Tuesday song of the day: Today’s song is the biggest US hit for this cult band from Los Angeles.
Sparks, consisting mostly of brothers Ron and Russell Mael, has been performing since the early 1970s, (their 1974 song This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both of Us was song of the day for August 30th, 2014 here: This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us – Sparks ) but most people aren’t really aware of them. Ron is the older brother who has a very odd stage persona, and Russell is the younger “normal” brother who does most of the singing. If people have heard of Sparks at all, it is likely through their 1983 song Cool Places. It was not at all a big hit, but the music video did get a fair amount of airplay on MTV and the record sold well by Sparks standards. This was probably helped by the song featuring Jane Wiedlin from The Go-Gos. (her solo hit Rush Hour was song of the day for November 27th, 2019 here: Rush Hour – Jane Wiedlin )
Cool Places was about going out clubbing, particularly to places that were fairly exclusive, and hoping to be deemed “cool enough” to gain admittance. The record placed at #49 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. While this qualifies as only a minor hit, it was the biggest US single for Sparks, who has only placed one other song on the Hot 100, 1982’s I Predict, which peaked at #60. The band is much more popular in the UK, where they have had several Top 40 hits, and even a #2 hit with This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both of Us.
Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin' All the Time) – Ethel Waters
Belated Wednesday song of the day: Today’s song has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame twice.
In 1933, songwriters Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler wrote a torch song telling of a woman mourning that her man has gone away, and is waiting for his return. The song was called Stormy Weather and was first performed live in the Cotton Club by Ethel Waters on April 6th, 1933. It immediately proved popular, and Waters recorded a version that became a big hit.
Since 1933, Stormy Weather has been covered over 350 times, by artists such as Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Bob Dylan. One of the most famous is the 1941 version by Lena Horne. It became her signature song, and she recorded it at least five times during her career, including a 1943 version for a movie titled Stormy Weather after the song.
In 2000, the Lena Horne cover was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and three years later the Ethel Waters original was also inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Thursday song of the day: Today’s song was the first hit for this 1960s teen idol.
Bobby Sherman was one of the biggest teen idols of the late 1960s. He had had a mediocre musical career and had been a cast member of the ABC musical TV show Shindig! from 1964 to 1966 but had not yet achieved real stardom. His career really took off, however, when he was cast as the youngest of three brothers on the TV series Here Come the Brides in 1968. From exposure on that show he became a heartthrob for teenage girls across the nation, and to capitalize on this released an album titled simply Bobby Sherman in 1969.
The first single from the album was Little Woman, a standard love song of a guy asking a woman to enter a relationship with him. The song sold over a million copies and earned Gold Record status and ended up peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He had several more hits through the early 1970s, but his career slowed and he semi-retired from the entertainment industry in 1976. He then became an Emergency Medical Technician and reserve police officer, but occasionally performed in concerts and made TV appearances into the 1990s.
I don't usually listen to the radio all that much anymore but I happened to put it on and they had a commercial free hour that started off with Guns N Roses - Welcome To The Jungle, Poison - Nothing But A Good Time, Bon Jovi - Living On A Prayer, AC/DC Shook Me All Night Long, Def Leppard - Photograph, Queen -We Are The Champions, Elton John - Saturday Night's All Right before I had to get out of the car. Sorry I didn't post all the vids for those but I thought that music lineup was pretty good shit for the radio.
Friday song of the day: Today’s song was pretty much ignored until it was used in a commercial.
In 1987, a band called T’Pau released its first single, called Heart and Soul. The band’s odd name came from a minor Star Trek character. When Heart and Soul was released in April 1987, it hovered near the bottom of the charts and then disappeared. Shortly afterward, however, the song was used in a marketing campaign for Pepe Jeans. The exposure from the ads gave the record a second life, and it climbed to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to the same position on the UK singles chart.
Since then, T’Pau has had numerous hits in the United Kingdom and other European countries. Heart and Soul was their only record to appear on the US charts, however. In the 1990s the band dissolved but lead singer Carol Decker continued performing as a solo act using the band’s name.
The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana) – The Banana Splits
Saturday song of the day: Today’s song was the theme for a 1960s kids’ TV show.
In September 1968, Hanna-Barbera introduced a new live action Saturday morning TV show called The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, which featured four main characters based on animals. The characters were Fleagle, a dog; Bingo; a gorilla; Drooper, a lion; and Snork, an elephant. Basically they were guys in costumes, with voices dubbed in later. The show lasted for two seasons. The first season was directed by Richard Donner, who a few years later would direct such big films as The Omen, Superman, and the Lethal Weapon movies.
The theme song was ostensibly sung by the four characters as the band The Banana Splits, but was really performed by session musicians. The song is officially credited to Mark Barkan (the show’s musical director) and his writing partner Ritchie Adams. Many claim, however, that it was really written by jingle writer N.B. Winkless, who had written Good Morning, Good Morning for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Snap, Crackle, Pop for Rice Krispies commercials. Apparently Barkhan and Adams were credited for contractual reasons. The title was The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana) and it was catchy enough to land at the bottom reaches of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at #96 in February 1969.
It must have been remembered by some kids, because since the show went off the air, the song has been covered a few times. Most notably, LA punk band The Dickies released a version in 1979 titled Banana Splits (Tra La La Song). It was a speeded-up version of the original and was a hit in England, reaching #7 on the UK singles chart. The song got some more recent attention when the Dickies cover was used in a very violent scene in the 2010 movie Kick-Ass.
With a little bit of cussin' and a little bit of fussin'
keep me busy on a Saturday night.
I'm holdin' my baby 'cause she's goin' crazy
And I know that she ain't feelin' right
I'm screamin' "Hallelujah" 'cause I see it goin' through ya
And I know they're gonna come on a light
And if you hold on brother I know like any other
But soon you're gonna be all right.
I don't believe in a long black train
...or a lake of fire
...or a 40 day rain
But I believe we can all be free
And I know that if something's wrong then it's gotta be me.
Ever see a Robin with its ear to the ground lookin' for a big ol' worm?
I'm the kind of man who puts his hand on a stove and doesn't even feel the burn.
When I'm seein' sweet Jesus and when I know he really needs us but I'm hopin' that it ain't my turn
I've got a whole lot of livin' and a whole lot of givin' and a lot more lessons to learn.
We speak with our hearts. We don't speak with our minds.
We hold out our hands in love and erase all these lines
We pray for peace and we hope against war
I get this feeling sometimes so sad I wonder "What are we fighting for?"
Sunday song of the day: Today’s song is the sole hit by a short-lived band.
New Radicals formed in 1997 and released only one album, 1998’s Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too. The band only had two permanent members, frontman Gregg Alexander and keyboardist/percussionist Danielle Brisebois (who had been a child actress in All in the Family and its spinoff Archie Bunker’s Place.) Otherwise, they used a rotating cast of musicians as needed.
Their first single was You Get What You Give, which was popular and a bit notorious for name-dropping Marilyn Manson, Beck, and Courtney Love, among others, in its lyrics. It reached #8 on the Billboard Modern Rock charts in early 1999 and peaked at #36 on the overall Hot 100 chart.
With a hit on his hands, Alexander quickly became burned out on trying to support the record and disbanded New Radicals in the summer of 1999. About the same time, the record company released another single from the album, but it failed to chart in the United States. Since then he has focused on songwriting and producing for other artists.