It’s Easter, so I set myself the challenge this week of compiling a list of songs about RESURRECTION. Yes, I know I could have looked at chocolate or bunny rabbits, but hey, you know I like to shake things up a bit! The meaning and long traditions behind the concept of resurrection make it a powerful device for the songwriter. It can be used in the biblical context, or figuratively to describe some sort of rebirth or re-emergence from darkness. Music fans, of course, will be familiar with musicians coming back from the dead, but we’re not dealing with comebacks here. We’ll keep that subject for another show.
Ashton, Gardner & Dyke’s one hit wonder, RESURRECTION SHUFFLE, delivered a terrifically upbeat start to the program. Here they are on Top of the Pops in the 70s:
The prince of darkness, Nick Cave, has the perfect resurrection song in DIG, LAZARUS, DIG!! Here he is with the Bad Seeds performing live on Jools Holland (I’ll say it again, what a brilliant, brilliant show!). The year was 2008 and that’s Jack White on the sidelines looking in absolute awe of the band.
Eric Burdon wrestles with doubt on his version of Blind Willie Johnson’s SOUL OF A MAN. Melbourne group The Temper Trap, now based in the U.K have a great song called RESURRECTION on their Aria Award winning album “Condition”. Then it was Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople with ROLL AWAY THE STONE. This clips is from Top of the Pops 1973. Scary.
With possibly the longest name on our playlist, Sufjan Stevens contributed our first zombie song on the list. Come on, zombies were a given, surely, on a show about coming back from the dear. THEY ARE ZOMBIES!! THEY ARE NEIGHBORS. THEY HAVE COME BACK FROM THE DEAD, AHHHH! is, I think, absolutely brilliant.
What’s a show on the subject of resurrection without gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe and her Easter song, CAN’T NO GRAVE HOLD MY BODY DOWN?. Sister Rosetta sings about rolling the stone away. Vic Chesnutt, on the other hand sings of leaving the stone in place. Apparently imagining himself as Jesus in his tomb, he’s also wracked by self-doubt on STAY INSIDE.
Dido and AR Rahman sing IF I RISE. It’s the beautiful theme to the film 127 Hours. Adore the film and the song.
Gil Scott-Heron is one of those performers that came back from the dead musically and aren’t we glad he did? On B MOVIE he suggests that this life is just a rehearsal of sorts and that there’s another life waiting for us when the great director in the sky calls cut. Well, I’m not sure I believe that. But who knows?
You know you’ve always got to have your sense of humour firmly intact at the Theme Park, because nothing is sacred. We had a chuckle with Spinal Tap and their 2009 release BACK FROM THE DEAD. That was followed by Nancy Sinatra and the Bond theme, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE.
The Moody Blues gave us their ode to Timothy Leary: LEGEND OF A MIND. According to them, he’s not dead, he’s just astral travelling! But of course he is. It was the 70’s when this was recorded after all.
Single File gave us our second zombie song on the list with the very amusing ZOMBIES ATE MY NEIGHBOURS. And then it was Alison Moyet with LOVE RESURRECTION, from her 1983 album Alf. According to Alison, when it comes to love, everyone needs a little divine intervention.
Pink Floyd’s COMING BACK TO LIFE is from a live performance album they released in 2009. Then it was The Stone Roses with their anti-Christianity song I AM THE RESURRECTION. Feeling that we probably should show some impartiality on matters religious, we included Frightened Rabbit with HEAD ROLLS OFF. They seem to believe in God and an afterlife but nevertheless promote the idea that what you do while you’re alive is the most important thing. Can’t argue with that.
M. Ward gets a little help from Norah Jones on ONE LIFE AWAY where he imagines that, when you walk on peoples graves, they are “listening to the sound of the living people living their lives away”. Here’s the awesome Mark Lanegan performing on Irish TV in 2004. The track is RESURRECTION SONG. Brilliant as always.
Now it would be a serious omission if I didn’t mention this weekend’s Byron Bay Blues Fest, so as a tribute to that we closed with songs on Resurrection from two of the icons appearing at the event: First up, the marvellous Mavis Staples with WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN, which I dedicate to my Dad who died 20 years ago this week. And finally, it was ‘born again’ Bob Dylan with IN THE GARDEN. For my Dad, here’s Mavis on the Jools Holland show:
For next week’s show I’ve been inspired by the Royal Wedding (I kid you not) and the show will be on WEDDINGS AND MARRIAGE. I think we can have some fun with this. I’ll be transforming the BayFM studio into the Chapel of Love. And it will be my last show at this time slot. After that I’ll be presenting Theme Park in a shorter and sweeter one hour format on Monday’s 1-2pm, so I hope that you tune in then.
Have a great Easter! Here’s the complete playlist:
Resurrection Shuffle – Ashton, Gardner and Dyke
Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! – Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
Soul Of A Man – Eric Burdon
Resurrection – The Temper Trap
Roll Away The Stone – Mott The Hoople
They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back from the Dead!! Ahhhh!! – Sufjan Stevens
Can’t No Grave Hold My Body Down – Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Stay Inside – Vic Chesnutt
If I Rise – A.R. Rahman
B Movie – Gil Scott-Heron
Back From The Dead – Spinal Tap
You Only Live Twice – Nancy Sinatra
Legend Of A Mind – The Moody Blues
Zombies Ate My Neighbors – Single File
Love Resurrection – Alison Moyet
Coming Back To Life – Pink Floyd
I Am The Resurrection – The Stone Roses
Head Rolls Off – Frightened Rabbit
One Life Away – M. Ward
Resurrection Song – Mark Lanegan
Will The Circle Be Unbroken – Mavis Staples
In The Garden – Bob Dylan
Next week: MARRIAGE
Occasionally, a songwriter writes a tune that’s essentially a letter to a musical peer or fellow composer. Sometimes that message is delivered in the form of a tribute and sometimes it’s delivered as an angry diatribe. Our playlist today features both but, like our opening track JAZZ THING from Gang Starr, most of our songs are marks of respect.
I like to include a little country music every now and again, especially if its by the great Johnny Cash. As a contribution to this week’s playlist, he sings about his country music idol on THE NIGHT HANK WILLIAMS CAME TO TOWN. Punk rockers The Ramones praise the rock artists who preceded them on DO YOU REMEMBER ROCK N ROLL RADIO. And then it was UK group Television Personalities, who are obviously Pink Floyd fans with I KNOW WHERE SYD BARRETT LIVES.
The most familiar soul hit on the airwaves during 1967 was Arthur Conley’s SWEET SOUL MUSIC on which he paid tribute to other great soulmen like Otis Redding and James Brown:
When it comes to soul, Stevie Wonder knows how much is owed to our jazz legends. SIR DUKE is his tribute to Duke Ellington, the influential jazz legend who died in 1974. He also acknowledges Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.
In 1980 Dexy’s Midnight Runners appeared out of nowhere, with a sound all their own. Nobody else at the time would have dreamt of producing an impassioned, brass-powered tribute to neglected 1960s soul singer Geno Washington, but they did and they took GENO to #1 in the UK.
Dexy’s Midnight Runners also recorded a version of JACKIE WILSON SAID, but I’m faithful to the original by Van Morrison which had to be part of the list too.
A little more country music was up next with the gorgeous Gillian Welch singing the ELVIS PRESLEY BLUES. This was followed closely by the one and only Ian Dury with his incredible piece of hero worship, SWEET GENE VINCENT. On this video Mick Jones of the Clash joins the band, The Blockheads. And as Dury quips to Jones: “Listen, we’ve got four chords on this one Michael!” Great band, great song. How does Mick Jones get through this number without once dropping the ciggie from his mouth? Hilarious.
Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople’s reluctant youth anthem, ALL THE YOUNG DUDES was written by David Bowie. It namechecks T-Rex and references The Beatles and The Stones. Here they are, (with Bowie on back up!), performing at the Freddie Mercury tribute at Wembley Stadium:
The wonderful Jonathan Richman never disappoints me and he delivers again for this week’s playlist. On his song VELVET UNDERGROUND he even performs a few bars of the Velvet Underground’s Sister Ray in between dispensing eloquent insights into his heroes’ dark magic. How good is that!
Bono says that U2’s song STUCK IN A MOMENT YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF is a tribute to INXS singer Michael Hutchence. According to Bono it’s the conversation he wishes had actually taken place.
John Martyn, who died at a relatively early age himself, extends a concerned hand to a fading Nick Drake on the devastatingly tender SOLID AIR.
Canadian group Barenaked Ladies recorded a hit song about mental illness that references Beach Boy BRIAN WILSON. And just in case you’re wondering, Brian Wilson does do a version during his own live shows. And why wouldn’t he? It’s a great song. Fellow Canadian Allanah Myles also had a huge hit with my favourite of all the Elvis tribute songs: BLACK VELVET.
Paul Jones and Dave Kelly honour Blues legend SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON and Neil Young references Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols on HEY, HEY, MY MY (Into the Black). The line ‘It’s better to burn out than to fade away’ also became infamous in modern rock after being quoted in Kurt Cobain’s suicide note.
On a cheerier note, The Saw Doctors sing I’D LOVE TO BANG THE BANGLES, which pretty much speaks for itself. If you thought that was a wild proposition, you should take a listen to Bongwater’s NICK CAVE DOLLS. But hang in for the punchline on that one. A perfect follow up to that tune is Adam Ant’s GOODIE TWO SHOES, supposedly a critique of Cliff Richards virtuous and conservative image. “Don’t drink, don’t smoke… what do you do?”
A terrific song from Dory Previn is STONE FOR BESSIE SMITH. It isn’t just about the Blues singer Bessie Smith; it’s primarily about Janis Joplin who paid for Bessie Smith’s headstone but forgot to put anything aside for her own.
Early in his career, David Bowie often wrote about artists he admired, from Lou Reed to Andy Warhol to Iggy Pop. On SONG FOR BOB DYLAN a pre-Ziggy Bowie adopted Dylan’s nasal vocal style in order to pay tribute.
Down By Law also do an excellent tribute to the best rock band in the world: I WANNA BE IN AC/DC. Me too guys, me too.
It was hard choosing a song to go out on. Yes, of course there’s American Pie and Losing My Edge and the various spats between Paul McCartney and John Lennon, but in an effort not to be too predictable I’ve chose TUNIC (Song for Karen). Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon does a beautiful job of casting herself as the tragic Karen Carpenter reporting back from heaven.
I’ve got a marathon effort lined up for the next couple of weeks and I need your help! The playlist next week will start with a song referencing Zero or less and I’ll progressively play songs in numerical order until I run out of ideas. For example I could start with Elvis Costello’s Less Than Zero progress to Yeah yeah yeah’s Zero then Bob Marley’s One Love … you get the idea. Let’s see how far I get. If you help me we could be doing this for weeks! To make it easy to participate I’ll be posting onto the Theme Park Radio Facebook page.
But in the meantime, here’s this week’s complete playlist to peruse:
Jazz Thing – Gang Starr – Moment of Truth
The Night Hank Williams Came To Town – Johnny Cash – The Best Of Johnny Cash
Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio – The Ramones Shrek OST
I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives – Television Personalities And Don’t The Kids Just Love It
Sweet Soul Music – Arthur Conley – 60’s Soul
Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key Of Life [Disc 1]
Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile) – Van Morrison
Geno – Dexys Midnight Runners – Searching For The Young Soul Rebels
Elvis Presley Blues – Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator)
Sweet Gene Vincent – Ian Dury and The Blockheads – The Very Best Of Ian Dury And The Blockheads
Blackbird, Bye Bye – Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette – Bye Bye Blackbird
All The Young Dudes – Mott The Hoople – Rock Classics 60’s & 70’s Volume 2
Velvet Underground – Jonathan Richman – I, Jonathan
Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of – U2 – The Best Of 1990-2000 & B-Sides CD1
Solid Air – John Martyn – No Little Boy
Brian Wilson – Barenaked Ladies – Barenaked Radio: Easter Special
Sonny Boy Williamson – Paul Jones & Dave Kelly – Live In London
Black Velvet – Alannah Myles – The Very Best of Alannah Myles
Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) – Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps (Live)
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat – Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um
I’d Love To Kiss The Bangles – The Saw Doctors – Play it Again Sham
Nick Cave Dolls – Bongwater – Box of Bongwater
Goody Two Shoes – Adam Ant – Antics In The Forbidden Zone
Stone For Bessie Smith – Dory Previn – Mythical Kings And Iguanas
Song For Bob Dylan – David Bowie – Hunky Dory
(I Wanna Be In) AC/DC – Down By Law – Windwardtidesandwaywardsails
Tunic (Song For Karen) – Sonic Youth – Goo (Deluxe Edition) [Disc 1]
Next week: NOUGHT TO WHATEVER (Part 1)