Thursday, April 14, 2022

One-Mind Tracks: The Comeback Kid

 With Easter coming up, One-Mind Tracks is taking a look at songs that represent "resurrections" of artists into later work. The primary focus is going to be on younger artists "resurrecting" their musical heroes in one way or another, but there are a couple of exceptions to that rule that I feel still fit the general theme. 

"What Have I Done to Deserve This?" by The Pet Shop Boys (with Dusty Springfield)
"What Have I Done to Deserve This?" was the first time The Pet Shop boys worked with another recording artist. They wrote the song with Allee Willis (Co-writer of "September" and "Boogie Wonderland"). Many contemporary artists were considered for the other half of the duet, but it wasn't until their manager's assistant suggested Dusty Springfield that there was a clear path ahead. Neil Tennant often mentiond Dusty in Memphis as his favorite album. As Springfield hadn't had a top 40 hit since 1970, EMI pushed for a different artist, such as Tina Turner or Barbara Streisand. Tennant remained steadfast in his decision to get Springfield on the track, meaning the song failed to make it onto their first album. Springfield's manager sent word that she was not interested in recording the duet, as she wasn't familiar with the band. Months later, Springfield heard "West End Girls" on the radio and changed her tune. "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" was the first, but not last, collaboration between Springfield and The Pet Shop Boys. After the song caused a resurgence in Springfield's career, Tennant and Lowe were also able to write and produce "Nothing Has Been Proved" and "In Private" for her next album, Reputation

"I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)" by Aretha Franklin (Featuring George Michael)
This duo may have seemed a strange choice, but after the song was pitched to Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin, Arista Records head Clive Davis suggested that Franklin and George Michael should sing it as a duet. Franklin was a musical hero to many, including Michael. Franklin was also very impressed with everything she heard from Wham! By the late '80s, Franklin's popular appeal was fading, but this collaboration with Michael in 1987 gave Franklin her first #1 since "Respect" in 1967. 

"Take Me Home Tonight" by Eddie Money
After years of controlling and abusive behavior from Ronnie Spector's ex-husband Phil Spector, she considered herself to be fully retired as a singer. Eddie Money was also experiencing a slump in his career brought on by several years of drug abuse. His producer, Richie Zito played him a demo of "Take Me Home Tonight." Money was initially unimpressed but liked the catch line. He suggested they get Ronnie Spector to sing the snippet of "Be My Baby" but was told that would be impossible. Instead, Money invited Martha Davis of The Motels to sing on the track. Davis told Money he should try to recrui
t Spector on his own. After some persistence, Money was able to speak with Spector, who told him "I'm doing the dishes, and I gotta change the kids' bedding. I’m not really in the business anymore, Eddie." Money explained that the song was something of a tribute to Spector and shared his excitement about doing the song with her. Spector finally agreed and the success of this single actually convinced Spector to resume her singing career. 

"On the Wings of a Nightingale" by The Everly Brothers
In 1984, The Everly Brothers released EB 84, their first album in 11 years. The track listing contains a variety of top-notch songwriters including Jeff Lynne and a cover of Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay." Paul McCartney (for whom The Everly Brothers had always been a strong influence) wrote and recorded a demo of "On the Wings of a Nightingale" specifically for The Everly Brothers, even playing guitar on the final track (Jeff Lynne also performed bass and helped with arrangements in addition to contributing "The Story of Me"). It's a great example of people helping keep their musical idols alive and making great music. 

"You Got It" by Roy Orbison
Speaking of Jeff Lynne, he and Tom Petty wrote this song with Roy Orbison for what would become his posthumous album Mystery Girl. The whole album is relevant to this playlist with another single written by Bono and The Edge and songs by Elvis Costello and cowritten with Albert Hammond, with musical contributions from The Heartbreakers, George Harrison, Jim Keltner, and T Bone Burnett. The album was intended to represent Orbison's comeback into the music world. However, Orbison passed away before the album was fully complete, just 17 days after his only live performance of "You Got It." Thanks to Orbison's work with The Travelling Wilburys as well, Orbison became the first artist since Elvis to have two albums in the top five after his death. As for "You Got It," it peaked at # 9 on the singles charts in 1989, making it his first top ten single on the hot 100 since "(Oh) Pretty Woman" in 1964.

"Drop Down and Get Me" by Del Shannon
Now that we've been talking about Tom Petty, let's discuss his assistance with Del Shannon's 1981 comeback album Drop Down and Get Me. The Heartbreakers acted as Shannon's backing band and Petty produced the album by one of his musical heroes. Petty also references Shannon in his song with The Heartbreakers, "Runnin' Down a Dream."

"This Little Girl" by Gary U.S. Bonds
Bruce Springsteen and other members of The E-Street band contributed to Bonds' album Dedication. "This Little Girl" acted as his comeback single, reaching #11 in 1981. Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt went on to work with him on his next album, On the Line.

"Chinatown" by Bleachers (Featuring Bruce Springsteen)
Just as Springsteen got to work with one of his influences, Gary U.S. Bonds, Jack Antonoff got to work with fellow New Jersey native Bruce Springsteen on "Chinatown." Antonoff said of Springsteen: "He is the artist who showed me that the sound of the place I am from has value and that there is a spirit here that needs to be taken all over the world." Springsteen's inclusion on the song is played as organically as possible, with his voice appearing subtly in the background. While I don't think The Boss needs to revitalize his career, support from Bleachers may introduce his work to a whole new generation of fans.

"Smooth" by Santana (Featuring Rob Thomas)
The concept for "Smooth" was developed by Itaal Shur as a song called "Room 17." He gave the lyric-free version of the song to Rob Thomas, who rewrote the lyrics and renamed the song. Thomas excitedly demoed the song for Santana, who insisted that Thomas should be on the final track (although Thomas was hoping to get George Michael to record the vocal). It would be Santana's first single in 14 years. The finished song spent 12 weeks at #1, meaning it charted higher than Santana's second biggest hit, "Black Magic Woman" from 1970. 

"Walk This Way" by Run-DMC (Featuring Aerosmith)
Aerosmith weren't well-known in 1975 when "Walk This Way" was originally released as a single. It failed to chart. After a bit more commercial success, Aerosmith rereleased it as a single in 1976 at which point it peaked at #10. By 1986, however, the band hadn't even been in the top 100 for years. Run-DMC were introduced to the song by producer Rick Rubin. They had rapped over a loop of the first ten seconds of the song at live shows before they even heard the rest of it. Joseph Simmons and Daryl McDaniels were unaware of Aerosmith but Rubin suggested they do a version of the song. Jam Master Jay was open to the idea, though the other two members of the group were not initially on board. They recorded their version with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry and did not plan for it to become a single. However, the single ended up charting higher than the original, reaching #4, receiving play on both urban and rock stations. The Run-DMC/Aerosmith version ended up being one of the leaders in the emergence of rap-rock as a genre. It also revitalized Aerosmith's career, opening the way for their future multi-platinum albums and more top 40 hits.

"Wipe Out" by The Fat Boys (Featuring the Beach Boys)
Directly inspired by the success of Run-DMC and Aerosmith's "Walk This Way," The Fat Boys decided to recruit The Beach Boys to do a cover of "Wipe Out" with them. The song reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100, and inspired them to work with Chubby Checker on a cover of "The Twist."

"Still D.R.E." by Dr. Dre (Featuring Snoop Dogg)
After seven years without an album release, Dr. Dre wanted something big for his comeback solo release. He recruited Jay-Z to write the lyrics and Snoop Dogg to feature on the song just as he had also been featured on Dr. Dre's debut solo single "Deep Cover." The song peaked at #93 upon initial release, bringing Dre back to the forefront of the hip-hop scene. Surprisingly, the song actually reached #23 this year after its inclusion as the finale of the Super Bowl halftime show. 

Sorry! No official One-Mind Tracks single this week. But I think we can agree that there are a few potential ones on this list!

Catch these songs on the One-Mind Tracks radio show this week! The show starts at 7PM EST on Thursday. You can catch it streaming over at Or you can listen in for an episode of One-Mind Tracks any Thursday at 7pm!

Feel free to let me know in the comments if you have a song that fits the theme!

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