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Week in Rock History: Whitney Houston Sets a Billboard Record

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February 27, 1993: Whitney Houston’s cover of "I Will Always Love You" sets the record for weeks atop the Billboard charts
Whitney Houston’s signature song is at the forefront of pop culture nowadays, and it is a fitting eulogy for her untimely passing. In late February 1993, it was just as ubiquitous: after 14 weeks at the top of the Billboard charts, it set the record for the longest run at Number One on the charts.

Although it became the breakout single from the soundtrack to The Bodyguard, Houston’s first film, "I Will Always Love You" was not the first choice for Houston’s ballad. The Dolly Parton song was a replacement for Jimmy Ruffin’s "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," which Houston had originally wanted to sing. It was Houston’s idea to keep an a cappella intro, and also to be seated for much of the music video – because at the time, she was pregnant with her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown.

February 26, 2009: President Obama awards Stevie Wonder with the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize
President Barack Obama enjoyed an obvious perk of his job when he bestowed his "musical idol," Stevie Wonder, with America’s highest honor for pop music: the Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

The President held a ceremony for Wonder at the White House and then gave an impassioned tribute to the Motown genius. He said that Wonder had been the true soundtrack to his youth, as evidenced by Obama’s use of "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" as the theme song to his 2008 presidential campaign. The ceremony and special concert was aired on February 26 as the PBS special Stevie Wonder in Performance at the White House: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize.

In accepting the honor, the clearly moved Wonder was the second-ever recipient; Paul Simon was the first in 2007. Paul McCartney and Burt Bacharach and Hal David (jointly) have since received the award.

Last Week: Brian Wilson Performs the World Premiere of 'Smile'

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Song Stories

“Road to Nowhere”

Talking Heads | 1985

A cappella harmonies give way to an a fuller arrangement blending pop and electro-disco on "Road to Nowhere," but the theme remains constant: We're on an eternal journey to an undefined destination. The song vaulted back into the news a quarter century after it was a hit when Gov. Charlie Crist used it in his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida. "It's this little ditty about how there's no order and no plan and no scheme to life and death and it doesn't mean anything, but it's all right," Byrne said with a chuckle.

More Song Stories entries »
 
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