Let me ask you this: who else has known you your entire life and witnessed your family’s capacity for love and/or dysfunction? Brothers and Sisters! Sibling relationships run deep, that’s for sure. Maybe it’s because of this that the chemistry between siblings can be quite complex, sometimes verging on the volatile. They don’t call it sibling rivalry for nothing. I can remember having actual fisty cuffs with my sister who is only 18months younger than me, but if anyone else threatened her, they had hell to pay.
So, lots of reason to pay tribute to our brothers and sisters. We started the show with a request from the lovely Nicky from Fridays breakfast program ‘That Friday Feeling’: Sister Sledge with WE ARE FAMILY. We followed with a request from Judi – The Hollies and HE AIN’T HEAVY HE’S MY BROTHER.
Robyn is a regular contributor to the show and she always has great suggestions. One of the best from her this week was JJ Cale and Eric Clapton’s DON’T CRY SISTER. It’s rare that the distinctive quality of sibling relationships is captured so well in song. Here’s a couple more that do it for me: In This Mortal Coil’s YOU AND YOUR SISTER, the lover’s sister is of the overprotective variety. Being the eldest of three kids, I can’t help but think this was written for me. Another is from brother and sister duo, The Knife, with PASS THIS ON. Their tense, steel drum electro adds a whole other dimension to the lyrics. ‘I’m in love with your brother’, Karin Dreijer urgently confides. “You’ll pass this on, wont you?”. Oooh, risky request that one. I really love this video clip though:
Des from BayFM’s Colours of Byron program suggested an oldie but a goodie, Elvis Presley with one for all the younger sisters out there: LITTLE SISTER.
When choosing music for our show about Brothers and Sisters I tried to choose songs that were about the biological kind over those about the brotherhood of man but songs like Tom Waits version of BROTHER CAN YOU SPARE ME A DIME, had to be included. I just love Tom’s idiosyncratic style.
Robyn could program this show all on her own, so prolific is she with her suggestions each week. Thanks Rob! Two more of Rob’s requests were Patti Labelle with LADY MARMALADE and Terence Trent D’Arby’s DANCE LITTLE SISTER. What ever happened to him? Come back wherever you are!
Switching genres, it was time for some southern rock, with a song from Johnny Van Zant, lead singer of Lynyrd Skynyrd and younger brother of Lynyrd Skynyrd co-founder, and former lead vocalist, Ronnie Van Zant. The song, BRICKYARD ROAD, is about Ronnie who was killed in a plane crash in 1977.
DANIEL is a song written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, and recorded by John for his album Don’t Shoot Me I’m Just the Piano Player. The song tells the story of a returning Vietnam vet, from his brother’s point of view. Another great song about a brother was written by Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins. SPACEBOY is about his younger brother who has a rare genetic chromosomal disorder.
“Hey Little Sister What have you done?” asks Billy Idol on WHITE WEDDING. Yet, another great suggestion from Robyn:
Our next song touched a nerve because it’s a saying that my daughter used to say to me when she started kindergarden, although in this case its about a sibling asserting himself. It’s They Might Be Giants with YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME NOW. We’ll follow with a great song from The Kinks: COME DANCING. It’s a fond tribute to Ray Davies’ older sister and the demise of the local dance hall. We followed with a little samba from Brazilian Jorge Benjor, TAKE IT EASY MY BROTHER CHARLES.
Bobby Hebb wrote SUNNY after President Kennedy was assassinated and his own brother was killed in a knife fight outside a Nashville nightclub on the same day: November 22, 1963. Considering the circumstances its a beautifully optimistic piece of music.
Funnily enough, so is Bruce Springsteen’s HIGHWAY PATROLMAN. The song recounts how lawman Joe Roberts runs into his black-sheep brother, only to find that blood is thicker than water. I like the sentiment expressed in this one: “a man turns his back on his family, he just ain’t no good.” Johnny Cash also does a brilliant version of this track, but I rarely play Springsteen, so he got a run this week. We followed with a great piece of country, Steve Earle’s TELEPHONE ROAD.
Marvyn Gaye’s WHAT’S HAPPENING BROTHER is about Gaye’s brother who was serving in Vietnam at the time. The song is a precursor to WHAT’S GOING ON which was based on the same brothers letters. We followed with real life siblings, The Neville Brothers, and BROTHER JOHN.
It was good to be able to include something local: Sarah McGregor’s GOODNIGHT SISTERS is a gorgeous ode to her two sisters. And then it was the incredibly versatile group The Arcade Fire with NEIGHBORHOOD #2.
John Fogarty has said in interviews that Creedence Clearwater Revival’s HAVE YOU SEEN THE RAIN is about rising tensions within CCR and the imminent departure of his brother Tom from the band. See, and you thought it was about the Vietnam War didn’t you. Me too!
Lily Allen has a brother, not unlike my own, so her song ALFIE was dedicated to my younger brother who isn’t well at the moment. Keep smiling Pete.
Our final choice was a beautiful song, suggested by Des. It’s by Antony & The Johnsons with some help from Boy George. It’s called YOU ARE MY SISTER and I dedicated this one to my sister who celebrated her birthday on July 27.
Next week, its a subject that all of us in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales are familiar with: INSECTS AND SPIDERS. I’ll need some help on this one, so get in touch!
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
We Are Family – The Full Monty Soundtrack, Sister Sledge
He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother -The Hollys
Don’t Cry Sister – JJ Cale & Eric Clapton
You and Your Sister – Blood, This Mortal Coil
Pass this On – Deep Cuts, The Knife
Little Sister – Rare Elvis, Vol. 3, Elvis Presley
Brother Can You Spare A Dime? – Brother, Can You Spare a Dime, Tom Waits
Lady Marmalade – Best of Patti Labelle, Patti Labelle
Dance Little Sister – Terence Trent Darby
Brickyard Road – Brickyard Road, Johnny Van Zant
Daniel – Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Just the Piano Player, Elton John
Spaceboy – Siamese Dream, The Smashing Pumpkins
White Wedding – Wedding Singer, Billy Idol
Boss Of Me – They Might Be Giants
Come dancing – The Kinks
Take It Easy My Brother Charles – Pure Brazil: Electric Samba Groove, Jorge Benjor
Sunny – Bobby Hebb
Highway Patrolman – Nebraska, Bruce Springsteen
Telephone Road – Steve Earle
What’s Happening Brother – What’s Going On, Marvin Gaye
Brother John – The Very Best of the Neville Brothers, The Neville Brothers
Goodnight Sisters – Beautiful Thing, Sarah McGregor
Neighborhood #2 (Laika) – Funeral, The Arcade Fire
Have You Ever Seen The Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Alﬁe – Lily Allen
You Are My Sister (feat. Boy George) – I Am A Bird Now, Antony & The Johnsons
Next week: INSECTS & SPIDERS
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time