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Ask Billboard: Pen Pals: Readers Respond, Part 1

Tennessee: As with Springsteen in New Jersey, it's hard to imagine anyone other than Dolly Parton representing Tennessee, especially since her "Dollywood" theme park welcomes approximately 2.5 million visitors annually. The Nashville queen, born in Sevierville, boasts the most No. 1s (25) of any female artist in the 68-year history of Country Songs.
Fran Strine

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


PEN PALS: READERS RESPOND, PART 1

Greetings, Gary!

Wonderful discussion last week about hit songs written by other superstar artists!

Here are some favorite examples from past decades that immediately come to mind (and I'll prohibit myself from including any songs that were technically covers of previously released songs).

Gary U.S. Bonds' "This Little Girl" and "Out of Work," Pointer Sisters' "Fire" and Patti Smith's "Because the Night," all written by Bruce Springsteen

Matchbox 20's "Disease," written with Mick Jagger

Kenny Rogers' "Lady" (Lionel Richie)

The Spinners' "It's a Shame," the Miracles' "Tears of a Clown," Jermaine Jackson's "Let's Get Serious," "You're Supposed to Keep Your Love for Me" and "I Think It's Love" and Rufus' "Tell Me Something Good," all penned or co-penned by Stevie Wonder

Jellybean's "Sidewalk Talk" (Madonna)

Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin's "Separate Lives" (Stephen Bishop)

Cliff Richard's "Dreamin' " (Leo Sayer)

New Edition's "Mr. Telephone Man" and Rufus' "You Got the Love" (Ray Parker, Jr.)

Diana Ross's "Missing You" (Richie), "Swept Away" (Daryl Hall), "Mirror, Mirror" (Michael Sembello) and "Muscles" (Michael Jackson)

Tina Turner's "Private Dancer" (Mark Knopfler)

Starship's "It's Not Over 'Til It's Over" (Robbie Nevil)

Mike Reno and Ann Wilson's "Almost Paradise" (Eric Carmen)

.38 Special's "Teacher Teacher" (Bryan Adams)

Ricky Martin's "She's All I Ever Had" (Jon Secada)

Icehouse's "Electric Blue," written with John Oates

Daryl Hall John Oates' "So Close," written with Jon Bon Jovi

Carly Simon's "You Belong to Me" and Kenny Loggins' "This Is It" (both written with Michael McDonald, whose hits "What a Fool Believes" and "No Lookin' Back" were in turn written with Loggins … whose hit "Whenever I Call You Friend" was written with Melissa Manchester!)

And, I may be stretching the word "superstar" a bit here, but a few especially wonderful trivia bits to show how one hit wonders can always return to the charts in other fashions, Sheena Easton's No. 7 1984 Billboard Hot 100 smash "Strut" was penned by Charlie Dore, who just missed the top 10 herself as a performer with "Pilot of the Airwaves" (No. 13) in 1980.

And, Robert Ellis Orrall of "I Couldn't Say No" fame (No. 32, 1983) ultimately returned to the top 40 more than 25 years later as Taylor Swift's co-writer on "Crazier" (No. 17, 2009).

The lesson: never stop writing!

Jeff Fiedler
Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


PEN PALS: READERS RESPOND, PART 1

Hi Gary,

Per the question of popular songs written by other artists, while you mentioned Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers having recorded the Bee Gees' "Islands in the Stream," we should also note that Dolly herself is a prolific writer whose songs have been made popular by many others.

Of course, the best example was Whitney Houston's cover of "I Will Always Love You," her 14-week Hot 100 No. 1 in 1992-93, but there have been several songs she has written for country artists that have been hits, as well:

Merle Haggard, "Kentucky Gambler" (No. 1 on Country Songs, 1974)

Emmylou Harris, "To Daddy" (No. 3, 1977)

Porter Wagoner, "The Last One to Touch Me" (No. 18, 1971), "Carolina Moonshiner" (No. 19, 1974), "Mountain Music" (No. 64, 1978)

Bill Phillips, "Put It Off Until Tomorrow" (No. 6, 1966), "The Company You Keep" (No. 8, 1966), "I Only Regret" (No. 54, 1969)

Waylon Jennings, "Waltz Me to Heaven" (No. 10, 1985)

Stella Parton, "Steady As the Rain" (No. 26, 1979)

Hank Williams Jr., "I'm in No Condition" (No. 60, 1967)

Zella Lehr, "Two Doors Down" (No. 7, 1977)

Skeeter Davis, "Fuel to the Flame" (No. 11, 1967)

The Kendalls, "Put It Off Until Tomorrow" (No. 9, 1980)

Sherrie Austin, "Jolene" (No. 55, 2001)

Shania Twain with Alison Krauss & Union Station, "Coat of Many Colors" (No. 57, 2003)

And, "American Idol" pop/rock David Cook, "Little Sparrow" (No. 1 Bubbling Under Hot 100, 2008)


There are others, but that gives you an idea!

T. Duane Gordon
Middletown, Ohio
Editor and publisher, www.dollymania.net
Dollymania.net: the Online Dolly Parton Newsmagazine

Ask Billboard is updated every Friday. As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S.


PEN PALS: READERS RESPOND, PART 1

Hi Gary,

In regards to the topic of hit songs written by superstars but performed by other artists, I've got two. Oddly enough, they both peaked at No. 10 on the Hot 100:

"I Found Someone," 1988, co-written by Michael Bolton, performed by Cher

"Love...Thy Will Be Done," 1991, written by Prince, performed by Martika

I think there should also be an honourable mention for "Spinning Around," performed by Kylie Minogue and co-written by ... Paula Abdul (and her fellow 2009 "American Idol" judge Kara DioGuardi). While not a U.S. hit, it did reach No. 1 in the UK and marked Minogue's successful return to dance/pop (and the upper reaches of the UK charts) after her late-'90s darker music turn.

Thanks as always for making "Ask Billboard" a fun and interesting read!

Vince Forrington
Vancouver, British Columbia


Hey Gary,

Have to add more Bee Gees stuff to the list: Barry and Robin wrote and produced Barbra Streisand's "Woman in Love," plus Dionne Warwick's "Heartbreaker."

Barry Gibb also wrote Frankie Valli's "Grease" and Robin co-wrote "Hold on to My Love" for Jimmy Ruffin.

Songwriting props to the Gibbs!

Pat Thomas
Sparks, Nevada


Hi Gary,

One of my favorite songs written by one superstar for another:

"Bedtime Story," performed by Madonna, written by Bjork.

Matthew Stewart
Oakland, California



Hi Jeff, T. Duane, Vince, Pat and Matthew,

Excellent examples of multi-talented artists who've authored hit songs for other singers.

So many readers sent in e-mails on the topic that we'll continue the discussion next Friday. In the meantime, you can still offer more insights at askbb@billboard.com.

As for "Bedtime Story," the trippy tune sadly ended Madonna's streak of 32 top 40 hits from the start of her Hot 100 career, peaking at No. 42 in 1995. (That despite zooming 74-42 in its second week). Radio never quite got onboard with the song (No. 68 on Radio Songs, her lowest peak on the chart), a departure from her more obviously commercial fare, including prior single "Take a Bow," which marked her first Hot 100 No. 1 since "This Used to Be My Playground" in August 1992. Madonna again missed the top 40 with her next single, "Human Nature" (No. 46), but did triumphantly return to the top 10 (No. 6) later in 1995 with "You'll See."

In last week's column, one of the artists I mentioned on the topic of prolific artist/writers was Richard Marx. As predicted, the new single he co-wrote with Keith Urban, "Long Hot Summer," charges in as the Hot Shot Debut this week at No. 41 on Country Songs.

Enjoy Marx's concert from last Thursday (June 23) at Clear Channel's P.C. Richards & Sons Theater in its entirety here: