1,000 Greatest Songs of the 1960s – 250 to 241
Cheer up, sleepy Jean.
250. “Love Me Two Times,” The Doors. Songwriter: Robby Krieger; #25 pop; 1967. Robby Krieger, “I kind of got the idea from an old blues song that I heard, oddly enough on a record that Paul Rothchild produced called ‘The Blues Project.’ I came on to this song that was by Danny Kalb. The ‘Love Me Two Times’ thing was about some of my friends that got drafted and had to leave for Vietnam and they were going to see their girlfriends for the last time, or not for a long time, and so that’s where it came from. We all loved blues songs but when The Doors did the blues we changed it around. ‘Love Me Two Times’ was sort of like the blues but then it goes to kind of a circle where it goes D, C ,B, B-flat, A, which is unusual and then it had that kind of bouncy beat.” Ray Manzarek, who played the world’s meanest harpsichord solo on this record, described “Love Me Two Times” as, “Robby’s great blues/rock classic about lust and lost, or multiple orgasms, I’m not sure which.”
249. “Daydream Believer,” The Monkees. Songwriter: John Stewart; #1 pop; 1967. Peter Tork, “This comes from what I called the ‘mixed-mode’ period. ‘Mixed’ was us and some pros in the studio. With ‘Daydream Believer,’ I was on the piano and I came up with this opening lick which I thought was just sparklingly original. When you play it today, everyone thinks of ‘Daydream Believer.’ What really makes the song work, I think, is the chord change on ‘Jean’ in ‘Cheer up sleepy Jean.’ It goes from a IV chord to a V chord to a III. That’s a very unexpected and sweet chord change. It really grabs your attention. Then there’s the line, ‘What can it mean to a daydream believer and a homecoming queen.’ It doesn’t go right in your face, but when you think about it you figure it out. You’re like, ‘Okay, the guy is in a workaday world and he’s got his head in the clouds. His girlfriend was a homecoming queen, but they’re still scratching.’ You don’t get all that until you think about it for a long time. Davy sings this one, and he was such a talented guy, and a good actor. He was probably the best actor among us. He probably had the best musical mind, too. The best brain and maybe the best heart.” Songwriter John Stewart, who once said, “’Daydream Believer’ kept me alive for all these years,” reached the pop charts in 1979 with his #5 pop hit “Gold.”
248. “One Fine Day,” The Chiffons. Songwriters: Carole King, Gerry Goffin; #5 pop/#6 R&B; 1963. “One Fine Day” was originally written for Little Eva of “The Locomotion” fame, but the writing team wasn’t satisfied with the results and submitted the song to The Tokens. That group was producing The Chiffons, who had a #1 single in 1963 with “He’s So Fine,” so Carole King thought the “fine” theme could work for them again. Jay Siegel of The Tokens, “Carole King and our group all grew up in the same neighborhood, and she sent us the demo of ‘One Fine Day’ with her voice on it, and we said, ‘This is great. We don’t have to do anything. We just have to add a saxophone to the track, put the Chiffons’ voices on the track, and we have a record.’ We knew when we walked out of the studio that ‘One Fine Day’ had to be a hit record.” It has also been said that it was Little Eva’s vocals, not Carole King’s, on the demo that The Tokens erased and replace with The Chiffons. In any case, it is definitely Carole King who played the pounding piano intro and recurring triplets on the recording. Cynthia Weil, commenting on King, one of her female songwriting peers of her era, “She was just too damn talented.”
247. “The Sky is Crying,” Elmore James. Songwriter: Elmore James; #15 R&B; 1960. Robbie Robertson, “I practiced 12 hours a day, every day, until my fingers were bleeding, trying to get the same sound as Elmore James.” Elmore James pairs his ringing slide guitar work with a towering tale of heartbreak on “The Sky is Crying” – he watches the tears roll down the street while trying to cope with the reality of unrequited love. “The Sky is Crying” has become a blues standard covered by Albert King, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Hound Dog Taylor, among others. Author Jas Obrecht, “Using a radio tube cover as a slide, James played his amplified Kay acoustic with unstoppable body rhythm, and his ferocious, anguished vocals were as fearless as his solos. Ry Cooder, “He’s the guy. Elmore is so in the middle of the music all the time, just covering the whole thing like a great horn player.” It’s too bad for popular music that Elmore didn’t have Robert Johnson’s publicist.
246. “Strychnine,” The Sonics. Songwriter: Gerry Roslie; Did Not Chart; 1965. Mark Deming, “Of all the garage bands that made a glorious racket in the 1960s, few if any were louder, wilder, or more raw than the Sonics, a Tacoma, Washington quintet whose over the top style, complete with roaring guitars, pounding drums, and the fevered howls of lead singer Gerry Roslie, anticipated the mania of punk and pushed rock & roll deep into the red zone during their 1963-1966 heyday.” The Sonics formed in 1960, honing their merger of an explosive 1950’s style rock ‘n’ roll rhythm section with the aggressiveness of 60’s garage rock for several years before their 1965 album “Here Are The Sonics!!!” The album contains Sonics standards “The Witch,” “Psycho,” “Have Love, Will Travel,” and, best of all, the poison drinking recommendation of “Strychnine.” The sound is beautifully chaotic and distorted. Kurt Cobain, “The Sonics recorded very, very cheaply on a two track you know, and they just used one microphone over the drums, and they got the most amazing drum sound I’ve ever heard. Still to this day, it’s still my favorite drum sound. It sounds like he’s hitting harder than anyone I’ve ever known.”
245. “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” Otis Redding. Songwriters: Otis Redding, Jerry Butler; #21 pop/#2 R&B; 1965. Jerry Butler had the initial idea for “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” He performed the unfinished song for Otis Redding who responded, “Hey, man, that’s a smash. Let me go mess around with it. Maybe I’ll come up with something.” Redding turned the ballad into another one of his dramatic heartbreak numbers, sounding as though romantic quandary is physically tearing him apart. Memphis trumpet player Wayne Jackson, “’I’ve Been Loving You Too Long’ has great horn parts. You can almost hear the horns saying the words in that record. They’re also used like a rhythm instrument on the stop line – definite punctuation.” Booker T. Jones, “My experience having been a church player, and having had the classical experience, really helped there. The ‘walk-ups’ on those songs are classical type walk-ups, the way the chorus progresses to where the chromatics strike, that emotion. Working on something like that, Otis and me became very good friends, you know, spending time on the road or in a studio together. ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long’ and ‘Try A Little Tenderness.’ Those were, I think, some of our best moments together.”
244. “Days,” The Kinks. Songwriter: Ray Davies; Did Not Chart; 1968. On this 1968 single, a #12 U.K. pop hit, Ray Davies copes with the loss of a lover or loved one not by focusing on his own pain, but by acknowledging how much positive impact the person had on Ray’s life. Andy Miller, “’Days’ articulates how we would all like to remember our friends, our lovers and our lives: gratefully, and without regret. It is Ray Davies’ wisest song.” Davies in 2010, “The song has grown in intensity over the years. I didn’t think much about the song when I wrote it. It’s built up quite a lot of mystique over the years. It certainly left me. It belongs to the world now.” Dave Davies, reflecting on a rare moment of brotherly bonding, “I remember when I heard Ray start playing ‘Days’ round the piano, I was really full of emotion. It made me feel like it didn’t matter if anybody didn’t like it, because we were together.” British singer Kirsty MacColl released a cover version in 1989 that peaked at #12 on the U.K. charts, just like the original.
243. “Who Will the Next Fool Be,” Charlie Rich. Songwriter: Charlie Rich; #67 country; released in 1961, peaked on the charts in 1970. Charlie Rich’s lifelong frustration as an artist was that he was never commercially successful creating the music that he loved. His 1961 non-charting “Who Will the Next Fool Be” displayed his blues roots and was a much more natural vocal performance than his 1960 pop hit “Lonely Weekends.” Peter Guralnick, “Like all of his best compositions, it combined head, heart, and quietly smoldering intensity. It was a song of almost desperate bitterness and despair modulated with the ironic edge that Charlie always brought to a self-consciously created hip sensibility.” Bobby Bland, one of soul music’s finest stylists, took “Who Will the Next Fool Be” to #12 on the R&B charts in 1962 and it was a minor country hit for Rich in 1970. A soul and country standard, dozens of artists have covered “Who Will the Next Fool Be” with some of the more popular versions coming from Jerry Lee Lewis, The Amazing Rhythm Aces, and Mark Chesnutt.
242. “Where Did Our Love Go,” The Supremes. Songwriters: Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland; #1 pop/#1 R&B; 1964. Author Andrew Unterberger, “If not the greatest girl group song of all-time — and boy, there’s an argument to be made — then certainly the song that may forever be most associated with the archetype.” Songwriter Eddie Holland, “I originally cut this track with the Marvelettes in mind. In fact, I cut it in Gladys Horton’s key, the lead singer, which was much lower than Diana Ross’s. I had the chorus and went to the office to talk with Gladys and played it for her. She said, ‘Oh, honey, we don’t do stuff like that. And it’s the worst thing I ever heard.’ I was shocked. I told (The Supremes) it was tailor made for them, knowing that they had nothing going on at the time and needed a song. Much to my surprise, they said no. They were so annoyed that, in the studio, they had a really bad attitude. Diana (Ross) said it was in the wrong key, that it was too low. (Of course it was – I wrote it in Gladys’ key.) Since the track was already cut, she had to sing it in that key and she’d never sung that low before. It turned out that her bad attitude and the low key were exactly what the song needed! I’d worked out intricate background vocals but the girls refused to learn them. Finally I said, ‘Just sing `Baby, baby, baby.’ It worked to their advantage and worked perfectly.” “Where Did Our Love Go” took the “no hit” Supremes to the top of the pop and R&B charts as did the followup hit, structured with the same lyrical and musical hooks, “Baby Love.”
241. “Day Tripper,” The Beatles. Songwriters: John Lennon, Paul McCartney; 1965. Paul McCartney, “A song like ‘Got to Get You Into My Life,’ that’s directly about pot, although everyone missed it at the time. ‘Day Tripper,’ that’s one about acid. ‘Lucy in the Sky,’ that’s pretty obvious. There’s others that make subtle hints about drugs, but, you know, it’s easy to overestimate the influence of drugs on the Beatles’ music.” John Lennon, “Day Trippers are people who go on a day trip, right? Usually on a ferryboat or something. But the song was kind of – you’re just a weekend hippie. Get it?” Rolling Stone magazine, “While Lennon’s blues-based guitar hook may have been his answer to the Rolling Stones’ recent Number One hit, ‘Satisfaction,’ ‘Day Tripper’ was more complex, a gleaming combination of muscle and intricate arranging. Lennon’s riff builds to a midsong rave-up that climaxes with soaring harmonies and Harrison climbing a scale behind Lennon’s solo, until Starr’s tambourine roll brings back the original groove.” Cover to discover – Cheap Trick’s faux live 1980 cover with a Jeff Beck inspired guitar solo and a “She Loves You” reference in closing.