The Friday Five: Your “Diamond” Songs

In what is probably becoming a regular thing, there are many more songs than five in this week’s list. Twelve, to be exact. Technically, two of them don’t belong, but I added them anyway, at the end, because I’m just that kind of a guy…

  1. John Denver, “Some Days Are Diamonds (Some Days Are Stones)” Uncle Jack thought of this back when I featured John Denver on Two For Tuesday. He said he and Aunt Loretta like the philosophy expressed in this one, and I can understand why. It’s the title track from his 1981 album, written by Dick Feller.
  2. Bon Jovi, “Diamond Ring” Annalisa came up with this, and asks us please not to judge her. As I told her, I don’t see why anyone would: Bon Jovi’s a pretty good band. It’s from their fifth studio album, 1995’s these Days.
  3. Joan Baez, “Diamonds & Rust” Janie thought of this one, and Martha heartily agrees. The title track from her 1975 studio album, she wrote it about Bob Dylan, with whom she had a relationship at one time. As a single, it reached #35 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
  4. Paul Simon, “Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes” Ed came up with this, and Martha also liked this one. It was the fourth single from his fifth studio album, 1996’s Graceland, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo provide the backing vocals.
  5. Jerry Lee Lewis, “Big Blue Diamond” Calen chose this version of the song, an old country standard that’s been done by a number of artists. Meaning you’ll see it again for my June 15 Battle of the Bands.
  6. KISS, “Black Diamond” Cathy confessed she used Google to come up with this one and the next two, which is fine by me. This one was the final track on their eponymous first album from 1974.
  7. Eric Clapton, “Diamonds Made From Rain” Another Cathy choice, this is from Slowhand’s 2010 album Clapton.
  8. Enya, “Diamonds In The Water” The third Cathy choice is by the lovely Miss Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin, who has Anglicized her name to Enya, thank God. It comes from her 2015 album Dark Sky Island.
  9. Bruce Cockburn, “All The Diamonds In The World” Arlee, our resident Bruce Cockburn fan, remembered this one. This is from his 1977 live album Circles In The Stream.
  10. Shinedown, “Diamond Eyes(Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)” Jeanne thought of this one right away. It’s from the soundtrack for The Expendables.
  11. Billy Joe Shaver, “I’m Just An Old Chunk Of Coal (But I’ll Be A Diamond Some Day)” Annie over at McGuffy’s Reader has been running a series by her husband, who has taken the A to Z concept and run with it this month. Cathy thought I should use this one, and since I had already been thinking of it, I thought that was a good idea.
  12. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” Joey suggested this, saying it must be a “mom thing.” As I recall, Mozart wrote the melody, which is the same as for the alphabet song.

And that’s The Friday Five for May 26, 2017. Have a good Memorial Day weekend, if I don’t see you.

The Friday Five: Top Five Songs From The 2017 Eurovision Song Contest

A while back, I did a couple of posts that gave the top songs from the Eurovision Song Contest, both for 2015 (then the current year) and 1974 (the year ABBA placed first with “Waterloo”). This year’s contest ended last Saturday, with Portugal’s Salvador Sobral winning for his song “Amar Pelos Dois.” It was the first time Portugal won the contest, and the first time they placed in the top five in the 53 years they’ve participated. Congratulations to them.

#5: Robin Bengsston (Sweden), “I Can’t Go On”

#4: Blanche (Belgium), “City Lights”

#3: Sunstroke Project (Moldova), “Hey, Mamma!”

#2: Kristian Kostov (Bulgaria), “Beautiful Mess”

#1: Salvador Sobral (Portugal), “Amar Pelos Dois”

This year’s winners left me with that “meh” feeling. Most of the contestants were chosen from their home country’s Idol or The Voice program on TV, and almost all the songs in the final round were sung in English. I guess this is a byproduct of Europe becoming more or less one country, but I could be wrong.

Anyway, what did you think of the finalists, and of the competition in general? The full list of all the participating countries and how they placed is on Wikipedia, and all the songs are on YouTube.

That’s The Friday Five for May 19, 2017.

The Friday Five: The Top Ten From WJJD, May 12, 1958


Yes, another survey this week. I had been working on a killer list based on the word “time,” only to discover that I had already done one, and more recently Mike Golch featured five “time songs” recently on his Friday Five (I think he calls it “Five on Friday”). So I had to ditch that idea and come up with something quick, and this was the quickest thing I could think of. If anyone has suggestions for a Friday Five, leave it in the comments and I’ll get to it.

Anyway, today we turn the clock back to May 12, 1958, and examine the Top Ten at radio station WJJD in Chicago. As was usually the case with these early rock & roll surveys, it was a mixed bag of rock, doo-wop, easy listening, and country, even a novelty record thrown in for good measure.

  1. The Monotones, “Book of Love” The Monotones had one hit, and this was it.
  2. Perry Como, “Kewpie Doll” This is Perry’s attempt at rock & roll, and it’s not an especially bad one.
  3. Art & Dotty, “Chanson d’Amour” I’m always reminded of the version by The Muppets, which had me laughing for days after the first time I saw it. A&D do a much more straightforward version, but there are still a few laughs to be had (“ya tada tada”).
  4. Chuck Berry, “Johnny B. Goode” No offense to Chuck, but this is maybe my least favorite of his songs, simply because it’s been played to death.
  5. Laurie London, “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” A little folk-gospel music. How’d that get in here?
  6. Elvis Presley, “Wear My Ring Around Your Neck” This song went to #2 on the Hot 100, #3 on the Country chart, and #1 on the R&B chart, and was certified platinum. And I rarely hear it. Go figure.
  7. David Seville, “Witch Doctor” Ross Bagdasarian, a/k/a David Seville, gave us a sample of what he could do recording his voice at slow speed and playing it at higher speed. We might never have had The Chipmunks if this record hadn’t done well.
  8. The Platters, “Twilight Time” One of the great “transitional” groups between the postwar Easy Listening and rock & roll, always smooth and fun to dance to. This reached #1 on the Hot 100 and R&B charts.
  9. Dean Martin, “Return To Me” Only went as high as #4 in the US, but did better in the rest of the world. It was used as the title song for the 2000 movie that starred David Duchovny, Minnie Driver, and Carroll O’Connor. I actually liked the movie, which I think we either rented or saw on TV.
  10. The Everly Brothers, “All I Have To Do Is Dream” Boudleaux Bryant, who usually worked with his wife Felice, wrote this one, and as is usually the case when the Bryants and the Everlys got together, the result was a hit.

Thanks as always to Oldiesloon for today’s list. And that’s The Friday Five for May 12, 2017.

The Friday Five Times Two: The WLS Survey On This Date in 1962

The first week after the A to Z Challenge is always a little rough, because it leaves you with a bit of a hangover. I’m taking it easy today and letting the people in Chicagoland who were buying records, playing them on the jukebox, and calling The Big 89 and requesting the DJ’s play these songs choose the Top Ten (and thus this playlist).

  1. Jimmy Dean, “PT 109” Jimmy Dean, in addition to lending his name to a tasty line of sausage products, was a pretty good singer. Here he does his best Johnny Horton impression telling the story of JFK and the ill-fated PT boat he was commanding during World War II.
  2. Paul Peterson, “She Can’t Find Her Keys” You’re probably asking yourself, “hey, why’s he doin’ ten this week?” Mostly because we have both the Stone kids from The Donna Reed Show in the Top Ten. Paul had a good run as a singer and actor until he turned eighteen, after which he was dropped like a hot potato by the studios, but residuals from songs like this probably helped him a little.
  3. The Crystals, “Uptown” One of two early-Sixties “girl groups” in the survey this week, this was the first of four singles by The Crystals released in 1962, sung by Barbara Alston. It reached #13 nationally.
  4. Dee Dee Sharp, “Mashed Potato Time” Dance songs were very popular in the Sixties, and this is a prime example of one. Those of you who are music theory fans will notice that her name is a minor second (D-D#). That was my great revelation for today.
  5. Shelley Fabares, “Johnny Angel” Now we come to the older Stone child, the one who looked better in a dress. I heard Shelley Fabares talking about this song a while back, and she said she showed up on the set one day and they asked her what song she wanted to do. Came as a big surprise to her. Nonetheless, it’s a nice song.
  6. Ernie Maresca, “Shout Shout” Ernie was better known as a songwriter, as he wrote “Runaround Sue” and “The Wanderer” for Dion & The Belmonts, but he had some success as a singer.
  7. Walter Brennan, “Old Rivers” The third actor in this week’s Top Ten, Walter Brennan was best known as Amos McCoy in The Real McCoys and as Gary Cooper’s sidekick in a number of movies, including Meet John Doe, where he called people a bunch of “heel-lots” and played ocarina to Cooper’s harmonica on several occasions.
  8. Jay & The Americans, “She Cried” This was Jay & The Americans’ first hit, though real chart success would come after Jay Traynor (who sings lead here) was replaced by Jay Black.
  9. Acker Bilk, “Stranger On The Shore” Acker Bilk was known for his appearance (bowler hat, striped waistcoat, and goatee) and for the low, breathy sound of his clarinet. This was his biggest hit. For some reason, I always lump him in with Bent Fabric, the Danish pianist who had a big hit with “Alley Cat” later in ’62. Bent affected much the same look (minus the goatee). Bent and Bilk did an album together in 1965.
  10. The Shirelles, “Soldier Boy” This song gained extra significance as the US’s involvement in Vietnam escalated, and it’s still relevant today.

Thanks again to Oldiesloon for the work they’ve done in preserving old radio station surveys. And that’s The Friday Five (times two) for May 5, 2017.

The Friday more-or-less Five: Your Traveling Songs

I did my five traveling songs for Monday’s Music Moves Me, and Kip commented “You left some obvious ones for me to pick!” And he was right, and that was my intention, because I wanted to make sure there were enough songs to go around for eveeryone. Anyway, ya’ll came up with eleven songs (I had to guess at one that Mark had left).

Ricky Nelson, “Travelin’ Man” Kip and Janet both named this one. From his 1961 album Rick Is 21, it reached #1 that year.

Willie Nelson, “On The Road Again” Another Kip suggestion, which Cathy seconded. Classic Willie from 1980, when it reached #1 on the Country chart, #7 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #20 on the Hot 100.

Johnny Cash, “I’ve Been Everywhere, Man” Kip’s third suggestion is from The Man In Black, circa 1996. This was used as the backing music in commercials for a hotel chain, but I forget which.

John Denver, “Leavin’ On A Jet Plane” Cathy suggested this one, and Calen suggested the Peter, Paul & Mary cover. He wrote it in 1966 and named it “Babe, I Hate To Go.” Milt Okun suggested he change the name, and the rest, they say, is history.

The Allman Brothers Band, “Ramblin’ Man” Arlee came up with this one. From the 1972 album Brothers & Sisters, written and sung by Dickie Betts. Capricorn Records couldn’t decide whether to release this or “Wasted Words” as the first single, so they sent a tape of this to stations in Boston (WRKO) and Atlanta (WQXI), and the reaction was so good they chose this one, which went as high as #2 on the Hot 100 because Cher’s “Half Breed” claimed the #1 spot.

Led Zeppelin, “Ramble On” Another Arlee choice, from Led Zeppelin’s second album, the appropriately-named Led Zeppelin II from 1969.

Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Travelin’ Band” Mary suggested this one, from 1970’s Cosmo’s Factory. It reached #2 on the Pop Singles chart that year.

Steppenwolf, “Magic Carpet Ride” Jeanne thought of this one. It was on Steppenwolf’s second album, 1968’s The Second. (Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you?) It peaked at #3 that year.

Metallica, “Wherever I May Roam” Another Jeanne suggestion. This was the fourth single from Metallica’s eponymous fifth album and reached #82 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Album Tracks chart in 1992.

The Beatles, “Ticket To Ride” Joey came up with this, and I didn’t hold much hope of finding a copy on YouTube, but evidently the UMG gremlins missed this one and didn’t manage to get it removed or have the person who posted it taken out and shot. From their 1964 Help! album, this was #1 on the Hot 100 that year.

Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Travelin’ Man” Not sure if this is the song Mark was talking about when he posted the lyrics in the comment, but it seemed the most likely candidate. From their twentieth album (guess what it was called?) it reached #22 on the Mainstream Rock chart in 1997.

Thanks to all who made suggestions! That’s The Friday Five for April 28, 2017.