Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Brown Eyed Girl Hits 10 Million Mark

 Is it just me or did anyone else miss this news story?  Australian news is a Van-free zone even though thousands of fans live here and the Best of Van Morrison album reached #1 here.     

Van Morrison was honoured in early October this year for Brown Eyed Girl passing 10 million plays on US radio.  Van joins an elite band of only 10 musicians who have reached the musical milestone. The only other UK entry was The Police for Every Breath You Take.  What no Beatles?  Or Rolling Stones? Or Queen?  Those esteemed performers haven't made it to the 10 million club yet.   
Van's contribution was honoured at the Broadcast Music Inc Awards in London which was hosted by the US performing rights body Broadcast Music Inc.

All the chumminess with Bert wasn't to last
Morrison was only 22 when the evergreen 1967 single was released.  It was the 22nd take of the song that has been most played and it basically launched his solo career.  It was first released in May,  1967 on the album Blowin' Your Mind!.  When released as a single, it rose to number eight on the Cashbox charts, and reached number ten on the Billboard Hot 100.  It featured the Sweet Inspirations and Bert Berns singing back-up vocals. 
Van has had a love/hate relationship with the song claiming that it was one of his weaker songs.   At times he has refused to play the much-requested song but overall, he has played it almost 700 times in concert making it one of Van's most-played songs.    
“I've got about 300 songs that I think are better,” he was quoted in a recent interview.
The song was recorded during a two-day session with Berns at A&R Studios in New York that began on March 28, 1967.  The musicians who played on it included three guitarists, Eric Gale, Hugh McCracken, and Al Giorgioni, bassist Russ Savakus, pianist Paul Griffin and drummer Gary Chester.  According to Morrison, the single, produced by Bert Berns and first released in mid-June 1967, was originally entitled Brown Skinned Girl.  Morrison changed the name to Brown Eyed Girl when he finished recording it.  
Remarking on the original title, he said: “That was just a mistake. It was a kind of Jamaican song... Calypso. It just slipped my mind. I changed the title.”
He continued: “After we'd recorded it, I looked at the tape box and didn't even notice that I'd changed the title. I looked at the box where I'd lain it down with my guitar and it said Brown Eyed Girl on the tape box.  It's just one of those things that happens.”
The song may have been about a Belfast girl, but Stuart Bailie of the Oh Yeah Centre thinks the singer may have been using poetic licence.
“I'd like to think it's about Belfast and that the stadium he refers to may have been The Oval in east Belfast.  Although it could have been the Shankill Stadium as well.”  The identity of the song's main character will probably aways remain a mystery.
At the time of its release, the song's nostalgic lyrics about an ex-lover were considered too explicit to be played on many radio stations.  A radio-edit of the song was released which removed the lyrics “making love in the green grass”, replacing them with the line "laughin' and a-runnin', hey hey" from a previous verse.  The edited version appears on some copies of the compilation album The Best Of Van Morrison. 
It became his first American Top 10 single and, according to BMI spokesperson Robin Ahrold, has since “transcended hit status”.  "It's into a very elite status where if you go for a meal in a restaurant you're likely to hear it played at some point,” he said.  “It's definitely a standard that gets airplay all the time, year in, year out.”
But Van still has some way to go to catch up with the act with the most airplay in US radio history.  The Righteous Brothers' You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin’, produced by Phil Spector, has been heard almost 15 million times — and is still going strong.
Brown Eyed Girl passed nine million plays two years ago.  A number of rock and roll greats also received airplay recognition at the October event.  Eric Clapton’s Layla  - recorded under the name Derek And The Dominoes - has amassed eight million US plays and his single Tears In Heaven  reached five million.
Several Beatles tracks passed new milestones with Michelle and Let It Be hitting six million plays and Hey Jude five million.  Spandau Ballet’s True passed the four million mark with songwriter Gary Kemp collecting an award for its success.

Van hated the psychedelic cover
 In typical Van style, he was absent from the event. 

Other Facts About Brown Eyed Girl
In January 2007 Brown Eyed Girl was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
In November 2004 it was listed at 109 on the Rolling Stone magazine list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
It’s one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
In 2000 it was listed at 21 on Rolling Stone and MTV's list of 100 Greatest Pop Songs, and it also was listed as 49 on VH1's list of the 100 Greatest Rock Songs.
In 2003 it was listed as one of the The 365 Top Selling Songs of the 20th Century by RIAA.

Brown Eyed Girl

Single by Van Morrison from the album Blowin' Your Mind!
A-side Brown Eyed Girl
B-side Goodbye Baby
Released June 1967
Recorded March 28, 1967
Length 3:03
Label Bang Records
Writer Van Morrison
Producer Bert Berns

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