1,000 Greatest Songs of the 1960s – 940 to 931
Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye go to the dogs.
940. “Baby, I’m for Real,” The Originals. Songwriters: Marvin Gaye, Anna Gordy Gaye; #14 pop/#1 R&B; 1969. The Originals were primarily a backing vocal group for Motown, although band member Freddie Gorman, whose time was split between music and his mail carrier day job, co-wrote The Marvalettes’s #1 single “Please Mr. Postman.” Marvin Gaye took an interest in the act in 1969, producing and co-writing their two hit singles, 1969’s “Baby I’m for Real” and the 1970 #12 pop entry “The Bells.” (Both of those songs were co-written by Anna Gordy Gaye, Marvin’s first wife and the inspiration for the 1978 contractual obligation album “Here, My Dear”). “Baby, I’m for Real” is the type of soft soul ballad that became the specialty of The Stylistics and The Chi-Lites during the 1970s, although The Originals didn’t have the glass breaking falsetto vocals. The last intermittent success for The Originals was the 1976 #1 disco hit “Down to Love Town,” where they sound like a watered down version of The Spinners.
939. “Another Day, Another Dollar,” Wynn Stewart. Songwriter: Wynn Stewart; #27 country; 1962. Wynn Stewart was an important figure on the Bakersfield music scene – he reportedly helped Buck Owens get his first contract and Merle Haggard played bass in his band in 1962. A native of Southwest Missouri, Stewart’s family often traveled to California to work on farms. He formed a band while in high school and released his first singles on an independent label in 1954. Stewart had the working man blues on “Another Day, Another Dollar” with lyrics reminiscent of the Merle Travis composition “Sixteen Tons.” The hard living, booze loving Stewart had seventeen Top 40 country singles in his career, topping the charts in 1967 with “It’s Such a Pretty World Today. Stewart passed away from a heart attack at the age of 51 in 1985.
938. “Sugar Shack,” Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs. Songwriters: Keith McCormack, Jimmy Torres, Fay Voss; #1 pop/#1 R&B; 1963. The Fireballs formed in 1958 in Raton, Mexico and recorded in Norman Petty’s studio in Clovis, New Mexico. (Petty, of course, found fame based upon his partnership with Buddy Holly). The instrumental “Torquay” was a minor hit for The Fireballs in 1959, sounding like a precursor to the surf guitar phenomenon, as did their 1960 instrumental hit “Bulldog.” The band provided a light pop dance feel on the 1963 #1 single “Sugar Shack,” a look at leotard wearing, expresso drinking young love. The instrumentation is noteworthy for the hook producing Solovox, an early version of a synthesizer. Confusingly, second guitarist/vocalist Jimmy Gilmer received top billing for a time during the mid-1960s. Known again as simply The Fireballs, the group had their final Top Ten single in 1967 with the Tom Paxton composition “Bottle of Wine.”
937. “You Talk Too Much,” Joe Jones. Songwriters: Reginald Hall, Joe Jones; #3 pop/#9 R&B; 1960. The resume of Joe Jones includes serving in the Navy during World War II, studying at the Julliard Conservatory of Music, backing a young B.B. King, and managing The Dixie Cups of “Iko Iko” fame. “You Talk Too Much,” a comedic number presumable about a motor mouthed woman who exasperated the narrator, was penned by Fats Domino’s brother-in-law Reggie Hall. Jones picked up what Fats rejected, recording the song for two different labels, eventually scoring his only major pop hit in the process. Showing how universal the theme is, different songs with the same title have been recorded by Run-DMC, George Thorogood, and Cheap Trick.
936. “Come See About Me,” The Supremes. Songwriters: Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland; #1 pop/#2 R&B; 1964. The Supremes seem like a prototypical Motown creation, but the vocal group started as a quartet called The Primettes in 1959. (During this timeframe, future Temptations Paul Williams and Eddie Kendricks were in a Detroit group known as The Primes). The Primettes released one single on Lu Pine Records in 1960, then started campaigning in earnest for a contract from Motown. It took two years and their seventh single, 1963’s “When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes,” before they had a Top 40 hit. “Come See About Me” was the third of five consecutive #1 singles for The Supremes, a polished look at unrequited love that sounded more sophisticated, if less effusive, than other girl group acts of their era.
935. “There’s No Other (Like My Baby),” The Crystals. Songwriters: Phil Spector, Leroy Bates; #20 pop, 1961. “There’s No Other (Like My Baby)” is historically significant as the first single Phil Spector released on his label Philies Records. Originally the b-side to “Oh Yeah, Maybe Baby,” The Crystals are said to have recorded the song in their prom dresses, leaving their high school dance and going straight to the recording studio. While Spector’s Wall of Sound wasn’t fully developed at this time, the power of the vocal arrangement points to his future direction. Lead singer Barbara Alston went from The Crystals to working on Broadway, including a three year run in “Cabaret” during the late 1960s.
934. “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,” James Brown. Songwriters: James Brown, Alfred Ellis; #10 pop/#1 R&B; 1968. James Brown in 1986, “The song is obsolete now, but it was necessary to teach pride then, and I think the song did a lot of good for a lot of people. People called ‘Black and Proud’ militant and angry—maybe because of the line about dying on your feet instead of living on your knees. But really, if you listen to it, it sounds like a children’s song. That’s why I had children in it, so children who heard it could grow up feeling pride. The song cost me a lot of my crossover audience. The racial makeup at my concerts was mostly black after that. I don’t regret it, though, even if it was misunderstood.”
933. “Doggin’ Around,” Jackie Wilson. Songwriter: Lena Agree; #15 pop/#1 R&B; 1960. Detroit singer Jackie Wilson received his first break in 1953, replacing Clyde McPhatter in the popular R&B vocal group Billy Ward and his Dominos. Wilson went solo later in the decade, scoring his first Top Ten pop hit with 1958’s “Lonely Teardrops.” Wilson’s 1960 hit “Doggin’ Around” was originally performed by Alonzo Tucker, a founding member of the Detroit R&B group The Midnighters. It is believed that Jackie Wilson’s manager Nat Tarnapol bought the song from Tucker, then gave the writing credit to his non-musical aunt Lena Agree. This infidelity number is a showcase for Wilson’s soaring tenor. Teddy Pendergrass on Wilson’s female fans, “to see the ladies run through the guardrails and …just lay on top of him and appear to make mad passionate love to him in the middle of the floor (in front of the stage). My jaws dropped. I said, ‘My God!’”
932. “Mother-in-Law,” Ernie K-Doe. Songwriter: Allen Toussaint; #1 pop/#1 R&B; 1961. Ernie Kador Jr. grew up singing gospel music in New Orleans, but discovered R&B when he moved to Chicago as a teenager. He recorded singles for several years before having his only major hit with “Mother-in-Law,” a theme that unwed songwriter Allen Toussaint borrowed from television comedy material. K-Doe, on the subject of in-law suffering, “There aren’t but three songs that will last for eternity. One is ‘Amazing Grace.’ Another is ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ And the third is ‘Mother-in-Law,’ because as long as there are people on this earth, there will always be mother-in-laws.” K-Doe’s alcohol problems left his singing on the streets for change for many years, but with the help of a good woman (wife Antoinette Fox), he opened a lounge in New Orleans to generate income and celebrate his legacy during the 1990s.
931. “I’ll Be Doggone,” Marvin Gaye. Songwriters: Smokey Robinson, Warren Moore and Marvin Tarplin; #8 pop/#1 R&B 1965. Marvin Gaye began his professional music career as a member of The Marquees in 1957, a group later hired by Harvey Fuqua and renamed as the New Moonglows. As part of this unit, Gaye provided backing vocals for the Chuck Berry hits “Back in the U.S.A.” and “Almost Grown.” He signed with Tamla/Motown in 1961 and had his first Top 40 hit the following year with “Hitch Hike.” “I’ll Be Doggone” was penned by three members of The Miracles, nicking part of the riff structure from the Jack Nitzsche/Sonny Bono composition “Needles and Pins.” Smokey Robinson on Gaye’s vocal ability, “When I showed him the song, he began to sing it like I had never imagined it being sung.”