Late 1960s Hits Rate | #48 | A Hazey Family favorite gets the "didn't know this filler song, didn't care for it" treatment.

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  • Total voters
    17
he/him
#55

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Haan FM's British Invasion 13th/15

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Van Morrison - Brown Eyed Girl

7.663

Highest
| 10 x 4 | @Pinky25, @unnameable, @daninternational, @Remorque

Lowest | 0 | @TéléDex | 5 | @Maki

Released | June 1967

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N/A
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#10

Halfway Mark
| #53 (8.000) -- stayed between #55 and #53 most of the time.

Songfacts | This was originally called "Brown Skinned Girl," and was about an interracial relationship. Morrison changed it to "Brown Eyed Girl" to make it more palatable for radio stations. Some stations banned it anyway for the line, "Making love in the green grass."

I found this out recently, which kind of makes the song even more iconic, pre-viewing Beyonce's smash decades in advance.

This was Morrison's first release as a solo artist; he was previously with the group Them. The song appeared on his debut solo album Blowin' Your Mind! and again on his 1973 compilation T.B. Sheets. It's one of Morrison's most enduring songs, but he thinks a lot less of it than most of the public. In 2009 he explained to Time magazine: "'Brown Eyed Girl' I didn't perform for a long time because for me it was like a throwaway song. I've got about 300 other songs I think are better than that."

This was a hit during the "Summer Of Love," when hippie culture bloomed in the US and the song provided a fitting soundtrack. Morrison, however, wanted nothing to do with this scene and was horrified when the album was released with a psychedelic-looking cover.

I don't know, something about this makes me chuckle a little. "You're doing what with my 'throwaway song'!"

The female backing vocals were performed by The Sweet Inspirations, a gospel-influenced group that performed on many hits for other artists in addition to their own material. You can also hear them on "Chain of Fools" by Aretha Franklin and "I Say a Little Prayer" by Dionne Warwick. The Sweet Inspirations became Elvis Presley's female backing singers in 1969, touring and recording with him until his death.

This song was awarded a "Million-Air" certificate at the 2009 BMI London Awards dinner. The certificates are presented in recognition of songs by European artists that have achieved multi-million US radio and television performances and this track topped the 2009 list with an astounding nine million performances, since it was first recorded.

This was prominently featured in the 1991 thriller Sleeping with the Enemy as Julia Roberts' character is having fun with masks and theater props.

Adam Duritz was accused of pilfering the "sha-la-la-la-la" from "Brown Eyed Girl" for Counting Crows' "Mr. Jones." Guitarist David Bryson balked at the suggestion in an interview with The Georgia Straight in 1997: "Certainly Adam grew up listening to Van Morrison - I mean, we all still listen to Van Morrison - but, my god, every band today has grown up with rock 'n' roll, and all those influences show themselves at one point or another."

dd, "Mr. Jones" is one of my all-time favorites and I never even thought of it.

It surprised me when Hazey's Mom and Dad gave 8.5 and 8 respectively as I thought they loved it more since my Mom sings along to the song. There was a time I would've given this a 10 myself, but ended up a 9.5, because I just felt like my initial hype about it had faded a tad below all the 10's I have in the rate. I gave a few 9.5's for this reason.


Commentary

@berserkboi (8) - Very cute song!

@TéléDex (0) - I know this would be a 6 or 7 on a normal music forum. 0.

'normal music forums' banned them, so that's why they're here.

@Maki (5) - This one almost seemed like he just ad-libbed a song over a very nice instrumental, not a hook in sight.

@daninternational (10) - As the resident pirate and karaoke obsessive of the family, back in the day I would always organise the karaoke for my sister's house parties. After a few too many Woo Woos she would always make her husband sing this to her. Music was so important to her and I find so many rates have songs which bring her to mind. This is one of the best <3


Relatable memories. Something about listening to this song, especially the instrumental, just tends to bring me back to a time in life when things were far more carefree. Music is best when it does this, in my opinion.
 
"He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother" is another one I thought would do at least a bit better but it's not a surprising cut.
There are definitely some sparks of beauty (those strings in particular) and the lyrics are quite endearing but I don't see myself ever properly returning to it. And when I'm ready for the song to end it still has like a minute left to go.

Nice to see my lowest remaining score "Brown Eyed Girl" leave. Scream at Van Morrison himself being the one whose opinion matches the most with mine - this song surely sounds very 'throwaway' and uninspired overall. The instrumental is very cute (I think it has potential to have a really good song on top of it) but the melodies are just not coming together, the 'shalala...' bits with those vocals didn't help either.

Tomorrow, Motown takes its first hit.
This has to be Stevie Wonder, I was sure he'd be out in the bottom 5. Or maybe it's Sly & the Family Stone which is also among my lowest Motown scores, I do have some other songs on my chopping block though.
 
She/Her
As a brown-eyed girl, I liked that one a lot growing up and it's still pleasant (the guitar particularly), but I don't care that much about it leaving now. Maybe I've just heard it too many times (I am not at all surprised by that nine million performances number) or maybe it's because I know Van Morrison became a conservative conspiracy theorist and I don't really like him as a person. Meh.
 
Adam Duritz was accused of pilfering the "sha-la-la-la-la" from "Brown Eyed Girl" for Counting Crows' "Mr. Jones." Guitarist David Bryson balked at the suggestion in an interview with The Georgia Straight in 1997: "Certainly Adam grew up listening to Van Morrison - I mean, we all still listen to Van Morrison - but, my god, every band today has grown up with rock 'n' roll, and all those influences show themselves at one point or another."

dd, "Mr. Jones" is one of my all-time favorites and I never even thought of it.
Forum Counting Crows historian here. (y’all will never know how obsessed with them I was in hight school. whew.)

Anyways, the whole story is that Adam is a huge Van Morrison fan, but his ‘sha-la-la’s’ which arguably suck you into the song, were supposedly egged on by producer T-Bone Bunett. I can’t remember the exact interview (may have been Musician magazine?) but Adam told the story about how T-Bone thought the song was missing something, and coaxed him into adlibbing the sha-la-las almost as a pisstake.

Well they sounded sound great on the record and they stuck. Much to Adam’s chagrin, as once the song blew up & he became irritated by it, he had to answer all these interview questions about Van Morrison‘s influence on them & if they were merely ‘imitators’ of the the greats. In fact, for the next year after that he intentionally distanced himself from singing them live… and probably only did so half the time. Even then he sang them kind of sarcastically. In fact he even started singing part of The Byrds classic ‘So You Want To Be A Rock N Roll Star’ in place of the sha-la-las… which I think was his whole meta-statement on the matter of imitation in music.



Adding to the mythlogy is that in early 1993, like 9 months before Counting Crows debut album was released, they were asked to play in place of an absent Van Morrison at the Rock & Roll Hall Fame induction ceremony. It was an intense honor, as up to the point I believe they were the first band to ever play the ceremony who didn’t even have an album out yet. The buzz around them in the industry was pretty insane. They played ’Caravan’ at the ceremony.



The fact they did that & did a Brown Eyed Girl mini-tribute on Mr. Jones, certainly gave the the critics a lot of fuel for the fire… as they were oddly divisive at the height of grunge.

That’s probably as much as anyone would ever want to know about Sha-la-las, Van Morrison, & Counting Crows.

That’s why you all keep me around, right?
 
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This "Brown Eyed Girl" elimination and discourse actually reminded me that I wanted to spotlight a pretty obscure song which I discovered recently and have been obsessed with but the sound quality is not that good so I didn't consider it for any contest. Anyway, it's by a pop/country singer Sandy Posey and was released as a B-side of her single from 1968:



Written and composed by Sandy herself, I imagine it would've hypothetically appeared in the Americana section. It's so gorgeous, has a melancholy vibe to it and instantly sounded like a total classic to me. I genuinely prefer it to pretty much everything in this rate, would've been a strong 11 contender.
By the way I have green eyes hehe
 
he/him
#54

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Motown Magic 97.1 15th/15

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Sly and the Family Stone - Everyday People

7.675

Highest
| 10 | @DJHazey | 9.5 | @Consideration

Lowest | 5 | @daninternational | 6 x 2 | @Aester, @Maki

Halfway Mark | #56 (7.900) --- always between #54 and #56.

Released | November 1968

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#36
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#1

Songfacts
| Group leader Sly Stone wrote "Everyday People" about how everyone is essentially the same, regardless of race or background. Sly & the Family Stone was a mash-up of musical styles, with band members of different genders and ethnic backgrounds.

Billy Preston played organ on this track. Preston has appeared on many famous songs, including some by The Beatles and Rolling Stones.

Joan Jett hit #37 in the US with her 1983 cover version. Aretha Franklin, Belle & Sebastian and Pearl Jam also recorded the song, and Arrested Development used it as the basis of their 1992 hit "People Everyday."

This was featured in a series of television commercials for Toyota in the late 1990s.

It tends to get used on alot of commercial campaigns in the U.S. or so it seems, hearing it on a Walmart commercial of all things back when I first started formalizing this rate's idea, is what brought me back to it and a rejuvenated love for the song.

Sly & the Family Stone included "Everyday People" in their set at Woodstock, which according to Carlos Santana was the standout performance at the festival.

This was used in the 1982 drama Purple Haze, starring Peter Nelson; the 2008 romantic dramedy Definitely, Maybe, starring Ryan Reynolds; and the 2008 biopic Milk, about gay rights activist Harvey Milk, starring Sean Penn.

To me, this is one of the feel-good bops of the entire rate and definitely did not deserve to be the first Motown song out. Should've lasted at least 20 more eliminations in fact. It's got a strong message of inclusiveness, hey maybe it's a bit on the nose sounding 50+ years later but still. I also liked that it would add a unique sound to the era's hits, as to me it adds a little 1970s flavor to this. My parents (who gave a 8 and 7) were just as ambivalent to the song as most of the voters here, so I guess I was really by myself in loving it. I'm kind of surprised it seems to have passed everyone by, or not been as well known as it should be.

Commentary

Speaking of which...

@berserkboi (8) - Passed me by somehow.

@daninternational (5) - Feels more like an interlude than a fully fleshed-out song.

@Maki (6) - That loud belting note jumpscared me at first. I think I heard that hook somewhere, it's giving nursery rhyme. Overall a bit of a weird tune, different things are happening but it somehow remains nothingy.

Interesting you say this because the place I source facts about the song mentions how the use of "scoobi-doobi-do" came out around the same time as the first episode of Scooby Doo, Where Are You? the cartoon. Coincidence? Also, there was this tidbit mentioned:

This song takes some inspiration from Mother Goose, adding a twist to the traditional nursery rhyme "rub-a-dub-dub." The familiar three men in a tub - the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker - become the butcher, the banker, the drummer, and, in the spirit of the song's message of solidarity among all people, Sly adds: "makes no difference what group I'm in."
 
"Everyday People" is my second lowest rated song from the Motown section so obviously a good early elimination.

It's a cute little song and I like how it's one of the most 70s-sounding ones in the rate however there's not much to it that grabs me. The message is very nice and timeless indeed but, as Hazey said, it's a bit too on-the-nose, even for that time.


Which now brings me to another spotlight of a 60s song I discovered very recently. And it's really interesting how we consecutively lost "Brown Eyed Girl", which is about an interracial relationship, and "Everyday People" which deals with discrimination, when this is a song which ties both and actually preceeded them, being recorded in 1965 and released in 1966. It's a debut single by one and only Janis Ian:



It covers both themes with much more skilled and expressive wordcraft, not to mention it's an incomparably more sonically pleasing song to me. Actually here are the lyrics so you can see how masterful and ahead of its time they are:
[Verse 1]
Come to my door, baby, face is clean and shining black as night
My mother went to answer, you know that you looked so fine
Now I could understand your tears and your shame
She called you "boy" instead of your name
When she wouldn't let you inside
When she turned and said, "but honey, he's not our kind"

[Chorus]
She says I can't see you anymore, baby
Can't see you anymore

[Verse 2]
Walk me down to school, baby, everybody's acting deaf and blind
Until they turn and say, "Why don't you stick to your own kind?"
My teachers all laugh, their smirking stares
Cutting deep down in our affairs
Preachers of equality
Think they believe it, then why won't they just let us be?

[Chorus]
They say I can't see you anymore, baby
Can't see you anymore

[Verse 3]
One of these days I'm gonna stop my listening, gonna raise my head up high
One of these days I'm gonna raise my glistening wings and fly
But that day will have to wait for a while
Baby, I'm only society's child
When we're older things may change
But for now this is the way they must remain

[Chorus]
I say I can't see you anymore, baby
Can't see you anymore
No, I don't wanna see you anymore, baby

And the wildest part is that Janis was only 13 when she first wrote this song. Thirteen. A prodigy in every sense of that word.
 
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he/him
#53

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California Vibes from 93.2 The Code 14th/15

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The Byrds - Mr. Tambourine Man

7.700

Highest
| 10 x 2 | @Pinky25, @Remorque

Lowest | 3 | @daninternational | 5 x 2 | @WoW73, @Aester

Halfway Mark | #55 (7.925) -- the low point was right before voter #10 (@Pinky25) and their 10, when this song was #57.

Released | April 1965

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#1
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#1

Songfacts
| Bob Dylan wrote "Mr. Tambourine Man," which was originally released on his fifth album, Bringing It All Back Home, on March 22, 1965. His version wasn't released as a single, but when The Byrds released their cover on April 12, 1965, it was a transatlantic hit, topping the charts in both the US (on June 26) and UK (on July 22). It's the only song Dylan ever wrote that went to #1 in America.

This, I believe, is the first song we've eliminated that was a #1 hit in both countries.

Dylan claims that despite popular belief, this song is not about drugs. In the liner notes to his 1985 compilation Biograph, he wrote: "Drugs never played a part in that song... 'disappearing through the smoke rings in my mind,' that's not drugs; drugs were never that big a thing with me. I could take 'em or leave 'em, never hung me up."

yet we have this information to the contrary dd

Dylan wrote this on a road trip he took with some friends from New York to San Francisco. They smoked lots of marijuana along the way, replenishing their stash at post offices where they had mailed pot along the way. He started writing it after they got to Mardi Gras in New Orleans and partied there the night of February 11, 1964.

This song is discussed in the 1995 movie Dangerous Minds, where the characters talk about the underlying drug references this song might entail. Example: "Mr. Tambourine Man"=Drug Dealer; "Play a song for me"=give me a joint. The basis for this theory was that music was heavily censored at that time, so musicians would share their feelings about drugs and unallowed subject material through coded songs.

This was inspired by a folk guitarist named Bruce Langhorne. As Dylan explained: "Bruce was playing with me on a bunch of early records. On one session, [producer] Tom Wilson had asked him to play tambourine. And he had this gigantic tambourine. It was, like, really big. It was as big as a wagon wheel. He was playing and this vision of him playing just stuck in my mind." Dylan never told Langhorne about it, he wrote the song and recorded a version with Ramblin' Jack Elliott that got to The Byrds (known as the Jet Set at the time) before it was ever put on a record.

The Byrds version is based on Bob Dylan's demo of the song that he recorded during sessions for his 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan It was The Byrds' manager, Jim Dickson, who brought in the demo and asked them to record it - the group refused at first because they thought it didn't have any hit potential. When The Byrds did record it, they took some lyrics out and added a 12-string guitar lead. "Kudos to Roger McGuinn for taking on 'Tambourine Man,' which didn't knock us out when we first heard it," Byrds bass player Chris Hillman said in a Songfacts interview. "Bob Dylan had written it in a very countrified groove, a straight 2/4 time signature, and Roger takes the song home and works with it, puts it in 4/4 time, so you could dance to it. Bob heard us do it and said, 'Man, you could dance to this!' It really knocked him over and he loved it."

"Mr. Tambourine Man" changed the face of rock music. It launched The Byrds, convinced Dylan to "go electric," and started the folk-rock movement. David Crosby of The Byrds recalled the day Dylan heard them working on the song: "He came to hear us in the studio when we were building The Byrds. After the word got out that we gonna do 'Mr. Tambourine Man' and we were probably gonna be good, he came there and he heard us playing his song electric, and you could see the gears grinding in his head. It was plain as day. It was like watching a slow-motion lightning bolt." (Quote from Bob Dylan: Performing Artist: The Early Years.)

This was the first of many Bob Dylan songs recorded by The Byrds. Others include: "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," "The Times They Are a-Changin'," "It's All Over Now Baby Blue," and "Chimes of Freedom."

Commentary

@berserkboi (8) - Great melody!

@Maki (8) - Very nice, especially the chorus.

I never would really seek this song out, but it's a pleasant tune. It's certain an influential one, considering it's basically the first ever folk-rock hit and started a movement in popular music during the mid-to-late 1960s. Remember, this is also when the Beatles would switch up their style and go with a folk-rock approach themselves, so you can definitely see why a song this profound in pop history needed to be here no matter what. Personally, I find "Turn! Turn! Turn!..." to be much more enjoyable, so its higher ranking works out well.

 

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