When it comes to popular music, there’s crazy and then there’s CRAZY. According to a lot of the songs in our play-list today, crazy is how you feel when you’re infatuated with someone and hey, while that can be confusing, its also a lot of fun. Even Sigmund Freud acknowledged: “one is very crazy when in love”.
The good thing about being a bit loopy is that it can produce some great songwriting. And while we included a lot of “crazy in love” type tunes in the show this week, we also entered into some heavy territory with material written by a few of our tortured souls. The truth is that any song about mental illness can make you uncomfortable to some extent, either because its too frivolous or because its too close to the bone. But you know that here at the Theme Park we like to live dangerously.
We opened the show with Gary Jules’ cover of the Tears for Fears song MAD WORLD. I first heard this version on the brilliantly eccentric movie Donnie Darko. Requested by Clare, it proved to be a great start to a show full of songs about trying to stay sane in this crazy, crazy world.
We moved on with a couple of fairly harmless tunes about losing your marbles – and from completley different ends of the musical spectrum: I THINK I’M PARANOID from Garbage and TWISTED from jazz legend Annie Ross, with help from Dave Lambert and Jon Hendricks.
A country tune that regards the issue of mental health very seriously indeed is called PSYCHO. The version we played was by Jack Kittel and, to be honest, it really creeped me out. So I was happy to follow with the more innocent NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, essentially an upbeat love song from the great Eddie Cochran.
Let’s get the Australian attitude to insanity into perspective: I had an email during the week from Sue, asking me for the origin of the expression ‘mad as a meat axe’, meaning ‘nuts, crazy or insane’. Here’s what I discovered: this is a uniquely Australian expression that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. It joins a whole group of expressions that start with the words ‘as mad as’ such as ‘mad as a beetle’ (the insect that is), ‘mad as a dingbat’, ‘mad as a gum tree full of galahs’ and ‘mad as a cut snake’. These expressions are recorded as far back as 1910 and are nothing more than verbal creativity gone wild.
And talking of wild, we had to include James Brown’s song about his fear that, if his girlfriend leaves him, he’ll GO CRAZY. And then it was one of the craziest songs (and videos) ever: The Avalanches with FRONTIER PSYCHIATRIST:
Had to include Gnarls Barkley’s hit CRAZY because, not only is it pop perfection, it was requested by both Lynden and Robyn. Al Royal from BayFM’s Friday 10pm slot, asked for INSANE IN THE BRAIN from Cypress Hill. And how could I refuse?
There’s always room for a great jazz standard and this week we included Peggy Lee with YOU’RE DRIVING ME CRAZY. Judi tells me she’s a huge Patsy Cline fan and so, as predictable as it might be, there was no way we were leaving out the queen of country’s signature tune, CRAZY.
Changing the tone somewhat, it was time for a track from someone who knows just a little bit about crazy behaviour: Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath with PARANOID. And you’ve got to love Goldie Lookin’ Chain’s YOUR MISSUS IS A NUTTER, supposedly about Posh & Becks.
According to The Pixies songwriter, Black Francis, WAVE OF MUTILATION is about “Japanese businessmen doing murder-suicides with their families because they’d failed in business, and they’re driving off a pier into the ocean.” Wild concepts like this make The Pixies a hard act to follow, but Beth Hart gives it a good shot with a cover of Belinda Carlisle’s LEAVE THE LIGHT ON:
The novelty song, HOORAY, HOORAY, I’M GOING AWAY was recorded in 1947, by Beatrice Kay, and it’s an obvious forerunner to Napolean 14th’s 60’s hit, THEY’RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY, HA HA. Born in 1907, Beatrice was a singer, vaudevillian, stage and film actress and she even hosted her own radio show. She died in 1979.
Still alive and kicking is the wonderful Mose Allison who gave us one of the ‘crazy in love’ songs that make up a lot of this week’s show: LOST MIND. But if you’re looking for authenticity in your songs about madness, then country singer Porter Wagoner is your man. He wrote THE RUBBER ROOM after spending some time in a mental hospital for a little R&R.
Which brings us to 19th NERVOUS BREAKDOWN from the Rolling Stones. Released in 1966 on the Aftermath album, it’s well known for Bill Wyman’s dive-bombing bass line at the end of the song:
But if you want to talk scary mad, then it has to be the brilliant PSYCHO KILLER from the one and only Talking Heads.
Whew, I was feeling the need for a little more lightness in the list. Relief came with one of the great Blues artists, Little Walter, with CRAZY MIXED UP WORLD. And despite the title of the song, there is nothing but pure joy in the song that gave a certain Ska group their name: from Prince Buster it is, of course, MADNESS. Here he is performing alongside Suggs and Georgie Fame. How good is that?
Green Day’s contribution to our line-up of loony tunes was BASKET CASE and we followed with one of the first grunge/garage bands, The Sonics, with PSYCHO. Love that band! Kurt Cobain cited them as a great influence, so it was fitting that we included a track from the group whose lead singer and songwriter suffered from manic depression and drug dependency that, unfortunately, led to his suicide. I chose the Nirvana song they wrote about another tragic public figure: FRANCES FARMER WILL HAVE HER REVENGE ON SEATTLE.
But if you want to talk influential then The Ramones are on everyone’s list. So much to choose from with these guys and requests by multiple listeners, but for me it had to be I WANNA BE SEDATED.
Bruce Hornsby is a versatile and prolific artist. Known for the spontaneity and creativity of his live performances, Hornsby draws frequently from classical, jazz, bluegrass, folk, Motown, rock, blues and jam band musical traditions with his songwriting. But we didn’t play one of his originals today but instead it was a great version he does of Elton John’s MADMAN ACROSS THE WATER.
Theme Park is followed by a great show called Postmodern Backlash, (still not quite sure what that means!), and its hosted by Hudson. So because I know that he loves his calypso music I also included The Mighty Sparrow with MAD BOMBER.
We finished the show with Pink Floyd’s SHINE ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND. The song is their tribute to former band member Syd Barrett who left the band in 1968 amidst speculation of mental illness aggravated by heavy drug use. As gloomy as that sounds it’s a beautiful piece of music and a fitting end to the program.
Next week I’ll be celebrating Australia’s first female Prime Minister (go Julia!) with a show on WOMEN. I’d love to receive your requests and suggestions.
And here’s my final word on madness: Remember what Hunter S Thompson had to say: “I wouldn’t recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
Here’s this week full list:
Mad World – Donnie Darko Soundtrack, Gary Jules
I Think I´m Paranoid – Version 2.0, Garbage
Twisted – Jazz Legends: Divas (Disc 2), Annie Ross +Lambert/Hendricks
Movie Clip – Insane Asylum
Psycho – Jack Kittel
Nervous Breakdown – Eddie Cochran
I’ll Go Crazy – Try Me, James Brown
Frontier Psychiatrist – Frontier Psychiatrist, The Avalanches
Crazy – Gnarls Barkley
Insane in the Brain – Black Sunday, Cypress Hill
You’re Driving Me Crazy – While We’re Young, Peggy Lee
Crazy – Patsy Cline
Paranoid – Paranoid, Black Sabbath
Mad Lad – You Never Can Tell (His Complete Chess Recordings, Chuck Berry
Your Missus Is A Nutter – Goldie Lookin’ Chain
Wave of Mutilation – Pump up the Volume [Motion Picture Soundtrack], The Pixies
Leave The Light On – Leave the Light On, Beth Hart
Hooray Hooray I’m Going Away – Beatrice Kay
Lost Mind – Promised Land, Mose Allison
The Rubber Room – Porter Wagoner
19th Nervous Breakdown – Hot Rocks, 1964-1971 [Disc 1], The Rolling Stones
Clockwork Orange clip
Psycho Killer – Talking Heads
Crazy Mixed Up World – Rock N’ Roll ’50s Blues Essentials, Little Walter
Madness – Prince Buster
Basket Case – Dookie, Green Day
Sound grab: Psycho/The Murder – Psycho/Hitchock, Composer Bernard Hermann/Los Angeles Philharmonic
Psycho – Maintaining My Cool, The Sonics
Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle – In Utero, Nirvana
I Wanna Be Sedated – The Ramones
Madman Across the Water – Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John, Bruce Hornsby
Mad Bomber – King Sparrow’s Calypso Carnival, The Mighty Sparrow
Shine On You Crazy Diamond – Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd
Next week: WOMEN
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
The weather has been in the news, more than usual of late, what with hurricanes, tornadoes and our own Lennox Head being declared a national disaster area after a mini tornado destroyed homes and caused chaos to this beautiful little coastal town. What’s a girl to do but to create a playlist around BAD WEATHER?
We opened the show with a request from Robyn: the incredibly seductive BABY ITS COLD OUTSIDE by Ray Charles and Betty Carter. The song could just as easily fitted into our Sexy Songs list for last week, but glad we held it over.
Now when it comes to songs about the weather, rain seems to be the metaphor of choice. It can describe heartache or happiness, and lots more in-between. The Ronettes daydream about the qualities that make up the perfect boyfriend on WALKING IN THE RAIN. However, the Walker Brothers – with their remake of Frankie Valli’s THE SUN AIN’T GONNA SHINE ANYMORE – see bad weather as a symbol of loneliness. Either way, two great songs. Here’s a blast from the past for all you baby boomers, the Walker Brothers on Ready, Steady, Go in 1966:
Next it was Status Quo with RAIN from their Blue for You album, released in 1976. The track was originally intended for the album On The Level, but at the time of the recording sessions Rick Parfitt had not completed the song and so it was held over to the band’s next release.
Shirley Manson only seems to be happy when she’s miserable in the Garbage song I’M ONLY HAPPY WHEN IT RAINS. Fitting then that we followed with the Prince of Darkness himself, Nick Cave. The song TUPELO, with its great sound effects and talk of black clouds, was also a perfect fit for a show on Bad Weather.
A great song that carries an emotional whallop is LOUISIANA 1927, a devastating account of the great Mississippi floods, which has become identified with the more recent Hurricane Katrina. Written, and originally recorded by Randy Newman, Aaron Neville’s version is sublime. Here he is performing at the Concert for Hurricane Relief in 2008:
We followed with the great Muddy Waters and BLOW WIND BLOW and then it was Leon Russell with a cover of the Bob Dylan classic, A HARD RAINS A GONNA FALL. This track was requested by for Judi, listening in Cairns, where they know a little bit about a rainy season. The song STORMY WEATHER is one of my favourites. Written and originally recorded in 1933, its been covered by all the greats, but I do particularly like the Etta James version that we played this week.
The inspiration for RAIN, by the Beatles – according to Neil Aspinall, the Beatles roadie, and John Lennon – was Australia’s own weather. Apparently when they arrived here to tour, the weather was so bad that Lennon was quoted as saying that: “I’ve never seen rain as hard as that.” He went on to say that RAIN was “about people moaning about the weather all the time”. Three promotional films were made for the song. These videos, along with other Beatles videos at the time, sparked George Harrison to say during the Beatles Anthology, “So I suppose, in a way, we invented MTV”.
The Red Hot Chilli Peppers track SNOW may not be about the kind of snow that makes cute little snowmen, but it is a great song in any case. Its from the Stadium Arcadium album. And while we’re talking of metaphor, Tom Waits has a lot to say about the weather on EMOTIONAL WEATHER REPORT. The track is featured on the album Nighthawks at the Diner, recorded in 1975. The title was inspired by Edward Hopper’s 1942 painting Nighthawks. Here’s Tom performing the song at the Rockpalast in Koln, West Germany in 1977:
Irma Thomas is quite rightfully called “the Soul Queen of New Orleans” and she has several songs about the weather that fitted the bill, but none better, in my opinion, than ITS RAINING SO HARD. We followed with Bill Withers and AIN’T NO SUNSHINE WHEN SHE’S GONE. Neil Young was lucky enough to get some help on harmonies from the wonderful Nicolette Larsen on FOUR STRONG WINDS. Larsen, who died in 1997, had a big hit with a cover of Young’s LOTTA LOVE in 1978.
I couldn’t do a show on Bad Weather and not include AC/DC’s THUNDERSTRUCK. Rumour is that the song was inspired by Angus Young’s hair-raising experience when a plane he was on was struck by lightning. Not sure if that’s true or not.
What I do know is that Natalie Merchant and the 10,000 Maniacs “get a shiver in their bones” just thinking about the climate conditions on LIKE THE WEATHER. We followed with Blur and THIS IS A LOW, which was inspired by, of all things, a shipping forecast.
Back to some rock with Creedence Clearwater Revival’s HAVE YOU SEEN THE RAIN and a song for Alex in Sydney, and all the other Deep Purple fans, STORMBRINGER.
When it comes to R&B, The Temptations just want the weather to match their mood on I WISH IT WOULD RAIN but Anne Peebles finds the weather brings back unwanted memories of a past love on I CAN’T STAND THE RAIN.
I love the infectious tone of Bob Dylan’s RAINY DAY WOMEN, which is matched by the very excellent COLD COLD FEELING from T-Bone Walker. As much as I was enjoying myself, we closed the show with The Doors and RIDERS ON THE STORM. The song was inspired by the song “Ghost Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend”. It incorporates real sound effects of thunder and rain, along with Ray Manzarek’s Fender Rhodes electric piano playing, which emulates the sound of rain. Good stuff.
The topic for next week’s show is a doozy. They say success is the best revenge, but, when it comes to musos a bitchy payback song seems to fit the bill. I thing we’ll have a lot of fun with our playlist of REVENGE SONGS, so I hope you’ll join me then. And if you have any suggestions for the playlist please get in touch. It’s always great to have your input.
Here’s this week’s playlist:
Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Soulful Christmas, Ray Charles & Betty Carter
Walking In The Rain – Phil Spector Wall of Sound Vol. 1 – The Ronettes
The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore – Walker Brothers
Rain – Blue For You, Status Quo
I’m Only Happy When It Rains – Garbage, Garbage
Tupelo – The Best Of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Louisiana 1927 – Warm Your Heart, Aaron Neville
Blow Wind Blow – Baby Please Don’t Go, Muddy Waters
A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall – Remember the Titans (Movie Soundtrack), Leon Russell
Frosty – Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues – A Musical Journey, Albert Collins
Stormy Weather – At Last!, Etta James
Rain – Past Masters Volume Two, The Beatles
Snow ((Hey Oh)) – Stadium Arcadium, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Emotional Weather Report – Nighthawks at the Diner, Tom Waits
It’s Raining So Hard – Irma Thomas
Ain’t no Sunshine – Bill Withers
Four Strong Winds – Comes a Time, Neil Young
Thunderstruck – The Razors Edge, ACDC
Like The Weather – MTV Unplugged, 10,000 Maniacs
This Is A Low – Parklife, Blur
Have You Ever Seen The Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Stormbringer – Deepest Purple: The Very Best of Deep Purple, Deep Purple
I Wish It Would Rain – My Girl: The Very Best Of The Tempations [Disc 1], The Temptations
I Can’t Stand The Rain – I Can’t Stand The Rain, Ann Peebles
Rainy Day Women – Forrest Gump (Movie Soundtrack), Bob Dylan
Cold Cold Feeling – The Talkin Guitar (The Best Of), T-Bone Walker
Riders on the storm – The Doors (movie soundtrack), The Doors
Next week: REVENGE SONGS
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
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: