Thursday, November 04, 2004

History Lesson: Just in Time for Christmas

November 4, 1974: Greatest Hits by Elton John is released. It remains one of the most attractive album packages ever, clean and beautiful red and blue graphics inside and out, which even extend to the label on the vinyl disc itself. It zoomed to the top of my Christmas list the moment I saw it in the stores. On the same day, Paul McCartney and Wings release the single "Junior's Farm," which would get to Number 3 by January. The flipside got enough airplay to make it to Number 39 in February. Big trivia points if you can remember the title, which is below.

November 4, 1963: The Beatles appear at a Royal Command Performance in London. This was the night John Lennon asked, "Will people in the cheaper seats clap your hands? All the rest of you, if you'll just rattle your jewelry."

November 4, 1957: For the only time in history, as far as I know, the top six songs on the pop and R&B charts are identical:

1. "Jailhouse Rock"/Elvis Presley
2. "Wake Up Little Susie"/Everly Brothers
3. "You Send Me"/Sam Cooke
4. "Silhouettes"/The Rays
5. "Be-Bop Baby"/Ricky Nelson
6. "Honeycomb"/Jimmie Rodgers

Talk about your multiculturalism. Only Cooke and the Rays were black, although Elvis had, in Sam Phillips' words, "the negro sound and the negro feel." It's hard now to hear any corresponding feel in the Everlys, Nelson, or Rodgers. Segregation may have been the rule in much of 1957 America, but clearly not here.

Birthdays Today: Sean "P-Diddy" Combs is 34. Has he ever had a hit that didn't lean predominantly on a sample of someone else's work? Does he even record music anymore? Or is he just famous for being famous now? Ike Turner is 73. He was a very bad dude, and probably not just while he was married to Tina. But he is also a seminal figure of rock and roll--it's his band on "Rocket 88" under the name of Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats, the 1951 hit considered by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to be the first rock record.

Number One Songs on This Date:
1990: "Ice Ice Baby"/Vanilla Ice. An enormous pop-culture phenomenon then; in retrospect, the first profoundly embarrasing pop-culture phenomenon of the 1990s.
1974: "You Haven't Done Nothin'"/Stevie Wonder. An overtly anti-Nixon song, weirdly applicable again:
We are sick and tired of hearing your song
Telling us how you are gonna change right from wrong
Cuz if you really want to hear our views
You haven't done nothin'
1969: "Suspicious Minds"/Elvis Presley. This is my favorite Elvis record, with a fade I'd listen to if you looped it for 10 minutes: "Caught in a trap/I can't walk out/Because I love you too much baby"
1962: "He's a Rebel"/Crystals. Girl-group nirvana, and their biggest hit ever, a followup to the gorgeous "Uptown." You don't hear either one as often as "Da Doo Ron Ron," but you should.
1942: "White Christmas"/Bing Crosby. And people say we rush the season nowadays. This was the first year for "White Christmas," and both this version and Freddy Martin's sold a million copies that winter. (Frank Sinatra would release his own million-selling recording in 1944.) Bing returned "White Christmas" to the pop charts at Christmas of 1943 in two different versions, and recharted the original version every year after through 1962. It hit Number One again around Christmas in 1945 and 1946.

Trivia Answer: "Sally G" was the flipside of McCartney's "Junior's Farm." Thanks to a bit of steel guitar, it actually got a bit of airplay on country radio, although not enough to make the charts.


Post a Comment

<< Home