Saturday, September 20, 2008

10 Great Songs from One Great Year


Disco was king, Roman Polansky skips bail and Jimmy Carter gives back the Panama Canal. These were the top stories in 1978. The Bee Gees, featuring oldest brother Barry, was large and in charge of the pop charts where at one time he occupied 6 of the top 10 spots - something unseen since the Beatles.

This was the year gambling came to Atlantic City, the year the Son of Sam was sentenced to life behind bars and the year that Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat begin to forge peace.

This was the year of the Bronx Zoo, the year of the San Francisco political assassinations and the year Jim Jones leads his Peoples Temple cult in a mass murder-suicide.

One of those best of times, worst of times years.

Paradise By The Dashboard Light – Meatloaf

This song is about a teenage boy trying to convince a girl to have sex with him in a car. Sex would be the "Paradise" for him, but she holds out until he says he loves her and will stay with her forever. Overcome by passion, he does, and honors his word to spend the rest of his life with her even though he can't stand her. The woman's voice on the record is Ellen Foley, but she was replaced on tour with Karla DeVito. Their performances were sexually charged, but it was an act, as Meat Loaf was happily married. Foley has been in various movies, including Fatal Attraction, Married To The Mob, and Cocktail. She was also on the TV show Night Court until she was replaced by Markie Post

Home at Last – Steely Dan

Home at Last was the fourth and final single released on their Grammy-winning album Aja. It is inspired by the epic poem The Odyssey, reflecting the feelings associated with a long-awaited homecoming. In 2003, the album was ranked number 145 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Werewolves Of London – Warren Zevon

Zevon wrote this with guitarist Robert "Waddy" Wachtel. When Zevon was working with The Everly Brothers, he hired Wachtel to play in their backing band. At one point, Phil Everly asked them to write a dance song for the Everly Brothers called "Werewolves Of London." Wachtel and Zevon were good friends and were strumming guitars together when someone asked what they were playing. Zevon replied, "Werewolves Of London," and Wachtel started howling. Zevon came up with the line "I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand," and they traded lyrics back and forth until they had their song. Zevon died of lung cancer in 2003.

Surrender – Cheap Trick

Though this was not a big chart hit, this teen anthem is one of Cheap Trick's best known songs. The singer thinks of his parents as a bit overprotective and kind of weird, but he gains a new respect for them at the end of the song when he wakes up and they are rolling around on the couch listening to his KISS records. Cheap Trick guitarist-songwriter Rick Nielsen recalls in Rolling Stone's Top 500 songs magazine that when he wrote it, he had to "go back and put myself in the head of a 14-year-old.”

Right Down The Line – Gerry Rafferty

This was the follow up to Rafferty's mega-hit "Baker Street" from the same album, City to City. It's one of his more conventional songs, about how his woman stuck with him. Originally a member of the Scottish band, Stealers Wheel, which spawned the hit “Stuck in the Middle with You.”

Sentimental Lady – Bob Welch

Welch joined Fleetwood Mac in 1971, and they recorded this song on their 1972 album Bare Trees. It became a hit when Welch recorded it on his first solo album in 1977. Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac sang backup on Welch's solo version. According to Welch, the song was written as a poem to his wife (now divorced). It was the second single from the album French Kiss, his first solo effort after the song “Ebony Eyes.”

We've Got Tonite – Bob Seger

The third single from the very successful Stranger in Town LP (other hits from that LP included “Still the Same”, ”Hollywood Nights”and “Old Time Rock and Roll”), We’ve Got Tonite is one of the few songs that charted well for more than one artist. Aside from hitting #13 with this original version, this song also reached #6 (#1 country) for Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton in 1983 under the title “We’ve Got Tonight” (different spelling). Regardless, it was one of the most beautiful and most requested love songs ever recorded.

Love Is Like Oxygen – Sweet

While hugely popular in Europe, Sweet remained relatively unknown in the States. In 2002, songwriter Andy Scott told the Slovakian Box Network: "We had finished with our first record company and had begun on a project for another. At that time the era of the Sex Pistols had started, and how people thought of music reached new dimensions. No one knew what was coming next. We were already a part rock, part metal band. Therefore in the area which was most touched by the changes. That is when I wrote the song 'Love is Like Oxygen,' and then the idea came along to compose it in a style which at that time was totally new, yet one that suited us. I think it worked out well.

Falling - LeBlanc and Carr

With much success as a background musician and singer, Lenny LeBlanc embarked on a solo career. In 1975, he recorded a demo and producer Pete Carr sent a copy to Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records. A few months later Lenny's first solo LP was released. Atlantic saw great potential in Lenny and teamed him with Pete Carr. The result was three chart singles, including the top 10 hit "Falling". The single peaked at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100, staying on the chart for an amazing 27 week run. In 1980, LeBlanc became a born-again Christian and began recording Christian-themed music.

Fool (If You Think It's Over) - Chris Rea

Hugely successful in his native Britain, Chris Rea had only this one charting American hit. "Fool (if You Think It's Over)" was nominated for a "Song of the Year" Grammy (losing out to Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are"). Unlike most of Rea's other singles, "Fool..." was not a great success on the UK Singles Chart, failing to chart on its first release and only reaching #30 when re-released in late 1978 to capitalize on its U.S. success. U.K. singer, Elkie Brooks enjoyed greater success with 'Fool..' in 1981 when she charted a single at #17.

Mr. Blue Sky – ELO

This song closed the side of the Out of the Blue album known as "Concerto For A Rainy Day." The lyrics are uplifting, and follow the concept of a rainy day that comes to an end. On a BBC Radio interview, Jeff Lynne talked about how he came up with this after he locked himself away in a Swiss chalet attempting to write ELO's follow-up to A New World Record. "It was dark and misty for 2 weeks, and I didn't come up with a thing. Suddenly the sun shone and it was, 'Wow, look at those beautiful Alps.' I wrote Mr. Blue Sky and 13 other songs in the next 2 weeks."

No comments: