Love, and all its complexities, provides a bottomless pit of inspiration. A perfect opener for our Valentine’s Day protest this week was Bobbie Gentry’s rendition of I’LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN. ‘What do you get when you kiss a guy? You get enough germs to catch pneumonia.” Songwriter Hal David was convinced that the angst-ridden game of love was no better than a chronic illness and who am I to disagree? The song is typical of all anti-love songs however: it’s resolve to give up on love is usually very short lived. Rather than a virus, it’s more like an addiction, for sure.
Jerry Butler is over it. He’s GIVING UP ON LOVE, a typical knee-jerk reaction from someone who has had his heart broken. The Dramatics, on the other hand, find out the hard way that there’s A THIN LIVE BETWEEN LOVE AND HATE.
Lot’s of suggestions from listeners this week for various Bob Dylan numbers but my choice was LOVE SICK from his 1997 album Time Out of Mind. He’s in love with a woman who he suspects of cheating and all he can do is wander the streets, moaning “I’m sick of love, but I’m in the thick of it.” Come on Bobby, man up!
Janis Joplin’s idol was Bessie Smith, (she even organised a campaign to pay for her tombstone after finding that the great Blues singer was buried in an unmarked grave). In the song CARELESS LOVE, Bessie’s been a-cheating and a-dumping, but is it her fault? Hell, no.
Rosemary Clooney, (now forever known as George Clooney’s auntie), makes a slightly less convincing argument against love, blaming it for sending her “a Joe who had winter and snow in his heart”. Bummer. The song is LOVE YOU DIDN’T DO RIGHT BY ME. Here’s a clip from the film WHITE CHRISTMAS, starring Clooney and Bing Crosby:
Next it was Soft Cell’s version of TAINTED LOVE, first released in 1964 by Gloria Jones and covered by Soft Cell in 1981. It’s a bit of a gay anthem and to celebrate that, here’s a wonderful video that uses the music as backing to Laurel & Hardy’s soft shoe shuffle in the film WAY OUT WEST. Enjoy.
Richard Hell & The Voidoids have a perfect response to the notion that love is perfect, a fairytale fed to us by Hollywood and the mass media. In the song LOVE COMES IN SPURTS Richard reckons love “murders your heart – they didn’t tell you that part”.
Bobby Bland is convinced that there AINT NO LOVE IN THE HEART OF THE CITY. Well he’s probably right about that. Poor Fats Domino thinks NO-ONE LOVES HIM, but at least he’s hopeful about the future, so no need to be too down in the dumps.
Talking of dumps, the Ben Folds Five gave us SONG FOR THE DUMPED and then the divine SoKo was equally candid with I WILL NEVER LOVE YOU MORE. And she plays the ukelele! Can it get better than that?
Joan Jett covered J. Geils Band hit, LOVE STINKS, on the soundtrack of a very mediocre film called MR WRONG starring Ellen De Generes. Despite the lame film, Joan’s version gives the song a bit more bite I think. Another of my favourite female artists is Shirley Manson, lead singer of the band Garbage, so we included their 1998 hit, SPECIAL. Here they are live on Letterman in 1996:
Betty Davis was the second wife of Miles Davis and an amazing artist in her own right. ANTI LOVE SONG is from her self-titled debut album and is notable not just for her powerful voice but for who she used to support her on the album. The Pointer Sisters sing back up, bassist Larry Graham and drummer Greg Errico, both veterans of Sly & the Family Stone are there, plus fellow San Francisco luminaries like master keyboardist Merl Saunders and guitarists Neal Schon and Douglas Rodriguez (both associated with Santana at the time) give this whole album reams of cred.
The great soul singer Teddy Pendergrass who sadly passed away a couple of weeks ago, contributed LOVE TKO and then another soul singer, who probably isn’t as well known but with a fine voice, Angie Stone, sang WISH I DIDN’T MISS YOU.
Here’s a perfect choice for our Anti-Love show: Public Image Ltd with THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG. Thanks to regular contributor Lynden for that suggesiton.
Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks offered up a song that will surely put a smile back on your face if you’ve been disappointed by love: HOW CAN I MISS YOU WHEN YOU WON’T GO AWAY? Then it was Amy Rigby, married b.t.w. to punk rock alumni Wreckless Eric. She seems skeptical about romance as she contemplates a marriage based not on love but resignation. Not sure what Eric thinks about all that. The song is CYNICALLY YOURS.
The 13th Floor Elevators are convinced that YOU’RE GONNA MISS ME and we followed with something completley out of left field. From Gang of Four’s 2005 album Return the Gift, ANTHRAX is another of those songs that makes love out to be, not just dangerous, but lethal. Yikes.
Belle & Sebastian sound so sweet as they sing that they DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE. Maybe they’ve been listening to Nick Lowe’s song CRUEL TO BE KIND. Along with Wreckless Eric, Elvis Costello and others he was part of the Stiff Records line-up of artists. I’m thinking it might be time for a show dedicated to the ‘stiffies’ as they were referred to. Let me know what you think. Here’s a clip of Nick Lowe singing CRUEL TO BE KIND:
Heading into the home stretch, we played a very nice number by The Corrs, I NEVER LOVED YOU ANYWAY from their second album Talk on Corners. The final two songs couldn’t be more different from each other. First up it was Robert Plant and Alison Krauss with GONE, GONE, GONE – a good piece of advice for anyone in an unsatisfactory relationship. And then it was a song for all the battle weary lovers out there. Blossom Dearie is much more generous than many of us when we’ve been given the heave-ho by some love rat, but maybe there’s a lesson there. The song is the delicious I WISH YOU LOVE.
Now as well as February 14th being Valentine’s Day it’s also Chinese New Year. I did consider doing a show next week on all the Chinese animals (you know Year of the Tiger, Rat, Dog etc etc), but as I’ve already done cats and dogs, thought better of it. How about we stick with Western Astrology? Next week, the theme will be STAR SIGNS. Drop me a line if you have any requests or suggestions.
Here’s this week’s playlist:
Next week: STAR SIGNS
Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other. But what about the one-sided love affair? If we were rational we’d acknowledge that its simply addictive emotional masochism; the more unsuitable or unattainable the object of desire, the stronger the fascination. But when you’re madly in love with someone who doesn’t know you exist, being rational is the furthest thing from your mind. We’ve all been there. You feel like the walking wounded, the unloved one, the handicapped without the advantage of a great parking space! Charlie Brown says it best: “Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter like UNREQUITED LOVE.”
We opened the show with THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA from one of the best bossa nova singers ever, Astrud Gilberto, performing with Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz. There really was a girl from Ipanema – a 15 year old called Heloisa Pinto who used to walk past the Rio bar frequented by the songwriters,Vinicius Morais and Antonio Jobim. The song is a sweet tribute to the totally unattainable as well as an ode to youth. This music video is from the 1964 film “Get Yourself a College Girl”:
KILLING ME SOFTLY WITH HIS SONG has been covered by many artists, most notably by Roberta Flack, whose 1973 version topped the U.S. pop singles charts and won a Grammy Award. We opted to play the equally successful 1996 version, simply called KILLING ME SOFTLY, by Hip-Hop group The Fugees with Lauryn Hill on lead vocals.
Whitney Houston’s version of I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU, released in 1992, became one of the best-selling singles of all time. It was written and originally recorded by Dolly Parton and her poignant and bittersweet version, with Parton’s trademark twang, was my choice this week.
I had to include Billy Bragg’s gentle, yet disturbing, song about a classroom crush, THE SATURDAY BOY, even if it was just for the line: ”I had to look in the dictionary/ To find out the meaning of unrequited.” The Violent Femmes’ upped the ante with a song about repressed lust. ADD IT UP has Gordon Gano promising himself, ‘the day after today I will stop’, but the music’s pent-up passion suggests otherwise.
When I announced this week’s theme there was lots of correspondence regarding which genre of music does ‘unrequited love’ best. Yes, I agree with BayFM’s Cowboy Sweetheart that country singers have it pretty much all sewn up, but you can’t go past a little soul music when it comes to love songs, requited or not. A couple of examples: JUST MY IMAGINATION from the Temptations and CUPID from Sam Cooke. And I didn’t forget the soulful sound of Ray Charles with YOU DON’T KNOW ME, delivering a duet with Diana Krall, from his Genius Loves Company album.
Joe Jackson is wonderfully incredulous when he asks: IS SHE REALLY GOING OUT WITH HIM? The Cars, on the other hand, are obsessed with their BEST FRIEND’S GIRL while Bowling For Soup are going nuts over the GIRL ALL THE BAD BOYS WANT. I love a band with a sense of humour. Check out the video from Bowling For Soup. By the way, the band’s name was derived from a comedy act by Steve Martin.
Now if you need convincing that country singers are the kings and queens of the lovelorn, here’s Patsy Cline with I FALL TO PIECES, from the Glenn Reeves Show, February 23, 1963.
LAYLA by the Eric Clapton’s group, Derek & The Dominos, is a tale of unrequited love inspired by Clapton’s relationship with his friend George Harrison’s then wife, Pattie Boyd Harrison. Here’s a video clip from 1984 of Eric Clapton peforming the song live with Bill Wyman on bass, Charlie Watts on drums, Jeff Beck on guitar, Stevie Winwood on piano …. have I died and gone to heaven?
A song that elevates lovelorn moping to operatic heights is Ben E King’s I WHO HAVE NOTHING and another, possibly, is Dionne Warwick’s WALK ON BY, written by Burt Bacharach and David Hal. It was recorded by Warwick in 1964 and became a landmark single for her.
A year later Donovan released his first single, CATCH THE WIND, and in 1967 The Small Faces recorded TIN SOLDIER, a song Steve Marriott wrote to his first wife Jenny. The song signalled a return to the band’s R&B roots after their previous forays into psychedelic rock and other musical experiments. P.P. Arnold can be heard singing back up vocals. Here’s some rare footage of The Small Faces with P.P. Arnold performing on Belgium television. The year was 1968. Go the Mods!
Written by the Bee Gees, IF I CAN’T HAVE YOU was given to Yvonne Elliman when the group became involved in the soundtrack for the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever. She scored a #1 hit in the US with the track.
Going a bit further back in time is the Everly Brothers version of ALL I HAVE TO DO IS DREAM. Recorded in 1958, it was recorded in just two takes and features Chet Atkins on guitar. The B side “Claudette” was the first major songwriting success for Roy Orbison. Two years later, Orbison recorded ONLY THE LONELY, his first major hit. An operatic rock ballad, it was a sound unheard of at the time, described by the New York Times as expressing “a clenchied, driven urgency.” Here’s Roy performing the song during the Black & White Night concert. No-one does it like the Big O.
From the sublime to the ridiculous: a teenager falls in love with a pin-up girl, in a picture dated 1929, in The Who’s PICTURES OF LILY and Fountains of Wayne sing about a schoolboy’s lust for his friends mother in STACEY’S MUM.
And then it was a couple of classics: FOR NO ONE from The Beatles Revolver album, written by Paul McCartney and a track from one of my all-time favourite albums, I’M WAITING FOR THE DAY from the Beach Boys Pet Sounds album.
In an effort to shake the lovelorn out of the doldrums, we closed the show with Radiohead’s masterpiece of poetic self-loathing, CREEP.
Here’s the complete playlist:
The Girl from Ipanema – Astrud Gilberto / João Gilberto / Stan Getz
Killing Me Softly – The Fugees
I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton
Diary – Bread
The Saturday Boy – Billy Bragg
Add It Up – Violent Femmes
Cupid – Sam Cooke
Just My Imagination – The Temptations
You Don’t Know Me – Ray Charles & Diana Krall
Strange And Beautiful (I’ll Put A Spell On You) – Aqualung
Is She Really Going Out With Him – Joe Jackson
My Best Friend’s Girl – The Cars
Girl All the Bad Boys Want – Bowling For Soup
White Flag – Dido
My Eyes Adored You – Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons
I Fall To Pieces – Patsy Cline
Layla – Derek & The Dominos
I’ll Kill Her – SoKo
I Who Have Nothing – Ben E. King
Walk On By – Dionne Warwick
Catch The Wind – Donovan
Tin Soldier – The Small Faces
If I Can’t Have You – Yvonne Elliman
All I Have To Do Is Dream – The Everly Brothers
Only The Lonely – Roy Orbison
Pictures Of Lily – The Who
Stacey’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne
For No One – The Beatles
I’m Waiting For The Day – The Beach Boys
Creep – Radiohead
Next week, we’re celebrating Halloween with SCARY SONGS FOR SILLY PEOPLE (or is that SILLY SONGS FOR SCARY PEOPLE?). Suggestions welcome.
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time.
Also streaming on http://www.bayfm.org
Tragically also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maccalyn