WORDS OF WISDOM
Words of Wisdom. That was our theme this week and how ironic it seemed on the day. It was crazy. The powers that be (the guys in charge of all things technical), decided that it would be my show that would be moved around between studios while they did a bit of maintenance and checked the system. Great. I won’t go into all the ups and downs. Let’s just say that the words of wisdom that kept coming back to me throughout the process was ‘Go With the Flow’.
We opened the show with Girls Aloud who are happy to let us know that they don’t need any advice, thank you very much! And fair enough too. Pop music is best when it’s knocking back advice rather than offering it anyway. So, what was I looking for? Songs that can be extracted from their original context and applied to the listener’s life, that’s what. Instructions for particular dance moves, like ‘Do the Funky Chicken’ weren’t about to make the list. Instead, we aimed high (in more ways than one), and started on a literary note.
In his later years, novelist William S. Burroughs dispensed his own brand of crotchety advice with the help of various djs supplying the background funk. ‘Words of Advice for Young People’ was perfect. And then it was onto Grandmaster Flash, who sent a rather ambivalent message about the dangers of cocaine, with ‘White Lines’. Have a listen to Williams S. Burroughs telling it like it is. Images put together for YouTube by BaronSCameron.
More hard-worn wisdom came from the narrator of ‘The House of the Rising Sun’, a blues standard written in the 1920s and made famous by the Animals 40 years later. The house in question was a brothel in 1860s New Orleans; the original character was a prostitute; but the Animals decided a gambler would be more radio-friendly. Thanks for that Eric! We’re such a sensitive bunch after all. The hero of Johnny Cash’s cautionary tale ignores his mum’s warning and ends up riddled with bullets on the floor of a bar. His last words? “Don’t Take Your Guns To Town”.
Then it was onto the cheerful Charles Wright with his self-explanatory funk classic, ‘Express Yourself. And then, the only Leonard Cohen song that was funk-friendly enough to follow Charlie, the mischievous ‘Don’t Go Home With Your Hard On’. The Flaming Lips gave us a moving mediation on death with ‘Do You Realise?’. It somehow contrives to be upbeat, despite featuring the line ‘everyone you know some day will die’. Can’t argue with that. TLC cautioned against chasing waterfalls. Not quite clear how you might achieve that, but this sober look at aspiration turned sour was, arguably, one of the best R&B numbers of the 90s, in my opinion. That’s the trio, above, at the 1995 MTV Awards. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes died in a car accident in 2002.
Bob Dylan’s incredibly influential ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ doled out some great advice for demonstrators: “better stay away from those/that carry around a fire hose”. The innovative film clip for this song first appeared in Pennebaker’s documentary Don’t Look Back, which, by the way, has been imitated by many bands, including The Flaming Lips. Take a look:
My Roy Orbison song for the week: ‘Best Friend’. Roy receives some very wise words from a man on his deathbed: you are your own best friend. You come into this life alone and you leave it alone.
A wonderfully mellow Little Richard sang ‘Don’t Deceive Me’ and then it was the Staples Singers with ‘Respect Yourself’. You know, I really love this song but I’ve never taken much notice of the lyrics before. It really is a laundry list of pious prescriptions isn’t it? “Put your hand on your mouth when you cough?” Alrighty.
Now the heavy rockers are prone to be handing out advice too, so we offered up Aerosmith with their 1977 hit ‘Walk This Way’. Not that they need any introduction, but that’s them on the left.
And then Jim Croce was generous with some handy hints: You don’t tug on Superman’s cape; You don’t spit into the wind; You don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger. And ‘You Don’t Mess Around With Jim’. No sirree.
We finished up with some excellent advice for musos: ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top When You Want To Rock n Roll’ with the one and only AccaDacca.
You may be wondering why I didn’t include John Lennon’s ‘Give Peace a Chance’ as one of my songs offering Words of Wisdom? And that’s because it has to be included in next week’s show: War and Peace. I know, huge isn’t it! Make sure you tune in.
In the meantime, here’s the complete playlist from this week.
No Good Advice – Girls Aloud
Words Of Advice for Young People – William S Burroughs
White Lines (Don’t Do It) – Grandmaster Flash
Don’t Take Your Guns to Town – Johnny Cash
House Of The Rising Sun – The Animals
Express yourself – Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On – Leonard Cohen
Love The One You’re With – The Isley Brothers
Waterfalls – TLC
Do You Realize?? – The Flaming Lips
Subterranean Homesick Blues – 2:20 Bob Dylan
Fifty ways to leave your lover – Simon & Garfunkel
Whip It – Devo
You Get What You Give – New Radicals
Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys – Waylon Jennings & Willie Nelson
Best Friend – Roy Orbison
Don’t Stay Out All Night – Billy Boy Arnold & Tony McPhee
Respect Yourself – Staples Singers
Don’t Deceive Me – Little Richard
Don’t Dream Its Over – Crowded House
Teach Your Children – Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young
Walk this way – Aerosmith
You Don’t Mess Around With Jim – Jim Croce
Keep On Running – Steve Winwood (Spencer Davis Group)
Don’t Take Everybody To Be Your Friend – Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Let It Be – The Beatles
Its A Long Way To The Top – AC/DC
Posted on April 22, 2009, in Broadcasting and media, community radio, music - nostalgia, music, blues, music, country, music, r&b, music, soul, Radio Program, Roy Orbison, Uncategorized and tagged Australia, Blues, Byron Bay, country, Motown, music, pop, R&B, radio, rock 'n' roll, Roy Orbison, Theme music. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.