Michele from Angels Bark, this month’s guest conductor, gave us the theme of “songs with hand claps and/or finger snaps.” I came up with eleven (11) this week. Here they are.
- Tennessee Ernie Ford, “Sixteen Tons” One of the true classics in popular music, accompanied only by a small group and Ernie’s finger snaps. The song was written by Merle Travis. It was released on October 17, 1955 and by October 28 had sold 400,000 copies.
- Miss Peggy Lee, “Fever” The song was written by Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell (as John Davenport). First performed by Little Willie John in 1956 (whose arrangement also included finger snaps), Miss Peggy rewrote the lyrics and sang it as a “torchy lounge” song, accompanied only by Joe Mondragon on bass, Shelley Manne on a small drum kit (played with his fingers), and finger snaps provided either by herself, session guitarist Howard Roberts, or producer Dave Cavanaugh. It reached #5 in the US and the UK and #8 in Australia.
- Butterfield Blues Band, “One More Heartache” From the 1967 album The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw. The handclapping is mostly at the beginning, but sets the mood of the song up well.
- Gipsy Kings, “Volare” Domenico Modugno’s song, which came in third at the 1958 Eurovision Song Contest. The Gipsy Kings gave it a flamenco beat, complete with palmas (hand clapping) toward the end. There are a few YouTube videos which demonstrate the art of palmas. Trust me, it’s much harder than it looks.
- The Routers, “Let’s Go” You hear the hand clapping (clap clap clap-clap-clap clap-clap-clap-clap, “let’s go!”) at the start of John Fogerty’s “Centerfield” and at athletic events all over the globe. It made it to #19 on the Hot 100 in 1962.
- Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks, “You Got To Believe” The first track from Dan’s 1972 Striking It Rich LP features finger-snapping most likely by Naomi Ruth Eisenberg and Maryann Price, the backup singers.
- Neil Diamond, “Cherry Cherry” This started out as a demo by songwriter Diamond and turned out to be his first Top 10 hit, reaching #6. I had forgotten this had hand clapping in it; it was provided by producers (and songwriters) Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich.
- Eddie Rabbitt, “I Love A Rainy Night” This song features both snaps and claps (snaps on the 1 and 3, claps on the 2 and 4) provided by percussionist Farrell Morris, who evidently mixed two tracks of each. Released in November 1980, it reached #1 on the Hot 100, Adult Contemporary, and Hot Country Singles charts in 1981. It replaced Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” at the top of the Hot 100, the last time there were two consecutive country #1’s on the chart.
- Archie Bell & The Drells, “Tighten Up” From 1968, Archie and The Drells (from Houston, Texas) took this to #1 on the Hot 100 and R&B charts. It’s ranked at #265 on Rolling Stone’s list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” and was one of the earliest funk hits. It also joined Sly & The Family Stone’s 1968 hit “Dance To The Music,” The Beginning of the End’s 1971 hit “Funky Nassau,” and the next song as being songs where, at some point (sometimes several), the instruments (except usually the drummer) stop and come in one at a time. The clapping comes at several places, when the horns come in.
- The Capitols, “Cool Jerk” From 1966, when it went to #2 on the R&B singles chart and #7 on the Hot 100. Wikipedia tells us that the song was originally named “Pimp Jerk,” but they changed it because they were worried radio stations wouldn’t play it.
- Ramsey Lewis Trio, “The ‘In’ Crowd” Chicago’s own Ramsey Lewis recorded this in 1965 with bassist Eldee Young and drummer Isaac “Red” Holt for the album of the same name. It was recorded live at the Bohemian Caverns nightclub in Washington, DC, and the crowd adds the hand clapping. The song reached #2 on the R&B chart and #5 on the Hot 100; the album reached #1 on the R&B album chart and #2 on the Hot 200 albums and took the 1966 Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance by an Individual or Group. Young and Holt left the following year to form The Young-Holt Trio and later Young-Holt Unlimited; they were replaced by bassist Cleveland Eaton and drummer Maurice White (one of the founders of Earth Wind & Fire).
And that’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for October 8, 2018.