Most awarded songs #1

Top Pop Singles

Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock
Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock (Photo by �� John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

I bought Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles book recently. This is the 17th edition, very different from the previous iterations, most of which I’ve purchased since at least edition 12. For one thing, it’s broken into TWO books, one covering 1955-1989, and a second, to be published, for 1990-2022.

The previous version, covering 1955-2018, runs 1200 pages. The new one is 850. So what’s been added? Top 10 albums. The Pre-Rock Era hits of values, rhythm and blues, rock, and country.

Also The Most Awarded Songs. This covers a range of categories: ASCAP, BMI, RIAA, Rolling Stone magazine, plus Grammys and Oscars, and more.

150. You Are The Sunshine Of My Life  – Stevie Wonder, #1 in 1973. Grammys, RS, RIAA. This is from the Talking Book album, which went to #3 for three weeks. Unsurprisingly, I own it on LP and CD. I was always taken by the fact that the first two voices are NOT Stevie but Jim Gilstrap then Gloria Barley.

149. Y.M.C.A. – the Village People, #2 for three weeks in 1979. Grammys, RIAA. I must own this on vinyl. This is a perennial at wedding receptions and other festive occasions. Incidentally, I was actually on the board of the Albany YMCA in the late 1980s. And I played racquetball there from 1983 until it closed in 2010.

The third of June

148. Ode To Billie Joe – Bobby Gentry, #1 for four weeks in 1967. Grammys, RS, RIAA. I belonged to the Capitol Record Club at the time, and because I did not send my negative option card back in time, I received the Ode To Billie Joe LP, which spent two weeks at #1. I still have it. Here’s a 2007 blog post I wrote, naturally on the third of June.

147. Le Freak – Chic, #1 for six weeks in 1978. Grammy, RRHoF. I have this on some compilation CD.

146. Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag – James Brown, #8 in 1965. Grammys, RS. There are over 100 hits in the book for the Godfather of Soul. When I was growing up, we used to get Jet magazine, put out by the same folks that put out Ebony. James ALWAYS dominated the charts in the 1960s, often with songs I had never heard. This song I have on the greatest hits CD.

145. Stayin’ Alive – the Bee Gees, #1 for four weeks in 1978. RRHoF, RS, RIAA. Of course, now known as the CPR song. From the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, which spent 24 weeks at #1. I had it on vinyl at the time, and the son of my girlfriend at the time gave me considerable grief for owning a “disco” album. I now have it on CD.

144. Jailhouse Rock – Elvis Presley, #1 for seven weeks. Grammys, RRHoF, RS. My father hated Elvis, so my knowledge of Elvis was done rather surreptitiously. The video for Jailhouse Rock, from the movie, was oddly captivating. Now, I have the song on two different greatest hits CDs.

A seven-minute single?

143. Hey Jude – the Beatles. #1 for nine weeks in 1968. Grammy, RRHoF, RS. I actually have this on the single, the Beatles Again/Hey Jude LP (#2 for four weeks), and various CDs (Past Masters, blue album). This song ONLY went to #4 in the UK and #3 in Canada. Ken Levine is not a fan of the song.

142. Piece Of My Heart – Big Brother and the Holding Company, #12 in 1968. The Cheap Thrills album, featuring Janis Joplin, was #1 for eight weeks. Yes, I own that LP, as well as a Joplin greatest hits CD.

141.Sexual Healing – Marvin Gaye, #3 for three weeks in 1983. Grammy, RRHoF, RS, ASCAP. I hadn’t bought a Marvin Gaye album in a while. Then he moved from Motown to Columbia and put out the Top 10 album Midnight Love, which I bought. When Motown put out a Gaye boxed set, which I purchased, Sexual Healing was included.

I might not have gotten this book except that my MIL gave me a generous check for Christmas. I suppose I COULD have spent the money on paying bills, but that sort of violates the spirit of the gift, or so I’ve decided to believe.

1910 #1 hits : discs rule!

Bert Williams (pictured)

According to A Century of Pop Music: “By 1910, discs had assumed full dominance of the popular record market over wax cylinders…” And that advantage “expanded every year…”

Joel Whitburn explains, “Sheet music sales achieved an all-time high in 1910, with published estimates ranging from 30 million to substantially more. Two six-million sellers were ‘Let Me Call You Sweetheart’ and ‘Down By the Old Mill Stream.'” I know both quite well, and I’m not nearly that old. “Not the new, but the old…”

Another popular song from 1910, Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet by Arthur Clough (#3) and the popular Haydn Quartet, among others.

Casey Jones – Billy Murray & the American Quartet (RCA Victor), 11 weeks at #1. Though the RIAA didn’t start certifying records until more than 40 years later, it was designated a gold single. It was “one of the biggest sellers of the entire acoustic recording era.” Billy Murray also had a #3 hit as a solo artist that same summer.

By the Light of the Silvery Moon – Billy Murray and the Haydn Quartet (RCA Victor), 9 weeks at #1. Billy Murray was ubiquitous in this period. The song also went to #2 as performed by both the Columbia Male Quartet and Ada Jones. The Tin Pan Alley standard was first performed on-stage by Lillian Lorraine in the “Ziegfeld Follies of 1909.” Another song that is still a classic over a century later.

More hits

Where the River Shannon Flows – Harry MacDonough, 6 weeks at #1. The Irish Swanee River.

Play That Barber-Shop Chord – Bert Williams, 6 weeks at #1. “Bert Williams (November 12, 1874 – March 4, 1922) was a Bahamian American and was one of the pre-eminent entertainers of the Vaudeville era and one of the most popular comedians for all audiences of his time. He was by far the best-selling black recording artist before 1920. In 1918, the New York Dramatic Mirror called Williams “one of the great comedians of the world.”

Every Little Movement – Harry MacDonough & Lucy Isabelle Marsh, 4 weeks at #1.

Call Me Up Some Rainy Afternoon – Ada Jones & American Quartet (Columbia), 4 weeks at #1. Written by Irving Berlin.

Meet Me To-Night In Dreamland – Henry Burr, 4 weeks at #1.

Carrie (Carrie Marry Harry) – Billy Murray, 2 weeks at #1.

In the Valley of Yesterday – Harry MacDonough (RCA Victor), 2 weeks at #1. Recorded in 1905.

Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! – Byron Harlan & Frank Stanley, 1 week at #1. Apparently recorded in 1907.

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