Our playlist this week was dedicated to SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS. We’re talking Na-na-na songs, obla-di songs, even la-la-la songs. Because, let’s face it, without meaningless words we may have missed out on some of our favourite pop anthems.
So WHO PUT THE BOMP IN THE BOMP, BOMP, BOMP, BOMP, BOMP? Well the original was recorded by Barry Mann in 1961. It parodied the nonsense words of the doo-wop songs that were popular during that period. Two that he refers to are the Marcels’ BLUE MOON and The Edsels’ RAMA LAMA DING DONG, which had both charted earlier that same year.
Ella Fitzgerald’s HOW HIGH THE MOON is a great example of scat singing, where the vocals are improvised using random and nonsense syllables. Fitzgerald is generally considered to be one of the greatest scat singers in jazz history. Pioneering Jamaican DJ and singer, Sister Nancy, also incorporates some scat into her chat with BAM BAM. Don’t ask me, I have no idea what BAM BAM means. And I’m not sure what BOM BOM means either. That was the title of our very own Daddy Cool’s contribution to this week’s list.
Time then for a counterpoint to all the merriment. There aren’t too many performers who could turn a “sha la la la” song” into one of romantic longing, but Tom Waits does so briliantly in JERSEY GIRL. And yes, I know that Bruce Springsteen does a version of this too, but it’s got to be Tom’s original version for me.
Way back in the 50’s The Gladiolas recorded LITTLE DARLIN’ in which they used their voices as instruments (adding an extra layer to the already full-on percussion). Their main aim wasn’t to experiment, however. All they wanted to do was to get you up dancing. As did The Crystals in 1963 with DA DO RON RON.
Yes, songs with MEANINGLESS WORDS have served generations of American black music very well indeed. And today, it seems it’s still all about the moves, baby. You only have to check out Beyonce’s SINGLE LADIES and my point is proven.
What I love about a show on SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS is that it gives me a great opportunity to play some comedy. Spike Milligan claimed that he wrote the YING TONG SONG as a bet with his brother, who claimed that Spike couldn’t get a song into the hit parade that only had two chords (in this case G and D7th). And Spike won!
We followed with punk group The Dickies with their version of BANANA SPLITS (The Tra-La La Song), from the soundtrack to the film Kick Arse and to round out the set, another fruit related song with some meaningless words, the wonderful Little Richard with TUTTI FRUTTI. I’m not sure where or when this concert took place, but I wish I’d been there!
Is there anyone in the world that doesn’t know the refrain from HEY JUDE by The Beatles? Na, Na, Na, Na- Na- Na. I don’t think so. That one was for Judi who listens via the Internet from Far North Queensland and who has sent me a very nice email. So big shout out to Jude!
It’s true that you can’t help but sing along to SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS isn’t it? Even Mr. Grumpy himself, Van Morrison, can’t help but deliver a song that, ironically, has made a lot of people very happy over the years: BROWN EYED GIRL.
Donna Summer’s version of STATE OF INDEPENDENCE was released in 1982 and featured a choir that included Michael Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Kenny Liggins, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder and others. She’s always been known for her powerhouse vocal delivery and she’s one of the most successful recording artists of the 1970s. Her website states that she has sold more than 130 million records worldwide. One of today’s most fascinating artists is Lady Gaga and we played BAD ROMANCE from her Fame Monster album which also has a few meaningless words in it. As of April 16, 2010, her music videos gained over one billion viral views, becoming the first artist to reach this milestone. So she obviously doesn’t need any help from me so I’m going to get you to have a peek at Donna Summer instead!
Its been mooted that catchy songs are just that because they’re easy to sing along to. Meaningless words seem to help that process. Here’s another example for you: The J. Geils Band with CENTERFOLD. We played this one in our ‘Fashion’ show, but its such a good example of meaningless words in a song, it had to be included here too. Na, na, na, na, na,
A great triple play of classics followed: Reggae artist Barrington Levy with HERE I COME, the great Otis Redding with FA-FA-FA-FA-FA (SAD SONG) and Major Lance with UM, UM, UM, UM, UM. Another classic that wouldn’t be the same without its meaningless words is NA NA HEY HEY KISS HIM GOODBYE from Steam. It may have been a bit of a one-hit wonder but its served sports fans very well, ever since it was recorded in 1969.
All girl Aussie band, The Spazzys, offered up SUNSHINE DRIVE, which first appeared on their Aloha Go Bananas! album. I found my copy on the soundtrack to the film Suburban Mayhem. Its easy to see that they’re influenced by The Ramones who had a song of their own called PINHEAD that produced their concert catch-cry “Gabba, Gabba, Hey!”. For some reason that I can’t fathom, I didn’t actually play this song but, as penance, here’s a clip to satisfy all you Ramones fans. Who said punk was dead?
Back to some Pommy classics: the Kinks with DAVID WATTS, the Beatles with OB-LA-DI, OB-LA-DA and Manfred Mann with DO WAH DIDDY DIDDY. How upbeat is this little ditty? Check it out:
Pocket rocket, Brenda Lee recorded a very catchy tune that uses meaningless words, DUM DUM. No idea what the words mean and I’m not sure that Sting and the Police have a clue what they’re singing about when they declare DE DO DO DO, DE DA DA DA.
Another couple of classic tunes with meaningless words came from The Drifters with I COUNT THE TEARS and the Delfonics with LA LA MEANS I LOVE YOU. Does that mean that if you go to local club La La Land you’ll find love? Hmmmmm, don’t think so somehow.
We signed off with a doozy: GOOD MORNING STARSHINE by Oliver. Impossible not to singalong to this one.
Next week’s show will be on SHELTER. I’m thinking of both interpretations of the word. It could be a building or it could be the protection or refuge you find in something or someone. So get those suggestions in and, yes of course, the Stones GIMME SHELTER is a given!
Here’s this week’s playlist:
Who Put the Bomp (In the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp) – #1 Hits of the ’50s Volume 4, Barry Mann
Rama Lama Ding Dong – The Rama Lama Ding Dong EP, The Edsels
Blue Moon – The Original 60’s Summer Album, The Marcels
How High The Moon – Conﬁrmation, Ella Fitzgerald
Bam Bam – One Two, Sister Nancy
Bom Bom – The Essential Daddy Cool [Disc 1], Daddy Cool
Jersey Girl – Heartattack And Vine, Tom Waits
Little Darlin’ – Rock n’ Roll Boogie Hits Of ’57, The Gladiolas
Da Do Ron Ron (Re-Recorded / Remastered) – – Soundtrack To The ’60s (Re-Recorded / Remastered, The Crystals
Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) – Beyoncé
Ying Tong Song – Let’s All Sing Along With The Goons, The Goons
Banana Splits (The Tra La La Song) – Dickies
Tutti Frutti – Little Richard, Little Richard
Hey Jude – The Beatles
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
Bad Romance (Album Version) – Lady Gaga
State of independence – Donna Summer, Donna Summer
Centerfold – Best Of The J Geils Band, The J Geils Band
Here I Come – Here I Come, Barrington Levy
Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song) – Otis Redding
Um Um Um Um Um – Soul Masters: Um Um Um Um Um, Major Lance
Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye – ’60s: Gold, Steam
Heebie Jeebies – A Portrait Of New Orleans Jazz CD1, Louis Armstrong
The Sunshine Drive – Suburban Mayhem Soundtrack, The Spazzys
Do Wah Diddy Diddy – The British Invasion: History of British Rock, Vol. 2, Manfred Mann
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da – The Beatles (White Album) [Disc 1], The Beatles
David Watts – Greatest Hits, The Kinks
Dum Dum – Sweet Nothin’s, Brenda Lee
de do do do, de da da da – The Very Best, Sting & The Police
I Count The Tears – Greatest Hits, The Drifters
La La Means I Love You – The Legend of The Delfonics, The Delfonics
Good Morning Starshine – Billboard Top 100 Of 1969, Oliver
Next week: SHELTER
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
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