Hair is more than just the stuff that sits on top of your head. Hair can be a metaphor for life, for youth, for sensuality. And, as such, the subject has created a lot of interest from songwriters. The long and the short of it is that hair, or the lack thereof, lends itself to every genre of popular music.
So, just to be quirky, we started the show with two songs about having no hair at all. The very appropriately named Professor Longhair gave us BALD HEAD and Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson contributed CLEANHEAD BLUES in which he claims that if it wasn’t for women he’d still have his curly locks. Oh yeah, sure. I’m not sure how old this clip is, but what a great venue!
Donna Simpson of The Waifs is a blonde who is much darker underneath than her image projects. Or so their song, THE HAIRCUT goes. So, let’s talk colour. McFly know a girl with FIVE COLOURS IN HER HAIR. If they were any cuter, they would have to be arrested. They remind me of the Monkees. Not sure if that’s a good thing.
Still on colour, Louis Jordan wants to know why YOU DYED YOUR HAIR CHARTREUSE. That’s the green colour your hair goes if you get a bad bleaching job, by the way.
There were no blonde jokes in the show this week, and certainly no ginger jokes. All in support of the sisterhood, you understand. And the brotherhood for that matter! But I do have a great quote for you from Dolly Parton. When asked whether she was offended by blonde jokes she responded by saying no, because she knew she wasn’t dumb. And she also knew she wasn’t blonde. Boom Boom.
Country singer Eddie Noack reckons that GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES but he’s not fussy about hair colour at all. As long as you’re a female, you’re in with a chance. The Meteors, on the other hand, are definitely suckers for LONG BLOND HAIR. Sonny Burgess likes a RED HEADED WOMAN, although he does sound rather ambivalent about her. Check out this clip from 2008 where he is performing at a Rockabilly Festival. He must be at least 80 years of age and he’s still going strong. Brilliant.
Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band give us the song that we had to have on our show about HAIR. Yes, a little ditty about dandruff, KING OF SCURF. “I had alot of acne and pimples, I had to stay at home. Eventually, no one came near me, all I had was my comb”. Hilarious.
Time for something a little more serious, perhaps. Easily fixed by Nina Simone with BLACK IS THE COLOUR OF MY TRUE LOVE’S HAIR and we followed with India Arie and I AM NOT MY HAIR.
Now if you want proof positive that you can write a song about any old thing in the 70’s, take a listen to Crosby Stills Nash & Young with ALMOST CUT MY HAIR. They’re performing at Wembley Stadium in 1974, although I don’t see any sign of Neil Young.
George Thorogood followed with another track that will resonate with all you baby boomers: GET A HAIRCUT. And continuing the theme, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band sang about LONG HAIRED MUSIC.
Our only Motown track this week was LET YOUR HAIR DOWN by the Temptations. Letting your hair down means that you behave in a free or uninhibited manner. The origin of the saying goes back to the 17th century when women’s hair was normally pinned up and was only let down for brushing or washing. The term used for this at the time was dishevelling. Anyone who is unkempt and generally untidy might now be described as disheveled, but then it applied specifically to hair which was unpinned. There you go. A little bit of trivia for you.
Beck was next with DEVIL’S HAIRCUT followed by Owen who sang about that lover’s dilemma in WHO FOUND WHO’S HAIR IN WHO’S BED? There is a slight language warning on this one, but can you blame the poor guy for swearing?
Yay, we did include one for those of you with short hair: SHORT-HAIRED WOMAN from Lightning Hopkins. Reportedly, Michael Hutchence of INXS wrote SUICIDE BLONDE with, then girlfriend, Kylie Minogue in mind. Neil Young, whose true love’s hair is enormously important too, wants to live with a CINNAMON GIRL.
We enjoyed a lot of great guitar work on this week’s show. And amongst them is the band Wishbone Ash, considered one of the major innovators of the harmony twin lead guitar format. In BLOWIN’ FREE they hanker after a girl with golden brown hair, “blowin’ free like a cornfield’. I said they were great guitarists, I didn’t say anything about the lyrics now did I? Here they are performing in 1973:
I have to declare a bit of a thing for Led Zeppelin so had to play THE GIRL I LOVE SHE GOT LONG BLACK WAVY HAIR. As all good rock chicks do, of course. Me, being a red-head, doesn’t qualify I’m afraid.
One of my favourite acts from last year’s Byron Bay Blues Festival were THE DRIVE BY TRUCKERS. I discovered an amazing song of theirs, set in the week before Easter. Perfect. It’s about a preacher who was murdered by his wife all because of THE WIG HE MADE HER WEAR. I think its one of the most interesting things they’ve done. Unfortunately no decent clip available as yet.
But I do have a great clip of Little Birdy performing her hit, HAIRDO. Great voice.
We followed with PJ Harvey’s rendition of HAIR which revisits the story of Samson, who, as we know, was incredibily vulnerable without his locks.
We needed a song about the good old fringe, or ‘bangs’ as the Americans call it. And what better than BANGS by They Might Be Giants. The Beatles made their version of ‘bangs’ – the mop-top – world-famous and early in their career they covered Carl Perkins’ LEND ME YOUR COMB, so I thought I’d include Perkins version in this week’s show too.
BayFM will be at this year’s Byron Bay Blues Fest at our very own tent. I’ll be there Saturday April 3, between 12 and 3:30 so drop in and say hello.
It was appropriate then to close the show with a tune from one of the great Blues performers: Magic Slim and the Teardrops with GIVE ME BACK MY WIG.
Have a wonderful Easter! Here’s the complete playlist:
Next week: The topic is LISTS.
Our theme this week was Star Signs – songs of the zodiac, songs that highlight the way someone’s birth date can influence their very being (or maybe not). All the songs on this week’s list try to deal with the notion that we’re emotionally and intellectually influenced by the movement of some distant stars and planets. Some songwriters are more than happy to go along with the idea and some reject the concept outright. We opened the show with Diana Ross and the Supremes singing NO MATTER WHAT SIGN YOU ARE. Written by Berry Gordy and recorded in the the late 60’s it tried to cash in on the success of the musical HAIR and the hit tune AQUARIUS.
For jazz great Cannonball Adderley the zodiac was so fascinating that he devoted a whole 1972 album to it. With narration by DJ Rick Holmes – noted on the sleeve for his “sophisticated rhetoric” – SOUL ZODIAC is seduction par excellence, not to mention a reflection on an era when ‘The Age of Aquarius’ captured everyone’s imagination. If you’re celebrating your birthday this month, like BayFM presenters Helen from Q’s Jazz & Blues or Post Modern Backlash’s Hudson, or my gorgeous daughter Zoe, then you’re a Pisces. So it was fitting that we chose PISCES from Adderley’s album to move the show along.
Kris Kristofferson reminded us that there was a very famous Capricorn who “ate organic foods, believed in love and peace and never wore no shoes”. Yes, JESUS WAS A CAPRICORN. And then it was Creedence Clearwater Revival with a warning: there’s a BAD MOON RISING. Here they are performing the song live, in a rare video clip:
Curtis Mayfield’s “funky woman” decides, rather unfairly I think, that they’re incompatible because of what she reads in the newspaper. He tells us all about it in READINGS IN ASTROLOGY. The Floaters followed with their very groovy 1977 hit FLOAT ON.
Albert King blames the zodiac for all his troubles in BORN UNDER THE BAD SIGN. Albert was born on April 25, which makes him a Taurian. Seems like negativity might be a Taurian trait.
Jamiriquai were having a BLACK CAPRICORN DAY. Singer Jason Kay was born on December 30 and the song is reputedly autobiographical, telling of how he was kicked out of home as a teenager and surviving on the streets. I’m a Cappie myself, so I know how it feels when those occasional dark times descend. Luckily we’re essentially the zodiac’s eternal optimists so there’s always a silver lining under every black cloud. Check out the Jamiriquai video clip:
Talking of optimists, Adem is totally swept away with the power of the stars in THESE LIGHTS ARE MEANINGFUL. Tori Amos seems to be saying farewell to a February/March lover in GOODBYE PISCES. Cannonball Adderley and DJ Rick Holmes were at it again, this time with what many consider the best track from the SOUL ZODIAC album, CAPRICORN.
The Moody Blues delivered a song for all my crazy, brilliant, Gemini mates: GEMINI DREAM. Check out this video of them performing live in 1984 at Wembley Arena. Little bit of overkill on the smoke machine, methinks, but you’ve got to love the Moodies.
It’s been raining cats and dogs up here in the North, so a dose of the The Fifth Dimension with AQUARIUS and LET THE SUNSHINE IN lifted the mood somewhat and, hopefully, will influence the weatherman.
Some more Cannonball Adderley (it’s a great album, really!): Having already heard about the water sign PISCES and the earth sign CAPRICORN, it was time to find out about the fire sign ARIES. Prince couldn’t care less what sign you are, all he wants is your KISS.
Teenage Fanclub try to dismiss the power a star sign can hold: “Hey, there’s a horseshoe on my door,” they sing, “big deal. Hey, there’s a black cat on the floor, big deal.” But the Fanclub accept that people’s days are changed by whatever they wish to believe. For Rush, the question of whether the “stars aren’t aligned, or the gods are malign” is very simple. “I will choose a path that’s clear,” they proclaim. “I will choose freewill.” Hmmm, now there’s some food for thought. Check out the video of Rush performing live in 1981. Brilliant.
Regina Spektor is another favourite if mine. She’s an Aquarius and she’s recorded a song of the same name that’s intensely personal and worth checking out if you are also one of those highly intelligent, humanitarian people born under this particular water sign.
A great piece of instrumental followed, called SCORPIO, from the brilliant jazz guitarist and ex-Funk Brother, Dennis Coffey. This guy has played with all the soul greats, including Mavin Gaye, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder….. the list goes on. And he’s white! Just goes to show, there’s no colour barrier to soul. If you’ve got it, you’ve got it.
More Cannonball Adderley (can I help it if the guy’s a genius and he just so happened to record a whole album that suited the theme?). He gives the air sign LIBRA its due attention, and we know that Librans like attention don’t we! . German Big Bander Gunter Noris contributed the track GEMINI from an album called ‘The In Kraut Hip Shaking Grooves”. I kid you not. The 70’s have a lot to answer for.
SAGITTARIUS SILVER ANNOUNCEMENT is from the album Embryonic, by the band that dared to remake Dark Side of the Moon and actually got away with it – the Flaming Lips. I don’t have a decent clip of them performing this great track, but I encourage you to check out their very good website at http://www.flaminglips.com
The next double was a very moving one. First up it was George Harrison with a song about his own star sign, PISCES FISH and we followed with one of the most beautiful tunes I’ve heard of late, GUIDING STAR by Neil Finn. It was recorded on the album Caution: Life Ahead as a fundraiser for the Buttery rehabilitation centre here in the Northern Rivers.
Now I did choose to cover Western Astrology for this week’s show but I want to recognise that this is the Chinese Year of the Tiger. For those of you born under this sign you are courageous, daring, confident and a born leader. But you can be unpredictable and tempestuous, sometimes territorial and possessive. Because 2010 s the Year of the Metal Tiger, it also brings you additional strength and determination. And in celebration of what looks like a dynamic year for all of us, and as a tribute to all the Leos out there, we closed the show with Al Stewart’s YEAR OF THE CAT. Kung Hei Fat Choy! That is, I hope this year brings you all good fortune and prosperity.
I’m often quoted as saying that I’ll do a show on almost anything, including fruit and vegetables and I realized I hadn’t actually created a show about these very healthy food items, so next week FRUIT AND VEGIES it is. Whatchagot?
Here’s this week’s playlist: