Category: pop

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Behind The Grooves:

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On this day in music history: December 9, 1989 – “We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Billy Joel hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Billy Joel, it is the third chart topping single for the singer, songwriter and musician from Hicksville, Long Island, NY. Having just turned forty years old in May 1989, Billy Joel is inspired to write “We Didn’t Start The Fire” after a conversation he has with a young man in his twenties.  When they begin talking about past world events and people, the young man comments to Joel, You were a kid in the fifties and everybody knows that nothing happened in the fifties". To that statement Billy replies, “wait a minute, didn’t you hear of the Korean War or the Suez Canal Crisis?”. Beginning with the year of his birth, 1949, Joel looks up and writes down information on significant historic figures and pop cultural events chronologically leading up to the then present time (1989), then crafting them into structured lyrics. Working with Mick Jones of the band Foreigner as his co-producer, is instrumental in changing the arrangement of the song as how it had been written, to giving it a more driving “rock & roll” attitude. Released as the first single from his eleventh studio album “Storm Front” on September 27, 1989, it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #58 on October 14, 1989, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. The single receives a Grammy nomination for Record Of The Year in 1990. “Fire” also is the subject of numerous song parodies by comedians and other musicians. “We Didn’t Start The Fire” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: December 9, 1974 – “Dark Horse”, the sixth album by George Harrison is released. Produced by George Harrison, it is recorded at Friar Park Studios (FPSHOT) in Henley-On-Thames, Oxfordshire, UK and A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA from September 1973, April – July 1974, September – October 1974. Harrison’s third post Beatles album is recorded at a particularly turbulent period which sees him struggling in many aspects in his personal life. To complicate matters further, Harrison is suffering from laryngitis during the recording sessions, but must complete the album in time to begin a tour that he is already committed to perform. The project features a number of guest musicians including Billy Preston, Nicky Hopkins, Jim Keltner, Ringo Starr, Tom Scott, Gary Wright, Willie Weeks, and Ron Wood. Critics dub the album “Dark Hoarse” due to Harrison’s vocals, but in spite of this it performs well commercially, spinning off two singles including the title track (#15 Pop) and “Ding Dong, Ding Dong” (#36 Pop). The latter song is inspired by engravings on the grounds of Harrison’s sprawling estate Friar Park, written by its former owner Sir Frank Crisp. A promotional video for the song is filmed at Friar Park, with George donning his famous collarless Beatles suit and Sgt. Pepper uniform. Inspired by Phil Spector’s “Wall Of Sound”, the song written as a “New Year’s Eve sing-a-long”, but becomes associated with the Christmas holiday over the years. The album is remastered and reissued in September of 2014 with the non LP B-side “I Don’t Care Anymore” (flip side of “Dark Horse”) and an early outtake of the title track added as bonus tracks. It is also remastered and reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP, as a stand alone release and as part of the box set “George Harrison – The Vinyl Collection” in 2017. “Dark Horse” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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