I hear there’s a big wedding happening this Friday, so for my last show at this time slot, I decided to take a look at a quaint tradition that seems to be making a comeback. The subject of marriage is a perfect theme for songwriters as music has the ability to influence our mood and eat into our soul. It keeps us afloat when love is fresh, and life seems full of promise. But it can also reveal our deepest fears about a relationship, making problems seem way beyond repair. There are, of course, cynical songs about marriage but I tried to keep these to a minimum. No one likes a killjoy at an otherwise joyful time, now do we?
We launched the show with a great old Savoy recording. WEDDING BOOGIE features Little Esther and Johnny Otis with Esther as the bride, Mel Walker as the groom and Lee Graves as the preacher, and its hysterical.
That old romantic Al Green made a suggestion that a lot of you gals wait a lifetime to hear: LET’S GET MARRIED. Martha Reeves and the Vandellas celebrate getting their fella to the alter on THIRD FINGER LEFT HAND. And UK folk rock group Oysterband give a vibrant description of a wedding breakfast on BLOOD WEDDING.
If you’re after a real soul classic, then you can’t go past Freda Payne’s BAND OF GOLD. On this hit single, Freda’s guy is missing in action and she’s only got a ring to show for all her lovin’. Sweet Inspirations have a good piece of advice for Freda: WHY MARRY? They ask. Indeedy.
Ani diFranco does a gorgeous cover of Dusty Springfield’s WISHIN’ AND HOPIN’. It was used for the title sequence of the film My Best Friend’s Wedding, starring Julia Roberts and directed by Aussie filmmaker P.J.Hogan (who also directed Muriel’s Wedding).
Here’s another classic, this time in the rock genre: Nick Lowe KNEW THE BRIDE WHEN SHE USED TO ROCK N ROLL.
Rock n Roll legend Chuck Berry reckons that YOU NEVER CAN TELL. And from the soundtrack to the film, The Harder They Come, it was Toots and the Maytals with SWEET AND DANDY. Such a thrill it was to see them perform the song among their set at the Byron Bay Blues Fest this weekend.
Another of my favourites from the Blues Fest is Eli Paperboy Reed. What a voice. Here he is performing STAKE YOUR CLAIM: “Yeah, if you love me then take my name”. Oh Eli you sweet old fashioned boy you!
UK group, The Wombats released a terrific song about going to your exes’ wedding (never a good idea, I say). MY FIRST WEDDDING is from their album A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation.
The weather here in the Northern Rivers has been erratic, to say the least, so a good weather song, and a wonderful tune about love and marriage to boot, came from Ray Charles: COME RAIN OR COME SHINE.
Dancehall and reggae artist Yellowman turned the sound up a notch with a great version of I’M GETTING MARRIED IN THE MORNING, followed closely by doo-wop group The Cadets with CHURCH BELLS MAY RING.
The 5th Dimension gave us a medley of THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN and WEDDING BELL BLUES. Billy Davis and Marilyn McCoo, from the group, have been happily married for over 40 years and have even written a book about what makes their marriage work. Top tip: You’ve got to like the person you’re with, not just love them, because once the first flush of love subsides you need to know that you’re in a relationship with your best friend as well as your lover. Can’t disagree with that!
You can never claim that Theme Park doesn’t have a diverse playlist. The Easybeats followed with their 60’s hit, WEDDING RING, followed by Billy Idol’s WHITE WEDDING, which was written as a disapproving commentary on his sister’s shotgun wedding. How very conservative of him. Still, the video clip is a hoot:
The lovely Amy Rigby, married by the way to punk rocker Wreckless Eric, does a great song she wrote after divorcing her first husband, called WE’RE STRONGER THAN THAT. And, the always brilliant, Lyle Lovett contributed SHE’S NO LADY, (SHE’S MY WIFE) to the list. I think this clip is from the 80’s – check out Lyle’s hair. But better still, check out his wonderful voice. Like all the best artists, he’s a one-off.
Ernie K Doe and the Blue Diamonds sing about the bane of many a good marriage: MOTHER IN LAW. Of course, I’m not speaking from personal experience! Best to move on, and there’s no better way to put some romance back into the show than with more Al Green. One of my favourites is LET’S STAY TOGETHER. Here’s a live performance from 1972:
The Temptations followed with the delightfully delusional JUST MY IMAGINATION. And then it was another fantastic performer from the Blues Fest: Irma Thomas, with a song that she included in her set: YOU CAN HAVE MY HUSBAND BUT DON’T MESS WITH MY MAN.
Over the last three years of the show, I keep returning to two of my favourite artists – Louis Armstrong and Roy Orbison. And, of course they had songs on marriage for me this week as well. Louis with WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD and Roy with WEDDING DAY. But I had to close the show with a song for my husband of 23 years, sadly taken from us five years ago this week. Barry White’s very sexy YOU’RE THE FIRST, MY LAST, MY EVERYTHING is for you Graeme. Thanks for the music and the wonderful memories.
For the next 6 months, at least, you’ll find me still at BayFM, still churning out theme shows at the new time of 1-2pm on Mondays and I really hope to have your company next Monday on BayFM 99.9 or streaming at http://www.bayfm.org. As always I’ll keep putting my playlist and other info up at the blog, so keep checking in.
Next Monday’s theme will be MOTORVATIN’ MAMAS, just in time for Mothers Day. Send me your requests and suggestons. I’d love to hear from you.
Have a great week! Here’s the playlist:
Wedding Boogie - Little Esther Let's Get Married - Al Green Third Finger, Left Hand - Martha Reeves and The Vandellas Blood Wedding - Oysterband Band Of Gold - Freda Payne Why Marry? - Sweet Inspirations Wishin' And Hopin' - Ani DiFranco I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock And Roll) - Nick Lowe You Never Can Tell - Chuck Berry Sweet And Dandy - Toots and The Maytals Chapel Of Love - The Dixie Cups Stake Your Claim - Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves My First Wedding - The Wombats Come Rain or Come Shine - Ray Charles I'm Getting Married In The Morning - Yellowman Church Bells May Ring - The Cadets (Medley) The Worst That Could Happen, Wedding Bell Blues - 5th Dimension Wedding Ring - The Easybeats White Wedding - Billy Idol We're Stronger Than That - Amy Rigby She's No Lady - Lyle Lovett Mother-in-Law - Ernie K-Doe and the Blue Diamonds Let's Stay Together - Al Green Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) - The Temptations (You Can Have My Husband But) Don't Mess With My Man - Irma Thomas We Have All The Time In The World - Louis Armstrong Wedding Day - Roy Orbison You're The First, The Last, My Everything - Barry White
Next week: MOTORVATIN’ MAMAS
Bette Midler opened the show with COOL YULE and that set the mood for what followed. I never thought I would see the day that Bob Dylan recorded a Christmas album, and isn’t he collecting some flak for doing so? But I, for one, happen to love the album Christmas in the Heart and appreciate the guts it took to release it. We played a couple of songs from the album. First up it was MUST BE SANTA. Check out the clip. Gotta love a guy with a sense of humour!
Now if you’re talking cool, there is no cooler, in my opinion, than ‘Keef’ Richards. My favourite Rolling Stone gave us RUN RUDOLPH RUN and then it was Patsy Raye & The Beatniks with BEATNIK’S WISH. All Patsy wants for Christmas is a man. Tall order Pats, especially here in Byron Bay!
I’ve got a question for you. Who’s feeling a bit grumpy this Xmas? Go on hands up… Well if you’re feeling a little down in the dumps, the perfect song for you is the Staple Singers with WHO TOOK THE MERRY OUT OF XMAS? Another for you mopers is Charles Brown and PLEASE COME HOME FOR XMAS. What you all need is the optimism of Darlene Love’s ALL ALONE ON CHRISTMAS. Lifted from the soundtrack to the film Home Alone, the famous sound of the legendary E Street Band and Love’s voice make being alone at Christmas almost OK. Check out the video if you don’t believe me:
Next up in our Cool Yule show was Bob Seger and The Last Heard with SOCK IT TO ME SANTA. And then it was The Kinks with FATHER CHRISTMAS and The Ramones with MERRY CHRISTMAS (I DON’T WANT TO FIGHT TONIGHT). Whew, that was a rockin’ set of Chrissie tunes. The three tracks came from a compilation album called Christmas A Go-Go, put together by Steven Van Zandt who also goes by the name Little Steven. As well as playing in Bruce Springsteen’s band and acting in the hit series The Sopranos, he also hosts an American radio program called the Underground Garage . Check out the website where you can listen to archived programs.
Tina Sugandh is also known as TablaGirl. Originally from India, now resident in the US, I love her version of WHITE CHRISTMAS with its Bollywood undertones. We followed with an oldie but a goodie, by Little Esther Phillips and the Johnny Otis Orchestra, FAR AWAY CHRISTMAS BLUES.
I had to include the 80’s New Wave group the Waitresses in the show because they recorded a song about something I really do loath: CHRISTMAS WRAPPIING. Yeah, yeah, bah humbug.
Something most of us have to be careful about over the holiday period is drinking and driving. A great song that deals with the repercussions of doing so is The Youngsters with CHRISTMAS IN JAIL from an album entitled Doo Wop Christmas. It wasn’t as serious as it sounds, honestly. And neither was the very funny version of JINGLE BELLS from the Electric Prunes, another great track from Little Stevie’s Christmas A Go-G0 album.
Rufus Thomas makes this rather scary offer: I’LL BE YOUR SANTA. And then it was time for a little Latin in our Christmas show. First up, The Enchanters with MAMBO SANTA MAMBO and the wonderful Celia Cruz with some salsa, FIESTA DE NAVIDAD.
A complete change of tone followed: Clarence Carter with the brilliantly bawdy BACK DOOR SANTA. This Santa makes all the girls happy while the boys are out to play. Naughty Santa.
Roy Woods was one of the founding members of Electric Light Orchestra and left to form Wizzard. Their song I WISH IT COULD BE CHRISTMAS EVERY DAY was a huge hit for them. Check out the video, with lead singer Mike Morley looking rather like Kris Kringle himself:
The great James Brown injected a little politics into the show with SANTA CLAUSE GO STRAIGHT TO THE GHETTO and then it was the extremely excited Jamaican DJ King Stitt with a little reggae. The song was CHRISTMAS TREE.
For all the cynics listening I had to include I DON’T BELIEVE IN CHRISTMAS from the Sonics. And I’m sure all the rodders would have appreciated SANTA DRIVES A HOT ROD from The Brian Setzer Orchestra.
Were any of you born on Xmas Day? My birthday is in January and that’s bad enough, but I’ve always felt sorry for people born on Xmas Day itself. Like here’s your Christmas and your birthday present. Gee thanks. But at least you don’t get everyone’s Xmas rejects as birthday presents as I do in January. Yeah, yeah, cry me a river. For all of you born on Xmas Day, we played I WAS BORN ON CHRISTMAS DAY from St. Etienne. It’s a nice piece of disco-pop, although I do worry about a band that named itself after a footie team.
The Cocktail Slippers, an all girl band from Norway, have been called “The 60’s Shangri Las meet the 70s Stooges meet the 80s Go Gos”. Loved their Christmas song, SANTA’S COMING HOME. I also don’t mind the occasional tribute band as long as they do it well. The Chesterfield Kings heavily mine The Rolling Stones for their garage sound and they do a great job with HEY SANTA CLAUSE.
Here’s the delicious Eartha Kitt, with the help of three ‘friends’ singing her hit of 1953 SANTA BABY. Hilarious.
We closed the show with the amazing Darlene Love with CHRISTMAS, (Baby, Please Come Home). The clip is from the David Letterman show of a couple of years ago. What a voice. Merry Xmas everyone!
Here’s this week’s playlist: