Ooh, I know that one!

In addition to publishing this rock music blog every Friday, I also have some fun on Facebook every morning when I post what I call the “daily lyrical puzzler.”  I select a couple of lines of lyrics from a pop/rock song from the ’60s, ’70s or ’80s, and readers are encouraged to try to identify the song title and/or the artist.  To keep others from seeing the answer prematurely, I ask readers to find a way to show me they know the answer without revealing the answer — quote more lyrics from the same song, make some reference to the artist, name the album it came from, that kind of thing.

278223Since we’re all cooped up at home (or should be) and in need of a little entertainment, I thought I’d try a bigger version of the puzzler game by introducing the first installment of Hack’s Back Pages Monthly Lyrics Quiz to test your memory banks!

First, get a paper and pencil.  Second, I have selected 20 different song lyrics for you to mull over.  If you can identify any of them, write your answers down.  Then and only then, scroll down to read the correct answers and see how you did.

I decided to keep this relatively easy by selecting songs that reached #1 on the Billboard Top 40 charts sometime in the ’60s, ’70s or ’80s.  Future quizzes will include lyrics from songs that didn’t dominate the charts but were still very popular in their time.

You can play this game with your quarantine mates, or over the phone with a friend.  At the end is the usual Spotify playlist of all 25 songs from the quiz.  Don’t peek!

And here we go!

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1   “Want some whiskey in your water?  Sugar in your tea?  What’s all these crazy questions they’re askin’ me?”

2   “She’ll only come out at night, the lean and hungry type, nothing is new, I’ve seen her here before…” 

3   “So why on earth should I moan ’cause when I get you alone, you know I feel okay…”

4   “There is a blue one who can’t accept the green one for living with a fat one trying to be a skinny one…”

5   “The full moon is calling, the fever is high, and the wicked wind whispers and moans…”

6   “The man in the silk suit hurries by as he catches the poor old lady’s eye, just for fun he says, ‘get a job’…”

7   “As he rises to her apology, anybody else would surely know, he’s watching her go…”

8   “If I should call you up, invest a dime, and you say you belong to me, and ease my mind…”

9   “Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for, it’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day…”

10   “Feelin’ better now that we’re through, feelin’ better, ’cause I’m over you, I learned my lesson, it left a scar, now I see how you really are…”

11   “Hide it in a hiding place where no one ever goes, put it in your pantry with your cupcakes…”

12   “Hitchin’ on a twilight train, ain’t nothing here that I care to take along, maybe a song to sing when I want…”

13   “Every time I see your face, it reminds me of the places we used to go…”

14   “Love was out to get me, that’s the way it seemed, disappointment haunted all my dreams…”

15   “It was the third of September, that day I’ll always remember, ’cause that was the day that my daddy died…”

16   “Move yourself, you always live your life, never thinking of the future…”

17   “Ooh, your kisses, sweeter than honey, and guess what, so is my money…”

18   “Well, I can’t forget this evening or your face as you were leaving but I guess that’s just the way the story goes…”

19   “Your lights are on, but you’re not home, and your mind is not your own, your heart sweats, your body shakes, another kiss is what it takes…”  

20   “There’ll be good times again for me and you, but we just can’t stay together, don’t you feel it too?…”

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Have you made your guesses?  If so, please SCROLL DOWN:

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ANSWERS:

1   “Mama Told Me Not to Come,” Three Dog Night, 1970

Unknown-226Early in his career, Randy Newman wrote this song about a teen attending his first drinking party and deciding he didn’t like it much.  His version of the song appears on his “12 Songs” LP,  and it’s quite different from the rendition that most people know.  Three Dog Night were known for discovering cool songs by other songwriters and releasing their own arrangement that they turned into big hits.

2   “Maneater,” Daryl Hall & John Oates, 1982

Unknown-227The duo combined to write this catchy danceable song that most people assume is about a woman.  “It was originally written about New York City in the ’80s and its greed, avarice and spoiled riches, and then we changed it a bit to make it sound more like a woman because it would be more relatable,” said John Oates.  It went on to become Hall & Oates’ biggest hit, staying at the top spot for four weeks in late ’82/early ’83.

3   “A Hard Day’s Night,” The Beatles, 1964

Unknown-228After a very long day of recording that stretched well past midnight, Ringo Starr blurted out how tired he was:  “Whew, it’s been a hard day…’s night!”  Filmmaker Richard Lester decided it was a perfect title for his film about a day in the life of The Beatles in the midst of Beatlemania.  John Lennon wrote it and Paul McCartney put on some finishing touches to the bridge.  George Harrison added the jarringly wonderful opening chord.

4   “Everyday People,” Sly and The Family Stone, 1968

images-149The first major act to offer a racially diverse lineup was the perfect group to record Sly Stone’s cheerful song that urges equality and racial harmony.  The lyrics mock the futility of people hating each other, urging instead “I am no better, and neither are you, we are the same whatever we do.”  The song also includes the original line “different strokes for different folks,” which became a popular catchphrase that’s still in use 50 years later.

5   “One of These Nights,” The Eagles, 1975

Unknown-229Glenn Frey, who started writing the music to this track while listening to Spinners and Al Green albums, was looking for a groove that merged rock and disco, with some biting guitar work.  Meanwhile, Don Henley put the lyrics together while he was procrastinating about accomplishing a couple of personal goals.  “It’s really about putting things off,” said Henley.  Frey called it his favorite of the entire Eagles catalog.

6   “The Way It Is,” Bruce Hornsby and The Range, 1986

Unknown-230Hornsby’s first LP was one of the more successful debut albums of the ’80s, spawning three Top 20 singles, including “Every Little Kiss,” “Mandolin Rain” and the #1 hit “The Way It Is.”  The title track makes several references to the civil rights movement and the segregation and inhumanity that reigned in the U.S. before and during that period.  It was a stark reminder in the mid-’80s that we still hadn’t solved these issues.

7   “What a Fool Believes,” The Doobie Brothers, 1978

Unknown-231Michael McDonald joined the Doobies in 1976 and helped the band evolve from straight rock to a more soulful, R&B groove.  This tune, co-written by McDonald and Kenny Loggins, was recorded by both artists at the same time, and both performed it in concerts, sometimes together, but it was The Doobies’ version from their “Minute By Minute” LP that went to the top of the charts and won a Record of the Year Grammy.

8   “Happy Together,” The Turtles, 1967

Unknown-232Critic Denise Sullivan succinctly summed up this irresistible song as “a most sublime slice of pop music heaven.”  She noted its rock ‘n roll martial beat but said it “veered dangerously close to bubblegum.”  The Turtles two primary vocalists, Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, later joined Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, and then morphed into their own ’70s group, Flo and Eddie.

9   “I Can See Clearly Now,” Johnny Nash, 1972

Unknown-233It wouldn’t be until the mid-’70s and Bob Marley’s arrival that reggae found a real following among American music fans.  But in 1972, Houston-born Johnny Nash became the first non-Jamaican to record in Kingston, Jamaica and the first to have a reggae song reach the top of the US charts.  The song, like most reggae tunes, have lyrics which speak proudly of happiness, peace and brotherhood.

10   “You’re No Good,” Linda Ronstadt, 1974

Unknown-234Country star Clint Ballard Jr. wrote this tune back in 1963, and several artists charted with their versions in other countries but stalled on the charts here.  Ronstadt, who had struggled along through her first four albums, signed with Peter Asher in 1974, and the resulting LP, “Heart Like a Wheel,” turned out to be her breakthrough.  Both the album and this song, perhaps one of the best break-up songs ever, both reached #1.

11   “Mrs. Robinson,” Simon and Garfunkel, 1968

Unknown-235Film director Mike Nichols asked Paul Simon to write songs for his upcoming film “The Graduate,” but Nichols didn’t like what Simon submitted, except for “Mrs. Robinson,” which Simon hadn’t finished by the time of the movie’s release, so you hear only the chorus (twice) in the film.  Four months later, Simon and Garfunkel released the completed song on their #1 LP “Bookends,” and the duo became household names.

12   “Cracklin’ Rosie,” Neil Diamond, 1970

Unknown-236Here’s another song that seems to be about a woman, and some fans thought it was about a bottle of wine, but in fact, it’s about a Rosewood guitar Diamond bought from the proceeds of his early hits.  It wasn’t the first song someone wrote about a favorite musical instrument, and it certainly hasn’t been the last either.  The song appeared on Diamond’s first album of substance, titled “Tap Root Manuscript.”

13   “Photograph,” Ringo Starr, 1973

Unknown-237Ringo got significant help from George Harrison on writing and arranging this tune.  They recorded it during sessions for Harrison’s “Living in the Material World” LP in late 1972.  The track features Harrison on guitar, the great Nicky Hopkins on piano and Beatle pal Klaus Voorman on bass.  The poignant lyrics refer to a photograph that remind us that either someone has died, or a relationship has come to an end.

14   “I’m a Believer,” The Monkees, 1966

Unknown-238The young, still-struggling Neil Diamond wrote (and recorded) this tune in early 1966.  The Monkees’ musical director Don Kirshner heard it and decided his new made-for-TV faux rock group should record it for their second album, “More of the Monkees.”  It ended up being the biggest selling single of 1967, and 34 years later, the ’90s band Smash Mouth had a minor hit with their own version of “I’m a Believer” from the “Shrek” film.

15   “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” The Temptations, 1972

Unknown-239David Ruffin had left the famous Motown group in 1968, and now singer Eddie Kendrick was about to do the same, but not before the group scored one last blockbuster hit.  The track is a seven-minute slice of what they called “cinematic soul,” about a deadbeat dad who left his wife and children, told from the viewpoint of one of the kids years later.  The album version, with multiple instrumental solos, went on for nearly 12 minutes.

16   “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” Yes, 1983

Unknown-240One of the best of the ’70s British progressive rock bands, Yes had run out of gas around 1980, but bassist Chris Squire and Alan White ended up teaming up with talented South African musician Trevor Rabin, using his songs and demos as the basis for a new group called Cinema.  But once they convinced singer Jon Anderson to return, they decided to call it another Yes album despite its more commercial sound.  The lead song reached #1.

17   “Respect,” Aretha Franklin, 1967

Unknown-241The late great Queen of Soul had been recording for Columbia for five years, wasting her volcanic talents on boring middle-of-the-road material.  Once she jumped to R&B-leaning Atlantic in 1967, they immediately put her to work on energetic soul songs.  Her first single on Atlantic, arguably her peak career moment, was a fierce call for basic human respect and became the unofficial anthem of the women’s movement.

18   “Without You,” Harry Nilsson, 1971

Unknown-242Pete Ham of Badfinger wrote this power ballad, which Badfinger also recorded, but when Harry Nilsson recorded his heartfelt version, it rocketed to #1 in early 1972 as the first single from the popular “Nilsson Schmilsson” album.  It was very unusual for the great songwriter to cover another writer’s material, but in this instance, it proved to be a great choice for him.

19   “Addicted to Love,” Robert Palmer, 1986

Unknown-243The distinctive music video of this song certainly helped push it to the top of the pop charts in 1986.  It features Palmer at the microphone with four heavily stylized female models, appearing almost like mannequins but lined up as background singers with guitars.  Palmer had planned on recording this track with Chaka Khan in a duet, but her label wouldn’t release her to do it, although she still got credit for the vocal arrangement.

20   “It’s Too Late,” Carole King, 1971

Unknown-244Instead of bitterness, King’s song (with lyrics by collaborator Toni Stern) assumes a more practical, less emotional attitude of blamelessness about the end of a romantic relationship.  It’s interesting to note that Stern wrote the lyrics just after her affair with James Taylor came to an end, for he plays guitar and sings on King’s “Tapestry” album.  The song held the #1 spot for four weeks and won a Record of the Year Grammy.

120307name-that-tune1

‘Cause you got to have friends

Valentine’s Day is generally considered a holiday to celebrate romantic love.  But this year, I’m making the suggestion that we also regard it as a day to celebrate the love of a good friend.

Friendships occur throughout our lives, sometimes waxing and waning as we age.  But some friendships last for decades, or even our entire lives.

 

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This weekend my wife invited several of her best friends from high school days in Cleveland, most of whom are turning 60 this year, to celebrate their milestone together here in Malibu and Santa Barbara.  A few of their daughters, who have been friends since they were toddlers, are attending as well.  I anticipate much hilarity, good-natured teasing, embarrassing old photos, plenty of wine and many sincere hugs of gratitude for the blessings of deep friendships.

My contribution to the celebration is this week’s post on “Hack’s Back Pages,” which singles out a dozen great classic songs about friends, and another ten songs designated as “honorable mention.”  I encourage the ladies, and all my readers, to use this Spotify playlist as a soundtrack for your weekend.

There’s nothing like friends, old and new!

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“You’re a Friend of Mine,” Clarence Clemons & Jackson Browne, 1985

Unknown-148As the sax player in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, Clemons was pretty well known when he decided to do a solo project in 1985.  Songwriter/producer Michael Walden wrote this joyous song and gave it to Clemons to record on his “Hero” album.  Clemons invited Jackson Browne to sing it with him as a duet, and it reached #18 on the pop charts that year.  The lyrics underscore the importance of unconditional reliability among close friends:  “Oh, you can depend on me, over and over, over and over, know that I intend to be the one who always makes you laugh until you cry, and you can call on me until the day you die, years may come and go, here’s one thing I know, all my life, you’re a friend of mine…”

“You’ve Got a Friend,” James Taylor and Carole King, 1971

4b80a6e11ccb0309c04bc45047e467b7--photo-tapestry-carole-kingProbably the song about friends that tugs at most people’s emotional heartstrings is this heartwarming Carole King tune, which appears on her monumental 1971 album, “Tapestry.”  James Taylor was recording his “Mud Slide Slim” LP next door in the same L.A. studio, and they both played on each other’s recording sessions.  Once Taylor heard this song, he pleaded images-89with King to allow him to record his own version, and she agreed.  (Quite the friendly gesture, no?)  It went on to become Taylor’s only #1 single and one of his signature tunes.  The two friends reunited in 2010 to record and perform this song and many others from these fondly loved albums:  “You just call out my name, and you know wherever I am, I’ll come running to see you again, winter, spring, summer or fall, all you’ve got to do is call, and I’ll be there, hey ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend…”

“Friends,” Bette Midler, 1972

Unknown-149Actor/musician Buzzy Linhart was part of the Greenwich Village scene in the late ’60s and early ’70s as an instrumentalist and producer, working with everyone from Richie Havens and Phil Ochs to John Sebastian and Jimi Hendrix.  Bette Midler was also part of that scene, performing periodically in the Continental Baths.  Linhart and Mark “Moogy” Klingman came up with the loose, fun tune “(You Got to Have) Friends,” which Midler heard and immediately recorded in a campy arrangement that ended up entitled just “Friends” on her debut LP “The Divine Miss M.”  It was one of three singles released from the album, and became her unofficial theme song:  “Standing at the edge of the world, boys, waiting for my new friends to come, I don’t care if I’m hungry or poor, I’m gonna get some of them, ’cause you got to have friends, ’cause you got to have friends…”

“See My Friends,” The Kinks, 1965

Unknown-155Ray Davies has said this song is about the death of his older sister, Renée, who lived for a time in Ontario.  Upon her return to England, she gave Davies his first guitar for his 13th birthday.  She then fell ill, owing to an undiagnosed hole in her heart, and died while dancing at a night club.  The lyrics to “See My Friends” deal with mourning the loss of a loved one, and the need to have friends to lean on.  Released in July 1965, this Kinks single reached #10 in Britain but not at all in the US, which severely disappointed Davies:  “See my friends layin’ across the river, she is gone and now there’s no one else to take her place, she is gone and now there’s no one else to love, ‘cept my friends…”

“Be My Friend,” Free, 1970

Unknown-151Vocalist Paul Rodgers and bassist Andy Fraser co-wrote this somewhat serious track from Free’s third LP “Highway.”  It was written with vocalist Paul Kossoff in mind, who struggled with emotional insecurity made worse by the fame the band got from their huge 1970 single “All Right Now.”  Kossoff said he loved the song, but he nonetheless suffered a breakdown that led to the premature dissolution of the band.  The lyrics speak of how crucial it is to have a friend to help us through our struggles:  “All I need is a friend, someone to give a helping hand when I’m afraid in the night, someone to squeeze me and tell me it’s all right, you know I worry such a lot, and I would give all I’ve got just to have someone believe in me, just to do that and put me back on evenly, baby baby, be my friend…”

“Good Friends,” Joni Mitchell and Michael McDonald, 1985

Unknown-152By the mid-’80s, Mitchell had developed a bitterness about the music business as well as conservative government policies, and it showed up in her work, especially on her 1985 LP “Dog Eat Dog.”  But there were exceptions, especially the leadoff track “Good Friends,” a marvelous duet with singer Michael McDonald.  The adjacent photo is from a compelling music video of the song that’s worth watching.  The lyrics describes her complicated relationship with her then-husband Larry Klein, who she said was more a friend and fellow musician than a spouse:   “I have to come and see you maybe once or twice a year, I think nothing would suit me better (right now) than some downtown atmosphere in the dance halls and the galleries, or betting in the OTB, synchronized, like magic, good friends, you and me…”

“Friends,” Elton John, 1971

elton-john-and-songwriter-bernie-taupin-attend-a-private-party-at-universal-studios-on-july-10-1973-in-universal-city-california-photo-by-ed-caraeffgetty-imagesEarly in their career, Elton John and lyricist Bernie Taupin were eager to get their songs exposed to audiences in as many ways as possible, so they accepted an invitation to write songs for the soundtrack of a quiet little French film called “Friends.”  It was released in early 1971 to little or no fanfare, but the accompanying “Friends” LP got attention because John had already scored his big hit “Your Song” by then, as well as his acclaimed “Tumbleweed Connection” album.  I have always had a soft spot for the John-Taupin songs on this neglected LP, particularly the title track, which I have adopted almost as a mantra for my life:  “Making friends for the world to see, let the people know that you got what you need, with a friend at hand, you will, see the light, if your friends are there, then everything’s all right…”

“You’re My Best Friend,” Queen, 1975

queen-youre-my-best-friend-1976-36While most of Queen’s voluminous song catalog was written by either vocalist Freddie Mercury or guitarist Brian May, a few were composed by bassist John Deacon.  One of his best efforts was “You’re My Best Friend,” a love song to his wife that appeared on Queen’s breakthrough LP “A Night at the Opera” in 1975.  As we all know by now, it was “Bohemian Rhapsody” that stole the show on that album, but “You’re My Best Friend” was no slouch, reaching #7 on the UK singles chart and #16 in the US:  “Oh, you’re the best friend that I ever had, I’ve been with you such a long time, you’re my sunshine and I want you to know that my feelings are true, I really love you, oh, you’re my best friend…”

“Old Friends/Bookends,” Simon and Garfunkel, 1968

Unknown-154How extraordinary that Simon wrote such worldly-wise songs as this one when he was only 27.  The first side of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bookends” album was an impressive song cycle that looks at several stages of life, including teenage angst, young married travelers, midlife divorce, and the declining years.  “Old Friends” and its followup track “Bookends” offer a sophisticated, poetic look at old age and the value of lifelong friendships and cherished memories:  “Can you imagine us years from today, sharing a park bench quietly, how terribly strange to be 70, old friends, melody brushes the same years, silently sharing the same fears…”

“Hello Old Friend,” James Taylor, 1974

Unknown-153A friend doesn’t always have to be a person.  It could be a pet, or even a favorite place that one continually returns to.  For Taylor, that place is Martha’s Vineyard, where he had spent many summers as a boy, and it’s where he built a home for himself and then-wife Carly Simon to start a family.  He wrote about it in “Hello Old Friend,” a track from his reflective 1974 LP “Walking Man.”  His constant touring during this phase of his life took its toll, and he was always very happy to return to his island home in the woods:  “Hello, old friend, welcome me home again, well, I’ve been away but that’s all over now, say I can stay for October now, stay a while and play, hello, old friend, isn’t it nice to be home again…”

“Can We Still Be Friends?” Todd Rundgren, 1978

Unknown-156Both as the leader of Utopia and as a solo artist, Rundgren has always been more about artistic statements than commercial concerns.  Consequently, his albums and singles have performed respectably but have never been huge hits, except perhaps his 1972 single “Hello It’s Me.”  In 1978, Rundgren enjoyed his third-biggest single “Can We Still Be Friends?” from his “Hermit at Mink Hollow” album.  He has said the song is autobiographical, with lyrics that describe how, despite numerous attempts to fix his relationship with longtime companion Bebe Buell, it wasn’t going to work…but he wanted things to remain amicable:  “Let’s admit we made a mistake, but can we still be friends?  Heartbreak’s never easy to take, but can we still be friends?  Can we still get together sometime?…”

“That’s What Friends Are For,” Dionne Warwick & Friends, 1985

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(Clockwise from upper left): Gladys Knight, Carole Bayer Sager, Burt Bacharach, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Elton John

Written by the great Burt Bacharach and his sometime writing partner Carole Bayer Sager, this hugely popular song was first recorded by Rod Stewart in 1982 for the soundtrack to the comedy film “Night Shift.”  Three years later, it was recorded by Dionne Warwick with help from Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Gladys Knight and released as a charity single for AIDS research and prevention, earning more than $3 million.  It not only spent four weeks at #1 in early 1986, it went on to win the Grammy for Song of the Year for the songwriters, and Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocal for the performers.  It reminds those who are going through challenging times that their friends are always there to support them:  “Keep smiling, keep shining, knowing you can always count on me, for sure, that’s what friends are for, for good times and bad times, I’ll be on your side forever more, that’s what friends are for…” 

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Honorable Mention:

Friends,” The Beach Boys, 1968;  “Thank You for Being a Friend,” Andrew Gold, 1978;  “Friend of the Devil,” The Grateful Dead, 1970; “Waiting on a Friend,” The Rolling Stones, 1981;  “Snowblind Friend,” Steppenwolf, 1970;  “How Many Friends,” The Who, 1975;  “Good Friends,” Livingston Taylor, 1970;  “Thank You Friends,” Big Star, 1978;  “Hello Old Friend,” Eric Clapton, 1976;  “My Best Friend,” Jefferson Airplane, 1967.