Sam Cooke – Wonderful World

Sam Cooke is one of the artists that you have to think…what could have been if he wouldn’t have had such a tragic death at such a young age… Not that he didn’t have a very successful career to that point. He had 20 Top Ten Hits, 29 Top 40 Hits, and 4 Number 1 hits in the R&B Charts.

In the Billboard 100, he had 34 songs in the top 100 and 4 top ten hits. He died when he was only 33 years old. I would suggest reading All Things Thriller’s post about Sam Cooke’s death.

The first time I heard the Cooke version of this song was in Animal House when Belushi was heading down the cafeteria line and for me this is my go-to version. Cooke had such a smooth soulful voice.

Cooke recorded Wonderful World on Keen Records shortly before he left the label over a royalty dispute in 1959. In 1960, Cooke had moved on to RCA Victor, but Keen, still owning the rights to Wonderful World, released the single in April 1960.

From Songfacts

“Wonderful World,” or “(What a) Wonderful World,” was one of Sam Cooke’s 29 US Top 40 hits released between 1957 and 1964. The song was released on April 14, 1960 and quickly reached #2 on the US Black Singles chart, #12 on the US Pop Singles chart, and #27 on the UK Singles chart.

“Wonderful World” was originally written by music legends Lou Alder and Herb Alpert, but Cooke added the finishing lyrical touches, and the trio used the songwriting pseudonym “Barbara Campbell,” the name of Cooke’s high school sweetheart. Adler went on from this success to found Dunhill Records and manage big name artists such as Jan & Dean, The Mamas & The Papas, and Carole King. Not to be outdone, his writing partner, Herb Alpert, put the “A” in A&M Records after performing for several years with his band Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass.

Don’t let the bouncy rhythm and upbeat tempo fool you. According to Craig Werner, a professor of African American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the song may have a more politically charged meaning. In his book, A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race and the Soul of America, Werner writes that “Wonderful World” may be one of the first examples of Cooke’s crossover into politics, where he informs white listeners that he “don’t know much about history” and “don’t know much biology” as a comment that these are the things to forget about African-Americans, and all they need to remember is love.

Throughout the years, “Wonderful World” has been covered by a number of artists including Otis Redding, Bryan Ferry, Michael Bolton, and Rod Stewart. After Sam Cooke’s death in 1964, there were a rash of “tribute” covers released including a 1965 up-tempo version by Herman’s Hermits, which reached #4 on the US Pop Singles chart and #7 on the UK Singles chart, and a rendition by The Supremes released on their 1965 album “We Remember Sam Cooke.” In 1977, Art Garfunkel put his spin on the hit for his album, Watermark, which featured harmonies by friend, James Taylor, and former partner, Paul Simon.

“Wonderful World” has been a hit with filmmakers since its release. The song can be heard in the famous lunchroom scene of the 1978 classic, Animal House. It was also featured in the 1983 Richard Gere drama, Breathless, and appeared in the opening titles of the 2005 Will Smith comedy, Hitch. A Greg Chapman cover of “Wonderful World” was spotlighted in the 1985 film, Witness, which spurred resurgence in popularity for the single and led to use of the Cooke original in a well-remembered 1986 British ad for Levi 501 Jeans. The song originally peaked at #27 in the UK, but after the commercial, the song was re-released there and reached #2.

According to Rolling Stone, before the song came out, Cooke liked to sing it for women he met, telling them he’d made it up on the spot just for them.

Wonderful World

Don’t know much about history
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book,
Don’t know much about the french I took
But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me, too,
What a wonderful world this would be

Don’t know much about geography,
Don’t know much trigonometry
Don’t know much about algebra,
Don’t know what a slide rule is for
But I do know that one and one is two,
And if this one could be with you,
What a wonderful world this would be

Now, I don’t claim to be an “A” student,
But I’m tryin’ to be
For maybe by being an “A” student, baby,
I can win your love for me

Don’t know much about history,
Don’t know much biology
Don’t know much about a science book,
Don’t know much about the french I took
But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me, too,
What a wonderful world this would be

History
Biology
Science book
French I took
But I do know that I love you,
And I know that if you love me, too,
What a wonderful world this would be

Rolling Stones – Ruby Tuesday

I wish this era of the Stones would have lasted longer. Yes, I love the electric blues slanted work they did after this but they wrote some great pop songs. Brian Jones plays the recorder (it sounds like a flute) in this song. You don’t hear much about Brian now but he expanded their sound in the mid-sixties with an array of instruments.

Bill Wyman said that Keith wrote the lyrics and Brian helped finish the melody. This song was the B side to “Let’s Spend The Night Together.”

This song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100 in 1967.

 

Keith Richards: “That’s one of those things – some chick you’ve broken up with. And all you’ve got left is the piano and the guitar and a pair of panties. And it’s goodbye you know. And so it just comes out of that. And after that, you just build on it. It’s one of those songs that are easiest to write because you’re really right there and you really sort of mean it. And for a songwriter, hey break his heart and he’ll come up with a good song.” 

 

 

From Songfacts

The fourth US #1 hit for the Rolling Stones, this ballad is about a groupie. It may have been inspired by Linda Keith, who was Keith Richards’ girlfriend. Richards said in According to the Rolling Stones: “It was probably written about Linda Keith not being there (laughs). I don’t know, she had pissed off somewhere. It was very mournful, very, VERY Ruby Tuesday and it was a Tuesday.”

Originally, this was called “Title B.”

Keith Richards and Brian Jones wrote most of this, but in keeping with Stones tradition, it was credited to Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

Brian Jones was their lead guitarist until he died in 1969, and could play just about any instrument. 

A large double-bass was used. Bill Wyman plucked the notes while Richards played it with a bow.

This was not on the English version of Between The Buttons because it was already released as a single there, and it was customary not to put singles on albums.

This was supposed to be the B-side of “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” but many radio stations shied away from the sexual implications of that song, so they played this instead and made it a hit.

Jagger: “Ruby Tuesday is good. I think that’s a wonderful song. It’s just a nice melody, really. And a lovely lyric. Neither of which I wrote, but I always enjoy singing it.”

The singer Melanie, who had a #1 hit with “Brand New Key” in 1971, released a cover of “Ruby Tuesday” in 1970 that went to #9 in the UK and #52 in the US. Rod Stewart also released a popular cover that was accompanied by a video. His version made #11 in the UK in 1993.

Ruby Tuesday

She would never say where she came from
Yesterday don’t matter if it’s gone
While the sun is bright
Or in the darkest night
No one knows, she comes and goes

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday
Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day
Still I’m gonna miss you

Don’t question why she needs to be so free
She’ll tell you it’s the only way to be
She just can’t be chained
To a life where nothings gained
And nothings lost, at such a cost

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday
Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day
Still I’m gonna miss you

“There’s no time to lose”, I heard her say
Catch your dreams before they slip away
Dying all the time
Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind
Ain’t life unkind?

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday
Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day
Still I’m gonna miss you

Goodbye Ruby Tuesday
Who could hang a name on you?
When you change with every new day
Still I’m gonna miss you

Paul McCartney – Take It Away

That simple bass guitar riff hooks me when it comes in during the drum intro.

A good pop song from Paul McCartney in the 1980s. This was on an album called Tug of War which peaked at #1 in the Billboard album charts. The highlight to me is another McCartney bass line. The song peaked at #10 in the Billboard 100 in 1982.

Paul played bass, Ringo played drums, and George Martin played electric piano. Eric Stewart from 10cc influenced the layered backup vocals.

Paul McCartney:

“Well, there were a couple of songs that we ended up recording which Ringo asked me to write at a certain period. I was writing some songs for Ringo and “Take It Away” was in amongst those songs. I thought it would suit me better the way it went into the chorus and stuff; I didn’t think it was very Ringo.”

“I mean, the chorus I think, was Ringo, the other bits… but that’s how that comes to be that kind of track I think, I was right in that sort of direction with Ringo in mind actually.”

 

Take It Away

Take it away
Want to hear you play
Till the lights go down
Take it away
Don’t you want to stay
Till there’s no one else around?

Take it away
Want to hear you play
Till the lights go down
Take it away
Don’t you want to stay
Till there’s no one else around?

Lonely driver
Out on the road
With a hundred miles to go
Sole survivor
Carrying the load
Switches on his radio

Take it away
Want to hear you play
Till the lights go down (down down)
Take it away
Don’t you want to stay
Till there’s no one else around?

Take it away
Want to hear you play
Till the lights go down (down down)
Take it away
Don’t you want to stay
Till there’s no one else around?

In the audience
Watching the show
With a paper in his hand
(In his hand, in his hand)
Some important impresario
Has a message for the band

Oh
Take it away
Want to hear you play
Till the lights go down (down down)
Take it away
Don’t you want to stay
Till there’s no one else around?

You never know who may be
Listening to you
Never know who may be
Listening to you
You never know who may be
Listening to you
Take it away, take it away

After hours
Late in the bar
By a darkened corner seat
Faded flowers wait in the jar
Till the evening is complete

Ah
Ah
Ah
Ah

 

 

 

Led Zeppelin – Ozone Baby

This was on the album Coda it was released two years after John Bonham’s death and features outtakes from sessions throughout their career. I heard this one more than the others on the album.

Recorded in 1978 at a studio in Sweden owned by Abba, this song was intended for the Led Zeppelin album In Through the Out Door, but it didn’t make the cut. Ozone Baby peaked at #14 in the Mainstream Rock Songs Charts in 1982. Coda was released in 1982 and peaked at #6 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1983.

Coda is by no means a great album but it does have some enjoyable tracks like Wearing and Tearing and Darlene. It’s not like they set out to record an album… it was released to honor contractual commitments to Atlantic Records.

From Songfacts

The entire band’s instrumentals come in right at the opening with Robert Plant’s vocals starting in soon after. This was Zeppelin’s typical style, a straightforward “get it done” 12-bar-blues attitude without very much pretension. It shows something of their character that they were consistent in doing this on one of the last songs done by the classic lineup.

Another telling sign of Zeppelin’s character: How many drummers do most bands go through? Next to the bass, the drummer is usually the most-rotated spot. Not Zeppelin! Lose the drummer, and that’s it, the band calls it quits – but to be fair, growing tensions within the band could have broken them up anyway.

A bit of rock history trivia: Led Zeppelin today is remembered as practically having walked on water. One easily forgets that back when these albums were coming out, while they had a huge fan base, rock critics panned them almost unanimously. Rolling Stone raspberried every single Zep album.

 

Ozone Baby

I hear ya knock on my door 
I ain’t been saving this scene for ya honey 
Don’t wantcha ringin’ my bell 
It’s too late for you to be my honey 

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love 

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love 

Don’t want you wasting my time 
Tired of ya doing the things that you do 
It’s no use standing in line 
Follow the line, you better follow queue 

I say, oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love 

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love, my my own

I could sail a river run dead, but I know it’s dead
I could I wish for a million, yeah but I know it’s dead
I could cry within the darkness, I sail away 
I save a lifetime forever?
But you know, you know, you know what I say 

And I say oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love 

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love, my my own 

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love

Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love, my own true love
My own true love, my own true love
My own true love
I said Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love
Oh, it’s my love 
Oh, it’s my own true love, my own

Beatles – If I Needed Someone

Mid-Sixties pop classic. If I Needed Someone is a George Harrison song that was on the album Rubber Soul. In America this was one of the four songs left off of Capital’s version of Rubber Soul…it was included on Yesterday and Today…an album that Capital put together for the American market.  It was originally issued only in the United States and Canada

George Harrison said the song was influenced by the Byrds:  “It was based on the twelve-string figure from ‘The Bells Of Rhymney’ by The Byrds.”

McCartney called the song the first “landmark” song written by George for the Beatles.

George Harrison:  “It was like a million other songs written around one chord, a D chord actually.”  “If you move your fingers about you get various little melodies.  That guitar line, or variations on it, is found in many a song, and it amazes me that people still find new permutations of the same notes.”

As a guitarist,  there are many songs that have been written around the D chord by moving your fingers in different positions. Here Comes The Sun, Woman by Lennon, Free Falling, Sweet Home Alabama, and like George said…a million others.

On January 24th, 1996, “If I Needed Someone” got its first and only release on a single.  The Capitol series of “For Jukebox Only” singles paired the song as the b-side to “Norwegian Wood” and was printed on both black and green vinyl.

The Hollies received an early version of the song and then quickly recorded their own version of the song and released it as their next single at the end of 1965.  It reached #20 in the UK, making it the first George Harrison composition to make the charts.

George made it known he didn’t like their version…but to me, the Hollies did a good job.

From Songfacts

This was written by George Harrison, who got the idea from a few of The Byrds’ songs including “The Bells of Rhymney” and “She Don’t Care About Time.” It was not Ravi Shankar that introduced George to the wonderment of sitar, but Byrd traveler David Crosby shortly after Shawn Phillips had shown him the basic steps. In 1965 The Beatles toured the US and visited Ravi at World Pacific Studios where The Byrds had permanent residency. It was also here that Roger McGuinn’s Rickenbacker jingle jangle influenced Harrison’s “If I Needed Someone.” In turn, The Byrds were influenced by Harrison’s 12-string guitar work. >>

Former Byrds guitarist Roger McGuinn recalled to Christianity Today magazine: “George Harrison wrote that song after hearing the Byrds’ recording of “Bells of Rhymney.” He gave a copy of his new recording to Derek Taylor, the Beatles’ former press officer, who flew to Los Angeles and brought it to my house. He said George wanted me to know that he had written the song based on the rising and falling notes of my electric Rickenbacker 12-string guitar introduction. It was a great honor to have in some small way influenced our heroes the Beatles.”

 

If I Needed Someone

If I needed someone to love
You’re the one that I’d be thinking of
If I needed someone

If I had some more time to spend
Then I guess I’d be with you my friend
If I needed someone
Had you come some other day
Then it might not have been like this
But you see now I’m too much in love

Carve your number on my wall
And maybe you will get a call from me
If I needed someone
Ah, ah, ah, ah

If I had some more time to spend
Then I guess I’d be with you my friend
If I needed someone
Had you come some other day
Then it might not have been like this
But you see now I’m too much in love

Carve your number on my wall
And maybe you will get a call from me
If I needed someone
Ah, ah

Jefferson Starship – Count On Me

I’ve never been a fan of the Jefferson Airplane/Starship or just plain Starship but this one has good memories connected to it. It was released in 1978 and it peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100, #9 in Canada, and #24 in New Zealand. This is the last output by the band that I liked.

Marty Balin sang this song…whenever I think of Marty Balin I think of when he was in The Jefferson Airplane at Altamont. He stood up to the Hells Angels and got walloped over the head for his trouble. Paul Kantner (guitar player for the Airplane) then announced what happened. It went something like this.

Kantner to the crowd: “Hey man, I’d like to mention that the Hell’s Angels just smashed Marty Balin in the face and knocked him out for a bit. I’d like to thank you for that.”

A Hell’s Angel grabs a microphone: “Is this on? If you’re talking to me, I’m gonna talk to you.”

Kantner: “I’m not talking to you, I’m talking to the people who hit my lead singer in the head.”

Hell’s Angel: “You’re talking to my people.”

Kantner: “Right.”

Hell’s Angel: “Let me tell you what’s happening: You are what’s happening.”

Paul Kantner, Marty Balin and later Keith Richards stood up to the Angels at Altamont.

That Time When Paul Kantner Stood Up to the Hell’s Angels

Count On Me

Precious love
I’ll give it to you
Blue as the sky and deep in the
Eyes of a love so true
Beautiful face
You make me feel
Lite on the stairs and lost in the
Air of a love so real

And you can count on me girl
You can count on my love
Woman
You can count on me baby
You can count on my love to see
You through

Emerald eyes and China perfume
Caught in the wheel and lost in
The feel of a love so soon
Ruby lips
You make my song
Into the night and saved by the lite
Of a love so strong
See you through
Oh
You can count on me girl
You can count on my love

 

Kinks – Village Green Preservation Society

Some songs can be written by anyone. Songs can be very popular but generic. Some can only be written by certain songwriters. This would be one of those songs. Ray Davies’s songs have their own DNA. This was on the great 1968 album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society.

This nostalgic song is a favorite of mine. This is a big jump from You Really Got me to…”We are the Sherlock Holmes English-speaking Vernacular, God save Fu Manchu, Moriarty and Dracula.”

Ray Davies: “You have to remember that North London was my village green, my version of the countryside. The street and district I grew up in was called Fortis Green, and then there was Waterlow Park and the little lake. I sang in the choir at St James’s Primary School until I was about 10, then I trained myself to sing out of tune so I could hang around with a gang called the Crooners instead. Our Scottish singing teacher Mrs. Lewis said, ‘Never mind, Davies – I hear crooners are making a lot of money these days.'”

From Songfacts

A very reflective and nostalgic song written by lead singer Ray Davies, this is about the innocent times in small English towns, where the village green was the community center. The entire album was based on this theme.

This plays in the movie Hot Fuzz as Sgt. Angel is jogging through a village.

Some critics thought the album’s snapshots of village life were partly inspired by performances by the Kinks in rustic Devon. Instead, they were based on memories of his growing up in London. 

Ray Davies namechecks various fictional characters that bring back childhood memories, such as music hall act Old Mother Riley and Mrs. Mopp, who was a character from the wartime radio comedy, ITMA.

We are the Draught Beer Preservation Society.
God save Mrs. Mopp and good old Mother Riley.

Davies explained to Q magazine: “The people in it are all characters I liked as a kid or people my family could relate to, like Old Mother Riley and Mrs Mopp. Because I used to love listening to the BBC Light Programme on Sundays, like Round The Horne with Kenneth Williams. A time when the population was allowed to be trivial.”

Village Green Preservation Society

We are the Village Green Preservation Society.
God save Donald Duck, vaudeville and variety.
We are the Desperate Dan Appreciation Society.
God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties.

Preserving the old ways from being abused.
Protecting the new ways, for me and for you.
What more can we do?

We are the Draught Beer Preservation Society.
God save Mrs. Mopp and good old Mother Riley.
We are the Custard Pie Appreciation Consortium.
God save the George Cross, and all those who were awarded them.

Oooh…

We are the Sherlock Holmes English-speaking Vernacular.
God save Fu Manchu, Moriarty and Dracula.
We are the Office Block Persecution Affinity.
God save little shops, china cups, and virginity.
We are the Skyscraper Condemnation Affiliates.
God save Tudor houses, antique tables, and billiards.

Preserving the old ways from being abused.
Protecting the new ways, for me and for you.
What more can we do?

We are the Village Green Preservation Society.
God save Donald Duck, vaudeville and variety.
We are the Desperate Dan Appreciation Society.
God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties.

God save the village green!