Category Archives: Aretha Franklin
Our theme this week was Communication – not the deep psychic stuff, but good old fashioned talking, letter writing and, would you believe telegrams (remember them?). I was going to play M.I.A.’s ‘U.R.A.Q.T.’ about texting (“you’re fuckin’ with my man and textin’ all the time…”) but I would have been in a bit of trouble over the expletives, I’m afraid. But I did play some other excellent hip-hop during the show, as well as my usual eclectic mix of rock, pop, blues, jazz and whatever I could find to fit the theme.
We opened the show with the Marvelettes ‘Beachwood 4-5789’. They also recorded the first Motown hit, ‘Please Mr. Postman’, but I had already showcased that one during the Motown Show in January. Besides, ‘Beachwood’ was a great opener for this particular show.
The telephone, whether it be landline or mobile, talking or texting, is still probably the most prominent way we keep in touch. So ‘Hanging Up the Telephone’, sung by Blondie’s Debby Harry was not only pop-punk perfection, but it also opens with the sound of a ringing phone. How good is that? Here’s the video from 1978.
Most letter songs feature absent lovers and none convey the absolute thrill of receiving a long awaited message better than ‘The Letter’ from the Boxtops. They were known as a major ‘blue-eyed soul’ group during the 60’s. Hard to believe that Alex Chilton, who later formed Big Star and went onto a solo career, was only 16 at the time this was recorded in 1967. The song has been widely covered, most notably by Joe Cocker, but this original version still stands up well.
Sonny Boy Williamson confimed what I have always knows, (that men are the worst gossips), with his rendition of ‘Don’t Get Me Talking’ while Buddy Guy and Junior Wells contributed ‘A Man of Many Words’ to the Blues segment of the show.
My Roy Orbison song this week was a great one: ‘Communication Breakdown’. Written by Bill Dees, whose collaboration with Orbison led to a string of successful hits for Monument Records including ‘Communication Breakdown’, ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘It’s Over’, just to name a few.
And then it was onto an absolutely divine song by Nina Persson of the Cardigans, ‘Communication’ – “If this is communication , I disconnect”. If only it was that easy. Here’s a video of them doing a live performance in 2007.
‘Hello Operator’ presented mobile phone refusenik Jack White choosing to use an operator, just like in the good old days. And, as if this was even too newfangled, by the second verse he’s trying to get his message out via canary. Ah ha, rightio then.
Remember when a wedding wasn’t a wedding without the best man reading out several telegrams from absentee friends and family? I haven’t been to a wedding in ages. Tell me, do they read out emails and texts? Just doesn’t seem the same does it? In ‘Western Union Man’ Jerry Butler gives us a passionate attempt at contacting a girlfriend who won’t answer his phone calls. And Chuck Berry tries to get in touch with people who have phoned him in ‘Memphis Tennessee’. Today we would be asking why the hell aren’t they on Facebook! And then there’s Twitter, but please can we not go there? (really).
Joe Jones seemed to be talking right at me with ‘You Talk Too Much’ and I loved Crowded House’s version of ‘Everybody’s Talkin’. But how good was Hank Penny’s ‘Sweet Talkin Mama’ recorded in 1938? You can find this terrific bit of country swing on the compilation album You Done Me Wrong (Vintage Country Cheating Songs 1929-1952) distributed by Buzzola.
There are lots of songs written in the form of letters. One of the best examples of this is Eminem’s ‘Stan’, a masterpiece of escalating desperation that exploits its conceit to its fullest. Sampling Dido’s ‘Thank You’ as the chorus is a piece of genius and the result is a song of chilling elegance that recognises that a letter is always a one-sided conversation.
We followed that with a total contrast – ‘Don’t Explain’ by Billie Holliday and then it was up to Muddy Waters to elevate the mood with ‘Long Distance Call’. There were so many other great songs. I particularly liked Bonnie Raitt’s take on people who talk behind your back. Her advice? Give them ‘Something to Talk About’. Absolutely.
We finished the show with one of my favourite Aretha Franklin numbers: ‘Say A Little Prayer’. This one had me up out of the seat and dancing. And then a fantastic close from Mr. Cool Jazz himself, Chet Baker, with ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’. I loved this week’s show and I had a blast. Hope you did too.
Here’s the complete playlist:
Beachwood 4-5789 – The Marvellettes
Hanging On The Telephone – Blondie
Rikki Don’t Lose That Number – Steely Dan
The Letter – The Boxtops
Take A Letter Maria – R.B. Greaves
Please Read The Letter – Alison Krauss/Robert Plant
Don’t Start Me To Talkin’ – Sonny Boy Williamson
A Man Of Many Words – Buddy Guy & Junior Wells
A Little Less Conversation – Elvis Presley
Communication Breakdown – Roy Orbison
Communication – The Cardigans
Telephone Line – Electric Light Orchestra
Memphis, Tennessee – Chuck Berry
Hey, Western Union Man – Jerry Butler
Hello Operator – The White Stripes
You Talk Too Much – Joe Jones
Everybody’s Talkin’ – Crowded House
Sweet Talkin’ Mama – Hank Penny
Stan – Eminem & Dido
Don’t Explain – Billie Holiday
Long Distance Call – Muddy Waters
The Phone Call – The Pretenders
Ring Ring Ring – De La Soul
The Word – The Beatles
I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Paul Weller & Amy Winehouse
What’d I Say – Ray Charles
People Are Talking – Shep & The Limelites
Something to Talk About – Bonnie Raitt
Answering Bell – Ryan Adams
I Say A Little Prayer For You – Aretha Frankin
Every Time We Say Goodbye – Chet Baker
Next week, the theme is Money. Any suggestions for songs for the show, or themes for future shows, are always welcome.
Listen to Lyn at the Theme Park, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time, on BayFM 99.9 or streaming at http://www.bayfm.org
Throughout the world, since 1975, we have set aside the 8th of March as a day to inspire women and celebrate their achievements. So a radio show airing on March 10, hosted by a pretty feisty woman at that, had a fairly predictable theme begging. I roped in young Zoe to help give the show a wider perspective and we got stuck into presenting some of our favourite female artists. That’s both of us at the end of the show, about to down a well earned shot of caffeine!
We opened the show with ‘Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves’, from Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox. A great feminist anthem, the tune was recorded in 1985 – the year that Zoe was born! Feeling more than a little ancient, I squeezed in my favourite Blues singers – Billie Holiday and Janis Joplin – before handing over the program to Zoe’s first three choices – The Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, Feist and Robots in Disguise (‘their song La Nuit’ is great – I never thought I could be converted to Electro! Go figure). The video clip is mad, mad, mad…..
When I was putting together my choice for ‘rock chicks’, Zoe suggested Stevie Nicks (much to my surprise), and who was I to argue? The title of ‘Edge of Seventeen’ was inspired by Tom Petty’s wife Jane who has a strong Southern accent. When Nicks misheard her say ‘the age of seventeen’ as ‘edge of seventeen’ she swore that she would write a song with the latter as the title. The song’s lyrics came about as a direct result of the grief she felt over the death of both an uncle and John Lennon’s death in the same week of December 1980. The track became the 3rd single from her hit album Bella Donna. It was used in the film ‘School of Rock’ with Jack Black which brought the song, and Stevie, to the attention of a whole new generation.
I also totally approved of Zoe’s next three selections: M.I.A., Soko and Cat Power. M.I.A. is an interesting singer. We all know who she is now because of her Academy Award nomination (with A.R. Rahman) for ‘O…Saya’ as Best Song, from the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. It didn’t win but now my generation is aware of this precocious young performer. An accomplished visual artist by 2002, she came to prominence in early 2004 through file-sharing of her singles ‘Galang’ and ‘Sunshower’s on the Internet.
But I have to say that Soko is my favourite of this bunch. She may turn out to be a one-hit wonder with her very cute and controversial song ‘I’ll Kill Her’ but if you keep your sense of humour intact, she is a rare and refreshing new talent. Here’s hoping that we hear more of her. She was supposed to have released an album in February of 2009 but her MySpace page, as of January, insists that she has quit singing. Hope not! Check out the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25AsfkriHQc
There are so many other great female artists. My selection included the original rock chick – Joan Jett – more blues and r&b with Dinah Washington and Etta James and I even got in some country with Linda Ronstadt singing her version of Roy Orbison’s ‘Blue Bayou’ (and you were wondering how I was going to fit a Roy Orbison song into a show about women! No worries).
Zoe and I both wanted Nina Simone in there and what better song to showcase that amazing voice than ‘I Put A Spell On You’, originally recorded by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins in 1957. And then, of course, there was Amy Winehouse, P.J.Harvey, Shirley Manson, Aretha Franklin and we finished the show with Regina Spektor’s fantastic version of John Lennon’s song ‘Real Love’. This is a song that Spektor contributed to the Amnesty International album to save Darfur. So many of the artists we showcased today are not only strong women artists but they are politically aware and contributing positively to change, not just for women but for all mankind. Respect indeed. Have a look at Regina Spektor at the Bonnaroo Festival in 2007:
Here’s the complete playlist:
Sisters Are Doin It For Themselves (1985) – Aretha Franklin/Annie Lennox
Billie’s Blues (1936) – Billie Holiday
One Good Man (1969) – Janis Joplin
Rich (2003) – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Mushaboom (2004) – Feist
La Nuit (2005) – Robots In Disguise
Up The Neck (1980) – The Pretenders/Chrissie Hynde
Edge of Seventeen (1981) – Stevie Nicks
Bad Reputation (1981) – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
Paper Planes (2007) – M.I.A.
I’ll Kill Her (2008) – SoKo
Sea Of Love (2008) [Remastered Version] – Cat Power
Crazy (1962) – Patsy Cline
Jolene (1973) – Dolly Parton
Blue Bayou (1977) – Linda Ronstadt (Roy Orbison cover)
Glory Box (1994) – Portishead
Bachelorette (1997) – Bjork
Big Long Slidin’ Thing (1954) – Dinah Washington
Tell Mama (1968) – Etta James
Push It (1986) – Salt N Peppa
I Put A Spell On You (1968) – -Nina Simone
Cupid (2006) – Amy Winehouse
Cry Baby (1971) – Janis Joplin (With Full Tilt Boogie)
C’mon Billy (1995) – PJ Harvey
Stupid Girl (1996) – Garbage (Shirley Manson)
Respect (1967) – Aretha Franklin
Real Love (2007) – Regina Spektor
Next week: Inspired by the this week’s leaping of generations, the theme next Tuesday will be ‘Age’ – young, old and in-between.
Tune into the Theme Park with Lyn at BayFM 99.9 each Tuesday 2-4pm (Sydney time), or streaming at http://www.bayfm.org.