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RECORDED FOR FILM

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

Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
Also streaming via BayFM
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Email me at: lyn.themeparkradio@gmail.com
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GOODBYE TO THE NOUGHTIES

This week at the Theme Park I’ve been totally indulgent. The theme, GOODBYE TO THE NOUGHTIES, allowed  me to play a selection of my favourite tracks from the past decade.

We opened the program with M.I.A. and her breakthrough hit, PAPER PLANES, in which she samples The Clash, brags about being a so-called terrorist, and uses gunshots and a cash register as the focus of the song’s chorus. A wonderfully innovative piece of music that satirises the very real fear of terrorism that swept the globe during the Noughties.

The other interesting bit about M.I.A. is that she came to prominence in early 2004 through file sharing her singles on the Internet. Ten years ago no one was listening to music on anything other than a radio or CD player. Now it’s on your phone, your iPod, your computer and your TV. Pro Tools is no longer just for pros and with basic software, we can make our own music and share it on the World Wide Web. We can even make a video clip and put it up on YouTube. We could, theoretically, also program our own radio station. And then there’s podcasting, blogging and, not to mention Facebook and Twitter. Whew. If the Noughties stand out for one thing, it’s that technology has revolutionised the entertainment business with its peer-to-peer digital communication. Goodbye conventional notions of creativity and distribution, hello independent artist. Viva La Revolution, I say.

Outkast released their double album Speakerboxx/The Love Below in 2003 and it’s a classic example of the decade’s soul/dance/hip hop fusion. The expansive, split-personality masterwork paved the way for artists like Kanye West, Dizzee Rascal and others. In the same year The White Stripes released their attention-getting rock album Elephant.  Check out SEVEN NATION ARMY:

LCD Soundsystem’s LOSING MY EDGE is a fabulous piece of satire that puts the boot into the ageing hipster who depends on an encyclopedic knowledge of cultural references to keep him or her relevant. Sound like anyone you know? Hilarious and scary, all at the same time.

Amy Winehouse’s YOU KNOW I’M NO GOOD has got that classic soul sound. Mix it up with some unfortunate self-destructive tendencies, and you have one of my favourite singer/songwriters of the decade. Just forget the tabloid sensationalism, close your eyes and listen to the Back to Black album.  Heaven.

Another great singer songwriter is Lucinda Williams. WORLD WITHOUT TEARS is the kind of song she does best.  It’s from her 2003 album of the same name. Seemingly tragic, the song is really a celebration of life over death. Here she is performing the song live.

And now for something completely different! Swedish group Hellsongs’s cover of AC/DC’s THUNDERSTRUCK can only be described as Lounge Metal. They’re an acoustic three-piece. Check it out. You’ll either love it or hate it. I love it:

What can you say about Tom Waites? He’s just the bomb. His Real Gone album of 2004 is almost brutal in its authenticity. The track we played, GREEN GRASS, is melancholic, bluesy, disturbing and hynotic. “Don’t say goodbye to me. Describe the sky to me. And if the sky falls, Mark my words, We’ll catch mocking birds.”  Wow.

Possibly one of the Noughties best rap artists is Eminem. On one of the most original rap

tracks of the decade, STAN, he is ably assisted by another terrific artist, Dido.  A great combination. The Noughties was also the decade of the mashup/bootleg. A STROKE OF GENIUS, by Freelance Hellraiser combines an instrumental edit of The Strokes track ‘Hard to Explain’ with Christina Aguilera’s pop hit ‘Genie in a Bottle’ and is probably still one of the best examples of the genre.  This is where the sum is so much better than its parts. Sort of like peanut butter and chocolate ice-cream. Who thought the combination could be so good?

If you want to listen to perfect rock n roll you can’t go past Queens of the Stone Age and their track NO ONE KNOWS.  Here’s why:

I was really happy to receive Roseanne Cash’s new album The List for Christmas. Lots of great tracks to choose from but, for this show,  it had to be SEA OF HEARTBREAK which she sings with a little help from Bruce Springsteen. Her Dad, Johnny Cash, gave Roseanne a list of songs that he felt it was essential for her to know and she held onto that list for 35 years. Finally the time was right and she has chosen 12 songs from that original list of 100 for this great album.

Another great album is Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, released in 2002; my favourite track from the album is JESUS etc. Superb. Check it out:

Two of the decades most successful rock bands also made an appearance: Kings of Leon with SEX ON FIRE and Green Day with BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS. But my favourite rock band has to be Radiohead. We played a track from their 2007 album, IN RAINBOWS. Now this album is particularly interesting because it was initially released through the band’s own website as a digital download for which customers could make whatever payment that they wanted, including nothing; the site only advised, “it’s up to you”. Reportedly 1.2 million copies were sold by the first day of release. In March 2008 aniBoom, together with Radiohead’s label TBD REcords, launched the In Rainbows Animated Music Video Contest. Animators from all over the world competed. Out of over one thousand entries, Radiohead chose four grand winners. Each winner received $10,000 to complete their submission. This animation by Japanese artists Kota and Totori perfectly illustrates the track we played: 15 STEP.

The Strokes, in my mind, were one of the first great rock album of the Noughties. Nine years later I still love listening to LAST NITE and all the other tracks on the very cool Is This It album. Another ‘must include’ are Arcade Fire and the track I chose was WAKE UP from their album FUNERAL, released in 2005. They mix the playfulness of Talking Heads with the Gothic quality of The Cure but it’s a sound that is entirely their own. Actually they are just a bunch of nerds having fun. Gotta love that.

I closed the show with the most outrageous of the decade’s gender benders. Lady Ga Ga has nothing on Peaches.  And who better to help her out than Bad Boy Iggy Pop. The track is KICK IT. Who said punk was dead?

Have a wonderful New Year’s Eve. Play safe and drive carefully. Here’s the complete playlist:

Paper Planes – M.I.A.
Hey Ya – Outkast
Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
Losing My Edge – LCD Soundsystem
Gone Gone Gone (Done Moved On) – Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
You Know I’m No Good – Amy Winehouse
Crazy – Gnarls Barkley
World Without Tears – Lucinda Williams
Thunderstruck – Hellsongs
Green Grass – Tom Waits
Stan – Eminem/Dido
Take Your Mama Out – Scissor Sisters
A Stroke of Genius (The Strokes vs Christina Aguilera) – Freelance Hellraiser
Do You Realize?? – The Flaming Lips
No One Knows – Queens Of The Stone Age
Beautiful Day – U2
Sea Of Heartbreak – Rosanne Cash Feat. Bruce Springsteen
Jesus, etc. – Wilco
Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day
Sex On Fire – Kings Of Leon
15 Step – Radiohead
Dream – Priscilla Ahn
Last Night – The Strokes
Wake Up – The Arcade Fire
Kick It (With Iggy Pop) – Peaches

Next week: DUETS

Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time.

Also streaming on http://www.bayfm.org

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FAMOUS PEOPLE

images-3Researching a show where all the songs referenced famous people was actually quite enlightening. Who knew that so many famous people felt compelled to record songs about other famous people? I suppose there’s a little bit of the fan in all of us. It was a shame that I had used up some very good songs that would have fitted the theme during my Men’s Names and Women’s Names shows, but there were still plenty of tracks left over to fit the bill. I did try and stay away from the more mawkish tribute songs, so no Candle in the Wind amongst this lot I’m afraid.

We opened the show with the Beloved’s HELLO. The song mentions a number of famous people chosen to loosely fit a “saints and sinners” theme. Those that get a nod include Jeffery Archer, Fred Astaire, Little Richard, Barry Humphries and Charlie Parker. I like the way the Supremes are simply called “Mary Wilson, Di and Flo”. Even Fred Flintstone gets a mention.

Next it was another song with a list. Eminem recently won the MTV award for Best Hip Hip Video for WE MADE YOU. The song spoofs, among others, Sarah Palin, Amy Winehouse and Jessica Simpson. Hopefully it hasn’t reached viewer saturation point yet, ’cause here it is again:

imagesAllanah Myles’ #1 hit, BLACK VELVET is about Elvis Presley. It can refer to either his likeness frequently being painted on black velvet or his voice. Here’s a bit of trivia for you: Black Velvet was the name of the hair dye that Elvis used to give his naturally brown hair its distinctive black sheen. 

SWEET GENE VINCENT remained in Ian Dury’s set list for almost his entire career, even after other songs had been dropped because of the singer’s worsening images-2health. It was played at his very last concert at the London Palladium in February 2000 and is still performed by The Blockheads. Ian Dury was arguably Gene Vincent’s biggest fan and he claims to have bought every single that Vincent ever produced. Dury’s stage clothes also reflected Vincent’s influence, notably black leather gloves. Dury constantly denied that his identification with the singer, who was also crippled and forced to wear a leg brace, was in any way an attraction. He claimed that he didn’t even know Vincent was crippled when he first became a fan. According to Dury, it was all about the voice and his look. That’s Gene Vincent on the left and here is a clip of Ian Dury and the Blockheads performing at the Concert for the People of Kampuchea in 1979. The big bonus is the addition of Mick Jones from the Clash. Brilliant. 

BETTE DAVIS EYES was a huge hit for Kim Carnes. Even Bette Davis herself was a fan. The actress admitted to loving the song and approached Carnes and the songwriters to thank them. She said that it made her seem very up-to-date with her grandson. She had Carnes sing the song live for her at a tribute held just before her death.

I included a  couple more songs about actors: Bree Sharp’s song about DAVID DUCHOVNY proves that she is also an adoring fan of the actor from X-Files and, more recently, Californication. Billy Bragg & Wilco gave us a song dedicated to INGRID BERGMAN, with lyrics by Woodie Guthrie.

images-4David Bowie played the song ANDY WARHOL to the artist, who reportedly disliked it as he thought the lyrics made fun of his physical appearance. When the song had finished playing, Warhol and Bowie supposedly just stared at each other for a while until Warhol said “I like your shoes” and the pair then had a conversation about shoes. As you do.

The Modern Lovers sang about another artist, PABLO PICASSO and Simon & Garfunkle contributed a song about the great American architect FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT

The ever-cheerful ska star, Prince buster, was more concerned with spelling the name of his subject in AL CAPONE. A guilty pleasure followed: Boney M with RASPUTIN. Who knew that this Russian baddie was a raging love machine? Here’s the clip, just to remind you of how much fun disco actually was:

Although David Bowie admits that JEAN GENIE is a clumsy pun on the name of the author Jean Genet, he claims that the real subject of the song is his friend Iggy Pop. The line “He’s so simple minded, he can’t drive his module” would later give the band Simple Minds their name. There are several clips of this song available but take a look at this one. I chose it just because of the outfit. Oh, and the band rocks too.

Morphine gave us a song not just about, but in the style of, the American beat poet and author Jack KEROUAC. And then it was Bob Dylan with his protest song HURRICANE about the boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter. The song compiles alleged acts of racism and profiling against Carter, which Dylan describes as leading to a false trail and conviction. The song is credited with helping to overturn the conviction.

images-5We lightened the mood somewhat with a bit of Pop from Bananarama: ROBERT DE NIRO’S WAITING. And then it was The Clash with their song about the another actor, Montgomery Clift, who, after a serious accident, could only be shot from THE RIGHT PROFILE (see left).

U2 paid homage to singer Billie Holiday with their song ANGEL OF HARLEM and then The Barenaked Ladies told the story of a man whose life parallels that of the Beach Boys’ BRIAN WILSON, particularly during his time spent with a psychologist.

Two tracks followed that are quite critical of their subjects. Carly Simon with a song supposedly about Warren Beatty – YOU’RE SO VAIN and then it was Modest Mouse with BUKOWSKI. “Yeah, I know he’s a pretty good read, but God, who’d want to be such an a….hole.” True.

Next was a wonderful song from George Harrison, dedicated to John Lennon: ALL THOSE YEARS AGO. Here, in tribute to both of them, is the clip. 

We closed the show with one of my favourite new artists, Julian Velard, with JIMMY DEAN & STEVE McQEEN.  

Here’s the complete playlist. If the title doesn’t tell the story, I’ve bracketed the person who the song is about.

 

Hello (various) 4:19 The Beloved Happiness Pop 4
We Made You 4:48 Eminem Relapse Hip-Hop 2
Black Velvet (About Elvis) 4:49 Alannah Myles The Very Best of Alannah Myles Rock 3
Sweet Gene Vincent 3:33 Ian Dury Alternative 5
Sir Duke (Duke Ellington) 3:52 Stevie Wonder Songs In The Key Of Life Funk 5
Bette Davis Eyes 3:50 Kim Carnes Mistaken Identity Pop 2
Michael Caine 3:37 Madness Total Madness: The Very Best Of Madness Alternative 4
David Duchovny 4:09 Bree Sharp Pop/Rock 3
Ingrid Bergman 1:51 Billy Bragg & Wilco Mermaid Avenue Folk Rock 4
Andy Warhol 3:57 David Bowie Rock 4
Pablo Picasso 4:21 The Modern Lovers The Modern Lovers Alternative 2
So Long Frank Lloyd Wright 3:43 Simon & Garfunkel Bridge over Troubled Water Folk Rock 2
Marvin Gaye 3:10 Josh Rouse Home Folk/Roots/Pop 8
Al Capone 2:59 Prince Buster FABulous Greatest Hits Ska 8
Rasputin 4:26 Boney M. Gold: 20 Super Hits Soul and R&B 2
The Jean Genie 4:07 David Bowie Aladdin Sane Classic Rock 2
Kerouac 2:55 Morphine AlternRock – Blues 2
Hurricane (about Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter) 8:32 Bob Dylan Folk/Rock
Robert De Niro’s Waiting 3:29 Bananarama The Very Best of Bananarama Pop 3
The Right Profile (About Montgomery Clift) 3:58 The Clash London Calling Alternative & Punk 1
Angel Of Harlem (about Billie Holiday) 3:49 U2 Rattle And Hum Rock 4
Brian Wilson 4:47 Barenaked Ladies Rock Ballad 2
You’re So Vain (Warren Beatty) 4:45 Carly Simon Greatest Hits Live Rock 2
Bukowski 4:16 Modest Mouse Good News For People Who Love Alternative 2
All Those Years Ago (John Lennon) 3:45 George Harrison Somewhere in England Rock

Hello (various) – The Beloved

We Made You (various) – Eminem

Black Velvet (Elvis Presley) – Alannah Myles

Sweet Gene Vincent – Ian Dury

Sir Duke (Duke Ellington) – Stevie Wonder

Bette Davis Eyes –  Carnes

Michael Caine – Madness

David Duchovny  – Bree Sharp

Ingrid Bergman – Billy Bragg & Wilco

Andy Warhol – David Bowie

Pablo Picasso – The Modern Lovers

So Long Frank Lloyd Wright – Simon & Garfunkel

Marvin Gaye – Josh Rouse

Al Capone – Prince Buster

Rasputin – Boney M.

The Jean Genie – David Bowie

Kerouac  – Morphine

Hurricane (Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter) – Bob Dylan

Robert De Niro’s Waiting – Bananarama

The Right Profile  (Montgomery Clift) – The Clash

Angel Of Harlem (Billie Holiday) – U2

Brian Wilson – Barenaked Ladies

You’re So Vain (Warren Beatty) – Carly Simon

Bukowski – Modest Mouse

All Those Years Ago (John Lennon) – George Harrison

Jimmy Dean & Steve McQueen – Julian Velard

Next week: COVERS THAT ARE BETTER THAN THE ORIGINALS

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

No longer on Twitter! I’m not that tragic after all.

COMMUNICATION

Our theme this week was Communication – not the deep psychic stuff, but good old fashioned talking, letter writing and, would you believe telegrams (remember them?). I was going to play M.I.A.’s ‘U.R.A.Q.T.’ about texting (“you’re fuckin’ with my man and textin’ all the time…”) but I would have been in a bit of trouble over the expletives, I’m afraid. But I did play some other excellent hip-hop during the show, as well as my usual eclectic mix of rock, pop, blues, jazz and whatever I could find to fit the theme.

We opened the show with the Marvelettes ‘Beachwood 4-5789’. They also recorded the first Motown hit, ‘Please Mr. Postman’, but I had already showcased that one during the Motown Show in January. Besides, ‘Beachwood’ was a great opener for this particular show.

The telephone, whether it be landline or mobile, talking or texting, is still probably the most prominent way we keep in touch. So ‘Hanging Up the Telephone’, sung by Blondie’s Debby Harry was not only pop-punk perfection, but it also opens with the sound of a ringing phone. How good is that? Here’s the video from 1978.

Most letter songs feature absent lovers and none convey the absolute thrill of receiving a long awaited theboxtops-1message better than ‘The Letter’ from the Boxtops. They were known as a major ‘blue-eyed soul’ group during the 60’s. Hard to believe that Alex Chilton, who later formed Big Star and went onto a solo career, was only 16 at the time this was recorded in 1967. The song has been widely covered, most notably by Joe Cocker, but this original version still stands up well. 

Sonny Boy Williamson confimed what I have always knows, (that men are the worst gossips), with his rendition of ‘Don’t Get Me Talking’ while Buddy Guy and Junior Wells contributed ‘A Man of Many Words’ to the Blues segment of the show. 

My Roy Orbison song this week was a great one: ‘Communication Breakdown’. Written by Bill Dees, whose collaboration with Orbison led to a string of successful hits for Monument Records including ‘Communication Breakdown’, ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘It’s Over’, just to name a few.

And then it was onto an absolutely divine song  by Nina Persson of the Cardigans, ‘Communication’ – “If this is communication , I disconnect”. If only it was that easy. Here’s a video of them doing a live performance in 2007. 

‘Hello Operator’ presented mobile phone refusenik Jack White choosing to use an operator, just like in the good old days. And, as if this was even too newfangled, by the second verse he’s trying to get his message out via canary. Ah ha, rightio then.

Remember when a wedding wasn’t a wedding without the best man reading out several telegrams from absentee friends and family?  I haven’t been to a wedding in ages. Tell me, do they read out emails and texts? Just doesn’t seem the same does it? In ‘Western Union Man’ Jerry Butler gives us a passionate attempt at contacting a girlfriend who won’t answer his phone calls. And Chuck Berry tries to get in touch with people who have phoned him in ‘Memphis Tennessee’. Today we would be asking why the hell aren’t they on Facebook! And then there’s Twitter, but please can we not go there? (really).

you-done-me-wrongJoe Jones seemed to be talking right at me with ‘You Talk Too Much’ and I loved Crowded House’s version of ‘Everybody’s Talkin’.  But how good was Hank Penny’s ‘Sweet Talkin Mama’ recorded in 1938? You can find this terrific bit of country swing on the compilation album You Done Me Wrong (Vintage Country Cheating Songs 1929-1952) distributed by Buzzola. 

There are lots of songs written in the form of letters. One of the best examples of this is Eminem’s ‘Stan’, a masterpiece of escalating desperation that exploits its conceit to its fullest. Sampling Dido’s ‘Thank You’ as the chorus is a piece of genius and the result is a song of chilling elegance that recognises that a letter is always a one-sided conversation.

We followed that with a total contrast – ‘Don’t Explain’ by Billie Holliday and then it was up to Muddy Waters to elevate the mood with ‘Long Distance Call’. There were so many other great songs. I particularly liked Bonnie Raitt’s take on people who talk behind your back. Her advice? Give them ‘Something to Talk About’. Absolutely.

We finished the show with one of my favourite Aretha Franklin numbers: ‘Say A Little Prayer’. This one had me up out of the seat and dancing.  And then a fantastic close from Mr. Cool Jazz himself, Chet Baker, with ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’. I loved this week’s show and I had a blast. Hope you did too.

Here’s the complete playlist:

Beachwood 4-5789   The Marvellettes

Hanging On The Telephone  – Blondie

Rikki Don’t Lose That Number   Steely Dan

The Letter   The Boxtops

Take A Letter Maria   R.B. Greaves

Please Read The Letter   Alison Krauss/Robert Plant

Don’t Start Me To Talkin’  Sonny Boy Williamson 

A Man Of Many Words  Buddy Guy & Junior Wells

A Little Less Conversation – Elvis Presley            

Communication Breakdown  Roy Orbison

Communication  – The Cardigans

Telephone Line – Electric Light Orchestra

Memphis, Tennessee  Chuck Berry

Hey, Western Union Man –  Jerry Butler

Hello Operator – The White Stripes

You Talk Too Much – Joe Jones

Everybody’s Talkin’  Crowded House

Sweet Talkin’ Mama – Hank Penny

Stan  Eminem & Dido 

Don’t Explain – Billie Holiday

Long Distance Call  Muddy Waters

The Phone Call  The Pretenders

Ring Ring Ring – De La Soul

The Word  The Beatles

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Paul Weller & Amy Winehouse

What’d I Say – Ray Charles

People Are Talking  Shep & The Limelites

Something to Talk About  Bonnie Raitt

Answering Bell  Ryan Adams

I Say A Little Prayer For You  Aretha Frankin

Every Time We Say Goodbye  Chet Baker

Next week, the theme is Money. Any suggestions for songs for the show, or themes for future shows, are always welcome.

Listen to Lyn at the Theme Park, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time, on BayFM 99.9 or streaming at http://www.bayfm.org

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