Video of the Week: “I Say We Should Play the Music and See What Happens” (How Much Will It Cost Dave To Play Eagles Music? | Letterman)

Eagles’ Greatest Hits Surpasses Thriller As All-Time Best-Selling Album

(via Reverb) by Dan Orkin

The Eagles’ greatest hits compliation—Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975—has supplanted Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the top-selling record of all time. According to a report by the Associated Press, the RIAA or Recording Industry Association of America has confirmed the album’s certification as 38 times platinum meaning that it has been bought or downloaded the equilvelent of 38 millions times since its initial release…

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Did You Ever Realize…


Unsung Heroes of Pop, Part 1

Behind every great man with a guitar there’s a guitar tech, roadie or coke dealer who “sets him up”, as it were. And behind many of pop music’s stars and megastars there’s often someone with a less familiar name doing much of the artistic heavy lifting as well.

Today we pay tribute to a few of those whose names tend get lost as the credits roll–pop music’s “unsung” heroes.

1. Maury Muehleisen: I Got a Name

As a tribute website attests, “Maury Muehleisen was Jim Croce’s One Man Band. He was the heart and soul behind Jim’s music. Maury was the quiet friend who was rarely recognized for his influence on the beautiful guitar duets that changed the way many guitarists played and wrote songs.”

He was also the guy who enabled Croce to look into the camera or the audience during performance, rather than fretting (so to speak) over the finger work on his guitar. Maury’s lyrical playing style made Croce ballads such as “Operator” and “Time in a Bottle” things of understated beauty.

On September 20, 1973, after a concert in Natchitoches Louisiana, Maury Muehleisen was killed with Croce in a plane crash. And you probably didn’t even know his name.


2. Andrew Gold: Not all that’s Gold Glitters


As a solo artist, Andrew Gold is known basically as a two-hit wonder, his big moments in the bright lights being perennial (and Golden Girls theme) “Thank You for Being a Friend” and the more interesting “Lonely Boy”, a song in that idiosyncratic 70’s style of a tragic lyric set to an irresistible hooky tune (see Gilbert O’Sullivan, Terry Jacks, ABBA, et al).

Elsewhere in this blog I theorize that one plausible explanation for Linda Ronstadt’s long-time exclusion from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (as if it matters–a Hall of Fame for Rock and Roll being a farcical idea in the first place) is the team effort behind the music was that issued forth under Ronstadt’s name. “Linda Ronstadt” was, for all intents and purposes, a band. And Andrew Gold was that band’s leader.

Significantly, it’s Gold taking the iconic solo in this performance of “You’re No Good”, while no less a guitarist than Jeff “Skunk” Baxter plays bongos:

Andrew collaborated on most of Ronstadt’s albums during her peak years in the 70’s and arranged hits for her such as “Heatwave” and “When Will I Be Loved”.

And “Thank You For Being a Friend” isn’t the only TV theme to Gold’s credit. He also sang “The Final Frontier”, the theme from Mad About You. “Final Frontier” was actually used as the wake-up call for the Mars Pathfinder space probe in 1996, thereby earning Gold the distinction of being the first human voice heard on planet Mars.

gold 2

The list of artists he lent his vocal, instrumental, performing and/or arranging talents to the work of is almost wearisome in its length. It includes: Celine Dion, Carly Simon, 10cc, James Taylor, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Brian Wilson, Jackson Browne, Don Henley, Diana Ross, Cher, Art Garfunkel, Trisha Yearwood, Wynonna Judd, Jesse McCartney, Eric Carmen, Jennifer Warnes, Stephen Bishop, Nicolette Larson, Eric Carmen, Maria Muldaur, Neil Diamond, Juice Newton, Leo Sayer, Vince Gill, Aaron Neville, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Japanese superstar Eikichi Yazawa.

Put simply, you most likely hear Andrew Gold’s work every day of your life and don’t know it.

Gold died in his sleep in 2011 at age 59.

The last word on Andrew Maurice Gold goes to Grammy-winning producer Peter Asher, who says:

“Andrew’s talent was almost eerie. He was a self-taught instinctive musician who seemed to be able to play any instrument he had a mind to. He was a brilliant writer, a great singer, and a highly imaginative producer and arranger — on top of being a multi-instrumentalist of the highest order. And he never failed to come up with something extraordinary every time he played.”

3. J.D. Souther: It Used to be His Town Too

Similarly to Andrew Gold, J.D. Souther’s time in pop’s spotlight as a solo act was fleeting. 1979’s “You’re Only Lonely” was his only actual solo top ten hit.

But in a more anonymous way, Souther made a huge footprint in the pop world, especially as a primary architect of the California country rock popularized by the Eagles and the aforementioned Linda Ronstadt.

Quoting his homepage: Mr. Souther has written for and with artists as diverse as India Arie, Brooks & Dunn, Jimmy Buffett, Glen Campbell, Joe Cocker, Tammy Wynette and Tanya Tucker, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Diamond Rio, Dixie Chicks, Don Henley, One Flew South, Roy Orbison, Bonnie Raitt, Lynn Anderson, George Strait, Brian Wilson, Trisha Yearwood, Warren Zevon…His songs have also been recorded by Michael Bublé, Tom Jones, Bernadette Peters, Raul Malo, Rita Wilson, Hugh Masekela, and hit Taiwanese pop girl group S.H.E., to name but a few.

Souther made his first significant impression teaming with ex-Byrd Chris Hillman and ex-Buffalo Springfield member Richie Furay in the Souther Hillman Furay Band, recording two albums of country rock before Furay’s conversion to Christianity caused him to abandon playing “secular” music.


As Linda Ronstadt’s live-in boyfriend, songwriter and sometimes duet partner, Souther contributed to several of her multi-platinum albums.

Souther co-wrote and shared equal billing with James Taylor on the 1981 #11 hit duet “Her Town Too”, which most tend in retrospect to view as just another James Taylor song.

Souther’s contributions to the Eagles catalog were done pretty much in anonymity too. He was co-writer of such classics as “Best of my Love”, “Victim of Love”, “How Long”, “Heartache Tonight” (with Bob Seger sharing credit also) and “New Kid in Town”. He also co-wrote Henley’s solo hit “The Heart of the Matter”. Basically the Eagles’ legacy would be much less without Souther’s contributions. His gently loping melodies gave their multipart harmonies room to breathe; Souther’s songs were the perfect foil for the band’s trademark sound.

Pop-lifting (Part 1): Eagles, Beatles, Beach Boys and Their Stolen Music

stand upparker


The other day I got into my car and the first thing I did–just like I was taught in Driver’s Ed class–was to check the CD player. As I switched the function from radio to CD and landed on track 3 where I’d left off listening, I heard parts of Ben Harper’s ‘Steal My Kisses’ and Belle & Sebastian’s ‘If She Wants Me’ back to back. It sounded a little like this:


A weird coincidence only, most likely. But It did get me thinking about some of the more heinous song-on-song crimes that have been perpetrated throughout the years. I’m talking about artists lifting musical ideas from other artists without necessarily giving credit where it’s due. I’m talking about the scandal of Pop-lifting…


‘Ghostbusters’ by Ray Parker Jr. lifted from ‘I Want a New Drug’ by Huey Lewis

The producers of the film Ghostbusters approached Lindsay Buckingham to write a theme song based on his successful contribution of ‘Holiday Road’ to National Lampoon’s Vacation. When Buckingham declined Ray Parker Jr. took the job and wrote the ‘Ghostbusters’ theme. He was promptly sued by Huey Lewis, whose hit ‘I Want a New Drug’ had been a hit earlier that same year and sounded eerily like ‘Ghostbusters’ (ok maybe not ‘eerily’ but still…).

The two settled out of court, with Columbia Pictures paying a settlement to Huey Lewis. The details of this settlement were to remain confidential and were until Lewis made comment about his payment on an episode of VH1’s Behind the Music. Parker then sued Lewis for breach of confidentiality.

What’s really weird is that the bass line the two songs share that made them so similar, is also quite similar to that of M’s ‘Pop Muzik’, a number one hit in late 1979.

Here’s an excellent mashup showing why Ray Parker got Ghostbusted:


‘Come Together’ by The Beatles lifted from ‘You Can’t Catch Me’ by Chuck Berry

‘Come Together’ is pretty much a slowed down, heavier version of Chuck Berry’s ‘You Can’t Catch Me’ with different lyrics–mostly.

The song got John Lennon sued by Big Seven Music Corp, the publisher of Berry’s song. They settled out of court, but a pissed off Lennon vowed to record three more of Big Seven’s songs. He got around to releasing two. Both appeared on his Rock n Roll album and one of them was ‘You Can’t Catch Me’. (The third, ‘Angel Baby, went unreleased until after his death). Big Seven sued and won another award ($6,795) then released an album of Lennon’s unauthorized outtakes in a move designed to embarrass Lennon. This time Lennon sued and won, to the tune of $84,912.96. I’ll always wonder how it came down to that 96 cents…


‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’ by the Beach Boys lifted from ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ by Chuck Berry

And speaking of Chuck Berry, rock n roll’s most ripped-off figure was pretty ticked off to hear ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’ on the radio one day. It’s very nearly a note-for-note rip-off of his ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’. He sued and won royalties and a songwriting credit. It gets weirder: The lyrics of ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’ also seems to have been ‘inspired’ by another song, Bobby Rydell’s ‘Kissin’ Time’, which names various American cities. And ‘Kissin’ Time’ borrows melodically from…yup, ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’. It all comes back to Chuck.


‘Hotel California’ by Eagles lifted from ‘We Used to Know’ by Jethro Tull

When the Eagles toured as opening act for Jethro Tull in their earliest days a song from Tull’s live set and written by Ian Anderson made an impression on songwriter Don Henley. It took a while, but about half a decade later his masterwork, ‘Hotel California’ showed the influence of the earlier song. As far as I know, no one sued anyone. But it is interesting to note how un-original Henley’s magnum opus actually is.


‘Take it to the Limit’ by Eagles lifted from ‘If You Don’t Know Me by Now’ by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes

And while we’re on the subject of the Eagles, let’s take note (why not, everybody else is doing it) of Randy Meisner’s ‘Take it to the Limit’. The opening string arrangement comes across as a homage (to put it politely) to Harold Melvin’s R&B hit of three years earlier, written by Gamble and Huff. It was also, incidentally, the first Eagles single not to feature either Henley or Glenn Frey on lead vocals.


So, here’s to the Originals–the Chuck Berrys and Ian Andersons and Huey Lewis’ of the world–those who sometimes have to sue to get the recognition (and money) they deserve. It’s high praise when artists of the stature of Don Henley, John Lennon and Brian Wilson tap your musical legacy for ideas.


See also: Pop-lifting (Part 2): Avril, Rod and Bob Marley Found Guilty | Every Moment Has A Song (

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