From Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles book, The Most Awarded Songs #2. This covers a range of categories: ASCAP, BMI, RIAA, Rolling Stone magazine, plus Grammys and Oscars, and more.
140. Need You Now – Lady Antebellum. Of the 150 songs on this list, this is one of the very few I don’t own. Indeed, I have no Lady A, which the group has renamed itself in light of their realization that antebellum suggests slavery. A black singer of blues, soul, funk, and gospel named Anita White, who’d been using Lady A in the Seattle area for more than two decades, was less than pleased.
139. Ohio – Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. I was 17, and regularly protesting the war in Vietnam when Kent State and Jackson State took place, and they were gut-wrenching, and frankly, scary events.
138. Born In The U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen. When I searched for the lyrics, Google responded to the question of whether the song was patriotic. I would posit that it most certainly is, but not in the rah-rah, unthinking sense.
137. White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane. Grace Slick joined the group when Signe Anderson left to have a child. Grace brought White Rabbit, which she wrote, from the playlist of her previous group, the Great Society. It appears on the Airplane’s second album, and the first with Slick, Surrealistic Pillow
136. U Can’t Touch This – MC Hammer. Somehow I never heard the song Super Freak until AFTER the Hammer song came out. I recall that some folks gave the artist grief as lacking street cred. He actually got permission and shared royalties with the writers of Super Freak, Alonzo Miller and its performer, Rick James
“In Birmingham, they love the governor”
135. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynard. In the documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, which I highly recommend, Merry Clayton spoke of her and Clydie King, two well-known black studio singers, singing backing vocalists on the track, and her struggling with her decision to take the job. Neil Young, who is namechecked in the song, said that his song Alabama “richly deserved the shot Lynyrd Skynyrd gave me with their great record.” I still find parts of the song discomforting, and catchy as hell.
134. (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher – Jackie Wilson. This song is so great in part because it features four members of the Motown Records house band The Funk Brothers, plus two of Motown’s house session singers, The Andantes. And Maurice White, later known as a singer for Earth, Wind, and Fire, played drums.
133. Walk This Way – Run-D.M.C. When I saw the video in 1986, with two members of Aerosmith present, I was thinking, “This is when hip hop has gone mainstream.” In a good way.
132. Crying – Roy Orbison. His 1961 hit was outstanding. But I have a soft spot for his 1987 duet with k.d. lang.
131. Tears In Heaven – Eric Clapton. I’m fascinated by how one can make art out of tragedy. The song, written by Clapton and Will Jennings, was about the tragic death of Clapton’s four-year-old son, Conor. The song was for a movie called Rush. It was Clapton’s biggest hit in the US. I first heard it on the MTV Unplugged series.