Friday, 12 April 2013

Song Trivia

Provided by

ABC - The Jackson Five.   Michael Jackson was only 11 years old when he sang on this No.1 hit. According to co-writer Freddie Perren, the music of this track was derived from the chorus of their previous hit, 'I Want You Back'.

Achy Breaky Heart - Billy Ray Cyrus.   This was a remake of a 1991 song by country act The Marcy Brothers titled 'Don't Tell My Heart'. It became one of the most popular tracks during the line-dance craze of the '90's, and actually spawned a dance called 'The Achy Breaky'. It was the first million-selling country single since 'Islands In The Stream' (Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton).

All Out Of Love - Air Supply.   Lead vocalist Russell Hitchcock holds the note at the end of this track for more than 20 seconds.

All Right Now - Free.   There are quite a few different releases of this track. The shorter version has a more complex guitar riff at the beginning, and there was a later release with the same vocal line but replaced with heavier bass and drums. An early version was sent to the radio station for airplay which still had the click-track accidentally mixed into it. A band member only realised this when he heard it playing on the radio. Have a listen to the beginning of the track 'Rock 'N Me' by Steve Miller Band, the intro is surprisingly similar.

All The Young Dudes - Mott The Hoople.   Written by David Bowie and listed in Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 500 greatest songs of all time, Mott The Hoople released this track in 1972. The original lyrics had to be changed for radio airing in the UK, as there is a line in the song 'Wendy's stealing clothes from Marks and Sparks', which was a reference to the UK retailer Marks and Spencers, and would have breached broadcasting advertising legislation at the time. The chorus of this track and the chorus of the track 'Telephone Line' by E.L.O. are quite similar in composition.

Another Brick In The Wall - Pink Floyd.   Roger Waters wrote this about his views on formal education. He hated his grammar school teachers, and felt they were more interested in keeping the kids quiet than teaching them. The chorus came from a school in Islington, England, and was chosen because it was close to the studio. It was made up of 23 kids between the ages of 13 and 15. They were overdubbed 12 times, making it sound like there were many more kids.

Bad - Michael Jackson.   This song was initially conceived as a duet with Prince. When Prince heard the song he told producer Quincy Jones that the track would be a hit without him, and turned down the project. Martin Scorsese directed the video, and Wesley Snipes played the rival gang leader. The full music video for this track is an 18-minute short film.

Disco Inferno - The Trammps.   Trammps keyboard player co-wrote this song. He was inspired by a scene from the movie 'The Towering Inferno' whereby a disco on top of a building is on fire. The song features in many major movies including 'Ghostbusters' and 'Saturday Night Fever', and the cult comedy classic 'Kingpin'. In 2005 the track was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame.

Dock Of The Bay - Otis Redding.    When Otis recorded this, he didn't have a last verse written, so he whistled it. He planned to return to a Memphis recording studio and fill in the verse after performing in Madison, Wisconsin, but he died before he had the chance. When Cropper produced the song, he left the whistling in, and it fit the mood of the song perfectly. It is probably the most famous whistling in any song.

Don't Know Why - Norah Jones.   This was almost the victim of record company stupidity. When the album started selling and the song was apparently a hit, Virgin Records, who owned Blue Note, thought radio stations would prefer a different version and remixed it with a dance beat and processed vocals. Norah Jones thought it sounded ridiculous and insisted on distributing the album version to radio stations.

Down Under - Men At Work.   The lyrics were written by lead singer Colin Hay who says..."the chorus is really about the selling of Australia in many ways, the over-development of the country. It was a song about the loss of spirit in that country. It's really about the plundering of the country by greedy people. It is ultimately about celebrating the country, but not in a nationalistic way and not in a flag-waving sense. It's really more than that."  Some translations: Fried out combie - a broken-down van. Head full of Zombie - Zombie was a particularly strong batch of marijuana which was floating around Australia for a long time. People called it 'Zombie Grass'. Vegemite Sandwich - Vegemite is a fermented yeast spread that is pretty much a national institution in Australia. Some people love it and can't start the day without a piece of toast spread with Vegemite, and some go so far as to carry a small jar of it with them when they travel overseas. Some are indifferent to it, and others can't stand it. It kind of resembles smooth black tar, and is similar in taste to the English 'Marmite', but Aussie's will always tell you that Vegemite is far superior. 

Eleanor Rigby - The Beatles.   The Beatles didn't play any of the instruments on this. As the string section was difficult to play live, they never performed this track live. 'Father Mackenzie' was originally 'Father McCartney'. Paul decided he didn't want to freak out his dad and picked a name out of the phone book instead. Paul got the name 'Rigby' from the name of a store and the name 'Eleanor' from actress Eleanor Bron.

Golden Slumbers - The Beatles.   Paul McCartney wrote this on his step-sister's piano. He saw the song 'Golden Slumbers' in her songbook and, unable to read music, made up his own using most of the original lyrics.

For You - John Denver.   Denver wrote this for his wife Cassandra. He wrote it in 1986 while she was in Australia working on a film. John debuted it on his tour that year. 

Hello - Lionel Richie.   This was the second No.1 song from Richie's second solo album after leaving The Commodores, and is from the biggest selling album in the history of Motown Records. The track has featured in various movies including, 'Herbie: Fully Loaded', Scary Movie 4 and Shrek Forever After, and has been used in TV commercials for Starburst, Yahoo, Ikea and Tesco.

I Don't Like Mondays - The Boomtown Rats.   Reached No.1 in the U.K. charts and is about Brenda Spencer, a San Diego high school student who, on Jan 29, 1979, brought a gun to school and killed 2 people. When asked why she did it, she replied, 'Because I don't like Mondays.' Spencers family tried unsuccessfully to prevent the track from being released in the U.S.

I Feel For You - Chaka Khan.   Chaka Khan's biggest hit, 'I Feel For You' was originally written by Prince (a.k.a. The Artist). In that same song, Stevie Wonder did the harmonica solos, and Melle Mel of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five did the rap breaks. Hence the infamous lyric: "Chaka Khan...Ch-ch-ch-ch-Chaka Khan."

I Love Rock 'n' Roll - Joan Jett.   Originally recorded by British group The Arrows in 1975. By the time Joan Jett released this, very few jukeboxes took dimes, but 'quarter' wouldn't sound good in the lyrics.

I Shot The Sheriff - Eric Clapton.   Written and originally recorded by Bob Marley in 1973. A member of Clapton's band played the Bob Marley album for him and convinced him to record this. Clapton didn't want to use this on the album because he thought it might be disrespectful to Marley. Members of his band and management convinced him that it should not only go on the album, but also be released as a single. Marley called Clapton after this became a hit. Eric wanted to know if the story in the song was true, but Bob wouldn't tell him.Eric is also credited on the Dire Straits 'Brothers In Arms' album due to the fact that he loaned Mark Knopfler one of his guitars the for the album.

I'm Like A Bird - Nelly Furtado.   In this song, Furtado sings about how she values her freedom, and how that keeps her from commitment. She's warning a guy that she could fly away at any time.

In The Air Tonight - Phil Collins.   Collins' first single as a solo artist. All the original songs on the album, including follow up hit 'I Missed Again', were intended to be 'messages' to his first wife in an attempt to lure her back to him.

In The Navy - Village People.   Peaking at No.2 in the UK singles chart, the video to this was shot on the USS Reasoner at San Diego Naval Base. The song was also parodied by Scottish comedian Billy Connolly. His version 'In The Brownies' peaked at No. 38 in the UK singles chart. 

Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry.    'Johnny' is Johnnie Johnson, a piano player who collaborated with Berry on many songs. Berry got the word 'Goode' from the street where he grew up, Goode Street in St. Louis. The word 'go' is repeated in the song 45 times.

Killer - Adamski.    British house music producer Adam Tinley (Adamski) wrote this as an instrumental and hired a singer who was little known at the time (Seal). Interestingly the title of the track 'Killer' does not feature anywhere in the lyrics.

La Bamba - Los Lobos.   The day after 'La Bamba' peaked at No.22 on the Hot 100 (2 February 1959) Ritchie Valens was killed in the plane crash that also claimed the life of Buddy Holly. The 1987 biopic about Valens was called La Bamba, and screenwriter Luis Valdez pegged Los Lobos to perform the title song, originally an old Mexican marriage tune known for generations.

Lido Shuffle - Bozz Scaggs.   This is about a musician that's hitting all the bars and clubs in an attempt to make it as a star and leave his humble past behind.

Light My Fire - The Doors.   For a TV appearance the producers of the Ed Sullivan Show asked Jim Morrison to change the line 'girl we couldn't get much higher', to something more suitable. Morrison said he would, but sung the line anyhow, claiming he was nervous and forgot. This didn't go down too well and The Doors were never invited back.

Like A Prayer - Madonna.   Pepsi's commercial featuring Madonna's single 'Like A Prayer' only aired once before the company pulled it after seeing her video for the single. It aired during the Cosby Show.

Money For Nothing - Dire Straits.   A song about rock star excess and the easy life it brings compared with real work. Sting sings on this and helped write it. That's him at the beginning singing "I want my MTV." The innovative video was one of the first to feature computer generated animation. The characters were supposed to have more detail, like buttons on their shirts, but they used up the budget and had to leave it as is. 

Mr Lonely - Bobby Vinton.   The fourth and last of the No.1 singles by Vinton, it is the only one that was not a cover.

Mrs Robinson - Simon & Garfunkel.   Contains the famous line "Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio?" Dimaggio was a star baseball player for the New York Yankees who was briefly married to Marilyn Monroe. Simon was using him to represent heroes of the past. Dimaggio was a little miffed when he heard this, since he was still very much alive even though he retired from baseball in 1951.

Needles & Pins - The Searchers.   Two six-string guitars are playing in unison on the sounds like a 12-string guitar because an engineer accidentally left the echo switch on, but liked the result. Jackie DeShannon recorded the original in 1963, but her version barely made it onto the Hot 100.

Over The Rainbow - Judy Garland.   This was almost cut from the movie. Some executives from MGM thought the film was too long and wanted this removed. They thought it slowed down the action too early in the movie. This would have been sung by Shirley Temple if the producers could have gotten her to play Dorothy in the movie. She was their first choice.

Poor Side Of Town - Johnny Rivers.   Ray Charles did the string arrangement on this track. It was Johnny Rivers' only American chart topper.

Rhinestone Cowboy - Glen Campbell.   Rhinestones are fake jewels that are popular on Country-style clothing. A 'Rhinestone Cowboy' would be like someone who wants to be a real cowboy, but isn't. This was written and originally recorded by a Nashville-based singer named Larry Weiss. When Campbell heard this on his car radio he thought it could be about him and wanted to record it.

Rikki Don't Lose That Number - Steely Dan.   This is their highest charting single. The keyboard riff for this was taken from 'Song For My Father' by jazz composer Horace Silver. The opening of both songs are almost identical.

Roxanne - The Police.   About a man who falls in love with a prostitute. Sting got the idea for this after walking through the red-light district of Paris. He imagined what it would be like to fall in love with one of the prostitutes. Sting chose the name Roxanne because it has a rich history behind it. Roxanne was the name of Alexander The Great's wife and Cyrano DeBergerac's girlfriend. The laughing at the beginning is Sting. It was recorded when he tripped in the recording studio and fell over the piano.

Run - Leona Lewis.   This is a cover version originally recorded by 'Snow Patrol' and became the UK's faster ever selling digitally only download, selling 133,000 in it's first seven days of release. Snow Patrol vocalist Gary Lightbody said of the Lewis' version 'She obviously studied the song and thought long and hard about how to interpret it. She's stripped it to it's bare core - I think she sounds absolutely phenomenal.'

Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel.   During a BBC radio interview, Gabriel reflected how he spent 16 hours lying beneath a sheet of heavy glass for the shooting of this video. The video was a major breakthrough in music videos, and Nick Park (Wallace & Grommit) worked on the animation scene where oven-ready chickens are dancing to a flute solo. Director Stephen Johnson also directed the Talking Heads video 'Road To Nowhere' from the previous year, where you will see similar editing techniques.

Stairway To Heaven - Led Zeppelin.   The most famous rock song of all time, it never charted because it was never released as a single to the general public. Radio stations received promotional singles which quickly became collector's items. This is about a woman who accumulates money, but finds out the hard way her life had no meaning and will not get her into heaven.

Sussudio - Phil Collins.   This track was recorded in his living room. When released in 1995, critics quoted a similarity to the hit '1999' by Prince. Latterly Phil mentioned that is was influenced by the Prince track - he was a big Prince fan, and that the original studio version sounded even more like the Prince track.

Tequila Sunrise - Eagles.   Glenn Frey came up with the title. He was up all night drinking tequila and the sun was rising when he finished the song. The line, "take another shot of courage" refers to how if you drink tequila, it will give you courage to talk to women (although maybe not coherently).

The Ballad Of Bonnie & Clyde - Georgie Fame.   Georgie Fame's biggest hit, this upset some moviegoers when it was first aired on the radio, as it gave away the ending to the film.

Ticket To Ride  - The Beatles.   This was the first Beatles song that was over 3 minutes long.

Walking In Memphis - Marc Cohn.   This was the first single for Cohn, who was discovered by Carly Simon. He won the 1991 Grammy for Best New Artist. The song line "walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale" refers to Beale Street, an actual street in Memphis. 

What's Going On - Marvin Gaye.   Gaye's lyrics in this song were inspired by the stories his brother Frankie told him when he came back from the Vietnam war.
What's Up - Four Non Blondes.   Originally titled, 'What's Going On', a line repeated many times throughout the chorus. By renaming it, they kept it from being confused with the 1971 Marvin Gaye classic. The group consisted of 4 women who really didn't have blond hair. They named the group Four Non Blondes because they wanted to be known for their music, not their looks.

Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton.   About Patti Harrison, Clapton's love interest at the time. They were married from 1979-1988. Clapton wrote this in 1976 while waiting for Patti to get ready for a night out. They were going to a Buddy Holly tribute that Paul McCartney put together, and Clapton was in the familiar position of waiting while she tried on clothes. Patti insisted on trying out outfit after outfit and each time she came downstairs he would say "You look wonderful". Becoming tired of this he eventually picked up his guitar and wrote the song 'Wonderful Tonight'.

Yesterday - The Beatles.   Paul McCartney's song 'Yesterday', which was recently voted the most popular song of the century by a BBC poll, had music written before the lyrics. Paul used the working words 'scrambled eggs' before coming up with 'yesterday' while composing this song.