Monday, May 08, 2006

The Hits That Never Were

The Charts Don't Rank Quality

What do all these songs have in common?

Badge- Cream

Good Times Bad Times- Led Zeppelin

Street Fighting Man- Rolling Stones

Foxey Lady- Jimi Hendrix

Purple Haze- Jimi Hendrix

Gloria- Them

My Generation- The Who

Cinnamon Girl- Neil Young

Layla- Derek & The Dominoes

Truckin'- Grateful Dead

Tiny Dancer- Elton John

You Can't Always Get What You Want- Rolling Stones

Dream On- Aerosmith

Tequila Sunrise- Eagles

Rebel Rebel- David Bowie

Changes- David Bowie

Moondance- Van Morrison

Surrender- Cheap Trick

Highway To Hell- AC/DC

Life During Wartime- Talking Heads

They are all great, Classic Rock anthems you say? Yes.

But they all share another distinction.

None of them were number one songs. In fact, only ONE of them made it into the top 10. Only TWO were Top 40 singles. And the only reason these two exceptions made it that far is because they were given a second chance. "Dream On" and "Layla" recharted, both going higher years after their initial release.

Every one of these songs charted in the Top 100, which should have given them enough exposure to push them higher. So why were they initially so ignored and overlooked?

In some cases, they may just have been ahead of their time. Jimi Hendrix was incredibly advanced as a guitarist but appreciation for his music didn't reach its peak until long after his death.

Sadly, it's more likely a case of radio programmers, music industry moguls and the record buying public playing it safe. Staying with the status quo rather than risking embracing challenging new music.

There is a price to be paid for this security. Much of the claptrap that does make it into the Top 40 and even the Top 10 turns out to be embarrassingly vapid in retrospect. The fate of most Top 40 songs is to quickly fade from view like a falling stars and ultimately end up as obscure trivia.

The songs listed above are so well known only because they have stood the test of time. These dirges became classics by not because they made a huge impact when they were first released. But because of having been consistently and repeatedly played, long after other songs have become forgotten relics.

For example, 1972 was a good year for music. Even so, "Day Dreaming" by Aretha Franklin, "How Do You Do" by Mouth & Macneal, "Scorpio" from Dennis Coffey and "Clean Up Woman" from Betty Wright were all in the Top 10. If you remember even one these songs you are to be congratulated for your Rain Man like memory.

'72 was not an anomaly, other years reveal similar results. It stands to reason then, that there is great music out RIGHT NOW that is not getting its due, while other songs are getting all the attention. To find these future classics now you might need to look in places you haven't before considered.

If you are ready to trade the "mainstream" for something a little more progressive, a bit of effort is required.

Try scanning your radio dial for a local station that plays alternative music. In So Cal, Indie 103.1 fm and 94.9 fm are good places to start. You can also search on the internet and stream music right to your computer from both traditional radio stations and internet only stations across the country and the world.

Check Apple's iTunes Music Store for new music releases every Tuesday. Join an internet message board or newsgroup for recommendations on independent and alternative bands.

Ask your musically savvy friends what they are into.

Get XM or Infinity satellite radio.

There are more music resources at your disposal now than at any time in history. Only you can stop yourself from being musically shortchanged.

Here are the (still hard to believe) actual Billboard chart results for the Classic Rock anthems listed above:

Gloria- Them #71 1966

My Generation- The Who #74 1966

Purple Haze- Jimi Hendrix #65 1967

Street Fighting Man- Rolling Stones #48 1968

Foxey Lady- Jimi Hendrix #67 1968

Badge- Cream #60 1969

Good Times Bad Times- Led Zeppelin #80 1969

Foxey Lady- Jimi Hendryx #67 1968

Cinnamon Girl- Neil Young #55 1970

Layla- Derek & The Dominoes #51 1971 (Charted again at #10 in 1972)

Truckin'- Grateful Dead #64 1971

Tiny Dancer- Elton John #41 1972

You Can't Always Get What You Want- Rolling Stones #42 1973

Dream On- Aerosmith #59 1973 (Charted again at #6 in 1976)

Tequila Sunrise- Eagles #64 1973

Rebel Rebel- David Bowie #64 1974

Changes- David Bowie #66 1972 (Also #41 1975)

Moondance- Van Morrison #92 1977

Surrender- Cheap Trick #62 1978

Highway To Hell- AC/DC #47 1979

Life During Wartime- Talking Heads #80 1979

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