I’m addicted to the TV show PIMP MY RIDE. I would love for those guys to get my beaten up old Subaru and turn it into a low ridin’ bitchin’ machine. But that’s never going to happen. Next best thing: use the Theme Park radio show to promote AUTOMOBILES. And what better way to start the program than with Kraftwerk’s AUTOBAHN. It’s a driving song that eliminates the human driver and instead presents a very cool interpretation of machines on the move.
Things heated up with The Beach Boys’ ode to teenage freedom – FUN, FUN, FUN, and then it was time for the 1951 single often regarded as the first ever rock’n’roll record. Jackie Brenston’s ROCKET 88 celebrates the Oldsmobile 88. Metaphor lovers, however, will quickly cotton on that the real object of Jackie’s enthusiasm may not be a car.
Living in a rural area, we couldn’t leave tractors out of the playlist, so here’s a song dedicated to all the farmers out there: Jason Aldean with BIG GREEN TRACTOR.
Prince’s first big hit, LITTLE RED CORVETTE, takes automotive innuendo as far as it will go. A little trivia for you: Stevie Nicks got the idea for her 1983 song STAND BACK from LITTLE RED CORVETTE. She heard Prince’s song in her car, wrote STAND BACK that night, and called Prince, who came into the studio and played keyboards.
It was time for two of the great blues singers: Junior Parker likes to think that, as far as his relationship is concerned, he’s the DRIVING WHEEL; the wonderful Memphis Minnie isn’t sure that sitting in the passenger seat is for her, however, in ME AND MY CHAUFFEUR BLUES.
Tracy Chapman sees the car as a means of escape from a dead-end life. But her ambition isn’t matched by a boyfriend who turns out to be just like her hard-drinking Dad. Being the smart girl she is, her advice is for him to take his FAST CAR and keep on drivin’.
I couldn’t leave out the ever reliable bus as a mode of transport and the Hollies filled the slot nicely with their 1966 hit, BUS STOP. And another 60’s gem we had to play was the Beatles with BABY YOU CAN DRIVE MY CAR.
Time then for the bearded ones: ZZ Top reckon that SHE LOVES MY AUTOMOBILE. Well, of course. Two more excellent songs followed. Firstly, The Modern Lovers track ROADRUNNER, a song that has been good to Theme Park as it was also used on the show dedicated to RADIO. And then it was the Primus track JERRY WAS A RACE CAR DRIVER. A show on automobiles, however, would not be complete without Chuck Berry who sang one of the great auto songs: MAYBELLENE. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame included three of Chuck Berry’s songs (Johnny B Goode, Maybellene and Rock and Roll Music), in the list of 500 songs that shaped Rock and Roll.
The lovely Quentin, who hosts Q’s Jazz & Blues on BayFM, called in with a request: MOTORVATIN’ MAMA from The Rhythm Kings. Some very sexy symbolism running riot there Q! I paired it with Mic Conway’s National Junk Band singing WHO GAVE YOU A LICENCE TO DRIVE ME CRAZY? A great cabaret act and it was terrific to see them at this year’s Blues Festival.
A change of pace when Chris Spedding and the Vibrations praised the art of MOTOR BIKIN’ and The Clash bragged about a BRAND NEW CADILLAC. Check out The Clash performing live at the US Festival in ’83.
A re-discovery for me was Yello. A Swiss group that has been recording since the 80’s, they have escaped my attention of late. But their song THE RACE was absolutely perfect for the show and had to be included. Check out this mad clip:
In CAR WHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD, the five-year-old Lucinda Williams is a reluctant passenger who watches “telephone poles, trees and wires fly by”, from the back seat, while her parents make plans in front. This song served as a quite beautiful breather because it was soon time to fasten our seatbelts in preparation for some serious rock ‘n’ roll: Deep Purple with HIGHWAY STAR, Steppenwolf with BORN TO BE WILD and Jimi Hendrix with CROSSTOWN TRAFFIC. This triple play had all the BayFM volunteers and office staff up and dancing in the green room! Who knew work could be so much fun?
I was happy to include a couple of listener requests: RADAR LOVE from Golden Earring and Gary Numan’s most enduring hit, CARS. According to Numan, the song’s lyrics were inspired by an incident of road rage: “I was in traffic in London once and had a problem with some people in front. They tried to beat me up and get me out of the car. I locked the doors and eventually drove up on the pavement and got away from them. It’s kind of to do with that. It explains how you can feel safe inside a car in the modern world… When you’re in it, your whole mentality is different… It’s like your own little personal empire with four wheels on it”. Still going strong, here’s Gary back in the day:
A little plug before I go: BayFM is a volunteer based, community radio station dedicated to bringing our listeners intelligent, informative and entertaining programming. We are totally reliant on subscriptions to keep the station on air. So, if you want to support independent radio you can go to http://www.bayfm.org and subscribe online. We would really appreciate it. And if you ask to be acknowledged on the Theme Park show I promise to give you a big shout-out. But, best of all, you go into the draw for all kinds of prizes. The top one this year is an all expenses trip to the Glastonbury Festival. That’s airfares, camping fees, entry fees, spending money!
Roy Orbison was back with a vengeance and he closed the show with I DROVE ALL NIGHT. The patron saint of Theme Park Radio showed why he is one of my favourite singers.
Here’s this week playlist:
Autobahn – Kraftwerk
Fun Fun Fun – The Beach Boys
Rocket 88 – Jackie Brenston
Big Green Tractor – Jason Aldean
Little Red Corvette – Prince
Me And My Chauffeur Blues – Memphis Minnie
Drivin’ Wheel – Junior Parker
Fast Car – Tracy Chapman
Bus Stop – The Hollies
Baby You Can Drive My Car – Beatles
She Loves My Automobile – ZZ Top
Jerry Was a Race Car Driver – Primus
Roadrunner – The Modern Lovers
Maybelline – Chuck Berry
Motorvatin Mama – Rhythm Kings
Who Gave You A Licence To Drive Me Crazy? – Mic Conway’s National Junk Band
Motor Bikin’ – Chris Spedding & The Vibrations
Brand New Cadillac – The Clash
The Race – Yello
Low Rider – War
Car Wheels On A Gravel Road – Lucinda Williams
Highway Star – Deep Purple
Born to Be Wild – Steppenwolf
Crosstown Traffic – Jimi Hendrix
Radar Love – Golden Earring
Cars – Gary Numan
I Drove All Night – Roy Orbison
Next week: Celebrating Fathers Day here in Australia on September 6, so FATHERS it is. Any requests?
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time.
Also streaming on http://www.bayfm.org
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