12 Days of Greats

Here’s the 12 songs that just missed the 2020 Great 88, featured in our annual “12 Days of Greats”:

#100

“Tweedlee Dee” by LaVern Baker (1955)

Written by Winfield Scott for Lavern Baker, the arrangement and vocal style of the song attempted to adapt a black vocal style to one that would satisfy the tastes of the white record-buying market, featuring a light tone and a frisky rhythm beat.  Scott is also credited along with Otis Blackwell as the writer for Elvis Presley’s “Return to Sender”.

2019:  not on survey, Highest Ranking:  first year on survey

#99

“You Really Got a Hold On Me” by The Miracles (1963)

Miracles leader Smokey Robinson wrote this song while thinking about Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.” Cooke would sometimes perform at Robinson’s church with his group the Soul Stirrers, and Smokey was a big fan. Cooke’s song finds the singer apologizing to his girl after casting her off, promising to treat her right if she comes back. “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” is the same sentiment but with the roles reversed: the girl mistreats the guy, but he loves her unconditionally.

2019:  not on survey, Highest Ranking:  first year on survey

#98

“Goodbye Baby” by Jack Scott (1959)

Scott had more US singles (19), in a shorter period of time (41 months), than any other recording artist except for The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino and Connie Francis. He wrote all of his own hits, except one: “Burning Bridges”.

2019:  not on survey, Highest Ranking:  first year on survey

#97

“Baby It’s You” by The Shirelles (1962)

This was written by Burt Bacharach, Mack David (Hal’s older brother), and Barney Williams (a pen name of Luther Dixon). It was originally “I’ll Cherish You,” but was re-written at the request of Dixon, who produced the track.  The Shirelles’ vocals were added directly to Bacharach’s demo recording.

2019:  not on survey, Highest Ranking:  first year on survey

#96

“Long Tall Sally” by Little Richard (1956)

Little Richard explained that Sally was a friend of the family who was always drinking whiskey. He described her as tall and ugly, with just two teeth and cockeyed. She was having an affair with John, who was married to Mary, who they called “Short Fat Fanny.” John and Mary would get in fights on the weekends, and when he saw her coming, he would duck back into a little alley to avoid her.

2019:  #62, Highest Ranking:  #47 (2016)

#95

“Lollipop” by The Chordettes (1958)

The Chordettes were a female vocal group from Sheboygan, Wisconsin who formed in 1946 by Jinny Lockard and three of her college friends. They became regulars on Arthur Godfrey’s television show for 4 years in 1949, singing a cappella in the barbershop style.  This teen novelty song was originally recorded by Ronald And Ruby and got to #20 in the US. The Chordettes recorded it as a full round-like arrangement, complete with popping sounds.

2019:  not on survey, Highest Ranking:  first year on survey

#94

“It’s Not for Me to Say” by Johnny Mathis (1957)

“It’s Not for Me to Say” is a 1957 popular song with music by Robert Allen and lyrics by Al Stillman. It was written for the 1957 movie Lizzie (starring Eleanor Parker), and was sung by Johnny Mathis[ in the film.  Mathis’ recording of the song, arranged by Ray Conniff, was the most successful version, reaching number 5 on the Billboard Top 100 singles chart.

2018:  not on survey, Highest Ranking:  First time on survey

#93

“Jim Dandy” by Lavern Baker (1957)

The song was covered by southern rock band Black Oak Arkansas. It hit #25 on the pop chart and featured Jim Mangrum (who had already been using “Jim Dandy” as a stage name before they covered the song) and female vocalist Ruby Starr trading off vocals. It was the first single from their 1973 album High on the Hog, Black Oak’s most commercially successful album.

2019:  #43, Highest Ranking:  #47 (2016)

#92

“On Broadway” by The Drifters (1963)

Pay attention to the instrumentals and vocals here. The Drifters were a cross-over from doo-wop to R&B, with the vocals striking a balance here. The music has a hint of soul with a large production number, and that intrusive guitar kicking in towards the end gives a nod to rockabilly. At this time, Motown was just firing up with its new soul sound, and Mike Stoller reports in Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography, “Some say Sam Cooke invented soul music in the fifties, and some say Ray Charles. Some say soul didn’t come about until later, in the sixties, with the advent of Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin. Others have told us that our productions for the Drifters began it all. Who can say?”

2019:  not on survey, Highest Ranking:  #68 (2014)

#91

“Breaking Up is Hard to Do” by Neil Sedaka (1962)

Although Sedaka had had eight Top 10 hits in the US to this point, this was his very first #1. Howie Greenfield penned the lyrics at Sedaka’s urging, and then it was presented to Barry Mann (of the Mann and Weil songwriting team) for appraisal. Mann didn’t think much of it, so Sedaka then added the opening “dooby-doo” part.  One lucky shot that this song had was debuting on June 30, 1962. This placed it in the perfect spot to start getting heavy airplay during the July 4th weekend, with vacationing teens at the parks and beaches requesting the song over and over again.

2019:  not on survey, Highest Ranking:  #11 (2012)

#90

“See You in September” by The Tempos (1959)

Written by Sid Wayne and Sherman Edwards, the Tempos’ original version peaked at #23 in the summer of 1959. The most popular take on “See You In September” was by The Happenings in 1966, which reached #3.  The cover version’s arrangement recalled both the recordings of the Tokens (who owned their label,  B. T. Puppy) and the Four Seasons.

2019:  not on survey, Highest Ranking:  first year on survey

#89

“It’s Not For Me to Say” by Johnny Mathis (1957)

“It’s Not for Me to Say” is a 1957 popular song with music by Robert Allen and lyrics by Al Stillman. It was written for the 1957 movie Lizzie (starring Eleanor Parker), and was sung by Johnny Mathis in the film.  Mathis started out as a jazz singer at Columbia Records until Mitch Miller, a record producer who was also the label’s vice president, steered him towards singing pop ballads.

2019:  not on survey, Highest Ranking:  first year on survey

Check out all the songs that made the 2020 Great 88 here. You can also see the first round results here.

Listen to “The Grooveyard” following “Rick’s Redneck Ranch” each Saturday night at 7 PM on 88.1 FM on Long Island or by clicking the 88.1 FM link on wcwp.org, via the TuneIn app. or the  WCWP app on your iPhone or Android device.  You can also follow us on Twitter. and on the Facebook groups for the show and WCWP.

It’s Saturday nights with. . .

“The Grooveyard”

…Where Oldies Come Alive!

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