I decided to be more playful than usual this week as I set out to compile a playlist of song titles that mentioned numbers. Easy-peasy, you’re thinking. Sure, but there was a condition. The songs had to be played in numerical sequence. I got to choose from pop, rock, country & jazz so it couldn’t be that hard, right? Right.
The show kicked off with LESS THAN ZERO by Elvis Costello and moved right into a beautiful track from Lamb, ZERO. Numero Uno was a piece of cake as I have already done a whole show just on the #1 so plenty to choose from there. I decided that should go with my #1 favourite artist, Roy Orbison with a song from the album, Mystery Girl, THE ONLY ONE. Another fave took over the #2 spot: Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston with IT TAKES TWO. And for #3 it was none other than the great Sarah Vaughan who, like a lot of us, only needs THREE LITTLE WORDS.
FOUR STRONG WINDS is a classic Canadian song by the legendary Canadian singer Neil Young. The perfect follow-up came from the adorable Nanci Griffith with LOVE AT THE FIVE AND DIME. Here she is performing live at the BBC:
The great reggae artist Gregory Isaacs, known as the ‘Cool Ruler’ sadly passed away late last year. His song SIX MONTHS filled the #6 spot and for #7 it had to be The White Stripes with SEVEN NATION ARMY. Such a shame that they’ve gone their separate ways.
There was only one #8 for this baby boomer: The Beatles with EIGHT DAYS A WEEK. And, for #9 Wilson Pickett with ENGINE NUMBER NINE, of course. Pure funk.
Brothers, by the Black Keys, was one of my album picks of 2010 so including TEN CENT PISTOL from that album was a no-brainer. Here they are performing live on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Excellent.
Cyndi Lauper features on David Byrne and Fat Boy Slim’s concept album Here Lies Love which is based on the lives of Imelda Marcos and her nanny Estrella Cumpas. The official video clip of ELEVEN DAYS is set against a Philippine movie of 1965 “Iginuhit ng Tadhana: The Ferdinand E. Marcos Story”, starring Gloria Romero and Luis Gonzalez.
I do love a bit of gospel singing, so Buddy Greene was in with TWELVE GATES TO THE CITY. Dickie Thompson is also evangelical, but not in the usual sense. He sings about THIRTEEN WOMEN and only one man in town. Now if I was a bloke I’d say he was a lucky b…..d! But being a woman, living in a small town, it sounds irritatingly familiar!
Next up, it was the genius that is Tiny Tim with all kinds of things to say about the number FOURTEEN. Not the usual Tiny Tim we’re used to hearing. I, for one, miss the ukelele I must admit. And I miss Tiny Tim who died of a heart attack in 1996 at the age of 64.
Number 15 in our playlist was another no-brainer: the almighty Radiohead with 15 STEPS. Here they are peforming live for their VH1 special:
We kept moving through the teenage years with gusto as Chuck Berry took the #16 spot with SWEET LITTLE SIXTEEN. And then Janis Ian calmed everything down with her incredibly insightful tune, AT SEVENTEEN.
The Stellas took the 18th spot with 18 from their 2008 album Cry Baby Cry. Time then for another classic: Steely Dan’s HEY NINETEEN. “Way back in 1967….”
For all the Bluegrass fans, I had to include Jimmy Martin’s 20:20 VISION and then it was a nice piece of rockabilly, suggested by Andy, Eddie Cochran’s TWENTY FLIGHT ROCK.
Rappers 50 cent and Nate Dogg have 21 QUESTIONS for their girlfriend. Not sure us girls need that much interrogation, but hey what do I know? This video has already gathered over 35million hits on You Tube! With lines like “I loves you like a fat kid likes cake”. Go figure!
Lily Allen knows how to churn out pop tunes and 22 is a good example. We followed that with the wonderful Brothers Johnson and another soul standard, STRAWBERRY LETTER 23.
Our two hours was almost up so only time for two more tunes in our attempt to get from zero to infinity. The #24 spot was filled by Bobby Bland’s TWENTY FOUR HOUR BLUES and the finale was handed to Edwin Starr’s TWENTY FIVE MILES. OMG what a voice! Brilliant. Wish I’d been at this particular concert.
We’ll continue our numerical exercise next week, starting at #26. So why not send me a message with suggestions for that list which should probably limit itself from 26-51. Let’s see how we go.
Until then, here’s this week’s full playlist:
Less Than Zero – Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True Pop
Zero – Lamb, Lamb
The Only One – Roy Orbison, Mystery Girl
It Takes Two – Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston, Ready Steady Go! The Sixties Sound Of Motown [Disc 1]
Three Little Words – Sarah Vaughan, The Mercury Jazz Story [Disc 1]
Four Strong Winds – Neil Young, Comes a Time
Love at the Five and Dime – Nanci Griffith, The Last of the True Believers
Six Months – Gregory Isaacs, Brand New Me
Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes, Elephant
Eight Days A Week – The Beatles, Beatles For Sale
Engine Number Nine – Wilson Pickett , Chronicles
Ten Cent Pistol – The Black Keys, Brothers
Eleven Days – David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, Here Lies Love
Twelve Gates To The City – Buddy Greene, A Few More Years
Thirteen Women – Dickie Thompson, Ultimate Rhythm & Soul Collection [Disc 1]
Fourteen – Tiny Tim, Girl
15 Step – Radiohead, In Rainbows
Sweet Little Sixteen – Chuck Berry, Yesterdays Gold Vol 07
At Seventeen – Janis Ian, Echoes Of The Radio [Disc 1]
18 – The Stellas, Cry Baby Cry
Hey Nineteen – Steely Dan, A Decade Of Steely Dan
20:20 Vision – Jimmy Martin
Twenty Flight Rock – Eddie Cochran, Big Artist Selection – Eddie Cochran
21 Questions – 50 Cent & Nate Dogg
22 – Lily Allen, It’s Not Me, It’s You
Strawberry Letter 23 – The Brothers Johnson, Strawberry Letter 23/The Very Best Of The Brothers Johnson
Twenty-Four Hour Blues – Bobby “Blue” Bland, Dreamer
Twenty-Five Miles – Edwin Starr
Next week: FROM NOUGHT TO WHATEVER (Part 2)
Theme Park is now in Drive Time! I’m very excited, (explanation points aside, can you tell?). To celebrate, the topic this week was CHANGE. There were songs about every possible variety of change: political, social, cultural, emotional, physical, even the kind you find at the bottom of your handbag when you most need it.
BayFM is now in its Winter season and with Theme Park’s new time of Tuesdays 4-6pm, you may have only just discovered us. So, if this is your first visit, the idea is not to find a list of the “best” songs on a subject, because “best” is boring and more or less just involves me reaffirming how great the Beatles, Radiohead and Roy Orbison are. No, what we’re trying to create is a thematically coherent playlist with a mix of genres, eras and moods. Some songs you’ll already know; some, maybe, you won’t, and hopefully each week we’ll rediscover the classics, and discover new music, together.
We opened the show with Michael Jackson’s MAN IN THE MIRROR. And what a great message it is: if you want to change the world then start with yourself and your attitude to those less fortunate than yourself. We followed with something a little less serious: the great Ella Fitzgerald with ANYTHING GOES from her album ‘The Cole Porter Songbook’. It was the first album she recorded for the Verve album in 1956.
John Mayer is in Australia at the moment and I’ll forgive his indiscretions in recent interviews because WAITIN’ ON THE WORLD TO CHANGE is such a great track. Here he is with an acoustic version of the song. Very nice.
We followed with the definitive cover of Bob Dylan’s ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER by Jimi Hendrix. Dylan wrote this song at a time that he was experiencing a complete life change, with two young children and a growing interest in the Bible. Hendrix’s version is so highly regarded that Dylan has been quoted as saying: “I liked Jimi Hendrix’s record of this and ever since he died I’ve been doing it that way… Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it’s a tribute to him in some kind of way.”
Everyone’s allowed to change their mind now and again. A couple of terrific songs about the subject are the Cardigans’ ERASE/REWIND and soul singer Tyrone Davis’ CAN I CHANGE MY MIND?
A completely different perspective on change came from the band Blind Melon. The track CHANGE is from their 1992 self-titled debut album and was the first written by lead singer Shannon Hoon, who struggled with a drug dependancy. The song encourages you to change your life when it gets too hard. Unfortunately Hoon found it difficult to take his own advice and he died in 1995, at 28, from an overdose. His grave is inscribed with words from the song.
Do you think money changes you? According to Cyndi Lauper MONEY CHANGES EVERYTHING. Aretha Franklin, on the other hand, reckons MONEY WON’T CHANGE YOU. I think Aretha may have won that round.
Daniel Merriwether received a little bit of help from, rapper, Wale in the song CHANGE. The song and, in fact, the whole album was produced by wunderkid Mark Ronson. Rather than just play the official video clip, here’s a ‘making of’ that you might find interesting.
Country rockers, The Allman Brothers Band, sound as if they have hit rock bottom and are ready to do something about it in the very bluesy CHANGE MY WAY OF LIVING.
Another great rock group is Muse. The song FEELING GOOD is probably best known for Nina Simone’s outstanding recording. Here, Muse take the optimism of Simon’s standard to a whole other place.
We rounded out the hour with THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED. Recorded in 1971, it’s a poem and a song by Gil Scott-Heron, generally considered to be the father of hip-hop and neo soul.
I’M COMING OUT is a joyous disco number from Diana Ross. Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards, of the 70’s Disco band ‘Chic’, wrote and produced the track. Rodgers got the idea for the song when he went to a transvestite club in New York City. He went to the bathroom, and while he was standing at the urinal, he saw three men who were all dressed as Diana Ross.
I love my R&B. Anyone who saw Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings at the Blues Fest a few years ago know what a dynamic group they are. A great song from them is SOMETHING’S CHANGED. We followed with A CHANGE IS GONNA COME. Sam Cooke’s Dylan-inspired, lump-in-the-throat protest song mourns both racial intolerance and his infant son’s fatal drowning. And it’s the most requested song in our list today.
Joni Mitchell’s song BIG YELLOW TAXI is about changes brought about by so-called ‘progress’; “they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Sound familiar? And a big shout out to everyone in Mullumbimby, while we’re on the subject of unnecessary change.
David Bowie’s song CHANGES is one you must have predicted. And I’m nothing, if not predictable. We followed with another very predictable track: THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN’, although it’s not Bob Dylan but a wonderful version by Nina Simone.
Let’s talk physical change. Can you get any better than Lou Reed’s TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE? It’s from the Transformer album, recorded in 1972 and produced by David Bowie. “Plucked her eyebrows on the way, shaved her legs and then he was a she.” Yep, that’s what I call change.
Talking of changing teams, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood contributed a track from their Live From Madison Square Garden album, called, appropriately, TEAM CHANGES. And then it was time to head back to a song about political change: Tracey Chapman with TALKIN’ BOUT A REVOLUTION.
John Legend got some help from Snoop Dogg on I CAN CHANGE. That’s for the right girl, he asserts. Yeah yeah, heard it all before Johnny.
The Audreys do a gorgeous cover of the INXS song DON’T CHANGE. It challenges you not to change. Because you’re perfectly OK as you are, you know. The song is from the album, Between Last Night and Us. Here they are performing at Woodford Folk Festival, 2009:
We closed the show with a beauty: the Beatles and ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. “Nothings going to change my world.” Well, maybe, but one thing I do know is that change is inevitable and while we might not appreciate it at the time, its all good.
Next week’s theme will be MORE CRED WHEN DEAD. Yes, every track will be from an artist who has passed on to that big disco in the sky and more than likely became more successful after they were gone. Big list to choose from, so inevitably there will be some omissions. But let me know your requests anyway. Love to hear from you.
Here’s this week’s playlist. From this week, I’ll include the album names as well. You can find all songs on iTunes.
Man in the Mirror – Bad, Michael Jackson
Anything Goes – The Cole Porter Songbook (CD1), Ella Fitzgerald
Waiting on the World to Change – Continuum, John Mayer
All Along The Watchtower – The Ultimate Experience, Jimi Hendrix
Erase/Rewind – Gran Turismo, The Cardigans
Can I Change My Mind – Billboard Top 100 Of 1969, Tyrone Davis
Change – Blind Melon, Blind Melon
Money Changes Everything – Twelve Deadly Cyns, Cyndi Lauper
Money Won’t Change You – Lady Soul, Aretha Frankin
Change – Love & War, Daniel Merriweather (and Wale)
Change My Way of Living – Where It All Begins, The Allman Brothers Band
Feeling Good – The Best of Muse CD2, Muse
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised – The Breaks II, Gil Scott-Heron
I’m Coming Out – Floorﬁllers 80s Club Classics CD3 – Diana Ross
Something’s Changed – 100 Days, 100 Nights, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
A Change Is Gonna Come – The Man & His Music, Sam Cooke
Big Yellow Taxi – Ladies of the Canyon, Joni Mitchell
Changes – Hunky Dory, David Bowie
The Times They Are a Changin’ – Forever Young, Gifted & Black, Nina Simone
Take a Walk on the Wild Side – Transformer Lou Reed
Team Changes – Live From Madison Square Garden Cd1, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood
Talkin’ Bout a Revolution – Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman
I Can Change feat. Snoop Dogg – Get Lifted, John Legend
Don’t Change – Between Last Night and Us, The Audreys
Across The Universe – Let It Be, The Beatles
Next week: MORE CRED WHEN DEAD
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
Tragically also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maccalyn