Discussion in 'The Off-topic Lounge' started by Bluesville, Mar 14, 2015.
Dave's Song of the Day
Pop Muzik – M
Saturday song of the day: Not all music has to be serious. Sometimes just being a catchy little tune is enough. That is certainly the case for today’s song, which topped the charts in the United States and numerous other countries on the strength of its infectious groove and little else.
Robin Scott was an English musician and singer who had performed as a solo act and in several bands with only minor success. Then in 1979, he created a project called M, consisting of himself, backed by various session musicians and his girlfriend Brigit Novik. Under this name, he released a UK single titled Pop Muzik in March 1979. It peaked at #2 on the UK charts, and in August was released in the United States and other countries. In the U.S., it rose to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and the record company requested that Scott make a full album.
That he did, with the album titled New York-London-Paris-Munich after a particularly catchy line in Pop Muzik. A music video also was made for the song, which helped increase its sales. It was a pretty simple video by today’s standards, with Scott portraying a disc jockey lip synching along with the song, backed by two models. While the video features the models supposedly providing the backing vocals, occasionally the actual backup singer Brigit Novik is shown, wearing blue.
The song has no deep meaning, other than Scott wanting to make a disco-tinged song celebrating pop music without taking the subject too seriously. He explains, “I was looking to make a fusion of various styles which somehow would summarise the last 25 years of pop music. It was a deliberate point I was trying to make. Whereas rock and roll had created a generation gap, disco was bringing people together on an enormous scale. That’s why I really wanted to make a simple, bland statement, which was, ‘All we’re talking about basically (is) pop music.’”
Tomorrow: Help me forget today’s pain
Dave's Song of the Day
Dreamweaver – Gary Wright
Sunday song of the day: Some songs capture the feeling of the time in which they were made. Today’s song is a perfect fit for the mid-1970s.
From 1967 to 1970, Gary Wright was keyboard player and singer for the moderately successful English band Spooky Tooth. He had a short stint away from the band during which he recorded two solo albums, then rejoined in 1972. This second tenure with Spooky Tooth lasted until 1974 before Wright left permanently to restart his solo career.
His 1975 solo album was titled The Dreamweaver, and included the single Dreamweaver. For some reason the album title included “The” and the song title did not. The song was inspired by Wright’s interest in the Hindu religion after visiting India in 1972 with former Beatle George Harrison.
The song uses spacey synthesizer music and semi-mystical lyrics to create a feeling. While I like the song, in 2019 it comes across as a mildly pretentious relic of the time. Although it bears a slight taint of novelty, it still is a pretty good song.
The album didn’t sell well at first, but when Dreamweaver was released as a single in December 1975, the song slowly gained in popularity and became a hit, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in late March 1976. Wright had another #2 song off the album a few months later, when Love is Alive repeated Dreamweaver’s success. Today, however, Dreamweaver is by far the better remembered of the two songs.
The album version of the song was a bit longer, at 4:17 in length, compared to 3:15 for the shorter single edit. In 1992, the song was used in the movie Wayne’s World, and Wright rerecorded a new version for the film’s soundtrack album.
1992 rerecorded version for the Wayne’s World soundtrack
Tomorrow: That side’s yours and this side’s mine.
Dave's Song of the Day
Move It On Over – Hank Williams
Monday song of the day: The legendary Hank Williams had a short career, but his work was incredibly influential. He inspired entire generations of artists who followed him in the Country Music genre. While hailed as “The King of Country Music,” he was also highly influential in the development of Rock & Roll. Today’s song is his first single on a major label, and it made him a nationwide star.
Hank Williams started his musical career as a teenager, hosting a 15-minute radio show on the local station WSFA in Montgomery, Alabama. He remained popular only locally into his late teens, performing on his radio show and in various live venues in the South. As he grew up performing in bars, he quickly developed a serious problem with alcoholism. He was fired from his WSFA radio job in 1942 for “habitual drunkenness.” He was only 17 years old at the time.
Despite his drinking problem, his talents kept him moving up in the world of country music. He was a prolific songwriter and finally got a record contract with the small label Sterling Records in 1946. He released four singles for Sterling. None charted, but Williams did draw the attention of the major label MGM Records, who signed him in 1947. His first session for MGM included several songs that later went on to become hits. The first of these, Move It On Over, was recorded in April 1947 and released in July of that year.
As his first single on a major label, Move It On Over received the national attention needed to get airplay on pretty much all country music radio stations. It rose to #4 on the Billboard Country music chart, and established Hank Williams as a star. Over the next few years, his fame grew. He released a total of 31 singles, with eleven of these reaching #1 on the Billboard Country chart. Several are iconic songs that transcend the country music genre, including such classics as I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry; Cold, Cold Heart; Hey, Good Lookin’; Jambalaya (On the Bayou); and Your Cheatin’ Heart.
His alcoholism, and later drug use, proved costly to his health, however. He died of heart failure caused by alcohol, chloral hydrate, and morphine on New Year’s Day, 1953. He was just 29 years old at the time of his death.
I first became aware of Move It On Over in 1978, when George Thorogood and the Destroyers released a cover version. Thorogood’s take was a more bombastic blues take on the song, and had simplified lyrics, but it worked well as an overdriven guitar song. It is still my favorite of all the versions of the song. Maybe it’s the more raw arrangement and playing, or the improved recording technology of the time versus the 1947 original, but it just sounds perfect to me.
Later this led me to the Hank Williams original. I’m not a fan of Country music, but I can recognize brilliance when I hear it, even in a genre I generally don’t care for. As far as the song itself, it’s a humorous tale of a man who has upset his wife or girlfriend and was locked out of his home. This forces him literally into the dog house for the night. I really like this version, despite my usual ambivalence to Country. As far as that goes, if I like any Country at all, it tends to be the more authentic styles of the past than the overly produced product from the past 25 years or so. For whatever reason, I like the Hank Williams original, but don’t like the cover version his son Hank Williams, Jr. recorded in 1980.
1947 Hank Williams
1978 George Thorogood and the Destroyers
1980 Hank Williams, Jr.
Tomorrow: I’ve been waiting so long to sing my song
Dave's Song of the Day
Hello Hooray – Alice Cooper
Tuesday song of the day: Normally, I try to avoid repeating artists for the primary song of the day selection. That isn’t a hard and fast rule, though. I don’t care how many times I use an act for the secondary choice for the song of the day when there are multiple versions of a song listed, and on rare occasions I will repeat an artist as the primary choice. For today’s song of the day, I am using an Alice Cooper song, even though I used his song The Ballad of Dwight Fry on October 21st, 2014 (and used his cover of Ubangi Stomp as secondary on October 28th, 2019.) There are two reasons that I’m using the Alice Cooper version of Hello Hooray for today’s song of the day even though he did not originate the song. First, his version is by far the best. Second, I am attending an Alice Cooper concert tonight, so he gets priority.
Hello Hooray was written by Canadian singer-songwriter Rolf Kempf in 1968, and first recorded by Judy Collins on her album Who Knows Where the Time Goes. It was a song about performing in front of an audience, and befitting Collins’ style, it included mostly pastoral lyrics, like “Ready as the rain to fall” and “It’s then we’ll be above the time and the weather.”
A few years later, Alice Cooper heard the song and changed several of the lyrics to better fit his hard rock, intentionally shocking persona. Added were references to “Circus freaks and hula hoops” and “loving every second, every moment, every scream.” Naturally the folksy arrangement used by Collins was replaced by bombastic hard rock. He included the version on his 1973 album Billion Dollar Babies. It was the second single off the album and hit #35 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Hello Hooray has always been one of my favorite Alice Cooper songs. Although “one of” is the key phrase, since I would list several of his songs as favorites. Looking over some of his recent set lists, it appears he hasn’t been performing the song on this tour. Maybe I’ll get lucky and he’ll fit it in somewhere. If not, that’s fine too, since no doubt he will be playing a few others that are among my favorites.
In 1993, Rolf Kempf recorded a version that is somewhere between the original he wrote in 1968 and the Alice Cooper version. He incorporates some of Cooper’s additional lyrics, and it is a rock version instead of the folky arrangement Judy Collins recorded.
Alice Cooper, 1973
Judy Collins, 1968
Rolf Kempf, 1993
Tomorrow: I’m so dizzy I can’t see
Dave's Song of the Day
Rush Hour – Jane Wiedlin
Wednesday song of the day: There’s nothing too deep about today’s song of the day. It’s just a nice pop song that sounds like it could have been recorded by The Go-Gos.
There’s a reason for that. When the Go-Gos broke up in 1984, the members all moved on to other projects. Lead singer Belinda Carlisle had the most prominent solo career, with several Top 40 hits, including a #1 with Heaven is a Place on Earth. It’s not her we will be talking about today, though. Instead, today’s song of the day is a 1988 solo hit from Go-Gos guitarist Jane Wiedlin.
Rush Hour is off Wiedlin’s second solo album, Fur. Lyrically, it compares love to driving, and musically is a light, bouncy pop tune. It rose to #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and is Wiedlin’s only solo U.S. Top 40 hit. I can’t say much more about the song, other than I liked it enough when it was released to buy the CD, and I still like it today.
Tomorrow: Halfway home, we’ll be there by morning
Dave's Song of the Day
The City of New Orleans – Arlo Guthrie
Thursday song of the day: For many people, listening to Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie is a Thanksgiving tradition. It’s the humorous story of a very minor arrest for dumping garbage on Thanksgiving that Guthrie claims helped him avoid being drafted during the Vietnam War. I’m not using Alice’s Restaurant for my song of the day today for two reasons. First, it would be too cliché. Second, it’s more of a spoken word story than a song, although it does have a very short musical component.
Instead, I am using Guthrie’s only Top 40 hit. The original track from the 1967 Alice’s Restaurant album – which lasted over 18 minutes, took up the entire first side of the album, and had the full title Alice’s Restaurant Massacree – was much too long to be released as a single. In 1969, there was a film made of the story, and Guthrie recorded a version called Alice’s Rock & Roll Restaurant, which consisted only of the musical portions of the piece, with the monologue removed. This recording was hardly a hit, barely cracking the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 chart at #97.
Arlo’s only real hit single was a song that was written by someone else. A train trip inspired Steve Goodman to write The City of New Orleans. Goodman then recorded it and it was released on his 1971 self-titled debut album. The song told the story of a train named The City of New Orleans and the people aboard the train as it made a trip across the country. The Goodman original, while including lyrics that were wistful that the era of the passenger railway was on the decline, nevertheless used a relatively cheerful musical arrangement.
Not long afterward, Goodman met Arlo Guthrie in a bar, and asked if he could play a song for him. Guthrie liked the song and agreed to record it on his next album, 1972’s Hobo’s Lullaby. The Guthrie take on the song was much more mournful and ended up being a hit. The song reached #4 on the Billboard Easy Listening chart, and #18 on the overall Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Since then, the song has been covered by numerous other artists, including the great Johnny Cash, John Denver, Judy Collins, and even David Hasselhoff. In 1984, Willie Nelson released a version that rose to #1 on the Billboard Country Chart.
Arlo Guthrie 1972 cover
Steve Goodman, 1971 Original
Johnny Cash, 1973 cover
Willie Nelson, 1984 cover
Tomorrow: I thought I told you to leave me
Dave's Song of the Day
Blue Monday – New Order
Friday song of the day: Back on October 3rd of this year, the song of the day was Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division. Ian Curtis, the lead singer of that band committed suicide a month before that record was released, and the remaining three members decided to not continue Joy Division without Curtis. Instead, they formed a new band called New Order.
Former Joy Division members Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris founded New Order in late 1980 after Ian Curtis’s suicide, and shortly after rounded out the band with the addition of keyboardist Gillian Gilbert. The musical direction was more electronic-driven and dance-oriented than that of Joy Division.
After a debut album in 1981, in early 1983 the band released a 12-inch single that would become one of their signature songs, Blue Monday. It reached #5 on the U.S. Billboard dance chart, and was the best selling 12 inch single of all time.
The title refers to an illustration by Kurt Vonnegut in his novel Breakfast of Champions and has nothing to do with the lyrics of the song. The lyrics are vague, but hint at contempt for someone else by the singer of the song, possibly after a betrayal of some type.
The band remixed the song twice, once in 1988 and again in 1995. On both occasions, it was a big hit in the band’s native United Kingdom. Blue Monday 1988 reached #3 on the UK singles chart, and #68 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Blue Monday 95 did not chart in the United States, but did manage to peak at #17 on the UK singles chart. Personally, I just prefer the original.
1983 original 12-inch single
Blue Monday 1988
Blue Monday 95
Tomorrow: I need to make you mine
Dave's Song of the Day
867-5309/Jenny – Tommy Tutone
Saturday song of the day: This is likely the most well-known phone number in music history, and we all know who the number belongs to, even if we know nothing else about her.
Of course, it’s Jenny’s number, the subject of the huge 1981 hit for Tommy Tutone, 867-5309/Jenny. The song is about a girl whose name and number were written on a bathroom wall, and the singer’s obsession with this unknown girl.
There have been stories over the years that Jenny was a real person, but the song’s co-writer Alex Call insists that this is not true, “Despite all the mythology to the contrary, I actually just came up with the ‘Jenny,’ and the telephone number and the music and all that just sitting in my backyard. There was no Jenny. I don’t know where the number came from, I was just trying to write a 4-chord Rock song and it just kind of came out. This was back in 1981 when I wrote it, and I had at the time a little squirrel-powered 4-track in this industrial yard in California, and I went up there and made a tape of it. I had the guitar lick, I had the name and number, but I didn’t know what the song was about. This buddy of mine, Jim Keller, who’s the co-writer, was the lead guitar player in Tommy Tutone. He stopped by that afternoon and he said, ‘Al, it’s a girl’s number on a bathroom wall,’ and we had a good laugh. I said, ‘That’s exactly right, that’s exactly what it is.’
Tommy Tutone’s been using the story for years that there was a Jenny and she ran a recording studio and so forth. It makes a better story but it’s not true. That sounds a lot better than I made it up under a plum tree in my backyard.
I had the thing recorded. I had the name and number, and they were in the same spots, ‘Jenny… 867-5309.’ I had all that going, but I had a blind spot in the creative process, I didn’t realize it would be a girl’s number on a bathroom wall. When Jim showed up, we wrote the verses in 15 or 20 minutes, they were just obvious. It was just a fun thing, we never thought it would get cut. In fact, even after Tommy Tutone made the record and ‘867-5309’ got on the air, it really didn’t have a lot of promotion to begin with, but it was one of those songs that got a lot of requests and stayed on the charts. It was on the charts for 40 weeks.
I’ve met a few Jennys who’ve said, “Oh, you’re the guy who ruined my high school years.” But for the most part, Jennys are happy to have the song.”
The song is a very catchy bit of early 1980s pop, and was a pretty big hit for Tommy Tutone. 867-5309/Jenny reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Tommy Tutone is saved from “One-Hit Wonder” status only because they had a #39 hit the year before, with the little-remembered Angel Say No.
In the years since the song was released, there have been numerous stories of problems faced by people or businesses who happen to have the 867-5309 number in various area codes. I won’t go into them all, but some are pretty funny.
Tomorrow: Your daddy’s rich, and your mamma’s good-lookin’
Saw these fellas open for In Flames the other night.
Quality right hurr
I've been watching old episodes of Cheers while I get my morning cardio in. In season 1 they had a scene in the bathroom and it has that famous phone number on the wall. The episode first aired on November 25 in 1982. Tommy Tutone's song was probably still on the charts at the time.
I also spotted some other interesting song-related graffiti in the same episode.
The lyrics for Alabama Song by The Doors are written on the wall. "Show me the way to the next whiskey bar. Don't ask why."
In the same scene you can see where someone wrote "Day-O" - an obvious reference to the Banana Boat song by Harry Belafonte:
And in yet another scene are a few Kinks references:
1st Pic: "God save The Kinks" and "Add It Up" (A song by The Kinks)
2nd Pic: "Don't stop and think. Have another drink". This is a lyric from the The Kinks song "When Work is Over"
Almost all of the scenes in Cheers take place in the bar, so this bathroom set was likely thrown together just for this scene and the crew probably thought it would look more realistic to throw up some graffiti on the walls. I'd say they had some decent taste in music.
that’s awesome, good find!
@psychicdeath these “song of the day” posts are great!
That's pretty cool. I especially like the reference to the Doors cover of the old Bertolt Brecht/Kurt Weill Alabama Song.
Dave's Song of the Day
Summertime – Billie Holiday
Sunday song of the day: Since it’s now December and the weather is cold, a song about summer seems appropriate.
In 1935, George and Ira Gershwin, along with DuBose Heyward, wrote an opera called Porgy and Bess. It was based on a 1925 novel by Heyward and has become a classic of the stage.
Included in the opera is an aria titled Summertime, which became a huge hit song and has been a standard down through the years. It has been recorded over 25,000 times by numerous artists, including hit versions by Sam Cooke, Al Martino, The Marcels, Ricky Nelson, The Chris Columbo Quartet, and Billy Stewart, with versions by those artists placing on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Our version deemed Song of the Day is the first recording of Summertime to become a hit record, predating all those other cover versions that placed on the Billboard charts. It was recorded by the legendary Billie Holiday and released in 1936, reaching #12 on the chart. It is pretty much the standard against which all other versions are judged.
The song appears several times during the opera, first sung by the character Clara to her baby, and near the end of the story by Bess to Clara’s now-orphaned baby. The lyrics have been highly praised, and they’re a simple but eloquent description of a hoped good life in store for the baby.
I’ll be including another cover version of Summertime that was not a hit single, but instead was released as an album track in the 1960s and has become very popular over the years. It was included on the 1968 Cheap Thrills album by Big Brother and the Holding Company. For those of you who are not familiar with that band, it featured Janis Joplin as vocalist before she left for a solo career. She does an exceptional job on Summertime.
Billie Holiday, 1936
Big Brother and the Holding Company, 1968
Tomorrow: Take a ride to the land inside of your mind