Raspberries – Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)

This is my second song pick for Hanspostcard’s song draft. The Raspberries  Overnight Sensation (Hit Record).

 Bruce Springsteen: “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record) should go down as one of the great mini-rock-opera masterpieces of all time”

In the nineties I bought the Raspberries greatest hits. I listened with headphones to each song until I heard this one. I stopped and listened to it repeatedly. It’s one of those songs that goes beyond other songs…It is truly a pop-rock symphony. I was amazed that I never heard this before.

Overnight Sensation (Hit Record) is an epic, ambitious, grand, lofty, extravagant, and brilliant song from the Raspberries. They were swinging for the fences when they made this song and they hit it out of the park. It’s on the album Starting Over released in 1974.

Put some headphones on and listen to this completely to the very end… When I hear it, I think this is what it would sound like if The Who, Beach Boys, and Beatles made a song together…this would be it. Musically you have a little of everything. Sliding bass lines, tasteful guitar licks, great vocals, a sax solo that gives way to more lyrics as the song morphs into an AM radio sound… and then comes a solo piano.

Stay until the very end because they dupe you into a fake ending and the drums will come in as if the world is going to end. Then… a Beach Boys final huge crescendo wave will wash over you like a warm summer moonlit night. It’s a wall of sound of ecstasy that you wish would go on forever.

The song is about trying to make it in the music business. It’s Eric Carmen singing with desperation wanting a hit record on the radio. After this album, the Raspberries were no more. This was Eric Carmen at his absolute best before he went solo and became an ordinary pop singer. He would never try anything this ambitious again.

Certain songs we all know are timeless. In a perfect world this one deserves to be on that list. I don’t use the word masterpiece a lot but I would consider this song one. The musical arrangement is second to none in terms of arrangement, production, and harmonies.

Although “Go All The Way” was their big hit of their career…this one is in a different league and they never equaled it. Most people don’t know this song and it’s a musical injustice. I only hope more people discover it.

The three best power pop bands of the early to mid-seventies were Big Star, Badfinger, and The Raspberries. Badfinger were the most successful (and they paid dearly for it), Big Star wasn’t even known, and The Raspberries had one top ten hit with few very good minor ones. All three of these bands were too rock for pop radio and too pop for rock radio…in varying degrees they fell into the cracks of history… none of them had long careers.

John Lennon was said to be a fan of the group. He was producing Nilsson’s Pussycats at the same time The Raspberries were making this album at the Record Plant. John supposedly was blown away by Overnight Sensation.

The song peaked at #18 in the Billboard 100 and #22 in Canada in 1974.

Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)
Well I know it sounds funny
But I’m not in it for the money, no
I don’t need no reputation
And I’m not in it for the show

I just want a hit record, yeah
Wanna hear it on the radio
Want a big hit record, yeah
One that everybody’s got to know

Well if the program director don’t pull it
It’s time to get back the bullet
So bring the group down to the station
You’re gonna be an overnight sensation

I’ve been tryin’ to write the lyric
Non-offensive but satiric too
And if you put it in the A-slot
It’s just got to make a mint for you

I fit those words to a good melody
Amazing how success has been ignoring me
So long
I use my bread making demos all day
Writing in the night while in my head I hear
The record play
Hear it play

Hit record, yeah
Wanna hit record, yeah
Wanna hit record, yeah (number one)


John Lennon – (Just Like) Starting Over

Yesterday I posted a Wings song so today I’ll even it up with John.

Great song but every time I hear it…it’s December 1980 again and I’m watching news stories about Lennon’s death. Double Fantasy was a strong comeback album for John…a little more Yoko than I would have liked but a good album all the same.

When it was released Ringo had said John Lennon sounds like Elvis at the beginning of this song…then he said no…he doesn’t sound like Elvis…he is Elvis. John Lennon himself said: “All through the taping of ‘Starting Over,’ I was calling what I was doing ‘Elvis Orbison.’ It’s like Dylan doing Nashville Skyline, except I don’t have any Nashville, being from Liverpool. So I go back to the records I know – Elvis and Roy Orbison and Gene Vincent and Jerry Lee Lewis.”

The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #1 in the UK, #1 in Canada and #2 in New Zealand.

From Songfacts

This song embodied the sense of renewal in Lennon and Yoko’s professional and personal lives during the writing and recording of Double Fantasy. “It was kinda obvious what ‘Starting Over’ was about,” said journalist David Sheff, who did the last major interview with Lennon, to Mojo. “He’d been untrusting of Yoko, she’d been untrusting of him, all that kind of stuff. But in that one song was this incredible optimism and joy.”

This was released in the United States October 27, 1980, which was the same day Mark David Chapman bought the gun he would use to kill Lennon on December 8. “Starting Over,” which came out in the UK on October 24, was Lennon’s first release since 1975. The Double Fantasy album was issued on November 17.

Lennon wrote this while vacationing in Bermuda earlier in the year.

Despite being the first single in five years from one of the most famous musicians on the planet, this song took a while to catch on. In America, it entered the Hot 100 on November 1, 1980 at #38 and made a slow but steady climb up the chart. Here’s the progression:

Nov. 8: #32
Nov. 15: #10
Nov. 22: #9
Nov. 29: #8
Dec. 6: #6
Dec. 13: #4
Dec. 20: #3
Dec. 27: #1

When Lennon was killed, fans quickly scooped up the single along with lots of other Lennon material, but it took a few weeks for the chart to reflect these sales. When it hit #1, it stayed there for five weeks.

This was recorded at The Power Station in New York City. Musicians included Tony Levin on bass, Earl Slick on guitar, and Andy Newmark on drums.

Double Fantasy was released on David Geffen’s record label, DGC. Many labels were competing for the album, but Geffen impressed Lennon when he wrote directly to Yoko and agreed to release it without hearing it first. All of Lennon’s previous albums were released on The Beatles’ label, Apple.

John and Yoko were considering doing a tour when this was climbing the charts.

This was one of the last songs recorded for the album. Lennon was not sure he should record it, but his producer and session musicians convinced him it would be a hit. It became the first single from Double Fantasy.

The day this was released, Yoko Ono hired a skywriter to write “Happy Birthday” above New York.

The copy of Double Fantasy that Mark Chapman asked Lennon to autograph might be the most valuable record in the world. The record, which figured in the court case, not only has Lennon’s autograph but also boasts Chapman’s fingerprints on the cover. In 2003, the record was sold for £525,000 but its value has since rocketed.

(Just Like) Starting Over

Our life together
Is so precious together
We have grown, we have grown
Although our love is still special
Let’s take a chance and fly away
Somewhere alone

It’s been too long since we took the time
No-one’s to blame, I know time flies so quickly
But when I see you darling
It’s like we both are falling in love again
It’ll be just like starting over
Starting over

Everyday we used to make it love
Why can’t we be making love nice and easy
It’s time to spread our wings and fly
Don’t let another day go by my love
It’ll be just like starting over
Starting over

Why don’t we take off alone
Take a trip somewhere far, far away
We’ll be together all alone again
Like we used to in the early days
Well, well, well darling

It’s been too long since we took the time
No-one’s to blame, I know time flies so quickly
But when I see you darling
It’s like we both are falling in love again
It’ll be just like starting over
Starting over

Our life together
Is so precious together
We have grown, we have grown
Although our love still is special
Let’s take a chance and fly away somewhere

(Over and over and over)

Starting over (over and over and over)

(And over and over and over)

(Over and over and over)

(And over and over and over)