Hello, my friends, old and new! The weekend is here, which means it's time for our countdown and our statistics: Here we go!
At #215 we find the amazing Stevie Wonder with the beautiful ballad, Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer. It was featured on his album Where I'm Coming From (1971). The song describes a failed relationship using the metaphor of changing seasons. Although it wasn't a hit single, the song, co-written by Syreeta Wright, rightfully remains one of Stevie Wonder's most popular ballads to this day. Here it is:
He performed a version of the song on Michael Jackson's Memorial Service on July 7, 2009, his voice cracking with emotion as he called out his friend's name during the song's final refrain, "Why didn't you stay?" He prefaced his performance by saying, "This is a moment that I wished that I didn't live to see come."
The song was covered by Joan Baez on her 1975 album Diamonds and Rust:
A portion of this song was also remade by Lauryn Hill on Hip-Hop artist Common's Retrospect For Life, found on his 1997 album One Day It'll All Make Sense:
At #214 there is a duet by Marvin Gaye with Tammi Terrell, a 1968 single called Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing. The song - written and produced by regular Gaye/Terrell collaborators Ashford & Simpson - became a hit within weeks of release eventually peaking at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the R&B chart, as well as a top 10 hit in Canada.
Aretha's version won the 1974 Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance:
Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing was also recorded by Elton John and Marcella Detroit for John's 1993 album Duets:
At #213 we find The Temptations with the 1971 hit single, Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are). Something of an early ancestor to the "diss songs" prevalent in hip-hop music towards the end of the 20th century, Superstar is an attack at two former Temptations members, David Ruffin (who had been fired back in 1968) and his cohort Eddie Kendricks (who quit the act in early 1971 and negotiated a Motown solo deal).
Kendricks quit the group amidst conflicts and tension between him and his bandmates, Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin, and after being denied the opportunity to record a solo album of classic-styled soul as a reprieve from Norman Whitfield's psychedelic soul recordings, which he detested. He had continued his friendship with Ruffin following his firing in 1968, and by mid-1971 was making public statements blaming his departure on his problems with Otis Williams and Melvin Franklin. Kendricks pointed out the failure of It's Summer, the first single not to feature Kendricks' vocals, as evidence that the group was faltering without him, and Ruffin told the press that he was considering starting a new singing group with Kendricks, then-current Temptations lead singer Dennis Edwards, and, once his health improved, Kendricks' good friend Paul Williams (another founding member of the Temptations who was forced to quit the group in 1971 because of failing health).
Ruffin and Kendricks' statements did not please the rest of the group or Whitfield. The song Superstar (Remember How You Got Where You Are) had begun its life as a song Whitfield and lyricist Barrett Strong were writing about one of Whitfield's former friends, a producer whom Whitfield thought had become too standoffish after achieving success. By the time the song was completed and being recorded by the Temptations, however, Otis Williams had had it reworked so that it was "about David [Ruffin] and Eddie [Kendricks]". Here it is:
The song was also covered by The Undisputed Truth:
At #212 it's Stevie Wonder again, with his 1970 hit single, Heaven Help Us All. The song, which was composed by Ron Miller, showcased a departure from Wonder's earlier works by displaying an earthier, gospel-infused sound, and continued Wonder's string of Top 10 singles on the pop charts reaching #9 on the Hot 100 singles chart and #2 on the R&B:
This is from Stevie Wonder's "Message of Peace" concert at the United Nations. With him are Freddie Jackson, BeBe Winans, and Stephanie Mills:
Here is the incredible Ray Charles performing the song at The Monastery Of Ettal in Germany, 1979:
Stevie had two songs today, but so did Marvin Gaye. At #211 we find Little Darling (I Need You), a 1966 single written and produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland. Similarly conceived with the same musical background as their previous collaboration, How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You), the song has the singer declaring to his woman to stay beside him promising her that he'll be "(her) number-one fool."While it reached the top 40 of the US Top R&B Singles chart peaking at #16, it did not perform as well on the pop charts, peaking at #47:
The Flirtations covered the song in 1971:
... And the Doobie Brothers covered the song in 1977:
Now, let's continue with last week's statistics; I will give you the usual weekly and all-time lists, but, before that, here's our countdown of the top 20 cities with the most visits in the last two years. If you don't see your own city in the top 20, feel free to ask about its placing in the comments' section, I'll be happy to give you the exact position of your city. Let's continue with positions #15-#11.
At #15 we find Melbourne, the state capital of Victoria and the second-most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Founded by free settlers from the British Crown colony of Van Diemen's Land on 30 August 1835, in what was then the colony of New South Wales, it was incorporated as a Crown settlement in 1837. It was named "Melbourne" by the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Richard Bourke, in honor of the British Prime Minister of the day, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne. It was officially declared a city by Queen Victoria, to whom Lord Melbourne was close, in 1847, after which it became the capital of the newly founded colony of Victoria in 1851. During the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s, it was transformed into one of the world's largest and wealthiest cities. After the federation of Australia in 1901, it served as the nation's interim seat of government until 1927. Additionally, it was the host city of the 1956 Summer Olympics and the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
Kylie Minogue is a native daughter of Melbourne - and while she will certainly get a full presentation soon (as a Gay Icon), today she will provide the song I dedicate to Melbourne, her most successful song, Can't Get You Out Of My Head (2001):
At #14 is a city from the United States, the country that has the most cities in the twenty. Philadelphia is the largest city in the US state and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the sixth-most populous US city. William Penn, an English Quaker, founded the city in 1682 to serve as the capital of the Pennsylvania Colony. Philadelphia played an instrumental role in the American Revolution as a meeting place for the Founding Fathers of the United States, who signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 at the Second Continental Congress, and the Constitution at the Philadelphia Convention of 1787.
Philadelphia is the birthplace of the United States Marine Corps, and is also the home of many US firsts, including the first library (1731), hospital (1751), medical school (1765), national capital (1774), stock exchange (1790), zoo (1874), and business school (1881).
There are many songs about the city to choose from; from Elton John's chart-topping Philadelphia Freedom to Bruce Springsteen's Oscar-winning The Streets Of Philadelphia. I have a soft spot, however, for another song that was also featured on the movie Philadelphia- and was Oscar-nominated. It's Neil Young's Philadelphia:
For the city at #13, we travel to the West Coast of the US. San Francisco is one of the five cities in this list that I've actually visited - and a lovely city it is. Before the AIDS crisis it used to be the gay capital of the world, is it still? It is the cultural, commercial, and financial center of Northern California. It is also the fourth-most populous city in California and the thirteenth most populous in the United States.
San Francisco was founded on June 29, 1776, when colonists from Spain established Presidio of San Francisco at the Golden Gate and Mission San Francisco de Asís a few miles away, all named for St. Francis of Assisi. The California Gold Rush of 1849 brought rapid growth, making it the largest city on the West Coast at the time. San Francisco became a consolidated city-county in 1856. After three-quarters of the city was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco was quickly rebuilt, hosting the Panama-Pacific International Exposition nine years later. In World War II, San Francisco was a major port of embarkation for service members shipping out to the Pacific Theater. It then became the birthplace of the United Nations in 1945. After the war, the confluence of returning servicemen, significant immigration, liberalizing attitudes, along with the rise of the hippie counterculture, the Sexual Revolution, the Peace Movement growing from opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War, and other factors led to the Summer of Love and the gay rights movement, cementing San Francisco as a center of liberal activism in the United States.
San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair) is a song written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas and sung by Scott McKenzie. It was written and released in June 1967 to promote the Monterey Pop Festival. It peaked at #4 in the US, while it went all the way to the top of the charts in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and Norway:
We move north for the city at #12, more specifically to Canada and its largest city, Toronto. Indigenous peoples have traveled through and inhabited the Toronto area, situated on a broad sloping plateau interspersed with rivers, deep ravines, and urban forest, for more than 10,000 years. After the broadly disputed Toronto Purchase, when the Mississaugas surrendered the area to the British Crown, the British established the town of York in 1793 and later designated it as the capital of Upper Canada. During the War of 1812, the town was the site of the Battle of York and suffered heavy damage by US troops. York was renamed and incorporated as the city of Toronto in 1834 and became the capital of the province of Ontario during Canadian Confederation in 1867.
Toronto is an international center for business and finance, as well as a prominent center for music, theatre, motion picture production, and television production.
There are many famous musicians hailing from Toronto, the most famous recording artist on the planet right now, Drake, among them. But the song I want to dedicate to Toronto comes from a less famous, but certainly more eclectic Toronto band, the Cowboy Junkies. Their cover of the Velvet Underground's Sweet Jane is very inspired. It was also used on the soundtrack of Oliver Stone's controversial film, Natural Born Killers. Here it is:
Finally, for today, we go south once more for the city at #11, which is Houston. Houston isis the most populous city in the state of Texas and the fourth most populous city in the United States.
Houston was founded by land speculators on August 30, 1836, at the confluence of Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou (a point now known as Allen's Landing) and incorporated as a city on June 5, 1837. The city is named after former General Sam Houston, who was president of the Republic of Texas and had won Texas' independence from Mexico at the Battle of San Jacinto 25 miles (40 km) east of Allen's Landing. After briefly serving as the capital of the Republic in the late 1830s, Houston grew steadily into a regional trading center for the remainder of the 19th century. The arrival of the 20th century saw a convergence of economic factors which fueled rapid growth in Houston, including a burgeoning port and railroad industry, the decline of Galveston as Texas' primary port following a devastating 1900 hurricane, the subsequent construction of the Houston Ship Channel, and the Texas oil boom. In the mid-20th century, Houston's economy diversified as it became home to the Texas Medical Center - the world's largest concentration of healthcare and research institutions - and NASA's Johnson Space Center, where the Mission Control Center is located.
The city has a population from various ethnic and religious backgrounds and a large and growing international community. Houston is the most diverse metropolitan area in Texas and has been described as the most racially and ethnically diverse major metropolis in the US.
The song that I chose to dedicate to our friends in Houston is one that actually gives a shout out to the city: At the beginning of the song, Bell introduces himself and the Drells as being from Houston, Texas. It is, of course, the classic #1 Tighten Up, by Archie Bell & the Drells. This is it:
Here are this week's Top 10 countries (I give a special mention to Vietnam, which, for a 2nd week in a row, is found in the top 10):
1. the United States
2. the United Kingdom
Here are the other countries that graced us with their presence since our last statistics (alphabetically): Afghanistan, Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Azerbaijan, the Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Guam, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, and Zambia. Happy to have you all!
And here's the all-time Top 10:
1. the United States = 29.8%
2. France = 21.5%
3. the United Kingdom = 12.7%
4. Greece = 6.9%
5. Russia = 2.4%
6. Germany = 1.8%
7. Canada = 1.7%
8. Italy = 1.2%
9. Turkey = 0.90%
10. Cyprus = 0.83%
That's all for today, folks. Till the next one!