This week we’re celebrating that Australia finally has a female PrimeMinister in Julia Gillard – it only took 109 years! The show was on the F word, no not THAT word – I’m talking FEMINIST SONGS, GRRRL POWER. It’s a complex topic and I had to have a criterion for the list, otherwise I would have gone absolutely nuts trying to make a selection. So it came down to the lyrics. Obviously what I think makes a feminist song is totally subjective, but hopefully my choices made for an interesting and fun couple of hours.
Le Tigre kicked the show off with HOT TOPIC, a song that pays tribute to dozens of female visual artists, musicians, writers and feminists who have inspired them, including Yoko Ono, Aretha Franklin, The Slits and others. Le Tigre was founded by Kathleen Hanna. She’d previously fronted the band Bikini Kill, a leading light in the Gen X Riot Grrrl movement of the early 90’s. Riot Grrrls didn’t just create music. They published zines, produced their artwork and group exhibitions. The movement spawned current performance artists like Amanda Palmer, Peaches and M.I.A. Have a peek at Le Tigre:
Moving into the show proper, we travelled back in time to 1963 when Peggy Lee recorded I’M A WOMAN. This was at a time when multi-tasking meant being able to do all the housework andpowder your nose at the same time. By 1975 Loretta Lyn had released the first song about birth control, called THE PILL, about a little dose of hormones that would change society and history forever. Can you believe that it was banned from radio? In 1975! We have come a long way baby.
Now you were probably wondering whether any songs about women, written by men, met with my approval. Well, there were a few, (not many mind you). Here’s one: In 1978, Queen speculated that it wasn’t gravity but, in fact, FAT BOTTOMED GIRLS that made the earth go round. Fascinating. Thirty years later the scientific community is still to respond, even though Queen’s guitarist Brian May (who wrote this track) was studying for a PhD in astronomy at the time, which lends some sort of credibility to the argument don’t you think? Over the years this song has proved a useful rebuff to the portrayal of women in popular culture as little more than skinny minnies. And, at the very least, you have to congratulate a song with the lyrics, “Take me to them lardy ladies every time!”.
Keeping to the theme, let’s talk about an artist who has the sisterhood in a quandry. Beyonce sings all about being an independent woman and, yet, she still wants her fella to put a ring on it. But I must admit a liking for Destiny’s Child and especially the track BOOTYLICIOUS. Here are women in possession of their own bodies, their own sexuality and their own lives. When they solemnly announce “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly” in their ode to the joys of shakeable bottoms, the cheering from millions of pear-shaped women world-wide is deafening.
We followed with a song by the Scissor Sisters called SHE’S MY MAN, a song that tells of a woman who “takes her drinks with dust and rusty razor blades”. It then goes on to assert that “She’s my man and we got all the balls we need”. Not sure if this is a tribute to a transvestite or a particularly gutsy woman, but I’m somewhat encouraged by the fact, that in this age of sexual equality, it doesn’t really matter.
A couple of great duets were lined up next: Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox with the 1985 anthem SISTERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES and the 2003 release of CAN’T HOLD US DOWN by Christina Aguilerra and Lil Kim.
An artist who must surely qualify for our pro-feminist list is Peaches. She writes provocative lyrics that challenge traditional notions of gender. Her songs are nearly always sexually explicit which means that I can’t always include her in my playlists but there is one that did get away with playing this week, as it’s quite tame, for her anyway. Here she is with BOYS WANNA BE HER. Kick-ass band too.
The fight for sexual equality has always been one of the cornerstones of the feminist movement but back in the 40’s, way before we burnt our bras, the early Blues and jazz singers got away with murder with their proudly promiscuous and highly enjoyable music. You just heard Big Mama Thornton with her twist on the Sonny Boy Williamson song Good Mornin’ Little School Girl. Her version is called, what else, SCHOOL BOY. And then it was Julia and Her Boyfriends who know exactly what they want in GOTTA GIMME WATCHA GOT.
At the show’s half way mark Lesley Gore belted out YOU DON’T OWN ME, recorded in 1964 and covered later by Dusty Springfield and Joan Jett, among others. It also featured on the soundtrack of the film THE FIRST WIVES CLUB, a nice little revenge flick about three divorced women whose husbands have left them for younger models. It does happen you know! Here’s Lesley:
Next up it was a suggestion from Cath: Bluegrass duo Truckstop Honeymoon with BAD ATTITUDE. And to follow I chose an artist who has attitude with a capital ‘A’, M.I.A. with PAPER PLANES, on which she samples The Clash’s STRAIGHT TO HELL.
Had to include the wonderful Neko Case with PRETTY GIRLS, a song about abortion and the guilt-trip that’s put on women, particularly if they’re good looking. A nice pairing in tone, for this one, was WOMAN from John Lennon, a bloke who towards the end of his short life at least was very much the feminist.
If you’re looking for opinionated, then you can’t go past the next two tracks: First up, the great Patti Labelle with NEW ATTITUDE and Madison Avenue with WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?
Just saw the new film RUNAWAYS which I thought was going to be about Joan Jet but its not. It’s based on Cherry Bomb, the vocalist with the band, played to perfection by Dakota Fanning. Couldn’t help but be disappointed however with Kristin Stewart’s depiction of Joan. So, let’s make up for it with the stand out ‘up yours’ track, BAD REPUTATION. Here’s Joan Jett & The Blackhearts:
This one was a given: Aretha Franklin with a song that served both the Women’s Liberation & Civil Rights movements equally well. It is, of course, her cover of Otis Redding’s RESPECT.
Ani DiFranco is certainly no damsel in distress on NOT A PRETTY GIRL from the album of the same name, released in 1995 on her own record label with the fabulous name of Righteous Babe Records. Way to go: control the means of production!
Had to include another John Lennon track because he really was a card-carrying feminist. Here’s a clip of him performing WOMAN IS THE NIGGER OF THE WORLD on the Dick Cavett show. Having said all that, it does disturb me somewhat how submissive Yoko appears to be. Hmmmm. And, like, what’s with the drumming?
Heading towards the end of the show, there was just time to play Jeannie C. Riley’s HARPER VALLEY PTA about the struggles of a single mum in a small town, recorded in 1968. Riley was the first women ever to top the US pop and country singles charts with this song. The achievement would not be repeated until 1981 when Dolly Parton topped the same charts with the song you heard next – 9 to 5 – from the movie of the same name, about equality in the workplace.
Who better to close the show than Janis Joplin? This song was originally recorded by Big Mama Thornton and covered to perfection by Janis and Big Brother and the Holding Company in 1967. Here they are performing in Germany, 1969. The song: BALL & CHAIN.
Next week the theme will be UNLIKELY COVERS. Think Johnny Cash covering the Nine Inch Nails track HURT or Sonic Youth’s version of the Carpenters SUPERSTAR, that kind of thing. I’d love to hear from you with your own suggestions.
Here’s this week’s full playlist:
Hot Topic – Le Tigre
I’m A Woman – Peggy Lee
The Pill – Loretta Lynn
Fat Bottomed Girls – Queen
Bootylicious – Survivor, Destiny’s Child
She’s My Man, Ta-Dah, Scissor Sisters
Courtship of Eddie’s Father – Movie clip
Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves, Aretha Franklin/Annie Lennox
Can’t Hold Us Down – Stripped, Christina Aguilera and Lil Kim
Boys Wanna Be Her, Impeach My Bush, Peaches
Don’t Call Me Baby, Madison Avenue
School Boy – Ball n Chain, Big Mama Thornton
Gotta Gimme Watcha Got – Sugar in My Bowl, Julia & Her Boyfriends
You Don’t Own Me, Billboard Top 100 of 1964, Lesley Gore
Bad Attitude – Diamohds in the Asphalt, Truckstop Honeymoon
Paper Planes – Kala, M.I.A.
Pretty Girls – Blacklisted, Neko Case
Woman – Double Fantasy, John Lennon
New Attitude – Patti Labelle
Who The Hell Are You? – Madison Avenue
Women Know Your Limits – Harry Enfield BBC (Comedy Clip)
Bad Reputation – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Respect – Aretha Franklin
Not A Pretty Girl – Not A Pretty Girl, Ani DiFranco
Woman Is The Nigger of the World, The John Lennon Collection, John Lennon
Harper Valley P.T.A. – 60 Number One Hits of the 60’s, Jeannie C. Riley
9-5 – The Essential Dolly Parton, Dolly Parton
Ball & Chain – Cheap Thrills, Janis Joplin/Big Brother & the Holding Company
Next week: UNLIKELY COVERS
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
I had a lot of fun getting this week’s list together because there’s just so much to choose from when it comes to DUETS. We opened with the perfectly pitched IT TAKES TWO from Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston. The hit single was released in 1966 on Motown’s Tamla label.
Iggy Pop and Deborah Harry do an amazing job with WELL DID YOU EVAH. Who would have thought that Cole Porter’s quaint double act from the film High Society,originally sung by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, would be handled so well by two punk icons? Here’s a treat: a video created by director Alex Cox (“Sid & Nancy”), that incorporates some of High Society/Frank & Bing with Iggy and Deb’s version. Great stuff:
We followed with the hilariously argumentative Otis Redding and Carla Thomas with TRAMP and then some more Marvin Gaye, this time with Tammi Terrell. Until Tammi’s death from a brain tumour in 1970, she and Marvin Gaye were regarded as Motown’s perfect pairing. Choosing the “best” of Gaye’s duets with Terrell is a little crazy, but I chose REAL THING over the much covered ‘Aint No Mountain High Enough’ which seems to get enough exposure without my help.
Time then for a boy on boy duet: Freddy Mercury and David Bowie’s anxious little melodrama, UNDER PRESSURE. Born out of an impromptu jam session, it evolved into one of the most inspiring musical moments of the 1980s.
Dusty Springfield and the Pet Shop Boys’ rendition of WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE THIS? helped revive Dusty’s career in the U.S. when it was released in 1987. We followed with SOMETIMES ALWAYS from Jim Reid of the Jesus and Mary Chain and his singing partner Hope Sandoval from Mazzy Star. Here’s a clip of them performing live at the MTV studios:
Let’s face it, country music is the spiritual home of the duet. Two great examples: Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood with the wonderful and haunting SOME VELVET MORNING and JACKSON from Johnny Cash and June Carter.
Iggy Pop seems to love to duet. Last week he featured with Peaches and this week he turns up twice; this time with Kate Pierson of the B-52s. The song? CANDY is the tale of an ex-con reaching out to his lost love after 20 years. It makes brilliant use of Iggy’s sly, world-weary baritone and Pierson’s sunny tones. The result is an modern-rock classic. Take a look:
PJ Harvey and Thom Yorke, of Radiohead, offered up THIS MESS WE’RE IN. It’s kind of what you would expect from these two isn’t it? Profoundly gloomy and yet impossibly beautiful. Peter Gabriel with Kate Bush aren’t quite as melancholic as she gives Pete some great lifestyle tips on their gorgeous duet DON’T GIVE UP.
Another wonderful duet is COME ON OVER, from Isobel Campbell (ex Belle & Sebastien) and Mark Langegan (ex Queens of the Stone Age). Qualifies for probably the sexiest song on the list this week.
The Youssou N’Dour & Neneh Cherry track SEVEN SECONDS was a huge worldwide hit in 1994. The song is about the first seven seconds in a child’s life, when he or she is totally unaware of the problems and violence in the world. A timeless classic:
Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris cover Roy Orbison’s LOVE HURTS and do a pretty good job of it but we had to have the real thing and the stand-out duet has to be Roy Orbison and kd lang with, of course, CRYING. Now you didn’t think I’d leave that one out did you?
Another goodie that takes a more optimistic viewpoint of partnerships: Chrissie Hynde performing I’VE GOT YOU BABE with UB40. This cover of Sonny & Cher’s signature tune was recorded in 1985 and reached #1 in the UK that year, as did the original 20 years earlier.
Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty do a great version of STOP DRAGGIN MY HEART AROUND and Tina Turner and Brian Adams aren’t half bad either with their cover of Robert Palmer’s ADDICTED TO LOVE.
We followed with a brilliant triple-play: Ray Charles and Gladys Knight with HEAVEN HELP US ALL from the Genius Loves Company album, the great Jackie Wilson and Laverne Baker with THINK TWICE and Al Green and Lyle Lovett singing FUNNY HOW TIME SLIPS AWAY. Here’s proof positive that white men from Texas do have soul:
Another terrific triple play: Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan with ONE TOO MANY MORNINGS followed by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue with WHERE THE WILD ROSES GROW and the piece de resistance, in my book, Jack White and Loretta Lynn with PORTLAND OREGAN from Loretta’s amazing album Van Lear Rose. Love the album, love this song, love this clip:
But when it came to closing the show I couldn’t go past a piece of music that sums up, what has to be, a perfect pairing: Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald singing DANCING CHEEK TO CHEEK. Recorded in 1957 and accompanied by the Oscar Petersen trio and Buddy Rich on drums, you can’t listen to this song without smiling. As the song goes “Heaven, I’m in heaven….”
Next week’s show falls on the 12th of January – My Birthday! Yes I’m a Capricorn, just like Elvis, David Bowie, Annie Lennox …. Ah ha, I’m in great company. So in honour of all of us having birthdays, next week’s theme is GOING OUT AND PARTYING. Send me your suggestions.
Thanks for all your support this year. Have a wonderful 2010! Here’s this week’s playlist:
Next week: GOING OUT AND PARTYING
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time.
Hello thrillseekers! One of my regular listeners contacted me to say that after tuning into the show each week they felt as if they had been on a rollercoaster. I’m not sure if it was supposed to be a compliment but, hey, it’s not called Theme Park for nothing!! What I love about a program that investigates a different theme each week is that it necessitates me listening to music that I wouldn’t have otherwise. This week’s show did that for me with all kinds of songs about shoes – from sneakers to high heels, boots and shoes of every colour. But, more importantly, it took me on a musical trip that stretched from jazz and blues right through to hip-hop – and I loved every minute of it. So, this is how this week’s ride went:
We opened the show with BETTY LOU’S GOT A NEW PAIR OF SHOES by John Caferty & The Beaver Brown Band. They played the music on the Eddie and the Cruisers film soundtrack. I don’t think it was a great movie but the soundtrack did very well. And then it was one of my favourite tracks of the show: Kirsty McColl with IN THESE SHOES? Kirsty sadly passed away in a controversial accident a few years ago. Here she is appearing on a UK television program in 2000.
Some great funk followed with STEPPIN IN HER I. MILLER SHOES from Betty Davis, (ex wife of Miles Davis). Now if you haven’t heard of the I. Miller Shoe Company let me enlighten you. Israel Miller started his career as a designer and maker of shoes for the theatrical profession in New York. The I. Miller Shoe Company took over a large building in Times Square that he had remodelled in 1926 with decorative sculptures on the building’s façade. The building was a tribute to the theatrical profession with statues depicting Ethel Barrymore, Marilyn Miller and Mary Pickford. The store’s slogan, (and I love this), was “The Show Folks Shoe Shop Dedicated to Beauty in Footware.” Another tidbit: In the mid 1950’s the I. Miller Shoe Company hired artist Andy Warhol on a retainer as their chief illustrator. You can still find examples of their shoes for sale on sites such as E-Bay and they, and the catalogues, are highly sought after.
Adam Ant sang GOODY TWO SHOES: “don’t drink, don’t smoke, goody, goody two shoes”. My guess is that Adam Ant is miles away from being a ‘goody two shoes’ but that’s what makes the song so memorable I guess. Check out this wonderfully kitch clip from the Solid Gold TV show of 1982. Ten points to Adam for the dance moves.
The Gorillaz impressed with GET THE COOL SHOE SHINE and then it was NEW SHOES by the very gorgeous Paolo Nutini from his 2007 album, These Streets: “Hey, I put some new shoes on, And suddenly everything is right, I said, hey, I put some new shoes on and everybody’s smiling, It’s so inviting…”. Yes, Paolo I couldn’t agree more. Buying a new pair of shoes is the answer to all the world’s problems. Well, it’s as good a theory, as any, for being a shoe-a-holic, so I’ll stick with it. Here he is performing the song live at Bush Studios in the UK. Very talented…. and good looking too, which can’t hurt.
One of the defining tracks of Acid Rock was Traffic’s HOLE IN MY SHOE, so that got a play. And then it was time for some Blues and you can’t get better than Ruthie Foster singing DEATH CAME A-KNOCKIN’ (TRAVELLIN’ SHOES), Joe South & the Believers with the classic, WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES and Bobby Blue Bland with TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES.
My discovery this week was an album called Van Lear Rose. This was a collaboration between Loretta Lynn and Jack White of the White Stripes. It’s a Grammy award-winning album that was intended as a musical experiment, blending the styles of Lynn and White. The title refers to Lynn’s origins as the daughter of a miner working the Van Lear coal-mines. Until this week I have to confess that I hadn’t heard of the album but I am now a big fan. I played LITTLE RED SHOES – an outstanding track spoken, not sung, by Lynn. Amazing.
A very young Roy Orbison covered Carl Perkins’ BLUE SUEDE SHOES with his band, The Teen Kings, and then Robert Parker cranked out a hit from the 60s called BAREFOOTIN’. Graham Parker and The Rumour appear to know all about SOUL SHOES and the Presidents of the United States have a thing for PUFFY LITTLE SHOES, whatever they are….
I’m a big R&B fan and adore Chuck Willis’ rendition of HANG UP MY ROCK AND ROLL SHOES and Tommy Tucker’s HIGH HEEL SNEAKERS, so they had to make the list. And then Patti Griffin dedicated her song, BURGUNDY SHOES, to her Mother. We followed that with the Jenny Lewis track LET MY SHOES LEAD ME FORWARD from her terrific 2005 album Love and Youth. Here’s the clip, an animation, featuring 500 pairs of shoes. It was directed by Johannes Nyholm, Perisak Snalls and Andreas Nilsson. Brilliant fun.
I’m a new convert to Hip-Hop, (let’s face it, its not my era!) but when Rapper Slug from Atmosphere sings: “Those are your shoes, these are my shoes, we’ve got issues”, it does speak to me. Yes, we all know that the right or wrong shoe can define a relationship. The song’s name? SHOES (of course).
I couldn’t omit the fabulous Nancy Sinatra from the list and THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING brought back lots of memories. And it was great to discover that MAXWELL SMART is still talking into his shoe-phone when we played a nice little extract from Get Smart.
Ella Fitzgerald contributed the very cute GOTTA PEBBLE IN MY SHOE, Paul Kelly told us that YOU CAN PUT YOUR SHOES UNDER MY BED, (I bet he says that to all the girls), and the very lovely Katie Melua sang a great ballad – BLUE SHOES.
Steely Dan’s song BAD SNEAKERS is just as much about Pina Coladas as it is about shoes. Elvis Costello, apparently, is into RED SHOES. Here’s the Buddy Holly look-alike belting out RED SHOES on Top of the Pops in 1977. Loving the comments superimposed towards the end of the song. Take a look.
The Disco era wouldn’t have been complete without our last song this week: KC and the Sunshine Band with BOOGIE SHOES. A suitably upbeat finale that had us all up dancing.
Here’s the complete playlist:
Betty Lou’s Got A New Pair Of Shoes – John Caferty & The Beaver Brown Band
In These Shoes? – Kirsty McColl
Two Shoes – The Cat Empire
Steppin In Her I Miller Shoes – Betty Davis
Walk In My Shoes Feat Lupe Fiasco – Emily King
mr bowling shoe giver outer – Vintage radio commercial
Goody Two Shoes – Adam Ant
Let’s Dance – David Bowie
Get The Cool Shoe Shine – Gorillaz
New Shoes – Paolo Nutini
Hole In My Shoe – Traffic
Take off Your Shoes – Bobby Blue Bland
Death Came A-Knockin’ (Travelin’ Shoes) – Ruthie Foster
Walk A Mile In My Shoes – Joe South & The Believers
Little Red Shoes – Loretta Lynn
Blue Suede Shoes – Roy Orbison
Barefootin – Robert Parker
Soul Shoes – Graham Parker & The Rumour
Puffy Little Shoes – The Presidents Of The United States Of America
Hang Up My Rock And Roll Shoes – Chuck Willis
Hi-Heel Sneakers – Tommy Tucker
Burgundy Shoes – Patty Griffin
Let My Shoes Lead Me Forward – Jenny Wilson
Maxwell Smart Clip from Get Smart
These Boots Are Made For Walking – Nancy Sinatra
Shoes – Atmosphere
Gotta Pebble In My Shoe – Ella Fitzgerald
You Can Put Your Shoes Under My Bed – Paul Kelly
Blue Shoes – Katie Melua
Red Shoes – Elvis Costello
Bad Sneakers – Steely Dan
Boogie Shoes – K.C. and The Sunshine Band
Next week: each song will be about RADIO!
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM Tuesdays 2-4pm, (Sydney time). Also streaming on http://www.bayfm.org