East Orange

Recent Posts

‘Anyone Who Had a Heart,’ Dionne Warwick

East Orange native Dionne Warwick had had hits before the fall of 1963, but reached the Top 10 for the first time then, with “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” a Burt Bacharach- and Hal David-written song whose tricky rhythmic shifts perfectly suited her precise but emotionally resonant vocal delivery. Check it out below, and marvel at all the different things expressed in a single song: Sweetness but also bitterness, regret but also defiance … Warwick has made it into the Top 10 quite a few more times — 11 more times, to be precise (and often with Bacharach and David doing the writing). And “Anyone Who Had a Heart” has been covered many times, by artists ranging from Björk to Luther Vandross. Warwick included the song as the title track of her 1964 album, which recycled some material from her 1963 debut, Presenting Dionne Warwick. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , ,

‘Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,’ Naughty by Nature


In 1991, East Orange rap group Naughty by Nature had their breakthrough hit with the sex anthem “O.P.P.” Their followup was a quite a shocker: an uncompromising look at ghetto life with a deceptively upbeat name, “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” (derived from Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry”). The song, sometimes also known as “Ghetto Bastard,” is about someone who has nothing going for him, and never rises above it. He has an absentee father and a mother who can’t afford to raise him; he can’t get a job due to racism (“nappy hair was not allowed”) and turns to crime. Jail, and suicidal thoughts, follow. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , ,

‘Jersey Boy,’ Eddie Rabbitt


In 1990, an album called “Jersey Boy” could be found in the Country Top 40 – thanks to East Orange native Eddie Rabbitt, who penned and recorded the sweetly nostalgic title track. In the song, he sings about his parents coming to New Jersey from Ireland, his first love and the Yankees greats of his childhood; and namedrops places such as the Pulaski Skyway, Lake Hopatcong, the George Washington Bridge, Newark’s Hurricane Bar and Verona’s Claremont Diner. He also sings about making his way to Nashville after “telling a bartender named Stewart/I don’t think I’ll be ever be discovered singing country music here in Newark.” Rabbitt — who died of lung cancer in 1998, at the age of 56 — first made his mark in the music industry as a songwriter in the early ’70s, penning songs such as “Kentucky Rain” and “Pure Love” (hits for Elvis Presley and Ronnie Milsap, respectively). By the end of the decade, he had established himself as a hit-making recording artist in his own right, and was a mainstay on the country charts (and an occasional crossover presence on the pop charts) into the early 1990s. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , ,