You may have heard that revenge is sweet but the truth is that it can be devastating, (well for one of you at the very least!). Hey, but I’m not here to give you a reality check. We all know that being sensible is incredibly difficult when you’re the one suffering from jealousy, or you’re demoralized, humiliated or simply just mad as hell. It’s times like these that you can’t be blamed for at least fantasizing about acts of vengeance.
Songwriters are in a great position to retaliate against slings and arrows than us mere mortals. They can attack their enemies in song and get away with it. Its non-violent and, (here’s the best bit), they even get paid to do it! How good is that? Maybe success is the best revenge!
We started the show with the ‘Godfather of Soul’, Mr. James Brown, singing THE PAYBACK from the album of the same name, released in 1974. The song’s lyrics are about the revenge Brown intends to take against the man who betrayed him, stole his money and his woman. Triple ouch! Here’s a clip from a show he did in Zaire in the same year as the album was recorded. Loving the bling.
Why shouldn’t Ben Folds get a little upset on SONG FOR THE DUMPED? After all, she took off with his black t-shirt. Unforgiveable.
Two of the great revenge songs have been covered ad infinitum. Wilson Pickett does a great version of STAGGER LEE as does Sam Cooke with FRANKIE & JOHNNY so, of course, both had to be included in the list.
When Alanis Morissette recorded the album Jagged Little Pill it changed the course of her career. The whole album is a revenge tactic against an old boyfriend but YOU OUGHTA KNOW is the standout track. Here’s a clip recorded live at Nulles Part Aillerurs in 1995. No longer the pop/dance artist of her teenage years, she’s quite the rock chick by this stage.
Lily Allen is hilarious on her revenge song, NOT BIG. Is there a better way to get revenge on a guy than to suggest that he doesn’t stack up in a certain department? The gorgeous Rihanna, on the other hand resorts to BREAKIN’ DISHES when her man has been out all night cheatin’. Of course this was way before a certain incident indicated that breaking dishes wasn’t going to make much difference to this girl’s love life. But let’s don’t go there. There’s been enough said, surely. Let’s just check out a very hot performance:
It was time for a response from the male sector: Robert Cray tried to convince us that he came out on top in I GUESS I SHOWED HER. And on BB King’s and Etta James’ THERE’S SOMETHING ON YOUR MIND, you have to wait a while for the punchline, but it’s worth it.
The Beatles deliver a nice little revenge tale with ROCKY RACOON, from their White Album, and The Dixie Chicks use comedy to get away with murder in a song aimed squarely at the issue of domestic violence on GOODBYE EARL.
Jimi Hendrix does a great version of HEY JOE, about a guy who takes retribution when his wife cheats on him. Here he is performing on the TV show ‘It’s Lulu’, sometime in the 70’s, and I love the expression on his face when the guitar goes out of tune for a second. A bit of a bonus too, with an extra song – dedicated to Cream – ‘Sunshine of Your Love’.
Mississipi John Hurt sings about a woman who takes some drastic action when her man does her wrong on FRANKIE. Bob Dylan’s revenge song steers away from domestic dilemmas and, instead, is aimed squarely at the Greenwich Village residents who criticized his departure from traditional folk towards the electric guitar and rock music. The song is POSITIVELY 4th STREET.
Robyn requested IT’S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE. She loves the song so much she suggested that I could play any version I like. So here’s Graham Bonnet with his excellent cover of the Bob Dylan classic. The clip is dated 1977. Thanks Rob!
I also included two New Wave songs that fit our theme of ‘Revenge’ very nicely. First up, another request from Robyn: Graham Parker gives the bird to all those girls that rejected him once upon a time on LOCAL GIRLS. And Deborah Harry sounds something akin to a ‘bunny boiler’ on a track that takes me back – ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.
Next up, it was a brilliant revenge song from the Drive By Truckers. THE WIG HE MADE HER WEAR is from their latest album The Big To Do and is, in my humble opinion, the best thing on it. Wish I had a decent clip of this track for you but alas, nowhere to be found.
Another request came from Judi. She wanted to hear any version of CRY ME A RIVER. When you give me carte blanche like that what am I to do than to take the opportunity to slip in the very sensuous voice of Julie London? Judi, who lives miles away in Cairns, Northern Queensland, tells me that she listens on the Internet. You can do that too you know. Just go to the BayFM.org site at the time the show is on air and press the listen button. Simple as that.
For something completely different, it had to be Kate Miller-Heidke with a song that I had to censor a little for radio. But no problem with uploading a clip here on the blog, assuming you don’t mind very funny, if explicit, lyrics. Here’s a live version of ARE YOU F****ING KIDDING ME? (THE FACEBOOK SONG).
Had to include the classic revenge song, Nancy Sinatra’s THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING and something just a little more serious, J.J. Cale’s quite disturbing song about retribution, RIVER RUNS DEEP. But for a different kind of revenge song altogether, how about WHAT IF WE ALL STOPPED PAYING TAXES?, from Sharon Jones and the Dapkings. Yeah, let’s get back at the government! Brilliant idea.
We closed the show with an amazing track from The Decemberists: THE MARINER’S REVENGE SONG, a song filled with evil sea captains, vengeful mariners, giant whales, and much sea-faring woe. Revenge of the nerds, indeed.
Next week I won’t be here, but the lovely Des will be filling in for me with a show on MEN and I’ll be back the following week with a show on MADNESS.
In the meantime, remember that the greatest revenge is to live well.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
The Big Payback – The Big Payback, James Brown
Song for the Dumped – Whatever and Ever Amen, Ben Folds Five
Stagger Lee – I’m in Love, Wilson Pickett
Frankie & Johnny – Greatest Hits, Sam Cooke
You Oughta Know – Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette
Not Big – Lily Allen
Breakin’ Dishes – Good Girl Gone Bad, Rhianna
I Guess I Showed Her – Strong Persuader, Robert Cray
There’s Something On Your Mind – BB King & Etta James
Revenge of the Sugar Plum Fairy – Transiberian Orchestra
Rocky Racoon – The Beatles (White Album) [Disc 1], The Beatles
Goodbye Earl – Fly, Dixie Chicks
Hey Joe – Jimi Hendrix
Frankie – Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues, Mississippi John Hurt
Positively 4th Street – Biograph (Disc 2), Bob Dylan
It’s All Over Now Baby Blue – Graham Bonnet
Local Girls – Squeezing out Sparks, Graham Parker
One Way or Another – Parallel Lines, Blondie/Deborah Harry
The Wig He Made Her Wear – The Big To-Do, Drive By Truckers
Cry Me A River – Diva Classics Icons, Julie London
Are You F*cking Kidding Me (Facebook Song) – Live At the Hi-Fi, Kate Miller-Heidke
These Boots Are Made For Walking – Boots, Nancy Sinatra
River Runs Deep – Naturally, J.J. Cale
What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes – The Dynamic Funk and Soul Sound of Daptone Records, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
The Mariner’s Revenge Song – Picaresque, The Decemberists
Week after next: MADNESS
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
FRUIT AND VEGETABLES, those health inducing, anti-oxidising good guys of our diet, provided the theme for this week. Lots of songs, across quite a few genres, so it was a lot of fun. We opened the show with Liz Phair and Material Issue singing THE TRA LA LA SONG from a very cute album Saturday Morning Cartoons’ Greatest Hits.
The great Nina Simone got all educational on us with the story of Adam and Eve and their taste for FORBIDDEN FRUIT and then The Paul Butterfield Blues Band kept things moving along with DIGGIN’ MY POTATOES.
Then it was the late Nick Drake with a beautiful meditation on the effect of fame: FRUIT TREE. So sad that he died at the very young age of 26.
K.T. Tunstall raised the mood with BLACK HORSE & THE CHERRY TREE. Here she is at her first U.K. television performance. The show is ‘Later with Jools Holland’.
Junior Brown loves a woman who’s good in the kitchen and he sings all ab0ut it in CATFISH AND COLLARD GREENS while Lynyrd Skynyrd are totally seduced by GEORGIA PEACHES. But if you want to talk sexy, you can’t go past the gorgeous Julie London as she relates how she feels about WATERMELON MAN.
I didn’t think it was possible for a white boy to sing reggae, but UK band UB40 proved me wrong with CHERRY OH BABY. Check out the video clip and see what you think:
And here’s proof positive that the 70’s was a decade to be reckoned with – it’s The Brothers Johnson with STRAWBERRY LETTER 23. And did you know that the strawberry is the only fruit that has its seeds on the outside? True.
Ray Charles’ Genius Likes Company album has supplied a number of tracks for me over the time that I’ve been presenting Theme Park and that’s because it’s a great album. This week it was SWEET POTATO PIE where Charles is joined by James Taylor.
An interesting combination in a triple play followed starting out with Goldfrapp and BLACK CHERRY, followed by The Beach Boys with VEGETABLES and The Ting Tings with FRUIT MACHINE, which I think might really be about a certain gaming device which is in turn a metaphor for something else, anyway, so what the hell. Check out the Ting Tings, another great indie duo. It seems to be the thing these days.
A couple of blasts from the past rocked us into the second half of the show: Little Richard explained what he meant by TUTTI FRUTTI, (I think), and Dee Dee Sharp got everyone up dancing to MASH POTATO TIME. I love this older stuff so much, I’m going to put both clips up. Little Richard’s is actually a performance he did in 1995 but Dee Dee Sharp’s is pure 60’s.
I love the occasional piece of comedy so was really happy to have stumbled across Stan Freberg’s version of the BANANA BOAT SONG. And just as funny, in their own strange way, are The Presidents of the United States who claim to be moving to the country where they’re going to eat a lot of PEACHES.
I was accused of stretching the topic a bit when I included Marvin Gaye’s I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE, but hey, grapes are fruits – right? And besides, it’s a classic.
Talking of classics, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF is a fabulous tune about opposites attracting. “You say tomato…..”. Love it. Ageless.
In complete contrast, we followed with The Kills and SOUR CHERRY from their 2008 album, Midnight Boom. Check them out on this clip:
Couldn’t leave out BANANA PANCAKES by Jack Johnson. Yummy. And the banana pancakes aren’t bad either.
Next up it was PINEAPPLE EXPRESS from Huey Lewis and the News and we followed with the ultimate Tex-Mex supergroup, The Texas Tornados, singing GUACAMOLE.
Billy Holiday gave us, possibly, her most famous recording, STRANGE FRUIT, released in 1939. The song condems the lynchings of African Americans that occurred mainly in the South, but throughout the United States, during this time. Here’s some rare footage of one of the first anti-racism songs ever:
Difficult to know how to follow such a powerful song, but couldn’t go too far wrong with a great piece of instrumental jazz: Dizzie Gillespie’s PICKIN’ THE CABBAGE. And then it was JJ Cale with CHERRY STREET and the wonderful Tony Joe White with POLK SALAD ANNIE.
Before I knew it, the two hours was all up and it was time to sign off with E.G. Daily’s version of LIFE IS JUST A BOWL OF CHERRIES, which apparently means that life is meant to be simple and pleasant.
Next week, is my last show before I take a 2-week break so the theme will be HOLIDAYS. Let me know if you have any favourites you’d like me to play.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist: