Thursday, May 20, 2010

Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood

WTIT Blog’s feature A DJ’s Take has been one of our most popular features. Today we continue our latest version of this feature that we have "sub-titled" 5 Random Songs. When writing this, we simply pick out five songs (at random...who'd a thunk?) that we have grown to love over the years. We hope to share with you some of the background of the songs and of course why this music is important to us. Sometimes it is because of the trival nature of the song, sometimes it's the song's history. Today let's look at these five songs:

Love Song by Sarah Bareilles:

We were going to link this part of today’s post to Linda’s blog, Are We There Yet? because it was her post with the video of this song that drew us to the artist. Sarah Bareilles was a recording artist that we had not heard of as of that post. The video of this song totally captivated us. So we downloaded the entire CD. And yes, usually when you do this you are utterly disappointed. But in this case, we were very pleasantly surprised. Every song on the CD is as good as the next one. Her lyrics are well thought out and meaningful. Her voice is beautiful and her music is captivating. The song is from her 2007 album Little Voice.

It seems that Epic, the record company that signed Bareilles, told her that they wanted her to write and perform a “marketable love song”. She wrote this song as her response. As you might know iTunes features a free download each week and they featured Love Song for one week in 2007. By the next month Little Voice was the site’s number one downloaded album. The single peaked at number 5 in the Billboard Hot 100 songs. Her CD was certified gold and the album hit number 7 in the Billboard Top 200 albums.

Wild World by Cat Stevens:

We have always thought that there was no better song written about a breakup that is not your decision. It was out around the time my high school girlfriend told me that “God” told her to break up with me. It was Cat’s first hit in the US and had been a hit in the UK with a version by Jimmy Cliff three months prior to Steven’s release. It is from the album Tea for the Tillerman, one of his best albums. Cat was born Stephanos Demetre Georgiou and is now known as Yusuf Islam. For years after his conversion to Muslim he felt that had to leave his music behind him. It was not until the start of this century that Islam felt he could be both. When he released a boxed CD set of Cat Stevens music in 2001, he said that Wild World convinced him that it was the right thing to do. If you ever want to hear a terrific song that he covered in his CD, download his version of Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood.

American Woman by The Guess Who:

All the original members of the Guess Who were from Winnipeg, Canada. Chad Allen was the leader and lead singer in the start of the band in 1962 that was called Chad Allen and the Silvertones. Chad then changed the name of the band to Chad Allen and the Reflections just in time for an American band called The Reflections to have a hit with Just Like Romeo and Juliet. The band got signed by Quality records and recorded a cover of Shaking All Over. The record company called the band Guess Who? (yes with a question mark) and thought with the Mercy Beat sound teens might think it a secret Beatles record or something. Shaking All Over was a major hit in Canada. The band released their first two albums with separate releases under Guess Who? and again as Chad Allen and the Expressions.

A key member left the Guess Who at the end of 1965 and Burton Cummings was brought in as a keyboard player and a “co-lead” singer. Not Chad Allen’s best move. Burton Cummings, who made number 6 on WTIT’s Top 15 Male Rock Vocalists of All Time, replaced Chad almost immediately and Chad left the band. The question mark left shortly after Chad. Cummings and guitarist Randy Bachman (when he left he formed Bachman Turner Overdrive) now wrote the songs. No longer a “Mercy Beat” band they now had an edge and injected more blues and hard rock in their music. American Woman was the title song of their first album that really showed the change in direction. And American Woman would be their only song to hit number one in the U.S.

The Boys are Back in Town by Thin Lizzy:

There is not a lot of story here, but it is one our favorite rock songs of all time. It was released in 1976. Thin Lizzy was an Irish rock band and the lead singer was Phil Lynott. Obvious we were not alone in loving the song. It has been covered in concerts or on albums by artists including: Bon Jovi, Ash Mondays, Everclear, and Pearl Jam. The song was in Rolling Stones Top 500 rock songs of all time. It has been written that the brass in the song was inspired by a Bruce Springsteen song, Kitty’s Back.

When a Man Loves a Woman by Percy Sledge:

Percy Sledge was all upset when he showed up for a gig while in the band The Esquires Combo. He could not concentrate on their normal set because he and his girlfriend had broken up. He asked the band to play a blues chord progression and wrote the song as he sung. At the time he called it Why Did You Leave Me and it was about his girlfriend Lizz King. After Sledge was in a better state of mind he rewrote the song as When a Man Loves a Woman and brought it to a record company to try and sell the song. They were so impressed they signed him to sing it. He gave sole credit to his band mates who played the riffs that night, his bass player Cameron Lewis and organ player Andrew Wright. This would end up costing him millions of dollars in royalties. When the song was released three years after he has last seen Lizz King, she contacted him and they actually got back together for a while.

After the song was recorded, the producers brought him back because they realized that he was off key in a couple of spots. Percy was glad to do it. Here's a bit of irony: The record company mixed the tapes up and released the off key version. It is the song we still love to this day. Percy Sledge was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. The song has been covered and hits again by others including Bette Midler and in 1991 by Michael Bolton. A final piece of trivia: It was also covered during his solo career by Burton Cummings of the Guess Who.

That will do it for your Wednesday
edition of the WTIT Blog.
We hope you enjoyed our 5 Random
"Blasts from the Past" on this week's
A DJ's Take.
Join us next time.
We expect to be Thunking.
Same time. Same blog.

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