HANDCLAPPING is not only a very useful and easy accompaniment on a music track, it also nearly always signifies a certain level of enthusiasm and joy. And I reckon that’s exactly the kind of show we needed right now, with the weather being so dreary. Clapping is used as a percussion element in many forms of music including Gospel, flamenco, electronic and pop. Shirley Ellis’s 1965 soul hit THE CLAPPING SONG was our opener and it perfectly fitted my criterion for this week’s playlist, with its reference to a favourite childhood game full of happy memories.
Outkast’s song, about a relationship in denial, HEY YA! is a crazy mix of soul, rock and everything in-between, including a chorus of handclapping that recalls the girl groups of the 60’s, 70’s funk and even pop fare like Toni Basil’s Mickey. Check out the amazing Andre 3000 performing the song live at the Grammy Awards:
A couple of rock’n’roll icons who knew the value of a bit of handclapping were Eddie Cochran with his 1958 hit SUMMERTIME BLUES and Elvis Presley with RUBBERNECKIN’, released in 1969. Most songs written by the King of Rock n Roll had girls swooning and shaking and RUBBERNECKIN’ was no exception. A remix version, by Paul Oakenfield, was released in 2003 and managed to top the US charts. I chose to play the original, which also appeared in the King’s final feature film, Change of Habit. Here’s a clip from that film with loads of handclapping in evidence:
Contributing a little funk were The Meters with their HANDCLAPPING SONG and we followed with that great girl group, The Marvelettes, singing TOO MANY FISH IN THE SEA. The Marvelettes were Motown’s first successful singing girl group recording on the Tamla label. They set the precedent for Martha and the Vandellas and The Supremes.
If you’re after some God-fearing, gospel style clapping then there’s arguably none better than the Abyssinian Baptist Choir and SAID I WASN’T GOING TO TELL NOBODY. Sheer ecstacy for some but I get my thrills from singers such as Jenny Lewis and her band Rilo Kiley. They have a very simple yet effective song featuring handclapping, THE FRUG.
I don’t think Peter Noonan sang any of Herman’s Hermit songs without clapping along and CAN’T YOU HEAR MY HEARTBEAT is no exception. Check out the Noonan’s facial expression at 1:24. Love it that they didn’t take themselves too seriously.
Two more songs that feature a good dose of handclapping are DON’T LET ME BE MISUNDERSTOOD by Santa Esmeralda and Rose Royce’s original version of CAR WASH. Scottish folk/rock group Stealers Wheel’s song, STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU, found a whole new audience when it featured in the Quentin Tarantino film Reservoir Dogs. I’d love to include a clip from this film but it just so happens that the song is the backdrop for the most confronting scene in the movie and I did want to keep things cheerful!
The Cars emerged from the New Wave movement of the late 70’s with a blend of punk minimalism, synth-pop and art rock. It’s hard to believe that it’s now ten years since lead singer and bassist, Ben Orr, died of pancreatic cancer. Here he is looking smoking hot on their 1979 release, LET’S GO.
One of the most creative and idiosyncratic musicians of the 1990s and 2000s is Beck with his collage of musical styles, ironic lyrics and quirky arrangements. Check out this clip of his song CLAP HANDS. Now this is what I call good dinner conversation.
The late country crossover artist, Eddie Rabbitt, has a great clappiing song that also pays tribute to the clapping of thunder. I LOVE A RAINY NIGHT was a perfect track to accompany our weather report.
HANDCLAPPING is a very convenient piece of musical improvisation and it comes in useful across all musical genres. It also makes for a pretty cheerful playlist. To further prove my point we included two tracks from 1982: John Mellencamp’s HURTS SO GOOD and Prince’s LITTLE RED CORVETTE.
With a name like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! it’s a given that this group would have to have a least one song with handclapping in their repertoire. The title CLAP YOUR HANDS has also been used by Aussie singer Sia. Here’s she is with her very quirky video clip:
When it comes to video clips, however, none does it better than Gorillaz. DIRTY HARRY is from their second album, Demon Days. Like the video for another of their tracks CLINT EASTWOOD, the video of DIRTY HARRY references the film of the same name. It’s the only Gorillaz music video, other than STYLO, to be filmed on location. For more info on Gorillaz go to: http://www.gorillaz.com For now, simply check out this brilliant piece of animation:
Canadian singer Feist had a huge hit with her handclapping song, 1234. It was actually written by Australian singer songwriter Sally Seltmann, who records under the name New Buffalo. They met while touring together in Canada.
The Romantics livened things up somewhat with WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU. It’s from their self titled album of 1980 and was also released as a single. Jimmy Marinos, the band’s drummer is the lead vocalist and it did particularly well in Australia, where it reached #2 on the Australian Singles Chart. A real party starter.
Mott the Hoople’s song, ALL THE YOUNG DUDES, was written for them by David Bowie and can be found on the 1972 album of the same name. It’s regarded as one of glam rock’s anthems. Despite this, it’s one of the few songs on the list whose lyrics aren’t upbeat. According to Bowie, the song wasn’t intended to be ‘glamorous’ at all and carries a darker message of apocalypse. See what handclapping does for a song? Changes the mood and therefore the intent of the song completely.
Massive Attack’s Heligoland LP boasts a huge slate of guest vocalists, none more sultry than Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval. “Sultry” is probably a nice way of describing the Toby Dye directed video clip of PARADISE CIRCUS. The clip is definitely for over 18s, so if you are interested I suggest you go to the Massive Attack Blog but this recommendation does come with a warning about explicit content. .
Less controversial were our next three songs starting with one of my favourites, Radiohead’s 15 STEP. We followed with The Clash and ROCK THE CASBAH and Queen with WE WILL ROCK YOU. Other than the last 30 seconds containing a guitar solo from Brian May, the song is generally set in a capella form, using only stamping and clapping as a rhythmic beat. Perfect for today’s theme.
We closed the show with one of the most inspirational songs that feature handclapping. GIVE PEACE A CHANCE celebrates what would have been John Lennon’s 70th birthday last Saturday.
If you would like to contribute to next week’s show, which will be on EYES AND SIGHT, I’d love to have your input. Just leave me a message in the comments area of this blog.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
The Clapping Song – The Best Of Shirley Ellis, Shirley Ellis
Hey Ya! – The Love Below, Outkast
Rubberneckin’ – Treasures 64 To 69 [Disc 1], Elvis Presley
Summertime Blues – Music From The Movies, Eddie Cochran
Hand Clapping Song – Struttin, The Meters
Too Many Fish In The Sea – The Big Chill, The Marvelettes
Said I Wasn’t Gonna Tell Nobody – Shakin’ The Rafters, The Abyssinian Baptist Gospel Choir
Frug – Rilo Kiley, Rilo Kiley
Can’t You Hear My Heartbeat – Their Greatest Hits, Herman’s Hermits
Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood – Tarantino Experience Take II, Leroy Gomez and Santa Esmeralda
Car Wash – Greatest Hits, Rose Royce
Rebel Rouser – Forest Gump Soundtrack, Duane Eddy
Stuck In The Middle With You – Reservoir Dogs, Stealers Wheel
Let’s Go – The Cars Greatest Hits, The Cars
Clap Hands – Guerolito, Beck
I Love A Rainy Night – Kick It Up, Eddie Rabbitt
Hurts So Good – American Fool, John Mellencamp
Little Red Corvette – 1999, Prince
Clap Your Hands! – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Clap Your Hands – Clap Your Hands, Sia
Dirty Harry – Dirty Harry (Single), Gorillaz
1234 – The Reminder [Bonus Track], Feist
What I Like About You – Top Hits Of The 80’s (1980 [Disc 2]), The Romantics
All The Young Dudes – Rock Classics 60’s & 70’s Volume 2, Mott The Hoople
Paradise Circus feat. Hope Sandoval – Heligoland, Massive Attack
15 Step – In Rainbows, Radiohead
Rock The Casbah – Story of the Clash, Volume 1 [Disc 1], The Clash
We Will Rock You – News Of The World, Queen
Give Peace A Chance – Lennon [Disc 1], John Lennon
Hair is more than just the stuff that sits on top of your head. Hair can be a metaphor for life, for youth, for sensuality. And, as such, the subject has created a lot of interest from songwriters. The long and the short of it is that hair, or the lack thereof, lends itself to every genre of popular music.
So, just to be quirky, we started the show with two songs about having no hair at all. The very appropriately named Professor Longhair gave us BALD HEAD and Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson contributed CLEANHEAD BLUES in which he claims that if it wasn’t for women he’d still have his curly locks. Oh yeah, sure. I’m not sure how old this clip is, but what a great venue!
Donna Simpson of The Waifs is a blonde who is much darker underneath than her image projects. Or so their song, THE HAIRCUT goes. So, let’s talk colour. McFly know a girl with FIVE COLOURS IN HER HAIR. If they were any cuter, they would have to be arrested. They remind me of the Monkees. Not sure if that’s a good thing.
Still on colour, Louis Jordan wants to know why YOU DYED YOUR HAIR CHARTREUSE. That’s the green colour your hair goes if you get a bad bleaching job, by the way.
There were no blonde jokes in the show this week, and certainly no ginger jokes. All in support of the sisterhood, you understand. And the brotherhood for that matter! But I do have a great quote for you from Dolly Parton. When asked whether she was offended by blonde jokes she responded by saying no, because she knew she wasn’t dumb. And she also knew she wasn’t blonde. Boom Boom.
Country singer Eddie Noack reckons that GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES but he’s not fussy about hair colour at all. As long as you’re a female, you’re in with a chance. The Meteors, on the other hand, are definitely suckers for LONG BLOND HAIR. Sonny Burgess likes a RED HEADED WOMAN, although he does sound rather ambivalent about her. Check out this clip from 2008 where he is performing at a Rockabilly Festival. He must be at least 80 years of age and he’s still going strong. Brilliant.
Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band give us the song that we had to have on our show about HAIR. Yes, a little ditty about dandruff, KING OF SCURF. “I had alot of acne and pimples, I had to stay at home. Eventually, no one came near me, all I had was my comb”. Hilarious.
Time for something a little more serious, perhaps. Easily fixed by Nina Simone with BLACK IS THE COLOUR OF MY TRUE LOVE’S HAIR and we followed with India Arie and I AM NOT MY HAIR.
Now if you want proof positive that you can write a song about any old thing in the 70’s, take a listen to Crosby Stills Nash & Young with ALMOST CUT MY HAIR. They’re performing at Wembley Stadium in 1974, although I don’t see any sign of Neil Young.
George Thorogood followed with another track that will resonate with all you baby boomers: GET A HAIRCUT. And continuing the theme, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band sang about LONG HAIRED MUSIC.
Our only Motown track this week was LET YOUR HAIR DOWN by the Temptations. Letting your hair down means that you behave in a free or uninhibited manner. The origin of the saying goes back to the 17th century when women’s hair was normally pinned up and was only let down for brushing or washing. The term used for this at the time was dishevelling. Anyone who is unkempt and generally untidy might now be described as disheveled, but then it applied specifically to hair which was unpinned. There you go. A little bit of trivia for you.
Beck was next with DEVIL’S HAIRCUT followed by Owen who sang about that lover’s dilemma in WHO FOUND WHO’S HAIR IN WHO’S BED? There is a slight language warning on this one, but can you blame the poor guy for swearing?
Yay, we did include one for those of you with short hair: SHORT-HAIRED WOMAN from Lightning Hopkins. Reportedly, Michael Hutchence of INXS wrote SUICIDE BLONDE with, then girlfriend, Kylie Minogue in mind. Neil Young, whose true love’s hair is enormously important too, wants to live with a CINNAMON GIRL.
We enjoyed a lot of great guitar work on this week’s show. And amongst them is the band Wishbone Ash, considered one of the major innovators of the harmony twin lead guitar format. In BLOWIN’ FREE they hanker after a girl with golden brown hair, “blowin’ free like a cornfield’. I said they were great guitarists, I didn’t say anything about the lyrics now did I? Here they are performing in 1973:
I have to declare a bit of a thing for Led Zeppelin so had to play THE GIRL I LOVE SHE GOT LONG BLACK WAVY HAIR. As all good rock chicks do, of course. Me, being a red-head, doesn’t qualify I’m afraid.
One of my favourite acts from last year’s Byron Bay Blues Festival were THE DRIVE BY TRUCKERS. I discovered an amazing song of theirs, set in the week before Easter. Perfect. It’s about a preacher who was murdered by his wife all because of THE WIG HE MADE HER WEAR. I think its one of the most interesting things they’ve done. Unfortunately no decent clip available as yet.
But I do have a great clip of Little Birdy performing her hit, HAIRDO. Great voice.
We followed with PJ Harvey’s rendition of HAIR which revisits the story of Samson, who, as we know, was incredibily vulnerable without his locks.
We needed a song about the good old fringe, or ‘bangs’ as the Americans call it. And what better than BANGS by They Might Be Giants. The Beatles made their version of ‘bangs’ – the mop-top – world-famous and early in their career they covered Carl Perkins’ LEND ME YOUR COMB, so I thought I’d include Perkins version in this week’s show too.
BayFM will be at this year’s Byron Bay Blues Fest at our very own tent. I’ll be there Saturday April 3, between 12 and 3:30 so drop in and say hello.
It was appropriate then to close the show with a tune from one of the great Blues performers: Magic Slim and the Teardrops with GIVE ME BACK MY WIG.
Have a wonderful Easter! Here’s the complete playlist:
Next week: The topic is LISTS.
This week’s theme was a toughie: SONGS TO MAKE SANDWICHES TO was inspired by a forum on music mag Word’s site. While Word readers couldn’t take the subject seriously I figured there was room for someone who did. And who better than little ol’ obsessive me? So sandwiches it was, but I made it easier by also including hamburgers, hot-dogs and the like. I even allowed songs about stuff that goes into a sandwich, like honey, tomatoes, chicken. Still I suffered some abuse. Impossible, you emailed. Why not make it broader and include all food pleaded Lynden. Crap theme, too hard, moaned Zoe. Oh you listeners of little faith.
We opened with a novelty song: SANDWICHES ARE BEAUTIFUL from Bob King, but in case you’re worried about this setting a tone for the rest of the show, be assured – rockers, r&b artists and especially the alternative pop singers all delivered some edgy songs on sandwiches.
Do you know where the word sandwich was born? London. 1762. An English nobleman, John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich was too busy gambling to stop for a meal even though he was hungry for some food. The legend goes that he ordered a waiter to bring him roast-beef between two slices of bread. The Earl was able to continue his gambling while eating his snack; and from that incident, we have inherited the fast-food product that we now know as the sandwich.
Today, our favourite version of meat between bread is called a hamburger. So we got the show rolling with the Whitlams’ brilliant I MAKE HAMBURGERS followed by The Flaming Lips and SHE DON’T USE JELLY. New York based, Japanese duo Cibo Matto were next with LE PAIN PERDU. The name of the band is Italian for crazy food and the title of the song is French for Toast. The lyrics in their songs are all primarily concerned with food, well seemingly anyway, and I liked them so much I also played another of their tunes, KNOW YOUR CHICKEN later in the program. Here’s the crazy video clip of that track and, although he doesn’t appear in the clip, that’s Sean Lennon on bass.
Two items that elevate ordinary old toast to dessert status are marmalade and honey. So any excuse to play Patti Labelle’s LADY MARMALADE and Aretha Franklin’s HONEY and I’m there. Yum yum.
Louis Jordan loves his BEANS AND CORNBREAD while Lil Johnson pushes metaphor to it’s limits with SAM THE HOT DOG MAN. Neil Young is partial to TUPELO HONEY on his sandwich, while Jimmy Buffet can’t stop singing about a CHEESEBURGER IN PARADISE.
When it comes to cheeseburgers, whether we like it or not, the burger with the highest profile has got to be MacDonald’s. Hell, there was a whole conversation about their burgers in the film PULP FICTION. Ah yes, how could we not include that iconic scene where John Travolta and Samuel Jackson discuss the merits of the French McDonald’s – ROYALE WITH CHEESE?
Two tunes that pay homage to the fact that a good cuppa is needed to wash down a sandwich or piece of toast were next. Canadian Jeff Healey, gave Gertrude Lawrence’s A CUP OF COFFEE, A SANDWICH, AND YOU a burl and then it was TOAST AND MARMALADE FOR TEA, a nice piece of bubblegum from the band Tin Tin.
Kaiser Cheifs reminded us of that vital sandwich ingredient – tomatoes – with TOMATO IN THE RAIN. And then it was the hilarious TOAST from Paul Young and the Streetband. Classic. Take a look at this clip from 1978.
In Mexican cuisine, a sandwich is either a taco or a burrito. Beck didn’t sound too happy when he sang SATAN GAVE ME A TACO. It seems taking delivery of that snack had all kinds of repercussions. Meanwhile, Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention went CRUISING FOR BURGERS. As you do.
All girl group Care Bears on Fire let loose with the precautionary BARBIE EAT A SANDWICH. Nice animated clip too. Check it out:
Let’s talk chicken. Here’s a question: What’s a chicken sandwich without MAYONNAISE? Smashing Pumpkins offered up a track dedicated to the condiment of all condiments. Mmmmm mmmmm: chicken, lettuce and mayo on white bread – can’t get better than that. The Detroit Grand Pubahs reinforced the fact that all songs, but especially those about food, are really about sex. The tune? The very cheeky WE CAN MAKE SANDWICHES. Here we go: another crazy video clip:
Out of the disco and out on the road: Little Feat are sang all about HAMBURGER MIDNIGHT and then John Mellencamp reckons that life is like choosing between HOTDOGS AND HAMBURGERS, (not sure what he’s getting at there).
Comedian Mitch Hedberg does a great skit on sandwiches and I particularly liked the bit about the Club Sandwich. We followed that with a dangerous piece of radio: Metal band Psychostick with THIS IS NOT A SONG, IT’S A SANDWICH!
After Psychostick we needed to calm down and what better way than with Feist and a song about the calming qualities of HONEY? You wouldn’t exactly call The Sugarcubes, (with Bjork), a calming influence. They can’t decide what to put on their sandwich and are threatening to EAT THE MENU. Check out the very young Bjork and a fabulous floating burger, all in one clip!
We closed the show with an oldie but a goodie: I LIKE BREAD AND BUTTER by the New Beats. Check out the clip from 1964:
Next week the show will feature Songs about Elvis; not by Elvis – although that would be good too – Songs about Elvis. Come on this one is easy, so start sending those requests in.
But for now, here’s this week’s playlist: