Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” is one of the greatest rock songs ever recorded. Upon its release, music critic Robert Christgau took note of its wall of sound influence and called it “the fulfillment of everything ‘Be My Baby’ was about and lots more.”
The first recording of the song was made by Allan Clarke of the British group The Hollies, although its release was delayed, only appearing after Springsteen’s own now-famous version.
Listen for how out Bruce breathes during the breaks, however small, between the lines. Bruce doesn’t even double track his vocal until the end at 4:02.
From Blondie’s third studio release Parallel Lines, “Heart Of Glass” became a signature hit for the group, highlighted by Deborah Harry’s effervescent vocals. The track went to #1 in most world territories including the U.S. and U.K. The album was recorded at The Record Plant in New York City and produced by Mike Chapman, who also worked with Sweet, The Knack and others.
“We Are the Champions” by Queen for their 1977 album News of the World, isn’t just one of the band’s most famous and popular songs, it’s among music’s most recognisable anthems.
The song was a worldwide success, reaching number two in the UK Singles Chart, and number four on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. In 2009, “We Are the Champions” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and was voted the world’s favourite song in a 2005 Sony Ericsson world music poll. In 2011, a team of scientific researchers concluded that the song was the catchiest in the history of popular music.
VOCAL only (Freddie Mercury):
GUITARS only (Brian May):
DRUMS only (Roger Taylor):
VOCAL (Mercury), PIANO (Mercury), RHYTHM GUITAR (May) only:
“Octopus’s Garden” from The Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road was the second song Ringo has ever written. George Harrison says “It’s lovely. The song gets very deep into your consciousness…because it’s so peaceful. I suppose Ringo is writing cosmic songs these days without even realising it.”
Written by June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore and popularized by Johnny Cash, “Ring of Fire” appears on Cash’s 1963 album, Ring of Fire: The Best of Johnny Cash. The song was originally recorded by June’s sister, Anita Carter, on her Mercury Records album Folk Songs Old and New (1963) as “(Love’s) Ring of Fire”. “Ring of Fire” ranked No. 4 on CMT’s 100 Greatest Songs in Country Music in 2003 and #87 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
The song was recorded on March 25, 1963, and became the biggest hit of Johnny Cash’s career, staying at number one on the charts for seven weeks. It was certified Gold on January 21, 2010 by the R.I.A.A. and has also sold over 1.2 million digital downloads.
Although “Ring of Fire” sounds somewhat ominous, the term refers to falling in love – which is what June Carter was experiencing with Johnny Cash at the time. Some sources claim that Carter had seen the phrase “Love is like a burning ring of fire,” underlined in one of her uncle A. P. Carter’s Elizabethan books of poetry. She worked with Kilgore on writing a song inspired by this phrase as she had seen her uncle do in the past. She had written: “There is no way to be in that kind of hell, no way to extinguish a flame that burns, burns, burns”.
Fun Fact: After the Carpenters became successful in the early 1970s, she and her brother bought two apartment buildings in Downey as a financial investment. Formerly named the “Geneva”, the two complexes were renamed “Only Just Begun” and “Close to You” in honor of the duo’s first smash hits. The apartment buildings are located at 8353 and 8356 (respectively) 5th Street, Downey, California. In 1976 Carpenter bought two Century City apartments, gutted them, and turned them into one condominium. Located at 2222 Avenue of the Stars, the doorbell chimed the first six notes of “We’ve Only Just Begun”.
Released originally prior to their first album as a single, “Pumped Up Kicks” was the massive hit from Foster The People’s 2011 debut release Torches. The album rose to #8 on the Billboard 200 Album charts and garnered a Grammy Award nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. While the album included production from such notables as Paul Epworth (who also worked with Adele), Greg Kurstin, Rich Costey, and Tony Hoffer, it was group leader Mark Foster who produced this track, which was actually the demo version. One of the most misunderstood songs of the last 20 years, the lyrics to “Pumped Up Kicks” are written from the perspective of a troubled and delusional youth with homicidal thoughts. The lines in the chorus warn potential victims to “outrun my gun” and that they “better run, better run, faster than my bullet.” Foster said in a statement to CNN.com, “I wrote ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ when I began to read about the growing trend in teenage mental illness. I wanted to understand the psychology behind it because it was foreign to me. It was terrifying how mental illness among youth had skyrocketed in the last decade. I was scared to see where the pattern was headed if we didn’t start changing the way we were bringing up the next generation.” In writing the song, Foster wanted to “get inside the head of an isolated, psychotic kid” and “bring awareness” to the issue of gun violence amongst youth, which he feels is an epidemic perpetuated by “lack of family, lack of love, and isolation.” The song’s title refers to shoes that the narrator’s peers wear as a status symbol.
For play on the television channels MTV and MTVu, the words “gun” and “bullet” were removed from the song’s chorus. Foster believes many have misinterpreted the song’s meaning, and have written letters to his record label and called radio stations to complain. He explained, “The song is not about condoning violence at all. It’s the complete opposite. The song is an amazing platform to have a conversation with your kids about something that shouldn’t be ignored, to talk about it in a loving way.”
Originally inspired by a police brutality incident witnessed by Renaldo “Obie” Benson, “What’s Goin’ On” was composed by Benson, Al Cleveland and Gaye and produced by Gaye himself. Bassist James Jamerson was pulled into the session after Gaye located him playing with a band at a local bar. Respected Motown arranger and conductor David Van De Pitte said later to Ben Edmonds that Jamerson “always kept a bottle of [the Greek spirit] Metaxa in his bass case. He could really put that stuff away, and then sit down and still be able to play. His tolerance was incredible. It took a hell a lot to get him smashed.” The night Jamerson entered the studio to record the bass lines to the song, Jamerson couldn’t sit properly in his seat and, according to one of the members of the Funk Brothers, laid on the floor playing his bass riffs.
“Shiver” is a track off Coldplay’s debut album, Parachutes, released in 2000. The track followed “Yellow” as the second single released and rose to #35 on the UK Singles chart and #26 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. The album was recorded at Matrix and Wessex in London, Parr Street in Liverpool and Rockfield Studios in Rockfield, UK and was produced by Ken Nelson and Coldplay.
Chris Martin admitted that “Shiver” was written for a specific woman, but hasn’t revealed a specific name. Martin actually wrote the song in a “glum” day, when he felt he would never find the right woman for him. He described it as something of a “stalking song”, admitting he wrote it for a specific woman. In addition, Martin wrote the song while listening to music of Jeff Buckley, and had claimed it is their “most blatant rip-off song”.