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Andy Sullivan: Against the Grain

I watch a lot of those behind the music type shows: AXSTV’s Top 10 Revealed, lots of music documentaries and the like.  This first little nugget I learned from the Elvis show that was on CBS a few weeks ago.  As always, I double-checked this and all the knowledge I’m about to drop to make sure it was all true.  Here we go.

“Guitar Man” was written in 1967 by Jerry Reed.  He and Elvis recorded the Chet-produced track that year.  The song peaked at #53 for Reed and #43 for Elvis.  You know how a lot of songs sound alike/sample from earlier hits? Will Smith sampled Sister Sledge’s 1979 hit “The Greatest Dancer” for his 1997 hit “Getting’ Jiggy With It”.  Listen to the backbeat.  That’s what was sampled.  I was listening to 70’s on 7 and that Sister Sledge song came on.  Immediately my mind went to “What song is that from”? It can drive me crazy until I figure it out!

This next one I figured out on my own.  Those can drive you crazy.  You’re playing the song over and over in your head.  All the while you’re saying to yourself, “I know that’s from another song”.  Let me tell you, when you’re out in public and do that, you might look crazy to onlookers! I heard “Waterloo Sunset”, recorded in 1966, and immediately recognized the guitar riff.  I played it over and over in my head and I finally got it! The riff was slowed down a little in the one I was thinking about but it is the same riif.  The song? Flash forward a few years to 1974: “Laughter In The Rain” by Neil Sedaka.  

Here’s a pretty cool story I learned off CBS Sunday Morning in an interview with Dolly Parton.  Dolly says “I met this woman backstage at a show and I asked her name.  She said “Jolene”.  Dolly said “I love that name”! The classic 1973 hit was born.

Everyone knows the classic hall of famers The Who.  What you may not know, however, is that they weren’t always called The Who.  From July-October of 1964, The Who changed their name to the High Numbers, releasing one single under that billing before reverting to the more inventive and appropriate The Who.  Their debut single as The Who was “I Can’t Explain” in 1964.

I was watching a documentary on Little Richard Monday night and learned these tidbits.  1957-1959 was his first stint in pop music.  He would retire from that life and move into gospel music.  That lasted from 1960-64, where he would release several gospel albums: Pray Along With Little Richard, Pray Along With Little Richard, Volume 2 in 1960 and King of the Gospel Singers in 1962.  He would return to popular music in ’64 with Little Richard’s Back(and there’s a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on).  By the way, 1956’s “The Girl Can’t Help It” from Little Richard was the title track of a movie AND sampled by Fergie for her 2006 song Clumsy.  

The song "Unchained Melody" popularized in the US by Al Hibbler and Roy Hamilton and in Britain by Jimmy Young in 1955, the year of the film ,and later by Vito and The Salutations as well as The Righteous Brothers in the mid ‘60’s, first surfaced on the soundtrack of this movie as composed by Alex North. 


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