As you will no doubt be aware, the Academy Awards are coming up and in honour of the Oscar tradition of jazzing up a long-running format with dubious gimmicks, this week’s Theme Park was dedicated to Original Songs Recorded For Film. Here at BayFm we’re always on a budget so you just have to imagine the red carpet, the paparazzi and my fabulous outfit.
J’aimee Skippon-Volke from the Byron Film Festival also paid us a visit and we had a chat about what’s screening at the festival this year. She kindly gave away some tickets to our loyal subscribers, as did the wonderful people at the Dendy Cinema who are screening most of the Oscar nominees at the moment. Thanks guys and congrats to the lucky listeners who won those.
STAYIN’ ALIVE was written and recorded by The Bee Gees in 1977 for the film ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and the album defined the Bee Gees as they ushered in the disco era. None of the songs from this best selling album were nominated for an Oscar, with the Best Original Song of 1977 going to “You Light Up My Life’ from the widely panned film of the same name. Go figure.
Another oversight by the Academy is WHEN DOVES CRY from Prince’s brilliant album ‘Purple Rain’ which supported the film of the same name. Funky, sexy and totally rockin’ the album was nothing short of revolutionary and probably far too much for the staid Academy committee to take in. Prince doesn’t like to have his music on YouTube so it was difficult to get a good video of him performing the song, but here’s an extract from a DVD called ‘Prince – The Glory Years’:
Simon & Garfunkle wrote MRS ROBINSON especially for the film ‘The Graduate’. Thanks Judi, all the way from Cairns, for suggesting that one.
The Beatles A HARD DAY’S NIGHT is so iconic that many of us forget that all eight original songs plus four instrumentals are from the Beatles first movie.
And then it was one of my guilty pleasures, TONIGHT I’M GONNA ROCK YOU TONIGHT, from ‘This is Spinal Tap’. Not nominated for an Oscar either! What was the Academy thinking!
Prior to Bob Marley, nothing did more to make reggae popular than the soundtrack to THE HARDER THEY COME. Jimmy Cliff’s title song does the work of the film in less than four minutes. Gotta be the best reggae song ever written for a movie. The year was 1972 and the Oscar for Best Original song that year went to The Morning After from ‘The Poseidon Adventure’. Jimmy was robbed!
Here’s a song that actually did win an Oscar. Another guilty pleasure, I’m afraid, but in 1987 while all else around us was synth-pop, we fell hard for the film ‘Dirty Dancing’. The song? I’VE HAD THE TIME OF MY LIFE from Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes. Oh, stop it, you know you were waiting for this one! R.I.P. Patrick Swayze.
Ok, I’m on a roll…. Yet another song that won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, and who would have thought a rap song could pull it off? Eminem’s LOSE YOURSELF was written for his hit film 8 MILE, released in 2002.
Stevie Wonder’s I JUST CALLED TO SAY I LOVE YOU pipped two songs from the film ‘Footloose’ at the post to take out the Best Original Song in 1984. But he wasn’t the first black artist to take out the award. Back in 1971 Isaac Hayes’ soul and funk style THEME FROM SHAFT won the Oscar, making Hayes the first African American to win that honor (or any Academy Award in a non-acting category, for that matter). Check out the opening credit sequence from the film, which uses the theme so superbly. Damn right!
Danny Boyle’s amazing film ‘127 Hours’ is nominated in various categories this year, including Best Original Song and Best Film. He also directed ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ which in 2008 walked away with 8 Oscars. That year two of the songs from the film were nominated and JAI HO won the Oscar, but I prefer the song that missed out, O…SAYA by A.R. Rahman and M.I.A.
By having the actors write and perform their own songs, director Robert Altman managed to capture the sprawling heart of the ’70s Nashville music scene, the good, the bad and the just plain hokey. And while the album has its high and low points, the high points got their due: Keith Carradine’s I’M EASY won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 1975.
Zoe suggested that I play the whole album from the film INTO THE WILD. Ah yes, if only I had the time. But we definitely had to play something from this wonderful soundtrack, which was composed by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam fame. So, my pick was SOCIETY.
Rebecca suggested PLAYGROUND LOVE from the Virgin Suicides soundtrack. it’s by the group Air and it has to be one of the most beautiful love songs written. An Oscar? No, of course not.
In 1969 the film ‘Midnight Cowboy’ won three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. But no best song, not even a nomination. It was a strong year with Raindrops are Falling on my Head from the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid taking out the honours, but I do have a soft spot for Harry Nilsson, so we had to play EVERYBODY’S TALKIN’. Here’s the opening sequence with Jon Voight as Joe Buck. Not even a nomination, what gives?
Bruce Springsteen’s STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA from the 1993 film ‘Philadelphia’ did go on to win Best Original Song for Springsteen. So, sometimes the Academy does get it right, it seems. As it did last year with THE WEARY KIND from a film that I also adore, ‘Crazy Heart’. The song was sung by Ryan Bingham.
MEMO FROM TURNER is a song written by the Rolling Stones for Nic Roeg’s film ‘Performance’. Ry Cooder provides slide guitar on the track, which was enough reason for me to include it, despite it not even being nominated for an Oscar. The film starred Mick Jagger as a sex-crazed rock star. I think it probably should have been awarded an Oscar for type-casting, surely! Love the fact that Mick lip-syncs to himself…
Like James Brown’s Black Caesar and Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man, Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Superfly’ album typified the blaxploitation tradition of soundtracks that eclipsed, and in this case outgrossed, their original inspirations. FREDDIE’S DEAD was my pick from this soundtrack.
It would have been remiss of me not to play at least one of the nominated songs from this year’s Academy Awards. So I went to go out on a limb and forecast that IF I RISE from ‘127 Hours’ should take the guernsey on Oscar’s night. With music by A.R. Rahman and lyrics by Dido and Rollo Armstrong, I think its the best of the bunch. Great footage from the film as well, on this clip:
We finished the show with a divine song from Louis Armstrong. WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD was one of the themes for the James Bond film ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, starring George Lazenby and Dianna Rigg. Composed by John Barry, with lyrics by Hal David, Barry has been quoted as saying that this is the finest piece of music he ever wrote.
Next week the theme will be SMOKING. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big fan of nicotine or other smoking substances, for that matter. But gee, there are some good songs on the topic, aren’t there? So I have no shame. Smoking it is. Or maybe we should call it THANKS FOR NOT SMOKING. Put your thinking caps on and get in touch, especially if you have an anti-smoking song for our list.
While you’re pondering your choices, take a look at the playlist from this week:
Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees, Bee Gees Greatest
When Doves Cry – Prince, Purple Rain
Mrs Robinson – Simon & Garfunkel, The Graduate
A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night
Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight – Spinal Tap, Back From the Dead
The Harder They Come – Jimmy Cliff, The Harder They Come
(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life – Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes, Dirty Dancing
Lose Yourself – Eminem, 8 Miles
I Just Called To Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder, The Very Best Of
Theme From Shaft – Issac Hayes, Shaft
O…Saya – A R Rahman & M.I.A., Slumdog Millionaire
I’m Easy – Keith Carradine, Nashville
Society – Eddie Vedder, Into The Wild
Playground Love – Air, Virgin Suicides
Everybody’s Talkin’ – Harry Nilsson, Midnight Cowboy
Streets of Philadelphia – Bruce Springsteen, Philadelphia
The Weary Kind – Ryan Bingham, Crazy Heart
Memo From Turner – The Rolling Stones, The Stones
Freddie’s Dead – Curtis Mayfield, Superfly
If I Rise – Dido, AR Rahman, 127 Hours
We Have All the Time In the World – Louis Armstrong, The Best of Bond
Next week: SMOKING
Sexuality, as the openly gay Michael Stipe has said “is a really slippery thing”. He says he’s not homosexual or heterosexual, he’s just sexual. I call that covering all your bases! With November 27th being Australia’s National Day of Action for Marriage Equality and December 1 being World Aids Day, it was a time for a show on HOMOSEXUALITY. I also wanted to pay tribute to a community who are still fighting for basic human rights. India held its very first gay pride march on the weekend after repealing laws against homosexuality only last year. In the US, only California allows same-sex marriages and in countries where these marriages are legal they don’t necessarily come with the right to adopt children. And in Australia our Prime Minister, Julia Guillard, shocked her (until now, anyway) supporters with her stand against gay marriage. So there’s obviously still a long way to go.
For the record I identify myself as straight so, just to give me some credibility, I invited two beautiful and brazen gay friends into the studio to help present the show: fellow BayFM announcers Tommy T-Jet from ‘All Things Camp’ and the lovely Lou from the Tuesday morning breakfast show, ‘Cock a Doodle Doo’.
We opened with a song for Tommy: Elton Motello’s JET BOY JET GIRL is a risque little number about a 15-year-old boy’s sexual relationship with an older man, who then rejects him for a girl. With its chorus of “ooh ooh ooh ooh, he gives me head,” it has been embraced as something of a punk gay anthem. Talking of punk, one of the best bands to emerge from the Queercore movement that started in the 80’s is Pansy Division. They have a huge repertoire of funny and pertinent punk songs about the gay experience and I played one of my faves, FEM IN A BLACK LEATHER JACKET. Part silly, part raucous, part earnest, you cannot ignore them, that’s for sure!
As far as I know Ben Harper is straight. And he’s a good example of your typical New Age Sensitive Guy with an evolved attitude about sexuality. He does a great acoustic number about a woman who leaves her abusive husband for a relationship with a woman. It’s called MAMA’S GOT A GIRLFRIEND NOW.
Marc Almond (ex-Soft Cell) takes Charles Aznavour’s WHAT MAKES A MAN and gives it a whole new meaning. Here he is appearing at the Royal Albert Hall:
I caught up with Melia and Nerida from Scarlett Affection at the Mullum Music Fest and among other things we discussed gay marriage from a straight girl’s point of view. As they quite rightly state, it’s all about love. We followed it with another sister act, the openly gay duo Tegan and Sara with I WAS MARRIED. This video clip was shot at their show at the Pumphouse Theatre in Calgary. Love, love, love Tegan and Sara.
Gay icon k.d. lang is a girl with an appetite and she blames it all on CONSTANT CRAVING. This video looks amazing as does k.d.
The Gossip’s lead singer Beth Ditto wrote STANDING IN THE WAY OF CONTROL as a response to the US government’s opposition to same sex marriage. Check this vid of them performing live and then try and tell me that Beth D. doesn’t absolutely rock! So good to see a young rock band with political attitude and a young woman not starving herself to death to fit the media’s idea of what’s sexy.
Jens Lekman is fed up with being a pretend boyfriend for his lesbian mate on A POSTCARD TO NINA. In this videoclip, shot when he performed live in Melbourne in 2006, his guitar died so he played the song on his ukelele while his band mates tried to sort out technical difficulties. Is he as cute as a button, or what?
Franz Ferdinand are, (I think) heterosexual but that didn’t stop them from playing the homoeroticism game on the track MICHAEL. Look, if its good enough for Bowie, then why not? Pete Shelley, on the other hand, isn’t shy about his sexual preference. The post-Buzzcocks pop single HOMOSAPIEN was banned by the BBC for its “explicit reference to gay sex”. Dear oh dear, when is the BBC going to get with the program?
Lou thought the list was getting a little male-dominated, so we couldn’t have that! She had a great suggestion – Ani DiFranco with BOTH HANDS. Following that I proved that Katie Perry is just another copycat. A cute copycat, but a copycat nonetheless. Jill Sobule’s I KISSED A GIRL was a hit way back in 1995. Check this out:
While I was at the Mullum Music Festival I spoke to volunteer David about his thoughts on AIDS and HIV awareness. His opinion is that there is a growing complacency within the gay community about safe sex and my guest presenter Tommy agreed with this. Yes, there is medication these days that can prolong your life but who wants to be on medication for the rest of their life? As with all diseases, prevention is always the best option.
A reminder that December 1 is WORLD AIDS DAY. The theme this year is TAKE ACTION. NO DISCRIMINATION. The aim is to encourage all Australians to be aware of the prevalence of HIV/AIDS; to take action to reduce the transmission of HIV by promoting safe sex practices; and to accept individuals living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.
Bruce Springsteen’s STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA was written for the first mainstream film to confront HIV/AIDS, homosexuality and homophobia. Philadelphia was released in 1993. It was inspired by the story of Geoffrey Bowers, an lawyer who in 1987 sued the law firm Baker & McKenzie for unfair dismissal in one of the first AIDS discrimination cases. Here’s Bruce baby with the official clip for the song which went on to win an Academy award:
I was feeling the need for an anthem and you can’t go past Gloria Gaynor’s I AM WHAT I AM. The song originally featured on the Tony award winning Broadway musical La Cage Aux Folles. Here’s Gloria in 1984:
Next up it was the always briliant Scissor Sisters with TAKE YOUR MAMA. Apparently, the band took their name from a sexual position between two women. Lou refused to elaborate! Here are they are performing at the 2010 Brit Awards. So wish I had been in that audience!
Our Gig Guide was ushered out with the very silly, but quite infectious, GAY BAR from Electric Six. It seems that we don’t have any lesbian or gay bars up here in the Byron shire. According to my panel of experts its all a bit underground. Oooh.
Time to get a bit more serious with my favourite socialist, Billy Bragg singing TENDER COMRADE and then a request from one of our listeners, Ryan, was granted with The Lemonheads singing BIG GAY HEART.
I absolutely adore the Joan Armatrading song THE WEAKNESS IN ME. Hard finding a decent videoclip of her performing it, but here’s one where she’s accompanied by keboards only. It’s not a great quality video but had to include it. What a voice.
Before I knew it the two hours was up and it was time to close the show and it had to be with the polymorphously perverse David Bowie and QUEEN BITCH. The year was 1972. Not sure what I think of the introduction of Bowie as a ‘self-constructed freak’. I have the feeling that he might have enjoyed that!
Huge thank you to Lou and Tommy for their help this week and allowing me to be a gay for a day.
For more information on community based gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender health issues contact ACON via their website at: http://www.acon.org.au/ or use their Free Call number 1800 063 060.
Thanks to Tommy T-Jet for editing the opinion sections of the show. You can listen to us having a bit of a chat between songs at: http://soundcloud.com/tommytjet/theme-park-30th-november-2010-homosexuality
Next week I’ll be ushering in the Summer season with a show on the SUN. Please leave me a message here if you would like to request a track. Until next week, remember to love one another (anyway you like!).
Here’s the playlist:
Jet Boy Jet Girl – Jet Boy Jet Girl, Elton Motello
Fem in a Black Leather Jacket – The Essential Pansy Division, Pansy Division
Mama’s Got a Girlfriend Now – Pleasure and Pain, Ben Harper and Tom Freund
What Makes A Man – 12 Years Of Tears – Live At The Royal Albert Hall, Marc Almond
I Was Married – The Con, Tegan and Sara
Constant Craving – Live By Request, k.d. lang
Standing In The Way Of Control – Standing In The Way Of Control, The Gossip
Do You Come Here Often – Telstar The Tornados
A Postcard To Nina – Night Falls Over Kortedala, Jens Lekman
Michael – Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand
Homosapien – Just Can’t Get Enough: New Wave Hits Of The 80’s, Pete Shelley
Both Hands – Ani DiFranco, Ani DiFranco
I Kissed A Girl – Hottest 100 Vol 03 [Disc 1], Jill Sobule
Streets of Philadelphia – Philadelphia Sountrack, Bruce Springsteen
I Am What I AM – I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor
Take Your Mama – Scissor Sisters, Scissor Sisters
It’s Alright – Shaming of the Sun, Indigo Girls
Secret Love – All Blues, Chet Baker
Gay Bar – Triple J Hottest 100, Vol. 11 [Disc 1], Electric Six
Tender Comrade – Workers Playtime, Billy Bragg
Big Gay Heart – Come On Feel The Lemonheads, The Lemonheads
The Weakness In Me – The L Word Full Soundtrack [Disc 2], Joan Armatrading
Queen Bitch – Hunky Dory, David Bowie
Next week: SONGS ABOUT THE SUN
Let me ask you this: who else has known you your entire life and witnessed your family’s capacity for love and/or dysfunction? Brothers and Sisters! Sibling relationships run deep, that’s for sure. Maybe it’s because of this that the chemistry between siblings can be quite complex, sometimes verging on the volatile. They don’t call it sibling rivalry for nothing. I can remember having actual fisty cuffs with my sister who is only 18months younger than me, but if anyone else threatened her, they had hell to pay.
So, lots of reason to pay tribute to our brothers and sisters. We started the show with a request from the lovely Nicky from Fridays breakfast program ‘That Friday Feeling’: Sister Sledge with WE ARE FAMILY. We followed with a request from Judi – The Hollies and HE AIN’T HEAVY HE’S MY BROTHER.
Robyn is a regular contributor to the show and she always has great suggestions. One of the best from her this week was JJ Cale and Eric Clapton’s DON’T CRY SISTER. It’s rare that the distinctive quality of sibling relationships is captured so well in song. Here’s a couple more that do it for me: In This Mortal Coil’s YOU AND YOUR SISTER, the lover’s sister is of the overprotective variety. Being the eldest of three kids, I can’t help but think this was written for me. Another is from brother and sister duo, The Knife, with PASS THIS ON. Their tense, steel drum electro adds a whole other dimension to the lyrics. ‘I’m in love with your brother’, Karin Dreijer urgently confides. “You’ll pass this on, wont you?”. Oooh, risky request that one. I really love this video clip though:
Des from BayFM’s Colours of Byron program suggested an oldie but a goodie, Elvis Presley with one for all the younger sisters out there: LITTLE SISTER.
When choosing music for our show about Brothers and Sisters I tried to choose songs that were about the biological kind over those about the brotherhood of man but songs like Tom Waits version of BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE ME A DIME, had to be included. I just love Tom’s idiosyncratic style.
Robyn could program this show all on her own, so prolific is she with her suggestions each week. Thanks Rob! Two more of Rob’s requests were Patti Labelle with LADY MARMALADE and Terence Trent D’Arby’s DANCE LITTLE SISTER. What ever happened to him? Come back wherever you are!
Switching genres, it was time for some southern rock, with a song from Johnny Van Zant, lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd and younger brother of Lynyrd Skynyrd co-founder, and former lead vocalist, Ronnie Van Zant. The song, BRICKYARD ROAD, is about Ronnie who was killed in a plane crash in 1977.
DANIEL is a song written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, and recorded by John for his album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Just the Piano Player. The song tells the story of a returning Vietnam vet, from his brother’s point of view. Another great song about a brother was written by Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. SPACEBOY is about his younger brother who has a rare genetic chromosomal disorder.
“Hey Little Sister What have you done?” asks Billy Idol on WHITE WEDDING. Yet, another great suggestion from Robyn:
Our next song touched a nerve because it’s a saying that my daughter used to say to me when she started kindergarden, although in this case its about a sibling asserting himself. It’s They Might Be Giants with YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME NOW. We’ll follow with a great song from The Kinks: COME DANCING. It’s a fond tribute to Ray Davies’ older sister and the demise of the local dance hall. We followed with a little samba from Brazilian Jorge Benjor, TAKE IT EASY MY BROTHER CHARLES.
Bobby Hebb wrote SUNNY after President Kennedy was assassinated and his own brother was killed in a knife fight outside a Nashville nightclub on the same day: November 22, 1963. Considering the circumstances its a beautifully optimistic piece of music.
Funnily enough, so is Bruce Springsteen’s HIGHWAY PATROLMAN. The song recounts how lawman Joe Roberts runs into his black-sheep brother, only to find that blood is thicker than water. I like the sentiment expressed in this one: “a man turns his back on his family, he just ain’t no good.” Johnny Cash also does a brilliant version of this track, but I rarely play Springsteen, so he got a run this week. We followed with a great piece of country, Steve Earle’s TELEPHONE ROAD.
Marvyn Gaye’s WHAT’S HAPPENING BROTHER is about Gaye’s brother who was serving in Vietnam at the time. The song is a precursor to WHAT’S GOING ON which was based on the same brothers letters. We followed with real life siblings, The Neville Brothers, and BROTHER JOHN.
It was good to be able to include something local: Sarah McGregor’s GOODNIGHT SISTERS is a gorgeous ode to her two sisters. And then it was the incredibly versatile group The Arcade Fire with NEIGHBORHOOD #2.
John Fogarty has said in interviews that Creedence Clearwater Revival’s HAVE YOU SEEN THE RAIN is about rising tensions within CCR and the imminent departure of his brother Tom from the band. See, and you thought it was about the Vietnam War didn’t you. Me too!
Lily Allen has a brother, not unlike my own, so her song ALFIE was dedicated to my younger brother who isn’t well at the moment. Keep smiling Pete.
Our final choice was a beautiful song, suggested by Des. It’s by Antony & The Johnsons with some help from Boy George. It’s called YOU ARE MY SISTER and I dedicated this one to my sister who celebrated her birthday on July 27.
Next week, its a subject that all of us in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales are familiar with: INSECTS AND SPIDERS. I’ll need some help on this one, so get in touch!
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
We Are Family – The Full Monty Soundtrack, Sister Sledge
He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother -The Hollys
Don’t Cry Sister – JJ Cale & Eric Clapton
You and Your Sister – Blood, This Mortal Coil
Pass this On – Deep Cuts, The Knife
Little Sister – Rare Elvis, Vol. 3, Elvis Presley
Brother Can You Spare A Dime? – Brother, Can You Spare a Dime, Tom Waits
Lady Marmalade – Best of Patti Labelle, Patti Labelle
Dance Little Sister – Terence Trent Darby
Brickyard Road – Brickyard Road, Johnny Van Zant
Daniel – Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Just the Piano Player, Elton John
Spaceboy – Siamese Dream, The Smashing Pumpkins
White Wedding – Wedding Singer, Billy Idol
Boss Of Me – They Might Be Giants
Come dancing – The Kinks
Take It Easy My Brother Charles – Pure Brazil: Electric Samba Groove, Jorge Benjor
Sunny – Bobby Hebb
Highway Patrolman – Nebraska, Bruce Springsteen
Telephone Road – Steve Earle
What’s Happening Brother – What’s Going On, Marvin Gaye
Brother John – The Very Best of the Neville Brothers, The Neville Brothers
Goodnight Sisters – Beautiful Thing, Sarah McGregor
Neighborhood #2 (Laika) – Funeral, The Arcade Fire
Have You Ever Seen The Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Alﬁe – Lily Allen
You Are My Sister (feat. Boy George) – I Am A Bird Now, Antony & The Johnsons
Next week: INSECTS & SPIDERS
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
I’m baaaack! And this week’s theme was influenced by my recent road trip down the coast: STREETS AND ROADS. Street songs also include their close relations avenues, lanes and boulevards. They all tend to be about a particular destination. Songs about roads and highways, on the other hand, are inclined to reflect on a journey of some kind, metaphorical or not. Some of these songs immortalise where they came from, others where they’re going, but all seem to have something significant to say.
We opened the show with the Drifters’ ON BROADWAY – a road that reflects the best and worst of New York. The famous entertainment strip is the epitome of success for some but it’s also a desperate place to be if you are one of the less fortunate. Check out the Drifters doing a great job, but what’s with the outfits? Pyjamas with fringing. What the??????
TOBACCO ROAD was written by country singer John D. Loudermilk and inspired by Erskine Caldwell’s Depression-era novel of the same name. The song reeks of the American south. A group calling themselves the Nashville Teens recorded the original version, although they actually hailed from England. And I don’t think it was even Southern England, cheeky sods!
There are so many versions of the that definitive road song, ROUTE 66, but I rather like the Nat King cole rendition. Eddy Grant took us back to the 80’s with ELECTRIC AVENUE about a market street in Brixton, London. You may remember a cover version by Aussie band Men at Work, but there’s nothing like the original. Check it out:
The wonderful Emmylou Harris dueted with Dave Matthews on GULF COAST HIGHWAY. Now I don’t believe that there is an actual Gulf Coast Highway, but who cares when the song is so beautiful?
It was a toss up when it came to Bruce Springsteen’s contribution to the show – Both Thunder Road and Racing the Streets were worthy contenders but I had to give it to the Oscar winning anthem, STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA.
Louis Armstrong paid homage to his favourite street in New Orleans in BASIN STREET BLUES and although I gave it a spin on the AUTOMOBILE show, Grace Jones deserved another outing with PULL UP TO THE BUMPER, from her critically acclaimed album NIGHTCLUBBING.
Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland was going FARTHER UP THE ROAD while Bob Dylan delivered the classic HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED. And here’s some trivia about that particular highway, which travels from New Orleans through to the Canadian border. Bessie Smith met her death in an automobile accident on that road, Robert Johnson was said to have lost his soul to the devil at the crossroads of Highway 61 and Highway 49, Elvis Presley grew up in the housing projects built along it and Martin Luther King Jnr would later be murdered in a motel just off Highway 61.
The Beatles sang about PENNY LANE while David Byrne and the Talking Heads took the ROAD TO NOWHERE:
A show about roads needed a bit of hard rock and the obvious, of course, is Acca Dacca and HIGHWAY TO HELL. But I thought I’d give them a rest this week and instead, in celebration of the Deep Purple tour reaching Brisbane next month (yay!) it was HIGHWAY STAR instead. Once listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the Word’s loudest rock band, here they are performing live in 1972. Ian Gillian, you are hot! Can’t wait for them to reach Bris-vegas.
Kirsty MacColl calmed things down just a little with WALKING DOWN MADISON, a song that deals with the disparity between rich and poor on the most expensive street in New York, Madison Avenue. As the song goes: “From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement, it’s not that far”. Gerry Rafferty sang all about London’s BAKER STREET, probably most famous for the literary address of Sherlock Holmes’ residence.
Lots of our songs this week dealt with being down and out, so it was great to include a number by the wonderful Dinah Washington. She’s definitely got the right attitude as she goes walking ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET. Recorded in 1956 with orchestra under the direction of Hal Mooney, the song was originally composed in 1930 by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields for the Broadway musical “International Revue” starring Gertrude Lawrence. The song has since become a jazz standard recorded by many.
In complete and utter contrast came the Australian Aria award winning hip-hop group, The Hilltop Hoods, with a song about life’s choices: THE HARD ROAD.
Chris Rea’s song, ROAD TO HELL, was apparently inspired by rush hour on a motorway. After being in Sydney I know how he feels! It’s been way too long since I played some Roy Orbison, so I DROVE ALL NIGHT was in, as it fitted so perfectly.
Green Day’s BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS is, I assume, about Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Similar to New York’s BROADWAY, Sunset Boulevard is the primary location for live entertainment, as well as being the red-light district and a hang for the homeless.
A fitting follow-up was Ray Charles with LONELY AVENUE and it was up to Junior Walker and the Allstars to brighten the mood somewhat with ROAD RUNNER.
Another fantastic and, I think, optimistic song about leaving home and heading off for freedom, is VENTURA HIGHWAY, a 1972 hit for America.
The Mamas and Papas sang a song reportedly about the place where they all met, a bar in CREEQUE ALLEY while Ray Charles and the Stray Cats combined on a great version of HIT THE ROAD, JACK.
For anyone living on a rural property, like I do, Lucinda Williams’ CAR WHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD will resonate, for sure.
I returned from my trip to Sydney to hear the very sad news that our friend Susie McNair had passed away quietly on Tuesday March 16th. The final song of the program was dedicated to her memory. The Beatles, THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD, was the final single that they recorded as a group. R.I.P. Susie.
Thanks to the following listeners for contributing to this week’s list: Judi, Rebecca and Katie. Next week’s theme is HAIR, so get your thinking caps on!
Meanwhile, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Now I know that in reality fire is pretty frightening, and I don’t take the current fire warnings lightly, but for songwriters, flames represent love, dancing and, above all, passion. And that just can’t be a bad thing.
In reggae and punk, however, fire has a moral – almost purging – quality to it. Recorded as riots swept Britain in 1979, the Ruts incredibly tense BABYLON’S BURNING foresees the demise of western civilisation. Extra points, too, for starting the song with a fire alarm and siren. Excellent.
DISCO INFERNO from the Trammps, would normally be a scary newspaper headline but when you’re grooving away to very this funky track, you know that it’s more about burning up the dance floor, rather than burning down the building. Here’s a clip from the song that is probably best remembered from the film Saturday Night Fever :
The Pointer Sisters know all about passion. Cause when they kiss, its oooooh FIRE. Dido, on the other hand is way more restrained in her rendition of FEELS LIKE FIRE, her contribution to Carlos Santana’s album Shaman. This is a very interesting album and worth a listen with its mix of hip-hop, rap and pop artists.
Last week in our Covers show, Patricia Barber did a great version of the Doors’ LIGHT MY FIRE. I wasn’t beyond playing the tune again, as it suits the theme, but this time it was the very sexy version by the beautiful Julie London. In complete contrast, M.I.A. came out fighting with FIRE, FIRE as she reckons relationships are more like a battlefield. Fair enough.
Country fans weren’t ignored. First it was a classic from Johnny Cash – RING OF FIRE – that I teamed with BABY I’M BURNIN’ from the wonderful Dolly Parton. To round out the set, who else but, Bruce Springsteen burning up the airwaves with I’M ON FIRE.
Time: 1983. Place: Any Disco in Town. Talking Heads creepy dance track, BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE, was inspired by the crowd at a Funkadelic concert shouting ‘Burn Down the House’ but David Byrnes’ penetrating delivery suggests that he may have taken it way too literally. At the same time Madonna was emerging as the next big thing and she exhibits the combination of erotic heat and disco fever that would keep her in good stead for the rest of her career. The song, of course, was BURNING UP. Here’s a clip of Talking Heads with BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE, a great example of art-school punks of the 80’s.
In a show about FIRE we can’t leave out Deep Purple’s SMOKE ON THE WATER. So, we didn’t. Here’s a clip of the original Mark II lineup in New York, 1973. One of the final performances, this is one of the only videos of the band performing it in the 70’s with Ian Gillan and Roger Glover.
The second hour of the show was suitably launched with the Lord of Hellfire himself, Arthur Brown with FIRE. That was followed by Brian Eno’s strange little song, BABY’S ON FIRE. It started Eno’s post-Roxy Music solo career and owes as much to Robert Fripp’s guitar solo as it does to Eno’s sinister vocals. Then it was time for some lovin’ music and Teddy Pendergrass & Stephanie Mills were definitely burning with desire with their song FEEL THE FIRE.
Last week on our Covers show I played some Elvis, (Presley that is, not Costello), and Mel from BayFM’s Rollin’ program told me that she was sorry that we didn’t hear more of the King on local radio, so who am I disappoint the gorgeous Mel, especially when it fits so beautifully with this week’s theme? So it was one of Elvis’ best: BURNING LOVE.
Here’s a great triple play: Jimi Hendrix with FIRE, Prodigy with their first UK number one single, the controversial FIRESTARTER and then it was the Stones with PLAY WITH FIRE. This track was the B side to ‘The Last Time’. Released in 1965, it was recorded the night before they left to tour Australia. The video for this track is quite pedestrian, so I’d rather show you something wild – and so, the Prodigy’s official video for FIRESTARTER it is. Enjoy.
There was still time for Nirvana’s LAKE OF FIRE and Natalie Merchant’s THIS HOUSE IS ON FIRE. I really liked the combination in this set. And then it was time to finish up with Aussie made good Daniel Merriweather supported by Adele, with WATER AND FLAME. The final song was a guilty pleasure (as if I didn’t include enough of them already!) – a song that I probably should have included in the program on FAMOUS PEOPLE – Billy Joel’s WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE. Check it out and you’ll understand why:
Here’s the complete playlist: