I reckon animals are just like people. I look at my pets and, to be honest, I recognise myself. My little dog Charlie likes nothing better than eating and sleeping and my Abyssinian cat is a bit of a talker. In fact you can’t shut him up. Songwriters share my affliction, which is probably why most songs supposedly “about” animals aren’t really about animals at all.
Our opening song, SPIDERS AND SNAKES, had Jim Stafford waxing lyrical about it would take to win over the object of his affection. Somehow I don’t think spiders and snakes and frogs were what they seemed, if you know what I mean. Thanks to Sandy for suggesting that one.
The Tenors’ 1968 rocksteady tune RIDE YOUR DONKEY is, on the face of it, not a delightful ditty about a mule, but a song about a child’s musical shortcomings. I have a feeling, however, that there may be a bit of a sexual subtext going on there too.
No point trying to figure out what Captain Beefheart meant with ICE CREAM FOR CROW. I’ll leave it up to you to figure that out:
Edie Izzard wonders about the logic of making a toad with an hallucinogenic back on his comedy album Stripped. Tim Finn sang the Cane Toad Blues which featured on Mark Lewis’ quirky hit documentary CANE TOADS. Mark has now made a follow up, in 3D no less, called CANE TOADS: THE CONQUEST and we had tickets to the film to give away. Congrats to BayFM subscriber Yvonne, who won those.
We had a whole show on Cats & Dogs a while back so I had to look a little wider for a track about our canine friends. I love what I found: WOLVES (SONG OF THE SHEPHERD’S DOG), from Iron & Wine, better known to his Mum as Sam Beam.
Sunhouse came together to provide the soundtrack to a couple of films by British filmmaker Shane Meadows. One of my very favourite films of his is TwentyFourSeven and it has a cracking soundtrack by the band, which includes MONKEY DEAD. They went on to record an album called Crazy Weekend, which also includes the song. Here they are performing on French television:
Nina Persson, lead singer of Swedish group The Cardigans tells us that she’s found her herself A GOOD HORSE. Every girl’s dream, I’m sure.
Big Mama Thornton’s I SMELL A RAT pushes the concept of anthropomorphism to its limit. It’s when you give human characteristics to non-human things. And pretty much every song on today’s playlist does just that.
Except for maybe Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. ALLIGATOR WINE appears to be about some voodoo concoction that not only uses alligator blood, there’s a dash of fish eye, some frog’s skin and a cup of swamp water to boot. Not sure whether Louis Jordan is being literal or not when he declares there AIN’T NOBODY HERE BUT US CHICKENS.
If you’re a regular visitor to this blog, you’ll know that I have a soft spot for the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, so I had to include BABA’S CAMEL from their Cornology album.
The legendary Little Willie John pleads with you to LEAVE MY KITTEN ALONE and the late, great, reggae artist Gregory Isaacs is out on a RAT PATROL.
One of my favourite contemporary groups is the Villagers and the song SET THE TIGERS FREE has made it onto my funeral list (everyone should have one – you don’t really want someone else picking the music at your wake do you?).
We closed the show with LOVE CATS from the Cure who are performing in Sydney on Wednesday night. So jealous of any of you who have tickets!
Thank you to the sponsors of our giveaway of tickets to CANE TOADS: THE CONQUEST in 3D. I hope to see as many of you as possible at this BayFM Fundraiser. Its at the Dendy on Wednesday night at 7pm and will be followed by a party at The Owl & Pussy Cat. Thanks also to Radio Pictures, Pinnacle Films, the Byron Cane Juice Company for your sponsorship of this benefit.
Next week I’ll be joined by swinging cowgirl and Dolphin Award winner Kathryn Jones who will be putting together a guest list of songs. I have no idea what she’ll be bringing in, and that’s half the fun. The other half will be hearing why Kathryn picked the particular songs she did.
Here’s this week’s playlist on Critters:
Spiders & Snakes – Jim Stafford
Ride Your Donkey – The Tennors
Ice Cream for Crow – Captain Beefheart And The Magic Band
Toads – Eddie Izzard Stripped (Live)
Cane Toad Blues – Tim Finn
Wolves (Song of the Shepherd’s Dog) – Iron & Wine
Monkey Dead – Sunhouse
A Good Horse – The Cardigans
I Smell A Rat – Big Mama Thornton
Alligator Wine – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens – Louis Jordan
Ali Baba’s Camel – Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
Leave My Kitten Alone – Little Willie John
Rat Patrol – Gregory Isaacs
Set The Tigers Free – Villagers
The Love Cats – The Cure
Next week: GUEST LIST – KATHRYN JONES
Insects and spiders can be an absolute nuisance, especially in summer. They get in our hair, on our skin, even in our beds. They suck our blood and destroy our veggie gardens. But they also keep nature in balance, if we don’t go crazy with insecticides that is. And without those busy little bees we wouldn’t have all that lovely honey. So, like most of the subjects I pick for this show, our relationship with these creeping, crawling, flying and buzzing creatures is a complex one.
James Brown knows what I mean. He’s got ANTS IN HIS PANTS AND HE NEEDS TO DANCE Ouch! A great follow up to that was English soul singer Alice Russell with A FLY IN THE HAND. Here she is performing live in 2008. Great voice.
The B-52s’ song JUNE BUG is about a little beetle that only comes out at night. Sounds like a friend of mine. Lead singer, Fred Schneider, says the song’s message is to “go organic, don’t use pesticides”. Excellent. Loving the sound effects too.
Jason Mraz followed with a nice piece of pop about a BUTTERFLY and then it was Nina Simone with probably the best title for a song this week: FUNKIER THAN A MOSQUITO’S TWEETER. What is a mosquito’s tweeter? I have no idea and neither did any of our listeners when I asked. Anyone who does, please let me know.
The Eels do a great song about relationships, (the love/hate kind), called ANT FARM. And I’ve always loved Carly Simon’s version of ITSY BITSY SPIDER too. Who knew that there could be so many good songs about insects?
The Blues artists know how to make a song on any subject sound provocative. Slim Harpo does it to perfection with the very suggestive I’M A KING BEE. But if you want a funny song about a creepy crawly then you can’t go past country singer Jim Stafford’s rendition of SPIDERS & SNAKES.
Our hard-working BayFM President, Ros, suggested Ziggy Marley’s DRAGONFLY. Did you know that dragonflies can fly both forward and backward? And they can fly up to 30 miles an hour. Perfect choice for someone who doesn’t ever seem to stay still.
The Who’s BORIS THE SPIDER was written by the band’s bassist John Entwistle. It was supposedly Jimi Hendrix’s favourite Who song. Go figure.
I love the quirkiness of the Presidents of the United States and BOLL WEEVIL is a great example of their crazy novelty punk style. It’s from their self-titled album, released in 1995.
Butterflies have to be one of the most beautiful creatures on earth and they are just so important ecologically, as agents of pollination. So I made sure that there were a few songs about these wonderful flying insects in the show. One of my favourites is by Corrine Bailey Rae. She says that the song BUTTERFLY was written with her Mum in mind.
Another terrific butterfly song is by Chakra Khan. It’s called PAPILLON, which if my schoolgirl French serves me correctly, also means butterfly.
Some butterflies have evolved symbiotic and parasitic relationships with social insects such as ants. So it seemed the right time to introduce Adam Ant with his signature tune, ANTMUSIC.
Louie the Fly introduced a couple of songs about a much maligned little insect:
SHOO FLY PIE AND APPLE PAN DOWDY, by Doris Day, isn’t so much about a fly than about a pie made with molasses. This sticky, sweet substance attracts flies that have to be “shood” away. Tim Buckley’s song BUZZIN’ FLY is also about being attracted to something sweet, but in this case it’s a girl’s affections.
Did you know that the humble cockroach has been around for over 350 million years?
They Might Be Giants, do a very cheeky version of the SPIDER MAN theme song that had to be included. And then it was another suggestion from Andrew, one of the few Theme Park listeners who could come up with a suggestion for this week’s topic. It was a terrific song that I had totally forgotten: A SONG FROM UNDER THE FLOORBOARDS by Magazine. Here they are performing on the Jools Holland show in 2009:
We definitely needed a bit more Blues in the show, especially as I was giving away a great DVD, RED, WHITE AND BLUES, part of the 7 part series on the Blues by Martin Scorsese. This part, on the Blues in Britain, was directed by Mike Figgis, director of the film Leaving Las Vegas. Congratulations Mike who won that. Enjoy.
So, looking for more Blues, I couldn’t go past John Lee Hooker’s song about spiders, CRAWLIN’ BLACK SPIDER.
Robyn Hitchcock has a bit of a thing about spiders with both an album and an EP with tarantula in the name, but INSECT MOTHER is actually from his first album with The Egyptians, Fegmania.
Andrew had another great suggestion: Iggy Pop’s LOCO MOSQUITO. Heres a bit of insect trivia for you: Did you know that a mosquito beats its wings an amazing 500 times per second? No wonder I can never catch the little buggers.
The Dire Straits song THE BUG is about how random life is. One minute you’re the windshield, the next you’re the bug. So yeah, live life to the fullest is what I suppose they are suggesting, because you never know when it might all end.
On that note, its only fair that we finished the show on an up note. What better than something from disco diva Tina Charles. She’s been bitten by the best bug of all: THE LOVE BUG.
I’d love to have your suggestions for next week’s show which, as a lead up to my election show the following week, will be on TRUTH AND LIES. I think this has the potential to be a really interesting show, so get your thinking caps on.
For now, here’s this week’s full playlist:
I Got Ants In My Pants -The Big Payback, James Brown
A Fy in the Hand (Remix) – Alice Russell
Junebug – Cosmic Thing, B52s
Butterﬂy – We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things, Jason Mraz
Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter – Nina Simone
Ant Farm – Electro-Shock Blues, Eels
Coming Around Again/Itsy Bitsy Spider – Greatest Hits Live, Carly Simon
Glow Worm Cha-Cha-Cha – Ultra Lounge, Jackie Davis
I’m A King Bee – Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues, Slim Harpo
Spiders & Snakes – Jim Stafford
Dragonﬂy (Live) – Love Is My Religion Re-release, Ziggy Marley
There’s A Change In The Weather (extract to intro Weather update) Preservation Act 1, The Kinks
Boris the Spider – My Generation: The Very Best of the Who, The Who
Boll Weevil – The Presidents of the United States, The Presidents of the United States
Butterﬂy – Corinne Bailey Rae, Corrine Bailey Rae
Papillon – The Platinum Collection, Chaka Khan
Antmusic – Antbox 2, Adam Ant
Louie the Fly (Mortein ad)
Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy – The Story of Jazz, Doris Day
Buzzin’ Fly – The Dream Belongs To Me, Tim Buckley
La Cucharacha – Born Free, The George Mann Orchestra
Spider Man – They Might Be Giants
A Song from Under the Floorboards – Real Life and Thereafter / Forum, Magazine
Crawlin Black Spider – Boom Boom CD2, John Lee Hooker
Loco Mosquito – The Best of Iggy Pop, Iggy Pop
Insect Mother – Luminous Groove, Robyn Hitchcock And The Egyptians
The Bug – On Every Street, Dire Straits
Love Bug – Greatest Hits, Tina Charles
Next week: TRUTH & LIES
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time