As someone who relies on trying to create a diverse playlist, week after week, the topic of MUSIC GENRES is one that’s dear to my heart. Useful as they are though, identifying genres is a murky and nebulous exercise, open to countless individual interpretations. Just go into any music store and try to establish why Ian Dury’s Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll can find itself in pop, rock and alternative, all at the same time, and you’ll know what I mean.
In 1979 Malcolm McLaren’s art school classmate Robin Scott had a one hit wonder with POP MUZIK, an ironic and mischievous little tune, under his pseudonym, M: “New York, London, Paris, Munich…. everybody’s talking ’bout pop music.”
According to Bob Seger, today’s music doesn’t have the same soul. He’s feeling nostalgic for some OLD TIME ROCK N ROLL. Sugarhill Gang, on the other hand, are more interested in hip-hop. Their song, RAPPERS DELIGHT, while not the first single to feature rapping, is generally considered to be the song that first made hip hop popular.
Wild Cherry’s song PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC is autobiographical in that Wild Cherry was mostly a hard rock outfit. In 1976, however, the Disco era was all the rage and many of the group’s loyal followers were asking for more dance songs. And so was born the request: “play that funky music, white boy”:
Back in 1970, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground celebrated ROCK & ROLL with their hit song of the same name. By 1977, Bob Marley – together with Steve Tyler & Joe Perry – were giving us three genres for the price of one on ROOTS, ROCK AND REGGAE.
Punk rocker Wreckless Eric took a swipe at the record companies, for the pressure they put on artists to produce a hit single, on POP SONG: “Just a two minute song with a snazzy middle eight.” Yeah, that’s all they wanted.
The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band refuse to take anything too seriously, even the blues. So if you merge music hall and blues, it begs the question: CAN BLUE MEN SING THE WHITES? Our girl Joan Jett is nothing but a rock chick so of course she’s going to sing, I LOVE ROCK N ROLL.
Brooklyn rappers Stetsasonic responded to early criticisms of their sampling by releasing TALKIN’ ALL THAT JAZZ which used a clever collage of borrowings from the likes of Lonnie Liston Smith and Donald Byrd.
I think Lynyrd Skynyrd may know a little bit about the track, SWAMP MUSIC. This style of music is particular to America’s south, particularly Louisiana and Southeastern Texas but it’s developed a worldwide following and I, for one, love it.
It’s both funny and revealing that The Killers wrote INDIE ROCK N ROLL to poke fun at the pretentious and sterile independent scene in their native Las Vegas, only to find that the song was embraced world-wide as a cheerfully un-ironic anthem. Here they are playing live and sounding great:
The Beatles take Chuck Berry’s ROCK N ROLL MUSIC and attack it with such intensity that it seems to symbolise what became known as the British Invasion of the 60’s. In total contrast is Wilco’s wistful ode to youth on HEAVY METAL DRUMMER, from the album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot:
Stevie Wonder ‘s contribution to this week’s topic came in the form of his dedication to Duke Ellington and other jazz greats on SIR DUKE. Arthur Conley did something similar, with his shout out to all the soul icons, on SWEET SOUL MUSIC:
Time for some blues, Creole style, with BOOGIE WOOGIE ZYDECO from Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band. Then it was a great piece of music, that recognises the enormous influence of Jazz on all kinds of music: JAZZ THING from Gang Starr. It’s from the soundtrack to the Spike Lee film MO BETTER BLUES, starring Denzel Washington. Absolutely brilliant clip.
There are so many songs that pay tribute to rock n roll that I had to be careful to not let them dominate. But there’s one that I couldn’t leave out – Ian Dury and the Blockheads with the rock n roll anthem, SEX & DRUGS & ROCK N ROLL. I hate the overuse of the word ‘awesome’ but in this case, it’s warranted – AWESOME!!
A song that merges soul and reggae is the very appropriately named REGGAE GOT SOUL from Toots and the Maytals. There are also loads of songs with Blues in the title, so many in fact that I had to restrain myself in this department too. But if you’re going to play one of them, you can’t get better than Buddy Guy with THE FIRST TIME I MET THE BLUES. In this clip he performs with bass player David Myers. It’s from the film CHICAGO BLUES, made in 1970. Now that’s what I call real music.
Bet you thought I wouldn’t give classical a mention. Well, Chuck Berry helped me out there with ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN. Here he expresses the desire for rhythm and blues to replace classical music on his local radio station. On this video clip he’s having a little bit of fun on a French TV show. Not sure of the year, but the song was recorded in 1956:
Couldn’t let disco get away with just a passing mention, so space was made for FRENCH DISKO by Stereolab. The Ramones rescue their disco queen and introduce her to something a bit more rebellious. Now, SHEENA IS A PUNK ROCKER.
We closed the show with a classic from Dire Straits – a song about a jazz band called SULTANS OF SWING.
Love to have your input for next week’s show. The theme is FUNNY SONGS: Songs that make you laugh or at least smirk because they are clever and witty. Ooh I’m looking forward to seeing what you send me.
Meanwhile, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Pop Muzik – Pop Muzik, M
Old Time Rock N’ Roll – Bob Seger
Rappers Delight – Sugarhill Gang
Play That Funky Music – Those Fabulous ’70s, Wild Cherry
Rock and Roll – Velvet Underground
Roots, Rock, Reggae – Chant Down Babylon, Bob Marley + Steven Tyler + Joe Perry
A Pop Song – Big Smash, Wreckless Eric
Can Blue Men Sing The Whites? – Cornology [Disc 1], Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
I Love Rock and Roll – Joan Jett
Mambo Italiano – Latin Fever [Disc 1], Shaft
Talkin’ All That Jazz – Hed Kandi: Back to Love, Vol. 4 Disc 2, Stetsasonic
Swamp Music – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Indie RnR – Demo, The Killers
Rock And Roll Music – Live At The BBC [Disc 2], The Beatles
Heavy Metal Drummer – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco
Sir Duke (Duke Ellington) – Songs In The Key Of Life, Stevie Wonder
Sweet Soul Music – 60’s Soul, Arthur Conley
Boogie Woogie Zydeco – Boogie Woogie Zydeco, Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band
Jazz Thing – Moment of Truth, Gang Starr
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll – No Thanks! – The ’70s Punk Rebellion (Disc 3), Ian Dury
Soul Makossa – Makossa Man: The Very Best Of Manu Dibango, Manu Dibango
Reggae Got Soul – True Love, Toots & The Maytals
First Time I Met The Blues – Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues – A Musical Journey, Buddy Guy
Roll Over Beethoven – 1956-Rock & Roll Era, Chuck Berry
French Disko – Refried Ectoplasm, Stereolab
Sheena Is A Punk Rocker – All The Stuff (And More), The Ramones
Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
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We Baby Boomers, in particular, seem to be obsessed with aging so I thought it was time to dedicate a show to the older generation. It was also Seniors week – not that you would know it, as there wasn’t one thing organised to celebrate seniors up here in Northern New South Wales, that I could make out. Now I know that we live in the youth obsessed tourist town of Byron Bay, but come on! One day it will be you and I that will be shuffled into the old people’s home (if we can afford it!). Ah well, there’ll always be the music….
Even Barbie, who turned 50 last week, has fallen prey to a mid life crisis: ‘Totally Stylin Barbie’ has landed in the toy stores, complete with trendy threads and several temporary tattoos. Help!
I started the show with the Who’s ‘My Generation’. Roger Daltrey sang “I hope I die before I get old” when he was a 21 year old, in 1965, and he’s still singing it 44 years later! Rock’n’roll has always been devoted to a cult of youth and beautiful corpses. Meanwhile our musical heroes and heroines have turned into reunion tour veterans. Being an aging rocker comes with a lot of irony and a smidgeon of indignity along with the continuing glory, or so it seems.
Aging, mortality, hard-done by women and dirty old men – the themes aren’t confined to rock. Other musical genres covered it all long ago. Pop, Blues, Soul and, not to forget, country – those cowboys have been churning out hits about the sunset years for decades. So it was a fairly eclectic playlist this week – Jazz, Blues, Rock’n’Roll, Country and even some Hip-Hop! Songs dedicated to our older relatives, philosophical musings on time’s passage and a couple of anxious songs about diminished potency. There were a couple of cheeky songs and some very touching music recorded, perhaps not surprisingly, by some of our older musical icons. It turns out that, dying after you get old does have some advantages!
Fats Waller and Bill Withers sang a song dedicated to their Grandad and Grandma, respecitvely, and then it was onto Elvis Costello with a song that Paul McCartney co-wrote, ‘Veronica’. This is quite a brilliant number from 1989 about an elderly woman slipping into senility. Sassy songstress Lily Allen followed with her 50cent cover ‘Nan, You’re a Window Shopper’ and how could we miss out on ‘Little Old Lady From Pasadena’ from the Beach Boys? That’s Elvis C. in the pic above, in 2005, still rockin it out. Bless.
Steely Dan’s ‘Hey Nineteen’ struck a note with more than one of my girlfriends! As the song goes, as hot as it is having a girlfriend 30 years your junior, it’s kind of a reality check when she’s never heard of Aretha Franklin: “We’ve got nothin’ in common, We can’t talk at all”. No kidding. So here’s a video of a live concert in 2006, for all those old guys still chasing young skirt….. listen well!
We played a quite a bit of the Beatles today. Sad when you think about it. They wrote quite a few songs about aging and both George and John died relatively young. ‘When I’m Sixty Four’ and ‘In My Life’ are both classics. Buddy Guy and Junior Wells gave us a great rendition of ‘In My Younger Days’, followed by my new favourite, Seasick Steve, with ‘Rockin’ Chair’. We couldn’t leave out Neil Young’s ‘Old Man’ with James Taylor on banjo (tuned like a guitar) and Linda Ronstadt on back up vocals. Here is a video of a concert Young did in London, in 1971, where he explains the origins of the song. He looks so young here – well it was nearly 40 years ago!
My Roy Orbison song this week was quite poignant: ‘Life Fades Away’. And so was ‘End of the Line’ by the Travelling Wilburys. I happily sent out birthday wishes to several of my listeners with the Beatles recording of ‘Birthday’, and then finished the show with the amazing Jimmy Durante singing ‘Young at Heart’. Yep, age ain’t nothin’ but a number.
Here’s the complete playlist:
My Generation (1965) – The Who
Grand Old Dad (1941) – Fats Waller
Grandma’s Hands (1971) – Bill Withers
Young Fashioned Ways (1947) – Muddy Waters
Veronica (1989) – Elvis Costello
Nan You’re A Window Shopper (2006) – Lily Allen
Old Lady from Pasadena (1964) – Beach Boys
Older Guys (1970) – Gram Parsons & The Flying Burrito Brothers B
As Good As I Once Was (2005) – Toby Keith
Hey Nineteen (1985) – Steely Dan
When You Are Old (1953) – Tom Lehrer
When I’m Sixty-Four (1967) – The Beatles
In My Younger Days – Buddy Guy & Junior Wells
Rockin’ Chair (2004) – Seasick Steve & The Level Devils
Old Man (1972) – Neil Young
Touch of Grey (1987) – Grateful Dead
Golden Years (1975) – David Bowie
In My Life (1965) – The Beatles
Life Fades Away – Roy Orbison
Losing My Edge (2002) – LCD Soundsystem
1985 (2004) – Bowling for Soup
Surrender (1977) – Cheap Trick
Forever Young (1984) – Alphaville
Can’t Forget About You (2006) – Nas Hip
Against The Wind (1980) – Bob Seger
End of the Line – Travelling Wilburys
Young At Heart (1963) – Jimmy Durante
Birthday (1968) – The Beatles
Next week I’ll be tackling the theme of Communication. Suggestions for songs always apprecicated.
Listen to Lyn at the Theme Park Tuesdays 2-4pm Sydney time on BayFM 99.9. Also streaming via http://www.bayfm.org