I’m baaaack! And this week’s theme was influenced by my recent road trip down the coast: STREETS AND ROADS. Street songs also include their close relations avenues, lanes and boulevards. They all tend to be about a particular destination. Songs about roads and highways, on the other hand, are inclined to reflect on a journey of some kind, metaphorical or not. Some of these songs immortalise where they came from, others where they’re going, but all seem to have something significant to say.
We opened the show with the Drifters’ ON BROADWAY – a road that reflects the best and worst of New York. The famous entertainment strip is the epitome of success for some but it’s also a desperate place to be if you are one of the less fortunate. Check out the Drifters doing a great job, but what’s with the outfits? Pyjamas with fringing. What the??????
TOBACCO ROAD was written by country singer John D. Loudermilk and inspired by Erskine Caldwell’s Depression-era novel of the same name. The song reeks of the American south. A group calling themselves the Nashville Teens recorded the original version, although they actually hailed from England. And I don’t think it was even Southern England, cheeky sods!
There are so many versions of the that definitive road song, ROUTE 66, but I rather like the Nat King cole rendition. Eddy Grant took us back to the 80’s with ELECTRIC AVENUE about a market street in Brixton, London. You may remember a cover version by Aussie band Men at Work, but there’s nothing like the original. Check it out:
The wonderful Emmylou Harris dueted with Dave Matthews on GULF COAST HIGHWAY. Now I don’t believe that there is an actual Gulf Coast Highway, but who cares when the song is so beautiful?
It was a toss up when it came to Bruce Springsteen’s contribution to the show – Both Thunder Road and Racing the Streets were worthy contenders but I had to give it to the Oscar winning anthem, STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA.
Louis Armstrong paid homage to his favourite street in New Orleans in BASIN STREET BLUES and although I gave it a spin on the AUTOMOBILE show, Grace Jones deserved another outing with PULL UP TO THE BUMPER, from her critically acclaimed album NIGHTCLUBBING.
Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland was going FARTHER UP THE ROAD while Bob Dylan delivered the classic HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED. And here’s some trivia about that particular highway, which travels from New Orleans through to the Canadian border. Bessie Smith met her death in an automobile accident on that road, Robert Johnson was said to have lost his soul to the devil at the crossroads of Highway 61 and Highway 49, Elvis Presley grew up in the housing projects built along it and Martin Luther King Jnr would later be murdered in a motel just off Highway 61.
The Beatles sang about PENNY LANE while David Byrne and the Talking Heads took the ROAD TO NOWHERE:
A show about roads needed a bit of hard rock and the obvious, of course, is Acca Dacca and HIGHWAY TO HELL. But I thought I’d give them a rest this week and instead, in celebration of the Deep Purple tour reaching Brisbane next month (yay!) it was HIGHWAY STAR instead. Once listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the Word’s loudest rock band, here they are performing live in 1972. Ian Gillian, you are hot! Can’t wait for them to reach Bris-vegas.
Kirsty MacColl calmed things down just a little with WALKING DOWN MADISON, a song that deals with the disparity between rich and poor on the most expensive street in New York, Madison Avenue. As the song goes: “From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement, it’s not that far”. Gerry Rafferty sang all about London’s BAKER STREET, probably most famous for the literary address of Sherlock Holmes’ residence.
Lots of our songs this week dealt with being down and out, so it was great to include a number by the wonderful Dinah Washington. She’s definitely got the right attitude as she goes walking ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET. Recorded in 1956 with orchestra under the direction of Hal Mooney, the song was originally composed in 1930 by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields for the Broadway musical “International Revue” starring Gertrude Lawrence. The song has since become a jazz standard recorded by many.
In complete and utter contrast came the Australian Aria award winning hip-hop group, The Hilltop Hoods, with a song about life’s choices: THE HARD ROAD.
Chris Rea’s song, ROAD TO HELL, was apparently inspired by rush hour on a motorway. After being in Sydney I know how he feels! It’s been way too long since I played some Roy Orbison, so I DROVE ALL NIGHT was in, as it fitted so perfectly.
Green Day’s BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS is, I assume, about Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Similar to New York’s BROADWAY, Sunset Boulevard is the primary location for live entertainment, as well as being the red-light district and a hang for the homeless.
A fitting follow-up was Ray Charles with LONELY AVENUE and it was up to Junior Walker and the Allstars to brighten the mood somewhat with ROAD RUNNER.
Another fantastic and, I think, optimistic song about leaving home and heading off for freedom, is VENTURA HIGHWAY, a 1972 hit for America.
The Mamas and Papas sang a song reportedly about the place where they all met, a bar in CREEQUE ALLEY while Ray Charles and the Stray Cats combined on a great version of HIT THE ROAD, JACK.
For anyone living on a rural property, like I do, Lucinda Williams’ CAR WHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD will resonate, for sure.
I returned from my trip to Sydney to hear the very sad news that our friend Susie McNair had passed away quietly on Tuesday March 16th. The final song of the program was dedicated to her memory. The Beatles, THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD, was the final single that they recorded as a group. R.I.P. Susie.
Thanks to the following listeners for contributing to this week’s list: Judi, Rebecca and Katie. Next week’s theme is HAIR, so get your thinking caps on!
Meanwhile, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
I can’t say that I’m the sporty type. I simply adopted my Dad’s football team as my own, (Go the Tigers!), and I think cricket’s got to be the most boring game on earth. No correspondence on this issue please! It’s probably an indication of how much I like a challenge that I chose SPORT as our topic for this week. And because I thought it might also be a good idea to get a ‘bloke’s’ perspective on the subject matter, The Captain returned to co-present the show.
We got the show started with a fantastic song from the late Kirsty MacColl: ENGLAND 2 COLUMBIA 0. She uses the first round of the 1998 World Cup as backdrop and metaphor for romantic deceit. Here she is on ‘Later with Jools Holland’ in 2000. The band is made up of Chucho Merchan, James Knight, Pete Glenister, Dave Ruffy, Michelle Drees Ben Storey and Joey de Jesus. Very nice.
I have to admit to a guilty pleasure: I don’t mind a bit of boxing (yes, best not to cross me!). I can’t justify it. I know that it’s a violent sport but I grew up with a younger brother and we were both addicted to watching both boxing and wrestling on the tele. Boxing being so incredibly visceral and exciting and wrestling being just plain silly. So, here’s two boxing songs for you: SO YOU WANT TO BE A BOXER from the soundtrack to the film Bugsy Malone and Eminem and Shaggy sampling EYE OF THE TIGER from the film Rocky.
A couple of baseball songs followed: Billy Bragg and Wilco with an ode to one of America’s heroes: JOE DIMAGGIO DONE IT AGAIN and then John Fogerty begged “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play” in CENTERFIELD. Check out this video clip of John Fogerty performing live in 2007. Worth a look to view the guitar he uses – made from a baseball bat! Cool.
James Taylor has recently done a great covers album and we included one of the tracks this week. Originally by Jnr. Walker, the song is I’M A ROAD RUNNER. Then it was Teddy Pendergrass’s turn with LOVE TKO, a song that simply borrows from sports jargon to express the singer’s heartbreak.
The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band’s song SPORT (THE ODD BOY) is a memento to school sports days. It even includes a sick note from Mum. Gotta love that.
Then it was two songs set in a pool hall: Johnny Lang with RACK EM UP and JIm Croce’s DON’T MESS AROUND WITH JIM. The lyrics of the latter song concern the fate of a ‘pool-shooting son-of-a-gun’ by the name of ‘Big’ Jim Walker when his ‘mark,’ Slim, from a south Alabama Honkytonk shows up to get a refund from being hustled or get revenge. Check out the video clip:
I would have been in real trouble if I hadn’t played any surfing songs, as the radio station is situated in one of Australia’s premier beach communities. My choice: The Beach Boys with SURFIN’ SAFARI and we followed that with Loudon Wainwright’s SWIMMING SONG. Here’s Loudon with this very catchy tune that even mentions the Australian Crawl.
Mic Conway’s National Junk Band are always good value as they were this week with RACE CALL OF LIFE TO DEATH from their Corporate Chook album. Very clever. Wish I had a video clip of it.
Will Smith went on to play Muhammad Ali in the biopic of the great boxer’s life but he has trouble doing even one round in I THINK I CAN BEAT MIKE TYSON. Here he is with DJ Jazzy. The video includes with cameos from Don King and Mike Tyson. Funny stuff. The year was 2005.
How could we forget to mention the bicycle? Nicely fixed when we played Pink Floyd’s BIKE and Red Hot Chilli Peppers BICYCLE SONG.
Let’s talk about Bowling. Lawn bowls really took off for a while there with everyone and his dog (literally) playing mufti bowls. And now Tenpin Bowling is experiencing a resurgence of popularity. My, otherwise groovy, 22 year old son and his mates have formed a team and they play in a league every week down in Sydney. It seems to be mandatory that bowling team names require bad puns. Examples: the Lucky Strikes, Rolling Pins, Spare Me, Pin Pals and my favourite: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Gutter. Personally I’m all in favour of a sport that has two toned shoes (golf being another goodie).
I didn’t discover any tracks on golf but I did find two great Bowling songs: Stephen Lynch with BOWLING SONG and TAKE THE SKINHEADS BOWLING from Camper Van Beethoven.
Now any tune that uses the term “silly mid-on” in a song, deserves to be in the list. WHEN AN OLD CRICKETER LEAVES THE CREASE, from Roy Harper, is actually quite a good song despite being about Cricket. Cream, on the other hand, are more interested in Tennis. Check out this incredibly droll clip of ANYONE FOR TENNIS? from around 1968. Could Clapton look any more bored? Hysterical.
We didn’t forget the skaters out there and happy to include HEAVEN IS A HALFPIPE from OPM. But then it was time for more football, um soccer, um football. We call it soccer, the English call it football. But whatever you call it, on a global level this game is HUGE. Even highly credible rock bands can’t stop themselves from penning songs to their heroes. The Fall gave us THEME FROM SPARTA FC and The Lightning Seeds delivered THREE LIONS. Here you go all you Soccer fans, well the English ones anyway, a clip with lots of footie, um soccer, in it.
I saw Mental As Anything live last week and they’re still belting out those party tunes. I decided to close the show with a tune of theirs that pretty much sums up the Australian way of life, being the sports mad nation that we are: SURF & MULL & SEX & FUN.
Thank you to Spirit Gym for our giveaway today of some personal training sessions. Much appreciated. And thanks to the Captain whose hilarious news items kept us entertained betweeen tracks.
Here’s the complete playlist:
England 2 Columbia 0 – Kirsty MacColl
So You Want To Be A Boxer – Bugsy Malone soundtrack
Eye Of The Tiger – Eminem Ft. Shaggy
Joe Dimaggio Done It Again – Billy Bragg & Wilco
Centerfield – John Fogerty
(I’m A) Road Runner – James Taylor (Jnr Walker & Allstars cover)
Love TKO – Teddty Pendergrass
Sport (The Odd Boy) – Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
Rack ‘Em Up – Johnny Lang
You Don’t Mess Around With Jim – Jim Croce
Surfin’ Safari – The Beach Boys
The Swimming Song (Live) – Loudon Wainwright III
Race Call Of Life To Death – Mic Conway’s National Junk Band
I Think I Can Beat Mike Tyson – DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
Black Superman – Muhammad Ali – Johnny Wakelin
Bike – Pink Floyd
Bicycle Song – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Bowling Song – Stephen Lynch
Take The Skinheads Bowling – Camper Van Beethoven
When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease – Roy Harper
Anyone for Tennis? – Cream
Heaven Is a Halfpipe – OPM
Three Lions – The Lightning Seeds
Theme from Sparta FC – The Fall
Surf & Mull & Sex & Fun – Mental As Anything
Hey Micky – Toni Basil
Next week: Songs about FAMOUS PEOPLE.
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time.
Also streaming on http://www.bayfm.org
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