Month: September 2013

This Day in Rock — September 30, 1967

A 22-year-old singer from Northern Ireland, Van Morrison, is the newest sensation on the U.S. charts with what will become his signature song, “Brown-Eyed Girl.” The song peaks on this day in 1967 at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100.  After finishing his contract with Decca Records and the mid-1966 break up of his band Them, Morrison returns to Belfast seeking a new recording company.  He receives a phone call from Bert Berns, owner of Bang Records, who had produced a number of recordings with Them, flies to New York City and hastily signs a contract. During a two day recording session starting on March 28, he records eight songs intended to be used as four singles.  “Brown Eyed Girl” is captured on the 22nd take on the first day, is released in June and its success launches Van Morrison’s solo career.  The lyrics feature hints of the idealized pastoral images that will flow through his music for decades and link Morrison to the Romantic poets, whom he often cites as his inspiration. Here’s Van Morrison lip-syncing “Brown-Eyed Girl” on Dick Clark’s show in 1967:


This Day in Rock — September 28, 1938

What a date September 28 is! In 1963, Dylan’s second studio album, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” is released. Also in ’63, the Beach Boys’ “Little Deuce Coupe” peaks at #15. This day in 1968, “Hey Jude,” a song inspired by John Lennon’s son Julian and mostly written by Paul McCartney, hits #1 and begins a nine-week run atop the charts. And in 1938, Benjamin Earl King is born in Henderson, N.C. By age 20 he is one of the principal voices of The Drifters and co-writes a string of hits including “There Goes My Baby,” “This Magic Moment,” “Save the Last Dance for Me.” In 1960, he leaves The Drifters, shortens his name to Ben E. King and begins a solo career that continues to this day. I always will be grateful for him for many reasons, chief among them: With Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller he is a writer of 1961’s “Stand by Me.” It has been covered by everyone — including you in your car and shower. But King’s original is best:


The greatest cover of all is the “Playing For Change” version, which takes us around the world with street musicians and never fails to make me cry:

This Day in Rock — September 27, 1969

“Barefoot girls dancin’ in the moonlight . . . ” Creedence Clearwater Revival with the helmet-haired and golden-voiced John Fogerty hit #2 on the charts with “Green River,” which makes some people think this California-based group is from Louisiana.  They can make YOU feel like you’re from Louisiana. The band consists of lead vocalist, lead guitarist, and primary songwriter John Fogerty, rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty (John’s brother), bassist Stu Cook, and drummer Doug Clifford. Their musical style encompasses the roots rock and swamp rock genres. Despite their San Francisco Bay Area origins, they portray themselves as Southern rock stylists, singing about bayous, catfish, the Mississippi River, and other popular elements of Southern iconography. They sell 26 million albums in the U.S. alone. I know them as Creedence or simply CCR. They have a number of singles that just miss being #1 hits, including “Green River”:


This Day in Rock — September 26, 1964

Roy Orbison, he of the shades and four-octave operatic voice, releases “Oh, Pretty Woman,” which will be his last No. 1 hit of he 1960s. Orbison owns the voice that Elvis Presley and Bono declare the greatest they ever heard. That would make it pretty good. Here is a 1987 performance of “Oh, Pretty Woman” with Orbison backed by some friends, including Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, James Burton, Glen D. Hardin, Tom Waits, kd lang, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, JD Souther, T Bone Burnett, Steven Soles, and Jennifer Warnes:

This Day in Rock — September 23, 1949

Bruce Springsteen is born in Freehold, N.J.  He forms The Bruce Springsteen Band in ’71 as a ten-piece outfit with horns. After a couple of shows the female back-up singer and some horn players are gone. Fortunately, Clarence Clemons (sax) makes the cut. The re-formed group records as the renamed E Street Band. Rock journalist Jon Landau sees Springsteen at a Cambridge, MA, show and writes, “I have seen Rock ‘n’ Roll’s future – and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” The song that catches Landau’s ear is “Born To Run,” which turns out to be Springsteen’s first hit. In 1978, the release of  “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” and Springsteen’s 86-city U.S. tour establish this bright star as “The Boss.” In 1982, he releases his sixth studio album, “Nebraska.” The album takes its title from Springsteen’s chilling first-person narrative of  the Charles Starkweather / Caril Ann Fugate murder spree in 1959. At nightfall on certain January days out on certain desolate highways here, you glimpse Charlie at the wheel of an oncoming car, cigarette dangling from his grinning lips, the gun and Caril Ann nearby. Best get out the way: