Category Archives: SONG

Song: “King of the Road”

Probably the best capture of the hobo lifestyle ever recorded - a lifestyle that's largely gone away. Uploaded by avclub.com.

Roger Miller wrote and recorded a series of lighthearted songs in the 1960s that might be called “novelty songs” except for one thing. They were really good. You might remember songs like “England Swings,” “Dang Me,” and “Chug-a-Lug.” But it’s “King of the Road” that featured Miller’s smart lyrics and breezy country vocal style.

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I’m not sure if there’s another popular song written about hobos. In fact, I’m not sure if what we think of as hobos – train riding, nomadic, freeloading folks – are still around. But Miller’s song romanticized the lifestyle, and gave it to us as a time capsule.

 

 

I smoke old stogies I have found

Short, but not too big around

I’m a Man of means by no means

King of the road

The song won five Grammy Awards: Best Country Song, Best Vocal Performance – Male, Best Country and Western Recording – Single, Best Contemporary Vocal Performance – Male, and Best Contemporary (Rock and Roll) Single. The song was selected for the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.

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Song: “Like a Rolling Stone”

Rolling Stone Magazine selected this as number one on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Works for me. Uploaded by andromeda84.deviantart.com.

“Like a Rolling Stone” is Bob Dylan at his cynical best. It’s clear that he dislikes the girl (“Miss Lonely”) and what she stands for (“How does it feel?”). Yet he also recognizes that by abandoning her position in society, she can enjoy a freedom she’s never known (“You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal”).

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The recording of this song is legendary. Dylan had written a long (10 or 20 pages, accounts differ) story/poem, and he extracted the lyrics to create these four verses. But in the studio, he couldn’t get the sound he wanted. Al Kooper, who wasn’t even supposed to be in the session, sat down at the Hammond organ and improvised the now-famous riff. The session’s producer wanted it removed, but Dylan liked it, and insisted it stay. Then when he performed live at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1965, he was booed – electric guitars! A rock sound! The folk icon Bob Dylan was dead, long live rock star Bob Dylan.

“Like A Rolling Stone” was the closing track on the legendary album Highway 61 Revisited. Bruce Springsteen described the moment he first heard the song:

The first time I heard Bob Dylan, I was in the car with my mother listening to WMCA, and on came that snare shot that sounded like somebody’d kicked open the door to your mind … He invented a new way a pop singer could sound, broke through the limitations of what a recording could achieve, and he changed the face of rock’n’roll for ever and ever “

Rolling Stone anointed “Like a Rolling Stone” as number one in its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Song: “Good Vibrations”

Good Vibrations was selected as the number 6 song in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and the RIAA named it the number 24 song OF THE CENTURY. Uploaded by wikia.com.

Between 1965 and 1967 a recording rivalry developed between Brian Wilson and The Beach Boys (Great American Things, May 16, 2009) in the U.S. and the Beatles in the U.K. The Boys had things their way before the Beatles wave swept over them. Even so, the two groups were frequently in the top 10 together – and then the Beatles released Rubber Soul.

Brian Wilson recognized the album’s groundbreaking production, which he tried to top with Pet Sounds. Lennon and McCartney then released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which inspired Wilson to create Smile. In the midst of this deluge of great music, studio recording changed forever. And “Good Vibrations” played a huge role.

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The song came into being through 17 recording sessions at four different studios. Wilson recorded elements of the song, then edited them together in a musical collage. Tony Asher wrote the original lyrics, but very little of his words made the final version (though he did come up with the words, “I’m picking up good vibrations”). Mike Love of the Beach Boys tried to turn the strange sound into a more accessible romance by adding “She’s giving me excitations.”

“Good Vibrations” is acclaimed as one of the top songs of the rock era. It made number six on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and made the top spot in Mojo’s Top 100 Records of All Time. The RIAA rated it number 24 in its list of Top Songs of the Century.

Song: “God Bless America”

Kate Smith has always been identified with this great song, written in 1918 by Irving Berlin. She introduced it on her radio show in 1938, then sang it in the movie "This Is The Army" during World War II. Uploaded by bibliopolit.com.

Hard to believe, but “God Bless America” languished unsung and unknown for its first twenty years. The great Irving Berlin (Great American Things, May 11, 2010) composed the song in 1918 for a review he created, then decided it didn’t really fit. Then, as World War II threatened Europe (and Berlin’s fellow Jews), he resurrected the song for Kate Smith, who sang it during her radio show on the twentieth anniversary of the end of WWI.

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Many people are unaware of the opening stanza, which Kate Smith always included: “While the storm clouds gather far across the sea / Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free / Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, / As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.” Of course, Smith has been associated with the song ever since. She performed it in the WWII musical, This Is the Army, itself adapted from Berlin’s Broadway Musical of the same name.

“God Bless America” is easier to sing, and less “militaristic” than the Star Spangled Banner, leading some to urge its adoption as our national anthem. That’s not likely to happen, but the song can still bring a thrill to any Patriotic American. Here’s Kate Smith’s original version, followed by a great rendition by Martina McBride.

Song: “I Hope You Dance”

"I Hope You Dance" won the Grammy Award for Best Country Song, and was chosen Song of the Year by CMA, ACM, NASI, ASCAP, and BMI. Uploaded by amazon.com.

In 2000, Lee Ann Womack had proved to be a reliable, but unspectacular country singer who’d had a couple of good albums, each of which produced two songs that made it to number 2 on the country chart. Successful, yes. Star, not really. Then in 2000 she released “I Hope You Dance,” and everything changed. It not only was a number one country hit, but crossed over and topped the adult contemporary chart as well.

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I find myself agreeing with Ken Barnes of USA Today. He listed “I Hope You Dance” as his fourth-best song of 2000 and wrote, “Uplifting message song whose greeting-card sentiments and imprecise rhymes are outweighed by a gorgeous performance by today’s reigning pure-country vocalist.” The song’s hopeful, positive vibe outweighs its slightly corny nature.

“I Hope You Dance,” written by Mark D. Sanders and Tia Sillers, earned CMA, ACM, NSAI, ASCAP and BMI awards for Song of the Year. It also won the Grammy Award for Best Country Song and was nominated for Song of the Year. Womack told Billboard, “”When a song really connects with so many people, it’s because they felt something when they heard it. This song makes you think about and feel for the people you really love in your life.”

Song: “Johnny B. Goode”

I think we should all be thankful that Chuck Berry's cousin Marvin Berry heard Marty McFly play this song at that high school dance, or else we'd have missed an important part of American musical history. Uploaded by last.fm.

Not every song is great because it has memorable lyrics. Or a memorable performance. Some achieve greatness by striking the culture in the sweet spot at the perfect moment in history. That’s what happened when Chuck Berry, former auto assembly worker and ex-con, released “Johnny B. Goode” in 1958.

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This wasn’t Berry’s first million-seller. That was “Maybelline” in 1955. Nor was it his biggest hit, an honor held by “Sweet Little Sixteen.” (“My Ding-a-Ling” went to number one in 1972, but as a novelty song.) But from its opening guitar licks through the end, it represented the energy of this new force called rock and roll. It is, after all, mostly autobiographical. Berry was born on Goode Ave. in St. Louis, and the “B.” probably stands for Berry. In fact, the original lyric said “Oh my, that little colored boy can play” but Berry changed it to “country boy” so the song would be played on the radio.

The longevity of “Johnny B. Goode” is evident by the number of artists who’ve covered it, ranging from country (Buck Owens) to metal (Twisted Sister) to the sublime (Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain). The song was listed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 songs that shaped rock and roll, and is in the Grammy Hall of Fame. And Rolling Stone put it at number one in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.

Song: “Your Cheatin’ Heart”

Hank Williams recorded this song during what was to be his last recording session in Sept. 1952. It was released in 1953 following his death, and stayed at number 1 on the country chart for six weeks. Uploaded by wax.fm.

In the early 1950s, country music had just begun to make its presence felt outside of the Deep South. Perhaps no one did more to advance the genre than Hank Williams (Great American Things, February 11, 2010) whose hits “Long Gone Lonesome Blues” (1950), “Cold Cold Heart” (1951), and “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)” (1952) all were among the top ten hits of the year.

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Williams recorded “Your Cheatin’ Heart” in his final recording session in September, 1952. He died on January 1, 1953 at the age of 29, and this song was released later in the year. It went to number one on the country chart, where it stayed for six weeks. It was the number two song of 1953.

Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time considered “Your Cheatin’ Heart” number 213, one of the worst judgments on that entire list. A better ranking comes from CMT’s 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music, which named this Hank Williams classic number five. (As a side note, Your Cheatin’ Heart is also the title of a biographical film about Williams that starred George Hamilton. George Hamilton?)

Song: “Forever and Ever, Amen”

There have been numerous rankings of the top country songs of all time, and you'll always find this classic Randy Travis song near the top. Uploaded by lyricsreg.com.

There’s a genuineness to Randy Travis that draws people to him. That sincerity, combined with a terrific country voice and some excellent lyrics, made “Forever and Ever, Amen” a number one country hit, and perhaps Travis’s signature song.

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Writers Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz did a wonderful job of expressing a lifetime commitment, and it only took them three minutes and thirty-one seconds. In NuTsie’s ranking of the top 100 country songs of all time, “Forever and Ever, Amen” came in number seven. In About.com’s list, it was number 34. PopMatters has it at number 59, and Country Music Television has it at 15.

The song won the 1987 Grammy for Best Country & Western Song, and the Academy of Country Music honored it as the Song of the Year.

Song: “I Heard it Through the Grapevine”

Smokey Robinson recorded this song first, but it wasn't released. Then Gladys Knight took it to number 2. But Marvin Gaye's recording is the one we'll always remember. Uploaded by fromgirltogirl.com.

Quick: Who sang “I Heard it Through the Grapevine?” Chances are, your first answer was Marvin Gaye (Great American Things, April 2, 2009) . He had the biggest hit with it, but his 1968 release wasn’t the first version to make it to the charts. It was Gladys Knight and the Pips whose 1967 recording made it to number one on the R&B chart, and number 2 on the pop chart – Motown’s biggest hit to that point.

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But even this wasn’t the first recording of the song. That was done by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. But Berry Gordy didn’t care for it, and didn’t allow its release. Marvin Gaye’s version was recorded next, but held while Gladys Knight’s recording soared. Then Gaye’s came out, and reached number one on the pop and R&B charts.

“I Heard it Through the Grapevine” was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, two of Motown’s many creative giants. Rolling Stone named their song number 80 on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. And Billboard, in its 50th anniversary of the Top 100 chart, ranked this its number 65 hit.

Song: “As Time Goes By”

 

In the American Film Institute's list of 100 Years...100 Songs, "As Time Goes By" ranked number 2, behind "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." Not sure I agree. Uploaded by gonemovies.com.

It’s the bane of a songwriter’s existence that the songs they write that become hits are forever associated with the recording artist, not them. In the case of “As Time Goes By,” even the singer’s identity is often forgotten. (It was Dooley Wilson.) We’ll always associate this song with Ingrid Bergman and Humphrey Bogart and that wonderfully romantic movie Casablanca (Great American Things, February 14, 2010).

You remember the scene:

Ilsa: Play it once, Sam, for old times’ sake.
Sam: I don’t know what you mean, Miss Ilsa.
Ilsa: (whispered) Play it, Sam. Play ‘As Time Goes By.’
Sam: Why, I can’t remember it, Miss Ilsa. I’m a little rusty on it.
Ilsa: I’ll hum it for you. (Ilsa hums two bars. Sam starts to play – without singing the lyrics. She presses him to sing.) Sing it, Sam.

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We can’t leave without acknowledging the songwriter, Herman Hupfield. Hupfield was a bit unusual in that he wrote both the music and lyrics for his songs. He penned “As Time Goes By” in 1931 for a Broadway musical, Everybody’s Welcome. It was later picked up and used in the play Everybody Comes to Rick’s, which was the basis for Casablanca. Fortunately for movie fans through the generations, the producers insisted the song be used in the movie as well. According to the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Years…100 Songs, it’s the number two movie song of all time. (Number one is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”)

Song: “The Way You Look Tonight”

 

Fred Astaire sang this beautiful song to Ginger Rogers in the 1936 movie Swing Time. It won the Oscar that year for Best Original Song. Uploaded by dreamydays.com.

Every so often I have to pay homage to the Great American Songbook, and one of my favorites is “The Way You Look Tonight.” I have it on my iTunes by both Michael Bublé and Tony Bennett, though it was originally sung by Fred Astaire in the movie Swing Time, in which it won the Oscar for Best Original Song in 1936.

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Jerome Kern wrote the music, and Dorothy Fields followed up with the lyrics. She said, “The first time Jerry played that melody for me I went out and started to cry. The release absolutely killed me. I couldn’t stop, it was so beautiful.” Which reminds me, it’s time to feature Jerome Kern on this list…

Obviously, the song was released long before the Top 40 era, but it has managed to make the charts. The Lettermen recorded it as their first hit, and it went to number 13 in 1961.

“Someday, when I’m awfully low, when the world is cold, I will feel aglow just thinking of you – and the way you look tonight.” Does it get any more romantic than that?

 

Song: “What’s Going On”

 

When Marvin Gaye presented the finished track to Motown, the label refused to release it. Berry Gordy thought it was too jazzy, and that people didn't want to hear socially relevant music. Fortunately for us all, he relented. Uploaded by 45cat.com.

When we listen to the early Motown songs released by Marvin Gaye (Great American Things, April 2, 2009) and his duets with Tammi Terrell, we hear a pop singer at the top of his game. But with the release of “What’s Going On,” we hear something more – an artist who doesn’t follow the popular style, but who leads the way to a new approach.

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Gaye looked at the crucible that was the 60s (which didn’t end until the fall of Saigon) and felt compelled to produce music that addressed the pressing problems of the day. “What’s Going On” is the title song of a concept album that dealt with drug abuse, poverty, the environment, and the Vietnam War. Gaye recorded the song with some of his friends talking, giving it a live, party feel. And he included the distinctive saxophone riff that Eli Fontaine had played while “just goofing around.”

Motown executives, especially Berry Gordy, hated the song and refused to release it. Gaye said he wouldn’t record for Motown again unless Gordy changed his mind. The label eventually relented, and realized that their singer knew what he was doing. “What’s Going On” made it to number 2 in the Billboard Hot 100, and was a number 1 hit on the Soul Singles chart. Rolling Stone ranked it the fourth greatest song of all time.

Song: “God Only Knows”

 

When released as a single, "God Only Knows" was on the flip side of "Wouldn't It Be Nice," which initially got more attention. Still, Mojo magazine named it the 13th best song of all time, and Rolling Stone had it as number 25. Uploaded by 24ur.com.

The Beach Boys (Great American Things, May 16, 2009) changed with the times during the sixties — or maybe, they made the times change. Known originally for surfing and car songs (“Surfer Girl” and “Little Deuce Coupe,” e.g.), the Boys – and particularly Brian Wilson — wanted to make songs with more complex structures, more unusual harmonies, different instruments. The song that led the way in this direction was “God Only Knows.”

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Brian Wilson wrote the melody and Tony Asher composed the lyrics. And they knew instantly that they had a hit on their hands. Asher bucked conventional wisdom by starting a love song with a negative: “I may not always love you.” Most producers would have insisted on a change, but Wilson embraced the innovative approach. This was also the first pop song to have “God” in the title, and this would bother me personally…except that it seems clear that this wasn’t using God’s name in vain. The singer doesn’t know what he’d do without his love, and seems to appeal to God for solace.

When released, it was on the flip side of “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” another great song.Back in 1990, Paul McCartney said about “God Only Knows”: “It’s a really, really great song — it’s a big favorite of mine. I was asked recently to give my top 10 favorite songs for a Japanese radio station … I didn’t think long and hard on it but I popped that on the top of my list.” And Bono said, “The string arrangement on ‘God Only Knows’ is fact and proof of angels.” The song was named the best song of the 1960s by Pitchfork Media, the 13th best song of all time by Mojo magazine, and made number 25 on Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest songs of all time.

Song: “I Will Always Love You”

Dolly Parton wrote this song to honor the breakup of her partnership with Porter Waggoner. Her version reached number one in 1974 and again in 1982. Whitney Houston's cover was the number one song of 1993. Uploaded by viddug.com.

Most of us associate this song with Whitney Houston, which is only natural: Her version is one of only a handful of singles that have sold more than 10 million copies. But the songwriter did okay with her original, too. Dolly Parton (Great American Things, June 3, 2010) wrote and released this single as a follow up to Jolene, and it reached number one on the Country Music charts. Parton had been discovered and featured by singer Porter Waggoner, but after seven years as his protegé, she became more popular than her boss. The only answer was to go on her own, and she wrote this song in honor of their relationship.

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In 1982, Parton re-recorded “I Will Always Love You” for the soundtrack of the movie version of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, and it again topped the charts. A decade later, Whitney Houston did her own interpretation of the song for another movie, The Bodyguard. You could say it was a modest hit…if being number one for 14 consecutive weeks and landing as the number one song for the year 1993 is your idea of modesty.

Houston’s recording was named “Record of the Year” and “Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female” at the Grammy Awards. And it is number one on the list of 100 Greatest Love Songs as chosen by both VH1 and CMT. But don’t feel bad for Dolly that she had the less-successful version – the story is that Whitney’s recording brought Dolly $6 million in royalties and publishing fees.

Compare the two versions for yourself:

Song: “White Christmas”

"White Christmas" was released in July 1942 - and did nothing. Must have been the season. By the end of October it was number one, and upon re-releases reached the charts an astounding 20 times. Uploaded by ecx.images-amazon.com.

My favorite Christmas album in my childhood was Bing Crosby’s Merry Christmas, which was released as an LP in 1949 and has never since been out of print. It’s still one of the most popular Christmas albums ever, and of course it contains the classic Irving Berlin song, “White Christmas.”

Crosby first performed “White Christmas” on his NBC radio show on Christmas Day, 1941. He recorded it the following year, and included it in an album of songs from the movie Holiday Inn. The album debuted in July, and maybe the season wasn’t right, because the song floundered. But by the end of October it topped the charts, where it stayed for eleven weeks. Re-released each holiday season, it also went to number one in 1945 and 1946. In fact, it appeared on the

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charts for twenty separate years, eventually leading Billboard to create a separate chart just for holiday music.

The song as it appeared in Holiday Inn received the Academy Award for Best Original Song, and it helped make the movie White Christmas the runaway box office champion of 1954. The song’s many appearances on the charts have led to it being the best-selling single of all time – more than 50 million sold, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Counting the albums it’s been on, that total exceeds 100 million. Bing Crosby gets the credit, and deserves it; but don’t forget the brilliance of Irving Berlin (Great American Things, May 11, 2010) who wrote this wonderful song.

Song: “Rock Around the Clock”

 

Rock Around the Clock certainly wasn't the first rock and roll record. But after it was used in the credits of The Blackboard Jungle, it launched the movement. Uploaded by ecx.images-amazon.com.

Here are two minutes and eight seconds that forever changed the music world. It’s sometimes said that “Rock Around the Clock” was the first rock and roll record, but it really wasn’t. Songs that basically fit the understood rhythms of rock were recorded as early as the mid 1940s. But there’s no question that when Bill Haley and His Comets released this record in 1954, kids were ready to, well, rock and roll.

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Today, artists can take days, months even, to record a song. But Bill Haley, even with a Decca recording contract, had only a couple of hours to record both sides of his new single. (Sammy Davis, Jr. had the studio next.) “Rock Around the Clock” was completed in two takes. It made a minor dent on the charts, and disappeared.

But wait! The next year (1955), the opening credits of the film The Blackboard Jungle used the song, and it became a huge hit. It became the first rock and roll song to make it to number one, where it stayed for eight weeks. Hollywood tried to cash in by featuring Haley and the boys in two movies: Rock Around the Clock (1956) and Don’t Knock the Rock (1957). Don’t look for those films on this list…ever.

By the way, I’d like to hear the B-side to this record. It’s called “Thirteen Women (And Only One Man in Town).” Sounds interesting, don’t you think?

Song: “I Walk the Line”

 

Recorded on the legendary Sun Records label, "I Walk the Line" became Johnny Cash's first number one hit. It stayed on the charts for 43 weeks. Uploaded by tinypic.com.

Seems like you can almost hear a train in the rhythm of many of Johnny Cash’s (Great American Things, June 6, 2009) songs. That distinctive sound is one of the elements that makes “I Walk the Line” memorable. That, along with simple but heartfelt lyrics and that unmistakable Johnny Cash voice.

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One of the distinctive things about the song is that, going against convention, “I Walk the Line” doesn’t build to a conclusion. In fact, the last verse is sung an octave lower than the first verse. People asked Johnny why he hummed before each verse. The song changes keys several times, and he said “I hum to get my pitch.”

The song was released on the famous Sun label. It was Johnny Cash’s first number one country hit, and made it to number 17 on the pop chart. “Because you’re mine,” he sings, “I walk the line.” Johnny, what did you mean by that? “I was newly married at the time, and I suppose I was laying out my pledge of devotion.” I guess he did, with a song that stayed on the chart for 43 weeks, and earned the number 30 spot on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Album: “Thriller”

 

Thriller contained nine songs, seven of which were released as singles. All made the top 10. It's the best-selling album of all time, and it still sells more than 100,000 copies a year, 28 years after its introduction. Uploaded by freddyo.com.

Remember music videos? Okay, music videos are still being made, so let me put it another way: Remember when music videos mattered? If you can recall that distant past, you’ll know the impact that the album Thriller had on the pop music world. First came “Billie Jean,” pretty much Michael Jackson by himself. Then “Beat It,” with a group dance. And finally “Thriller,” probably the most famous music video dance ever. (Just ask Philippine convicts if you doubt this claim.)

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Of the nine songs on Thriller, seven were released as singles, and all went to the top ten. They included “The Girl is Mine” (No. 2), “Billie Jean” (No. 1), “Beat It” (No. 1), “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” (No. 5), “Human Nature” (No. 7), “P.Y.T. Pretty Young Thing” (No. 10), and “Thriller” (No. 4).

Thriller was named the number 20 album on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It won eight Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year. And it’s the best-selling album of all time, still selling an amazing 109,000 copies each year, 28 years following its initial release.

Song: “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”

 

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face was Roberta Flack's first No. 1 hit (she had two more) and won the Grammy for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Uploaded by bluenote.co.jp.

This is a testament to what inclusion in a movie can do for a song. “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was written back in 1957 by Ewan MacColl as a love song to his future wife, Peggy Seeger. It was a folk song. It was fast and, contrary to Mr. MacColl’s protests to the contrary, forgettable.

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Roberta Flack recorded a fresh version, slowing it down and making it much more sensual. She has a beautiful voice, and she took the song to a different level. Even so, she included it on a 1969 album, and nothing ever came of it. Then Clint Eastwood (Great American Things, July 13, 2009) included it in his directorial debut, Play Misty for Me, and Flack released it as a single in 1972. It sent straight to number one, and stayed there for six weeks.

“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was Flack’s first hit, following a pair of solo albums that had a difficult time finding an audience. She would later have two more solo number one hits, and two top five songs with Donny Hathaway. “The First Time” won  Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year in 1973.

Album: Tapestry

 

Tapestry won the big four Grammy Awards in 1972: Album, Song, Record, and Female Performance of the Year. Uploaded by psychprog.com.

Carole King (Great American Things, March 28, 2010) isn’t one of the great singers of our times. Nor is she one of the great entertainers. But she is one of the great songwriters, and in Tapestry she brought her considerable talents to this 1971 album that still ranks, almost 40 years later, as the longest run a female artist has had on the Billboard chart: 305 weeks.

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A couple of the songs (“Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin and “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles) had already been hits for other artists. One more (“You’ve Got a Friend”) would become a number one hit for James Taylor (Great American Things, September 6, 2009). Even so, two of the other songs became number one hits for King (“I Feel the Earth Move” and “It’s Too Late”), and two others (“So Far Away” and “Smackwater Jack”) reached number 14.

Tapestry has sold more than 11 million copies in the U.S., and more than 25 million worldwide. The album won the top four Grammy Awards of 1972: Album of the Year, Song of the Year (“You’ve Got a Friend”), Record of the Year (“It’s Too Late”), and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. In Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, Tapestry was selected number 36.