just like a-ringin’ a bell.’

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


31-David Bowie-Five Years.

1972-It has never been released as a single in the UK.

Best Bit-At 2.50. In order to fully appreciate this song, plug your earpiece into your phone, and take a walk around town. While listening to the song, watch people going about their everyday business, but be careful not to stare though, because that would be rude.

David Bowie (see also best songs 807-440-334-302-209-186-118-47 and 5) & (see also for his production work 701-131 and 58) was born David Robert Jones on January 8th, 1947, in London, England, he died of liver cancer on January 10th, 2016, at the age of 69. Success for Bowie didn’t come quickly, after embarking on a professional musical career in 1963, he would then become a member of five different bands, before finally breaking through in the UK as a solo artist in 1968 with ‘Space Oddity,’ which gave him a Number 5 hit single. It was in 1965 that David Jones changed his stage name to David Bowie, mainly in order to avoid confusion with Davy Jones (1945-2012) of the American Pop group ‘The Monkees’ (see also best songs 121.) He chose the name Bowie after the 19th Century American pioneer James Bowie, (1796-1836) and the knife he had popularised. For the discography of David Bowie see best songs 5.

‘Five Years’ is the opening track on ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars,’ and was written by David Bowie, with the production by Ken Scott. The Album has been described as a loose ‘Concept Album,’ and ‘Rock Opera,’ The character Ziggy Stardust is a fictional androgynous and bisexual Rock star, who is sent to Earth as a saviour before an impending apocalyptic disaster. Ken Scott has said,’Ziggy Stardust’ was never discussed as a concept album from the start. We were recording a bunch of songs, some of them happened to fit together, some didn’t work.’

‘Five Years’ is about someone having just been told that the world has only got five more years until it destructs. The narrator is walking through the market square observing people’s reactions to the horrific news, some lose self control, while others try to remain calm. As what he has just heard is slowly beginning to sink in he observes how everybody is different, but realises that really we are all the same. At first the situation feels very surreal, but as reality kicks in, he finds it difficult to control his emotions. Bowie has stated that he chose five years as the length of time following a dream he had in 1971, in which his late father came to him and told him that he had only five years left to live, and that he must never fly again.

The three other musicians who played on ‘Five Years’ and it’s parent Album were Mick Ronson, (1946-1993) (guitar) (see also best songs 661-405-131 and 58) Trevor Bolder, (1950-2013) (bass) and Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey, (drums) who as Bowie’s backing band, were called the ‘Spiders from Mars.’ Woodmansey has explained his part in the development of ‘Five Years,’ ‘What was wanted was a drum beat to introduce the song itself, and to set an atmosphere for the whole Album. The idea of the song is that the world is ending in five years, so it was about finding a drumbeat that got that across, which was quite a challenge. I remember going through drum rolls, cymbal crashes, and I kind of thought: ‘Well if it’s the end of the world… I can’t be bothered! Haha!’ You wouldn’t be excited and you wouldn’t feel like doing a lot. So, that beat came out of sort of despair and apathy, and then when the band comes in and David starts singing, it just feels right. It felt like a really good beginning, so I was quite proud of that. I nailed the brief by all reports!”

‘Pushing through the market square, so many mothers sighing. News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in. News guy wept and told us Earth was really dying. Cried so much his face was wet, then I knew he was not lying.’

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


32-Pogues-Fairytale of New York.

1987-Number 2 single.

Best Bit-At 1.24. It is fitting that the greatest Christmas song in the world ever should be written and sung by Shane MacGowan, whose birthday is on Christmas Day.

Since the introduction of downloads it has made it possible for any song to re-enter the UK chart at anytime. Because of this ‘Fairytale of New York’ has charted every December since the rule changes in 2005, and in total as of 2022, it has been a hit on 20 separate occasions, but has never reached Number 1.

The Pogues (see also best songs 283) were formed in London, England, in 1982 by Spider Stacy, (vocals, and tin whistle) Jem Finer, (guitar, and banjo) James Fearnley, (guitar, and accordion) and Shane MacGowan (vocals, and guitar.) Until 1984 they were known as ‘Pogue Mahone,’ with the actual Irish spelling being ‘póg mo thóin,’ which is Irish for ‘kiss my arse.’ The name was chosen by Spider Stacy, but after complaints from Gaelic speaking people, they changed to ‘Pogues.’ The Pogues remained active until 1996, but did reform in 2001, until finally dissolving the band again in 2014. In total there have been 13 different members come and go, including Joe Strummer (1952-2002) (see also best songs 638 and 294) who was lead vocalist between 1991-1992. The discography of the Pogues includes seven studio Albums released between 1984-1996, and 24 singles issued between 1984-2005, including two re-issues of ‘Fairytale of New York.’ In the UK they have achieved seven top 40 singles, while in Ireland 15 of their singles have charted within the top 40, with ‘The Irish Rover,’ and ‘Fairytale of New York,’ both making the top spot in 1987.

‘Fairytale of New York’ was produced by Steve Lillywhite, (see also best songs 603) who at that time was married to Kirsty MacColl. In need of a female vocalist, Lillywhite asked MacColl to sing for the demo. She fit the song perfectly, and was asked to be the co-singer, along with Shane MacGowan. Kirsty Anna MacColl was born on October 10th, 1959, in Croyden, Surrey, England. On December 18th, 2000, at the age of 41, when holidaying in Mexico, she was hit and killed by a speeding boat while diving in a designated area that watercraft were restricted from entering. Kirsty MacColl who was the daughter of the Folk singer Ewan MacColl (1915-1989) (see also best songs 251) was a successful singer and songwriter, releasing five studio Albums between 1981-2000, there were also 32 singles issued between 1979-2005. Six of her singles reached the UK top 40, with the Billy Bragg written ‘A New England’ charting the highest for her in 1984, when making Number 7.

‘Fairytale of New York’ was co-written by Jem Finer and Shane MacGowan, and was the first of three singles released from the Pogues third studio Album ‘If I Should Fall from Grace with God’ from 1988. Finer had written two songs of which neither he was totally satisfied with, and presented them both to Shane MacGowan. MacGowan has said that ‘Fairytale of New York’ came about as a result of a wager made by the Pogues’ producer at the time who was Elvis Costello, (see also best songs 836) he had jokingly challenged that the band would not be able to write a Christmas hit single, although the Pogues’ manager Frank Murray (1950-2016) has stated that it was originally his idea that the band should try to write a Christmas song, as he thought it would be ‘interesting.’ Jem Finer has said,’I had written two songs complete with tunes, one had a good tune and crap lyrics, the other had the idea for ‘Fairytale,’ but the tune was poxy, I gave them both to Shane, and he gave it a Broadway melody, and there it was.’

‘Fairytale of New York’ is a song of regret. The narrator is sat in the ‘drunk tank’ when an inebriated old man also in the cell sings a passage from the Irish ballad ‘The Rare Old Mountain Dew’, (an Irish Folk song from 1882.) This gets the narrator reminiscing about a former lover, with the remainder of the song taking the form of a ‘call and response’ between the couple. The narrator is thinking back to the time when as Irish immigrants in the 1940’s they arrived in New York with the dream of making it big on Broadway, but due to his alcoholism, and her drug addiction things didn’t work out as planned.

‘You’re a bum, you’re a punk, you’re an old slut on junk, lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed. You scumbag, you maggot you cheap lousy faggot. Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it’s our last.’

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



1992-Number 78 single. When it was re-issued in 1993 it reached Number 7.

Best Bit-At 0.58. Back in the early 1990’s I can remember making one of my regular weekly trips to the record shop in Leeds and seeing a box full of approximately 200 copies of this song on 7 inch clear vinyl, in a flashy picture sleeve. No one had heard of Radiohead at that time, but the disc looked so attractive that I bought a copy for 50 pence. The current going rate for a copy in mint condition starts at £50. Needless to say, I wore my copy out many years ago.

Radiohead were formed in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England, in 1985, by Thom Yorke, (vocals) Jonny Greenwood, (guitar) Colin Greenwood, (bass) Ed O’Brien, (guitar) and Philip Selway (drums.) All five band members attended Abingdon School, which is a day and boarding independent school for boys, where they would rehearse in the school’s music room once a week, leading to the quintet initially calling themselves ‘On a Friday.’ They would stick with that name until signing with ‘EMI’ records, who in early 1992 insisted on a name change, they chose ‘Radiohead,’ which was a song by the American Rock band ‘Talking Heads,’ (see also best songs 540) from their 1986 Album ‘True Stories.’ Thom Yorke has said,’The name sums up all these things about receiving stuff. It’s about the way you take information in, the way you respond to the environment you’re put in.’

‘Radiohead’ have always experimented with their music, and are credited with being major players in the advancement of ‘Alternative Rock’ music. They have sold in excess of 30 million records worldwide to date, having released nine studio Albums between 1993-2016, and 33 singles between 1992-2021. In the UK, 17 of their singles have made the top 40, with ‘Paranoid Android’ from 1997 charting the highest at Number 3. In America on the Billboard Hot 100 top 40 singles chart, they have charted twice, with ‘Creep’ reaching Number 34 in 1992.

‘Creep’ was the first of three singles released from Radiohead’s debut studio Album ‘Pablo Honey’ from February 1993, it was written by Radiohead, with lyrics by Thom Yorke, and produced by Sean Slade, and Paul Q. Kolderie. Thom Yorke had written much of the track as far back as 1987, he had based the melody on the 1972 song ‘The Air That I Breathe,’ which had been written by Albert Hammond, and Mike Hazelwood (1941-2001) (see also best songs 369.) That songs publishers sued Radiohead for copyright infringement, and a settlement was reached where Hammond and Hazelwood were given co-writing credits, as well as a portion of the songs royalties.

Rarely are song lyrics so personal, and to the point as they are in ‘Creep.’ Thom Yorke has said,’This is about being in love with someone, but not feeling good enough. He describes the feeling as, “There’s the beautiful people, and then there’s the rest of us.” According to ‘Hysterical and Useless,’ a book written about Radiohead by the author Mark Blake in 2000,’This song was inspired by Thom’s obsession with a stranger. He was infatuated with a woman who was out of his league, who he’d never met but frequently saw in bars, and he found himself following her around. When he finally got himself drunk enough to build up the courage to confess his obsession, she freaked out.’

On the Album version of ‘Creep’ Thom Yorke sings ‘You’re so f..king special,’ but in order that the song could receive radio play their record label insisted on a lyric change to ‘You’re so ‘very’ special.’ Yorke has said that he regrets changing the line for radio, saying it disturbed the sentiment of the song, he said,’The song lost it’s anger as a result.’ Over the years Radiohead have grown to hate their most successful song, saying that in the early days many of the crowd would leave after they had performed the song at a gig. They played the song so often that they grew tired of it, and for many years dropped it from their playlist. Even going back to the songs conception, the bands guitarist Jonny Greenwood played those three blasts of guitar noise that precede the chorus in order to beef it up, as he considered the song too ‘Wimpy.’

‘When you were here before, couldn’t look you in the eye. You’re just like an angel, your skin makes me cry. You float like a feather in a beautiful world. I wish I was special, you’re so f..kin’ special.’

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


34-Rod Stewart-Maggie May.

1971-Number 1 single.

Best Bit-At 5.03. After carefully studying the lyrics, I suggest that Maggie May was a ‘cougar.’

Sir Roderick David Stewart (see also best songs 965-565-206-179 and 70) was born on January 10th, 1945, in Highgate, London, England. He has been active in the music business since 1961 as either a member of several bands, or as a solo artist, and with worldwide record sales in excess of 120 million, he is one of the best selling artists of all time. His discography includes 32 solo studio Albums released between 1969-2021, and 147 singles issued between 1964-2021. In the UK, 47 of his singles have made the top 40, with six of those songs reaching Number 1, while in America on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart he has had 33 top 40 hits, with four of those making Number 1, including the 1993 song ‘All for Love’ with Bryan Adams and Sting.

‘Maggie May’ was co-written by Rod Stewart and Martin Quittenton, and produced by Stewart, and first appeared on Rod Stewart’s third solo studio Album ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ from May 1971. Both the single and the Album topped the UK and U.S charts simultaneously, making this the first time it had happened in chart history. There were three singles released from the Album, with the first being a cover of the 1965 Tim Hardin (1941-1980) song ‘Reason to Believe,’ with ‘Maggie May,’ which wasn’t considered to be a commercial single issued as the ‘B’ side. In the UK ‘Reason to Believe’ climbed to Number 19 in the chart, but in America it didn’t find success until radio disc jockeys flipped the disc and started playing ‘Maggie May,’ forcing Stewart’s record label ‘Mercury’ to have a re-think, and re-issue ‘Maggie May’ as the ‘A’ side.

At the very start of ‘Maggie May’ there is 32 seconds of music played on a mandolin, this was written by Martin Quittenton, (1945-2015) and was added to ‘Maggie May’ in order that Quitenton would receive extra royalties, the piece is called ‘Henry.’ Quittenton would go on to co-write two more hits with Stewart,’You Wear it Well,’ (1972-Number 1) and ‘Farewell’ (1974-Number 7) (see also best songs 965.) Another contributor to ‘Maggie May’ is Ray Jackson who at that time was a member of the English Folk/Rock group ‘Lindisfarne,’ who was brought in by Stewart to play the mandolin parts. Jackson claims that he wrote parts of ‘Maggie May’ for which he was only paid the statuary £15 session fee. To add insult to injury, on the liner notes of ‘Every Picture Tells a Story,’ Jackson isn’t credited, instead it says, ‘The mandolin was played by the mandolin player in Lindisfarne. The name slips my mind.’

Rod Stewart has given details of the event that inspired him to write ‘Maggie May.’ ‘At 16, I went to the ‘Beaulieu Jazz Festival’ in the New Forest. I’d snuck in with some mates via an overflow sewage pipe, and there on a secluded patch of grass, I lost my not remotely prized virginity with an older (and larger) woman who’d come on to me very strongly in the beer tent. How much older, I can’t tell you, but old enough to be highly disappointed by the brevity of the experience.’

Rod Stewart chose the title ‘Maggie May’ having known about the traditional Liverpool Folk song called ‘Maggie Mae,’ which dates back to around 1757. The original ‘Maggie Mae’ was a prostitute who robbed a sailor who was returning home.

‘Wake up, Maggie I think I got something to say to you. It’s late September and I really should be back at school. I know I keep you amused, but I feel I’m being used. Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried any more.’

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


35-Bee Gees-Night Fever.

1978-Number 1 single.

Best At 0.02. ‘Oh no!’ The man in the white coat is coming to take me away. No, wait a minute, my mistake , it’s OK, he’s only taking me to the dance floor.

The Bee Gees (see also best songs 459 and 211) were formed in Queensland, Australia in 1958 by the brothers Barry, and the twins Robin, (1949-2012) and Maurice Gibb, (1949-2003) between 1958-1959 they were known as the ‘BGs.’ The Bee Gees are one of the worlds best ever selling acts, with record sales estimated anywhere between 120 million, to 225 million records sold worldwide. The Bee Gees released 22 studio Albums between 1965-2001,and 83 singles between 1963-2001. Prior to 1967 all of the Bee Gees singles were only released in Australia, with their first ever single being ‘The Battle of the Blue and the Grey,’ (1963-Number 98 ) while their first hit was ‘Wine and Women’ (1965-Number 19.) In the UK, 31 of their singles have reached the top 40, with five of those songs making Number 1, while in America on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, 30 of their songs have charted, with nine of those singles reaching the top spot.

The film ‘Saturday Night Fever’ was the brainchild of the Bee Gees manager Robert Stigwood, (1934-2016) he had read an article in ‘New York Magazine’ entitled ‘Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night,’ written by journalist Nik Cohn, talking about teenagers going to dancing competitions. Stigwood approached the Bee Gees to ask if they had any appropriate songs that would fit the film, they had just finished recording ‘Night Fever.’ In fact all eight of the Bee Gees songs that appear on the films soundtrack had been written before the film was commissioned.

Until the film came out the Bee Gees were not considered a ‘Disco’ group, they saw themselves as ‘Blue Eyed Soul’.They had already had a very successful career in the 1960’s with a mix of Pop, and Rock, and the hits were still coming in the 1970’s. The success of the ‘Saturday Night Fever’ film led to a new level in the interest in the Bee Gees music, during the year of 1978 they wrote or performed on six consecutive Billboard Number 1 songs, a record only equalled by the Beatles a decade earlier, in fact five of the top 10 selling singles in 1978 on Billboard were written by Barry,Robin and Maurice.

‘Night Fever’ was written by Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb, who also produced the song, along with Albhy Galuten, and Karl Richardson, the song first appeared on the ‘Saturday Night Fever’ soundtrack, which was released in November 1977 (see also best songs 211 and 184.) ‘Night Fever’ which was the fifth of eight singles released from the soundtrack Album in January 1978 also featured Alan Kendall, (lead guitar) Dennis Bryon, (drums) and Derek John ‘Blue Weaver (electric piano, and String synthesizer.) According to Weaver the string intro of ‘Night Fever’ was inspired by ‘Theme from A Summer Place,’ by Percy Faith, (see also best songs 419) Weaver has said,’Night Fever’ started off because Barry walked in one morning when I was trying to work out something. I always wanted to do a Disco version of ‘Theme from A Summer Place’ by the Percy Faith Orchestra or something, it was a big hit in the Sixties. I was playing that, and Barry said, ‘What was that?’ and I said, ‘Theme from A Summer Place’, and Barry said, ‘No, it wasn’t’. It was new. Barry heard the idea, I was playing it on a string synthesizer and sang the riff over it.’

Speaking in 2008 Robin Gibb said,’Until the film came out, ‘Disco’ meant something very different in the UK to the U.S. We were writing what we considered to be Blue-Eyed Soul. We never set out to make ourselves the kings of Disco, although plenty of other people tried to jump on the bandwagon after the success of the film. When we went to the premiere at the Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles it was obvious the film and the songs really gelled, but none of us had any idea how huge it would become.’

‘Listen to the ground, there is movement all around, there is something goin’ down and I can feel it. On the waves of the airthere is dancin’ out there, if it’s somethin’ we can share, we can steal it.’

Posted by: In: Other 21 Nov 2022 Comments: 0


36-Bob Dylan-Tangled Up in Blue.

1975-It has never charted in the UK.

Best Bit-At 5.04. Bob Dylan has said that the song took,’Ten years to live, and two years to write.

My first recollection of being introduced to the music of Bob Dylan was when hearing this song as a young teenager. I played the seven inch vinyl time and time again in an attempt to decipher the lyrics, but I always ended up baffled. Over the years I have read many reviews of the song, by more older and wiser people than myself, and they don’t seem able to fully define a true meaning either. I guess the only one who truly knows is Dylan himself, but he has never offered a full explanation in public.

‘Tangled Up in Blue’ was the only single released from Bob Dylan’s (see also best songs 792-621-358-103 and 7) 15th studio Album ‘Blood on the Tracks,’ from January 1975, in America on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart it reached Number 31, for the discography of Bob Dylan see best songs Number 7. ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ was written by Dylan, and produced by his younger brother David Zimmerman. The song has been critically acclaimed, being called,’The most dazzling lyric ever written.’ Most agree that it is Dylan’s best work of the 1970’s, while in some surveys carried out, it has even been voted his greatest ever song.

‘Tangled Up in Blue’ was written by Dylan at the time he was going through the separation from his wife Sara Dylan, whom he had been married to since 1965. Their son Jacob who was born in 1969, has said that a lot of the lyrics on ‘Blood on the Tracks’ relate to his parents marriage, but Bob Dylan has denied that any of the songs on the Album are autobiographical.

What adds to ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ being held in such high esteem, but also makes understanding the lyrics confusing, is Dylan jumping timelines in each verse. At one moment he will be singing about the present, and then in the next line he will skip back and reminisce about the past. A good example would be the 2004 American science fiction television drama series ‘Lost,’ where you could never be sure if you were watching events from the past, or from the present. Dylan has explained this style of
songwriting,’What’s different about it is that there’s a code in the lyrics, and there’s also no sense of time. There’s no respect for it. You’ve got yesterday, today, and tomorrow all in the same room, and there’s very little you can’t imagine not happening.’

Although Bob Dylan denies that the lyrics are autobiographical, there are undeniably certain sections of the song that do relate to him. According to the American author Ron Rosenbaum, Dylan told him that he’d written ‘Tangled Up in Blue’ after spending a weekend listening to Joni Mitchell’s (see also best songs 637-558 and 299) 1971 album ‘Blue,’ which would at least explain the songs title. Dylan sings,’I lived with them on Montague Street, in a basement down the stairs.’ ‘Montague Street’ is an uptown area in Brooklyn, New York, where there was a music venue called ‘Capulet’s,’ where Dylan could sometimes be seen frequenting. Dylan also mentions the titles of two Beatles songs in the lyrics,’From Me to You,’ (1963) and ‘Revolution’ (1968.)

‘Tangled Up in Blue’ sees the narrator reminiscing about a past love who he hasn’t seen for many years, their relationship had been a struggle, and they had decided that a parting of the ways would be for the best. As the years pass he realises that what he gave up was far better than everything he has experienced since, and he decides to go and seek her out. He finally comes across her again, but whether they ever get back together is not explained, well that’s my interpretation anyhow.

‘She was working in a topless place, and I stopped in for a beer. I just kept looking at the sight of her face in the spotlight so clear. And later on when the crowd thinned out, I’s just about to do the same, she was standing there in back of my chair, said, ‘Tell me, don’t I know your name?”