Saturday, September 27, 2008

Taylor Swift charts with “Love Story”: September 27, 2008

Originally posted September 27, 2012.

image from

With her debut album, teen singer Taylor Swift became a major country star, landing two songs atop the country charts and another three in the top 10. While setting up a seemingly inevitable sophomore slump, Swift opted instead to conquer the pop world as well. “Everything you need to know about Taylor Swift’s talent is summed up here in four star struck minutes. Wide-eyed innocence served up in slick, perfectly calibrated Nashville pop? We’ll take four million, please.” MX

Swift wrote the song about a love interest but she never had a relationship with him. He was not popular with her friends and family. Swift wrote the song from the perspective of Juliet in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. As she said, “The only people who wanted them to be together were them.” WK She replaced the play’s tragic ending with a happy one – the ending she felt the characters deserved and the one which females hoped for. WK

Paste magazine’s Kate Kiefer said it is impossible not to sing along with the song. WK Slant magazine’s Jonathan Keefe saw the song’s success hinging on its prominent hook while The Boston Globe’s James Reed saw its strength in the songwriting. WK The BBC’s Fraser McAlpine said that the song, “although obvious, a bit dramatic, and probably targeted towards younger audiences, was just lovely and that Swift proved herself a true princess of pop with the song.” WK’s Sean Dooley deemed the song responsible for transitioning Swift from a “fresh-faced star to crossover star.” WK

“Love Story” was only the fifth song to top both the adult contemporary and country charts, following Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts the Most”, Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance”, Faith Hill’s “Breathe”, and Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One”. SF It became Swift’s best-selling single WK and was once the best-selling country single of all time. WK Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) declared it the Country Song of the Year while it took Video of the Year honors at the CMT Music Awards and the Country Music Association Awards.


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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Forty Years Ago Today: Jimi Hendrix charts with Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” (9/14/1968)

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The Jimi Hendrix Experience “All Along the Watchtower”

Writer(s): Bob Dylan (see lyrics here)

Released: 9/2/1968, First charted: 9/14/1968

Peak: 20 US, 5 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): --

Review: Jimi Hendrix is largely credited with reinventing the electric guitar and his prowess is never more apparent than on his take on Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” “Raging and climactic where Dylan’s had been soft-paced and relaxed,” AMG Hendrix’s version pulls off the rare feat of giving the world a cover that outdoes its original source. After hearing Hendrix tackle it, “you can’t imagine it...any other way.” BBC Dylan himself has admitted that in his subsequent performances of the song, he strove to emulate Hendrix’s version. RS500 “When I sing it,” Dylan said, “ I… feel like it’s a tribute to him.” LW-129

Dylan first recorded the song for 1968’s John Wesley Harding. Musically, the song is a perfect example of why Dylan songs lend themselves so easily to re-interpretation. “Aside from a few harmonica flourishes, it is a fairly basic affair,” BBC both “direct and unadorned.” LW-129

Lyrically, the song took the form of a conversation between a joker and a thief in “an allegorical tale about the sweeping away of society’s old guard.” BBC Peppered with “Biblical imagery and apocalyptic words,” AMG the original has “such an odd, abstract lyric that hardly anyone…could have held on long enough to spot the song hidden within,” MA-147 but Hendrix’s interpretation does so, “obliterating the lyric’s pretensions” MA-147 and giving the song an “urgency and edginess…far more in keeping with its apocalyptic message.” BBC

While at a party, Hendrix proclaimed to Traffic’s Dave Mason his interest in recording the song just a few weeks after its release. Just days later, the pair assembled with drummer Mitch Mitchell at London’s Olympic Studios to nail down their rendition AMG that has now become a rock standard.

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Note: Footnotes (raised letter codes) refer to sources frequently cited on the blog. Numbers following the letter code indicate page numbers. If the raised letter code is a link, it will go directly to the correct page instead of the home page of a website. You can find the sources and corresponding footnotes on the “Lists” page in the “Song Resources” section.