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STREETS & ROADS

I’m baaaack! And this week’s  theme was influenced by my recent road trip down the coast: STREETS AND ROADS. Street songs also include their close relations avenues, lanes and boulevards. They all tend to be about a particular destination.  Songs about roads and highways, on the other hand, are inclined to reflect on a journey of some kind, metaphorical or not. Some of these songs immortalise where they came from, others where they’re going, but all seem to have something significant to say.

We opened the show with the Drifters’ ON BROADWAY – a road that reflects the best and worst of New York. The famous entertainment strip is the epitome of success for some but it’s also a desperate place to be if you are one of the less fortunate. Check out the Drifters doing a great job, but what’s with the outfits? Pyjamas with fringing. What the??????

TOBACCO ROAD was written by country singer John D. Loudermilk and inspired by Erskine Caldwell’s Depression-era novel of the same name. The song reeks of the American south. A group calling themselves the Nashville Teens recorded the original version, although they actually hailed from England. And I don’t think it was even Southern England, cheeky sods!

There are so many versions of the that definitive road song, ROUTE 66, but I rather like the Nat King cole rendition. Eddy Grant took us back  to the 80’s with ELECTRIC AVENUE about a market street in Brixton, London. You may remember a cover version by Aussie band Men at Work, but there’s nothing like the original. Check it out:

The wonderful Emmylou Harris dueted with Dave Matthews on GULF COAST HIGHWAY. Now I don’t believe that there is an actual Gulf Coast Highway, but who cares when the song is so beautiful?

It was a toss up when it came to Bruce Springsteen’s contribution to the show – Both Thunder Road and Racing the Streets were worthy contenders but I had to give it to the Oscar winning anthem, STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA.

Louis Armstrong paid homage to his favourite street in New Orleans in BASIN STREET BLUES and although I gave it a spin on the AUTOMOBILE show,  Grace Jones deserved another outing with PULL UP TO THE BUMPER,  from her critically acclaimed album NIGHTCLUBBING.

Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland was going FARTHER UP THE ROAD while Bob Dylan delivered the classic HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED. And here’s some trivia about that particular highway, which travels from New Orleans through to the Canadian border. Bessie Smith met her death in an automobile accident on that road, Robert Johnson was said to have lost his soul to the devil at the crossroads of Highway 61 and Highway 49, Elvis Presley grew up in the housing projects built along it and Martin Luther King Jnr would later be murdered in a motel just off Highway 61.

The Beatles sang about PENNY LANE while David Byrne and the Talking Heads took the ROAD TO NOWHERE:

A show about roads needed a bit of hard rock and the obvious, of course, is Acca Dacca and HIGHWAY TO HELL. But I thought I’d give them a rest this week and instead, in celebration of the Deep Purple tour reaching Brisbane next month (yay!) it was HIGHWAY STAR instead. Once listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the Word’s loudest rock band, here they are performing live in 1972. Ian Gillian, you are hot! Can’t wait for them to reach Bris-vegas.

Kirsty MacColl calmed things down just a little with WALKING DOWN MADISON, a song that deals with the disparity between rich and poor on the most expensive street in New York, Madison Avenue. As the song goes: “From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement, it’s not that far”. Gerry Rafferty sang all about London’s BAKER STREET, probably most famous for the literary address of Sherlock Holmes’ residence.

Lots of our songs this week dealt with being down and out, so it was great to include a number by the wonderful Dinah Washington. She’s definitely got the right attitude as she goes walking ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET. Recorded in 1956 with orchestra under the direction of Hal Mooney, the song was originally composed in 1930 by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields  for the Broadway musical “International Revue” starring Gertrude Lawrence. The song has since become a jazz standard recorded by many.

In complete and utter contrast came the Australian Aria award winning hip-hop group, The Hilltop Hoods, with a song about life’s choices: THE HARD ROAD.

Chris Rea’s song, ROAD TO HELL, was apparently inspired by rush hour on a motorway.  After being in Sydney I know how he feels! It’s been way too long since I played some Roy Orbison, so I DROVE ALL NIGHT was in, as it fitted so perfectly.

Green Day’s BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS is, I assume, about Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Similar to New York’s BROADWAY, Sunset Boulevard is the primary location for live entertainment, as well as being the red-light district and a hang for the homeless.

A fitting follow-up was Ray Charles with LONELY AVENUE and it was up to  Junior Walker and the Allstars to brighten the mood somewhat with ROAD RUNNER.

Another fantastic and, I think, optimistic song about leaving home and heading off for freedom, is VENTURA HIGHWAY, a 1972 hit for America.

The Mamas and Papas sang a song reportedly about the place where they all met, a bar in CREEQUE ALLEY while Ray Charles and the Stray Cats combined on a great version of HIT THE ROAD, JACK.

For anyone living on a rural property, like I do, Lucinda Williams’ CAR WHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD will resonate, for sure.

I returned from my trip to Sydney to hear the very sad news that our friend Susie McNair had passed away quietly on Tuesday March 16th. The final song of the program was dedicated to her memory. The Beatles, THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD, was the final single that they recorded as a group. R.I.P. Susie.

Thanks to the following listeners for contributing to this week’s list: Judi, Rebecca and Katie. Next week’s theme is HAIR, so get your thinking caps on!

Meanwhile, here’s this week’s complete playlist:

On Broadway – The Drifters
Tobacco Road – The Nashville Teens
Route 66 – Nat King Cole
Electric Avenue – Eddy Grant
Gulf Coast Highway – Emmylou Harris/Dave Matthews
Streets of Philadelphia – Bruce Springsteen
Roads – Portishead
Basin Street Blues – Louis Armstrong
Pull Up To The Bumper – Grace Jones
Farther Up The Road – Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland
Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan
Penny Lane – The Beatles
Road To Nowhere – Talking Heads
Highway Star – Deep Purple
Walking Down Madison – Kirsty MacColl
Baker Street – Gerry Rafferty
On the Sunny Side Of The Street – Dinah Washington
The Hard Road – Hilltop Hoods
The Road To Hell – Chris Rea
I Drove All Night – Roy Orbison
Boulevard of Broken Dreams – Green Day
Lonely Avenue – Ray Charles
Road Runner – Junior Walker and the Allstars
Ventura Highway – America
Creeque Alley – The Mamas & the Papas
Hit The Road Jack – Ray Charles & The Stray Cats
Car Wheels On A Gravel Road – Lucinda Williams
The Long And Winding Road – The Beatles
Next week: HAIR

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

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THE BIG ‘O’

Anyone who listens to the show on a regular basis knows that I adore Roy Orbison and this is why: First there’s the voice. It transcends generations by singing of universal longings that touch the heart. His voice sends quivers through my spine: part country, part rock and part pop, it’s a voice that reaches something approaching perfection.

Then there are the songs: a world defined by dreams yet rooted in reality, songs that teach us something about our own vulnerability. Songs of loss and desire and loneliness and, yes, songs about love.

Roy Orbison was born on April 23, 1936 in Vernon Texas,  the middle son of Orbie Lee Orbison, an oil well driller and car mechanic, and Nadine Shultz, a nurse. He was creating music as young as 6 or 7. We played interviews throughout the program, many from Roy himself and he covered his childhood, learning guitar from his father and uncle, his time at Sun Records, why he started wearing sunglasses on stage and whether he was really lonely, amongst other things. Rather than repeat all that here, let me remind you that you can listen to the Theme Park wherever you are by using your internet connection. Go to http://www.bayfm.org and press the listen button.   You should hear the show in real time via your iTunes or other media player. Theme Park airs on Tuesdays 2-4pm (that’s Sydney, Australia time).

So back to the music.  First up it was OOBIE DOOBIE, recorded with the Teen Kings in 1956. We followed with CLAUDETTE, a song about Orbson’s first wife, Claudette Frady. The track was recorded in 1958. Claudette died tragically in a motocycle accident in 1966. We followed with ONLY THE LONELY written by Roy Orbison and Joe Melson and recorded by Orbison in 1960; it was his first major hit. Here he is performing in Australia in the 60’s:

Then it was a great triple play: BLUE ANGEL, I’M HURTIN’ and RUNNING SCARED. We also included the song LOVE HURTS,  originally recorded by the Everly Brothers in 1960. Roy Orbison’s version was issued as the B-side to RUNNING SCARED which was a #1 hit, in 1961. Here’s a rare clip of Roy and his band, The Candymen, taken from a Dutch Tv Show from 1965. The concert was from the Singer Concert Zaal in Laren, Holland, during their European tour.

We had to include the next three songs from the early sixties: CANDY MAN, DREAM BABY, (about the birth of his second son with Claudette)  and WORKING FOR THE MAN – a song about a Summer he worked in the Texan oil fields alongside his father.

By 1963 Orbison was touring extensively throughout the UK, Europe and Australia with The Beatles, The Stones and the Beach Boys. We played a  couple of love ballads from that  era: FALLING and IT’S OVER.

Roy also filled us in on his time, while on tour,  with the Rolling Stones and how PRETTY WOMAN influenced them to write Satisfaction. PRETTY WOMAN, of course, went on to be a big hit and was destined to become Orbison’s signature song. Here’s a great piece of kitch from the 70’s: An American TV variety show called Pink Lady and Jeff. Pink Lady was a popular singing duo from Japan brought to America for the show.  Comedian Jeff Altman was the cohost. Worth watching just to see Roy struggling to keep a straight face and also for the 70’s fashion.

I rarely dedicate a whole show to one performer. The only other time was a tribute to Michael Jackson. But, in my opinion, Orbison is one of the great rock and rollers: a forceful, yet gentle, voice capable of dynamic crescendos. He sang both heartbroken ballads and bluesy rock numbers, running up a formidable hit streak in the early Sixties. From the release of ONLY THE LONELY in 1960 to PRETTY WOMAN,  a span of four years, Orbison cracked the Top Ten nine times.

Orbison’s most memorable performances were lovelorn melodramas, in which he emoted in a brooding tremulous voice. The melancholy in his songs resonated with listeners of all ages.  IT’S OVER is one great example of that style. Another is CRYING. It was great to hear how he came to write that song and we listened to the version he re-recorded with kd lang in 1987.  It went on to win them a Grammy Award.

After his first wife Claudette’s death in 1966, Orbison threw himself into work, which included starring in the film THE FASTEST GUITAR ALIVE, and he continued to tour. In the late 1960s, however, music was very much a part of the psychedelic movement. Orbison felt lost, later saying “[I] didn’t hear a lot I could relate to so I kind of stood there like a tree where the winds blow and the seasons change, and you’re still there and you bloom again.”

During a tour of England in 1968 he received news that his home in Tennessee had burned down and his two eldest sons had died. The property was sold to Johnny Cash, who planted an orchard on it. On March 25, 1969, Orbison married his second wife, Barbara Jacobs, and they had two children of their own.

During the 70’s several artists released covers of Orbison’s songs that performed very well. LOVE HURTS was remade by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, and again by heavy metal band Nazareth and Sonny James sent ONLY THE LONELY to # 1 on the country music charts.

Linda Ronstadt covered BLUE BAYOU in 1977, which went to No. 3 and stayed on the charts for 24 weeks. And later that year, Orbison and Emmylou Harris won a Grammy Award for their duet THAT LOVIN’ YOU FEELIN’ AGAIN. WAYMORES BLUES is from the Class of 55 album with Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins. While the album was in part a tribute to Elvis Presley, it was mainly a commemoration of those young performing hopefuls who came to Sun Records  in 1955 to make music in the new era o Rock and Roll.

During the 80’s Orbison participated in a number of movie soundtracks. We played two of the most prominent: LIFE FADES AWAY from the film Less Than Zero, starring Robert Downie Jnr and IN DREAMS, from the controversial film by David Lynch, BLUE VELVET.

Orbison’s return to the public eye really began in earnest in 1987 with his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the taping of a tribute concert, Black and White Night. The concert featured such disciples as Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, kd lang and Bonnie Raitt and was produced by T. Bone Burnett. Here’s a clip from the DVD. The song is UPTOWN.

It was a great pleasure to include a 7 minute interview with members of the supergroup of all supergroups: THE TRAVELLING WILBURYS: Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and George Harrison. The year was 1988. We also included the song, HANDLE WITH CARE, from the album The Travelling Wilburys Vol 1.

In the same year Orbison was recording a major comeback album, Mystery Girl. It was awaiting release when Orbison suddenly died of a heart attack on December 6, 1988.  The album was finalized for release in the weeks following his death through the collaborative efforts of several artists who were all friends and admirers. The album, MYSTERY GIRL, was named after the chorus from the track SHE’S A MYSTERY TO ME, written for Orbison by U2’s Bono and The Edge.

The album was released posthumously in 1989 and would join Travelling Wilburys Vol 1 on the Billboard chart. The dual success meant that Roy Orbison joined Elvis Presley as the only two singers to simultaneously have two Top 5 albums on the Billboard chart posthumously, at that time. (This record has now been smashed by Michael Jackson who dominated the Billboard Top 10 albums when he passed away this year).

But back to Roy: Mystery Girl was extremely well received and went on to become the highest-charting album of his career. We took a listen to SHE’S A MYSTERY TO ME and YOU’VE GOT IT from that album. Rather than show a performance clip, take a look at Bono and others talking about the writing and recording process of the album. Roy sings SHE’S A MYSTERY TO ME as background to the story.

There was time for more of Roy commenting on how he would like to be remembered: “I’d just like to be remembered. If my contribution to the music scene brought someone some happiness or helped them keep things together, then that would be great.” A medley of some of Roy’s best loved tunes then closed the show: I DROVE ALL NIGHT, OH PRETTY WOMAN, LANA and HEARTBREAK RADIO.

When Elvis Presley stated that Roy Orbison is “The world’s greatest singer”, we know that he wasn’t kidding, that’s for sure.

Next week: We’re going back to THE SUMMER OF LOVE. Yes, its all love beads, incense, tambourines and the great music of the Summer of 67. Peace man.Contact me if you have any suggestions. Meanwhile, here is this week’s playlist:

Childhood – Roy Orbison Interview

Ooby Dooby – Roy Orbison Interview

Ooby Dooby  –  Roy Orbison

Claudette – Roy Orbison

Only The Lonely – Roy Orbison

Loneliness – Roy Orbison Interview

Blue Angel – Roy Orbison

I’m Hurtin’ – Roy Orbison

Running Scared – Roy Orbison

Love Hurts – Roy Orbison

Candy Man – Roy Orbison

Dream Baby – Roy Orbison

Working For The Man – Roy Orbison

Leah – Roy Orbison

Sunglasses – Roy Orbison

Mean Woman Blues – Roy Orbison

Falling – Roy Orbison

It’s Over – Roy Orbison

Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison

Crying – Roy Orbison interview

Crying – Roy Orbison & kd lang

Blue Bayou – Linda Ronstadt

That Lovin’ You Feelin’ Again – Roy Orbison with Emmylou Harris

Waymore’s Blues – Roy Orbison with Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins (Class of 55)

Life Fades Away – Roy Orbison

In Dreams – Roy Orbison

Uptown – Roy Orbison

Travelling Wilburys  interview

Handle With Care -Traveling Wilburys

She’s A Mystery To Me – Roy Orbison

You Got It – Roy Orbison

Being Remembered – Roy Orbison interview

Medley: I Drove All Night/Oh, Pretty Woman/Lana/Heartbreak Radio – Roy Orbison

Next week: SUMMER OF LOVE (1967)

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


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