You may have heard that revenge is sweet but the truth is that it can be devastating, (well for one of you at the very least!). Hey, but I’m not here to give you a reality check. We all know that being sensible is incredibly difficult when you’re the one suffering from jealousy, or you’re demoralized, humiliated or simply just mad as hell. It’s times like these that you can’t be blamed for at least fantasizing about acts of vengeance.
Songwriters are in a great position to retaliate against slings and arrows than us mere mortals. They can attack their enemies in song and get away with it. Its non-violent and, (here’s the best bit), they even get paid to do it! How good is that? Maybe success is the best revenge!
We started the show with the ‘Godfather of Soul’, Mr. James Brown, singing THE PAYBACK from the album of the same name, released in 1974. The song’s lyrics are about the revenge Brown intends to take against the man who betrayed him, stole his money and his woman. Triple ouch! Here’s a clip from a show he did in Zaire in the same year as the album was recorded. Loving the bling.
Why shouldn’t Ben Folds get a little upset on SONG FOR THE DUMPED? After all, she took off with his black t-shirt. Unforgiveable.
Two of the great revenge songs have been covered ad infinitum. Wilson Pickett does a great version of STAGGER LEE as does Sam Cooke with FRANKIE & JOHNNY so, of course, both had to be included in the list.
When Alanis Morissette recorded the album Jagged Little Pill it changed the course of her career. The whole album is a revenge tactic against an old boyfriend but YOU OUGHTA KNOW is the standout track. Here’s a clip recorded live at Nulles Part Aillerurs in 1995. No longer the pop/dance artist of her teenage years, she’s quite the rock chick by this stage.
Lily Allen is hilarious on her revenge song, NOT BIG. Is there a better way to get revenge on a guy than to suggest that he doesn’t stack up in a certain department? The gorgeous Rihanna, on the other hand resorts to BREAKIN’ DISHES when her man has been out all night cheatin’. Of course this was way before a certain incident indicated that breaking dishes wasn’t going to make much difference to this girl’s love life. But let’s don’t go there. There’s been enough said, surely. Let’s just check out a very hot performance:
It was time for a response from the male sector: Robert Cray tried to convince us that he came out on top in I GUESS I SHOWED HER. And on BB King’s and Etta James’ THERE’S SOMETHING ON YOUR MIND, you have to wait a while for the punchline, but it’s worth it.
The Beatles deliver a nice little revenge tale with ROCKY RACOON, from their White Album, and The Dixie Chicks use comedy to get away with murder in a song aimed squarely at the issue of domestic violence on GOODBYE EARL.
Jimi Hendrix does a great version of HEY JOE, about a guy who takes retribution when his wife cheats on him. Here he is performing on the TV show ‘It’s Lulu’, sometime in the 70’s, and I love the expression on his face when the guitar goes out of tune for a second. A bit of a bonus too, with an extra song – dedicated to Cream – ‘Sunshine of Your Love’.
Mississipi John Hurt sings about a woman who takes some drastic action when her man does her wrong on FRANKIE. Bob Dylan’s revenge song steers away from domestic dilemmas and, instead, is aimed squarely at the Greenwich Village residents who criticized his departure from traditional folk towards the electric guitar and rock music. The song is POSITIVELY 4th STREET.
Robyn requested IT’S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE. She loves the song so much she suggested that I could play any version I like. So here’s Graham Bonnet with his excellent cover of the Bob Dylan classic. The clip is dated 1977. Thanks Rob!
I also included two New Wave songs that fit our theme of ‘Revenge’ very nicely. First up, another request from Robyn: Graham Parker gives the bird to all those girls that rejected him once upon a time on LOCAL GIRLS. And Deborah Harry sounds something akin to a ‘bunny boiler’ on a track that takes me back – ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.
Next up, it was a brilliant revenge song from the Drive By Truckers. THE WIG HE MADE HER WEAR is from their latest album The Big To Do and is, in my humble opinion, the best thing on it. Wish I had a decent clip of this track for you but alas, nowhere to be found.
Another request came from Judi. She wanted to hear any version of CRY ME A RIVER. When you give me carte blanche like that what am I to do than to take the opportunity to slip in the very sensuous voice of Julie London? Judi, who lives miles away in Cairns, Northern Queensland, tells me that she listens on the Internet. You can do that too you know. Just go to the BayFM.org site at the time the show is on air and press the listen button. Simple as that.
For something completely different, it had to be Kate Miller-Heidke with a song that I had to censor a little for radio. But no problem with uploading a clip here on the blog, assuming you don’t mind very funny, if explicit, lyrics. Here’s a live version of ARE YOU F****ING KIDDING ME? (THE FACEBOOK SONG).
Had to include the classic revenge song, Nancy Sinatra’s THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING and something just a little more serious, J.J. Cale’s quite disturbing song about retribution, RIVER RUNS DEEP. But for a different kind of revenge song altogether, how about WHAT IF WE ALL STOPPED PAYING TAXES?, from Sharon Jones and the Dapkings. Yeah, let’s get back at the government! Brilliant idea.
We closed the show with an amazing track from The Decemberists: THE MARINER’S REVENGE SONG, a song filled with evil sea captains, vengeful mariners, giant whales, and much sea-faring woe. Revenge of the nerds, indeed.
Next week I won’t be here, but the lovely Des will be filling in for me with a show on MEN and I’ll be back the following week with a show on MADNESS.
In the meantime, remember that the greatest revenge is to live well.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
The Big Payback – The Big Payback, James Brown
Song for the Dumped – Whatever and Ever Amen, Ben Folds Five
Stagger Lee – I’m in Love, Wilson Pickett
Frankie & Johnny – Greatest Hits, Sam Cooke
You Oughta Know – Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette
Not Big – Lily Allen
Breakin’ Dishes – Good Girl Gone Bad, Rhianna
I Guess I Showed Her – Strong Persuader, Robert Cray
There’s Something On Your Mind – BB King & Etta James
Revenge of the Sugar Plum Fairy – Transiberian Orchestra
Rocky Racoon – The Beatles (White Album) [Disc 1], The Beatles
Goodbye Earl – Fly, Dixie Chicks
Hey Joe – Jimi Hendrix
Frankie – Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues, Mississippi John Hurt
Positively 4th Street – Biograph (Disc 2), Bob Dylan
It’s All Over Now Baby Blue – Graham Bonnet
Local Girls – Squeezing out Sparks, Graham Parker
One Way or Another – Parallel Lines, Blondie/Deborah Harry
The Wig He Made Her Wear – The Big To-Do, Drive By Truckers
Cry Me A River – Diva Classics Icons, Julie London
Are You F*cking Kidding Me (Facebook Song) – Live At the Hi-Fi, Kate Miller-Heidke
These Boots Are Made For Walking – Boots, Nancy Sinatra
River Runs Deep – Naturally, J.J. Cale
What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes – The Dynamic Funk and Soul Sound of Daptone Records, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
The Mariner’s Revenge Song – Picaresque, The Decemberists
Week after next: MADNESS
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
Love, and all its complexities, provides a bottomless pit of inspiration. A perfect opener for our Valentine’s Day protest this week was Bobbie Gentry’s rendition of I’LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN. ‘What do you get when you kiss a guy? You get enough germs to catch pneumonia.” Songwriter Hal David was convinced that the angst-ridden game of love was no better than a chronic illness and who am I to disagree? The song is typical of all anti-love songs however: it’s resolve to give up on love is usually very short lived. Rather than a virus, it’s more like an addiction, for sure.
Jerry Butler is over it. He’s GIVING UP ON LOVE, a typical knee-jerk reaction from someone who has had his heart broken. The Dramatics, on the other hand, find out the hard way that there’s A THIN LIVE BETWEEN LOVE AND HATE.
Lot’s of suggestions from listeners this week for various Bob Dylan numbers but my choice was LOVE SICK from his 1997 album Time Out of Mind. He’s in love with a woman who he suspects of cheating and all he can do is wander the streets, moaning “I’m sick of love, but I’m in the thick of it.” Come on Bobby, man up!
Janis Joplin’s idol was Bessie Smith, (she even organised a campaign to pay for her tombstone after finding that the great Blues singer was buried in an unmarked grave). In the song CARELESS LOVE, Bessie’s been a-cheating and a-dumping, but is it her fault? Hell, no.
Rosemary Clooney, (now forever known as George Clooney’s auntie), makes a slightly less convincing argument against love, blaming it for sending her “a Joe who had winter and snow in his heart”. Bummer. The song is LOVE YOU DIDN’T DO RIGHT BY ME. Here’s a clip from the film WHITE CHRISTMAS, starring Clooney and Bing Crosby:
Next it was Soft Cell’s version of TAINTED LOVE, first released in 1964 by Gloria Jones and covered by Soft Cell in 1981. It’s a bit of a gay anthem and to celebrate that, here’s a wonderful video that uses the music as backing to Laurel & Hardy’s soft shoe shuffle in the film WAY OUT WEST. Enjoy.
Richard Hell & The Voidoids have a perfect response to the notion that love is perfect, a fairytale fed to us by Hollywood and the mass media. In the song LOVE COMES IN SPURTS Richard reckons love “murders your heart – they didn’t tell you that part”.
Bobby Bland is convinced that there AINT NO LOVE IN THE HEART OF THE CITY. Well he’s probably right about that. Poor Fats Domino thinks NO-ONE LOVES HIM, but at least he’s hopeful about the future, so no need to be too down in the dumps.
Talking of dumps, the Ben Folds Five gave us SONG FOR THE DUMPED and then the divine SoKo was equally candid with I WILL NEVER LOVE YOU MORE. And she plays the ukelele! Can it get better than that?
Joan Jett covered J. Geils Band hit, LOVE STINKS, on the soundtrack of a very mediocre film called MR WRONG starring Ellen De Generes. Despite the lame film, Joan’s version gives the song a bit more bite I think. Another of my favourite female artists is Shirley Manson, lead singer of the band Garbage, so we included their 1998 hit, SPECIAL. Here they are live on Letterman in 1996:
Betty Davis was the second wife of Miles Davis and an amazing artist in her own right. ANTI LOVE SONG is from her self-titled debut album and is notable not just for her powerful voice but for who she used to support her on the album. The Pointer Sisters sing back up, bassist Larry Graham and drummer Greg Errico, both veterans of Sly & the Family Stone are there, plus fellow San Francisco luminaries like master keyboardist Merl Saunders and guitarists Neal Schon and Douglas Rodriguez (both associated with Santana at the time) give this whole album reams of cred.
The great soul singer Teddy Pendergrass who sadly passed away a couple of weeks ago, contributed LOVE TKO and then another soul singer, who probably isn’t as well known but with a fine voice, Angie Stone, sang WISH I DIDN’T MISS YOU.
Here’s a perfect choice for our Anti-Love show: Public Image Ltd with THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG. Thanks to regular contributor Lynden for that suggesiton.
Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks offered up a song that will surely put a smile back on your face if you’ve been disappointed by love: HOW CAN I MISS YOU WHEN YOU WON’T GO AWAY? Then it was Amy Rigby, married b.t.w. to punk rock alumni Wreckless Eric. She seems skeptical about romance as she contemplates a marriage based not on love but resignation. Not sure what Eric thinks about all that. The song is CYNICALLY YOURS.
The 13th Floor Elevators are convinced that YOU’RE GONNA MISS ME and we followed with something completley out of left field. From Gang of Four’s 2005 album Return the Gift, ANTHRAX is another of those songs that makes love out to be, not just dangerous, but lethal. Yikes.
Belle & Sebastian sound so sweet as they sing that they DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE. Maybe they’ve been listening to Nick Lowe’s song CRUEL TO BE KIND. Along with Wreckless Eric, Elvis Costello and others he was part of the Stiff Records line-up of artists. I’m thinking it might be time for a show dedicated to the ‘stiffies’ as they were referred to. Let me know what you think. Here’s a clip of Nick Lowe singing CRUEL TO BE KIND:
Heading into the home stretch, we played a very nice number by The Corrs, I NEVER LOVED YOU ANYWAY from their second album Talk on Corners. The final two songs couldn’t be more different from each other. First up it was Robert Plant and Alison Krauss with GONE, GONE, GONE – a good piece of advice for anyone in an unsatisfactory relationship. And then it was a song for all the battle weary lovers out there. Blossom Dearie is much more generous than many of us when we’ve been given the heave-ho by some love rat, but maybe there’s a lesson there. The song is the delicious I WISH YOU LOVE.
Now as well as February 14th being Valentine’s Day it’s also Chinese New Year. I did consider doing a show next week on all the Chinese animals (you know Year of the Tiger, Rat, Dog etc etc), but as I’ve already done cats and dogs, thought better of it. How about we stick with Western Astrology? Next week, the theme will be STAR SIGNS. Drop me a line if you have any requests or suggestions.
Here’s this week’s playlist: