Friday, March 31, 2017

Song #85: "22,000 Days"--The Moody Blues (1981)

Today, it's the 12th of 20 songs from The Moody Blues to appear in the Top 500, and more notably, the first of four songs in the Top 85 from their 1981 "Long Distance Voyager" release,  one of my favorite albums of all time.

"Long Distance Voyager" was my real introduction to The Moody Blues. Had I heard "Nights In White Satin" or "Tuesday Afternoon" on the radio prior to that? Sure. But this was the first Moodies LP that I went out and bought, based on my love for the first single from the album, "Gemini Dream", which will appear later in the countdown.

Upon spinning the LP, I discovered more than just the radio hits, including today's anthem reminding us that, on average, we've got a certain amount of time here on planet earth. The Bible tells us "...three score and ten" is pretty good. That's 70 years.

22,000 days equals out to about 60 1/4 years. Today's lesson? Use them wisely.  :)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Song #86: "Do I Do"--Stevie Wonder (1982)

I am in complete agreement with anyone who will testify to the musical genius that is Stevie Wonder.

The catalog that Wonder has compiled over fifty plus years is nothing short of astounding. So, I suspect some of you will be underwhelmed with the two songs by Wonder that made my Top 500, as opposed to some other classics that didn't make it.

"Sir Duke", "I Wish", "Superstition", "Master Blaster", "Send One Your Love", "Isn't She Lovely", they all made consideration. I love those songs! But in the end, my favorite Stevie Wonder song made its debut 35 years ago on his "Stevie Wonder's Original Musiquarium I" album, a "greatest hits" of sorts that encompassed some of Wonder's best work.

To wrap up side four of the second album, Wonder unleashes a ten and a half minute jam extravaganza, complete with an appearance by the incomparable Dizzy Gillespie, and, near the end, a guy named Earl.  :)

As always, I post the original (i.e.--long) version of tunes here, so, Take Ten and enjoy another of the many pieces of musical genius from the mind, heart, and soul of Stevie Wonder.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Song #87: "What Do All The People Know?"--The Monroes (1982)

From San Diego, California comes one of many "one-hit wonders" of the 1980's, some whose hit was major, others, in the case of The Monroes, was not.

Thankfully, it got just enough radio airplay 35 years ago that I discovered it, and worked as hard as I could to record the song off the radio. Yes, we still were doing that back in 1982. In fact, by that summer, my mode of recording had changed, as my brother so nicely gave me a stereo before he moved to North Carolina (sigh....) which included, yes, an 8-track recorder/player!

So, I'm out and about back then trying to find very cheap 8-track tapes, not to listen to, but to record over. How I wish I still had the collection today. Of course, I'd need a way to play them, but that's beside the point.  :)

Here's a song some of you know, and many of you will either have never heard before, or your memory will be jarred when you hit "play" below.  :)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Song #88: "Spanish Flea"--Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass (1965)

It began on the B-side of a 45 RPM single, later charted on its own, then found everlasting success when the late Chuck Barris decided to use it as part of the soundtrack to one of his wildly popular game shows, "The Dating Game".

"The Dating Game" is how I discovered Spanish Flea, and, when I finally got my hands on the album, "Going Places" as a kid, I listened to the full version of the song over, and over, and over again.

So, here is the third and final contribution to the Top 500 from Mr. Alpert, who will turn 82 a week from Thursday!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Song #89: "Girls Talk"--Linda Ronstadt (1980)

One of the things that I love and respect the most about Linda Ronstadt was her incredible ability to sing, and be successful, with a wide variety of musical genres. Through the 1970's, she had moved from country and blues, to a country/pop hybrid, then to pop.

In early 1980, she released "Mad Love", which provided another twist and turn in her musical sound and repetoire. Some would call it Linda's answer to New Wave, but I don't think that's accurate. It was more of a bend to pop/rock instead.

Several years later she would confound and impress again, teaming up with the legendary Nelson Riddle for a series of albums where she covered some of the best music from the Big Band era.

Linda, in a word, is incredible.

Today, the sixth of eight contributions to our musical journey, two more to come from Linda. Which era? Which genre? We'll have to wait and see. For today, here's Girls Talk.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Song #90: "Jumpin' At The Woodside"--Count Basie aka "Gene Gene The Dancing Machine Theme"--The Gong Show (1976)

Eugene Patton worked at NBC when the network gave Chuck Barris, who gave America both "The Dating Game" and "The Newlywed Game" in the 1960's for then-struggling ABC, clearance to debut his latest game show idea, "The Gong Show".

The premise was simple. "The Gong Show" was a comedic bow to the old-time talent contests like Major Bowes, etc. But Barris wanted not to copy the concept, but to poke the bear. "The Gong Show" was meant to be funny, irreverent, and make fun at the many times-tried show format.

Where else would the winner claim a check for $516.32 and be greeted by confetti and a very short dancer in a tuxedo?

Patton was used at times to warm up the audience before the show, and Barris apparently took a liking to Patton's dance moves, as, one day, he decided to throw Patton on stage and dance to the classic Count Basie tune, "Jumpin At The Woodside". When it got to the chorus, Barris, who by now had taken off his tie and coat from his frumpled tuxedo, would strike a pose, throwing an arm up in the air with each accentuated first beat. Patton did it first, thus Barris copied him, and soon, the judges did it, whoever else showed up on stage did it, the audience did it, and it became the most anticipated part of the show, usually occurring before the final commercial break.

And me, at nine years old, watching the show after school on Channel 29 out of Charlottesville, danced like an idiot in my bedroom. Gene Gene was my favorite part of the show. Period.

It's ironic that "Jumpin At The Woodside" arrives on our countdown just under a week since the passing of Barris, who absolutely revolutionized the game show concept on television. "The Dating Game", when it premiered, was a breath of fresh air to some, and ghastly to others. There would have been no remake of "Match Game", with its comedic air and double-entendres, without Barris, no "Tattletales", certainly no "Love Connection." His vision lasted decades, even to today, whether a show was coming out of his production company or not.

Let's go back 40 years, shall we, and watch a compilation of the late, great Eugene Patton and the late, great Chuck Barris in action. It's "GEEEEENEEEE GEEENEEEE"!   :)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Song #91: "Home And Dry"--Gerry Rafferty (1978)

Today, it's the third of four songs in the countdown from, in my opinion, one of the underrated voices of the 1970's. From his work with Stealers Wheel, which ironically, led to legal action that kept Rafferty from issuing a solo album until "City To City" was released early in 1978, to his solo efforts, Rafferty had a distinct voice, distinct sound, and it was perfect for the times.

This is a simple tune about a man on a Trans-Atlantic flight ready to land and see his love. "Just one more hour I'll be home and dry....I gotta see you, gotta be with you, we'll make it better now in every way....."

The guitar work, especially at the end until the fade, is priceless. We'll hear from Gerry one more time as our journey continues.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Song #92: "1999"--Prince (1982)

The title track from Prince's 1982 album, now considered a classic anthem from his incredibly deep musical library, really didn't do all that well on the charts when it was first released late in the year. But, after "Little Red Corvette" had a successful radio run, "1999" was re-released, and performed well in the Summer of 1983, which is when I remember discovering it.

There's not a flaw in this one. The opening drum riff leading into the synthesizer warming up the classic melody, then deeper into the song where you can sing along to the chorus time after time.

I remember jamming to the tune with my headphones on wondering, will we get to 1999? Get this: we are now as close to the year 2035 as we are removed from 1999. Yikes!

Sadly, there is no version of the song on YouTube, so a rare instance where I can't bring you the chance to enjoy the song of the day.  :(

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Song #93: "Five Minutes Of Funk"--Whodini (1984)

Several years removed from the foundation of hip hop with "Rapper's Delight" from Sugar Hill Gang, the period from mid-1982 through 1985 produced a bevy of artists and music which, while holding on to either some R&B or some pop music elements, or both, clearly were continuing to clear the path for a future musical format that would become a monster success.

There were really multiple paths to what became "hip hop", from underground, to one coming straight from R&B to one with pop elements, hybrids as well.

Today, it is Whodini's contribution to this time period with a driving beat, fantastic premise, space age sound, and a very good rapper.

As you've seen if you have taken even a cursory look at my Top 500, you'll find plenty of variety. Here is another example. When I introduced this song to my kids when they were young, they went head over heels for it. Needless to say, we would have many "Five Minutes Of Funk" sessions, especially driving to school in the morning.

Now, for some help from the maestro, if you please.....  :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Song #94: "El Paso"--Marty Robbins (1959)

Eisenhower was well into his second term as President, the Braves were still in Milwaukee, and Perry Mason was in his third season of making Hamilton Burger look back on CBS.

(Did You Know?--The executive producer of "Perry Mason", Gail Patrick Jackson, saw William Talman, the actor who played Burger, in a 1953 movie and wanted him from the start of casting the show. Raymond Burr came in and read for Burger's part. Jackson told him to lose weight and read for the lead role. The rest is history.)

That's a brief snapshot of late 1959 when Marty Robbins released the album "Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs". From it came his signature song, which I discovered in the early 1970's.

There was plenty of country music sounding out through the parsonage way back when in my early years in Beaverdam. The radio was either on WXGI or WRVA most of the time (or WFLS-FM in Fredericksburg for Baltimore Orioles baseball), so, when it was on 950 on the dial, Pop The Storekeeper and Johnny Gee from Tennessee gave us the best in, well, I'll say it, real country music. Today's stuff doesn't compare. Period.

On the record player, Marty Robbins, Johnny Horton (whom we heard from earlier in the countdown) and a large greatest hits collection that included unforgettable tunes that didn't make our list like "Waterloo" from Stonewall Jackson and "May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose" from Little Jimmy Dickens.

Out of all of that comes the story of cowboy who arrives in El Paso, Texas, finds the love of his life, sees another man cozy up to her, makes the challenge, kills him in cold blood, runs from the scene, can't take it anymore in exile, and loses his life just to get "one little kiss" before his demise comes.

Here's El Paso. I have to go now. Something is dreadfully wrong for I feel a deep burning pain in my side.  :)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Song #95: "Rock Lobster"--The B-52's (1979 Version)

When "Rock Lobster" hit my little, but powerful, silver and black radio that used to sit (I kid you not) next to my bed on top of my trash can in early 1980, I was completely mesmerized. It was like nothing I had ever heard before. (My end table had a clock radio on it and didn't have room for the bigger, "little" radio.)  :)

The opening riff, the crazy background singers, the immensely wild bridge to the end (Here Comes The Stingray!), it all came together for what was, I think, one of the four songs you would put on the "Mount Rushmore" of New Wave music. We can discuss the other three on another day. :)

What I didn't know was this was the second incarnation of the song, as it was originally released in 1978, then redone for The B-52's debut album the following year. When I think of the year 1980, I think of this song, and vice versa.

Long before they hit it really big on the charts with "Love Shack", to me, the signature song of this group is my favorite. Of course, we post the extended version here, which didn't get what little radio airplay this song received (mostly on Q107 in Washington if I recall correctly).

Monday, March 20, 2017

Song #96: "Tuesday Afternoon"--The Moody Blues (1967)

Two days ago we mentioned how The Go-Go's occupy three of our Top 100 positions, and yesterday we noted that Genesis will hold five.

The Moody Blues, which I think all seven billion people on earth know is my all-time favorite band, will be heard from ten times, beginning today, a full ten percent of the final hundred tunes in our musical journey.

The first is an absolute classic from their breakthrough "Days Of Future Passed" album from fifty years ago. The Moody Blues will be touring America again, and, this year, their show will be different.

The first half will be chock full of their hits. After intermission, The Moodies will play "Days Of Future Passed" live in its entirety to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

They are scheduled to be at Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia on July 20th, and, as providence would have it, my 50th birthday present is a ticket to go back to Wolf Trap, where I saw The Moody Blues live for the third time back in August, 2007.

Lord willing, this will be my eighth musical journey with the band that I love so much, and a much different journey this time around that I am so, so excited about.

To whet my appetite for four months from now, here's Tuesday Afternoon.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Song #97: "Like It Or Not"--Genesis (1981)

From the album that solidified my status as a super fan of Genesis, "Abacab", comes the sixth of ten songs by the band in our Top 500, which means Genesis occupies five of the Top 100 positions.

From the very opening of the song, it screams of someone who has finally reached the breaking point with the love who has decided to leave, move on, or, possibly, just dump you. Collins' ability to literally ooze the emotion of the lyric is amazing on a regular basis, but this is a four-star display.

It's a song that I, frankly, sang along to with earnest many times when suffering from lost or unrequited love during those awkward years known as junior high and high school. Today, I just love to try to sing along at the top of my lungs in the car, banging my head to the drums the entire time.

Will Genesis occupy the #1 position? We'll hear from them four more times before we're through.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Song #98: "Get Up And Go"--The Go-Go's (1982)

We haven't heard from The Go-Go's since Song #306, but we will get a heavy dose of the breakthrough all-female band as they will land three songs in the Top 100, beginning with today's happy number from their 1982 "Vacation" album.

Frankly, this is a fantastic motivational song, and, if you are a fan of drums, this is your jam. Gina Schock is absolutely on her game on a tune that didn't chart as well as it deserved to.

Two more Go-Go's songs still to come before our musical journey concludes on June 23rd.  :)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Song #99: "Subdivisions"--Rush (1982)

Coming off the heels of their #1 U.S. Rock hit "New World Man", Rush released today's song, and rock radio ate it up, too.

So did I.

After careful consideration, "Subdivisions" is my all-time favorite Rush song. First, phenomenal music and production values. Secondly, the message of the song was very timely to a guy just completing two miserable years of junior high school from a social standpoint. Mind you, I had made a group of friends, but I didn't fit in much anywhere else.

I knew all too well about the "subdivisions" dividing Liberty Junior High School. "Be cool or be cast out", the song says. Millions of teenagers know that, then, and now, all too well.

I'm hoping one day at somewhat quirky, and always challenging social experiments such as middle and high school, kids won't be so quick to build subdivisions. One can only hope.

Meanwhile, I can enjoy my favorite Rush song. There were four overall in the Rob Witham 500. :)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Song #100: "Slipping Away"--Dave Edmunds (1983)

We begin The Top 100 Songs today! Thanks so much for being with me on this musical journey.

Today, the one appearance from Dave Edmunds, who hit radio in 1983 with a catchy tune, especially the chorus, the bridge, and the fade. It's all about a guy watching his love slowly go away from him, now desperate, asking for "one more try", for "one more chance to wipe these tears from my eyes".

As the song ends, you get the feeling he never gets that opportunity.

From 1983, it's "Slipping Away".......

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Song #101: "The NCAA on CBS College Basketball Theme" (1993)

First, before today's very appropriate song, a quick story.

I've always been a big college basketball fan (well, big until the last, say, decade), but the apex of my love for the sport and especially for The NCAA Tournament came in 1990 when the first two rounds were being held for the first time at the Richmond Coliseum.

The night before the first round, I'm at the Richmond Marriott for the radio station helping them produce a VCU talk show since the Rams were the host school for the tournament. I got to thinking, why not ask for a press pass and just go??

Amazingly, I was able to procure one. What's even more amazing is that I convinced my boss to let me get someone to fill in my Friday afternoon drive airshift so I could file live reports from the Richmond Coliseum.

Having no time to secure a sponsor, I told my boss we would do free ads for the latest edition of our "Christian Yellow Pages" that had just released called, "The Light Pages". He said yes.

I missed almost all of the first game that Friday, but arrived in time to see Maurice Newby of Northern Iowa make this insane shot to send third-seeded Missouri packing. By the end of the weekend, we saw Syracuse, Digger Phelps and Notre Dame, and the last game ever coached by Terry Holland at Virginia.

The following year, I began taking vacation days during the first week of the tournament so I could stay home, watch all the action, and record the best moments. And, I LOVED their theme song, which is another story for another time (hint, hint).

Fast forward to March, 1993. I'm home, in my new home, ready for the first round on that Thursday. Imagine my horror when they started the show, and a new song debuted.

WHAT??!?!?!  Where's my beloved theme song???

The good news is I settled down, and, it didn't take very long to fall in love with this one, too, even though it can never have the meaning the other one did. So, as the real tournament action gets set to start tomorrow, enjoy this throwback to tournament action gone by!

NOTE: This version was used by CBS Sports from 1993-2003. A more orchestrated version debuted for the 2004 Tournament, and a revised version of that debuted in 2011 when CBS and Turner Sports began its current arrangement.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Song #102: "Amnesia"--Chumbawumba (1998)

It's a Sunday morning, and the Withams are packed up in the van, heading down I-295 for another great Sunday School and Worship Service at Bethlehem Congregational Church.

That means it was time to tune in "Radio Disney" for their weekly countdown to pass the 50-minute drive away. We got to hear lots of good tunes from Sunday to Sunday, but one is most memorable.

Radio Disney played a special version of the song where, after the chorus, you have a father-like figure asking children about their homework, and eating their vegetables.

The beat is very hypnotic, and it's very fun to sing along with, especially with, say, an eight and a three year old.

So, climb in the van with us and get ready to not remember!  :)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Song #103: "Something About You"--Boston (1976)

Today, we give a final salute to, perhaps, the greatest debut album in rock music history, as I reveal my favorite song from Boston.

For all the great hits found on "Boston", released almost 41 years ago, songs you still hear on classic rock radio today from "More Than A Feeling" to "Long Time", I am very partial to a song from side two which begins very quietly and with great introspective power, then, breaks out into that classic Boston sound.

That sound carried a message of a man who, despite his faults, wants so badly to love, take care of, and please the woman he loves.

Thank you Boston for fantastic music, and the great trivia question of my teenage years, "When's the third Boston album coming out?" You answered that in 1986.  :)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Song #104: "The Other Side Of Life"--The Moody Blues (1986)

It's the Summer of 1986, and I'm working literally every day for WUHN-AM and WUPE-FM in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, opting not to come home for the summer and choosing instead to work as much as I could to gain valuable on-air and other experience in the world of radio.

Among the soundtrack choices of that summer was the follow-up single to The Moody Blues' big hit, "Your Wildest Dreams", which is today's song. It is also the tenth of twenty Moody Blues songs to make the Top 500, meaning, yes, a full ten percent of the Top 100 will belong to Justin, John, Graeme, and company.

Here's "The Other Side Of Life", which clocked in at 4:56 and faded out, by the way, as I remember the cart label.  This, though, below, is the extended version.  You know how we like them.  :)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Song #105: "Glory Days"--Bruce Springsteen (1984)

June, 1984 was a really good month at the record store.

"Born In The U.S.A." by Bruce Springstreen hits streets on June 4, then, three weeks later, buoyed by the monster radio success already generated from "When Doves Cry", here came the soundtrack to Prince's motion picture "Purple Rain".

While Purple Rain would dominate the Summer of 1984 and generate massive sales, as the calendar turned over to 1985, the last Prince single, "Take Me With U", only managed to climb to #25 on the chart. Meanwhile, The Boss was just getting started.

"Dancing In The Dark" got us going in the Summer of 1984 (complete with a Courteney Cox video appearance, jumping on stage to dance with Springsteen long before anyone knew her), followed by "Cover Me" and the title track.

In 1985, the haunting "I'm On Fire" climbed the charts, setting the stage for today's tune. Now, by the time it was released to Top 40 radio on May 31, 1985, many of us already knew and absolutely loved the song, thanks in part to AOR Radio grabbing it early, and, of course, by buying the album, as I did.

So, I couldn't have been happier that a song that talks about looking back at the glory days of your life was suddenly everywhere on radio just as I was wrapping up my first significant era of "Glory Days", high school.

"Walking On Sunshine" by Katrina and The Waves was the soundtrack to the Summer of '85, "Into The Groove" by Madonna the dance tune,

But it was definitely "Glory Days" that stood out as the anthem of that summer. And now, I sit here, 32 years later, believing I have much more than just "boring stories".  :)

Friday, March 10, 2017

Song #106: "Calling America"--Electric Light Orchestra (1986)

It's the swan song on American radio for the Electric Light Orchestra when they had their biggest hit in three years back in 1986 with this catchy tune about wanting to contact someone state side, only how could they do it in an age of AT&T, MCI, phone cards, pin numbers, cheaper at 11pm (there or here?), etc, etc.

Today's new generation absolutely has no concept concerning how the simple act of using a phone was for those of us who grew up in the 1970's and 1980's. Party lines, only one phone in the house, tethered to the kitchen wall. Heck, you even had to lower yourself to use the rotary dial.  :)

Today's song finished at #18 in the Billboard Top 100, and it marked ELO's final appearance on American Top 40 with Casey Kasem.

We have now revealed six of the nine Electric Light Orchestra songs that dot our countdown landscape.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Song #107: "Walkin' In L.A."--Missing Persons (1983)

Today, the highest debut in the Top 500 by an artist/group that has a minimum of three songs listed. It took over a year for the first of three songs from Dale Bozzio and the group Missing Persons to, no pun intended, appear.

Sadly, Missing Persons never had a single crack the Top 40. But it was the 1980's, and by then, you could get popular in other ways, even before the advent of the Internet.

Missing Persons became pretty popular on MTV, and very popular in multiple major cities. Those of us outside of both realms who were blessed to have cool rock stations that still accepted the more "new wave" kind of acts also were exposed to their unique sound.

From their "Spring Session M" release, the first of three entries from Missing Persons, which, if memory serves me correctly, was part of the soundtrack of my incredible Spring of 1983.  :)

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Song #108: "Close To The Borderline"--Billy Joel (1980)

Did you know that Billy Joel's first number one song came from his 1980 album "Glass Houses", and it wasn't "You May Be Right"?

It actually was "It's Still Rock and Roll To Me", which shows the depth of this Joel album, my personal favorite from him. In fact, my two favorite Billy Joel songs of all time come from "Glass Houses", beginning with today's tune.

It's a "feel-good" song with far from "feel-good" lyrics, as a guy looks at the problems around him in his neighborhood, his nation ("I'd start a revolution but I don't have time"), and, then, inward.

But, in the end, he lives to fight another day, even if his nicely polished dress shoes inch a hair closer, closer to the borderline.

One more Billy Joel song to go in our Top 500, and you know which album it comes from. What song will it be, and when will we see it??  :)

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Song #109: "Alice's Restaurant Massacre"--Arlo Guthrie (1967)

I am so honored that today's song was released in the same year that, er, ah, well, I was released. :)

Thanks to my brother for my first exposure to this song close to ten years after its release, never dreaming that, one day, I'd live just north of the "scene of the crime", Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and that I would actually drive past Alice's Restaurant.

If you've never listened to this 18 minute, 34 second masterpiece, I implore you to do so. There are a couple of language/adult theme issues, and, yes, it has a certain political bent to it, but, now, almost 50 years after its debut, Arlo Guthrie takes us back to a time where so many things were different, yet so many issues are the same.

Take garbage, a "friendly gestue", a closed dump, a cranky police officer, "shovels, rakes and implements of destruction", a "closed" sign, some blind justice, the Vietnam War, the draft office, and a simple tune played over, and over, and over, and you have the ingredients of an absolute classic that must be a part of every Thanksgiving, or any other day for that matter.

And, yes, this is the longest song in The Rob Witham 500.  :)

By the way, does anyone know what happened to the 27 8 X 10" color glossy photographs with circles and arrows on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence?

Monday, March 06, 2017

Song #110: "Black Coffee In Bed"--Squeeze (1982)

Those of us who listened to radio stations like XL102, DC101 and 3WV back in 1982 got exposed to so many of the great songs of that era that listeners of strictly Top 40 stations like Q94 simply didn't hear.

Today's song is a perfect example. And it came at a perfect time after my first serious relationship came to a close in mid-summer, and I had about five weeks to psych myself up and get ready for the petrifying thought of......high school.

I did not follow the song's blueprint and go out with a friend with lips full of passion and coffee in bed, but I did listen to this song tons and tons in what I remember as an unforgettable summer of music.

Music was my refuge, and, many long summer nights, not just that summer, but every night growing up, music was my very, very good friend.

Another Squeeze tune, "Tempted", just missed the Top 500, so here now enjoy their contribution to our musical journey.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Song #111: "Don't Drive Drunk"--Stevie Wonder (1984)

From the soundtrack to the motion picture "The Woman In Red" comes the first of two Stevie Wonder contributions to the Top 500, a song that was panned by some critics, probably some of the same critics who panned Nancy Reagan's "too simple" message of "Just Say No" to drugs back in the 1980's.

You combine the super funk of Stevie with a much-needed message, then, and now (so maybe it wasn't so worthy of panning, you know?), and you have the makings of what I have always believed was an underrated Wonder tune.

It charted in the Netherlands and in the United Kingdom, but not in the United States, and I can remember stopping everything when I did hear it on the radio, because its airplay amount was, at best, scarce.

But now we have it for all time.  :)  One more Stevie appearance coming soon!

And don't drive drunk!  Thank you.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Song #112: "Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You)"--A Flock of Seagulls (1983)

A lot of people assume that A Flock Of Seagulls qualifies as a "one-hit wonder" thanks to the smash success of their hit song from the Summer of 1982, "I Ran".

But they actually hit the Top 40 twice more, the final time in America in the Summer of 1983 with an absolutely mesmerizing song about a man who simply wishes for something we definitely take for granted in the age of cell phones and selfies: a photograph.

The best part of the song is its quintessential early '80's jam, "Synthesizer City", if you will, that matches the obscurity of the song's meaning. Is this a faceless love? Has he even met this woman? Does she even exist?

Would the photograph really help? In the end, the song, maybe like the fantasy it portrays, simply winds down, and blows out its own candle.

This is the second and final appearance for A Flock Of Seagulls.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Song #113: "Waterloo"--Abba (1974)

The worldwide phenomenon that was Abba began 43 years ago with today's song, one they sang to win a big music contest in Europe, bursting out of their native Sweden to reach around the world.

It is the fourth of six contributions by the quartet on our Top 500, so two more songs to come. We've enjoyed "Chiquitita", "Knowing Me, Knowing You" and "Voulez-Vous" so far, now "Waterloo". Down the road, we'll discover the final two, neither of which became the title of a Broadway musical. :)

Would any of you be willing to wear any of the outfits used in this video? In public?  :)

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Song #114: "Rolene"--Moon Martin (1979)

This song fits many categories on this countdown, from "one-hit wonders", "one song appearances" and "songs from 1979", if I had a personal Top 500 search engine of sorts.

In a transitional year for popular music, a lot of people forget this gem from the final year of the 1970's from a man who wrote another, bigger hit for that year, Robert Palmer's "Bad Case Of Loving You".

Do you remember "Rolene"??

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Song #115: "Isn't Life Strange?"--The Moody Blues (1972)

It begins with an unmistakable flute solo with a hint of orchestration behind it, ushering in a seven-plus minute masterpiece, a song that makes one think of all of the twists and turns of life, from best decisions to deepest regrets, with its primary focus on wishing to simply be with the one you love.

The flute moves, weaves, winds its way through the composition, and brings it to a dramatic, emotional close. I use this opportunity to give a nod to the great Norda Mullen, who has stepped in at this most important instrument for The Moody Blues for well over a decade since the retirement of Ray Thomas at the end of 2002.

Norda is an incredible artist and I'm deeply thankful that the rest of the group welcomed her in to allow the greatness of The Moody Blues live to continue.

Here's a live performance featuring Norda on flute from 2013.