You’re born, you learn, you work, you may reproduce and then you die. That’s pretty much it. But being human, we’re designed to question, argue and seek meaning in our life. We don’t all want the same thing: the kind-hearted want an explanation for poverty and suffering; the ambitious try to rise above everyone else and if you’re depressed you may be looking for a reason to even get out of bed in the morning. Yes, life’s a puzzle and I’m not sure that there are any definite answers. But songwriters can’t help themselves. Like all artists they’re fascinated by life’s mysteries.
HAPPY TALK, by jazz greats Nancy Wilson and Cannonball Adderley, is a great example of a Life Lesson song. Yeah, if you don’t have a dream, how are you going to make a dream come true? My dream for the next two weeks, at least, is that our wonderful community radio station, BayFM 99.9, gets as many annual subscriptions as possible because we’re in full Major Subscriber Drive mode at the moment. It made for a really busy show which was also loads of fun.
We got the show moving with one of my favourite artists. It’s a song that has one of the best messages, especially for an optimist like me: YOU CAN GET IT IF YOU REALLY WANT by Jimmy Cliff. Here he is perfoming the song with the Jools Holland Rythymn & Blues Band:
My choice of a Bob Marley song, and there were a few with life lesson lyrics to choose from, was his energetic attack on religions – the ones that neglect to preach “what life is worth”. The song, of course, is GET UP STAND UP.
Bob Dylan has a great life lesson song: DON’T THINK TWICE, IT’S ALRIGHT. Something I didn’t have to thinktwice about was the opportunity to work with Camp Quality over the next two weeks of BayFM’s Subscriber Drive. Camp Quality is a fantastic organisation that supports children suffering from cancer. They believe that laughter is the best medicine and so they aim to bring optimism and happiness to these children and their families. Jana Ayre, who volunteers for Camp Quality in the Northern Rivers co-hosted the show with me this week, because we had a very special prize for Theme Park listeners who subscribe to the station before August 29th.
Thanks to Possum Creek Eco Lodge in the hinterland of Byron Bay, we are offering a Camp Quality family a respite break. This holiday will be donated in one lucky subscriber’s name and that subscriber then receives the tax deduction for the donation. It’s a fantastic prize, based on kindness and community spirit – and you can’t get better than that! If you’re reading this and are inspired to subscribe and help keep community radio alive, whether you live in the Northern Rivers or not, just go online to http://www.bayfm.org and follow the prompts. Don’t forget to cite Theme Park as your favourite program!
Someone who did call in during the show to subscribe was a new resident in Byron, David Bridge. And he gets a special mention here because he also requested a terrific life lesson song for the show: UP THE JUNCTION from Squeeze. Thank you David! Now, this is how to write a complete story about everyone’s life in a little over 3 minutes:
Another goodie from our British songwriters is ON THE EDGE OF A CLIFF from The Streets, known to his Mum as Mike Skinner. Check it out:
I became a big fan of The Drive By Truckers when they appeared at the Byron Blues Festival a couple of years back. I even bought the t-shirt (now that’s commitment!). They do a great Life Lesson song – most people share the experience described by singer Patterson Hood and his 83-year-old friend on WORLD OF HURT: “To love is to feel pain.” The lesson here, I think, is to accept that pain can also be a positive thing.
De La Soul have a different kind of lesson. They reckon that sometimes you just have to TREAD WATER. They use cartoon creatures to get the message across. Very cute.
SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROCK N ROLL STAR? Well, the Byrds have some advice for you: All you have to do is get an electric guitar, take some time and learn how to play? Sounds easy enough. But maybe life is like that: Practice makes perfect.
Midway through the show the lovely Gaudi from a new restaurant in Byron, Italian at the Pacific, came in to draw the daily prize for one lucky subscriber. The prize, a day with the chef of the restaurant and dinner for 8 people was won by Craig McGregor whose daughter Claire is a regular contributor to the show (sorry couldn’t fit in Coward of the Country this week Claire!) and another daughter Sarah, a fantastic musician. So I know that this big family will absolutely love this brilliant prize.
THAT LUCKY OLD SUN, by Dean Martin, our weather song for today was suggested by Andrew who also subscribed again this year on Theme Park, so thank you so much for supporting BayFM Andy.
Next up it was a double dose of Ska: Jools Holland and Prince Buster with ENJOY YOURSELF and Dandy Livingstone with RUDY, A MESSAGE TO YOU.
Lots of subscribers ringing in by this stage (thank you one and all!), so I thought a great piece of disco was appropriate ’cause my spirit was uplifted by all the support. The song is one that really speaks to me: YOUNG HEARTS RUN FREE from Candi Staton. Here she is with a 1999 re-recording and video of her 1976 classic:
I think that QUE SERA, SERA (“whatever will be, will be”) has to be the ultimate Life Lesson song, don’t you? Look, I know that Doris Day pretty much owns this tune but the version we played this week was by Sly & The Family Stone. I was feeling in a funky mood, you see.
One of many suggestions from regular contributor Robyn had to be included, if only because it’s title was perfect: LIFE’S LESSONS from Lynyrd Skynyrd. And then it was one for Frank Zappa fanatic, Hudson: COSMIK DEBRIS:
Our major prize for those subscribing this year is an amazing trip to Broome and the Kimberley region of Western Australia. It’s in conjunction with the environmental group, Save The Kimberley. A great supporter of this cause is musician Xavier Rudd. And a great song with a life lesson, that he does so well, is BETTER PEOPLE.
Robyn had another request for a perfect Life Lesson song: DON’T STOP BELIEVING from Journey. So the least I can do is upload the video clip:
We closed the show with a classic: “You have to know when to hold em, you have to know when to fold em, know when to walk away, know when to run”. Yep, Kenny Rogers with THE GAMBLER. There was just a little bit of time, too, for a snatch of the Stones with YOU CAN’T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT. So because we didn’t get to play it all the way through, I’ll give them their due here. Check out a very young David Frost and an even younger Rolling Stones performing live in 1969:
Thanks to Jana from Camp Quality for coming in and helping host the show this week and to the many listeners who rang to subscribe. Thank you for your support of BayFM, Theme Park and Camp Quality. And if you haven’t subscribed yet, there is still time to get involved in this particular promotion. Just go to the BayFM website at: http://www.bayfm.org and follow the prompts to subscribe. You can also listen to the show online, there, as well.
I’d also love to hear from you with your requests for next week’s show when the topic will be THE ENVIRONMENT. You may be surprised at how many great songs there are on this topic, from all genres. I think this is going to be a very special show.
Here’s this week’s full playlist:
Happy Talk – Nancy Wilson & Cannonball Adderley,
You Can Get It If You Really Want – The Harder They Come, Soundtrack, Jimmy Cliff
Get Up Stand Up – Back To Zion, Bob Marley & The Wailers (incl. Peter Tosh)
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright – Best Of Bob Dylan
You’ve Got To Learn – Family/Friends/French Lesson, Nina Simone
Up The Junction – Singles, Squeeze
On The Edge Of A Cliff – Everything Is Borrowed, The Streets
A World Of Hurt – A Blessing And A Curse, Drive By Truckers
Tread Water – Feet High And Rising, De La Soul
So You Want To Be A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star – Byrds/20 Essentia,l The Byrds
That Lucky Old Sun – All Time Greats Vol 3 – The People, Dean Martin (Weather song for this week)
Enjoy yourself – Best Sellers, Jools Holland & Prince Buster
Rudy, A Message To You – This Is Ska!: 16 Original Ska Classics, Dandy Livingstone
Young Hearts Run Free – 54, Vol. 1, Candi Staton
Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be) – Take The Lead (Soundtrack), Sly And The Family Stone
Life’s Lessons – Vicious Cycle, Lynyrd Skynyrd
Cosmik Debris – Apostrophe, Frank Zappa
Better People – White Moth, Xavier Rudd
Don’t Stop Believing – Journey
The Gambler – Kenny Rogers
You Can’t Always Get What You Want – Hot Rocks, 1964-1971 [Disc 2] The Rolling Stones
Next week: THE ENVIRONMENT
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
Memories can haunt us, no matter how much we want to escape them. There are false memories, conflicting memories of the same event and memories that clash with the reality of the present. Thanks to mass media, memory isn’t something that only belongs to us as individuals. When we see scenes at the cinema or television or on DVDs over and over again, they become part of our collective memory. Even if you’ve never seen the film King Kong you know that there’s a scene where a big gorilla climbs up the Empire State Building with a human girl in his hand. And whenever a comedy show or film features a scene where someone is killed or threatened in a shower most people understand it’s a parody of Psycho. So mass media, film and television in particular, have contributed hugely to a memory that we share with millions of other people.
Unfortunately, we remember melancholy and pleasure in equal measure. The concept of looking back in hindsight is also a bit complicated. It’s easy to write off youthful idealism as simply being naïve as Stevie Wonder did in our opening number YESTERME, YESTERYOU, YESTERDAY. According to Stevie it was all “a cruel and foolish game we used to play”. Well that’s how he remembers it anyway.
And talking of cruel, I can’t imagine anything worse than getting Alzheimer’s disease and Elvis Costello’s song VERONICA is all about that. It tells the story of an old lady who lives in a nursing home and is gradually losing her memory. It was inspired by Costello’s grandmother.
The Ramones want to know DO YOU REMEMBER ROCK ‘N’ ROLL RADIO? Has it ever gone away?
Collecting objects that remind us of old times should bring back good memories, but that’s not always the case as Soft Cell tell it in MEMORABILIA. Sarah Vaughan would rather experience something that didn’t work out than never do anything at all in I’D RATHER HAVE A MEMORY THAN A DREAM. The real classic of this triple play, however, was the Shangri-Las with their ode to a lost love affair: REMEMBER (WALKIN IN THE SAND). Here’s a great clip from the excellent “Songmakers Collection” DVD, with interviews with Mary Weiss and writer producer George ‘Shadow’ Morton about this track and their other hit, LEADER OF THE PACK.
Jurassic 5 dug deep into their memory banks for REMEMBER HIS NAME. As did Fall Out Boy for THNKS FR TH MMRS . The Zutons, REMEMBER ME is about those kind of friends who seem to forget you once they are entrenched in a romantic relationship. Don’t you just hate that!
THOSE WERE THE DAYS is from Cream’s 1968 album Wheels of Fire. The album cover was designed by Australian artist Martin Sharpe and it won the the New York Art Directors Prize for best album cover in 1969. The sound on the album was characterised by a hybrid of blues, hard rock and psychdelic rock, combined with Eric Clapton’s blues guitar, Ginger Baker’s jazz-influenced drumming and the basslines and voice of Jack Bruce.
One of the most beautiful voices I’ve heard belongs to Sarah McLachlan. And one of my favourite songs of hers is one that I first heard on the soundtrack to the film The Brothers McMullen. It’s called I WILL REMEMBER YOU.
Otis Redding’s name is synonymous with the term ‘soul’ and we had to include his classic with I’VE GOT DREAMS TO REMEMBER. Redding died at the very early age of 26 but his memory is kept alive with the Youth Educational Dream Foundation and a very good website. Go to: http://www.otisredding.com/
British group Bloc Party look back regretfully on an opportunity for love that wasn’t realised in I STILL REMEMBER:
The Kinks wonder what ever happened to their childhood friend in DO YOU REMEMBER WALTER? It’s from their album The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society.
The Supremes reflected on the good and bad memories of a love that used to be in REFLECTIONS while Jimi Hendrix had only good memories of a past love, (he even wants her back!), in REMEMBER.
Relationships that survive depend partly on shared memories, but those memories need constant topping up. Indie rockers, Yo La Tengo document this well in OUR WAY TO FALL.
There was a fair bit of nostalgia in this week’s show, (well what did you expect?) and one of my faves was The Platters with REMEMBER WHEN. Also fitting the bill was Elvis Presley who seems somewhat confused in I FORGOT TO REMEMBER TO FORGET.
Memories, daydreams, disconnected thoughts – they fill our minds in a never-ending rush. Our next song, THE WINDMILLS OF YOUR MIND, evoked this beautifully, conveying the incredible weirdness of our thought processes. If you’re after nostalgia then what about Noel Harrison with the original version of the song that served the film The Thomas Crown Affair so well.
Ok back to recent memories. Jack Johnson wonders DO YOU REMEMBER? and P.M. Dawn are SET ADRIFT ON A MEMORY. Thanks to Lynden for suggesting that one and several others on our list today.
One of my favourite films deals with amnesia. Memento, starring Guy Pearce, and directed by Christopher Nolan, is a fascinating story about someone who can’t store new memories. A song about about the subject is I DON’T REMEMBER by Peter Gabriel.
Bob Dylan’s memory song is a love ballad from the Empire Burlesque album: I’LL REMEMBER YOU. And if its nostalgia that you’re after, consider MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS from Dean Martin. An oldie but a goodie, as they say.
I’ll never forget Michael Jackson with REMEMBER THE TIME from the Dangerous album. Another sad memory for me is Freddy Mercury singing THOSE WERE THE DAYS OF OUR LIVES which many think was the song he dedicated to his fellow Queen members when he knew that he was dying.
Back to the 70’s and some Aussie based punk rock: remember The Saints and MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS?
We closed the show with a cover of a song that I swore I wouldn’t play this week, but this version is so sweet it had to make the cut: The Waifs with a little help from Clare Bowditch. They’re singing Frank Ifields I REMEMBER YOU.
This week’s theme on MEMORY segues nicely into next week’s topic. My computer crashed last week and I had to invest in a drive with a lot more memory to cope with all the songs that I collect for these shows. So next week its MACHINES, ROBOTS AND COMPUTERS. No Television or Radio songs please because you know they are a whole theme to themselves. and no modes of transport, for the same reason. But any other gadget or gizmo is up for grabs.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist. All songs available on iTunes.
Yesterme Yesteryou Yesterday – Stevie Wonder
Veronica – Elvis Costello
Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio – The Ramones
Memorabilia – Soft Cell
I’d Rather Have a Memory Than a Dream – Sarah Vaughan
Remember (Walkin’ in the Sand) – The Shangri-Las
Remember his name – Jurassic 5
Thnks fr th Mmrs – Fall Out Boy
Remember Me – The Zutons
Those Were The Days – Cream
I Will Remember You – Sarah Mclachlan
I’ve Got Dreams To Remember – Otis Redding
I Still Remember – Bloc Party
Do You Remember Walter – The Kinks
Reﬂections – Diana Ross & the Supremes
Remember – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Our Way to Fall – Yo La Tengo
Remember When – The Platters
I Forgot to Remember to Forget – Elvis Presley
Do You Remember – Jack Johnson
The Windmills Of Your Mind – Noel Harrison
Set Adrift On Memory Bliss – P.M. Dawn
I Don’t Remember – Peter Gabriel
I’ll Remember You – Bob Dylan
Memories Are Made Of This – Dean Martin
Remember The Time – Michael Jackson
Memories Are Made of This – The Saints
Those Were The Days Of Our Lives – Queen
Remember You (feat. Clare Bowditch) – The Waifs