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
I’m writing this with a slight hangover. Last night was BayFM’s trivia fundraiser on the theme of The Dead Musicians Club. Great night had by all. I loved the theme so much that I organised this week’s show around the same topic. And, let’s face it, a little bit of outrageous promotion for the event didn’t hurt either. And if you are wondering, I teamed up with the lovely Andy and we dressed as Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungeon.
Trying to fit all my favourite musicians into the two hour slot was, of course, impossible. But I had a good go at it. First up it was Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions with PEOPLE GET READY. Mayfield died in 1999 after 10 years of ill health due to being paralysed after an onstage accident. His music continues to be part of hip-hop’s DNA. Rappers like Jay-Z and Snoop Dog have sampled his lyrics and its reported that his estate receives five sample requests a month, with each one fetching up to $350,000. So Curtis, or at least his estate, isn’t doing too badly.
In order to fit as many of the artists that I could into the line-up it was necessary to occasionally play a duet. And, I ask you, is there any better than Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong? Ella died in 1996 and is widely considered one of the supreme interpreters of the Great American Songbook. Louis Armstrong passed away in 1971. His influence extends way beyond jazz music. By the end of his career in the 1960’s, he was widely regarded as a profound influence on popular music in general.The duet I chose was DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME.
Both Buddy Holly and Patsy Cline died in plane crashes and both were very young at the time of their passing. They continue to influence country, rock and pop music to this day. We played LEAVIN’ ON YOUR MIND from Patsy Cline and CRYIN’ WAITIN’ HOPIN’ from Buddy Holly. Oldies, but goodies.
Wilson Pickett was known for his influence on R&B, rock n roll and soul. Is there a better dance floor filler than his rendition of DEVIL WITH THE BLUE DRESS ON? No way.
Two artists who found the fame game just a bit too difficult are Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and singer/songwriter Nick Drake. Both committed suicide while still very young. At the time of Cobain’s death in 1994 he was worth less than $1 million but future royalties have been valued at over $100 million. Drake failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime, however his work has gradually achieved wider notice and recognition. He now ranks among the most influential English singer-songwriters of the last 50 years. He died in 1974. We played Drake’s FRUIT TREE, a request from Anthony, and Nirvana’s COME AS YOU ARE. Here’s a clip of Nirvana performing unplugged in New York in the early 90’s:
Naturally I couldn’t do a show about dead musicians without including Michael Jackson. We chose ROCK WITH YOU from the Off the Wall album. After his death in 2009 Jackson became the best-selling artist of the year, selling over 31 million albums worldwide. He named James Brown “his greatest inspiration”. So it was fitting that we played I FEEL GOOD from Brown as well. He died on Xmas Day 2006 due to complications from pneumonia.
It’s a myth, you know, that Mama Cass Elliott died chocking on a peanut butter sandwich. The real story is that she died of a heart attack after performing back-to-back concerts in London in 1974. She died in the same flat in Mayfair, (on loan from Harry Nilsson), that the Who’s drummer Keith Moon would die in, a little over four years later. I played Elliot’s great version of the Buddy Holly classic, WORDS OF LOVE and followed with a song for Rolling Stones founder, and multi-instrumentalist, Brian Jones. It’s one that showcased Jones’ skill on the side guitar: LITTLE RED ROOSTER.
Lynard Skynard came to worldwide recognition in 1973 before three members and one road crew member died in a plane crash in 1977. Keyboardist Billy Powell died in 2009, aged 56, from a heart attack. Of its original members, only Gary Rossington remains as part of the present line-up. We followed with another good ol’ Southern boy you may have heard of: cultural icon Elvis Presley with BURNING LOVE.
Bob Marley, who passed away in 1981, had to wait for death to make him a U.S. superstar. The week he was diagnosed with cancer he played Madison Square Garden — opening for the Commodores. Fellow Wailer, Peter Tosh, was on the brink of a successful solo career when he was murdered in 1987. I played the Wailers version of GET UP, STAND UP, with both Peter Tosh and Bob Marley on the track.
We said goodbye to both Malcolm McLaren and Sid Vicious with the Sex Pistols’ anthem GOD SAVE THE QUEEN. Here’s what all the fuss was about, way back then:
While punk rock stirred things up, for a while, R&B never went away. Marvin Gaye’s career spanned the entire history of Rhythm & Blues from 50’s doo wop to 80’s contemporary soul. He was murdered by his own father after an argument in 1984. Otis Redding died in plane crash a month before his biggest hit was released. He was only 26. We listened to Marvin Gaye’s sublime WHAT’S GOIN’ ON followed by the song that would make Otis Redding’s estate worth more money than he ever saw when he was alive – SITTIN ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY.
If we’re talking punk, however, I have to say that my favourite band is The Clash. Lead singer and lyricist for the group, Joe Strummer, died suddenly in 2002 from an undiagnosed congenital heart defect. Highly intelligent and politically pro-active, he was the first artist to make the recording, pressing and distribution of his records carbon neutral. Onya Joe. Check out this clip of LONDON CALLING:
Two great artists who died of cancer are 60’s icon, Dusty Springfield, and the incredible Ray Charles. For Dusty we played the power ballad, YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME, and for Ray Charles, the very appropriate, HARD TIMES.
I’ve played Johnny Cash’s amazing cover of the Nine Inch Nails track, HURT, before but it couldn’t be left out of a show like this. He recorded it in 2002 and it was one of Cash’s final releases before his death in 2003. The video for the song is regarded as his epitaph.
One of my sentimental favourites is Freddy Mercury who died of pneumonia resulting from AIDS in 1991. As lead singer of rock group Queen he also composed many of their hits. He had a successful solo career too and I chose one of those recordings for this week’s show: THERE MUST BE MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS.
Another of my favourites is Tim Buckley and one of my favourite albums is his Greetings from LA. Buckley died at 28 from a drug overdose with nothing more than a guitar, amplifier and a lot of debt to his name. His legacy of 11 albums has rectified that somewhat, I hope. Hard to pick one track but we went with MOVE WITH ME.
Another victim of drug addiction was the pioneering Janis Joplin. She died at 27 from a heroin overdose and one of the last songs she recorded was a birthday greeting for John Lennon. The founder of the Beatles was assassinated in 1980, aged 40. So we started the set with Joplin’s CRY BABY and followed with Lennon’s HOW? from the Imagine album.
And finally, my favourite artist, dead or alive – Roy Orbison with his signature tune, PRETTY WOMAN. This clip is from the Black & White Night DVD, a great video featuring Orbison and friends including Jackson Browne, T Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello, k.d. lang, Bonnie Rait, J.D. Souther, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and Jennifer Warnes. Heaven. And for all things ‘Roy’ go to the website at: http://www.royorbison.com/
We wrapped the show up with a great artist who passed away only a couple of days ago, at the ripe old age of 92. Lena Horne helped break down barriers for generations of performers. We played her signature tune, STORMY WEATHER from the 1943 film of the same name. It’s a sizzling performance. I want that movie for my collection!
And we still had time to fit in the very charismatic Jim Morrison and The Doors with RIDERS ON A STORM. Whew. Now I know that there are some glaring omissions. But it’s only a two hour show folks!
Next week I’ve been inspired by some postings on Facebook to create a show on SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS. Like Na-Na-Hey-Hey and Doo-Ron-Ron. That kind of thing. Love to hear your suggestions.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
People Get Ready – The Anthology 1961-1977, Curtis Mayﬁeld & The Impressions
Dream A Little Dream Of Me – Easy Listening, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
Leavin’ On Your Mind – The Patsy Cline Story, Patsy Cline
Cryin’ Waitin’ Hopin’ – Buddy Holly
Devil With The Blue Dress On – Wilson Pickett
Come As You Are – Nirvana, Nirvana
Fruit Tree – Twentyfourseven Soundtrack, Nick Drake
I Feel Good – James Brown
Rock With You (Single Version) – Off the Wall, Michael Jackson
Words of Love – Mama’s Big Ones, Mama Cass Elliot
Little Red Rooster – Rolling Stones
Summertime – Charlie Parker & Chet Baker
Sweet Home Alabama – Forrest Gump Soundtrack, Lynard Skynard
Burning Love – Elvis Presley
Get Up Stand Up – Back To Zion, Bob Marley & The Wailers
God Save The Queen – Never Mind The Bollocks, The Sex Pistols
What’s Going On – The Big Chill soundtrack, Marvin Gaye
Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding
London Calling – The Clash
You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me – The British Beat: Best Of The ’60s, Dusty Springﬁeld
Hard Times – Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues, Ray Charles
Hurt – American IV: The Man Comes Around, Johnny Cash
There Must Be More To Life Than This – The Very Best of Freddie Mercury, Freddie Mercury
Fever – Verve Remixed 3, Adam Freeland & Sarah Vaughan
Move With Me – Greetings From L.A., Tim Buckley
Purple Haze – Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix
Cry Baby – Cry Baby (The Ultimate Collection), Janis Joplin
How? – Lennon, John Lennon
Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
Stormy Weather – Hollywood Musicals, Lena Horne
Riders on the storm – The Doors soundtrack, The Doors
Next week: SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS
Our theme this week was Star Signs – songs of the zodiac, songs that highlight the way someone’s birth date can influence their very being (or maybe not). All the songs on this week’s list try to deal with the notion that we’re emotionally and intellectually influenced by the movement of some distant stars and planets. Some songwriters are more than happy to go along with the idea and some reject the concept outright. We opened the show with Diana Ross and the Supremes singing NO MATTER WHAT SIGN YOU ARE. Written by Berry Gordy and recorded in the the late 60’s it tried to cash in on the success of the musical HAIR and the hit tune AQUARIUS.
For jazz great Cannonball Adderley the zodiac was so fascinating that he devoted a whole 1972 album to it. With narration by DJ Rick Holmes – noted on the sleeve for his “sophisticated rhetoric” – SOUL ZODIAC is seduction par excellence, not to mention a reflection on an era when ‘The Age of Aquarius’ captured everyone’s imagination. If you’re celebrating your birthday this month, like BayFM presenters Helen from Q’s Jazz & Blues or Post Modern Backlash’s Hudson, or my gorgeous daughter Zoe, then you’re a Pisces. So it was fitting that we chose PISCES from Adderley’s album to move the show along.
Kris Kristofferson reminded us that there was a very famous Capricorn who “ate organic foods, believed in love and peace and never wore no shoes”. Yes, JESUS WAS A CAPRICORN. And then it was Creedence Clearwater Revival with a warning: there’s a BAD MOON RISING. Here they are performing the song live, in a rare video clip:
Curtis Mayfield’s “funky woman” decides, rather unfairly I think, that they’re incompatible because of what she reads in the newspaper. He tells us all about it in READINGS IN ASTROLOGY. The Floaters followed with their very groovy 1977 hit FLOAT ON.
Albert King blames the zodiac for all his troubles in BORN UNDER THE BAD SIGN. Albert was born on April 25, which makes him a Taurian. Seems like negativity might be a Taurian trait.
Jamiriquai were having a BLACK CAPRICORN DAY. Singer Jason Kay was born on December 30 and the song is reputedly autobiographical, telling of how he was kicked out of home as a teenager and surviving on the streets. I’m a Cappie myself, so I know how it feels when those occasional dark times descend. Luckily we’re essentially the zodiac’s eternal optimists so there’s always a silver lining under every black cloud. Check out the Jamiriquai video clip:
Talking of optimists, Adem is totally swept away with the power of the stars in THESE LIGHTS ARE MEANINGFUL. Tori Amos seems to be saying farewell to a February/March lover in GOODBYE PISCES. Cannonball Adderley and DJ Rick Holmes were at it again, this time with what many consider the best track from the SOUL ZODIAC album, CAPRICORN.
The Moody Blues delivered a song for all my crazy, brilliant, Gemini mates: GEMINI DREAM. Check out this video of them performing live in 1984 at Wembley Arena. Little bit of overkill on the smoke machine, methinks, but you’ve got to love the Moodies.
It’s been raining cats and dogs up here in the North, so a dose of the The Fifth Dimension with AQUARIUS and LET THE SUNSHINE IN lifted the mood somewhat and, hopefully, will influence the weatherman.
Some more Cannonball Adderley (it’s a great album, really!): Having already heard about the water sign PISCES and the earth sign CAPRICORN, it was time to find out about the fire sign ARIES. Prince couldn’t care less what sign you are, all he wants is your KISS.
Teenage Fanclub try to dismiss the power a star sign can hold: “Hey, there’s a horseshoe on my door,” they sing, “big deal. Hey, there’s a black cat on the floor, big deal.” But the Fanclub accept that people’s days are changed by whatever they wish to believe. For Rush, the question of whether the “stars aren’t aligned, or the gods are malign” is very simple. “I will choose a path that’s clear,” they proclaim. “I will choose freewill.” Hmmm, now there’s some food for thought. Check out the video of Rush performing live in 1981. Brilliant.
Regina Spektor is another favourite if mine. She’s an Aquarius and she’s recorded a song of the same name that’s intensely personal and worth checking out if you are also one of those highly intelligent, humanitarian people born under this particular water sign.
A great piece of instrumental followed, called SCORPIO, from the brilliant jazz guitarist and ex-Funk Brother, Dennis Coffey. This guy has played with all the soul greats, including Mavin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder….. the list goes on. And he’s white! Just goes to show, there’s no colour barrier to soul. If you’ve got it, you’ve got it.
More Cannonball Adderley (can I help it if the guy’s a genius and he just so happened to record a whole album that suited the theme?). He gives the air sign LIBRA its due attention, and we know that Librans like attention don’t we! . German Big Bander Gunter Noris contributed the track GEMINI from an album called ‘The In Kraut Hip Shaking Grooves”. I kid you not. The 70’s have a lot to answer for.
SAGITTARIUS SILVER ANNOUNCEMENT is from the album Embryonic, by the band that dared to remake Dark Side of the Moon and actually got away with it – the Flaming Lips. I don’t have a decent clip of them performing this great track, but I encourage you to check out their very good website at http://www.flaminglips.com
The next double was a very moving one. First up it was George Harrison with a song about his own star sign, PISCES FISH and we followed with one of the most beautiful tunes I’ve heard of late, GUIDING STAR by Neil Finn. It was recorded on the album Caution: Life Ahead as a fundraiser for the Buttery rehabilitation centre here in the Northern Rivers.
Now I did choose to cover Western Astrology for this week’s show but I want to recognise that this is the Chinese Year of the Tiger. For those of you born under this sign you are courageous, daring, confident and a born leader. But you can be unpredictable and tempestuous, sometimes territorial and possessive. Because 2010 s the Year of the Metal Tiger, it also brings you additional strength and determination. And in celebration of what looks like a dynamic year for all of us, and as a tribute to all the Leos out there, we closed the show with Al Stewart’s YEAR OF THE CAT. Kung Hei Fat Choy! That is, I hope this year brings you all good fortune and prosperity.
I’m often quoted as saying that I’ll do a show on almost anything, including fruit and vegetables and I realized I hadn’t actually created a show about these very healthy food items, so next week FRUIT AND VEGIES it is. Whatchagot?
Here’s this week’s playlist:
One of the things that I appreciate about the arts in general, and music in particular, is that it can be a way to make sense of the world or to at least see it from a different perspective. There are plenty of songs that lead us to believe that the future is problematic, even unbearable. But this week, we looked at tunes that make you believe that there’s a rainbow hiding behind every storm cloud. Yes, a show for all you optimists out there: Two hours of anthems dedicated to the power of positive thinking. Thanks to Suzie for suggesting the theme and to everyone who contributed to the songlist, especially Kira from Lennox Head who outdid herself with at least half a dozen tracks for consideration. Obviously, the subject hit a chord with a lot of you!
Optimism is, however, in the ears of the beholder: songs that delight one listener will make another cringe. Still, only a boring old fart could fail to be enthused by our opening track: ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE by Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. I loved the use of this song in the BBC series THE SINGING DETECTIVE, written by Harold Pinter and starring Michael Gambon, so here’s the clip for you to enjoy too:
Next it was Curtis Mayfield with his irresistible MOVE ON UP. The crucial thing about this song is that Mayfield is a realist, aware that life is full of “complications” but radiating hope anyway. There’s more qualified optimism in Desmond Dekker’s honey-sweet version of YOU CAN GET IT IF YOU REALLY WANT. According to Desmond, as long as you put in the hard yakka success is assured. Excellent advice.
Anyone who doubts the power of love to improve life should listen to Little Milton singing WE’RE GONNA MAKE IT. He and his lover are so poor they can’t even “spare a roach a crumb”, but, he promises, together they will pull through.
Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, on the other hand, are bitter and alone but still they have found a way to look towards the future with optimism. They are dedicated to being DIGNIFIED AND OLD. Heartwarming stuff.
Written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, ONE FINE DAY, sung by The Chiffons, is a declaration of teen devotion that pins all its hope on a philandering lover waking up to himself and coming back home. I think today’s psycho-babble would describe that as being in denial. So, just in case we forget that the wrong partner can make your life miserable, we followed with the Altered Images track I COULD BE HAPPY – a passionate, bubbly wish for escape. And talking of escapism, we followed with Joe Smooth’s early house hit PROMISED LAND. And then it was the great voice of Esther Phillips singing her 1975 Disco version of WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES.
Bluegrass boys Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs have faith in the idea that heaven will eventually give them relief from the world’s sorrows. The song? SO HAPPY I’LL BE. And just to put things in perspective, we followed with a song from my favourite Monty Python film, LIFE OF BRIAN. Recalling the Monty Python crew singing ALWAYS LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE, as they hang on their respective crucifixes puts a smile on this lapsed Catholic’s face every time I hear it. And I dare you not to whistle along!
The New Radicals tune YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE embodies the idea that simple pleasures put whatever problems we are having into perspective. “Don’t let go, you’ve got the music in you”. I loved OUR LOVE IS HERE TO STAY from the one and only Blossom Dearie who sadly passed away in February this year. The good news? She was 84 and leaves us a legacy of wonderful music.
And talking of wonderful music, the very optimistic song BLUE SKIES was written in 1926 by Irving Berlin and has been recorded by many, many artists. One of my own favourites, that made the list this week, is by Willie Nelson. And then it was this week’s Roy Orbison track: Roy’s so euphoric about love that he’s going to give his girl anything she wants. The song – YOU GOT IT.
Byron Bluesfest favourite, Seasick Steve, followed with HAPPY MAN. That’s Ruby Turner helping out with the duet and K.T. Tunstall on rhythm guitar. But here’s a question for you – is the title of his album “I Started Out With Nothin and I’ve Still Got Most of it Left” optimistic? Hmmmm.
Johnny Nash’s I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW is, much like Irving Berlin’S BLUE SKIES, a song that uses the useful image of the clear sky to evoke a positive outlook. Nash’s passionate vocals make a powerful statement and its little wonder that many consider this one of the greatest hit singles of all time. This clip where Nash performs on the Midnight Special in 1973 is worth including, just so you can check out the leather outfit.
The Staples Singers sang their classic track, I’LL TAKE YOU THERE. Its pure joy as Mavis Staples sings of her hope for a better world. And if you ever doubted that a song could be both spiritual and sexy, well this is your answer.
Australian, and North Coaster, Pete Murray gave us OPPORTUNITY – another song that encourages us to look at all the good things that life has to offer. “Life is short but you’re here to flower”.
A couple of tracks followed that took us all back in time: The Turtles with HAPPY TOGETHER, another song that uses the blue sky as a metaphor for a hopeful future and the Grateful Dead with a song about surviving life’s setbacks. Written by Jerry Garcia, TOUCH OF GREY was the bands biggest commercial hit. And if you are a deadhead you should tune into BayFM between 10pm and midnight Tuesdays when the Ice Cream Kid takes you on the Long Strange Trip. It’s all about the Grateful Dead and their ongoing influence.
A nice surprise was XTC with I’M STUPIDLY HAPPY. It’s great when a writer who’s associated with heavier themes can also, so easily, write of the giddy feeling of love and how it can put everything else into perspective. How cute is that line: “All the lights of the cars in the town form the strings of a big guitar/I’m the giant who’ll play you a tune from wherever you are.” Ohhhhhh. See, frontman Andy Partridge did have a soft spot after all.
So what’s the dominant message from today’s show on Optimism? LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED. And, of course, we had to play the Beatles very optimistic track of the same name to reinforce the notion.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Accentuate the Positive – Bing Crosby/Andrews Sisters
Move on up – Curtis Mayfield
You Can Get It If You Really Want – Desmond Dekker & The Aces
One Fine Day – The Chiffons
Dignified And Old – Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers
We’re Gonna Make It – Little Milton
I Could Be Happy – Altered Images
Promised Land – Joe Smooth
What A Difference A Day Makes – Esther Phillips
So Happy I’ll Be – Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs
Always Look On the Bright Side of Life – Monty Python
At Last – Etta James
Strength, Courage & Wisdom – India Arie
Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
I Believe I’m Gonna Make It – Joe Tex
You Get What You Give – New Radicals
Inspiration Information – Shuggie Otis
Shiny Happy People – R.E.M.
Our Love Is Here To Stay – Blossom Dearie
Blue Skies – Willie Nelson
You Got It – Roy Orbison
Happy Man – Seasick Steve
I’ll Take You There – Staple Singers
I Can See Clearly Now – Johnny Nash
Opportunity – Pete Murray
Happy Together – The Turtles
Touch of Grey – Grateful Dead
Don’t Stop – Fleetwood Mac
Stupidly Happy – XTC
All You Need Is Love – The Beatles
Next week: Days of the Week
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park, Tuesdays 2-4pm, (Sydney time), on BayFM 99.9. Also streaming at http://www.bayfm.org