1,000 Greatest Songs of the 1960s – 220 to 211
He sang like a professional criminal.
220. “All My Loving,” The Beatles. Songwriters: John Lennon, Paul McCartney; #45 pop; 1963. Paul McCartney, “It was the first song (where) I’d ever written the words first. I never wrote words first, it was always some kind of accompaniment. I’ve hardly ever done it since either. I had in my mind a little country and western song.” Many sources state that McCartney’s then girlfriend Jane Asher was the inspiration for the lyrics. The melody appears to have been based on a small piano section from Dave Brubeck’s 1959 release “Kathy’s Waltz.” John Lennon, who didn’t often go out of his way to applaud McCartney’s work, once commented, “It’s a damn good piece of work, I play a pretty mean guitar in back.” Surprisingly, “All My Loving” was never released as a single in the U.S., but charted based upon Canadian import sales. Author Ian McDonald, “The innocence of early Sixties British pop is perfectly distilled in the eloquent simplicity of this number.”
219. “Wrap It Up,” Sam and Dave. Songwriters: Isaac Hayes, David Porter; Did Not Chart; 1968. Stax Records was so convinced that they had a hit with Sam and Dave’s “I Thank You” that the label sent songwriters/producers Isaac Hayes and David Porter to a Stax tour stop in France to record the vocals for the b-side, “Wrap It Up.” The rush released single had the intended impact as “I Thank You” was a Top Ten pop hit, but the horn fueled, put your love in a package funk of “Wrap It Up” eventually found an audience, too. Archie Bell and & the Drells had a minor pop hit with their Philly soul cover in 1970 and “Wrap It Up” was a 1986 Top Ten AOR single for The Fabulous Thunderbirds. If you think the song wouldn’t translate well to 1980’s new wave music, cover versions by Romeo Void and The Eurythmics serve to validate your perception. Rock critic Thom Jurek reviewing the “I Thank You” LP, “The hit from the album is the wooly groover ‘Wrap It Up,’ where the pair rise above a killer Memphis Horn arrangement and Steve Cropper’s funky guitar to wail in call and response on the choruses.” Sam Moore, “Sam and Dave didn’t have a style. Isaac Hayes gave us a style.”
218. “Duke of Earl,” Gene Chandler. Songwriters: Gene Chandler (Eugene Dixon), Earl Edwards, Bernice Williams; #1 pop/#1 R&B; 1962. Chicago South Side product Eugene Dixon performed with vocal groups during his high school years and was a member of the doo wop act The Dukays in the early 1960s. That group originally recorded the unstoppable royalty romance number “Duke of Earl.” After the song was purchased by Vee-Jay Records, the label changed the billing from The Dukays to Gene Chandler (Dixon’s new stage name). Chandler developed the unique vocal phrasing for the lyrics, incorporating a warm up singing exercise into the song. Author Blair Jackson on “Duke of Earl,” “Is there anyone who was not charmed by its graceful doo-wop pace, by the basso profundo opening and lead singer Gene Chandler’s tenor soaring into those unearthly falsetto ‘oo-oo-oo’s’ near the end?” Chandler, perhaps branding himself as a novelty act, wore a cape, top hat, and monocle as his “Duke of Earl” persona. The Duke returned to the Top Twenty of the pop charts in 1965 with the Curtis Mayfield composition “Nothing Can Stop Me” and had his second biggest hit in 1970 with the “can you dig it” pop/soul of “Groovy Situation,” a favorite of Ron Burgundy.
217. “Maggie’s Farm,” Bob Dylan. Songwriter: Bob Dylan; Did Not Chart; 1965. The Bently Boys were a North Carolina banjo and fiddle duo who recorded during the 1920s. Bob Dylan took the melody from their 1929 song “Down on Penny’s Farm” for his 1961 composition “Hard Times in New York Town.” It’s also believed that the themes from “Down on Penny’s Farm” and the 1934 update “Tanner’s Farm” by Gid Tanner and Riley Puckett influenced the lyrical concept of “Maggie’s Farm.” There are some observers who have viewed Dylan’s call for independence on “Maggie’s Farm” as a rejection of being typecast into the folk community, but that seems more like coincidence than intent. As Dylan once said, “Anybody can be specific and obvious. That’s always been the easy way. It’s not that it’s so difficult to be unspecific and less obvious; it’s just that there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, to be specific and obvious about.” More important than the oft told Dylan went electric hysteria is that this #22 U.K. pop hit demonstrated Dylan’s ragged but right approach to rock ‘n’ roll.
216. “Every Little Bit Hurts,” Brenda Holloway. Songwriter: Ed Cobb; #13 pop/#3 R&B; 1964. Los Angeles native Brenda Holloway played flute, violin, and piano as a child and started cutting demo records at the age of 14. She released her first single, 1962’s “Hey Fool,” when she was 16 and signed with Motown in 1964. Holloway had recorded “Every Little Bit Hurts” in 1962, but was persuaded to cut a new version with Motown. According to Holloway, due to tension between her and producer Hal Davis, she was crying when the vocals were recorded. The production values sounded more like David and Bacharach than Motown and being based in the West Coast wasn’t beneficial to Holloway’s career. Holloway speaking to Susan Whitall (from the highly recommended “Women of Motown” book), “My dispute and my displeasure was logistically and geographically. I was not able to get to the songs before the other artists got there. Because I had to fly for hours, and they were already back east, they could just drive and get there.” Holloway had a writing credit on her last Motown Top 40 hit, 1967’s “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy,” which was a #2 single for Blood, Sweat & Tears in 1969.
215. “Baby Please Don’t Go,” Them. Songwriter: Traditional; Did Not Chart; 1964. “Baby Please Don’t Go” was first recorded by Delta blues artist Big Joe Williams in 1935. The song became a blues standard in the 1950s and was introduced into the world of British pop music by Georgie Fame in February of 1964. Them’s take was distinctly different from Fame’s, Jimmy Page provided the dramatic opening guitar lick and Van Morrison channeled his inner Belfast bluesman. Van Morrison, “Jimmy played on everything then. He played rhythm on ‘Here Comes the Night,’ and on ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ he is playing a detuned six string. He’s actually doubling the bass part, then when it drops down low he’s playing this thing behind the vocal – it’s a tuned down guitar but it sounds like a bass. I loved it.” Them’s version peaked at #10 on the U.K. charts, leading to future covers by The Amboy Dukes, Dion, AC/DC, and Aerosmith, among others.
214. “I Fall to Pieces,” Patsy Cline. Songwriters: Hank Cochran, Harlan Howard; #12 pop/#1 country; 1961. Harlan Howard, “On the night of the session, we absolutely did NOT want to do the standard 4/4 shuffle that had by then been done to death. We were trying all kinds of other (basic rhythm) combinations, but they all just laid there and bled all over the floor. So, it had to be the shuffle then, like it or not. But the amazing thing was, once Patsy got into the groove, she just caressed those lyrics and that melody so tenderly that it was just like satin. We knew we had magic in the can when, on the fourth take, every grown man in that studio was bawling like a baby and Bradley said `That’s the one’.” This #1 country hit/#12 pop effort was only Cline’s second charting single and this was where she found her calling – as one of the world’s most gifted torch song artists.
213. “Crying,” Roy Orbison. Songwriters: Roy Orbison, Joe Melson; #5 pop/#6 country; 1961. Roy Orbison, “I was dating a girl and we broke up. I went to the barber shop to get a haircut and I looked across the street and there was this girl that I had split up with. I wanted to go over and say, ‘Let’s forget about what happened and carry on.’ But I was stubborn. So I got in the car and drove down the street about two blocks and said to myself, ‘Boy, you really made a mistake. You didn’t play that right at all.’ It certainly brought tears to my eyes and that’s how I came up with ‘Crying.’” Rolling Stone magazine, “His near-operatic performance culminated in a high, wailing note, which Orbison never lost the capacity to hit until his death in 1988.” Bob Dylan, “He sounded like he was singing from an Olympian mountaintop and he meant business. He was now singing his compositions in three or four octaves that made you want to drive your car over a cliff. He sang like a professional criminal.”
212. “Take Five,” The Dave Brubek Quartet. Songwriter: Paul Desmond; #25 pop; released in 1959, peaked on the charts in 1961. California native Dave Brubeck started playing piano when he was four years old and avoided combat service during World War II by forming a military jazz band to entertain his fellow soldiers. Brubeck started recording in late 1940s and founded the Dave Brubeck Quartet in 1951, an act that become so popular that Brubeck was featured on the cover of “Time” magazine in 1954. After hearing Turkish street musicians performing in 9/8 time, Brubeck became interested in exploring unusual meters and “Take Five” is famously written in 5/4 time. Author Ted Gioai, “It became the first instrumental modern jazz single on the Billboard Hot 100 to sell a million copies—and was also one of the last. Even more peculiar, the song was written in 5 /4, a meter that had never been used before in American popular music and had hardly existed in jazz before Dave Brubeck recorded ‘Take Five.’” Dave Brubeck, ”(Saxophone player) Paul (Desmond) came in with two themes unrelated. I’m the one that put them together and said, ‘We can make a tune out of this. We repeat the first theme, and then you’d go to what we call a bridge, and then go back to the first theme, and then improvise on the one E flat minor chord change.’ And then have a drum solo. (Drummer) Joe (Morello) said, ‘Dave, don’t ever quit playing that vamp under my solo or I’ll get lost.’”
211. “Trust in Me,” Etta James. Songwriters: Ned Wever, Milton Ager, Jean Schwartz; #30 pop/#4 R&B; 1961. “Trust in Me” came from the 1930’s pop era, songwriter Milton Ager wrote for Hollywood (“Ain’t She Sweet,” “Happy Days Are Here Again”) and lyricist Jean Schwartz wrote for Tin Pan Alley and Broadway (“Chinatown, My Chinatown”). Mildred Bailey (“The Queen of Swing”) recorded an orchestra ballad version of “Trust in Me” that peaked at #4 on the pop charts in 1937. Serial husband Eddie Fisher scored a Top 40 hit with “Trust in Me” in 1952 and canine appraiser Patti Page cut a high school prom version in 1959. None of those precedents sounded anything like Etta’s vocal showcase, where the spare instrumentation allows her to go from tender sweet to full throated passion. Bonnie Raitt, “There’s a lot going on in Etta James’ voice. A lot of pain, a lot of life but, most of all, a lot of strength.”