How Good It Is

By Claude Call

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Category: Music

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 Nov 10, 2018

 Nov 4, 2018
This podcast is full of brilliantly woven music trivia and deep tracks.

 Nov 2, 2018


Every week I choose a song from the 50s through the 80s and dive into its history, the story behind the song and other items of interest. Find more stuff at

Episode Date
57--Shel Silverstein, Part I
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Shel Silverstein was a poet, a cartoonist, a humorist and a songwriter who wrote more hits than most people would suspect.
Nov 10, 2018
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />The Isley Brothers' first charting hit from 1959 got its start not as a song, but as a bit they'd do to extend another song they were already singing in concert.
Nov 03, 2018
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Ray Parker Jr wasn't the first person approached to come up with a pop song to support this film, but he was the last, and the best.
Oct 28, 2018
54--Walk on the Wild Side
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Lou Reed's signature song (he once joked that he knew his obituary would start with "doot, di-doot, di-doot...") has its origins in people he knew and worked with at Andy Warhol's studio, The Factory.
Oct 20, 2018
53--Both Sides Now
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />One fine evening in 1967, Judy Collins gets a call from Al Kooper and Joni Mitchell, and it turns into her first Top 40 hit.
Oct 13, 2018
52--Into the Night
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Benny Mardones may be the only person to be a one-hit wonder twice, charting two times with the same version of the same song.
Sep 23, 2018
51--Barbara Ann
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />This hit from early 1966 isn't quite the spontaneous fun party it sounds like.
Sep 15, 2018
50--Exchange Students
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />This week we take a look at a bunch of artists who made it into the higher tiers of the Hot 100 with songs that weren't recorded in English.
Sep 08, 2018
49--School's Out
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Alice Cooper's biggest hit was inspired by two things: Old movies and the last three minutes of the school day.
Sep 01, 2018
48--Under the Covers, Part 3
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />It's been a while since we took a look at a bunch of songs that you may not realize are covers of other artists' work.
Aug 27, 2018
47--Remembering Aretha Franklin
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Aretha Franklin died on August 16, 2018. This week's show takes a look back at the life and music career of the Queen of Soul.
Aug 18, 2018
46--Mellow Yellow
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Donovan struck lucky a couple of times with this song: first, it was the beginning of people looking into the deeper meaning behind absolutely every lyric. Second, the song got a weird boost from a practical joke being played by an underground newspaper out of Berkeley.
Aug 11, 2018
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Disco was on its way out, to be replaced by Hip-Hop or New Wave, depending on the clubs you frequented. Blondie's last major hit in the US was a track that departed from their previous style and broke a few barriers along the way.
Aug 04, 2018
44--Smoke on the Water
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />After a mishap during a Frank Zappa concert destroyed the space that Deep Purple was going to use for a recording space, the band had to scramble to find a new space. Once they'd found it, they wrote a song outlining the story of the accidental arson and the search for a new location. While they didn't have big hopes for the song, it became their biggest hit.
Jul 28, 2018
43--Where Did Our Love Go
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />The Supremes were doing so poorly on the charts that people around Motown were calling them the "No-Hit Supremes". Then along came a song that nobody at the label wanted to record, and the Supremes, backed into a corner, recorded what turned out to be their first Number One hit.
Jul 21, 2018
42--Baker Street
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />In 1978, Gerry Rafferty was finally untangled from the legal squabbles created by the multiple breakups of Stealers Wheel. He took the experience and turned it into a monster hit, but there are a couple of intriguing controversies surrounding the song.
Jul 07, 2018
41--Summertime Blues
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />The song that cemented Eddie Cochran's place in the Rock and Roll firmament was written in about an hour by a 19 year old Cochran and his manager.
Jun 30, 2018
40--Murray Head
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Murray Head is another one of those famous guys whose name is known to few. He had two hit singles in the US, 15 years apart and very different in style, tone and content, but which have something very peculiar in common.
Jun 23, 2018
39--Under the Boardwalk
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />One of The Drifters' bigger hits might have been a sequel to one of their earlier songs, but it was definitely a prequel to one of their later songs.
Jun 16, 2018
38--Killing Me Softly With His Song
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />It's 1971 and Don McLean hadn't yet hit it big with "American Pie," so he was touring around and caught the attention of a singer-songwriter named Lori Lieberman, who was so touched by his performance that she wrote a poem which ultimately became a hit in multiple genres.
Jun 09, 2018
37--Walk This Way
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />The rumor goes that Aerosmith was inspired by a Mel Brooks movie to write the song that provided them with not only their first Top 10 hit, but that gave them the lever to make a comeback in 1986. As far as the rumor is concerned, let me quote another Mel Brooks movie: "It's twoo, it's twoo!"
Jun 02, 2018
36--Sultans of Swing
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Mark Knopfler sees a band performing to a nearly-empty house in a South London pub, and turned the experience into Dire Straits' breakout single.
May 26, 2018
35--(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />By early 1965, the Rolling Stones had scored a couple of hits, but they were still Just Another British Band Covering a Bunch of American R&B Songs. Then one night Keith Richards literally wrote something in his sleep, and it became the start of something that turned them into a worldwide phenomenon.
May 12, 2018
34--Thompson Twins
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />There was nobody named Thompson, and there weren't any Twins. But they were a part of the Second British Invasion of the 1980s, and this is how they got there.
May 06, 2018
33--Ron Dante
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />In 1969 Ron Dante had two hits in the Top Ten at the same time, and nobody knew his name.
Apr 28, 2018
32--Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />In 1957, Jerry Lee Lewis finally broke out of his role as a session musician at Sun Records, with a song that taught pretty much everyone that there's another way to play the piano.
Apr 21, 2018
31--The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Gordon Lightfoot found inspiration in a news story that he felt wasn't getting nearly enough attention, and it wound up being his second-biggest single.
Apr 14, 2018
30--Angel Baby
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br /><p>By the time Rosie and the Originals' only hit reached the <em>Billboard </em>charts, the band had already broken up, and Rosie herself was just beginning a decades-long battle for royalties. And the record isn't even that good; I'll fight you over that one.&nbsp;</p>
Apr 07, 2018
29--Rockin' Robin
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />What does Bobby Day have in common with The Pink Panther? Tune in and you'll find the anther! (heh.)
Mar 18, 2018
28: You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Phil Spector was looking for some male acts to pad out his all-female stable of talent when he heard the Righteous Brothers. Shortly thereafter they recorded a song that few people thought would be a hit.
Mar 10, 2018
27--Bette Davis Eyes
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />It was late May of 1981 and I was thisclose to graduating high school. And from the radio came the sounds of a synthesizer and the raspy voice of an angel, and for the entire summer, she sang to me about a woman who looked like a movie star.
Mar 03, 2018
26--Stairway to Heaven
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Led Zeppelin's biggest, most definitive track and unless you have several hundred bucks, you're not likely to see it on a 45 RPM record.
Feb 25, 2018
25--I Only Have Eyes For You
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />The Flamingos' biggest hit gets its origins from a 1934 movie starring Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell.
Feb 17, 2018
24--Fingertips Part 2
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Stevie Wonder was a pre-teen genius but Motown didn't know what to do with him. Then he scored the label's second #1 hit. Afterward...they still didn't know what to do with him. Apologies for the late delivery; I uploaded this file but somehow managed not to publish it!
Feb 14, 2018
23--Lady Marmalade
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Labelle was a girl doo-wop group in the 60s that remade themselves into a funk rock group, and again into a glam rock group, finally hitting #1 with this proto-disco track.
Feb 03, 2018
22--Under the Covers II
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />It's a return to songs you may not have known were covers, including one you probably DID know was a cover, but not that it was the second cover of that song.
Jan 28, 2018
21--Edwin Hawkins
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Musician Edwin Hawkins has died at the age of 74, and like so many other artists, his first hit was an off-the-wall discovery by a promoter and a disc jockey, about two years after it was recorded on the cheap.
Jan 20, 2018
20--Mercedes Benz
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Janis Joplin's last recorded song was a happy accident, and the producer decided that it didn't need instrumentation.
Jan 13, 2018
19--The Coasters
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />The first group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame went through many configurations, but it was the combination of Dub Jones, Carl Gardner, Cornell Gunter, and Billy Guy that scored most of the biggest hits for this group. This week we take a closer look at three of them.
Jan 07, 2018
18--Fame by David Bowie
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />In 1975, David Bowie was a known element in the rock world, but he still hadn't cracked the Top Ten in the US. Then, with a little inspiration from John Lennon and a little venom toward his former manager, Bowie came up with the tune that cemented his place in the Rock and Roll firmament.
Dec 30, 2017
17--Home for Christmas
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Smithtown, New York is a collection of hamlets on the north shore of Long Island. I always had trouble explaining to people where it is ("Go to Commack and turn left."), but despite this, Smithtown has an interesting connection to two rather disparate Christmas songs.
Dec 23, 2017
16--Light My Fire
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />In the Summer of Love, an obscure club band from the LA area climbs the charts to become one of the big hits that year. It wasn't The Doors' first single, but it was absolutely their first hit and their signature song.
Dec 09, 2017
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />It's the holiday season, and what better way to celebrate than by taking a deep dive into a perennial Halloween favorite? (Hey, Halloween is a holiday too.) It's the story of how a song went from "Starlight" to being the basis of a horror-themed video.
Dec 02, 2017
14--Six Feet From Stardom
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />This week, it's a look at hit songs that have backup singers who are well-known, because they're also famous. Reminder: next week I'm taking off for the Thanksgiving weekend. See you in two weeks!
Nov 18, 2017
13--MacArthur Park
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Love it or hate it, Richard Harris' song from 1968 certainly seems to create some strong reactions. Here's the story behind the song, and how (as it turns out) one woman inspired three different hit songs from the same writer, and another one in Europe.
Nov 11, 2017
12--El Paso
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Let us turn back the clock to 1959, when Marty Robbins put a small town in a corner of Texas on everyone's mental map.
Nov 04, 2017
11--Failing Upward
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Everybody goofs now and then. That's why they put erasers on pencils. But once in awhile someone makes a mistake that's so good, you just have to leave it alone. This week we look at four songs with mistakes that the artists chose to retain because they thought it made the song better.
Oct 28, 2017
10--Free Bird
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Today we're commemorating the 40th anniversary of the plane crash that killed several members of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd and their manager with a look at the song that became their signature tune.
Oct 20, 2017
9--Under the Covers
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />This week's episode takes a look at a bunch of songs that are covers of other artists' work. Some of them I guarantee you know, others I'm sure will come as a surprise.
Oct 13, 2017
8--Like a Rolling Stone
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />This week, Dylan Goes Electric and changes the face of Rock and Roll.
Oct 06, 2017
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />This time around we're looking at the first band to hit the #1 spot on the chart with an instrumental as their debut song. ¡Es bueno!
Sep 30, 2017
6--This Song
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />This week we take a look at the lawsuit that plagued George Harrison for the better part of the 70s, and the hit single that resulted from all the turmoil.
Sep 22, 2017
5--In The Air Tonight
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />Today we take a look at the real story behind Phil Collins' breakout hit and the secret to the way his drums sound.
Sep 15, 2017
4: Get Together
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />This week we're going to check out a song that was recorded many times but became a hit only once...two years after that recording was made.
Sep 08, 2017
3: The Buckinghams' Greatest Hits
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />This week we're diving into a band whose hits all charted during a single year, after which they practically disappeared. And we'll meet the woman responsible for 80% of them.
Sep 01, 2017
Episode 2: Sukiyaki
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />This week we dive into a Japanese-language tune that took the world by storm and dominated the charts for three weeks in June of 1964.
Aug 25, 2017
Episode 1: I'm Not In Love
<img src="" alt="itunes pic" /><br />The debut episode takes a look at 10cc's breakout hit from 1975.
Aug 18, 2017