Monday song of the day: Today’s song had to be retitled due to a lawsuit.
Grand Funk Railroad (often shortened to just “Grand Funk”) was a very successful band during the 1970s. (One of their earlier hits was Song of the Day for April 2nd, 2020 here: I’m Your Captain (Closer to Home) – Grand Funk Railroad )Probably their best-known song was We’re an American Band, which was a huge #1 hit in 1973. The follow-up single from the We’re an American Band album was Walk Like A Man, which also ended up being a hit, albeit not on the same scale as its predecessor.
Walk Like a Man was written by Grand Funk drummer Don Brewer and guitarist Mark Farner. It concerned always keeping your vitality and manliness, even in old age. The single was released in October 1973, and it rose to #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
After it became a hit, however, Grand Funk was sued by The Four Seasons, who had had a hit with a different song entitled Walk Like a Man in 1963. While there is nothing wrong with two songs having the same title, and indeed the songs dealt with completely different subjects, The Four Seasons contended that since the Grand Funk record prominently and repeatedly used the line “Walk like a man, and talk like a man,” in the chorus, it was too similar to the repeated line “Walk like a man, talk like a man” in their earlier song, and thus infringed on their copyright.
When the lawsuit was settled, Grand Funk agreed to change the title of their song to Walk Like a Man (You Can Call Me Your Man), and the new title was used on later pressings of the single and the We’re an American Band album.
Tuesday song of the day: Today’s song was recorded while the studio was on fire.
The Four Seasons (sometimes billed as The 4 Seasons, and later in their career as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons) had a few early 60s hits of teenage love and heartbreak, such as their #1 hits Sherry and Big Girls Don’t Cry in 1962. In order to toughen up their image somewhat, they recorded Walk Like a Man in January 1963. Written by producer and songwriter Bob Crewe and the Four Seasons’ keyboard player and backing singer Bob Gaudio, the song detailed a guy walking away from a relationship with a girl who treated him badly, rather than stick around and be used like a lovesick boy.
When the song was being recorded, Bob Crewe had locked the studio door to avoid interruptions. The band smelled smoke but kept recording. It turned out that a fire had broken out in the room right above the recording studio. Crewe and the band kept working, even though plaster started falling from the ceiling and people were banging on the door. Crewe and the band completed the take before firemen broke down the door with an axe and evacuated the building.
Like almost all Four Seasons’ songs, Walk Like a Man featured Frankie Valli’s falsetto singing. Despite the incongruously high voice singing about being a man, the song was a big hit, becoming The Four Seasons’ third straight record to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
As detailed in the post for yesterday’s song, ten years later Grand Funk Railroad released a different song that was also titled Walk Like a Man. The Four Seasons’ management sued Grand Funk on the premise that a few lines of the lyrics were close enough to constitute copyright infringement, forcing Grand Funk to rename their song Walk Like a Man (You Can Call Me Your Man).
Wednesday song of the day: No, today’s song is not about David Bowie’s wife.
Angie was a rare acoustic ballad by the Rolling Stones, off their 1973 album Goats Head Soup. Since it was a love song, there has long been speculation as to just who the Angie referred to in the song was.
The most often stated theory was that it was written for Angela Bowie, the then wife of David Bowie. Both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have repeatedly denied this, however. Also, a common (and salacious) part of this rumor was that Angela Bowie caught Mick and David in bed together and demanded that Jagger write a song for her to buy her silence. This is very unlikely, especially since Keith Richards wrote the song with almost no input from Jagger. While the song is credited to both, it was normal in their songwriting partnership to credit them both on songs, no matter whether it was written by Mick or Keith separately, or by both of them.
Another popular theory says that Richards wrote it for his daughter Angela (originally named Dandelion Angela Richards). In the liner notes of a 1993 compilation album, Richards says that this is correct. However, in his 2010 autobiography, he tells a different story, pointing out that he wrote the song shortly before his daughter was even born. At the time he was in a Swiss clinic undergoing detox for his heroin addiction. Richards says, “While I was in the clinic (in March-April 1972), Anita was down the road having our daughter, Angela. Once I came out of the usual trauma, I had a guitar with me and I wrote Angie in an afternoon, sitting in bed, because I could finally move my fingers and put them in the right place again, and I didn’t feel like I had to shit the bed or climb the walls or feel manic anymore. I just went, ‘Angie, Angie.’ It was not about any particular person; it was a name, like ohhh, Diana. I didn’t know Angela was going to be called Angela when I wrote Angie. In those days you didn’t know what sex the thing was going to be until it popped out.”
This would seem to be the most plausible story. Other more far-fetched theories include that it was written about the actress Angie Dickinson (who had no association with the Rolling Stones), or German Chancellor Angela Merkel (who was an unknown 18-year old student when the song was written).
Regardless of who was the inspiration, or indeed if it was no specific person and the name was chosen simply because it just fit in well with the song structure, Angie was a million-selling hit. It was released as the first single off the Goats Head Soup album in August 1973 and climbed to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, as well as being the #1 song in numerous other countries.
Thursday song of the day: Today’s song was inspired by ABBA.
Blondie followed their breakthrough 1978 album Parallel Lines and #1 hit Heart of Glass with Eat to the Beat. The first single from the new album was Dreaming, released in September 1979.
Dreaming began as just a line by guitarist Chris Stein, He started by writing the music, and then came up with one line to serve as a theme for the lyrics. He thought the line “dreaming is free” had promise, and singer Debbie Harry wrote lyrics around that one line. For the music, Stein says he based it on Dancing Queen by ABBA, although the two songs sound nothing alike.
Dreaming proved popular, although not on the level of the iconic Heart of Glass. Still, it was a respectable hit at #27 on the Billboard Hot 100.