EVERY Billboard #1 hit discussion thread 1958-Present

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by alphanguy, Jan 29, 2016.

  1. AppleBonker

    AppleBonker Forum Resident

    Fifties nostalgia was fast coming. In Britain, the glam rock movement was gaining steam, and there was a layer of warped fifties nostalgia in a lot of that stuff. I never think of American Pie as fifties nostalgia, as it's really more about the sixties and how crappy they were vs. the fifties IMO.
  2. AppleBonker

    AppleBonker Forum Resident

    True, although she did write the song Woodstock, which might qualify her for a spot!
  3. AppleBonker

    AppleBonker Forum Resident

    Brand New Key

    I said a lot about Melanie when I wrote about Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) about a month ago, so I don't really have too much to add.

    To me, Melanie having her biggest hit with Brand New Key is kind of like the Beatles if they had had their biggest hit with Yellow Submarine. Wackiness is a part of her repertoire (as it definitely is with the Beatles), but Submarine is still a fairly unrepresentative number for them, and so too Key for Melanie.

    In some ways, I feel like this song ruined her career, at least as a major act. I'm a big Melanie fan, so for me I can never quite forgive this song, even though taken for what it is, it's perfectly OK. The lyrics are kind of cute, and as far as #1 songs from 1972 based on silly double entendres, I find it more successful than the one we'll get to shortly!


    Melanie always had a strange career, to be honest. Her first big hit was Bobo's Party, which was #1 in France in 1968 for NINE WEEKS. That's Hey Jude level of success. Now, that's a fine song, but I was astonished to find out it was even a hit, let alone a monster. It didn't even make the Greatest Hits album I have for Melanie.


    A little known fact: Melanie was on the final episode of the Ed Sullivan show in mid-1971. She played her cover of Ruby Tuesday on that show. This is another one of her popular numbers I don't really like, although I never much liked the Stones version either. I far prefer the song she did on her first appearance in 1970, Peace Will Come (According to Plan). Ed arranged for her to sing surrounded by fans instead of alone on a stage, and I think it produced a really wonderful effect. Melanie says that Ed really liked her, and I think you can tell that's true from the end of this clip:

    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  4. Grant

    Grant A 60s, 70s & 90s Lovin' Musical Free-Spirit

    Not quite true. I have a copy of Tommy Roe's "Sweet Pea" with the boxed ABC logo from 1966.
  5. AppleBonker

    AppleBonker Forum Resident

    LOL. My vote is for Neil Diamond. I can just picture Neil cackling, flames behind him as he sings Crackling Rosie with a satanic echo in his voice.

    I used to hear the song occasionally on the radio with the first and second verses, and the final two, and the other part cut right out. I've never heard a version that just fades halfway through.
  6. CliffL

    CliffL Forum Resident

    Sacramento CA USA
    Great post on Melanie, Applebonker...I also like her music, but I'm not exactly a huge fan of "Brand New Key" (heard it a bit too much back in the day!) You and several other people have mentioned "Peace Will Come (According To Plan) and that's one I really like also...I remember hearing it in San Francisco in 1970 in a hippie head shop (I was 14 at the time, my two younger brothers were with me.)

    I saw her on television several times in the early 70s, but never saw the Ed Sullivan clip (at least I don't remember it). I also like her song "Beautiful People" and "Look What They've Done To My Song, Ma" (I recall Ray Charles did a pretty popular cover of that one). She is really a unique talent. I have the Best Of CD that Robert Fripp mastered, and really enjoy it.
  7. AppleBonker

    AppleBonker Forum Resident

    You. Beat. Me. To. It. As far as American Pie goes, you can't beat the above version, simply the greatest cover of the seventies. If the day the music died had not already happened, this would have killed it for sure!
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  8. Witchy Woman

    Witchy Woman Forum Resident

    Third Coast, USA
    I love ‘Let’s Stay Together’; it one of my favorite 70s songs. Of course I was still pretty young when it was released. Tina Turner’s cover in 1984 gave me a whole new appreciation for it.
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  9. zebop

    zebop Well Known Stranger

    Such a gorgeous record. I got tired of it for years but I got the single and I heard it again. There's probably many Al Green songs I like better than this but nothing is "Let's tay Together" it's just an amazing song.
    Grant likes this.
  10. John54

    John54 Forum Resident

    Listening to Let's Stay Together as I type this. Once again, a decent song that's not really up my alley so I don't love it or anything. But there's nothing wrong with it that I can hear, so I understand the acclaim for it.
  11. sunspot42

    sunspot42 Forum Resident

    San Francisco
    Here's what a posted the other day over in the #1 R&B hits thread about "Let's Stay Together", where it also topped the chart:

    This one really established Al Green as a superstar, and the distinctive sound of his productions you could practically trademark. Tina Turner would begin her solo superstar comeback in the '80s with a fantastic cover of "Let's Stay Together", so the composition proved to have staying power as well.

    The birth of one icon, the rebirth of another. Landmark song. Legend.
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  12. Black Thumb

    Black Thumb Yah Mo B There

    Reno, NV
    And they covered TWO more of the songs coming up in our '72 lineup!

    What intrigues me about their "American Pie" cover is that the producer put them at the Charles Manson / Altamont section rather than the seemingly more appropriate "dancing in the gym" part.

    It's a wee bit unsettling to hear them chirping stuff like "Helter Skelter" and "no angel born in hell could break that Satan's spell" in junior high assembly style.

    And what a weird idea to put the girls in one stereo channel and the boys in the other.
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  13. alphanguy

    alphanguy Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I had completely forgotten to mention this when I should have, but at this time, this song was dropping off the charts (It peaked first week of December 71) that had some of the most bizarre chart action in history. This song was recorded by 2 different artists, in 3 different versions, and charted a total of FOUR times between 1968 and 1974. First with the Original Caste in 1968, then with coven in 1971, and a re-recorded version in late 73, and then again with a re-release of the 71 version soon after. Title track from the movie Billy Jack.
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  14. Juggsnelson

    Juggsnelson Forum Resident

    Long Island
    I dig Brand New Key. A girl I was friends with years ago left this song on my answering machine as a way of telling me that she wanted to be more than friends. It worked out for awhile:)
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  15. Black Thumb

    Black Thumb Yah Mo B There

    Reno, NV
    That just reminded me that the charts we just covered (Jan/Feb '72) had two competing versions of the Coke jingle ("I'd Like To Teach The World To Sing") in the Top 15 at the same time.

    I once heard a flashback rebroadcast of one of those AT40s, and Casey sounded quite amused by it.
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  16. Grant

    Grant A 60s, 70s & 90s Lovin' Musical Free-Spirit

    HEY! I have that on CD!:mad:

    :D Seriously, I really do.:agree:
  17. Grant

    Grant A 60s, 70s & 90s Lovin' Musical Free-Spirit

    I have all three versions on CD, too!
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  18. AppleBonker

    AppleBonker Forum Resident

    Yeah, and you think I don't? :wiggle:
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  19. czeskleba

    czeskleba Senior Member

    Reportedly they cut the entire song (with the earlier verses just featuring Barry Wiiliams solo) but it was decided that an edit was more than enough. The full-length version is the "30 minute Helter Skelter" of the Brady's recording career.
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  20. AppleBonker

    AppleBonker Forum Resident

    American Pie

    There was a time when I thought American Pie was the greatest song ever written. I was in high school - though not a lonely teenage broncing buck by any means - and I was a little in awe of the song. My friends and I prided ourselves on the fact that we had learned all the lyrics without ever buying the record, just from hearing it on the radio and filling in the gaps by talking it out. On athletic road trips back then, we would always have our moment when we would do a rendition of the entire damn thing, start to finish -- a tradition that our teammates would no doubt have gladly done without.

    Don McLean set out to write nothing less than a definitive statement on the sixties. Once upon a time I thought he had pulled it off. Now I'm not so sure. There's more to say about the decade than just to complain that music ain't what it used to be, which is the tack the parents of the sixties generation would be more comfortable with, and which lends the entire exercise a sour quality. McLean himself grew to resent how much the song had overshadowed everything else he ever did, and as you probably guessed, there were times he refused to play it live.


    My doubts and my original passion for the song both arise from the same source: the lyrics. Where once I thought they were cryptic and fascinating in a good way, now I sometimes wonder what McLean was blathering about. Yes, I'm about to take a crack at doing what many high school kids across America tried in '72: to make sense of the unfathomable. And to make it fun, I'm not going to consult any actual theories about the song. Every idea that follows arises from my own dim attempts to interpret the ginormous word salad that is American Pie.

    The first two verses are pretty straightforward, but the song really starts to get interesting when he begins using poetic figures to stand in for actual people. I've heard that the Jester is supposed to be Bob Dylan, but I find this image to be one of the more unsuccessful ones he attempts. Was Dylan supposed to be funny/goofy? Is that why he's a jester? Is McLean jealous of Bobby D and thus assigning him the role of the fool?

    And why does the jester wear a 'coat he borrowed from James Dean?' Dylan didn't have a Dean vibe at all. And a voice that came from you and me? Bob Dylan? The guy with the famous nasal twang? He doesn't sound much like most people. And if that line is supposed to mean he was 'one of the people', well, to me that doesn't jibe with the guy who wrote It's All Right Ma (I'm Only Bleeding).

    Below: Do you find me funny? Do I amuse you?


    Dylan did have the famous motorcycle accident in '66, so the jester on the sidelines in a cast would seem to cement him as that character, but otherwise, the symbolism is dodgy.

    It seems like McLean's trying to make statements about important moments in the 60s, but I can't figure out what the blazes he references, and I would say I'm more acquainted with the history of that time than most people my age. 'When the Jester sang for the King and Queen'. The King is Elvis? No, cause who would be the Queen, Ann Margrock? Is he Jack Kennedy? But Dylan and Kennedy had nothing to do with each other. Dylan never sang for either of them, in a James Dean coat or anything else. The King may as well be Fred Flintstone.

    OK, some of the references are clear. The girl who sang the blues is obviously Janis Joplin. Satan is probably not Neil Diamond. Although there were no famous Rolling Stones concerts that ended up with flames leaping high into the night, Jagger was famous for having sympathy for Beelzebub (woo woo!), so he must be the devil. In that verse, McLean really comes off like a bit of a prig. Imagine going to a Stones concert and seeing some dude there with his fists clenched, glaring at the stage. I think you'd inch slowly away from that guy and take another hit of blue sunshine.

    Below: What could break that Satan's spell?


    I like the line 'Lenin/Lennon read a book on Marx", because it has several possible meanings: Lenin and Karl Marx, or Lennon becoming left wing, or Lennon and the Beatles acting like the Marx Brothers in their first film.

    But are the Beatles the sergeants playing a marching tune? Or are they the quartet practicing in the park? Or both? "Do you recall what was revealed?" he sings. NO I DON'T!!!! @#$#$@^ This sounds like he means that line to be important, but if no one can figure it out, it ends up being actively irritating.


    So, I think you can see why my attitude towards the song started to turn as I got older. I can handle Dylan or Lennon writing nonsense lyrics, because even if they don't entirely mean something, they still are evocative and interesting. McLean's stuff is too literal to have that effect. He seems to actually be trying to communicate a story, but I begin to suspect he is being obscure for the hell of it. He could have just as easily written the entire song as literally as 'Helter Skelter in the summer swelter/the Byrds flew off with the fallout shelter/eight miles high and falling fast'. I understand those references at least, although I still couldn't tell you why he decided to conflate those images.

    Which brings me to the chorus. Bye bye Miss American Pie sounds a bit dirty to me. And this song does not sound like it's about 'good old boys' driving in Chevies to the levy (while drinking the brew that is true from the vessel with the pestle). If you're going to sing a lament about a 'generation lost in space', why pick that particular image? Is he implying that generation had a choice between being the Dukes of Hazzard or Timothy Leary? And that they chose wrong?

    Oh well, I give up. I gave it a valiant effort! But if even the Bradies couldn't conquer this number, what chance did I have?


    The thing is, I still like the song, a lot actually, but have come to accept that it's kind of a mess that doesn't really hang together. I still like that he had the guts to try it, and if I have eight minutes to kill, I enjoy listening to it. And yes, I still remember all the lyrics to this day, but fortunately these days innocent bystanders will no longer need to hear me sing the whole thing to prove it!
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
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  21. EdogawaRampo

    EdogawaRampo Forum Resident

    I read somewhere that McClean was a big folkie going way back and that, somehow, the King and Queen were like Pete Seeger and Joan Baez or something...so could that Jester singing for the King and Queen be something like Dylan singing at one of the '63 folk festivals or something? I could be wrong.

    I couldn't listen to American Pie for decades due to overplay/overkill, but some years back I picked a copy of the LP again and quite like it.
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  22. W.B.

    W.B. The Collector's Collector

    New York, NY, USA
    Actually, both Coven versions of "One Tin Soldier" were out at the same time in both 1971 and 1973. The Warner Bros. version (originally issued on single #7509, green label w/ shield) was rather sedate if compared with the version they recorded for the label they were signed to, MGM:

    As you say, bizarre . . . MGM's stereo mix was a bit louder and somewhat narrow compared with Warners'. About a month later, a future Number One would be issued by MGM. We'll get to it a few Number Ones from now.
  23. Mylene

    Mylene Forum Resident

    When Dylan was first signed to Columbia he was referred to by Columbia executives as "John Hammond's Folly" Being called a jester is a couple of steps up from that.
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  24. Joey Self

    Joey Self Red Forman's Sensitivity Guru

    I fell behind on this.

    Recently, I was involved in a countdown on Facebook where eight of us counted down our favorite 750 songs. (Why 750? The group had done 250 and 500 before I joined, and 1000 is set to start next year.) As I started to put my list together, I had "American Pie" in my top 20, knowing it would be unlikely to be any lower than that. The placing and sorting continued, and it was in the top 10. When it came time to start posting that last 10 days, I kept bumping "American Pie" a notch or two higher. I finally posted it at #3, leaving only "Hey Jude" at #2 and "A Day In The Life" as my top pick. I never tire of hearing it on the radio or on my MP3 player.

    "Let's Stay Together" was at #162 on that list, my highest placement of four Al Green songs. I was 13 when this was out, and I liked it, but didn't buy the single; I was into Grand Funk and Deep Purple type of music at this time, and didn't buy everything I liked with my limited funds. I became a fan of the 70's soul sounds a bit later when I could buy some of the greatest hits comps (EWF, War, Al Green) and oldies radio started playing it.

    zebop likes this.
  25. Grant

    Grant A 60s, 70s & 90s Lovin' Musical Free-Spirit

    I guess John Hammond showed 'em!

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