We’re captive on the carrousel of time

As the books closed on The Sixties, I didn’t know that several of my favorite artists would be breaking up over the next twelve months.  The Beatles, especially, but also Simon and Garfunkel, and Peter, Paul & Mary.  But not to worry — new talent would soon dominate my horizon, gently grabbing me by the throat and forcing me to take notice.

images-1531970 was the year I learned an important truth about rock music.  Instead of staying in the same lineups year after year, many rock musicians enjoyed playing with different combinations of people.  Guitarists, keyboard players, singers and rhythm sections eagerly sought out opportunities to record with friends and strangers alike.  It was a benign free-for-all, and we all were the beneficiaries of the musical experimentation.    Everyone showed up as guests on each other’s records, a practice that became the norm still in vogue today.

In reviewing the list of more than 380 albums released 50 years ago this year, I was impressed by the diversity of genres and the number of new artists making their debut, from Emerson Lake & Palmer to Emitt Rhodes, from Jimmy Buffett to Black Sabbath.  From this unwieldy offering, I separated “the wheat from the chaff,” as David Crosby would say, and came up with about 25 albums that most inspired and influenced me.  The hard part was selecting the final dozen; most of my “honorable mentions” could easily have made the cut on someone else’s list.

I get criticized sometimes for listening to the music of long-ago decades instead of what’s more recent, but I can’t help it.  When it comes to music, I am a joyful captive on the carrousel of time, and I feel no need to apologize for it!

Immerse yourself in the selections from these albums.  Then go find the whole records and listen to them in their entirety.  Fifty years ago was such a grand year for music!

***************

Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Simon and Garfunkel

Unknown-245At the tender age of 13, my friend Ben and I had dreams of becoming the next Simon and Garfunkel, playing guitars and harmonizing our way through a repertoire of folk and acoustic rock.  We learned virtually the entire S&G catalog, from early rudimentary works like “April Come She Will” through more sophisticated tracks like “America.”  When “Bridge Over Troubled Water” came out in the first weeks of 1970, it was almost overwhelming to us how awesome the songs were, especially the iconic title tune, carried, for the first time on an S&G track, by piano.  Unable to do it justice on guitars, we focused instead on “The Boxer,” released nine months earlier as a hit single.  Just as special to me was “The Only Living Boy in New York,” followed by “Song for the Asking” and “So Long Frank Lloyd Wright.”  It was obvious that Simon was blossoming as a songwriter, toying with rock beats (“Baby Driver,” “Keep the Customer Satisfied”), South American rhythms (“El Condor Pasa”) and even impromptu drumming on a piano bench (“Cecilia”).  The album won multiple Grammys and sold more than 25 million copies.

“Moondance,” Van Morrison

Unknown-246Full confession:  For much of the ’70s, my knowledge and appreciation of Van the Man’s music was limited to his ubiquitous 1967 single “Brown-Eyed Girl.”  I wasn’t hip to this excellent LP until many years after its release.  My loss.  He was as important a part of the singer-songwriter movement as others whose work was far more successful commercially.  Morrison largely abandoned the folk-jazz explorations of 1968’s “Astral Weeks” for the R&B/folk rock he would prefer for most of his career from then on.  “Two horns and a rhythm section — that’s the kind of backing I like best,” he said in 1972.  Side One of “Moondance” in particular (the first five songs) ranks right up there as one of the best album sides of the year — “And It Stoned Me,” “Moondance,” “Crazy Love,” “Caravan” and “Into the Mystic” all ended up as FM radio staples for years to come, carried by Morrison’s delicious growl.

“Deja Vu,” Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Unknown-247If ever an album deserved to be fleshed out into a double album, this is it.  The “Crosby, Stills and Nash” album had demonstrated the songwriting prowess of all three musicians, and now they’re going to add Neil Young to the mix?  Two songs apiece from these four gents was simply not enough, not when their egos were always working overtime, and that in large part was why they broke up only three months after “Deja Vu”‘s release.  Too bad some of the songs that ended up on each of their solo debuts (“Southern Man,” “Love the One You’re With,” “I Used to be a King,” “Cowboy Movie”) didn’t show up here instead.  But what a collection of 10 classic folk rock songs, covering so many moods and emotions:  contentment (“Our House”), anger (“Almost Cut My Hair”), pathos (“Helpless”), searching (“Carry On”), mystery (“Deja Vu”), despair (“4+20”), unconditional love (“Teach Your Children”).  And to top it off, the foursome concocted a brilliantly ferocious rendition of Joni Mitchell’s spooky “Woodstock.”

“Elton John,” Elton John

Unknown-253This gorgeous album was released in April 1970 but I didn’t acquire it until I received it at Christmas.  It was the beginning of a three year love affair, when I embraced every album he released up through “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” in September 1973.  But this American debut (he’d released an earlier one, “Empty Sky,” in the UK only) is still my favorite of all his work.  “Your Song,” of course, was what first drew me in, but there’s so much more here.  Bernie Taupin’s thought-provoking lyrical imagery on “First Episode at Hienton” and “The King Must Die,” Paul Buckmaster’s string arrangements on “Sixty Years On” and “The Greatest Discovery,” the full band arrangements on “Take Me to the Pilot” and “The Cage,” the gospel vocals on “Border Song,” even the jaunty country beat of “No Shoestrings on Louise.”  Most of all, I was captivated by Elton’s vocal acrobatics throughout the album.

“Ladies of the Canyon,” Joni Mitchell

Unknown-249Thanks to “Big Yellow Taxi,” Mitchell’s perky protest against paving paradise, I gambled my hard-earned $3.99 and bought “Ladies of the Canyon” upon its release, hoping there might be a couple more tunes to my liking.  What sheer delight to find a dozen brilliant songs, comprising a truly breakthrough album for the Canadian songstress.  I went on to buy every LP Joni ever released, and I place her at the very top of my list of favorite songwriters and artists.  “Morning Morgantown” remains one of the prettiest songs in her catalog, and “For Free” is pure lyrical genius, describing her feelings as a professional musician hearing a talented street performer playing for spare change.  “Willy” is a tribute to her then-lover Graham William Nash, and “Rainy Night House” describes a night with her dear friend Leonard Cohen.  “The Circle Game,” written when she was just 23, is a coming-of-age tale that had been covered by Tom Rush.  Finally, there’s her original arrangement of “Woodstock,” which still brings chills.

“Sweet Baby James,” James Taylor

R-7254128-1559296274-4995.jpegThis nearly perfect album arrived as I was learning to play guitar, and it became my close companion for many months, and for the rest of my life as well.  Taylor’s voice and mine shared the same range, and his songs were relatively easy to learn (even if I couldn’t match his often intricate guitar work).  And what compelling songs they were, full of heart-on-his-sleeve confessional lyrics and irresistible melodies.  “Fire and Rain” got all the airplay, reaching #3 on the charts, and “Country Road” turned into my signature song.  “Blossom,” “Sunny Skies,” “Anywhere Like Heaven” and the title tune (which Taylor refers to as “a cowboy lullaby”) established him as one of the emotional centers of the laid-back music scene.  But he had muscle, too — the kick-ass blues track “Steamroller” and the full-band closer “Suite for 20G” presaged the kind of records he would make a few years later.

“Benefit,” Jethro Tull

Unknown-255In June 1970, I wasn’t yet the Tull fanatic I would become once “Aqualung” and “Thick as a Brick” came out, but I’d been sufficiently intrigued with the group once I heard a local band offer their rendition of “Teacher.”  I took the plunge on “Benefit,” and was flabbergasted at the ingenious combination of excellent hard rock and delicate acoustic guitar, woven together by Ian Anderson’s distinctive vocals and haunting flute.  Electric guitarist Martin Barre fully established himself on this LP, particularly on “To Cry You a Song,” “Son” and the raucous “Play in Time.”  Anderson now dismisses many of his lyrics on this album as “immature and embarrassing,” but I beg to differ.  “For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me” tells what it must have been like to be the Apollo astronaut who remained in the space capsule while his pals were walking on the Moon; and “Inside” and “With You There to Help Me” emphasize the importance of companionship.  “Benefit” captures Jethro Tull on the rise.  If you missed it, check it out.

“John Barleycorn Must Die,” Traffic

R-945992-1360360248-7016.jpegI must confess again that I was late to the party when it comes to Traffic, the creative British folk-jazz-rock group steered by the great Steve Winwood.  Their first two records went under my radar, so my introduction to Winwood came on “Can’t Find My Way Home,” the acoustic gem he contributed to the “Blind Faith” LP in 1969 during a lull in Traffic’s career arc.  In fact, Winwood’s next move was intended to be his first solo album, but he found himself missing the accompanying musicians he’d grown accustomed to, so he invited Traffic compadres Jim Capaldi and Chris Wood to the studio, and it became “John Barleycorn Must Die,” Traffic’s splendid third album.  The infectious piano riff on the opening instrumental track “Glad,” the undeniable baritone sax lick on “Freedom Rider,” Winwood’s plaintive vocals on the line “Staring at the empty pages” — all these elements and more combine to make a delicious stew of jazz and rock and traditional English folk I feasted on throughout the summer and fall that year.

“Tea For the Tillerman,” Cat Stevens

imagesBorn in London to parents of Greek and Swedish extraction, Steven Demetre Georgiou showed great promise as both a painter and musician at a young age.  At 21, he contracted a case of tuberculosis that almost killed him, but his convalescence in the hospital surrounded by people dying gave him a new perspective on life and spirituality.  Cat wrote more than 40 songs, most of which became the material that appeared on “Tea for the Tillerman” and its 1971 follow-up, “Teaser and the Firecat.”  Both LPs are terrific, but I prefer “Tillerman” because the songs resonate with me more.  “Father and Son” is musical perfection as a dialog hampered by disagreement, and in “Wild World,” which reached #11 on the US singles chart, Stevens tenderly warns his departing lady about the pitfalls and challenges ahead.  “On the Road to Find Out” covers similar territory, and “Where Do the Children Play” bemoans the industrialization of the environment.  Stevens sings these wonderful tunes in a distinctive voice that alternates effectively between ethereal and forceful.

“Blows Against the Empire,” Paul Kantner

Unknown-254I’m betting very few of my readers are hip to this compelling album.  I wasn’t introduced to it until four years later in a college dorm, with the aid of cannabis, as the artist no doubt intended.  As one of the three principal players in Jefferson Airplane, Kantner brought earnest vocals and rhythm guitar, but mostly he brought songs of fantasy and rebellion.  When the Airplane took a break in early 1970, Kantner gathered his many California kindred spirits and put together an extraordinary sci-fi concept album about hijacking an interstellar starship to abandon Earth and head in search of new life in distant galaxies.  A bit far-fetched, perhaps, but there are some stunning songs and performances here.  “Let’s Go Together” is a joyous tune of shared community and purpose, with Grace Slick’s soaring vocals in full control;  “A Child is Coming” celebrates new life, featuring a duet between David Crosby and Kantner ; “Have You Seen the Stars Tonite” again feature Crosby on vocals and 12-string guitar; and “Starship” is the glorious finale.  Don’t miss Jerry Garcia’s contributions on banjo and pedal steel guitar.

“Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs,” Derek and The Dominos

images-150It’s hard to imagine now, but this titanic double album of quintessential blues rock was neither a critical nor a commercial success upon release in November 1970.  Since the breakup of Cream in late 1968, Eric Clapton had wanted to shun the limelight, working with Delaney & Bonnie and company as just a session guy.  He used these same musicians on his debut solo LP in spring 1970, then continued with them throughout the summer, eventually convening in Miami to record the songs he’d been writing with keyboardist Bobby Whitlock.  As they recorded in Miami that summer, the great Duane Allman happened to be in town for a gig, so Clapton attended the show and then invited Allman to sit in on the sessions.  The resulting chemistry between the two guitar virtuosos made for some of the finest recordings in Clapton’s storied career, notably “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad,” “Have You Ever Loved a Woman,” “Key to the Highway,” and of course the iconic title song.  It’s interesting to note that “Layla” the single wasn’t a chart success until August 1972 when it reached #10 upon re-release.

“All Things Must Pass,” George Harrison

Unknown-2511970 brought us five new albums from the Fab Four:  The final Beatles album (the underwhelming “Let It Be”); two bare-bones solo debuts from the two halves of rock’s greatest songwriting team (“McCartney” and “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band”); Ringo’s mostly forgettable collection of standards (“Sentimental Journey”); and by far the best of the bunch, George’s sprawling triple album “All Things Must Pass.”  Released just in time for Christmas and announced via the stunning international #1 hit “My Sweet Lord,” this album offered a cornucopia of marvelous songs, from “What Is Life” to “Isn’t It a Pity,” from “Let It Roll” to “Awaiting on You All,” from “I’d Have You Anytime” to “Wah-Wah.”  It was recorded by “Wall of Sound” producer Phil Spector with the help of a dozen musical pals like Ringo, Eric Clapton, Gary Wright, Billy Preston, Dave Mason and members of Badfinger and Derek and the Dominos.  Clearly, George had been stockpiling great tunes during the final Beatles years, and they all came spilling out to us here.

***************

It pained me to consign some of these superb albums to “honorable mention” status (particularly “After the Gold Rush” and “Tumbleweed Connection,”), but hey, I had to draw the line somewhere…

After the Gold Rush,” Neil Young;  “Woodstock original soundtrack“;  “Alone Together,” Dave Mason;  “Tumbleweed Connection,” Elton John;  “Chicago II,” Chicago;  “A Question of Balance,” The Moody Blues;  “Led Zeppelin III,” Led Zeppelin;  “Sit Down Young Stranger,” Gordon Lightfoot;  “John B. Sebastian,” John Sebastian;  “American Beauty,” The Grateful Dead;  “Eric Clapton,” Eric Clapton;  “Abraxas,” Santana;  “Mad Dogs and Englishmen,” Joe Cocker & Leon Russell;  “Let It Be,” The Beatles;  “Black Sabbath,” Black Sabbath.

***************

The Spotify playlist offers three tracks from each album selection, and one track each from the honorable mention group, thereby giving a pretty solid representation of 1970’s best music.

 

Unknown-256

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!

***********************

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 eyes, 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?…”

*****************

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

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

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