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imagesOne of the many gifts of living here in the Northern Rivers is the abundance of bird life. I am lucky enough to live on a property with a rainforest remnant plus tropical and native gardens, so there is no shortage of beautiful birdlife for me to enjoy. And while they are lucky enough to be wild and free, I do feel that they are my little buddies. When it comes to music, bird references are to be found in every genre, so I had plenty to choose from in this week’s show about BIRDS. Some of the songs I chose were just plain silly and some very serious. But what they all revealed was a little bit about how we relate avian qualities to our lives and ourselves.

We started the show with the incredibly appropriate I LIKE BIRDS from the Eels’ album Daisies of the Galaxy. And why wouldn’t you like a creature that has come to represent peace, freedom and happiness to name just a few of the more positive traits that appear in this week’s play-list?

images-3History, however, hasn’t been too kind to blackbirds. They are often portrayed negatively, even images-4though they are just as good looking and intelligent as other species. Paul McCartney spins this symbolism into a message of hope in the Beatles 1968 hit BLACKBIRD. We followed with The Be Good Tanyas and their version of Clarence Ashley’s THE COO COO BIRD. I’ve discovered that the Coo-Coo bird, unlike most other birds, rarely occur in pairs or as part of a group. Shy and retiring, they’d rather be heard than seen. Hmmm. Sounds a bit like a couple of radio presenters I know…

A nice triple play followed: Bob Marley with the very optimistic THREE LITTLE BIRDS, LITTLE WING from Jimi Hendrix and then the Purple one, Prince, pumped it out with WHEN DOVES CRY. 

Alfred Hitchcock was one of the quirkiest directors ever. His 1963 film THE BIRDS, starring Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedron was notable for its lack of music. Except for a couple of songs sung by characters in the film, the soundscape was made up of screeching birds. The trailer for the film was just as idiosyncratic. Hitchcock presents it himself, under the guise of A LECTURE ON BIRDS. I think its hilarious. Take a look:

The Bluebird is a common symbol of happiness and optimism. Two songs we played, that epitomise this notion, are Johnnie Taylor’s LITTLE BLUEBIRD and Ella Fitzgerald, the queen of scat, singing BLUE SKIES.

John Lennon sings of the Sweet Bird of Paradox in SURPRISE, SURPRISE from his 1974 album Walls and Bridges. We followed that with KT Tunstall’s WHITE BIRD. An excellent artist who, despite the awards and peer support cruises under the radar somewhat. Take a look at this clip and become a fan:

Ready for some classical? No, its not Swan Lake. It’s my favourite Duck, DAFFY, with his version of THE HUNGARIAN RHAPSODY:

One of my favourite Australian singers is Jack Ladder. From the Love is Gone album, MOTHER, is a strange little song that likens his Mum to a chicken (I think…). The song also references BIRDS THE WORD and we took a listen to the RIVINGTONS original version of that tune too.

Taj Mahal and Etta James sang a great version of MOCKINGBIRD, originally recorded by Inez and Charlie Foxx and one of the last hits for Australian icon Johnny O’Keefe (with Margaret McLaren).

images-5How could we have a show about BIRDS and not include Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker. His nickname was originally ‘Yardbird’ and that was shortenend over time to simply ‘Bird’. There are two stories as to how he got the name: One was that he lived “free as a bird”. The other is that when touring with Jay McShann, they accidentally hit a chicken (a yardbird) with their car and Parker made them stop to pick it up so he could have his landlady cook it. I think I’m going to go with the first possibility. It fits beautifully with the track we played – BLUEBIRD. 

images-2I had to include the theme from the Woody Woodpecker Show. Mel Blanc was the original voice of this animated character. He also voiced Daffy Duck and many, many more of our favourite cartoon characters. Woody made his first appearance in a short film in 1940 and you’ll still find him on children’s cartoon shows today.

And how good is AIN’T NOBODY HERE BUT US CHICKENS by Louis Jordan? James Brown has been quoted as saying that Jordan was one of his greatest influences: “He could sing, he could dance, he could play, he could act. He could do it all.” Jordan’s vocal style was arguably an important precursor to rap. On our show for DAYS OF THE WEEK we played  “Saturday Night Fish Fry” (1950) which featured a rapid-fire, highly syncopated semi-spoken vocal delivery that is strongly reminiscent of the modern rap style.

No reason to leave the farmyard when you can play the Rolling Stones and LITTLE RED ROOSTER. Check out this clip featuring a very young, fresh faced Mick Jagger in 1965.

There are lots if songs about birds that talk of love and longing. Three that I particulary like are  BLUEBIRDS OVER THE MOUNTAIN from Richie Valens, (also recorded by The Beach Boys), YELLOW BIRD from Chris Isaak and SONGBIRD by Bernard Fanning.

Time flew on this week’s show but before I flew the coop (groan…), I had time to play a rediscovery:  A great songwriter and singer, still performing and probably better now than ever – Russell Morris with his 1972 hit THE WINGS OF AN EAGLE. Take a look at this recent clip and see if you agree. This song has a timeless quality.

Couldn’t resist closing the show with a piece of whimsy suggested by one of my loyal listeners:  CHIRPY CHIRPY CHEEP CHEEP from the perfectly named band MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. This clip from Top of the Pops 1971 is worth including just for the outfits. I want those boots! And did I hear “bring back hot pants!”

Here’s the complete playlist:

I Like Birds – The Eels

Blackbird – The Beatles

The Coo Coo Bird – The Be Good Tanyas

Three Little Birds – Bob Marley

Little Wing – Jimi Hendrix

When Doves Cry  – Prince & the Revolution

Bye Bye Blackbird – Etta James

Alfred Hitchcock ‘The Birds’ Lecture  (Trailer)

Rocking Robin – Bobby Day

Chicken Payback – The Bees

The Chicken And The Hawk – Big Joe Turner

Little Bluebird – Johnnie Taylor

Blue Skies – Ella Fitzgerald

Surprise, Surprise (Sweet Bird Of Paradox) – John Lennon

White Bird – KT Tunstall

Daffy’s Rhapsody – Mel Blanc

Bird Dog – The Everly Brothers

Shake A Tail Feather – Ray Charles

Mother (Bird’s The Word) – Jack Ladder

Mockingbird – Taj Mahal & Etta James

Bluebird – Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker + The All-Stars

Night Owl – Carly Simon

Mockingbird – Rob Thomas

Woody Woodpecker Show – TV Themes

The Bird’s The Word  – Rivingtons

Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens – Louis Jordan

Little Red Rooster – Rolling Stones

Blackbird – The Beautiful Girls

Bluebirds over the Mountain – Ritchie Valens

Yellow Bird – Chris Isaak

Songbird – Bernard Fanning

The Wings Of An Eagle – Russell Morris

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep Middle of the Road

Next week: SPORT! I promise there will be no footie anthems. Help! Whaddyagot?


Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time.

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Sound Effects – Rooster Crowing2 0:03 4
I Like Birds 2:36 The Eels Daises For The Galaxy Rock/Pop 4
Blackbird 2:18 The Beatles The White Album Rock/Pop 5
The Coo Coo Bird 4:52 The Be Good Tanyas Blue Horse Folk 5
Three Little Birds 3:00 Bob Marley Reggae 10
Little Wing 2:21 Jimi Hendrix Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix Rock 5
When Doves Cry 5:54 Prince & the Revolution Purple Rain Soul And R&B
Bye Bye Blackbird 3:18 Etta James Don’t Go to Strangers Jazz 4
Alfred Hitchcock The Birds Lecture_Trailer 5:09 2
Rocking Robin 2:33 Bobby Day The History Of Rock ‘N’ Roll (Disc 2) Rock/Pop 3
Chicken Payback 3:13 The Bees Triple J’s Hottest 100 Volume 12 [Disc 1] Alternative 5
The Chicken And The Hawk 2:39 Big Joe Turner Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-1974 [Disc 3] R&B 4
Little Bluebird 2:57 Johnnie Taylor Little Bluebird R&B 2
Blue Skies 3:46 Ella Fitzgerald Jazz 3
Surprise, Surprise (Sweet Bird Of Paradox) 2:55 John Lennon Lennon [Disc 3] Rock 3
White Bird 3:13 KT Tunstall Drastic Fantastic Pop 2
Daffy’s Rhapsody 3:06 Mel Blanc Comedy 1
Bird Dog 2:20 The Everly Brothers 1957-1962 The Everly Brothers Rock 3
Shake A Tail Feather (1980) 2:47 Ray Charles Blues Brothers s’track/John Landis (1980) R&B 11
Mother (Bird’s The Word) 5:19 Jack Ladder Love Is Gone Alternative & Punk 2
Mockingbird 4:01 Taj Mahal & Etta James R&B 1
Bluebird 2:57 Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker + The All-Stars How High The Moon Jazz 7
Night Owl 3:51 Carly Simon No Secrets Rock 2
Mockingbird 4:01 Rob Thomas Cradlesong Rock
Woody Woodpecker Show 0:48 TV Themes TV Themes Television Theme 2
The Bird’s The Word 2:16 Rivingtons Looney Tunes Pop 4
Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens 2:35 Louis Jordan The Best of Louis Jordan [MCA] Jazz 3
Sound Effects – Rooster Crowing2 0:03 4
Little Red Rooster 3:04 Rolling Stones Rock 1
Blackbird 3:56 The Beautiful Girls Learn Yourself Alternative 5
Bluebirds over the Mountain 1:46 Ritchie Valens The Very Best of Ritchie Valens [Music Club] Rock
Yellow Bird 2:29 Chris Isaak Pop 1
Songbird 2:36 Bernard Fanning Tea & Sympathy Folk/Rock 2
The Wings Of An Eagle 3:55 Russell Morris Russell Morris Rock Ballad 1
Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep 3:02 Middle of the Road Pop


matchboxAustralia, Australia, Australia, we love you yes we do….. so sang The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band and it opened our show on the day after Australia Day with just the right amount of respectful parody.  The band is based in Melbourne and is centred around singer and multi-instrumentalist Mick Conway (Captain Matchbox) and his brother Jim Conway, who is  widely regarded as one of Australia’s finest exponents of the blues harmonica. Inspired by early jazz and jug band music, their songs stand out for their cheeky sense of humour. A great opener which created the perfect mood for a show which, (like Australians really), doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Yes, I too was over all the nationalistic back-slapping and excuse for a mighty piss-up but, what the hell, I’m ready to jump on the band-wagon if it means I get an excuse to play all my favourite Australian music. The show was a mix of new, old, iconic, one-hit wonders and a tear-jerker thrown in for good measure. And, don’t worry Roy Orbison fans, I even found an Orbison cover to close the show with. The far-sighted Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds delivered a great version of ‘Running Scared’. 

Talking of iconic, I did play some Easybeats and, of course, AC/DC but, as I told my listeners, the first Australian rock’n’roll performer to tour the United States and make the local Top 40 charts was none other than Johhny O’Keefe. He remains Australia’s most successful chart performer, with twenty-nine Top 40 hits to his credit in Australia between 1959 and 1974. His signature tune, ‘Wild One’ was recorded by Iggy Pop as ‘Real Wild Child’ in 1986. It was also used on the soundtrack for the movie ‘Pretty Woman’ and was covered by Jerry Lee Lewis, Everlife, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Glamour Camp and many others. My favourite in his line-up is ‘She’s My Baby’. Here’s some very rare television footage of him performing “She’s My Baby” on Bandstand in 1965.

The other groundbreakers in the playlist were The Saints. Formed in Brisbane in 1974, they are considered to be one of the first and most influential punk groups. By 1975, at the same time as the Ramones, they were  employing the fast tempos, raucous vocals and ‘buzzsaw’ guitar that characterised early punk rock. With their single ‘(I’m) Stranded’, in late 1976, they released a record that was way ahead of better-known punk acts like the Sex Pistols and The Clash. Bob Geldof has been quoted as saying, “Rock music in the Seventies was changed by three bands – The Sex Pistols, The Ramones and The Saints.”

Thanks to the lovely Linda Airey, publicist to the stars, who visited the studio while she was on holiday in Byron. She’s worked with some some fantastic talent having worked for Virgin in London and Roadshow in Australia and she now heads up her own publicity outfit out of Sydney. Not enough time to get all the dirt out of her, but she’ll be back, or so she threatens.

The two h0urs went way too quickly as usual. Here’s the playlist for you:

Australia  Captain Matchbox

Funky Tonight  John Butler Trio

Paper Aeroplane  Angus & Julia Stone

Good Things Come To Me Now  Karma County

Thunderbirds Are Coming Out  TISM

The Bold And The Beautiful  The Drugs

You Sound Like Louis Burdett  The Whitlams

I Need You Tonight  INXS

Where The Wild Roses Grow  Nick Cave & Kylie Minogue

Lighthouse  The Waifs

Banjo & Violin  The Audreys

Bad Luck Everywhere You Go  C.W. Stoneking

Treaty, Radio Mix – Yothu Yindi

Put Down That Weapon  Midnight Oil

Down River  Wllcannia Mob

Let Me Be  Xavier Rudd

Black Betty  Spiderbait

Woman  Wolfmother

Save The Day  The Living End

She’s My Baby  Johnny O’Keefe

She’s So Fine  The Easybeats

Thunderstruck  ACDC

Punks Not Dead  Darren Hanlon

(I’m) Stranded  The Saints

Pussy Town  Machine Gun Fellatio

Cocaine – The Cruel Sea

Don’t dream its over  Crowded House

Somewhere Over The Rainbow  Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs

Running Scared  Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

Next week is the 50th anniversary of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and the Big Bopper’s death by plane crash, so next week’s theme is ‘They Died in a Plane Crash’. Think of a playlist with the famous three,  as well as Patsy Cline, John Denver, Otis Redding, Stevie Ray Vaughan….. 

Tune in to Lyn McCarthy on BayFM 99.9 Tuesdays 2-4pm Sydney time. Also streaming on

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