Before I get to the main subject of this week’s column I have a couple quick notes following up on last week’s “Favorite Fake Bands” blog post.
– After submitting what I wrote last week Susan and I rewatched “Almost Famous”. It’s a fantastic movie, and Stillwater should’ve been included in the piece. Fever Dog is a GREAT song.
– Last week I said I couldn’t include everyone I wanted, but I was wrong not to include Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby, and Cindy. Whether you call them The Brady Kids, The Brady Six, or The Silver Platters they were deserving of being on the list… “Time To Change”, “It’s A Sunshine Day”, and “Keep On Movin'” all make me very happy. I really want a DVD box set that includes the 22 episodes of the Brady Kids cartoon show, and the one season of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour that had Fake Jan. Thank you Janice Schwind for reminding me of a group that only finished third on The Pete Stearne Amateur Hour, but is number one in our hearts.
Now this week’s topic… my birthday. According to Facebook I was born on August 15th, 1965 which is just a couple days away. Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t think it’s a special day or anything like that. I’ll really miss going out to dinner and hanging out with my family and friends (yeah, I know that technically we’re allowed to but there is a big difference between what you can do and what you should do). I miss seeing a live band, or going to a movie with Susan, which we usually do. Other than that stuff it’s just another day (but if anyone can get me a copy of the Wonder Woman ’84 flick that was supposed to come out this summer you’d be my hero. Rochester’s own Kristen Wiig plays the villainous Cheetah.).
I did think it would be interesting (for me, at least) to see what the #1 song was on my birthday every year since I’ve been born. As I look over the list I realize that I’ve always been a music snob/contrarian. I like some of these songs, and love a few, but not as many as I would’ve thought. Even artists I love like Diana Ross and Elton John had songs that wouldn’t be on personal “Best Of” lists for me.
Some of these 55 songs I’ve heard way too often in my life. Some I’ll never get tired of. Some I’ve never heard ever. Below is the list of tunes that hit #1 on August 15th from 1965 until (almost) 2020. When appropriate I’ll include a thought or a piece of trivia about the song or artist… maybe a link to something cool that you should check out. You’ll notice in most cases that the newer the song the less, if anything, I have to say.
1965… I Got You Babe- Sonny and Cher
It’d be kind of cool and appropriate if my mom was singing this to me after I was born. My favorite version of this song by far is a funky, soulful cover by the great Etta James.
1966… Summer In The City- The Lovin’ Spoonful
Spoonful leader John Sebastian and bassist Steve Boone wrote this song using a poem written by Sebastian’s 15 year old brother. Mark Sebastian has a writing credit for this song.
1967… All You Need Is Love- The Beatles
In the orchestral ending, you can hear a piece of Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood”. Royalties were paid to the Miller estate for his contribution.
1968… People Got To Be Free- The Rascals
The Rascals were originally called The Young Rascals, a name imposed on them by Atlantic Records to avoid confusion with The Harmonica Rascals…. who???? Rochester’s Gene Cornish is the Rascals’ guitar player, and my hometown’s representative in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
1969… In The Year 2525- Zager and Evans
Maybe Zager and Evans were ahead of their times. This song could be called “In The Year 2020”, although it doesn’t flow as well. Whoever put this video together I have to tell you it’s freaking me out.
1970… They Long To Be (Close To You)- The Carpenters
I love this song, but think it’s kind of weird that two popular 90s bands covered it. The Cranberries , and Barenaked Ladies (with the song’s composer Burt Bacharach)
1971… How Can You Mend A Broken Heart- The Bee Gees
Written by Barry and Robin Gibb after a period of estrangement for the brothers. Originally offered to crooner Andy Williams, who turned it down, so the Bee Gees recorded it themselves. The best version is Al Green’s cover.
1972… Alone Again (Naturally)- Gilbert O’Sullivan
Maybe one of the most important songs in music history… rapper Biz Markie sampled it for his hit “Alone Again” without obtaining permission from Mr. O’Sullivan (if that is his real name). One lawsuit (and a bunch of money later) led to a whole new set of rules when it comes to the use of samples in rap music.
1973… Touch Me In The Morning- Diana Ross
The biggest chart success of Ross’ career, and one of my least favorites, proving I know nothing.
1974… The Night Chicago Died- Paper Lace
When you hear people discuss the city of Chicago you’ll hear them talk about the north side, the south side, and the west side. It’s a mystery why this British band would set a fictionalized account of Al Capone and the F.B.I in the east side of the Windy City.
1975… Jive Talkin’- The Bee Gees
The first disco hit for a very successful group who would shift gears and go on to become icons of the dance genre.
1976… Don’t Go Breaking My Heart- Elton John and Kiki Dee
The video has Elton and Kiki lip syncing together, and is recreated in the biopic “Rocketman” by actors Taron Egerton and Rachel Muldoon. The real singers actually recorded their parts of the single separately, with Elton singing his lines in Toronto and then sending the tapes to London so Kiki could do her parts.
1977… Best Of My Love- The Emotions
The Emotions were one of the last acts signed to the legendary Stax record label. When Stax was shut down Maurice White of Earth, Wind, and Fire signed them to his record label and wrote them this song.
1978… Three Times A Lady- The Commodores
The breakthrough hit for The Commodores, and Lionel Richie’s first number one hit as a songwriter (the first of about a bajillion, or maybe a gazillion… whichever is more).
1979… Good Times- Chic
Chic’s Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards must’ve given Gilbert O’Sullivan’s lawyer a call when they sued The Sugarhill Gang over the use of the Good Times sample in the early rap classic Rapper’s Delight. I highly recommend the Sugarhill Gang documentary “I Want My Name Back”. Wonder Mike’s and Master Gee’s side of the story is really interesting. Big Bank Hank is a jerk.
1980… Magic- Olivia Newton-John
Another major artist to make a huge stylistic change, going from light pop and country (with a girl next door image) to a sexier look and more dance-able hooks.
1981… Endless Love- Diana Ross and Lionel Richie
Unlike Elton John and Kiki Dee these two Motown singers were actually in the studio at the same time. It was hard to get them together because they were both so busy, but they eventually recorded in Reno, NV at 3:30am and were done two hours later. Lionel Richie actually thought the session was a disaster because it was so rushed.
1982… Eye Of The Tiger- Survivor
The 80’s rock classic may be best remembered as the song from Rocky III, but I prefer Weird Al’s tale of a deli sandwich maker who uses “The rye or the kaiser”.
1983… Every Breath You Take- The Police
1984… Ghostbusters- Ray Parker Jr.
When this song was released Huey Lewis didn’t call Ghostbusters… he called his lawyer. Huey sued Ray Parker Jr. for plagiarizing the melody of “I Want A New Drug” and they wound up settling out of court.
1985… Shout- Tears For Fears
As a fan of the Sally Field movie Sybil I thought it was cool that Tears For Fears named their album “Songs From The Big Chair” as a tribute to the flick. Sybil and her sixteen personalities would retreat into the big chair in the psychiatrist’s office.
1986… Papa Don’t Preach- Madonna
What do I have in common with Madonna (besides our brief, volatile marriages to Sean Penn)? Her birthday is August 16th, the day after mine, so we share this list.
1987… I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For- U2
The live version from Rattle and Hum with the Harlem Gospel Choir is amazing. I love both the movie and the album. I bet you can buy both used for $5 each at Record Archive and own them forever.
1988… Roll With It- Steve Winwood
In the late 80s this homage to 60s soul music was a breath of fresh air to my ears… I bet you didn’t know you could breathe through your ears.
1989… Right Here Waiting- Richard Marx
1990… Vision Of Love- Mariah Carey
1991… (Everything I Do) I Do It For You- Bryan Adams
1992… End Of The Road- Boyz II Men
1993… Can’t Help Falling In Love- UB40
Give me Elvis singing in Hawaii anyday.
1994… Stay- Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories
The soundtrack to the movie “Reality Bites” (and the movie itself) was essential to any twenty or thirtysomething when this song was popular. It’s still damn good.
1995… Waterfalls- TLC
The 90s is one of my favorite decades of music, but that can’t be proven by the songs that were number one hits in the middle of August. When I listen to the 90’s stations on various streaming services only the Loeb tune and this one poke at the pleasure centers of my brain… the rest of these August 15th songs are just okayish. I’ll leave them on as I read, write, or do ‘rithmetic, but they won’t be making any of my personal playlists. Bette Midler did a beautiful cover of Waterfalls on her 2015 album “It’s The Girls“.
1996… Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)- Los Del Rio
The bane of every wedding band and DJ for over two decades.
1997… I’ll Be Missing You- Puff Daddy ft. Faith Evans & 112
I think it’s interesting that the original song (see 1983) and the one that sampled/covered it were both the number one hit on the same date 14 years apart.
1998… The Boy Is Mine- Brandy and Monica
1999… Genie In A Bottle- Christina Aguilera
2000… Incomplete- Sisqo
Why does this R&B singer get to break the rule where the letter q has to be followed by a u? I understand that he wouldn’t want to have his name pronounced as Sis-kwo, but he could just tell people how to say it.
2001… Fallin’- Alicia Keys
2002… Dilemma- Nelly with Kelly Rowland
2003… Crazy In Love- Beyonce ft. Jay Z
This is one of the great songs of the decade. I love this version… I love the live performance with Beyonce and Prince at the 2004 Grammy Awards… I love the big band-ish arrangement done by Rochester favorites The Cool Club & The Lipker Sisters (I recommend their cd, which I bet can be found in the Archive’s local section)… I especially love The Chi-Lites 1970 soul hit “Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So)” from which “Crazy In Love” samples that great opening horn riff.
2004… Lean Back- Terror Squad
2005… We Belong Together- Mariah Carey
2006… London Bridge- Fergie
For some reason Fergie is a guilty pleasure of mine. I shouldn’t like her songs, but I do.
2007… Beautiful Girls- Sean Kingston
2008… I Kissed A Girl- Katy Perry
2009… I Gotta Feeling- Black Eyed Peas
See 2006. This song is to the 2000s what “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang was in the 80s.
2010… Love The Way You Lie- Eminem ft. Rihanna
2011… Party Rock Anthem- LMFAO
When this song was popular LMFAO’s leader RedFoo was dating Victoria Azarenka, the #1 female tennis player in the world. I always wished I could be around when she’d introduce him to the members of the Royal Family during Wimbledon, just to hear someone say “Nice to meet you Mr. Foo.”.
2012… Call Me Maybe- Carly Rae Jepsen
This is Ms. Jepsen’s second best video on the internet. Google is your friend… I can’t link to it here (NSFW).
2013… Blurred Lines- Robin Thicke ft. T.I. and Pharrell
I really enjoy this song for about a minute and a half before I’ve had enough of it. Marvin Gaye’s family deserves every penny they won in the lawsuit. Once again we have Gilbert O’Sullivan to thank. Weird Al Yankovic’s ode to bad grammar is one of my favorites by him as Blurred Lines becomes Word Crimes.
2014… Rude- Magic!
2015… Cheerleader- Omi
2016… Cheap Thrils- Sia ft. Sean Paul
2017… Despacito- Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yankee ft. Justin Bieber
I don’t think I was allowed to listen to top 40 radio for five or six years. I know who these artists are, and the names of the songs sort of ring a bell, but other than that I got nothin’.
2018… In My Feelings- Drake
Drake? You mean that guy that coaches the Toronto Raptors?
2019… Old Town Road- Lil Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus
Remember when we couldn’t get away from this song? It was so popular that even I know it. My wife still loves it.
As of this writing I don’t know what the #1 song for this Saturday is so I’ll use last week’s hit and hope it’s the same.
2020… Cardigan- Taylor Swift
I told you what I thought of the new Taylor Swift release a couple weeks ago, but if you missed it or need a reminder click here.
Is there anyone still here?
Just two more quick pieces of trivia about music connected to my August 15th birthday:
1) On the actual day I was born in 1965 The Beatles played their famous concert at Shea Stadium. I love The Beatles, and my very favorite sports team is the New York Mets, who played 81 games a summer at Shea for many years. A little coincidence I enjoy.
2) Woodstock happened as I turned four in 1969. Again, apropos of nothing, but I like that a legendary concert happened on my birthday.
If you want to know what the top hits were on your birthday go to birthdayjams.com
I don’t know what I’m writing about next week, but I’ll guarantee you that it won’t be this long. Old guy out, I’m going to look for a piece of cake.
Stay safe, Billy