Special Sub-Topic: Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs (25-1)
|One of the most technically accomplished, yet emotionally stirring, songs recorded in the 1960s is "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys. I was often surprised that Brian Wilson relinquished lead vocal duties to someone else on a song of this importance, but he did. Who was the lead vocalist on this song?|
Carl Wilson. Brian Wilson was in a very spiritual place in 1966 when he wrote the song "God Only Knows" (along with Tony Asher) which appeared on the incredible work "Pet Sounds". The song was very daring and atypical of anything that The Beach Boys had recorded to date. The song took bold steps even mentioning God in the title and the record executives were nervous it would get little airplay.
Brian had every intention of singing the song, but eventually realized that his brother's steady and simpler voice would be a better counter for the intricate orchestral works in the music. I would say he was right.
The song was so inspiring to The Beatles that after a party, when they heard it for the first time, they went home and immediately wrote "Here, There and Everywhere", their attempt to capture the same raw emotion that The Beach Boys had done with "God Only Knows". Paul McCartney has frequently included this as one of his favorite songs of all time and has even called it "the perfect song" on more than one occasion.
|"People Get Ready" is one of the greatest R&B songs ever written in my humble opinion. Curtis Mayfield's lyrics were of particular importance due to the civil rights events of the era. The song lyrics were a call to faith that resolution was on the horizon. The song ends with this lyric, which had always put things in perspective for me of the events of that time:
"All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
You don't need no ticket, just thank the lord"
The song was so inspirational to the civil rights that Chicago area churches actually incorporated the song into their music program along with other hymns and faith songs.
Curtis Mayfield wrote the song while performing as a member of which Chicago soul singing group?|
The Impressions. The Impressions were one of the best singing groups to come out of the Chicago, IL area in the 1960s. Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler had sung together in church choirs which is one reason why their lyrics and sound could sometimes border on the religious.
"People Get Ready" was written just before the march on Chicago by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Mayfield was feeling the urgency of the civil rights movement, yet he wanted to celebrate the resolution of the event with peace and love, not with conflict which had been prevalent in other parts of the country. The result was this song which became a rallying cry, "warrior music" as some put it, to the Chicago and subsequent rallies across the country.
|John Lennon said that "In My Life" was the first serious song he ever composed. The song was an introspective biography of people he had encountered over the course of his young life. The song has often been cited as one of The Beatles best recordings. If you wanted to hear this song again, or maybe for the first time, which album would you want to dust off and drop the needle on?|
Rubber Soul. OK, sorry for the reference to albums and actually placing a needle on a phonograph with the intention of playing music. Most likely, you'd go to the CD and slide it in the tray and simply push play.
The song "In My Life" is a sweet and simple testament to those people who had an impact on John's young life. The reference to "friends and lovers" was most likely attributed to Stu Sutcliffe who was an early band mate of John's who passed away in 1962 and Cynthia Lennon who was John's first wife. Cynthia was the mother of John's son, Julian, who was born in 1963.
Many artists have covered this song over the years, but the one that caused me a bit of surprise was when Ozzy Osbourne decided to include this on his album of cover songs titled "Under Cover". Not that I'm surprised that Ozzy would deem the song with the same adoration and esteem most of his peers, but I was surprised that "The Prince of Darkness" would want to show that sensitive side of his personality. I was quite pleased that Osbourne decided to play the song straight and consistent with its original sound without trying to harden it into a heavy metal ballad. Nice job if anyone is interested.
|Song number 22 is "Be My Baby" by The Ronettes. This Phil Spector produced song was once claimed by Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys to be "the greatest pop record ever made". What is the name of the lead singer, and namesake to the group who is responsible for this tune (before she became Mrs. Spector that is)?|
Veronica Bennett. OK, I'll pull no punches here. I hate this song. I hate the lyrics, I hate the music, I hate the production and I especially hate Ronnie Spector's (née Bennett) voice. There I said it. The only song in the top 100 of this list that I can't see how it was included anywhere on the list to begin with.
All that aside, I must be in the minority because the song was a critical and commercial success. The song reached number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 and even got a number four nod on the US Billboard R&B charts. The song was heralded by Dick Clark as the Song of the Century. Eddie Money liked it enough to invite her to relive parts of it in his hit "Take Me Home Tonight". The Library of Congress included it in their US National Recording Registry. So, somehow, the song has been loved and revered by many. Except me.
|"Born to Run" is a great staple of any live show performed by Bruce Springsteen. The first night he played it live, who was he opening up for?|
Bonnie Raitt. It was during this concert that music critic and author Jon Landau wrote "I have seen rock and roll's future, and its name is Bruce Springsteen." The quote was prophetic as Springsteen's stock rose to great heights after the release of this album and song. This has become a high point for most Springsteen concerts. He usually has the house lights turned up so he can see the crowd response and interaction during the song's performance.
|"Let it Be" is one of the most famous songs released by The Beatles. It was released on their 1970 album by the same name. Since Paul McCartney was playing the piano on the song, who took over for him and played the bass guitar during the song's recording?|
John Lennon. It was no secret that the band was going through strife and turmoil internally during the recording of the album, and Lennon was quick to judge the songs primarily written by McCartney. Lennon once stated that the song was solely a McCartney composition and had nothing to do with The Beatles. Regardless, the song has stood the test of time and has been forever linked to the band as a testament to their eventual dissolution.
|Hearing the song "Hound Dog" will forever conjure images of Elvis Presley, but it was one "Big Momma" Thornton (Willie Mae Thornton) who recorded the song first. Which awesome song writers penned this classic?|
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Although all of these song writing teams were incredibly gifted and responsible for some of the greatest songs ever written, it was the Leiber and Stoller pair who wrote "Hound Dog" in the early 1950s. Some of their crowning achievements included: "Stand By Me", "There Goes My Baby", "Spanish Harlem" and "Poison Ivy".
Elvis Presley took the song "Hound Dog" to "The Milton Berle Show" on June 5, 1956. The song was seen live by an approximate 40,000,000 viewers. The song was the source of much controversy and Milton Berle received many protest letters based on Elvis' performance. However, as America evolved from the 1950s to the 1960s, Elvis' performances became more accepted and the public responded more positively. At the time of his death, the song that he popularized had been recorded literally dozens of times and had crossed over to blues, rock and roll, pop and even country.
|Chuck Berry took the old fiddle tune "Ida Red", added a little Chuck Berry magic to it and came up with the song here at number 18. What did he name his classic tune?|
Maybellene. No one can quantitatively say who invented rock and roll music, but Chuck Berry is sure to be included in most discussions. Berry was born in St. Louis, Missouri way back in 1926 and has provided us with such classics as the ones listed above, along with "No Particular Place to Go", "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Sweet Little Sixteen". Berry has performed well into his 80s, often times in his home base of St. Louis, other times venturing out on the road. Berry is not a big fan of giving interviews, but he did one in "Rolling Stone" magazine with Neil Strauss which lent an interesting perspective into the life of Chuck Berry. The issue was the September 2, 2010 edition of "Rolling Stone" magazine.
|One of Jimi Hendrix's most popular songs is "Purple Haze", released on the "Are You Experienced?" album in 1967. This was one of Hendrix's most often played songs in concert and there are literally hundreds of live versions in circulation. Question is, did he play this song at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair?|
y. Of course he would include one of his signature songs in such a setting. Woodstock occurred during August 15-18, 1969 and featured acts as diverse as Richie Havens, Arlo Guthrie, Grateful Dead and even Sha-Na-Na. Hendrix's set list included songs like "Red House", "Foxy Lady" and "Fire". His version of the "Star Spangled Banner" has been regarded as one of the best rock versions of the anthem to ever have been recorded.
|A question for the audiophiles in the crowd. Which Beatles song was the first recorded with high-tech (at the time anyway) four track recording equipment?|
I Want to Hold Your Hand. This song was also the first number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the USA for the band. The song was one of those incredible compositions where both McCartney and Lennon sat side by side during the writing of the lyrics and the music. The song was released the day after Christmas in 1963 in the US and three days later in the UK. The song was an immediate success in the US, as was the US B-side "I Saw Her Standing There".
|The song "London Calling" by The Clash is featured at number 15 on this list. The cover for the single features a young couple sitting in the floor with several albums scattered about them. Which artist did not have an album pictured on the "London Calling" single cover?|
Chuck Berry. In addition to those listed above, other band's included on the "London Calling" album cover are The Rolling Stones, The Sex Pistols and even The Clash themselves.
This song, written by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, was released in 1979. The song was deemed to be apocalyptic due to references of the demise of London. This is one of The Clash's best known songs, and in my opinion, one of their better written recordings.
|"Blowin' in the Wind" is the classic song released by Bob Dylan in 1963. Which album included this Dylan standard?|
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. This song was one of the best penned songs from the early years of Dylan. Also included on this album are the songs "A Hard Rains a-Gonna Fall" and "Masters of War".
For my science fiction fans, you may know that Douglas Adams wrote a little book titled "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" where the "Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything" was determined by the Deep Thought super-computer to be 42. However, no one knew the question. It was decided by a race of mice (the pan-dimensional creators of the new computer designed to provide the question - the Earth) to arbitrarily ask "How many roads must a man walk down?" in an effort to start the computation of the meaning of life. This doesn't really have a lot to do with the song, but I've always found it fascinating how cultures like sci-fi and popular music could somehow merge in even the slightest sense.
|The song "Yesterday", by The Beatles, is quite possibly the most often covered song of all time. With over 3,000 recorded versions of the song, it is certainly on top of the "Guinness Book of World Records" list of covered songs. Which pop singer got the ball rolling and made the first cover of this song, only ten months after the initial release of the song?|
Matt Monro. Matt Monro may not be well known in the US, but the fact is that he is a major worldwide star, selling over 100 million albums over his career. Most of Monro's recordings were handled by George Martin which may be how he covered the song so quickly. His version of the song reached the top ten on the UK charts.
The Beatles version of the song was never released in the UK as a single, but the US version was released in 1965 with "Act Naturally" as the B-side. The song was included on the album "Help!".
|"A Change is Gonna Come" was released in late 1964 as part of the Civil Rights Movement. The song was written as a response to the Bob Dylan classic "Blowin' in the Wind". Which artist wrote and recorded this classic piece of work?|
Sam Cooke. Sam Cooke was quite surprised that a song as racially powerful as "Blowin' in the Wind" could be written by a white songwriter. His response was "A Change is Gonna Come", a song partially inspired after an arrest for disturbing the peace after trying to register as a black man in a white hotel in Shreveport, Louisiana in 1963.
Cooke was on his way to establishing a very successful solo career when his life was cut short at the age of 33 from a gunshot wound. Prior to his solo work, Cooke was a member of The Soul Stirrers and The Highway Q.C.'s. His premature death certainly took away one of the soulful voices of his era.
|Which song found Pete Townshend hoping he died before he got old?|
My Generation. Legend has it that Pete Townshend wrote this song on his 20th birthday as he was taking a train from his home to a television appearance. The song was a slap in the face to authority, elders and social rankings that he had endured in his couple of decades on the planet. This song is cited by many as one of the first punk rock songs, based more on the anti-authority aspects than the song's sound. The song was The Who's highest charting single in the UK when it reached number two on the UK singles chart.
|With this song's release in July of 1959, Ray Charles got his first Top Ten Single on the US Billboard Hot 100. Which song began a streak of 11 top ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100?|
What'd I Say. Determining how many top ten singles Ray Charles has had is difficult due to the number of singles he released, and the number of charts on which those songs appeared. Charles had his greatest success on the US Billboard R&B chart where he had over 40 top ten songs. He had just over ten top tens on the Hot 100 chart. Ray was such a cross over success, he even had a couple top ten singles on the US Country Chart, including a number one single titled "Seven Spanish Angels", a duet with Willie Nelson released in 1985. Ray Charles' body of musical work spanned over six decades, from his first hit ("Mess Around"-number three on the US R&B chart) in 1953 to his last "Walkin' and Talkin'" (number six on the US Dance chart) in 2006, two years after his death.
|Butch Vig produced Nirvana's album "Nevermind" which contained the song at number nine on our list, "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Which band did Vig go on to put together with two other record producers and a vocalist?|
Garbage. Vig, along with producers Duke Erikson and Steve Marker, joined forces with a female vocalist named Shirley Manson to create the band Garbage. The band had moderate success with songs like "Stupid Girl" and "I'm Only Happy when it Rains".
Before Vig was in Garbage, he was a busy record producer working with bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Sonic Youth. One of his projects was to take a relatively unknown band, playing a relatively unknown genre of music and turn them into an overnight sensation. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was the song that transformed Nirvana and grunge music from unknown commodities into major players in the market. After the success of Nirvana, other grunge bands found their way to the forefront. Bands like Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees and Pearl Jam soon took center stage to other popular acts of the early 1990s, nearly knocking dance music and hair metal from the charts entirely. Unfortunately, the success of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" proved to be a double-edged sword for an artist like Nirvana's lead singer, Kurt Cobain. He was appreciative of the success that the song had found, but he wanted to play newer music to his audience. Unfortunately, the public wanted to keep the status quo and they demanded to constantly hear the more familiar songs. Many claim it was this lack of professional and creative growth that would eventually lead Cobain to commit suicide, at the pinnacle of his success.
|The last Beatles hit on the list is "Hey Jude". It only seems fitting that this would be the song that remained at the number one spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 longer than any other Beatles tune. How many weeks did this song stay at the top of the chart?|
9. The Beatles released "Hey Jude" on August, 26, 1968, the first single released from the newly formed Apple Records. The song was a gift from Paul McCartney to Julian Lennon to help him cope with the divorce of his parents, Cynthia and John Lennon.
"Hey Jude" was not only the song to stay at number one the longest in the US, it was also the longest running song by the Beatles to reach number one. The song was seven minutes, 20 seconds in length. In an era when most hit singles were average three minutes maximum, that's a really long song. George Martin tried, unsuccessfully, to get the band to shorten the song, but the band won that argument. Martin insisted the song would never get any airplay, but Lennon said "they will if it's us". Lennon was proven correct when the song reached number one in the US and the UK.
|"Johnny B. Goode" is the somewhat biographical song written and recorded by Chuck Berry in the winter of 1958. This song has been heralded as the the very first rock and roll song ever written, but of course that is taking on one of the greatest arguments in all of popular music. When Mr. Berry was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, he included this song to be performed live. Which band got an assist for performing alongside Chuck Berry on the night of his induction?|
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Chuck Berry was included as a member of the initial class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees (along with: Little Richard, James Brown, Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, Ray Charles, The Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis). During his live performance, he was joined by Springsteen and company on this song and "Rock and Roll Music".
The debate as to who recorded the first rock and roll song is one that will go on forever, but any person with any musical knowledge would have to at least concede that this song was one of the very first recorded examples of the rock and roll genre.
|"Good Vibrations", by The Beach Boys, was the most expensive single ever recorded at the time of its 1966 release on the "Pet Sounds" album.|
f. The song was the band's third number one single on the US Billboard Hot 100 (and their first in the UK) but it wasn't originally released on "Pet Sounds" or any album for that matter. It was released with a song which did appear on "Pet Sounds" (the instrumental "Let's Go Away for Awhile") as the B-side, but "Good Vibrations" was not included on an album until nearly a year after its initial release. That album was titled "Smiley Smile".
The part of the statement about the song being the most expensive single ever recorded may very well be true. The song cost more than $50,000 to produce, and at the time, that was an unheard of sum of money for one song. The song was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love. Wilson's goal for the song was to be better than "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" by The Righteous Brothers.
|The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, has the highest ranking song on this list by a female with her song "Respect". Many people may think this is an original Franklin composition due to the way she commands the performance when she sings it. However, it was a man who wrote this song. Who was it?|
Otis Redding. The way Aretha Franklin sings this song almost makes it her own. The song was written by Otis Redding in 1965 and he released it as a single in August of the same year. He had success with the song (he performed it as a blues song) as it reached number four on the US R&B chart and even crossed over to peak at number 35 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Aretha's version of the song bested both of Redding's chart positions as she reached number one on both.
|Marvin Gaye cracks the top five of this list with his call to world peace, "What's Going On". The song was primarily written by Renaldo "Obie" Benson, although Al Cleveland and Marvin Gaye were given song writing credits as well. Cleveland was a songwriter for Motown at the time Benson hired him to help finish the song. Who was the originally intended singer for this song before timing issues prevented it from happening?|
Joan Baez. Obie Benson was a member of the singing group The Four Tops when he started writing this song. The supposed source of the song was Benson witnessing some police officers in San Francisco interacting with some anti-war protesters. When he presented the song to his group, they felt it was a little too political for their normal repertoire of songs, so Benson shopped it around. He hired Cleveland to help him complete the song, with intentions of letting Ms. Baez turn it into a protest song, but her time in the studio was ending, and everyone knew the song would not be complete by then. Gaye got involved after a golf outing with Benson and Cleveland and after some collaboration, the song was recorded at the Motown studios in June of 1970. The song was an immediate smash after its release the following January. The song went to number one on the US R&B chart and nearly reached the top spot on the US Billboard Hot 100, but the best it could do was the second spot.
|John Lennon's most precious gift to the world was his song "Imagine". The song was released in 1971 off the album by the same name. Who did John bring in to help produce his masterpiece?|
Phil Spector. John Lennon had much respect for Phil Spector dating all the way back to using him on The Beatles "Let it Be" album. Spector was a big part of John Lennon's solo career as he at least co-produced the albums "Wedding Album", "John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band", "Some Time in New York City", "Rock 'n Roll" and "Menlove Ave." Interestingly enough, my favorite Lennon solo album is "Double Fantasy" which was co-produced by Jack Douglas.
Neither Martin nor McCartney was enlisted to assist in producing any of the Lennon solo albums.
|The Rolling Stones had their first US Billboard Hot 100 number one hit with "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". The track was produced by their ostentatious manager at the time. What was his name?|
Andrew Loog Oldham. Epstein managed The Beatles, Grossman managed Bob Dylan and Grant managed Led Zeppelin. It was the flamboyant Oldham who was the manager of the Rolling Stones. Oldham was a very active part of the Stones career and he was well known throughout The Beatles camp as well. He also was a big part of putting together The Small Faces and he even wrote a biography on Abba. Oldham was troubled with drug problems most of his career which seemed to halt big things from happening to him, but overall his impact was felt throughout the London music scene.
|You can call it what you will, but it only seems fitting that a magazine like "Rolling Stone" would pick a song titled "Like a Rolling Stone" as their number one song of all time. Bob Dylan wrote the beginnings of the song after playing a segment of a song called "Lost Highway". In that song, there is a line which begins:
"I'm a rolling stone, I'm alone and lost
For a life of sin I've paid the cost".
Who was the writer of "Lost Highway", the song which is owed at least some debt as an inspiration to the song which would become the ultimate song written by the ultimate songwriter in American history? |
Hank Williams. The film "Don't Look Back" is a look at Dylan's tour of the UK in 1965. It's in this documentary where we see Dylan singing the opening verse to this song and then later at the piano making the transition into what would become "Like a Rolling Stone".
The song appeared on the Dylan album "Highway 61 Revisited". Interestingly enough, the greatest song in "Rolling Stone" history never peaked at number one in either the US or the UK. The song did reach number two in the US and number four in the UK.
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