Monday, February 23, 2009

A Healthy Rivalry

Not having been alive at the time, I always kind of pieced together the British Invasion as consisting primarily of the Beatles breaking through at the beginning of 1964, followed by the Rolling Stones coming on with "Satisfaction" a year or so later. "Satisfaction," with its crude riff and roughly vernacular lyrics, doesn't really sound anything like the Beatles' early hits, but one thing I never had a sense for was - how long after the Ed Sullivan business did the Stones reach the charts? Was there a point when the Stones replaced the Beatles as America's newest hitmakers?

I thought it would be interesting to put together a list of all the Beatles and Stones Top Ten American hits, through the end of 1970, overlaid so that you can see who was dominating and who was answering whom. And to see if anything else interesting came up.

There was this: Only one time did the Top Forty feature new entries by both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, on March 5, 1966, when "Nowhere Man" and "19th Nervous Breakdown" both crashed the charts. Here's the rest of them, with the dates when they first entered the Top Forty:

"I Want to Hold Your Hand," January 25, 1964
"She Loves You," February 1, 1964
"Please Please Me," February 22, 1964
"Twist and Shout," March 21, 1964
"Can't Buy Me Love," March 28, 1964
"Do You Want to Know a Secret," April 11, 1964
"Love Me Do," May 2, 1964
"P.S. I Love You," May 16, 1964
"A Hard Day's Night," July 18, 1964
"Time Is on My Side," November 7, 1964
"I Feel Fine," December 5, 1964
"She's a Woman," December 12, 1964
"Eight Days a Week," February 27, 1965
"The Last Time," April 10, 1965
"Ticket to Ride," May 1, 1965
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," June 19, 1965
"Help!," August 14, 1965
"Yesterday," October 2, 1965
"Get Off My Cloud," October 16, 1965
"We Can Work It Out," December 18, 1965
"Day Tripper," December 25, 1965
"As Tears Go By," January 8, 1966
"Nowhere Man," March 5, 1966
"19th Nervous Breakdown," March 5, 1966
"Paint It, Black," May 21, 1966
"Paperback Writer," June 11, 1966
"Mother's Little Helper," July 16, 1966
"Yellow Submarine," August 27, 1966
"Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?," October 8, 1966
"Ruby Tuesday," February 4, 1967
"Penny Lane," March 4, 1967
"Strawberry Fields Forever," March 11, 1967
"All You Need Is Love," July 29, 1967
"Hello Goodbye," December 9, 1967
"Lady Madonna," March 23, 1968
"Jumpin' Jack Flash," June 15, 1968
"Hey Jude," September 14, 1968
"Get Back," May 10, 1969
"The Ballad of John and Yoko," June 21, 1969
"Honky Tonk Women," July 26, 1969
"Come Together," October 18, 1969
"Something," October 18, 1969
"Let It Be," March 21, 1970
"The Long and Winding Road," May 23, 1970


Repoz said...

I liked the Beatles well enough at the time (hell...I was a mop-strumming Paul in a pretendo Beatles band during catechism class)

But once the Stones hit with "Satisfaction" was all over forever...punk til die and all.

I remember the first time I heard it...I was hanging with my buddy and his much older sister than I had a mejor league bonta for.

She played the song...announced it was the longest 45 ever made...and then ripped a coolots tearing ass blast.

Up until that point...I wasn't quite sure if females ever farted.

T. Nawrocki said...

I think that's "culottes."

I don't know about that "longest 45 ever" business. I've got the Stones' own "Tell Me" at 3:46, a year before "Satisfaction" at 3:44.

Kinky Paprika said...

Love how you can see the Stones' singles building up to more and more of a cranked frenzy throughout 1966 (ending with the hyper "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby)" ... and then crash!
More than a year with no hit singles.

You mean "She's A Rainbow" didn't go Top 40?

T. Nawrocki said...

This was strictly Top Tens. Writing out all the Top Fortys would have required me to list 64 songs, which is too many.

"She's a Rainbow" peaked at Number 25.

Joe said...

"She's a Rainbow" -- the greatest song about the aphrodisiacal qualities of LSD ever written.

1967 is a strange time for the Stones. The Beatles are then peaking as singles artists -- "Penny Lane," "Strawberry Fields," "All You Need Is Love," each of them ridiculously simple and unfathomably complex at the very same moment. Neat. This is the apex of their craft. After this, they are falling apart in fascinating ways, and the music has a patched together quality. Many of the singles are simply versions of the music they loved when they were young (Fats Domino in "Lady Madonna," Chuck Berry in "Get Back,” rockabilly in “Ballad of John & Yoko”). All great. But not the defining work.

The Stones begin ’67 by releasing “Between the Buttons,” the final song of which is a music-hall number about taking LSD, “Something Happened to Me Yesterday.” They spend the rest of the year out of their heads on acid, and except for “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” little of the music is Stones-like: “Dandelion,” “Ruby Tuesday,” “2000 Light Years From Home,” “She’s a Rainbow.” (Doubtless spending a chunk of the year worrying about going to jail has something to do with this, but Bill Wyman gets an A-side!) Then in ’68 Keith takes charge and out pops “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” a far more powerful song than “Satisfaction” (at least musically), and one that shapes their sound and the sound of the world around them for years to come. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Street Fighting Man,” “Honky Tonk Women” — this is their defining work. The way every band in the ‘60s had to cope with the sound of the Beatles, every band in the ‘70s had to cope with the sound of the Stones, and that was the sound they had to cope with.

Kinky Paprika said...

Sorry - I was at work and reading too fast. Should have known those were not all the Top 40 hits for each band.
I still think "Have You Seen Your Mother Baby" is the sound of a person (or five people) running headlong into a wall, though.

T. Nawrocki said...

Thanks for that little essay, Joe. The common psychoanalysis is that the Stones felt they had to compete with Sgt. Pepper, got freaked out when they couldn't, and took a while to find their way again. (Note that Sgt. Pepper isn't even represented on the list in my original post, so the Stones had to compete with all those great singles plus the Greatest Album Ever Made.)

I think your take is correct, although it's worth noting that those songs are really good; "Dandelion" and "Rainbow" and "2000 Light Years" may not sound like the Stone before or after that, but I'll still listen to them any time.

I also appreciate your take on the Beatles, but I'd throw in that the double-A-side single "Hey Jude"/"Revolution," from late 1968, was as good as anything else they did. Neither of those sound like a band falling apart. I guess you could argue that "Revolution" is them recycling Elvis, but I wouldn't.

Marshall said...

If you guys really think "2000 Light Years From Home" has to be about acid, you haven't heard the way Bing Crosby used to sing it.

Joe said...

Isn't "Revolution" them recycling Chuck Berry? (Kind of a pastiche — slap-back bass, Paul doing the Little Richard scream at the top. The slow version is Chess records on the nod with doo-wop backing vocals. But whatever.)

All those wigged out Stones songs are fantastic, except "Ruby Tuesday." That's just plain awful.

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