This week we’re celebrating that Australia finally has a female PrimeMinister in Julia Gillard – it only took 109 years! The show was on the F word, no not THAT word – I’m talking FEMINIST SONGS, GRRRL POWER. It’s a complex topic and I had to have a criterion for the list, otherwise I would have gone absolutely nuts trying to make a selection. So it came down to the lyrics. Obviously what I think makes a feminist song is totally subjective, but hopefully my choices made for an interesting and fun couple of hours.
Le Tigre kicked the show off with HOT TOPIC, a song that pays tribute to dozens of female visual artists, musicians, writers and feminists who have inspired them, including Yoko Ono, Aretha Franklin, The Slits and others. Le Tigre was founded by Kathleen Hanna. She’d previously fronted the band Bikini Kill, a leading light in the Gen X Riot Grrrl movement of the early 90’s. Riot Grrrls didn’t just create music. They published zines, produced their artwork and group exhibitions. The movement spawned current performance artists like Amanda Palmer, Peaches and M.I.A. Have a peek at Le Tigre:
Moving into the show proper, we travelled back in time to 1963 when Peggy Lee recorded I’M A WOMAN. This was at a time when multi-tasking meant being able to do all the housework andpowder your nose at the same time. By 1975 Loretta Lyn had released the first song about birth control, called THE PILL, about a little dose of hormones that would change society and history forever. Can you believe that it was banned from radio? In 1975! We have come a long way baby.
Now you were probably wondering whether any songs about women, written by men, met with my approval. Well, there were a few, (not many mind you). Here’s one: In 1978, Queen speculated that it wasn’t gravity but, in fact, FAT BOTTOMED GIRLS that made the earth go round. Fascinating. Thirty years later the scientific community is still to respond, even though Queen’s guitarist Brian May (who wrote this track) was studying for a PhD in astronomy at the time, which lends some sort of credibility to the argument don’t you think? Over the years this song has proved a useful rebuff to the portrayal of women in popular culture as little more than skinny minnies. And, at the very least, you have to congratulate a song with the lyrics, “Take me to them lardy ladies every time!”.
Keeping to the theme, let’s talk about an artist who has the sisterhood in a quandry. Beyonce sings all about being an independent woman and, yet, she still wants her fella to put a ring on it. But I must admit a liking for Destiny’s Child and especially the track BOOTYLICIOUS. Here are women in possession of their own bodies, their own sexuality and their own lives. When they solemnly announce “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly” in their ode to the joys of shakeable bottoms, the cheering from millions of pear-shaped women world-wide is deafening.
We followed with a song by the Scissor Sisters called SHE’S MY MAN, a song that tells of a woman who “takes her drinks with dust and rusty razor blades”. It then goes on to assert that “She’s my man and we got all the balls we need”. Not sure if this is a tribute to a transvestite or a particularly gutsy woman, but I’m somewhat encouraged by the fact, that in this age of sexual equality, it doesn’t really matter.
A couple of great duets were lined up next: Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox with the 1985 anthem SISTERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES and the 2003 release of CAN’T HOLD US DOWN by Christina Aguilerra and Lil Kim.
An artist who must surely qualify for our pro-feminist list is Peaches. She writes provocative lyrics that challenge traditional notions of gender. Her songs are nearly always sexually explicit which means that I can’t always include her in my playlists but there is one that did get away with playing this week, as it’s quite tame, for her anyway. Here she is with BOYS WANNA BE HER. Kick-ass band too.
The fight for sexual equality has always been one of the cornerstones of the feminist movement but back in the 40’s, way before we burnt our bras, the early Blues and jazz singers got away with murder with their proudly promiscuous and highly enjoyable music. You just heard Big Mama Thornton with her twist on the Sonny Boy Williamson song Good Mornin’ Little School Girl. Her version is called, what else, SCHOOL BOY. And then it was Julia and Her Boyfriends who know exactly what they want in GOTTA GIMME WATCHA GOT.
At the show’s half way mark Lesley Gore belted out YOU DON’T OWN ME, recorded in 1964 and covered later by Dusty Springfield and Joan Jett, among others. It also featured on the soundtrack of the film THE FIRST WIVES CLUB, a nice little revenge flick about three divorced women whose husbands have left them for younger models. It does happen you know! Here’s Lesley:
Next up it was a suggestion from Cath: Bluegrass duo Truckstop Honeymoon with BAD ATTITUDE. And to follow I chose an artist who has attitude with a capital ‘A’, M.I.A. with PAPER PLANES, on which she samples The Clash’s STRAIGHT TO HELL.
Had to include the wonderful Neko Case with PRETTY GIRLS, a song about abortion and the guilt-trip that’s put on women, particularly if they’re good looking. A nice pairing in tone, for this one, was WOMAN from John Lennon, a bloke who towards the end of his short life at least was very much the feminist.
If you’re looking for opinionated, then you can’t go past the next two tracks: First up, the great Patti Labelle with NEW ATTITUDE and Madison Avenue with WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?
Just saw the new film RUNAWAYS which I thought was going to be about Joan Jet but its not. It’s based on Cherry Bomb, the vocalist with the band, played to perfection by Dakota Fanning. Couldn’t help but be disappointed however with Kristin Stewart’s depiction of Joan. So, let’s make up for it with the stand out ‘up yours’ track, BAD REPUTATION. Here’s Joan Jett & The Blackhearts:
This one was a given: Aretha Franklin with a song that served both the Women’s Liberation & Civil Rights movements equally well. It is, of course, her cover of Otis Redding’s RESPECT.
Ani DiFranco is certainly no damsel in distress on NOT A PRETTY GIRL from the album of the same name, released in 1995 on her own record label with the fabulous name of Righteous Babe Records. Way to go: control the means of production!
Had to include another John Lennon track because he really was a card-carrying feminist. Here’s a clip of him performing WOMAN IS THE NIGGER OF THE WORLD on the Dick Cavett show. Having said all that, it does disturb me somewhat how submissive Yoko appears to be. Hmmmm. And, like, what’s with the drumming?
Heading towards the end of the show, there was just time to play Jeannie C. Riley’s HARPER VALLEY PTA about the struggles of a single mum in a small town, recorded in 1968. Riley was the first women ever to top the US pop and country singles charts with this song. The achievement would not be repeated until 1981 when Dolly Parton topped the same charts with the song you heard next – 9 to 5 – from the movie of the same name, about equality in the workplace.
Who better to close the show than Janis Joplin? This song was originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton and covered to perfection by Janis and Big Brother and the Holding Company in 1967. Here they are performing in Germany, 1969. The song: BALL & CHAIN.
Next week the theme will be UNLIKELY COVERS. Think Johnny Cash covering the Nine Inch Nails track HURT or Sonic Youth’s version of the Carpenters SUPERSTAR, that kind of thing. I’d love to hear from you with your own suggestions.
Here’s this week’s full playlist:
Hot Topic – Le Tigre
I’m A Woman – Peggy Lee
The Pill – Loretta Lynn
Fat Bottomed Girls – Queen
Bootylicious – Survivor, Destiny’s Child
She’s My Man, Ta-Dah, Scissor Sisters
Courtship of Eddie’s Father – Movie clip
Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves, Aretha Franklin/Annie Lennox
Can’t Hold Us Down – Stripped, Christina Aguilera and Lil Kim
Boys Wanna Be Her, Impeach My Bush, Peaches
Don’t Call Me Baby, Madison Avenue
School Boy – Ball n Chain, Big Mama Thornton
Gotta Gimme Watcha Got – Sugar in My Bowl, Julia & Her Boyfriends
You Don’t Own Me, Billboard Top 100 of 1964, Lesley Gore
Bad Attitude – Diamohds in the Asphalt, Truckstop Honeymoon
Paper Planes – Kala, M.I.A.
Pretty Girls – Blacklisted, Neko Case
Woman – Double Fantasy, John Lennon
New Attitude – Patti Labelle
Who The Hell Are You? – Madison Avenue
Women Know Your Limits – Harry Enfield BBC (Comedy Clip)
Bad Reputation – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Respect – Aretha Franklin
Not A Pretty Girl – Not A Pretty Girl, Ani DiFranco
Woman Is The Nigger of the World, The John Lennon Collection, John Lennon
Harper Valley P.T.A. – 60 Number One Hits of the 60’s, Jeannie C. Riley
9-5 – The Essential Dolly Parton, Dolly Parton
Ball & Chain – Cheap Thrills, Janis Joplin/Big Brother & the Holding Company
Next week: UNLIKELY COVERS
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
As a penance for my birthday indulgence last week, our theme this time was WALKING & RUNNING. ‘Cause a little bit of exercise never hurt anyone, now did it? Still, I think painting the town red must have still been on my mind as we opened the program with Lou Reed’s WALK ON THE WILD SIDE, from the 1972 album Transformer. It was produced by David Bowie who also sang backing vocals.
Here in Byron Bay, ‘doing the lighthouse walk’ is a daily excursion for some people. So, Kate Bush’s RUNNING UP THAT HILL was dedicated to them. It’s a great one to put on your iPod if you’re one of those mad people who walk or run as your preferred form of exercise.
Now you all know I love my Motown. So, WALK AWAY RENEE, released in 1968 by the Four Tops, was a given. As was NOWHERE TO RUN, a signature tune for Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, that was released way back in 1965. Check out this video clip from the same year. What to say about the back up dancers? OMG, the outfits, the dance moves!!!
Annie Lennox contributed WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS (ouch!) and then it was another true classic: Johnny Cash singing I WALK THE LINE and to round out the triple play beautifully, it was Fats Domino with I’M WALKING. Although it’s not the version we played on the show, take a look at this great clip of Fats Domino performing the song with Ricky Nelson. A great combination. And who is that saxophone player? Brilliant.
A little bit of UB40 followed with DON’T WALK ON THE GRASS and then it was Rufus Thomas with one of his biggest hits, WALKING THE DOG.
Empire of the Sun walked away with lots of awards for their debut album, WALKING ON A DREAM and the song of the same name was perfect for our show this week. As was Raphael Saadiq’s very suggestive, LET’S TAKE A WALK. Believe it or not this video, (like the song) was created in 2008. I’m loving the retro feel.
One for all the sleepwalkers – the brilliant R&B voice of Berna Dean singing I WALK IN MY SLEEP. Then it was Jimmy Rogers with WALKING BY MYSELF and a request from Judi, listening in Cairns: Patsy Cline’s I GO WALKING AFTER MIDNIGHT.
Did you know that John Lennon disowned the song RUN FOR YOUR LIFE from the Rubber Soul album? He eventually wrote a much more politically correct tune called JEALOUS GUY. But hey, we live dangerously at the Theme Park, so RUN FOR YOUR LIFE it was. We followed with Steve Winwood and the Spencer Davis Group’s very appropriate, (if you were one of the Beatles’ girlfriends anyway), KEEP ON RUNNING. Check out the very young Steve Winwood in this clip. So cute.
It’s impossible NOT to sing along to WALKING ON SUNSHINE by Katrina and the Waves. It’s such an optimistic, sunny song that suits the fabulous Summer weather we are having here in beautiful Byron Bay.
WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES by Joe South and The Believers is a great song as is WALK ON from, none other than, Mr Roy Orbison. Then it was the incorrigible Tom Waits with WALKING SPANISH from my favourite album of his, Rain Dogs.
More R&B was on the agenda with the great Sam Cooke and I’LL COME RUNNING BACK TO YOU. He would have been 79 this week (January 22). Sadly he died at 33 years of age, in a shooting incident. He is quite rightly considered one of the pioneers and founders of soul music.
A couple of ballads that couldn’t be omitted from our show on WALKING & RUNNING are YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE by Gerry & The Pacemakers, (remember them?) and Dionne Warwick’s WALK ON BY.
Jack, in Sydney, requested WALK THIS WAY, from Run DMC and Aerosmith. Excellent choice. Love the combination of hard rock and hip-hop. There should be more of it, I say.
Then it was time for some Blues: One of my favourites from last year’s Byron Bay Blues Festival was Seasick Steve, so I was happy to play WALKING MAN from his album, I Started Out With Nothin’ And I Still Got Most Of It Left. Then it was John Lee Hooker with RUN ON and James Taylor covering Jnr Walker and the Allstars’ I’M A ROAD RUNNER.
Grace Jones is unique. She does an amazing version of WALKING IN THE RAIN, originally recorded by Australian band Flash and the Pan. You’ll find it on her Nightclubbing album, released in 1981.
A show on WALKING & RUNNING wouldn’t be the same without Creedence Clearwater Revival’s hit, RUN THROUGH THE JUNGLE. Or The Modern Lovers’ ROADRUNNER. Or The Bangles’ WALK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN. But my favourite from this week’s show has to be an oldie but a goodie, Helen Shapiro’s WALKING BACK TO HAPPINESS. Can you believe that she was only 14 when she recorded this in 1961? Wow.
Next week, the show falls on Australia Day so I have no choice but to play some of my favourite Australian tracks. Tune in then if you like your music homegrown or are hoping for some appropriate tunes to compliment your Australia Day party.
And in signing off, I offer you this wonderful piece of graffiti that came to my attention this week: “Be happy today. Why wait?”
Here’s this week’s playlist:
As a tribute to all the Capricorns celebrating their birthdays at the moment, (including me!), the theme this week was GOING OUT AND PARTYING. Some famous Capricorns include Elvis Presley, who would have turned 75 this week, David Bowie, Annie Lennox, Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, Dolly Parton… the list goes on. Oh, what amazing company I’m in!
We opened the show Pink’s GET THIS PARTY STARTED and if that song can’t get you in the party mood I don’t know what will. If you’ve never seen Pink perform live, you are really missing out. Here’s some footage from her show at the Wembley Arena. Enjoy.
Wanda Jackson also has the right attitude. Her song LET’S HAVE A PARTY was a hit for her in 1959, a year after Elvis Presley released it. I totally adore Louis Jordan and included two of his tracks this week. The first has a great clip to show you. Have a look at LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL :
The Theme Park party was off to a great start and the party continued with Santana’s INTERPLANETARY PARTY from the 2007 album, Ultimate Santana. But, I ask you, what’s a party without James Brown? One thing you can count on, he’s GONNA HAVE A FUNKY GOOD TIME. Joe Jackson was also STEPPIN OUT and, as the Showstoppers explained, with their hit of 1968, it AIN’T NOTHIN BUT A HOUSE PARTY.
Loved Sam Cooke’s smooth rendition of WE’RE HAVING A PARTY but I have to admit that I was totally intrigued by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles song title, GOING TO A GO-GO. I have no idea what a Go-Go is, but the song is a sure fire dance floor filler, so it has to be about a party, surely.
The Irish Rovers sound as if it was one hell of a get-together with their ditty WASN’T THAT A PARTY. It’s hard to find a full clip of the Rovers singing any song but here’s one that includes this catchy tune, which they used to open their 80’s television series “Party with the Rovers”. Take a peek:
Claudine Clark’s one-hit wonder of 1962, PARTY LIGHTS, stands out because she wrote the music and the lyrics herself, which was unusual for a female performer during that time. Sung from the point of view of a teenage girl ordered to her room while her friends were out having a good time, “Party Lights” struck a chord and shot into the Top Five on both the pop and R&B charts.
What’s the purpose of a party? Well, let’s face it life can be pretty serious a lot of the time, so getting together with your friends and celebrating the positive things in life can be a lot of fun. Although I can testify that the after effects don’t always make it worth the effort. But that’s just my hangover talking. I’m sure the wonderful Amos Milburn wouldn’t agree and he has a great song to prove it – LET’S HAVE A PARTY.
Friday night seems to be the favourite night of the week to go out, so I thought it was appropriate to include Lily Allen’s FRIDAY NIGHT and The Specials’ FRIDAY NIGHT, SATURDAY MORNING. Then Three Dog Night claimed that their MOMMA TOLD ME NOT TO COME. They had to find out the hard way that “This is the craziest party there could ever be”. Check out the clip from 1970:
We played PARTY TRAIN by the Dazz Band on our Train show but it deserved a second listen. Smiley Lewis followed with CALADONIA’S PARTY. Now anyone with a name like Caledonia deserves to have a party in her honour, don’t you think?
Bobby Darin was just sitting in his bath, minding his own business and gets out of the bath with just a towel around him. Now how did he know there was a party going on? That’s how he tells it anyway in SPLISH SPLASH.
ZZ Top know how to do party. They’re turning up the radio and having a PARTY ON THE PATIO. Lesley Gore, on the other hand, needs a bit of sympathy. As she tells it, ITS MY PARTY (and I’ll cry if I want to).
The Donnas give short shrift to gatecrashers on WHO INVITED YOU? And for my guilty pleasure it was Kiss: “and you say you wanna go for a spin, the party’s just begun, we’ll let you in, you drive us wild, we’ll drive you crazy.” Yes, indeed, I WANNA ROCK AND ROLL.
Maybe the party lifestyle isn’t what its all cracked up to be. Not according to Elvis Costello and the Attractions, anyway, with PARTY GIRL or Marc Almond and Soft Cell with their reality check of a song, BEDSITTER.
I’m not convinced. Give me the optimisim of Michael Jackson’s OFF THE WALL or anything from the disco era, like Kool and the Gang’s CELEBRATION or Alicia Bridges with the party girl’s anthem, I LOVE THE NIGHLIFE. The song will forever be associated with the film, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and who am I to change that? Check out the clip:
The Beastie Boys are ready to FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT TO PARTY. Excellent. Even Bob Dylan had a song for us about parties – MILLION DOLLAR BASH.
Time to finish the show and what better way than with the brilliant Blossom Dearie with THE PARTY’S OVER followed by the Beatles’ BIRTHDAY. Here’s a cute piece of animation created by Mery, for all the Capricorns out there.
I thought next week I might have to work off some of the birthday cake, so it’s a show more for the walkers, than the talkers. The theme is WALKING AND RUNNING. Any suggestions?
Here’s this week’s playlist: