Songs That Were Banned: The Who – My Generation

This week I’ll feature songs that have been banned from the radio for one reason or another for a time. I will just feature pre-9-11 songs because after 2001 practically every song was banned for a little while.

My Generation featured the chorus “Hope I Die Before I Get Old” but that was ok…It was the vocals that resembled stuttering; afraid to offend people with actual stuttering problems, the BBC prohibited the song from receiving airplay. Later, when the song proved to be a huge hit, they allowed it.

The best part of this song for me was John Entwistle’s bass solo. You just didn’t hear many bass solos at that time. John Entwistle “I bought this Danelectro bass and it had these tiny, thin wire-wound strings on. They were so thin, they sounded just like a piano, an unbelievably clear sound. The only thing was that you couldn’t buy these strings. When we recorded ‘My Generation,’ I ended up with three of these Danelectros just for the strings. The last one I had, the string busted before we actually got into the studio to re-record it, so I did it on a Fender Jazz in the end with tape-wound La Bella strings.”

Pete wrote this song for British mods at the time who didn’t think older people understood what was going on. The song peaked at #74 in the Billboard 100, #2 in the UK, and #3 in Canada in 1966.

Pete Townshend was asked if the line still resonated with him. “I think it does,”  “The line actually came from a time when I was living in a really wealthy district of London, just by accident. I didn’t really understand quite where I was living at the time. And I was treated very strangely on the street, in an imperious way by a lot of people, and it was that that I didn’t like. I didn’t like being confronted with money and the class system and power. I didn’t like being in a corner shop in Belgravia and some woman in a fur coat pushing me out of the way because she was richer. And I didn’t know how to deal with that. I could’ve, I suppose, insisted on my rights and not written the song. But I was a tucked-up little kid and so I wrote the song.”

 

From Songfacts

Roger Daltrey sang the lead vocals with a stutter, which was very unusual. After recording two takes of the song normally, The Who’s manager, Kit Lambert, suggested to Daltrey that he stutter to sound like a British kid on speed. Daltrey recalled to Uncut magazine October 2001: “I have got a stutter. I control it much better now but not in those days. When we were in the studio doing ‘My Generation’, Kit Lambert came up to me and said ‘STUTTER!’ I said ‘What?’ He said ‘Stutter the words – it makes it sound like you’re pilled’ And I said, ‘Oh… like I am!’ And that’s how it happened. It was always in there, it was always suggested with the ‘f-f-fade’ but the rest of it was improvised.”

Pete Townshend wrote this on a train ride from London to Southampton on May 19, 1965 – his 20th birthday. In a 1987 Rolling Stone magazine interview, Townshend explained: “‘My Generation’ was very much about trying to find a place in society. I was very, very lost. The band was young then. It was believed that its career would be incredibly brief.” 

Back in 1967, Pete Townshend called this song, “The only really successful social comment I’ve ever made.” Talking about the meaning, he explained it as “some pilled-up mod dancing around, trying to explain to you why he’s such a groovy guy, but he can’t because he’s so stoned he can hardly talk.”

This contains the famous line, “I hope I die before I get old.” The Who drummer Keith Moon did, dying of a drug overdose in 1978 at age 32. The rest of the band found themselves still playing the song 50 years later, giving that line more than a hint of irony.

A Singapore magazine called BigO is named for the famous line in this song – it’s an acronym for “Before I Get Old.”

This song went through various stages as they tried to perfect it. It began as a slow song with a blues feel, and at one point had hand claps and multiple key changes. The final product was at a much faster tempo than the song was conceived; it was Kit Lambert’s idea to speed it up.

This is the highest charting Who song in the UK, but it never cracked the Top 40 in America, where they were less known. In the UK, the album was also called My Generation, but in America it was titled The Who Sing My Generation.

Entwistle was the least visible member of the band, and his bass solos on this song threw off directors when The Who would perform the song on TV shows. When it got to his part, the cameras would often go to Pete Townshend, and his fingers wouldn’t be moving. Entwistle played the solos using a pick, since their manager Kit Lambert didn’t think fingers recorded well. Most of Entwistle’s next recordings were done with fingers.

The BBC refused to play this at first because they did not want to offend people with stutters. When it became a huge hit, they played it.

In 1965, Roger Daltrey stood by this song’s lyric and claimed he would kill himself before reaching 30 because he didn’t want to get old. When he did get older, he answered the inevitable questions about the “hope I die before I get old” line by explaining that it is about an attitude, not a physical age.

On September 17, 1967, The Who performed this song on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Keith Moon set his drums to explode after the performance, but the technical crew had already done so. The resulting explosion burned Pete Townshend’s hair and permanently damaged his hearing.

Also of note during this performance was Moon’s total disregard for the illusion of live performance. The band was playing along to a recorded track (common practice on the show), and while his bandmates synched their movements to the music, Moon made no effort to keep time, even knocking his cymbal over at one point.

Shel Talmy, who produced this track, was fired the next year. Talmy filed a lawsuit and won extensive royalties from future albums.

The ending of this song is electric mayhem, with Keith Moon pounding anything he can find on his drum kit and Townshend flipping his pickups on an off, something he also did on the album opener “Out in the Street.” Townshend and Daltrey go back and forth on the vocals, intentionally stomping on each other to add to the chaos.

This was covered by Iron Maiden, who was usually the Who’s polar opposite both musically and lyrically. One connection they share is the BBC-TV series Top of the Pops. Performances on the show were customarily lip-synched, but The Who performed live on the show in 1972. In 1980, Iron Maiden also performed live, and was the first band to do so since The Who. Maiden put their version of “My Generation” on the B-side to the single for “Lord of the Flies.” 

The Who played this during their set at Woodstock, which didn’t begin until 5:00 a.m. on the second day. The group turned in a solid performance, but they weren’t pleased with the scheduling and weren’t feeling the peace and love – at one point an activist named Abbie Hoffman came on stage uninvited and was forcibly ejected by Pete Townshend.

Green Day recorded this for their 1992 album Kerplunk!

When the teen pop singer Hilary Duff covered this as a B-side for her 2005 single “Someone’s Watching Over Me,” she made the curious decision to rewrite some of the lyrics. “I hope I don’t die before I get old,” doesn’t really have the same rock ‘n’ roll attitude as Townshend’s original words, and her rendition caused some consternation among Who fans.

This song fits nicely into the “primal rock” genre, which covers tunes that are raucous, rebellious, unusual, and also celebratory. Roger Reale, who was in one of these primal rock bands with Mick Ronson, explains the impact of the song:

“‘My Generation’ had no lead guitar, but a lead part played on the bass. It also had a bass breakdown, and unless you listened to a lot of jazz, there were no bass breakdowns in pop music. I remember playing the end of that track over and over and over again, because you could hear the feedback of the guitar, which was so exciting to listen to. In those days, you weren’t supposed to have an outro that was pure noise.”

My Generation

People try to put us d-down (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we get around (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

Why don’t you all f-fade away (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Don’t try to dig what we all s-s-s-say (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m not trying to ’cause a big s-s-sensation (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-g-generation (talkin’ ’bout my generation)

My generation
This is my generation, baby

Why don’t you all f-fade away (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
And don’t try to d-dig what we all s-s-say (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m not trying to ’cause a b-big s-s-sensation (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I’m just talkin’ ’bout my g-g-generation (talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby
My my my generation

People try to put us d-down (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we g-g-get around (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Yeah, I hope I die before I get old (talkin’ ’bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby
My my my generation

(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation
(Talkin’ ’bout my generation) this is my generation

Lovin’ Spoonful – Nashville Cats

In 1966, Bob Dylan did something extraordinary when he went to Nashville to record an album. He left his band behind, in order to record with session players known as the Nashville Cats. That album he made was a masterpiece, ‘Blonde on Blonde”.

John Sebastian apparently held Nashville musicians in high esteem. According to one account, the song developed after the Lovin’ Spoonful was in Nashville for a concert, and while sitting at a bar, were blown away by the guitar playing of Danny Gatton. Sebastian wrote the song and it peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100 in 1967.

John Sebastian on writing the song…it is a bit long but interesting:

It happened to me quite by accident. First of all I was a tremendous fan of the music coming out of Nashville and the south at that time. Sometimes it was Memphis or Muscle Shoals but I didn’t know that, I was just responding to the music. I knew that when you cut records here, you could finish an album in a day in a half! But the ‘Spoonful played in Nashville in ’65 or so. We finished our show at the Fairgrounds Auditorium–the biggest thing in town. We felt pretty good about it and went back to the Holiday Inn and to the beer bar in the basement and get some beers and this guy comes in–goes and sits in the corner. There wasn’t even a stage. He pulls out a guitar and he is absolutely stunning. He starts off with something Chet Aktins-y and then he starts to get these bends and pedal steel tones and then multiple bends and then more jazz chords. Now we’re in “hillbilly jazz.” By the time this guy finished, me and (Lovin’ Spoonfuls) Zal Yanovsky we went up to our room. In those days, the ‘Spoonful were still sharing rooms, and we sit on the edge of our beds and go ‘How could this be?’ We are playing the big joint in town and this guy is in a beer bar. He can play rings around us. How does this work? Are we just four guys with long hair? It was years before we figured out that the kid had been a young Danny Gatton making spare change. But it traumatized us for a while.

The song actually was written a couple of weeks after our Nashville encounter. I was in Long Island somewhere. I saw an album cover –years later–Zal and I were in a record store–and I go “Oh my God, this is the guy from the beer bar.” Danny Gatton fans have sent me a stack of his cds and I can’t understand how he did the first damn thing (laughs).

 

From Songfacts

This song is a celebration of the remarkable musicianship of Nashville, Tennessee guitar pickers who have been “Playin’ since they’s babies.” John Sebastian held for the Nashville musicians in very high esteem.

The lyrics refer to the Sun Records company. While Sun was best known for first recording Elvis Presley, it also released songs by Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Roy Orbison

Nashville Cats

[Chorus]
Nashville cats, play clean as country water
Nashville cats, play wild as mountain dew
Nashville cats, been playin’ since they’s babies
Nashville cats, get work before they’re two

Well, there’s thirteen hundred and fifty two
Guitar pickers in Nashville
And they can pick more notes than the number of ants
On a Tennessee ant hill
Yeah, there’s thirteen hundred and fifty two
Guitar cases in Nashville
And any one that unpacks ‘is guitar could play
Twice as better than I will

Yeah, I was just thirteen, you might say I was a
Musical proverbial knee-high
When I heard a couple new-sounding tunes on the tubes
And they blasted me sky-high
And the record man said every one is a yellow sun
Record from Nashville
And up north there ain’t nobody buys them
And I said, “But I Will”

And it was

[Chorus]

Well, there’s sixteen thousand eight hundred ‘n’ twenty one
Mothers from Nashville
All their friends play music, and they ain’t uptight
If one of the kids will
Because it’s custom made for any mothers son
To be a guitar picker in Nashville
And I sure am glad I got a chance to say a word about
The music and the mothers from Nashville

[Chorus]

Kick it

 

 

Beatles – I Want You (She’s So Heavy)

This song fits in well with the harder blues that was going on at this time. It’s really heavy for a Beatles song or any song. Many guitars were layered at the end when it abruptly stops. It took me a few listens to warm up to it but when I did…I really liked it. John’s guitar echoing the vocal and Paul’s adventurous bass playing on this recording is great.

The song is a simple love song from John to Yoko. Totally opposite of his wordplay songs of the past, in this one he is straight forward. He got right to the point…his quote on this song was “When you’re drowning, you don’t say ‘I would be incredibly pleased if someone would have the foresight to notice me drowning and come and help me,’ you just scream”  

This was the first song worked on for their last recorded album Abbey Road…and the last one mixed. They started it at Trident Studios…not Abbey Road. This song shows just how good of musicians they were in 1969. This song is not an easy song and certainly took a lot of work to meld together. Different time signatures and John’s singing and playing… it syncs up well on the verses.

Billy Preston played organ on this song.

George Harrison: “This is very heavy,” “This is good because it’s really basically a bit like a blues. The riff that he sings and plays is really a very basic blues-type thing. But again, it’s very original to a John-type song. And the middle bit is great. John has an amazing thing with his timing. He always comes across with sort of different timing things.

From Songfacts

John Lennon wrote this about Yoko Ono – the couple were married in March 1969, about six months before the Abbey Road album was released. Lennon was experimenting with a heavy blues sound, so the song has few lyrics and long stretches of repeated chords. “Every time I pick up the guitar I sing about Yoko and that’s how I’m influenced,” Lennon said at the time. 

Taken on its own, the lyric is very basic, repeating just a few simple lines like:

I want you so bad
It’s driving me mad

Soon after Abbey Road was released, a news magazine show called 24 Hours read the lyrics out loud, taking a derisive tone. Lennon replied: “To me that’s a damn sight better lyric than ‘Walrus’ or ‘Eleanor Rigby’ because its progression to me. And if I want to write songs with no words or one word… maybe that’s Yoko’s influence.”

The rhythm was based on Mel Torme’s song “Coming Home Baby.”

With the exception of “Revolution 9,” this was The Beatles longest song.

John Lennon sang this monofonic, as some of the troubadours sang in the Middle Ages: There is no chord behind the melody, but an instrument follows the singer’s melody. The song ends with an orchestra arrangement, which was Lennon’s idea, and is very much similar to the end of “Entry of the Gods into Valhalla” in “Das Rheingold” by Richard Wagner. 

George Harrison played a Moog synthesizer on this track. It is one of the first uses of the instrument, which was custom-made for Harrison.

The guitars were overdubbed many times to get a layered sound.

This song contains an accidental background lyric. On stereo, play the song at 4:30 and listen very closely to the left speaker. In the bass break after John’s scream, you can faintly hear someone say, “What was that about!?” presumably in response to the scream.

I Want You (She’s So Heavy)

I want you
I want you so bad
I want you
I want you so bad
It’s driving me mad
It’s driving me mad

I want you
I want you so bad, babe
I want you
I want you so bad
It’s driving me mad
It’s driving me mad

I want you
I want you so bad
I want you
I want you so bad
It’s driving me mad
It’s driving me mad

I want you
I want you so bad, babe
I want you
I want you so bad
It’s driving me mad
It’s driving me mad

She’s so heavy
Heavy, heavy, heavy, heavy

I want you
I want you so bad
I want you
I want you so bad
It’s driving me mad
It’s driving me mad

I want you
I want you so bad, babe
I want you
You know I want you so bad
It’s driving me mad
It’s driving me mad

Yeah, she’s so

Jimi Hendrix – Hey Joe

“Hey Joe” was written by a singer named Billy Roberts, who was part of the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early ’60s. This was Billy’s most well-known song.

This is the song that started it all for Hendrix. After being discharged from the US Army in 1962, he worked as a backing musician for The Isley Brothers and Little Richard, and in 1966 performed under the name Jimmy James in the group Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. Hendrix introduced “Hey Joe” to the band and added it to their setlist. During a show at the Greenwich Village club Cafe Wha?, Chas Chandler of The Animals was in the audience, and he knew instantly that Hendrix was the man to record the song.

This is one of the few Hendrix tracks with female backing vocals. They were performed by a popular trio called the Breakaways (Jean Hawker, Margot Newman, and Vicki Brown), who were brought in by producer Chas Chandler.

The song peaked at #6 in the UK Charts in 1966.

From Songfacts

 The song is structured as a conversation between two men, with “Joe” explaining to the other that he caught his woman cheating and plans to kill her. They talk again, and Joe explains that he did indeed shoot her, and is headed to Mexico.

Billy Roberts copyrighted this song in 1962, but never released it (he issued just one album, Thoughts Of California in 1975). In 1966, several artists covered the song, including a Los Angeles band called The Leaves (their lead singer was bassist Jim Pons, who joined The Turtles just before they recorded their Happy Together album), whose version was a minor hit, reaching #31 in the US. Arthur Lee’s group Love also recorded it that year, as did The Byrds, whose singer David Crosby had been performing the song since 1965. These were all uptempo renditions.

The slow version that inspired Hendrix to record this came from a folk singer named Tim Rose, who played it in a slow arrangement on his 1967 debut album and issued it as a single late in 1966. Rose was a popular singer/songwriter for a short time in the Greenwich Village scene, but quickly faded into obscurity before a small comeback in the ’90s. He died in 2002 at age 62.

Chandler convinced Hendrix to join him in London, and he became Jimi’s producer and manager. Teaming Hendrix with Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell, Chandler had the group – known as The Jimi Hendrix Experience – record “Hey Joe,” and released it as a single in the UK in December 1966. It climbed to #6 in February 1967, as Hendrix developed a reputation as an electrifying performer and wildly innovative guitarist.

America was a tougher nut to crack – when the song was released there in April, it went nowhere.

The song incorporates many elements of blues music, including a F-C-G-D-A chord progression and a story about infidelity and murder. This led many to believe it was a much older (possibly traditional) song, but it was an original composition.

Hendrix played this live for the first time at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. It was the first time the group performed in America.

This was released in Britain with the flip side “Stone Free,” which was the first song Hendrix wrote for The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

The song was released in the UK on the Polydor label in a one-single deal. Hendrix then signed to the Track label, which was set up by Kit Lambert, producer for The Who.

Dick Rowe of Decca Records turned down Hendrix for a deal, unimpressed with both “Hey Joe” and “Stone Free.” Rowe also turned away the Beatles four years earlier.

The Hendrix version omits the first verse, where Joe buys the gun:

Hey Joe, where you goin’ with that money in your hand?
Chasin’ my woman, she run off with another man
Goin downtown, buy me a .44

In the original (and most versions pre-Hendrix), Joe also kills his wife’s lover when he catches them in bed together.

This was the last song performed at Woodstock in 1969. The festival was scheduled to end at midnight on Sunday, August 17 (the third day), but it ran long and Hendrix didn’t go on until Monday around 9 a.m. There weren’t many attendees left, but Hendrix delivered a legendary performance.

While Jimi’s version is by far the most famous, “Hey Joe” has been recorded by over 1000 artists. In America, three versions charted:

The Leaves (#31, 1966)
Cher (#94, 1967)
Wilson Pickett (#59, 1969)

Hendrix is the only artist to chart with the song in the UK, although a completely different song called “Hey Joe” was a #1 hit there for Frankie Laine in 1963.

Some of the notable covers include:
Shadows of Knight (1966)
Music Machine (1966)
The Mothers Of Invention (1967)
Deep Purple (1967)
King Curtis (1968)
Roy Buchanan (1973)
Patti Smith (1974)
Soft Cell (1983)
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (1986)
The Offspring (1991)
Eddie Murphy (1993 – yes, the comedian)
Walter Trout (2000)
Popa Chubby (2001)
Robert Plant (2002)
Brad Mehldau Trio (2012)

The liner notes for Are You Experienced? say this song is “A blues arrangement of an old cowboy song that’s about 100 years old.” >>

The phrase “Hey Joe” is something men in the Philippines often shout when they see an American. Ted Lerner wrote a book about his experiences there called Hey, Joe: A Slice Of The City-An American In Manilla.

In an early demo version, Hendrix is caught off guard by the sound of his voice in the headphones, and can be heard on the recording saying, “Oh, Goddamn!” Then telling Chas Chandler in the booth, “Hey, make the voice a little lower and the band a little louder.” Hendrix was always insecure about his vocal talents, but thought if Dylan could swing it, so could he.

6,346 guitarists played “Hey Joe” simultaneously in the town of Wroclaw, Poland on May 1, 2009, breaking a world record for most guitarists playing a single song.

The BBC apologized after “Hey Joe” was played following a report on the Oscar Pistorius trial, following the disabled athlete’s shooting of his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. (The song includes the lines: “Hey Joe, where you going with that gun in your hand? I’m going out to shoot my old lady, you know I caught her messing around with another man.”)

This was one of five bonus tracks added to the album Are You Experienced? when it was re-released in 1997. The only song on the album not written by Hendrix, it is credited to Billy Roberts.

Not much is known about the song’s writer Billy Roberts, who apparently got in a car accident in the ’90s that left him impaired. Royalties from this song go to him through the publisher Third Palm Music.

This was used in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump when Forrest starts a fight at a Black Panthers gathering, but the song wasn’t included on the official soundtrack.

Hey Joe

Hey Joe, where you goin’ with that gun in your hand?
Hey Joe, I said where you goin’ with that gun in your hand?
Alright.
I’m goin down to shoot my old lady

You know I caught her messin’ ’round with another man.
I’m goin’ down to shoot my old lady
You know I caught her messin’ ’round with another man.

And that ain’t too cool.
(Ah-backing vocal on each line)
Uh, hey Joe, I heard you shot your woman down
You shot her down now.

Uh, hey Joe, I heard you shot you old lady down
You shot her down to the ground. Yeah!
Yes, I did, I shot her

You know I caught her messin’ ’round
Messin’ ’round town.
Uh, yes I did, I shot her
You know I caught my old lady messin’ ’round town.

And I gave her the gun and I shot her!
Alright
(Ah! Hey Joe)
Shoot her one more time again, baby!
Yeah.
(Hey Joe!)
Ah, dig it!
Ah! Ah!
(Joe where you gonna go?)
Oh, alright.
Hey Joe, said now
(Hey)
uh, where you gonna run to now, where you gonna run to?
Yeah.
(where you gonna go?)
Hey Joe, I said
(Hey)
where you goin’ to run
to now, where you, where you gonna go?
(Joe!)
Well, dig it!
I’m goin’ way down south, way down south
(Hey)
way down south to Mexico way! Alright!
(Joe)
I’m goin’ way down south
(Hey, Joe)
way down where I can be free!
(where you gonna…)
Ain’t no one gonna find me babe!
(…go?)
Ain’t no hangman gonna
(Hey, Joe)
he ain’t gonna put a rope around me!
(Joe where you gonna.)
You better belive it right now!
(…go?)
I gotta go now!
Hey, hey, hey Joe
(Hey Joe)
you better run on down!
(where you gonna…)
Goodbye everybody. Ow!
(…go?)
Hey, hey Joe, what’d I say
(Hey… Joe)
run on down.
(where you gonna go?

 

Aretha Franklin – Think

Aretha equals greatness. I always think of the Blues Brothers movie this was featured in years after it was released. Franklin wrote this with Teddy White, who was her husband and manager. In the song, Aretha sings about freedom and respect for women.

The song peaked at #7 in the Billboard 100 and #26 in the UK in 1968.

When I’m asked who my favorite female singers are…Aretha always comes up. Her soul had soul. She could take a mediocre song and make it great. I’ve heard her do songs such as “You Light Up My Life” and put life and soul in them.

From Songfacts

Jerry Wexler, who worked with Franklin on many of her hit songs, produced this track at the Atlantic Records recording studios in New York. Members of the Muscle Shoals rhythm section played at the session.

This song was released on May 2, 1968, less than a month after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4. Franklin’s family was close to King, and Aretha attended his funeral. The song’s insistant refrain of “freedom” evoked one of King’s famous quotes: “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last.”

Franklin performed this in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi. The Blues Brothers themselves also recorded the song, which was released as the B-side of their 1989 UK single “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love.”

This was Franklin’s sixth #1 single on the R&B chart.

Leading up to the 2018 midterm elections in America, Levi’s used this in a commercial encouraging people to vote. The spot mostly used the “freedom” part of the song.

Think

You better think (think)
Think about what you’re trying to do to me
Think (think, think)
Let your mind go, let yourself be free

Let’s go back, let’s go back
Let’s go way on, way back when
I didn’t even know you
You couldn’t have been too much more than ten (just a child)
I ain’t no psychiatrist, I ain’t no doctor with degrees
But, it don’t take too much high IQ’s
To see what you’re doing to me

You better think (think)
Think about what you’re trying to do to me
Yeah, think (think, think)
Let your mind go, let yourself be free

Oh, freedom (freedom), freedom (freedom)
Oh, freedom, yeah, freedom
Freedom (freedom), oh oh freedom (freedom)
Freedom, oh freedom

Hey, think about it, think about it

There ain’t nothing you could ask
I could answer you but I won’t (I won’t)
But I was gonna change, but I’m not
If you keep doing things I don’t

You better think (think)
Think about what you’re trying to do to me
Think (think)
Let your mind go, let yourself be free

People walking around everyday
Playing games, taking scores
Trying to make other people lose their minds
Ah, be careful you don’t lose yours, oh

Think (think)
Think about what you’re trying to do to me, ooh
Think (think)
Let your mind go, let yourself be free

You need me (need me)
And I need you (don’t you know)
Without eachother there ain’t nothing people can do, oh

Think about it, baby (What are you trying to do me)
Yeah, oh baby, think about it now, yeah
(Think about, forgiveness, dream about forgiveness)
To the ball, forgiveness
Think about it baby
To the ball, forgiveness
To the ball, forgiveness

Temptations – Cloud Nine

This was written by Motown writers Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, who had written earlier Temptations hits “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” and “Just My Imagination.” Love the bass in this song.

This was a new sound for The Temptations. It was psychedelic soul-funk similar to Sly & the Family Stone, rather than the earlier smooth Soul they were known for. The song peaked at #6 in the Billboard 100 in 1969.

The Temptations all together had 4 number 1 hits, 15 Top Ten hits, and 53 songs in the Billboard 100.

This was the first Motown song to win a Grammy. It won for Best Rhythm & Blues Performance By A Duo Or Group, Vocal Or Instrumental in 1968.

From Songfacts

 

This was the first Temptations song recorded with new lead singer Dennis Edwards. David Ruffin, their original leader, was fired after he missed a gig. Ruffin became very difficult to work with when Motown refused to bill the group as “David Ruffin and The Temptations,” as they had done with “Diana Ross and The Supremes.”

The lyrics could be interpreted to be about drugs, which would go against The Temptations clean-cut image. They knew Whitfield and Strong didn’t do drugs, however, so they didn’t have a problem with the lyrics.

This was the first Motown song to use a wah-wah pedal. A white guitarist named Dennis Coffey brought it to a Motown workshop and played it for Whitfield while he was arranging this song. Whitfield loved the way it worked and had Coffey join the Motown house band when they recorded the track.

Whitfield used Coffey on many more sessions, including the seminal track “War.” Coffey, who had a hit on his own with “Scorpio,” considers his work on “Cloud Nine” some of his best. “It’s kicking major ass,” he told Songfacts. “That groove was so funky it’s amazing.”

Whitfield and Strong wrote this shortly after the songwriting team of Holland/Dozier/Holland left Motown. Holland/Dozier/Holland wrote many of the hits for the label, so it was a big boost for Motown when Whitfield and Strong stepped up and wrote another hit.

The week after this was released, Motown head Berry Gordy released Marvin Gaye’s version of “Heard It Through The Grapevine,” which until then he refused to release because he did not think it was a hit.

Cloud Nine

Oh ho, ho ho ho, ooh, hoo
Childhood part of my life, it wasn’t very pretty
You see, I was born and raised in the slums of the city
It was a one room shack that slept ten other children besides me
We hardly had enough food or room to sleep
It was hard times
Needed something to ease my troubled mind
Listen, my father didn’t know the meaning of work
He disrespected mama, and treated us like dirt
I left home, seekin’ a job that I never did find
Depressed and downhearted I took to cloud nine
I’m doin’ fine, up here on cloud nine
Listen one more time I’m doin’ fine, up here on cloud nine
Folks down there tell me
They say, give yourself a chance son, don’t let life pass you by
But the world of reality is a rat race where only the strongest survive
It’s a dog eat dog world, and that ain’t no lie
Listen, it ain’t even safe no more to walk the streets at night
I’m doin’ fine, on cloud nine
Let me tell you about cloud nine

Cloud nine, you can be what you wanna be
(Cloud nine) you ain’t got no responsibility
And ev’ry man, ev’ry man is free
(Cloud nine) and you’re a million miles from reality
I wanna say I love the life I live
And I’m gonna live the life I love up here on cloud nine
I, I, I, I, I, I I’m riding high
On cloud nine, you’re as free as a bird in flight
(Cloud nine) there’s no diff’rence between day and night
(Cloud nine) it’s a world of love and harmony
(Cloud nine) you’re a million miles from reality

Cloud nine, you can be what you wanna be
Cloud nine you ain’t got no responsibility
Cloud nine, and ev’ry man in this world is free
(Cloud nine) and you’re a million miles from reality
(Cloud nine) you can be what you wanna be

The Byrds – So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star —-Powerpop Friday

This song peaked at #29 in 1967 in the Billboard 100. This is the first hit song to use a variation of the term “rock star” in the title. Rock had been around since about 1955, but the term “rock star” didn’t get talked about until the ’70s, when it became a way to describe the most glamorous and intriguing artists.

The song was written by Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman. It was written asa tongue-in-cheek look on fame and the pop music industry.

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers often covered this song. Petty was a huge fan of The Byrds, and also loved a good cautionary rock star tale.

From Songfacts

Many interpreted it as a swipe at the success of manufactured rock bands like The Monkees, but Roger McGuinn has confirmed that he and Chris Hillman were not writing about The Monkees, but instead the whole music business.

Even after the term became ubiquitous, it was rarely used in song titles; the Dutch pop group Champagne hit #83 with “Rock And Roll Star” in 1977, but it wasn’t until 2007, when the rock era had long since ended, that songs with that title in the term began to proliferate. That year brought us:

“Party Like A Rock Star” – Shop Boyz (#2)
“Rockstar” – Nickelback (#6)
“Do It Just Like A Rockstar” – Freak Nasty (#45)
“Rock Star” – Hannah Montana (#81)

It was mostly hip-hop acts that used the term from then on, notably Rihanna with “Rockstar 101” and Post Malone with “Rockstar.”

The recording was dubbed with the sound of screaming girls, taped at a Byrds show in Bournemouth, England during the band’s 1965 UK tour.

South African jazz musician Hugh Masekela contributed the clarion trumpet solo.

 

So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star

So you want to be a rock and roll star?
Then listen now to what I say
Just get an electric guitar
Then take some time

And learn how to play
And with your hair swung right
And your pants too tight
It’s gonna be all right

Then it’s time to go downtown
Where the agent man won’t let you down
Sell your soul to the company
Who are waiting there to sell plastic ware

And in a week or two
If you make the charts
The girls’ll tear you apart
The price you paid for your riches and fame

Was it all a strange game?
You’re a little insane
The money, the fame, and the public acclaim
Don’t forget who you are

You’re a rock and roll star
La, la, la, la, la, la, la