Category Archives: Roy Orbison
When it comes to song lyrics, the most common causes of TIREDNESS are those that also create the most activity: we’re talking sex and drugs again people. Edwin Starr doesn’t mention anything about stimulants to keep him awake, however. The powerful pull of a sexy woman seems to be all he needs to keep him walking those TWENTY FIVE MILES to see her. He must be keen because it’s going to take three days and two lonely nights to get there. No wonder he’s exhausted:
There is a song that appears to be simply about tiredness from working too hard. On WORKING IN THE COALMINE, Lee Dorsey sings that by Saturday he’s too tired to have any fun at all. Pearl Bailey is TIRED of just about everything. Oh dear. Here she is with a brilliant performance from the 1947 film Variety Girl:
The Cox Family is a Bluegrass family group who became world-known when they appeared on the soundtrack for the Coen Brothers film O Brother Where Art Thou . The song I AM WEARY is particularly poignant. In July 2000, shortly after recording the song, Willard Cox and his wife Marie were seriously injured in a traffic accident near their home in Cotton Valley. In February 2009, Marie died from cancer. Alison Krauss was among the many that attended the funeral.
A triple-play, that gave our theme of TIREDNESS a real work-out, included Fats Domino with SICK AND TIRED. Then a brilliant suggestion from Andrew: TOO POOPED TO POP from the La De Das, followed by the all girl band The Hissyfits (how good is that name?) with a song that expresses how fed up they are with a certain relationship. It’s called simply, TIRED.
Tired of being lonely seems to be a recurring theme in these tiredness songs. One of the best ever recorded, and requested here by Claire, is TIRED OF BEING ALONE from the Reverend Al Green:
Another track, with the same name, came from Clifton Chenier. His version of TIRED OF BEING ALONE was sung Creole style, known as the Zydeco Blues. And talking of Blues, I found a great tune from the 40’s: Washboard Sam also sounds pretty fed up on I’M JUST TIRED.
THE WEARY KIND, sung by Ryan Bingham, is the excellent theme song to a great film, Crazy Heart. Jeff Bridges’ performance won him an Academy Award and Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett also won Best Song at the 2009 Academy Awards as well as a Golden Globe.
Just to prove that a show about TIREDNESS could also be a lot of fun, I included the very funny I’M TIRED from the film Blazing Saddles. Madeline Kahn, otherwise known as Lily Von Schtupp is all tuckered out. As she puts it, “Let’s face it, everything from the waist down is kaput”. Hysterical.
Indie rockers, The Zutons, have no patience whatsoever. As they sing it, they’re TIRED OF HANGING AROUND. Country icon Chet Atkins has a beef with his girlfriend. He asks her, AIN’T CHA TIRED OF MAKIN’ ME BLUE? A close relative of country music is Rockabilly. Another great suggestion from Andrew filled that bill – Eddie Cochran is exhausted from walking up twenty flights of stairs to see his lover, when the elevator breaks down. The song: TWENTY FLIGHT ROCK. Here’s a scene from the film The Girl Can’t Help It on which the song featured:
Mose Allison’s SO TIRED was requested by jazz aficionado, Quinton, from BayFM’s Q’s Jazz & Blues. So happy to oblige.
Time for some more indie rock. The Pixies love Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground. They even reference them on I’VE BEEN TIRED. Charlotte wanted to hear IF ONLY TONIGHT WE COULD SLEEP from The Cure. But my favourite had to be Weezer who say they are making love every night of the week. It should be noted that Lyn get’s a mention on Tuesdays. How appropriate. Turns out though, like all of us, they’re really looking for true love and reckon they’re TIRED OF SEX. And you thought that meaningful lyrics were a thing of the past! Here they are performing live in Japan:
An interesting track comes from a Spanish group from the 80’s called Mecano. It’s their debut single HOY NO ME PUEDO LEVANTAR which translates as I CAN’T GET UP TODAY. It’s a song about youth, boredom and hangovers. I think we’ve all been there, right?
A couple of great suggestions from Des followed: John Lennon is losing sleep because he can’t stop thinking about his lover on I’M SO TIRED. It’s from The Beatles White Album. Then it was The Kinks with TIRED OF WAITING FOR YOU.
I had to include Eric Clapton’s SICK AND TIRED and fellow Brit Blues artists, Savoy Brown, with I’M TIRED before bringing in k.d.lang, with a song that offers a solution to all this tiredness: BLACK COFFEE.
You all know by now that I love Roy Orbison. So it was great to welcome him back to the playlist with a Travelling Wilburys’ track. On their song, HANDLE WITH CARE, Orbison has the most relevant lines for this week’s theme: “I’m so tired of being lonely, I’ve still got some love to give.”
MOONLIGHT MILE is a rare example of Mick Jagger letting go of his public persona and singing of the weariness associated with keeping up appearances as a sex-drugs and rock & roll star. Ah yes, Mick, I’m sure it’s very tiresome! Seriously though, great song from the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers album and a terrific close to the show.
Next week’ program, which I’m really excited about, is shaping up to be a doozy. The theme is MUSIC GENRES. I’m looking for songs that make reference to a particular style of music: it could be rock’n’roll, blues, country, rap, reggae, swing – in fact the quirkier the better. Think of tracks that shed some light on the topic. Suggesting every song ever made with the word “blues” in the title is just too easy. I know you’re all smarter than that, so put your thinking caps on. Thanks to the Parkies who contributed to this week’s list: Andrew, Claire , Quinton and Des and apologies to those whose requests didn’t make the list. Keep them coming though!
Here’s this week’s complete list:
Twenty-ﬁve Miles – Billboard Top 100 of 1969, Edwin Starr
Working In A Coalmine – Replay/Gold – Vol 1, Lee Dorsey
Tired – Let There Be Love, Pearl Bailey
I am Weary – O Brother Where Art Thou?, The Cox Family
Sick And Tired (Digitally Remastered) – Rock ‘N’ Roll Jukebox, Fats Domino
Too Pooped To Pop – The La De Das
Tired – Letters From Frank, The Hissyﬁts
Tired of Being Alone – Greatest Hits, Al Green
Tired Of Being Alone – Zydeco Festival, Clifton Chenier
I’m Just Tired – Washboard Sam Vol. 7 1942-1949, Washboard Sam
The Weary Kind – Original Motion Picture OST ‘Crazy Heart’, Ryan Bingham
Sleep Deprivation – Attack Decay Sustain Release, Simian Mobile Disco
I’m Tired – Blazing Saddles Soundtrack, Madeline Kahn/Mel Brooks
Tired Of Hanging Around – Tired Of Hanging Around, The Zutons
That Lucky Old Sun – All Time Greats Vol 3 – The People, Dean Martin
Ain’ tcha Tired of Makin’ Me Blue – High Rockin’ Swing, Chet Atkins
Twenty Flight Rock – Eddie Cochran, Eddie Cochran
So Tired – Gimcracks and Gewgaws, Mose Allison
I’ve Been Tired – Surfer Rosa & Come On Pilgrim, The Pixies
If Only Tonight We Could Sleep (MTV Unplugged) – The Cure
Tired of Sex – Pinkerton, Weezer
Hoy no me puedo levantar – Ana Jose Nacho, Mecano
All Tired Horses – Self Portrait, Bob Dylan
I’m So Tired – White Album (Disc 1), Beatles
Tired Of Waiting For You – Greatest Hits, The Kinks
Sick And Tired – Pilgrim, Eric Clapton
I’m Tired – Rock ‘N’ Roll Warriors, Savoy Brown
Black Coffee – Live By Request, k.d. lang
Handle With Care – Traveling Wilburys [Disc 1], Traveling Wilburys
Moonlight Mile – Sticky Fingers (2009 Remastered Version), The Rolling Stones
Next week: MUSIC GENRES
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
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I’m writing this with a slight hangover. Last night was BayFM’s trivia fundraiser on the theme of The Dead Musicians Club. Great night had by all. I loved the theme so much that I organised this week’s show around the same topic. And, let’s face it, a little bit of outrageous promotion for the event didn’t hurt either. And if you are wondering, I teamed up with the lovely Andy and we dressed as Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungeon.
Trying to fit all my favourite musicians into the two hour slot was, of course, impossible. But I had a good go at it. First up it was Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions with PEOPLE GET READY. Mayfield died in 1999 after 10 years of ill health due to being paralysed after an onstage accident. His music continues to be part of hip-hop’s DNA. Rappers like Jay-Z and Snoop Dog have sampled his lyrics and its reported that his estate receives five sample requests a month, with each one fetching up to $350,000. So Curtis, or at least his estate, isn’t doing too badly.
In order to fit as many of the artists that I could into the line-up it was necessary to occasionally play a duet. And, I ask you, is there any better than Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong? Ella died in 1996 and is widely considered one of the supreme interpreters of the Great American Songbook. Louis Armstrong passed away in 1971. His influence extends way beyond jazz music. By the end of his career in the 1960’s, he was widely regarded as a profound influence on popular music in general.The duet I chose was DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME.
Both Buddy Holly and Patsy Cline died in plane crashes and both were very young at the time of their passing. They continue to influence country, rock and pop music to this day. We played LEAVIN’ ON YOUR MIND from Patsy Cline and CRYIN’ WAITIN’ HOPIN’ from Buddy Holly. Oldies, but goodies.
Wilson Pickett was known for his influence on R&B, rock n roll and soul. Is there a better dance floor filler than his rendition of DEVIL WITH THE BLUE DRESS ON? No way.
Two artists who found the fame game just a bit too difficult are Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and singer/songwriter Nick Drake. Both committed suicide while still very young. At the time of Cobain’s death in 1994 he was worth less than $1 million but future royalties have been valued at over $100 million. Drake failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime, however his work has gradually achieved wider notice and recognition. He now ranks among the most influential English singer-songwriters of the last 50 years. He died in 1974. We played Drake’s FRUIT TREE, a request from Anthony, and Nirvana’s COME AS YOU ARE. Here’s a clip of Nirvana performing unplugged in New York in the early 90’s:
Naturally I couldn’t do a show about dead musicians without including Michael Jackson. We chose ROCK WITH YOU from the Off the Wall album. After his death in 2009 Jackson became the best-selling artist of the year, selling over 31 million albums worldwide. He named James Brown “his greatest inspiration”. So it was fitting that we played I FEEL GOOD from Brown as well. He died on Xmas Day 2006 due to complications from pneumonia.
It’s a myth, you know, that Mama Cass Elliott died chocking on a peanut butter sandwich. The real story is that she died of a heart attack after performing back-to-back concerts in London in 1974. She died in the same flat in Mayfair, (on loan from Harry Nilsson), that the Who’s drummer Keith Moon would die in, a little over four years later. I played Elliot’s great version of the Buddy Holly classic, WORDS OF LOVE and followed with a song for Rolling Stones founder, and multi-instrumentalist, Brian Jones. It’s one that showcased Jones’ skill on the side guitar: LITTLE RED ROOSTER.
Lynard Skynard came to worldwide recognition in 1973 before three members and one road crew member died in a plane crash in 1977. Keyboardist Billy Powell died in 2009, aged 56, from a heart attack. Of its original members, only Gary Rossington remains as part of the present line-up. We followed with another good ol’ Southern boy you may have heard of: cultural icon Elvis Presley with BURNING LOVE.
Bob Marley, who passed away in 1981, had to wait for death to make him a U.S. superstar. The week he was diagnosed with cancer he played Madison Square Garden — opening for the Commodores. Fellow Wailer, Peter Tosh, was on the brink of a successful solo career when he was murdered in 1987. I played the Wailers version of GET UP, STAND UP, with both Peter Tosh and Bob Marley on the track.
We said goodbye to both Malcolm McLaren and Sid Vicious with the Sex Pistols’ anthem GOD SAVE THE QUEEN. Here’s what all the fuss was about, way back then:
While punk rock stirred things up, for a while, R&B never went away. Marvin Gaye’s career spanned the entire history of Rhythm & Blues from 50’s doo wop to 80’s contemporary soul. He was murdered by his own father after an argument in 1984. Otis Redding died in plane crash a month before his biggest hit was released. He was only 26. We listened to Marvin Gaye’s sublime WHAT’S GOIN’ ON followed by the song that would make Otis Redding’s estate worth more money than he ever saw when he was alive – SITTIN ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY.
If we’re talking punk, however, I have to say that my favourite band is The Clash. Lead singer and lyricist for the group, Joe Strummer, died suddenly in 2002 from an undiagnosed congenital heart defect. Highly intelligent and politically pro-active, he was the first artist to make the recording, pressing and distribution of his records carbon neutral. Onya Joe. Check out this clip of LONDON CALLING:
Two great artists who died of cancer are 60’s icon, Dusty Springfield, and the incredible Ray Charles. For Dusty we played the power ballad, YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME, and for Ray Charles, the very appropriate, HARD TIMES.
I’ve played Johnny Cash’s amazing cover of the Nine Inch Nails track, HURT, before but it couldn’t be left out of a show like this. He recorded it in 2002 and it was one of Cash’s final releases before his death in 2003. The video for the song is regarded as his epitaph.
One of my sentimental favourites is Freddy Mercury who died of pneumonia resulting from AIDS in 1991. As lead singer of rock group Queen he also composed many of their hits. He had a successful solo career too and I chose one of those recordings for this week’s show: THERE MUST BE MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS.
Another of my favourites is Tim Buckley and one of my favourite albums is his Greetings from LA. Buckley died at 28 from a drug overdose with nothing more than a guitar, amplifier and a lot of debt to his name. His legacy of 11 albums has rectified that somewhat, I hope. Hard to pick one track but we went with MOVE WITH ME.
Another victim of drug addiction was the pioneering Janis Joplin. She died at 27 from a heroin overdose and one of the last songs she recorded was a birthday greeting for John Lennon. The founder of the Beatles was assassinated in 1980, aged 40. So we started the set with Joplin’s CRY BABY and followed with Lennon’s HOW? from the Imagine album.
And finally, my favourite artist, dead or alive – Roy Orbison with his signature tune, PRETTY WOMAN. This clip is from the Black & White Night DVD, a great video featuring Orbison and friends including Jackson Browne, T Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello, k.d. lang, Bonnie Rait, J.D. Souther, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and Jennifer Warnes. Heaven. And for all things ‘Roy’ go to the website at: http://www.royorbison.com/
We wrapped the show up with a great artist who passed away only a couple of days ago, at the ripe old age of 92. Lena Horne helped break down barriers for generations of performers. We played her signature tune, STORMY WEATHER from the 1943 film of the same name. It’s a sizzling performance. I want that movie for my collection!
And we still had time to fit in the very charismatic Jim Morrison and The Doors with RIDERS ON A STORM. Whew. Now I know that there are some glaring omissions. But it’s only a two hour show folks!
Next week I’ve been inspired by some postings on Facebook to create a show on SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS. Like Na-Na-Hey-Hey and Doo-Ron-Ron. That kind of thing. Love to hear your suggestions.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
People Get Ready – The Anthology 1961-1977, Curtis Mayﬁeld & The Impressions
Dream A Little Dream Of Me – Easy Listening, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
Leavin’ On Your Mind – The Patsy Cline Story, Patsy Cline
Cryin’ Waitin’ Hopin’ – Buddy Holly
Devil With The Blue Dress On – Wilson Pickett
Come As You Are – Nirvana, Nirvana
Fruit Tree – Twentyfourseven Soundtrack, Nick Drake
I Feel Good – James Brown
Rock With You (Single Version) – Off the Wall, Michael Jackson
Words of Love – Mama’s Big Ones, Mama Cass Elliot
Little Red Rooster – Rolling Stones
Summertime – Charlie Parker & Chet Baker
Sweet Home Alabama – Forrest Gump Soundtrack, Lynard Skynard
Burning Love – Elvis Presley
Get Up Stand Up – Back To Zion, Bob Marley & The Wailers
God Save The Queen – Never Mind The Bollocks, The Sex Pistols
What’s Going On – The Big Chill soundtrack, Marvin Gaye
Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding
London Calling – The Clash
You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me – The British Beat: Best Of The ’60s, Dusty Springﬁeld
Hard Times – Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues, Ray Charles
Hurt – American IV: The Man Comes Around, Johnny Cash
There Must Be More To Life Than This – The Very Best of Freddie Mercury, Freddie Mercury
Fever – Verve Remixed 3, Adam Freeland & Sarah Vaughan
Move With Me – Greetings From L.A., Tim Buckley
Purple Haze – Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix
Cry Baby – Cry Baby (The Ultimate Collection), Janis Joplin
How? – Lennon, John Lennon
Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
Stormy Weather – Hollywood Musicals, Lena Horne
Riders on the storm – The Doors soundtrack, The Doors
Next week: SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS
I’m baaaack! And this week’s theme was influenced by my recent road trip down the coast: STREETS AND ROADS. Street songs also include their close relations avenues, lanes and boulevards. They all tend to be about a particular destination. Songs about roads and highways, on the other hand, are inclined to reflect on a journey of some kind, metaphorical or not. Some of these songs immortalise where they came from, others where they’re going, but all seem to have something significant to say.
We opened the show with the Drifters’ ON BROADWAY – a road that reflects the best and worst of New York. The famous entertainment strip is the epitome of success for some but it’s also a desperate place to be if you are one of the less fortunate. Check out the Drifters doing a great job, but what’s with the outfits? Pyjamas with fringing. What the??????
TOBACCO ROAD was written by country singer John D. Loudermilk and inspired by Erskine Caldwell’s Depression-era novel of the same name. The song reeks of the American south. A group calling themselves the Nashville Teens recorded the original version, although they actually hailed from England. And I don’t think it was even Southern England, cheeky sods!
There are so many versions of the that definitive road song, ROUTE 66, but I rather like the Nat King cole rendition. Eddy Grant took us back to the 80’s with ELECTRIC AVENUE about a market street in Brixton, London. You may remember a cover version by Aussie band Men at Work, but there’s nothing like the original. Check it out:
The wonderful Emmylou Harris dueted with Dave Matthews on GULF COAST HIGHWAY. Now I don’t believe that there is an actual Gulf Coast Highway, but who cares when the song is so beautiful?
It was a toss up when it came to Bruce Springsteen’s contribution to the show – Both Thunder Road and Racing the Streets were worthy contenders but I had to give it to the Oscar winning anthem, STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA.
Louis Armstrong paid homage to his favourite street in New Orleans in BASIN STREET BLUES and although I gave it a spin on the AUTOMOBILE show, Grace Jones deserved another outing with PULL UP TO THE BUMPER, from her critically acclaimed album NIGHTCLUBBING.
Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland was going FARTHER UP THE ROAD while Bob Dylan delivered the classic HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED. And here’s some trivia about that particular highway, which travels from New Orleans through to the Canadian border. Bessie Smith met her death in an automobile accident on that road, Robert Johnson was said to have lost his soul to the devil at the crossroads of Highway 61 and Highway 49, Elvis Presley grew up in the housing projects built along it and Martin Luther King Jnr would later be murdered in a motel just off Highway 61.
The Beatles sang about PENNY LANE while David Byrne and the Talking Heads took the ROAD TO NOWHERE:
A show about roads needed a bit of hard rock and the obvious, of course, is Acca Dacca and HIGHWAY TO HELL. But I thought I’d give them a rest this week and instead, in celebration of the Deep Purple tour reaching Brisbane next month (yay!) it was HIGHWAY STAR instead. Once listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the Word’s loudest rock band, here they are performing live in 1972. Ian Gillian, you are hot! Can’t wait for them to reach Bris-vegas.
Kirsty MacColl calmed things down just a little with WALKING DOWN MADISON, a song that deals with the disparity between rich and poor on the most expensive street in New York, Madison Avenue. As the song goes: “From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement, it’s not that far”. Gerry Rafferty sang all about London’s BAKER STREET, probably most famous for the literary address of Sherlock Holmes’ residence.
Lots of our songs this week dealt with being down and out, so it was great to include a number by the wonderful Dinah Washington. She’s definitely got the right attitude as she goes walking ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET. Recorded in 1956 with orchestra under the direction of Hal Mooney, the song was originally composed in 1930 by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields for the Broadway musical “International Revue” starring Gertrude Lawrence. The song has since become a jazz standard recorded by many.
In complete and utter contrast came the Australian Aria award winning hip-hop group, The Hilltop Hoods, with a song about life’s choices: THE HARD ROAD.
Chris Rea’s song, ROAD TO HELL, was apparently inspired by rush hour on a motorway. After being in Sydney I know how he feels! It’s been way too long since I played some Roy Orbison, so I DROVE ALL NIGHT was in, as it fitted so perfectly.
Green Day’s BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS is, I assume, about Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Similar to New York’s BROADWAY, Sunset Boulevard is the primary location for live entertainment, as well as being the red-light district and a hang for the homeless.
A fitting follow-up was Ray Charles with LONELY AVENUE and it was up to Junior Walker and the Allstars to brighten the mood somewhat with ROAD RUNNER.
Another fantastic and, I think, optimistic song about leaving home and heading off for freedom, is VENTURA HIGHWAY, a 1972 hit for America.
The Mamas and Papas sang a song reportedly about the place where they all met, a bar in CREEQUE ALLEY while Ray Charles and the Stray Cats combined on a great version of HIT THE ROAD, JACK.
For anyone living on a rural property, like I do, Lucinda Williams’ CAR WHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD will resonate, for sure.
I returned from my trip to Sydney to hear the very sad news that our friend Susie McNair had passed away quietly on Tuesday March 16th. The final song of the program was dedicated to her memory. The Beatles, THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD, was the final single that they recorded as a group. R.I.P. Susie.
Thanks to the following listeners for contributing to this week’s list: Judi, Rebecca and Katie. Next week’s theme is HAIR, so get your thinking caps on!
Meanwhile, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
I had a lot of fun getting this week’s list together because there’s just so much to choose from when it comes to DUETS. We opened with the perfectly pitched IT TAKES TWO from Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston. The hit single was released in 1966 on Motown’s Tamla label.
Iggy Pop and Deborah Harry do an amazing job with WELL DID YOU EVAH. Who would have thought that Cole Porter’s quaint double act from the film High Society,originally sung by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, would be handled so well by two punk icons? Here’s a treat: a video created by director Alex Cox (“Sid & Nancy”), that incorporates some of High Society/Frank & Bing with Iggy and Deb’s version. Great stuff:
We followed with the hilariously argumentative Otis Redding and Carla Thomas with TRAMP and then some more Marvin Gaye, this time with Tammi Terrell. Until Tammi’s death from a brain tumour in 1970, she and Marvin Gaye were regarded as Motown’s perfect pairing. Choosing the “best” of Gaye’s duets with Terrell is a little crazy, but I chose REAL THING over the much covered ‘Aint No Mountain High Enough’ which seems to get enough exposure without my help.
Time then for a boy on boy duet: Freddy Mercury and David Bowie’s anxious little melodrama, UNDER PRESSURE. Born out of an impromptu jam session, it evolved into one of the most inspiring musical moments of the 1980s.
Dusty Springfield and the Pet Shop Boys’ rendition of WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS? helped revive Dusty’s career in the U.S. when it was released in 1987. We followed with SOMETIMES ALWAYS from Jim Reid of the Jesus and Mary Chain and his singing partner Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star. Here’s a clip of them performing live at the MTV studios:
Let’s face it, country music is the spiritual home of the duet. Two great examples: Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood with the wonderful and haunting SOME VELVET MORNING and JACKSON from Johnny Cash and June Carter.
Iggy Pop seems to love to duet. Last week he featured with Peaches and this week he turns up twice; this time with Kate Pierson of the B-52s. The song? CANDY is the tale of an ex-con reaching out to his lost love after 20 years. It makes brilliant use of Iggy’s sly, world-weary baritone and Pierson’s sunny tones. The result is an modern-rock classic. Take a look:
PJ Harvey and Thom Yorke, of Radiohead, offered up THIS MESS WE’RE IN. It’s kind of what you would expect from these two isn’t it? Profoundly gloomy and yet impossibly beautiful. Peter Gabriel with Kate Bush aren’t quite as melancholic as she gives Pete some great lifestyle tips on their gorgeous duet DON’T GIVE UP.
Another wonderful duet is COME ON OVER, from Isobel Campbell (ex Belle & Sebastien) and Mark Langegan (ex Queens of the Stone Age). Qualifies for probably the sexiest song on the list this week.
The Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry track SEVEN SECONDS was a huge worldwide hit in 1994. The song is about the first seven seconds in a child’s life, when he or she is totally unaware of the problems and violence in the world. A timeless classic:
Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris cover Roy Orbison’s LOVE HURTS and do a pretty good job of it but we had to have the real thing and the stand-out duet has to be Roy Orbison and kd lang with, of course, CRYING. Now you didn’t think I’d leave that one out did you?
Another goodie that takes a more optimistic viewpoint of partnerships: Chrissie Hynde performing I’VE GOT YOU BABE with UB40. This cover of Sonny & Cher’s signature tune was recorded in 1985 and reached #1 in the UK that year, as did the original 20 years earlier.
Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty do a great version of STOP DRAGGIN MY HEART AROUND and Tina Turner and Brian Adams aren’t half bad either with their cover of Robert Palmer’s ADDICTED TO LOVE.
We followed with a brilliant triple-play: Ray Charles and Gladys Knight with HEAVEN HELP US ALL from the Genius Loves Company album, the great Jackie Wilson and Laverne Baker with THINK TWICE and Al Green and Lyle Lovett singing FUNNY HOW TIME SLIPS AWAY. Here’s proof positive that white men from Texas do have soul:
Another terrific triple play: Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan with ONE TOO MANY MORNINGS followed by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue with WHERE THE WILD ROSES GROW and the piece de resistance, in my book, Jack White and Loretta Lynn with PORTLAND OREGAN from Loretta’s amazing album Van Lear Rose. Love the album, love this song, love this clip:
But when it came to closing the show I couldn’t go past a piece of music that sums up, what has to be, a perfect pairing: Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald singing DANCING CHEEK TO CHEEK. Recorded in 1957 and accompanied by the Oscar Petersen trio and Buddy Rich on drums, you can’t listen to this song without smiling. As the song goes “Heaven, I’m in heaven….”
Next week’s show falls on the 12th of January – My Birthday! Yes I’m a Capricorn, just like Elvis, David Bowie, Annie Lennox …. Ah ha, I’m in great company. So in honour of all of us having birthdays, next week’s theme is GOING OUT AND PARTYING. Send me your suggestions.
Thanks for all your support this year. Have a wonderful 2010! Here’s this week’s playlist:
Next week: GOING OUT AND PARTYING
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time.
Anyone who listens to the show on a regular basis knows that I adore Roy Orbison and this is why: First there’s the voice. It transcends generations by singing of universal longings that touch the heart. His voice sends quivers through my spine: part country, part rock and part pop, it’s a voice that reaches something approaching perfection.
Then there are the songs: a world defined by dreams yet rooted in reality, songs that teach us something about our own vulnerability. Songs of loss and desire and loneliness and, yes, songs about love.
Roy Orbison was born on April 23, 1936 in Vernon Texas, the middle son of Orbie Lee Orbison, an oil well driller and car mechanic, and Nadine Shultz, a nurse. He was creating music as young as 6 or 7. We played interviews throughout the program, many from Roy himself and he covered his childhood, learning guitar from his father and uncle, his time at Sun Records, why he started wearing sunglasses on stage and whether he was really lonely, amongst other things. Rather than repeat all that here, let me remind you that you can listen to the Theme Park wherever you are by using your internet connection. Go to http://www.bayfm.org and press the listen button. You should hear the show in real time via your iTunes or other media player. Theme Park airs on Tuesdays 2-4pm (that’s Sydney, Australia time).
So back to the music. First up it was OOBIE DOOBIE, recorded with the Teen Kings in 1956. We followed with CLAUDETTE, a song about Orbson’s first wife, Claudette Frady. The track was recorded in 1958. Claudette died tragically in a motocycle accident in 1966. We followed with ONLY THE LONELY written by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson and recorded by Orbison in 1960; it was his first major hit. Here he is performing in Australia in the 60’s:
Then it was a great triple play: BLUE ANGEL, I’M HURTIN’ and RUNNING SCARED. We also included the song LOVE HURTS, originally recorded by the Everly Brothers in 1960. Roy Orbison’s version was issued as the B-side to RUNNING SCARED which was a #1 hit, in 1961. Here’s a rare clip of Roy and his band, The Candymen, taken from a Dutch Tv Show from 1965. The concert was from the Singer Concert Zaal in Laren, Holland, during their European tour.
We had to include the next three songs from the early sixties: CANDY MAN, DREAM BABY, (about the birth of his second son with Claudette) and WORKING FOR THE MAN – a song about a Summer he worked in the Texan oil fields alongside his father.
By 1963 Orbison was touring extensively throughout the UK, Europe and Australia with The Beatles, The Stones and the Beach Boys. We played a couple of love ballads from that era: FALLING and IT’S OVER.
Roy also filled us in on his time, while on tour, with the Rolling Stones and how PRETTY WOMAN influenced them to write Satisfaction. PRETTY WOMAN, of course, went on to be a big hit and was destined to become Orbison’s signature song. Here’s a great piece of kitch from the 70’s: An American TV variety show called Pink Lady and Jeff. Pink Lady was a popular singing duo from Japan brought to America for the show. Comedian Jeff Altman was the cohost. Worth watching just to see Roy struggling to keep a straight face and also for the 70’s fashion.
I rarely dedicate a whole show to one performer. The only other time was a tribute to Michael Jackson. But, in my opinion, Orbison is one of the great rock and rollers: a forceful, yet gentle, voice capable of dynamic crescendos. He sang both heartbroken ballads and bluesy rock numbers, running up a formidable hit streak in the early Sixties. From the release of ONLY THE LONELY in 1960 to PRETTY WOMAN, a span of four years, Orbison cracked the Top Ten nine times.
Orbison’s most memorable performances were lovelorn melodramas, in which he emoted in a brooding tremulous voice. The melancholy in his songs resonated with listeners of all ages. IT’S OVER is one great example of that style. Another is CRYING. It was great to hear how he came to write that song and we listened to the version he re-recorded with kd lang in 1987. It went on to win them a Grammy Award.
After his first wife Claudette’s death in 1966, Orbison threw himself into work, which included starring in the film THE FASTEST GUITAR ALIVE, and he continued to tour. In the late 1960s, however, music was very much a part of the psychedelic movement. Orbison felt lost, later saying “[I] didn’t hear a lot I could relate to so I kind of stood there like a tree where the winds blow and the seasons change, and you’re still there and you bloom again.”
During a tour of England in 1968 he received news that his home in Tennessee had burned down and his two eldest sons had died. The property was sold to Johnny Cash, who planted an orchard on it. On March 25, 1969, Orbison married his second wife, Barbara Jacobs, and they had two children of their own.
During the 70’s several artists released covers of Orbison’s songs that performed very well. LOVE HURTS was remade by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, and again by heavy metal band Nazareth and Sonny James sent ONLY THE LONELY to # 1 on the country music charts.
Linda Ronstadt covered BLUE BAYOU in 1977, which went to No. 3 and stayed on the charts for 24 weeks. And later that year, Orbison and Emmylou Harris won a Grammy Award for their duet THAT LOVIN’ YOU FEELIN’ AGAIN. WAYMORES BLUES is from the Class of 55 album with Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. While the album was in part a tribute to Elvis Presley, it was mainly a commemoration of those young performing hopefuls who came to Sun Records in 1955 to make music in the new era o Rock and Roll.
During the 80’s Orbison participated in a number of movie soundtracks. We played two of the most prominent: LIFE FADES AWAY from the film Less Than Zero, starring Robert Downie Jnr and IN DREAMS, from the controversial film by David Lynch, BLUE VELVET.
Orbison’s return to the public eye really began in earnest in 1987 with his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the taping of a tribute concert, Black and White Night. The concert featured such disciples as Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, kd lang and Bonnie Raitt and was produced by T. Bone Burnett. Here’s a clip from the DVD. The song is UPTOWN.
It was a great pleasure to include a 7 minute interview with members of the supergroup of all supergroups: THE TRAVELLING WILBURYS: Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and George Harrison. The year was 1988. We also included the song, HANDLE WITH CARE, from the album The Travelling Wilburys Vol 1.
In the same year Orbison was recording a major comeback album, Mystery Girl. It was awaiting release when Orbison suddenly died of a heart attack on December 6, 1988. The album was finalized for release in the weeks following his death through the collaborative efforts of several artists who were all friends and admirers. The album, MYSTERY GIRL, was named after the chorus from the track SHE’S A MYSTERY TO ME, written for Orbison by U2’s Bono and The Edge.
The album was released posthumously in 1989 and would join Travelling Wilburys Vol 1 on the Billboard chart. The dual success meant that Roy Orbison joined Elvis Presley as the only two singers to simultaneously have two Top 5 albums on the Billboard chart posthumously, at that time. (This record has now been smashed by Michael Jackson who dominated the Billboard Top 10 albums when he passed away this year).
But back to Roy: Mystery Girl was extremely well received and went on to become the highest-charting album of his career. We took a listen to SHE’S A MYSTERY TO ME and YOU’VE GOT IT from that album. Rather than show a performance clip, take a look at Bono and others talking about the writing and recording process of the album. Roy sings SHE’S A MYSTERY TO ME as background to the story.
There was time for more of Roy commenting on how he would like to be remembered: “I’d just like to be remembered. If my contribution to the music scene brought someone some happiness or helped them keep things together, then that would be great.” A medley of some of Roy’s best loved tunes then closed the show: I DROVE ALL NIGHT, OH PRETTY WOMAN, LANA and HEARTBREAK RADIO.
When Elvis Presley stated that Roy Orbison is “The world’s greatest singer”, we know that he wasn’t kidding, that’s for sure.
Next week: We’re going back to THE SUMMER OF LOVE. Yes, its all love beads, incense, tambourines and the great music of the Summer of 67. Peace man.Contact me if you have any suggestions. Meanwhile, here is this week’s playlist:
Childhood – Roy Orbison Interview
Ooby Dooby – Roy Orbison Interview
Ooby Dooby – Roy Orbison
Claudette – Roy Orbison
Only The Lonely – Roy Orbison
Loneliness – Roy Orbison Interview
Blue Angel – Roy Orbison
I’m Hurtin’ – Roy Orbison
Running Scared – Roy Orbison
Love Hurts – Roy Orbison
Candy Man – Roy Orbison
Dream Baby – Roy Orbison
Working For The Man – Roy Orbison
Leah – Roy Orbison
Sunglasses – Roy Orbison
Mean Woman Blues – Roy Orbison
Falling – Roy Orbison
It’s Over – Roy Orbison
Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
Crying – Roy Orbison interview
Crying – Roy Orbison & kd lang
Blue Bayou – Linda Ronstadt
That Lovin’ You Feelin’ Again – Roy Orbison with Emmylou Harris
Waymore’s Blues – Roy Orbison with Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins (Class of 55)
Life Fades Away – Roy Orbison
In Dreams – Roy Orbison
Uptown – Roy Orbison
Travelling Wilburys interview
Handle With Care -Traveling Wilburys
She’s A Mystery To Me – Roy Orbison
You Got It – Roy Orbison
Being Remembered – Roy Orbison interview
Medley: I Drove All Night/Oh, Pretty Woman/Lana/Heartbreak Radio – Roy Orbison
Next week: SUMMER OF LOVE (1967)
You may be surprised at the scope of this week’s topic because when it comes to Elvis Presley, well nearly everyone’s got an opinion. The iconic nature of Elvis Presley in music and popular culture, has often made him a subject of, or a benchmark, in numerous songs. We launched the show with CALLING ELVIS by Dire Straits. Written by Mark Knopler and released in 1991, the song is about an Elvis fan that can’t believe that Elvis Presley is dead. Based on some of the bizarre ‘sightings’ over the years, I fear he is not alone.
A song from one of my favourite films followed: Public Enemy’s groundbreaking FIGHT THE POWER from the soundtrack of DO THE RIGHT THING, directed by Spike Lee in 1989. Like the film, the song broke at a crucial period in America’s struggle with race. Unabashedly political, FIGHT THE POWER was confrontational in the way that great rock has always been. It attacks a whole roster of American icons including Elvis and John Wayne in what amounts to a virtual flag burning. Because who better embodies the American ideal than the King? The song goes so far as to call Elvis racist. I don’t agree with that. But what I do know from the National Archives is that in 1970 Elvis wrote a six-page letter to Richard Nixon asking him to make him a ‘Federal Agent-At-Large’ in the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. And amongst the gifts that Elvis presented to the then President was a Colt-45 pistol. So what do we make of all this? Maybe only that, like a lot of his countrymen, Elvis was a misguided patriot who defended the nation’s order – an order from which blacks, in particular, had been routinely barred. The irony, of course, is that Elvis was the first artist to successfully blend black and white music: country music and the blues. And didn’t he do it well?
It was time for a change of tone: The very whimsical and wonderful Kirsty McColl with THERE’S A GUY WORKS DOWN THE CHIP SHOP SWEARS HE’S ELVIS. The song made an appearance on the FAMOUS PEOPLE show, but definitely deserved another spin. We followed with Richard Thompson’s FROM GALWAY TO GRACELAND.
Robbie Williams’ ADVERTISING SPACE is a song not only about Elvis but, also, about the price of fame. Emmylou Harris followed with BOY FROM TUPELO. In case you weren’t aware Elvis was born in Tupelo Mississipi on January 8, 1935. And then it was the great Roy Orbison with HOUND DOG MAN.
Living Colour funked it up with their critique of the tabloids. The song ELVIS IS DEAD ups the ante with an appearance by Little Richard. Check it out.
We dived into the second hour of the program with Ann Margret singing the title song of the film BYE BYE BIRDIE. Based on the stage musical of the same name, the story was inspired by Elvis Presley being drafted into the US Army in 1957. Jesse Pearson played the role of teen idol Conrad Birdie, whose character’s name is a wordplay on another singer of the era, Conway Twitty. The film is credited with making Ann-Margret a superstar during the mid-1960s, leading to her appearing with Elvis Presley in Viva Las Vegas in 1964.
A couple of great songs were suggested to me by BayFM’s very own Cowboy Sweetheart, Carrie D. First up, Bap Kennedy with GLADYS & VERNON about Elvis’s parents and the night that Elvis was born. And then it was the great Waylon Jennings with the very entertaining NOBODY KNOWS.
I absolutely adore BLACK VELVET by Allanah Myles and have played that before. But, hey, when a song’s as good as this one it deserves a replay!
U2’s song ELVIS ATE AMERICA illustrates the many personas of Elvis, both good and bad. And then it was the romantically delusional Scouting For Girls with ELVIS ISN’T DEAD: “Elvis isn’t dead ’cause I heard him on the radio….. and you’re coming back to me.” Yeah, sure guys.
Time to get serious: First up, Kate Bush with her hit song about Elvis – KING OF THE MOUNTAIN. And then, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds transported us into a disturbing world with their song about the night that Elvis was born. Elvis was a twin but his brother was still-born. The song is TUPELO from the album THE FIRSTBORN IS DEAD. Here’s the totally mesmerising clip:
John Fogarty likens Elvis to the BIG TRAIN (FROM MEMPHIS). Neil Young reminded us that it’s “better to burn out than to fade away “, with his song MY, MY, HEY HEY.
Another of my faves followed: Cowboy Junkies with BLUE MOON REVISITED, otherwise known as SONG FOR ELVIS. And then it was Paul Simon’s song about travelling to Elvis Presley’s home, GRACELAND, with the Everly Brothers helping out on vocals. Don’t have a clip with the Everlys in it, but you can’t do much better than this concert performance of the song in Zimbabwe. Enjoy.
There was time for a little more mjusic dedicated to Elvis before signing off and what better than ELVIS HAS JUST LEFT THE BUILDING by the one and only Frank Zappa. And, of course, I had to play some of the King himself so we went out with BURNIN’ LOVE. Here’s what all the fuss is about:
Next week’s show will be dedicated to the patron saint of Theme Park, Roy Orbison, who died 21 years ago this December 6. So songs by Roy Orbison, The Travelling Wilburys, duets with Roy and covers of Roy Orbison songs. Anything connected to Roy Orbison qualifies. Personally I can’t wait!
Here’s this week’s playlist:
Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other. But what about the one-sided love affair? If we were rational we’d acknowledge that its simply addictive emotional masochism; the more unsuitable or unattainable the object of desire, the stronger the fascination. But when you’re madly in love with someone who doesn’t know you exist, being rational is the furthest thing from your mind. We’ve all been there. You feel like the walking wounded, the unloved one, the handicapped without the advantage of a great parking space! Charlie Brown says it best: “Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter like UNREQUITED LOVE.”
We opened the show with THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA from one of the best bossa nova singers ever, Astrud Gilberto, performing with Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz. There really was a girl from Ipanema – a 15 year old called Heloisa Pinto who used to walk past the Rio bar frequented by the songwriters,Vinicius Morais and Antonio Jobim. The song is a sweet tribute to the totally unattainable as well as an ode to youth. This music video is from the 1964 film “Get Yourself a College Girl”:
KILLING ME SOFTLY WITH HIS SONG has been covered by many artists, most notably by Roberta Flack, whose 1973 version topped the U.S. pop singles charts and won a Grammy Award. We opted to play the equally successful 1996 version, simply called KILLING ME SOFTLY, by Hip-Hop group The Fugees with Lauryn Hill on lead vocals.
Whitney Houston’s version of I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU, released in 1992, became one of the best-selling singles of all time. It was written and originally recorded by Dolly Parton and her poignant and bittersweet version, with Parton’s trademark twang, was my choice this week.
I had to include Billy Bragg’s gentle, yet disturbing, song about a classroom crush, THE SATURDAY BOY, even if it was just for the line: ”I had to look in the dictionary/ To find out the meaning of unrequited.” The Violent Femmes’ upped the ante with a song about repressed lust. ADD IT UP has Gordon Gano promising himself, ‘the day after today I will stop’, but the music’s pent-up passion suggests otherwise.
When I announced this week’s theme there was lots of correspondence regarding which genre of music does ‘unrequited love’ best. Yes, I agree with BayFM’s Cowboy Sweetheart that country singers have it pretty much all sewn up, but you can’t go past a little soul music when it comes to love songs, requited or not. A couple of examples: JUST MY IMAGINATION from the Temptations and CUPID from Sam Cooke. And I didn’t forget the soulful sound of Ray Charles with YOU DON’T KNOW ME, delivering a duet with Diana Krall, from his Genius Loves Company album.
Joe Jackson is wonderfully incredulous when he asks: IS SHE REALLY GOING OUT WITH HIM? The Cars, on the other hand, are obsessed with their BEST FRIEND’S GIRL while Bowling For Soup are going nuts over the GIRL ALL THE BAD BOYS WANT. I love a band with a sense of humour. Check out the video from Bowling For Soup. By the way, the band’s name was derived from a comedy act by Steve Martin.
Now if you need convincing that country singers are the kings and queens of the lovelorn, here’s Patsy Cline with I FALL TO PIECES, from the Glenn Reeves Show, February 23, 1963.
LAYLA by the Eric Clapton’s group, Derek & The Dominos, is a tale of unrequited love inspired by Clapton’s relationship with his friend George Harrison’s then wife, Pattie Boyd Harrison. Here’s a video clip from 1984 of Eric Clapton peforming the song live with Bill Wyman on bass, Charlie Watts on drums, Jeff Beck on guitar, Stevie Winwood on piano …. have I died and gone to heaven?
A song that elevates lovelorn moping to operatic heights is Ben E King’s I WHO HAVE NOTHING and another, possibly, is Dionne Warwick’s WALK ON BY, written by Burt Bacharach and David Hal. It was recorded by Warwick in 1964 and became a landmark single for her.
A year later Donovan released his first single, CATCH THE WIND, and in 1967 The Small Faces recorded TIN SOLDIER, a song Steve Marriott wrote to his first wife Jenny. The song signalled a return to the band’s R&B roots after their previous forays into psychedelic rock and other musical experiments. P.P. Arnold can be heard singing back up vocals. Here’s some rare footage of The Small Faces with P.P. Arnold performing on Belgium television. The year was 1968. Go the Mods!
Written by the Bee Gees, IF I CAN’T HAVE YOU was given to Yvonne Elliman when the group became involved in the soundtrack for the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever. She scored a #1 hit in the US with the track.
Going a bit further back in time is the Everly Brothers version of ALL I HAVE TO DO IS DREAM. Recorded in 1958, it was recorded in just two takes and features Chet Atkins on guitar. The B side “Claudette” was the first major songwriting success for Roy Orbison. Two years later, Orbison recorded ONLY THE LONELY, his first major hit. An operatic rock ballad, it was a sound unheard of at the time, described by the New York Times as expressing “a clenchied, driven urgency.” Here’s Roy performing the song during the Black & White Night concert. No-one does it like the Big O.
From the sublime to the ridiculous: a teenager falls in love with a pin-up girl, in a picture dated 1929, in The Who’s PICTURES OF LILY and Fountains of Wayne sing about a schoolboy’s lust for his friends mother in STACEY’S MUM.
And then it was a couple of classics: FOR NO ONE from The Beatles Revolver album, written by Paul McCartney and a track from one of my all-time favourite albums, I’M WAITING FOR THE DAY from the Beach Boys Pet Sounds album.
In an effort to shake the lovelorn out of the doldrums, we closed the show with Radiohead’s masterpiece of poetic self-loathing, CREEP.
Here’s the complete playlist:
The Girl from Ipanema – Astrud Gilberto / João Gilberto / Stan Getz
Killing Me Softly – The Fugees
I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton
Diary – Bread
The Saturday Boy – Billy Bragg
Add It Up – Violent Femmes
Cupid – Sam Cooke
Just My Imagination – The Temptations
You Don’t Know Me – Ray Charles & Diana Krall
Strange And Beautiful (I’ll Put A Spell On You) – Aqualung
Is She Really Going Out With Him – Joe Jackson
My Best Friend’s Girl – The Cars
Girl All the Bad Boys Want – Bowling For Soup
White Flag – Dido
My Eyes Adored You – Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons
I Fall To Pieces – Patsy Cline
Layla – Derek & The Dominos
I’ll Kill Her – SoKo
I Who Have Nothing – Ben E. King
Walk On By – Dionne Warwick
Catch The Wind – Donovan
Tin Soldier – The Small Faces
If I Can’t Have You – Yvonne Elliman
All I Have To Do Is Dream – The Everly Brothers
Only The Lonely – Roy Orbison
Pictures Of Lily – The Who
Stacey’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne
For No One – The Beatles
I’m Waiting For The Day – The Beach Boys
Creep – Radiohead
Next week, we’re celebrating Halloween with SCARY SONGS FOR SILLY PEOPLE (or is that SILLY SONGS FOR SCARY PEOPLE?). Suggestions welcome.
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time.
Also streaming on http://www.bayfm.org
Tragically also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maccalyn
So what makes a great cover? I think it’s when an artist makes a song his or her own, while still respecting the essence of the original. There are some exceptional covers that completely redefine a song to the point that we identify the tune with the cover artist forever more. And we had a few of those this week in our show about COVERS THAT ARE BETTER THAN THE ORIGINALS.
John Coltrane transformed The Sound of Music’s perky pick me up MY FAVOURITE THINGS into something of a jazz landmark, so, as our opener, it served as a very good example of a song that was reinvented for the listener. Another supreme example of a good cover is Ray Charles rendition of the Beatles ELEANOR RIGBY. His powerful and moving version uses R & B piano and gospel vocals to create something unique from what was a pretty perfect piece of pop to begin with. Check out this clip from the Dick Cavett show 1972. Loving the Raelettes moves, not to mention the pastel kaftans!
In his latter years Johnny Cash recorded a number of covers that, at first glance, seem at odds with his ‘country’ persona. None is more moving than HURT. Cash takes all the self-pity out of the Nine Inch Nails junkie confessional and turns it into an old man’s devastating deathbed testimonial. Take a look at this video clip. It’s a poignant performance that’s almost haunting, as it was created just prior to Cash’s untimely death. Whether or not you’re a Johnny Cash fan, this performance is powerful and deep with emotion.
ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER from Jimi Hendrix was written, and first recorded, by Bob Dylan. He’s one of the most-covered musicians in history for a reason: Besides writing some of the best songs of the rock era, he’s made lots of recordings that sound unfinished, even skeletal.The original of ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER is spine-chilling in its own strange way, but the song didn’t become a classic until Jimi Hendrix unleashed his version. Hendrix seems to channel pure myth and mystery. Of course, it wouldn’t work without Dylan’s lyrics and unsettling chords, but the Hendrix solos actually sound like wind howling and wildcats growling, don’t you think?
Canadian band, Cowboy Junkies, version of The Velvet Underground’s SWEET JANE was based on the one that was included in 1969: The Velvet Underground Live. Lou Reed himself described it as “the best and most authentic version I have ever heard”. At the risk of including way too many video clips, I have to show you this:
The Lennon/McCartney single, WE CAN WORK IT OUT, comes from the middle of The Beatles most radical creative reinvention, the 1965 shift from the straightforward pop of Help! To the multi-faceted Rubber Soul, which would revolutionise their music, and by extension, everybody’s else’s. So, it’s fitting that when Stevie Wonder covered the song on 1970’s Signed, Sealed & Delivered, he was in the middle of a similar transition from Motown’s teenage wunderkid to the socially conscious and superfunky artist he became in the mid 70’s. Wonder’s performance is so powerful, in fact, that it changes the meaning of the song without changing a word.
We teamed that with Ike & Tina Turner’s version of PROUD MARY. As Tina explains in the fairly subdued preface: “We never, ever do nothin’ nice and easy. We always do it nice and rough.” The Turners – and their band – then tear the intro to shreds by kicking up the tempo, adding horns and driving it all with a beat that practically demands that people dance. By comparison, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s original mid-tempo rock number sounds positively bland.
One sure-fire way to reinvent a song is to flip the sex of the singer. Two examples of that are Melanie’s version of the Stones’ RUBY TUESDAY and Regina Spektor’s version of John Lennon’s REAL LOVE.
Another is Janis Joplin’s cover of Roger Miller’s ME AND BOBBY MCGEE. Joplin’s version gave her the only number one single of her career and only the second posthumous number one single in rock n roll history (the first was Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding).
Back to boys on boys: Edgar & Johnny Winter do a wonderful version of TOBACCO ROAD, recorded originally by the Nashville Teens. And idiosyncratic Melbourne performer, C.W. Stoneking, puts a whole new spin on the White Stripes SEVEN NATION ARMY. The clip is from radio station’s Triple J’s ‘Like A Version’ series, available on CD/DVD. Wild.
My favourite number in this week’s playlist was suggested by a Sydney listener, Lynden (thank you!): Jazz singer Patricia Barber with her interpretation of Sonny & Cher’s THE BEAT GOES ON. And then Stevie Ray Vaughan gave Jimi Hendrix a run for his money with his version of VOODOO WOMAN.
Two of my all time favourite R&B artists followed: Al Green taking the Bee Gees ballad HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART to a whole new level and Aretha Franklin showing us how her version of Otis Redding’s RESPECT made it, not only an anthem for the feminist movement and the civil rights moviement, but, her very own signature song. Here’s a great little doco from Ovation TV looking at Aretha’s background and the important place that the song has in history.
English groups of the 60’s, in particular The Beatles, weren’t adverse to borrowing from the American R&B artists of the day to create some of their early hits (think of the Beatles Please Mr. Postman as an example). One R&B song that achieves a great transformation from R&B to rock is the Rolling Stones cover of the Temptations JUST MY IMAGINATION.
A male rock song that benefited greatly from being sung by a woman is GLORIA. Patti Smith introduced bisexuality and religious guilt to the horny garage rock song, originally recorded by Van Morrison’s band Them.
BY THE TIME I GET TO PHOENIX was originally recorded by Jimmy Webb. Isaac Hayes takes the listener on an epic journey by re-imagining the song’s entire context so persuasively that by the time he starts actually singing, the emotional force just about knocks our socks off.
Sometimes it’s hard to listen to any Doors song with a straight face, let alone LIGHT MY FIRE. Jackie Wilson had a bit of fun with his vastly superior version: its pure funk and I love the way Wilson punctuates it with his trademark squeals and screeches. It’s way sexier than the Doors’ psychedelic original, that’s for sure.
One of those songs that will forever be owned by the cover artist is Sinead O’Connor’s NOTHING COMPARES 2 U. Originally recorded by Prince’s group Family but no-one much remembers that now. Here’s the official clip showing her at the pinnacle of her career. Beautiful.
Now before the messages start filling my inbox, I’m sure that I’ve missed some obvious great covers and two hours is not nearly enough time to give credit where credit is due. Let’s go on the record as saying that, yes, every cover of a Leonard Cohen number is probably better than the original (sorry Leonard) but if I hear HALLELUJA one more time I will scream; that Cat Power is very good, but not a genius and that no-one can do Roy Orbison like Roy Orbison, not even kd lang.
And so I chose to go out with the Clash’s cover of I FOUGHT THE LAW AND THE LAW WON, originally recorded by The Bobby Fuller Four and then it was something quite special: ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT? was first published in 1926 and was most notably covered by Elvis Presley in 1960. I have no idea when this version was recorded, most probably when the Beatles toured the US in the mid 60’s. It’s Elvis with Roy Orbison and the Beatles doing back-up. I’ve only been able to find it as a download but if anyone has any back story on this, let me know. And the finale was The Beatles covering TWIST & SHOUT, originally recorded by the Top Notes but most people may be more aware of the Isley Brothers version. The Beatles definitely made this one their own.
Here’s the complete playlist, with original artists in brackets:
My Favourite Things (Julie Andrews/ The Sound Of Music) – John Coltrane
Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles) – Ray Charles
Hurt (Nine Inch Nails) – Johnny Cash
All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan) – Jimi Hendrix
Sweet Jane (Lou Reed/Velvet Underground) – Cowboy Junkies
We Can Work It Out (Beatles) – Stevie Wonder
Proud Mary (Creedence Clearwater Revival) – Ike & Tina Turner
Ruby Tuesday (Rolling Stones) – Melanie Safka
Real Love (John Lennon) – Regina Spektor
Seven Nation Army (White Stripes) – C.W. Stoneking
Tobacco Road (Nashville Teens) – Edgar & Johnny Winter
Me And Bobby McGee (Roger Miller) – Janis Joplin
The Beat Goes On (Sonny & Cher) – Patricia Barber
After Midnight (JJ Cale) – Eric Clapton
Voodoo Child (Jimi Hendrix) – Stevie Ray Vaughan
How Can You Mend A Broken Heart? (Bee Gees) – Al Green
Respect (Otis Redding) – Aretha Franklin
Just My Imagination (The Temptations) – The Rolling Stones
Gloria (Van Morrison/Them) – Patti Smith
By The Time I Get To Phoenix (Johnny Rivers/Glen Campbell) – Isaac Hayes
Light My Fire (The Doors) – Jackie Wilson
Nothing Compares 2 U (The Family/Prince) – Sinead O’Connor
I Fought The Law (Bobby Fuller Four) – The Clash
Are You Lonesome Tonight – Elvis Presley & Roy Orbison (with the Beatles as the backup singers)
Twist And Shout (Top Notes/Isley Bros) – The Beatles
With Fathers Day coming up on Sunday, our theme this week was a lay down misere: dads, grandads, step-dads, good dads, bad dads… even sugar daddies got a look in on our show dedicated to FATHERS.
We opened with a song about one of the worst father’s in pop-music. The Temptations PAPA WAS A ROLLING STONE talks of a Dad who was a dishonest, cheating, alcoholic. But hey, not everyone’s perfect! With a huge variety of music in the playlist, I’m sure we addressed the balance.
A song that puts a lump in my throat is Billy Bragg’s TANK PARK SALUTE. There are several songs about grieving for a father who has died, but none seems as powerful as this track. It was written as a way of addressing the silence and denial that surrounded his dad’s illness. Take a look at this 1991 performance:
My Dad died many years ago now and if you’ve been through it you’ll know that the event creates one of life’s turning points. Equally, becoming a parent is also a life-changing event. Most new dads only get to bore their friends, but the proud rock-star dad can annoy the whole world if he chooses. One of the few truly likable songs about fatherhood is David Bowie’s cheerful, self-effacing KOOKS – although advising “Don’t pick fights with the bullies or the cads” is a bit much from someone who christened his poor son Zowie. Another newborn inspired Radiohead’s end-of-the-world lullaby SAIL TO THE MOON.
Creedence Clearwater Revival have a different take on paternity and destiny in FORTUNATE SON: a cry of blue-collar resentment, directed at the privileged elite who used their connections to protect their sons from being sent to Vietnam.
Neil Young gave us OLD MAN with a little bit of help from James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt; Eric Clapton sang of a father he never knew with IN MY FATHERS EYES. And then it was Elvis with the song that his daughter Lisa Marie sang at the 20th anniversary celebrations of his death: DON’T CRY DADDY. Check out this amateur video of the performance. It seems its the only version, unfortunately, as its also on the offical Elvis site.
Luther Vandross’ song, DANCE WITH MY FATHER, won the 2004 Grammy Award for song of the year. We followed that with Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s DUST GOT IN DADDY’S EYES and The Winstons’ song COLOR HIM FATHER that was dedicated to all the step-fathers out there.
Not wanting to get too serious at the Theme Park, so it was well and truly time for James Brown and PAPA’S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG. Here’s a clip from the Ed Sullivan show, May 1966. I love the way Ed Sullivan is beaming at the end of the performance and exclaims “Wow, that was exciting wasn’t it!”. Yes, Ed it was. Long live the Godfather of Soul.
Time for some jazz: I didn’t want to overlook one of my favourite kinds of Dads and Julie London’s ode to the Sugar Daddy was perfect. And then it was Big Bad Voodoo Daddy with GO DADDY-O. A very nice segue into Hawkeshaw Hawkins with RATTLESNAKIN DADDY and The Heartbreakers with ROCKIN’ DADDY O.
And we didn’t want to forget the dear old, (or young as the case may be), Grandads: Fats Waller gave us GRAND OLD DAD. A change of pace saw the Dave Matthews Band rock out with DREAMS OF OUR FATHERS and then Everclear lamented an absent father in FATHER OF MINE. Here’s the very cool video clip:
A couple of songs for my children who lost their father when they were quite young: For Jack a song by his father’s favourite artist: John Lennon and BEAUTIFUL BOY. And for Zoe, it was another favourite – Paul Simon singing FATHER AND DAUGHTER. Here’s a live performance of that song from 2006.
When I played Eric Clapton’s very moving TEARS IN HEAVEN I guarantee there wasn’t a dry eye at the station. Clapton wrote the song after losing his son Connor in a terrible accident. And then it was a song that isn’t overtly about fatherhood but I interpret it that way, and you may too. It’s Roy Orbison and the Mavericks doing a cover of Simon & Garfunkle’s BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER.
Ian Hunter grieves that his relationship with his Dad is just like Two Ships That Pass in the Night in his song SHIPS. Ian Dury followed with MY OLD MAN, a quirky, affectionate memento of his Dad, an East End bus driver. At Dury’s funeral in 2000, the song was performed by his own son, Baxter. Here he is with the Blockheads performing live.
Thanks to Ku Promotions for the tickets we gave away to the COOL NIGHTS BIG BAND performance. It encouraged me to go out with a jazz standard: SONG FOR MY FATHER by the Horace Silver Quintet. Released on the Blue Note label, the cover art features a photograph of Silver’s father. If you listen to the opening bass piano notes, you might just recognize what Steely Dan borrowed for their song RIKKI DON’T LOSE THAT NUMBER.
Happy Fathers Day to all you Dads for next Sunday. Here’s this week’s playlist:
Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone – The Temptations
Daddy’s Home – Shep & The Limelites
Tank Park Salute – Billy Bragg
My Father’s Waltz – Hem
Kooks – David Bowie
Sail To The Moon – Radiohead
Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Old Man – Neil Young
My Father’s Eyes – Eric Clapton
Don’t Cry Daddy – Elvis Presley
Dance With My Father – Luther Vandross
Dust Got Into Daddy’s Eyes – Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland
Color Him Father – The Winstons
Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag – James Brown
Daddy – Julie London
Go Daddy-O – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Rattlesnakin’ Daddy – Hawkshaw Hawkins
Rockin’ Daddy O – The Heartbreakers
Grand Old Dad – Fats Waller
Dreams of Our Fathers – Dave Matthews Band
Father Of Mine – Everclear
Daddy’s Song – Harry Nillson
Beautiful Boy – John Lennon
Father and Daughter – Paul Simon
Tears In Heaven – Eric Clapton
Bridge Over Troubled Waters – Roy Orbison & the Mavericks
Ships (That Pass In The Night) – Ian Hunter
My Old Man – Ian Dury & The Blockheads
Song For My Father – Horace Silver
Next week: BIRDS (the feathered variety).
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time.
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