Saturday, September 24, 2016

Song #273: "Don't Sleep In The Subway"--Petula Clark (1967)

Perhaps best known for her hit "Downtown", Petula Clark makes our musical journey with a song she released two months before my birth. The song peaked at #5 on the charts around the time I "debuted" at Richmond Memorial Hospital in June, 1967.

This song was also an oldies staple for years when WRVA played music, and was heard, a lot, on our recorded cassettes of music off the radio.

Yes Millennials, we would sit by the clock radio in our bedroom, my brother and I, and wait for our favorite songs to come on, then frantically press record and play when they did, and stayed VERY quiet for the song's duration.

And we hated DJ chatter leading up to or ending the song too early. I later was guilty of both.  :)

One of my early "favorite" songs, below, from Ms. Clark, who will turn 84 in November!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Song #274: "Classical Gas"--Mason Williams (1968)

If you haven't been able to tell yet, I'm a big fan of instrumental music.

It can be full length recordings, jam sessions, or television themes. You don't always need words to create memorable music.

This was definitely the case 48 years ago when Mason Williams brought us this masterpiece, Of all thiings, Williams was also a comedy writer, and led the team at the time of this song's release for the "Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" on CBS, which had an interesting history of its own.

But the show can also get credit for introducing America to a new form of gas, for it premiered on the broadcast. By August, it was the #2 single in the country.

You've not heard the song? Well, maybe you have, and just didn't know the title. Enjoy it below. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Song #275: "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"--Elton John (1974)

What a history this song has.

Written by Paul McCartney and the late John Lennon for the Beatles in 1967 for the incredible "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album, the song immediately faced controversy, with some calling the title a "code ode" to the drug LSD.

The songwriters have maintained all along that a drawing by Lennon's son Julian, plus "Alice In Wonderland" contributed to creating the tune.

Now, I do like the Beatles' version, but seven years later, Elton John took it, and really made it his own, and recorded, in my view, the better version of the song. By early 1975, the song hit #1, starting what would be a monster year for John.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Song #276: "Pretending"--Eric Clapton (1989)

A later Clapton hit, this song didn't fare well on the Billboard Hot 100, but did very, very well at rock radio. And, occasionally, you can still run across the song today on classic rock formatted stations.

The quick piano solo opening is fantastic, leading into the immediate jam that this song offers from start to finish. I just hope all that rain didn't ruin a perfectly good keyboard.  :)

It's the third and final contribution from Eric Clapton to our countdown, thus, my favorite Clapton song.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Song #277: "Match Game Theme" (1970's version)

In its initial run, Match Game was a rather staid game show, as game shows were in the 1950's and early 1960's. The show ran on NBC from 1962 to 1969, hosted by the popular Gene Rayburn. The theme song then was Bert Kaempfert's "Swingin' Safari".

A look at the 1962 pilot episode is available here.

Along came the 1970's, and CBS decided to, as we would now say today, "reboot" the game show, and give it a significantly updated feel. Loud carpeting, lots of twinkling lights, the revolving contestants, and a new theme song.

Interestingly enough, one thing remained the same, at least at the very outset, and that was the aforementioned staid feel of the show. The pilot episode was surreal when now compared to the well-known zany format that launched the show into a long period of success, and, eventually, Richard Dawson to "Family Feud".

I watched many a Match Game getting home after school and during the summertime. When Game Show Network (GSN) appeared in the 1990's, it was great to have Gene, Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly and the other casts of characters back on my screen. Add the skinny microphone and Gene's silent odes to his wife Helen, and this is game show gold.

And it was also fun to hear this song again. Below is an episode, plus an extra video showing every New Year's Eve sign change from 1973 to 1979.

This theme is so good, it'll leave you "Blank"!  :)

Monday, September 19, 2016

Song #278: "Precious Love"--Bob Welch (1979)

From the spring of '79 comes our final, and my favorite, musical contribution from the late Bob Welch, former member of Fleetwood Mac who, in the end, had a decent solo career throughout the late 1970's.

"Sentimental Lady" turned out to be his biggest radio hit, but a little over a year later, he released today's tune, a song that I thought was underserved by radio and should have done better on the charts (it peaked at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100).

Those of you from my generation may click the link below and think, "Whoa, I haven't heard this in years!" That's one of the reasons why I'm sharing my favorite songs with the universe in general. A long forgotten musical memory can bring back some of the best feelings ever.

So enjoy our top Bob Welch song, "Precious Love"!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Song #279: "Fire Lake"--Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band (1980)

I've only owned one Bob Seger album, and it was "Against The Wind". I played it many, many times in 1980 as my seven years at Beaverdam Elementary were coming to an end (Go Beavers!).

There will be multiple entries on our countdown from this release beginning with today's song, the first single to radio. Seger not only enjoys his regular band, he's able to convince some friends to come in and sing background vocals, a considerable accomplishment considering they were the late Glenn Frey, Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmitt of the, at the time, disintegrating Eagles. Frey and Henley were at each other's throats but were able to help Bob give this tune an unmistakable sound as it faded to black.

Seger had this song in his back pocket for years and didn't think his record company would actually release it as the first single from "Against The Wind". Well, they did, it peaked at #6, his fifth biggest chart hit. I still find it hard to believe that, of all songs in Seger's great catalog, it was "Shakedown" that provided him his only number one song.

Back to the matter at hand. Who wants to play those eights and aces??