I hear there’s a big wedding happening this Friday, so for my last show at this time slot, I decided to take a look at a quaint tradition that seems to be making a comeback. The subject of marriage is a perfect theme for songwriters as music has the ability to influence our mood and eat into our soul. It keeps us afloat when love is fresh, and life seems full of promise. But it can also reveal our deepest fears about a relationship, making problems seem way beyond repair. There are, of course, cynical songs about marriage but I tried to keep these to a minimum. No one likes a killjoy at an otherwise joyful time, now do we?
We launched the show with a great old Savoy recording. WEDDING BOOGIE features Little Esther and Johnny Otis with Esther as the bride, Mel Walker as the groom and Lee Graves as the preacher, and its hysterical.
That old romantic Al Green made a suggestion that a lot of you gals wait a lifetime to hear: LET’S GET MARRIED. Martha Reeves and the Vandellas celebrate getting their fella to the alter on THIRD FINGER LEFT HAND. And UK folk rock group Oysterband give a vibrant description of a wedding breakfast on BLOOD WEDDING.
If you’re after a real soul classic, then you can’t go past Freda Payne’s BAND OF GOLD. On this hit single, Freda’s guy is missing in action and she’s only got a ring to show for all her lovin’. Sweet Inspirations have a good piece of advice for Freda: WHY MARRY? They ask. Indeedy.
Ani diFranco does a gorgeous cover of Dusty Springfield’s WISHIN’ AND HOPIN’. It was used for the title sequence of the film My Best Friend’s Wedding, starring Julia Roberts and directed by Aussie filmmaker P.J.Hogan (who also directed Muriel’s Wedding).
Here’s another classic, this time in the rock genre: Nick Lowe KNEW THE BRIDE WHEN SHE USED TO ROCK N ROLL.
Rock n Roll legend Chuck Berry reckons that YOU NEVER CAN TELL. And from the soundtrack to the film, The Harder They Come, it was Toots and the Maytals with SWEET AND DANDY. Such a thrill it was to see them perform the song among their set at the Byron Bay Blues Fest this weekend.
Another of my favourites from the Blues Fest is Eli Paperboy Reed. What a voice. Here he is performing STAKE YOUR CLAIM: “Yeah, if you love me then take my name”. Oh Eli you sweet old fashioned boy you!
UK group, The Wombats released a terrific song about going to your exes’ wedding (never a good idea, I say). MY FIRST WEDDDING is from their album A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation.
The weather here in the Northern Rivers has been erratic, to say the least, so a good weather song, and a wonderful tune about love and marriage to boot, came from Ray Charles: COME RAIN OR COME SHINE.
Dancehall and reggae artist Yellowman turned the sound up a notch with a great version of I’M GETTING MARRIED IN THE MORNING, followed closely by doo-wop group The Cadets with CHURCH BELLS MAY RING.
The 5th Dimension gave us a medley of THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN and WEDDING BELL BLUES. Billy Davis and Marilyn McCoo, from the group, have been happily married for over 40 years and have even written a book about what makes their marriage work. Top tip: You’ve got to like the person you’re with, not just love them, because once the first flush of love subsides you need to know that you’re in a relationship with your best friend as well as your lover. Can’t disagree with that!
You can never claim that Theme Park doesn’t have a diverse playlist. The Easybeats followed with their 60’s hit, WEDDING RING, followed by Billy Idol’s WHITE WEDDING, which was written as a disapproving commentary on his sister’s shotgun wedding. How very conservative of him. Still, the video clip is a hoot:
The lovely Amy Rigby, married by the way to punk rocker Wreckless Eric, does a great song she wrote after divorcing her first husband, called WE’RE STRONGER THAN THAT. And, the always brilliant, Lyle Lovett contributed SHE’S NO LADY, (SHE’S MY WIFE) to the list. I think this clip is from the 80’s – check out Lyle’s hair. But better still, check out his wonderful voice. Like all the best artists, he’s a one-off.
Ernie K Doe and the Blue Diamonds sing about the bane of many a good marriage: MOTHER IN LAW. Of course, I’m not speaking from personal experience! Best to move on, and there’s no better way to put some romance back into the show than with more Al Green. One of my favourites is LET’S STAY TOGETHER. Here’s a live performance from 1972:
The Temptations followed with the delightfully delusional JUST MY IMAGINATION. And then it was another fantastic performer from the Blues Fest: Irma Thomas, with a song that she included in her set: YOU CAN HAVE MY HUSBAND BUT DON’T MESS WITH MY MAN.
Over the last three years of the show, I keep returning to two of my favourite artists – Louis Armstrong and Roy Orbison. And, of course they had songs on marriage for me this week as well. Louis with WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD and Roy with WEDDING DAY. But I had to close the show with a song for my husband of 23 years, sadly taken from us five years ago this week. Barry White’s very sexy YOU’RE THE FIRST, MY LAST, MY EVERYTHING is for you Graeme. Thanks for the music and the wonderful memories.
For the next 6 months, at least, you’ll find me still at BayFM, still churning out theme shows at the new time of 1-2pm on Mondays and I really hope to have your company next Monday on BayFM 99.9 or streaming at http://www.bayfm.org. As always I’ll keep putting my playlist and other info up at the blog, so keep checking in.
Next Monday’s theme will be MOTORVATIN’ MAMAS, just in time for Mothers Day. Send me your requests and suggestons. I’d love to hear from you.
Have a great week! Here’s the playlist:
Wedding Boogie - Little Esther Let's Get Married - Al Green Third Finger, Left Hand - Martha Reeves and The Vandellas Blood Wedding - Oysterband Band Of Gold - Freda Payne Why Marry? - Sweet Inspirations Wishin' And Hopin' - Ani DiFranco I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock And Roll) - Nick Lowe You Never Can Tell - Chuck Berry Sweet And Dandy - Toots and The Maytals Chapel Of Love - The Dixie Cups Stake Your Claim - Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves My First Wedding - The Wombats Come Rain or Come Shine - Ray Charles I'm Getting Married In The Morning - Yellowman Church Bells May Ring - The Cadets (Medley) The Worst That Could Happen, Wedding Bell Blues - 5th Dimension Wedding Ring - The Easybeats White Wedding - Billy Idol We're Stronger Than That - Amy Rigby She's No Lady - Lyle Lovett Mother-in-Law - Ernie K-Doe and the Blue Diamonds Let's Stay Together - Al Green Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) - The Temptations (You Can Have My Husband But) Don't Mess With My Man - Irma Thomas We Have All The Time In The World - Louis Armstrong Wedding Day - Roy Orbison You're The First, The Last, My Everything - Barry White
Next week: MOTORVATIN’ MAMAS
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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Just to prove that I don’t take anything too seriously, especially sex, we opened this week’s show with BUSINESS TIME from the absolutely brilliant Flight of the Conchords.
The ‘sexy’ theme seemed to connect with many of our listeners because I had quite a bit of input this week. And its clear that different music serves different moods. For smooth and erotic you can’t go past R&B and for hot and heavy it has to be rock or funk. I tried to steer away from the patently obvious, but some sex anthems just couldn’t be omitted because, hey what the hell, they do it for me!
What makes a song sexy? Sometimes it’s in the smallest details. It can be an erotic tone to the voice or a throbbing bassline. A song that does both has to be AM I THE ONE from the amazing Beth Hart.
On FOXY LADY, Jimi Hendrix’s instrument isn’t so much a guitar as a penis with an amplifier. Even Hendrix might have met his match with Betty Davis, especially when she sings IF I’M IN LUCK I MIGHT JUST GET PICKED UP. Her hubbie, Miles Davis, suspected the two of having an affair at one stage. Despite the song’s title, her carnal, funk-rock delivery leaves no doubt as to who’s picking up who here.
OK, let’s calm down a bit. Time for the wonderful Dusty Springfield with BREAKFAST IN BED. On this track she offers a shoulder to cry on, and much more as well. I have to agree with listener Ian that Al Green just can’t be left out of a playlist of sexy songs, so I included LETS STAY TOGETHER to keep both of us happy.
Dinah Washington and Julia Lee were a couple of free-spirits who used the thin veil of double entendre to sing about their basic desires. Long before she made a name for herself singing the Great American songbooks, Washington often sang from a far more racy playlist that included the blatantly provocative BIG LONG SLIDIN THING. And Julia Lee & Her Boyfriends weren’t ashamed to demand that you DON’T COME TOO SOON.
Chris Isaak is one sexy looking dude and the perfectly pitched WICKED GAME was a certainty for this list. As was the far more explicit HEAD from pocket sexpot Prince. You can’t get a decent Prince clip and I prefer to show you the Isaak clip any old way. Helena Christiansen and Chris Isaak, directed by Herb Ritts. A no-brainer.
Santana’s SAMBA PA TI was suggested by Lynden who says that author Nick Hornby nominated it as a ‘song that exudes sex, despite having no lyrics/ vocals”. I think he may be right.
Alison Goldfrapp is the perfect fusion of disco, glam and electro. Not to mention sex. Check out the video clip of TWIST:
Is there a lyric as sexy as Kate Bush’s breathy, evocative “Mmmm yes” on THE SENSUAL WORLD?
Tim Buckley’s GET ON TOP was requested by Tracey, who assures me that his album, ‘Greetings From LA’ is what you need if you want to rock the Casbah with someone special. I can’t actually argue with that. After all, he talks in tongues and how good is that?
One of my favourite sexy songs comes from ex Belle & Sebastian member, Isobel Campbell, and Queens of the Stone Ager, Mark Lanegan, who sing the very provocative COME ON OVER TURN ME ON. Irresistible. I’d be over in a flash.
Don’t ask me what the title of Happy Mondays BOB’S YER UNCLE means but the lyrics seem to have as much to do with an Uncle Bob as Prince’s Red Corvette is about a car.
Fiona Apple’s song CRIMINAL is apparently a guilty admission about using your sexuality to get what you want. So that’s a bad thing, right?
Two songs that I find pretty sexy, although they couldn’t be more different, followed. On paper, the lines, “Will you come inside me/Do you wanna ride inside my love?” would seem to defy subtlety, but Minnie Riperton’s famous five-octave range lends those words an almost spiritual dimension on INSIDE MY LOVE. Minnie’s polar opposite is the one and only Janis Joplin. From one of my top 10 albums, Cheap Thrills, I chose the desperate yearning of I NEED A MAN TO LOVE.
How sexy is Marvyn Gaye’s LET’S GET IT ON? Here he is a the 1980 Monreux Festival. Someone hand that man a towel! Hotter than hot.
Another sexy song, from the gorgeous vamp Meow Meow, is I’M HUNGRY (AND THAT AIN’T RIGHT). She’s a fantastic New York based cabaret performer that I saw in Sydney in March. If you ever get a chance to catch her act, do it!
Heading towards the end of the show and I hadn’t played any hard rock! Easily fixed with AC/DC’s YOU SHOOK ME ALL NIGHT LONG. The music video has proven to be somewhat controversial with its use of leather clad women and a mechanical bull. During the shot with the bull, the woman playing lead singer Brian’s lover accidentally jabbed herself with her spur twice. The roadie who came to her aid married her a year later. Angus gave them a mechanical bull for a wedding present as a joke. When asked about the meaning of the video, the band said that its goal was to, quote, “be as politically incorrect as possible.” See what you think:
A natural closer was another rock classic – WHOLE LOTTA LOVE, by Led Zeppelin and we even got to fit in about 20 seconds of disco queen Donna Summer’s LOVE TO LOVE YOU BABY. Oh, come on, I had to have at least one disco cliche in there, surely.
Thanks to Steve from Sax Leather in the Byron Industrial Estate for a great giveaway of some very saucy sex toys. And thanks too to the Gay Mardi Gras Film Festival, which is taking place this weekend at the Dendy Cinemas, for their ticket giveaway.
Thanks also to Lynden, Tracey, Julie, and Steve for your suggestions this week. Apologies to those whose songs didn’t make the list including Andrew whose pick of Ian Dury’s WAKE UP AND MAKE LOVE TO ME, while amusing, wasn’t what I’d call erotic. But I love having your input. And that brings me to next week’s theme, which was going to be on Winter until I remembered that I’d done that last June! So a little segue to the left and we’ll do a show on BAD WEATHER. Rain, storms, wind and even snow. So get your thinking caps on, preferably a nice little woolly beanie and let me know what you’d like to hear.
Here’s this week’s playlist:
Business Time – Flight of the Conchords
Am I The One – Beth Hart
If I’m In Luck I Might Get Picked Up – Betty Davis, Betty Davis
Foxy Lady – Experience Hendrix: The Best Of Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix
Breakfast In Bed – Anthology Disc 2, Dusty Springﬁeld
Let’s Stay Together – Tarantino Experience II, Al Green
Big Long Slidin’ Thing – Ultimate Rock N’ Roll Drinkers & Sinners, Dinah Washington
Don’t Come Too Soon – Ultimate Rock N’ Roll Drinkers & Sinners, Julia Lee And Her Boyfriends
Wicked Game – Best of Chris Isaak, Chris Isaak
Head – Dirty Mind, Prince
Samba Pa Ti – The Ultimate Collection (CD1), Santana
Twist – Black Cherry, Goldfrapp
The Sensual World – The Sensual World, Kate Bush
Get On Top – Greetings From L.A., Tim Buckley
Come On Over (Turn Me On) – Sunday At Devil Dirt, Isobel Campbell And Mark Lanegan
Criminal – Fiona Apple
Bob’s yer Uncle – The Platinum Collection [Re-Mastered], Happy Mondays
Inside My Love – Perfect Angel / Adventures In Paradise, Minnie Riperton
I Need A Man To Love – Cheap Thrills, Janis Joplin/Big Brother & The Holding Company
Stay With Me Til Dawn – Smooth Groove Masters
Let’s Get It On – Anthology (Disc 2), Marvin Gaye
I’m Hungry (and that ain’t right) – Here kitty kitty … the lost sessions, Meow Meow & Thomas M.Lauderdale
You Shook Me All Night Long – Back in Black, AC/DC
Whole Lotta Love – Early Days: The Best of Led Zeppelin, Vol. 1, Led Zeppelin
Love To Love You Baby – Donna Summer
Next week: BAD WEATHER
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
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.
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