Did the grand piano make the song grand?

I feel that sometimes and I don’t know why so many people underestimate the talent of musicianship of rock group musicians. That had a lot to do with the choice of the tracks I chose for this post.

grand-piano-liam-luskOne of the most admired instruments is probably the piano and all the songs today have piano in them. I know this list could have been much, much longer (I chose seven songs instead of the usual six) but I hope the songs in this list will be appreciated. Perhaps I will return to this subject in a later post because like I said there are so many great songs out there with piano in them.

So, here are just seven of my personal favorite songs.

To watch the videos of each song just click on the title below;

“November Rain” – Guns N Roses – 1992

“Great Balls of Fire” – Jerry Lee Lewis – 1957

“Vienna” – Ultravox – 1981

“Moondance ” – Van Morrison – 1969

“Without You” – Harry Nilsson – 1971

“Bat Out of Hell” – Meat Loaf – 1979

“Werewolves of London ” – Warren Zevon – 1978

Here is some extra information about each song for you.

  1. “November Rain” – Guns N Roses – 1992
  • The opening of this song to me is amazing with the grand piano and the sound of a storm.
  • A power ballad written by lead singer Axl Rose and released as a single in June 1992.
  • It appears on the album Use Your Illusion I.
  • Featuring a sweeping orchestral backing and is one of Guns N’ Roses’ longest songs.
  • “November Rain” peaked at number 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it the longest song in history to enter the top ten of that chart.
  • Rose had been working on the song since at least 1983.
  • Axl Rose played the piano.
  1. “Great Balls of Fire” – Jerry Lee Lewis – 1957
  • “Great Balls of Fire” is a 1957 song recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis on Sun Records and featured in the 1957 movie Jamboree.
  • The song sold one million copies in its first 10 days of release in the United States and reportedly sold over five million copies in total, making it both one of the best-selling singles in the United States, as well as one of the world’s best-selling singles of all time.
  • The song reached number 1 in both the UK and the US.
  • Lewis’s rock and roll career faltered in the wake of his marriage to his 13-year-old cousin when he was 22 – he has been married seven times.
  • After the 1958 single ‘High School Confidential’ his career faltered in light of his marriage.
  • Lewis is still performing at the age of 80.
  1. “Vienna” – Ultravox – 1981
  • I was a huge Ultravox fan in the eighties and still am so I had to have this song in the line-up.
  • It was the third single and the title track from the band’s fourth album.
  • The single was released on Chrysalis Records on 15 January 1981, and is notable for spending 4 consecutive weeks at #2 in the UK singles chart without ever getting to #1.
  • Two of its most distinctive sounds are those of conventional instruments – the dramatic grand piano in the verses and chorus, and the viola solo in the middle of the song.
  • This was the last of four songs on their set list for Live Aid in 1985.
  1. “Moondance ” – Van Morrison – 1969
  • “Moondance” is a popular song written by Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison and is the title song on his 1970 album Moondance.
  • Morrison did not release the song as a single until November 1977, seven and a half years after the album was released.
  • It reached the Billboard Hot 100, charting at #92.
  • Music journalist Erik Hage wrote that the significance of the song “lies in its direct jazz approach”.
  • Biographer John Collis praised the song for being more commercially accessible for most radio stations than a lot of his earlier work. He calls “Moondance” “an important song in the development of Morrison’s career.
  • “Moondance” is one of the moon-themed songs used in An American Werewolf in London, a comedy-horror film released in 1981.
  1. “Without You” – Harry Nilsson – 1971
  • Harry Nilsson, at the time was best known for his hit “Everybody’s Talkin'” featured in the film Midnight Cowboy.
  • After hearing Badfinger’s recording of “Without You” at a party he mistook it for a Beatles song. After realising it was not, he decided to cover the song for his album Nilsson Schmilsson in 1971.
  • It reached the number 1 spot in both the UK and US.
  • Gary Wright, then known as a member of the British group Spooky Tooth, and later a successful solo artist in his own right, played piano on the recording.
  • Nilsson died of heart failure on January 15, 1994, he had previously suffered a heart attack in 1993.
  1. “Bat Out of Hell” – Meat Loaf – 1979
  • “Bat Out of Hell” is a song written by Jim Steinman, for the 1977 album Bat Out of Hell.
  • It was released as a single in 1979, and again in 1993.
  • Many of the musicians who performed on the track were members of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and Todd Rundgren’s Utopia.
  • The song was inspired by teenage tragedy songs such as “Leader of the Pack” and “Tell Laura I Love Her”, the latter being the first single Jim Steinman had ever bought. Steinman wanted to write the “most extreme crash song of all time”.
  • It reached 15 in the UK in 1979, and was reissued in December 1993 following the huge chart success of “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” in 1993. This time it reached number 8 giving Meat Loaf two singles in the UK Top Ten at the same time – a feat not repeated by any artist until 2002.
  • The piano was played by Roy Bittan a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band.
  1. “Werewolves of London ” – Warren Zevon – 1978
  • Included on Zevon’s 1978 album Excitable Boy, it featured accompaniment by drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie of Fleetwood Mac.
  • It entered the American Top 40 charts on April 22, 1978, reaching number 21, and remained in the Top 40 for six weeks.
  • Zevon was known for the dark and somewhat outlandish sense of humor in his lyrics.
  • His work has often been praised by well-known musicians, including Jackson Browne, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young.
  • Warren Zevon played piano.
  • Warren Zevon died on September 7, 2003, aged 56

I hope as always that you enjoyed the list.

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