The Melbourne Cup is Australia’s major thoroughbred horse race. Held since 1861, on the first Tuesday in November, it’s billed as The race that stops a nation. It’s the richest and most prestigious “two-mile” handicap, and one of the richest turf races, in the world. So, it was inevitable that this week’s theme would tie in with this iconic Australian event. GAMBLING, therefore, it was. We contemplated the repercussions of hedging your bets, whether it was on the ponies, at the poker table or simply as a result of playing that universal game of chance, love.
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullets opened the show with their highly energetic live rendition of RAMBLIN’ GAMBLIN’ MAN. We followed with a request from regular listener, Andy, who wanted to hear Ry Cooder’s I GOT MINE. It’s from the Chicken Skin Music album and, apparently it’s an old pop song from the minstrel and medicine show tradition. Cooder says that he learned this version from renowned Blues artist Pink Anderson, who followed tent shows in his early years.
Another regular contributor to the show, Robyn, asked for jazz-rock group Steely Dan’s DO IT AGAIN. The track features on their debut 1972 album Can’t Buy A Thrill and is the first in popular music to include an organ solo. Here they are live on the Midnight Special 1973:
Now if you want to hear a song or two about gambling guilt then you can’t go past the Blues. Lightnin’ Hopkins’ ONCE WAS A GAMBLER featured on the Crazy Heart soundtrack and it was a terrific suggestion from Des. And just to prove that gambling is not just a man’s preoccupation, pioneering singer and guitarist Memphis Minnie bemoaned the life of a GAMBLING WOMAN.
Could Lady GaGa be today’s version of Memphis Minnie? For all of you out there who may doubt this performer’s artistry, check out her acoustic and live version of POKER FACE on BBC Radio. Any doubts about her talent should now be dismissed, surely.
Ska revival band, The Specials, have to be one of the coolest bands on earth. Formed in 1977 and still going strong after a lengthy break between 1981 and 2008, we played their cover of the Pioneers race-track tune, LONGSHOT KICK DE BUCKET. Here they are in 1979:
Another of my fave bands is Wilco and they gave us their gambling track, CASINO QUEEN. Wendy contacted us and requested THE JOKER from The Steve Miller Band. Great choice. Here they are live on the Jools Holland show. Even Cee Lo Green was loving this peformance. Cool pink suit too, Cee Lo!
Big Audio Dynamite was formed in 1984 by the ex-guitarist and singer of The Clash, Mick Jones. The band was notable for their effective mixture of varied musical styles incorporating elements of punk rock, dance, hip-hop, reggae and funk. Here they are with THE BOTTOM LINE.
Melissa contacted me to say that she loves Ray Charles. Who doesn’t? He is a music legend. Frank Sinatra called Ray “the only real genius in show-business”. His song BLACKJACK was a perfect song for this week’s theme. A little less known is blues and sould singer Little Johnny Taylor. He recorded throughout the 60’s and 70’s and performed live throughout the 80’s and 90’s. His song YOU WIN, I LOSE is another of those tunes about hedging your bets on love and it’s a beauty.
Closer to home, The Little River Band have a number of tracks that suit this week’s topic but none better than LONESOME LOSER. And if you’re looking for some bellylaughs, then Melbourne group, Mic Conway and the National Junk Band’s RACE CALL OF LIFE TO DEATH should do the trick. It’s on their Corporate Chook album. As they so cleverly point out, our whole life is a gamble so we may as well just go for it!
The Animals’ HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN was a shoo-in, of course. As was The Rolling Stones with TUMBLING DICE, from their Exile on Main Street album.
I bet by now you were wondering whether I would play the absolutely predictable THE GAMBLER by Kenny Rogers?” Well, of course, yes. I have no shame. This is an absolute classic and couldn’t possibly be omitted: “You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away, know when to run.”
And talking of classics…..
Big Joe Turner was an American Blues “shouter” who came to fame in the 1950’s with his pioneering rock and roll recordings, particularly Shake Rattle & Roll. His unique voice was well served on our featured song this week, LIFE IS LIKE A CARD GAME.
The Band’s song about the dangers of drinking and gambling, UP ON CRIPPLE CREEK, features on their second self-titled album and was released as a single in 1969. They also perform the song on the live concert film The Last Waltz:
The hero of UP ON CRIPPLE CREEK gets into all kinds of trouble essentially because he’s looking for love. The great T-Bone Walker, the first Blues artist to use an electric guitar, also knows all about love gone wrong on LOVE IS JUST A GAMBLE. We followed with the legendary Stanley Brothers who contributed their thoughts on the matter with a great piece of bluegrass called IF I LOSE.
The Jerry Garcia Band performed DEAL live at Shoreline Ampitheatre California on September 1, 1990. A Grateful Dead concert was to have occurred at the venue on this date but was cancelled due to the untimely death of Dead keyboard player Brent Mydland. That one was for Hudson who follows The Theme Park with an excellent BayFM program, Post Modern Backlash.
I’m sure that there would be no argument if I asserted that Jimmie Rodgers is the godfather of Country music. His deceptively simple delivery of a song like GAMBLING ROOM BLUES, with his distinctive yodelling added for good measure, is just so evocative. He performed in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Big jump to 1979, (a very good year btw), with The Clash and THE CARD CHEAT from their 3rd album, London Calling.
Tim Freedman of Australian group The Whitlams knows a thing or two about telling a story in song. And, as we headed for Theme Park’s finishing post, what better way to comment on this country’s obsession with gambling than to play The Whitlams’ BLOW UP THE POKIES? Here’s Tim on the SBS program Insight explaining the meaning of the song and doing a beautiful solo performance.
Just to lift the mood, our closing double appealed to the rock chick in me: Everclear with BLACKJACK and the one and only AC/DC with a song that has a couple of versions, and is rife with double meaning. Of course I choose to interpret THE JACK as being about gambling. What they’re gambling on, of course, is up for discussion.
Thanks too to Melissa, Robyn, Des, Andy & Wendy for your suggestions for this week’s show. Much appreciated.
Next week’s theme, is on NIGHT which has been inspired by last week’s RECLAIM THE NIGHT women’s march. I’d like to thank all the women, young and old, who marched together in Byron Bay, and the men who supported us. It was inspirational, empowering and a heap of fun. If you weren’t there, make sure that you get involved next year. Violence against women is prevalent and shoudn’t be accepted. (End of community service announcement!)
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man – Live Bullet, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
I Got Mine – Chicken Skin Music, Ry Cooder
Do It Again – Can’t Buy A Thrill, Steely Dan
Once Was A Gambler – The Best Of Lightning Hopkins, Lightnin’ Hopkins
Gambling Woman – High Rollers – Vintage Gambling, Memphis Minnie
Poker Face – The Fame, Lady Gaga
Longshot Kick De Bucket – 1992 – Live: Too Much Too Young, The Specials
Casino Queen – A.M., Wilco
The Joker – Groovin’ 70’s [Disc 10], The Steve Miller Band
The Bottom Line – Planet BAD: Greatest Hits, Big Audio Dynamite
Blackjack – Pure Genius, Ray Charles
You Win, I Lose – Mo’ Mod Jazz, Little Johnny Taylor
Lonesome Loser – Greatest Hits, Little River Band
Race Call Of Life To Death – Corporate Chook, Mic Conway’s National Junk Band
House Of The Rising Sun – Time Life: Sound Of The Sixties, The Animals
Tumbling Dice – Exile On Main Street, The Rolling Stones
The Gambler – Greatest Hits, Kenny Rogers
Viva Las Vegas – Command Performances: The Essential Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley
Life Is Like A Card Game – High Rollers – Vintage Gambling, Big Joe Turner
Up On Cripple Creek – Anthology, Vol. 1, The Band
Love Is Just A Gamble – 50s R&B Classics, T-Bone Walker
If I Lose – Theme Time Radio Hour, The Stanley Brothers
Deal – Garcia, Jerry Garcia
Gambling Bar Room Blues – High Rollers – Vintage Gambling, Jimmie Rodgers
The Card Cheat – London Calling, The Clash
Blow Up The Pokies – Take 40 Australia, The Whitlams
Blackjack – Slow Motion Daydream, Everclear
The Jack – High Voltage, AC/DC
Our playlist this week was dedicated to SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS. We’re talking Na-na-na songs, obla-di songs, even la-la-la songs. Because, let’s face it, without meaningless words we may have missed out on some of our favourite pop anthems.
So WHO PUT THE BOMP IN THE BOMP, BOMP, BOMP, BOMP, BOMP? Well the original was recorded by Barry Mann in 1961. It parodied the nonsense words of the doo-wop songs that were popular during that period. Two that he refers to are the Marcels’ BLUE MOON and The Edsels’ RAMA LAMA DING DONG, which had both charted earlier that same year.
Ella Fitzgerald’s HOW HIGH THE MOON is a great example of scat singing, where the vocals are improvised using random and nonsense syllables. Fitzgerald is generally considered to be one of the greatest scat singers in jazz history. Pioneering Jamaican DJ and singer, Sister Nancy, also incorporates some scat into her chat with BAM BAM. Don’t ask me, I have no idea what BAM BAM means. And I’m not sure what BOM BOM means either. That was the title of our very own Daddy Cool’s contribution to this week’s list.
Time then for a counterpoint to all the merriment. There aren’t too many performers who could turn a “sha la la la” song” into one of romantic longing, but Tom Waits does so briliantly in JERSEY GIRL. And yes, I know that Bruce Springsteen does a version of this too, but it’s got to be Tom’s original version for me.
Way back in the 50’s The Gladiolas recorded LITTLE DARLIN’ in which they used their voices as instruments (adding an extra layer to the already full-on percussion). Their main aim wasn’t to experiment, however. All they wanted to do was to get you up dancing. As did The Crystals in 1963 with DA DO RON RON.
Yes, songs with MEANINGLESS WORDS have served generations of American black music very well indeed. And today, it seems it’s still all about the moves, baby. You only have to check out Beyonce’s SINGLE LADIES and my point is proven.
What I love about a show on SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS is that it gives me a great opportunity to play some comedy. Spike Milligan claimed that he wrote the YING TONG SONG as a bet with his brother, who claimed that Spike couldn’t get a song into the hit parade that only had two chords (in this case G and D7th). And Spike won!
We followed with punk group The Dickies with their version of BANANA SPLITS (The Tra-La La Song), from the soundtrack to the film Kick Arse and to round out the set, another fruit related song with some meaningless words, the wonderful Little Richard with TUTTI FRUTTI. I’m not sure where or when this concert took place, but I wish I’d been there!
Is there anyone in the world that doesn’t know the refrain from HEY JUDE by The Beatles? Na, Na, Na, Na- Na- Na. I don’t think so. That one was for Judi who listens via the Internet from Far North Queensland and who has sent me a very nice email. So big shout out to Jude!
It’s true that you can’t help but sing along to SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS isn’t it? Even Mr. Grumpy himself, Van Morrison, can’t help but deliver a song that, ironically, has made a lot of people very happy over the years: BROWN EYED GIRL.
Donna Summer’s version of STATE OF INDEPENDENCE was released in 1982 and featured a choir that included Michael Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Kenny Liggins, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder and others. She’s always been known for her powerhouse vocal delivery and she’s one of the most successful recording artists of the 1970s. Her website states that she has sold more than 130 million records worldwide. One of today’s most fascinating artists is Lady Gaga and we played BAD ROMANCE from her Fame Monster album which also has a few meaningless words in it. As of April 16, 2010, her music videos gained over one billion viral views, becoming the first artist to reach this milestone. So she obviously doesn’t need any help from me so I’m going to get you to have a peek at Donna Summer instead!
Its been mooted that catchy songs are just that because they’re easy to sing along to. Meaningless words seem to help that process. Here’s another example for you: The J. Geils Band with CENTERFOLD. We played this one in our ‘Fashion’ show, but its such a good example of meaningless words in a song, it had to be included here too. Na, na, na, na, na,
A great triple play of classics followed: Reggae artist Barrington Levy with HERE I COME, the great Otis Redding with FA-FA-FA-FA-FA (SAD SONG) and Major Lance with UM, UM, UM, UM, UM. Another classic that wouldn’t be the same without its meaningless words is NA NA HEY HEY KISS HIM GOODBYE from Steam. It may have been a bit of a one-hit wonder but its served sports fans very well, ever since it was recorded in 1969.
All girl Aussie band, The Spazzys, offered up SUNSHINE DRIVE, which first appeared on their Aloha Go Bananas! album. I found my copy on the soundtrack to the film Suburban Mayhem. Its easy to see that they’re influenced by The Ramones who had a song of their own called PINHEAD that produced their concert catch-cry “Gabba, Gabba, Hey!”. For some reason that I can’t fathom, I didn’t actually play this song but, as penance, here’s a clip to satisfy all you Ramones fans. Who said punk was dead?
Back to some Pommy classics: the Kinks with DAVID WATTS, the Beatles with OB-LA-DI, OB-LA-DA and Manfred Mann with DO WAH DIDDY DIDDY. How upbeat is this little ditty? Check it out:
Pocket rocket, Brenda Lee recorded a very catchy tune that uses meaningless words, DUM DUM. No idea what the words mean and I’m not sure that Sting and the Police have a clue what they’re singing about when they declare DE DO DO DO, DE DA DA DA.
Another couple of classic tunes with meaningless words came from The Drifters with I COUNT THE TEARS and the Delfonics with LA LA MEANS I LOVE YOU. Does that mean that if you go to local club La La Land you’ll find love? Hmmmmm, don’t think so somehow.
We signed off with a doozy: GOOD MORNING STARSHINE by Oliver. Impossible not to singalong to this one.
Next week’s show will be on SHELTER. I’m thinking of both interpretations of the word. It could be a building or it could be the protection or refuge you find in something or someone. So get those suggestions in and, yes of course, the Stones GIMME SHELTER is a given!
Here’s this week’s playlist:
Who Put the Bomp (In the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp) – #1 Hits of the ’50s Volume 4, Barry Mann
Rama Lama Ding Dong – The Rama Lama Ding Dong EP, The Edsels
Blue Moon – The Original 60’s Summer Album, The Marcels
How High The Moon – Conﬁrmation, Ella Fitzgerald
Bam Bam – One Two, Sister Nancy
Bom Bom – The Essential Daddy Cool [Disc 1], Daddy Cool
Jersey Girl – Heartattack And Vine, Tom Waits
Little Darlin’ – Rock n’ Roll Boogie Hits Of ’57, The Gladiolas
Da Do Ron Ron (Re-Recorded / Remastered) – – Soundtrack To The ’60s (Re-Recorded / Remastered, The Crystals
Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) – Beyoncé
Ying Tong Song – Let’s All Sing Along With The Goons, The Goons
Banana Splits (The Tra La La Song) – Dickies
Tutti Frutti – Little Richard, Little Richard
Hey Jude – The Beatles
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
Bad Romance (Album Version) – Lady Gaga
State of independence – Donna Summer, Donna Summer
Centerfold – Best Of The J Geils Band, The J Geils Band
Here I Come – Here I Come, Barrington Levy
Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song) – Otis Redding
Um Um Um Um Um – Soul Masters: Um Um Um Um Um, Major Lance
Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye – ’60s: Gold, Steam
Heebie Jeebies – A Portrait Of New Orleans Jazz CD1, Louis Armstrong
The Sunshine Drive – Suburban Mayhem Soundtrack, The Spazzys
Do Wah Diddy Diddy – The British Invasion: History of British Rock, Vol. 2, Manfred Mann
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da – The Beatles (White Album) [Disc 1], The Beatles
David Watts – Greatest Hits, The Kinks
Dum Dum – Sweet Nothin’s, Brenda Lee
de do do do, de da da da – The Very Best, Sting & The Police
I Count The Tears – Greatest Hits, The Drifters
La La Means I Love You – The Legend of The Delfonics, The Delfonics
Good Morning Starshine – Billboard Top 100 Of 1969, Oliver
Next week: SHELTER
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
Tragically also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maccalyn
Music has demanded that we try on sunglasses at night, start wearing purple, elevate fashion models to goddess status and, most important of all, respect the power of orange knickers. And we follow in droves, don’t we? Because most of us are ‘dedicated followers of fashion’.
We opened the show with the very fashion-forward David Bowie and the track FASHION from the 1980 album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) and followed with the equally style-conscious Prince with RASPBERRY BERET.
Then it was something a little obscure. I’m sure there is a point to preacher’s daughter Tori Amos’ song, THE POWER OF ORANGE KNICKERS, with it’s references to terrorist attacks, bitchy girls and little pills, but I’m afraid it escapes me. Never mind, great song nevertheless. Here she is performing live:
Amy Winehouse calls the kettle black with her critique of footballer’s wives and their F….. ME PUMPS. Gotta love a good stiletto! Here’s the official video, showing a healthy, happy Amy at her best:
Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins rendition of RABBIT FUR COAT, a song that spells out a mother’s devotion to her wardrobe, is an extraordinary, dark tale of how one woman hangs on to her fur when everything else in her life is lost.
The Pipettes turn the tables on certain rock stars by pointing out how nice those little schoolboys look in their matching blazers in I LIKE A BOY IN UNIFORM. And as the Happy Mondays explain, it’s not what you wear but how you wear it – it’s got to be a LOOSE FIT. Check them out:
Bob Dylan got to wondering how your head feels under that LEOPARD SKIN PILL-BOX HAT. Thanks to listener Phil for reminding me about that one. And while I am it, thanks to Zoe, Kira and Lynden, as well, for all your suggestions this week. Keep them coming.
Disco had its own fashion statement going on and a great example of this crazy superficial genre is Amanda Lear’s 1983 recording FASHION PACK. A Vietnamese transsexual, Amanda was born male, had a sex change, became a model and for some time was Salvador Dali’s muse. Now that’s what I call an interesting life! Here’s the video clip, in all it’s camp glory, for you to enjoy:
I love the satire in Jill Sobule’s ode to the ultimate clothes-horse, the SUPERMODEL. The song was perfectly placed in the soundtrack of one of my favourite comedies, Clueless. Also pretty funny is Minor Threat’s GOOD GUYS DON’T WEAR WHITE.
When it comes to fashion victims, there’s one stand-out anthem: It’s the Kinks with DEDICATED FOLLOWER OF FASHION. Two other classics in the playlist – The Hollies with LONG COOL WOMAN IN A BLACK DRESS and Wilson Pickett’s DEVIL WITH THE BLUE DRESS ON.
Lady GaGa summed up our topic of FASHION with her song of the same name. Of all the contemporary pop singers she stands out for her obsession with her image. She claims that: “When I’m writing music, I’m thinking about the clothes I want to wear on stage. It’s all about everything altogether — performance art, pop performance art, fashion. I want the imagery to be so strong that fans will want to eat and taste and lick every part of us.” Okaaaay. Check out this news item and you’ll get an idea of her fasion sense. Or nonsense. Whatever.
Then it was time for a blast from the past: Timmy Mallett’s ITSY BITSY TEENY WEENY YELLOW POLKA DOT BIKINI, which we partnered with PINK SHOE LACES from Connie Stevens.
Fats Waller does a good job of sprucing himself up when LULU’S BACK IN TOWN. And Big Bad Voodoo Daddy gave us the low-down on the ZOOT SUIT RIOT. The Zoot Suit, in case you didn’t know, is a suit with high-waisted, wide-legged, tight-cuffed, pegged trousers, and a long coat with wide lapels and wide padded shoulders. This style of clothing was popularized in the U.S. by African Americans, Latinos and Italian Americans during the late 1930s and 1940s. In England brightly coloured zoot suits with velvet lapels, that bore a slight resemblance to Edwardian clothing, were worn by Teddy Boys.
Next up it was a triple play dedicated to the gals that fire the frenzy for all things fashionable. Yep, three songs about models: CATWALKIN’ from Tony Tisdale, GIRLS ON FILM by Duran Duran and a cover of Kraftwerk’s MODEL by Zoot Woman.
Gwen Stefani’s ode to the HARAJUKU GIRLS of Tokyo has a special meaning as her back-up dancers are exactly that. The Harajuku District is one of the fashion capitals of the world, renowned for it’s unique and influential street fashion and it’s obviously had a lot of influence on Stafani’s own fashion label. I usually wouldn’t upload a video of a slide show but this one features Stefani’s song behind lots of pics of Harajuku fashion, so worth a look:
We all know that fashion is frivolous and silly but isn’t that what makes it so appealing, surely? In order to keep things in perspective we closed the show with a bit of satire: A tune that sums up the objectifying gaze of fashion like nothing else. Yup, it’s I’M TOO SEXY FOR MY SHIRT by Right Said Fred. Go boys:
I bet you thought I wouldn’t play that one. Nah, I have no pride or any fashion sense for that matter. But style? Well, that’s another matter.
To finish off this topic here’s something for you that I didn’t have time to mention on the show: favourite films about fashion. From my all time favourite film on the subject, a compilation of some of the best quotes from, ZOOLANDER.
If you would like to contribute your ideas for next week’s show, the topic will be: SONGS TO MAKE SANDWICHES BY. Yes I’m looking for songs about sandwiches, (has she gone completely bonkers? You may well ask!). You can include hot dogs or hamburgers. In fact, anything between bread qualifies. Or any ingredient that can go into a sandwich, like chicken or peanut butter, or honey. Come on guys, you can do it!
Here’s this week’s complete playlist: