This week’s theme is inspired by the fact that Iggy Pop is headlining our major youth concert, The Big Day Out this month. And Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello and Jethro Tull will all be here in April for the Byron Blues Festival. I’m a baby boomer, so I’m ecstatic to be able to see all my heroes from the 60’s still performing. But, I have to ask: what is it about the first generation of rock n rollers – what keeps them going?
The reality is that from the moment rock music arrived on the scene it was a young person’s game: music made by young people for young people. It never intended to grow up or grow old. But it did. So what happens when rock’s youthful rebelliousness is delivered wrapped in wrinkles?
Lemmy from Motorhead has a formula for staying alive. He reckons you just breath (at all times). Lemmy, like Keith Richards, is one of the all time rock n roll survivors and therefore much revered by fans of a similar vintage.
Much to the dismay of our children, we baby boomers have carried on being the oldest swingers in town. We haven’t shown any sign of giving up on rock concerts, taking recreational drugs, (if we want to), and staying up all night. It’s why the biggest earners for rock concerts aren’t the Lady Gagas of the world, but veteran performers like AC/DC, The Eagles, Paul McCartney and The Who.
On MY GENERATION The Who were actually saying that they hoped they’d die before they got old. Hey, hold on a minute, they’re still singing it and they ARE old. What happened?
What happened started in the 50s when an entirely new species emerged with its very own music. They were called teenagers. And their music was called rock n roll:
Rock n roll created something special: The joy of hearing your parents shout out: “Turn that bloody racket down!” Because one of the social functions of rock has always been the defiance of the older generation. For performers like Elvis every gesture, every note was all about social disenfranchisement and rebellion. Elvis hit the scene wearing pink and black and leather outfits. He looked more like a pimp than a musician. “Outrageous!” reeled the grown-ups. But to the teenagers, he represented an escape from the stuffiness of the post-World War Two era.
No-one, even the musicians themselves, took rock and pop seriously, though. It was seen as a novelty, something that wasn’t meant to last. As the soundtrack to growing pains, it was temporary and disposable just like the people who made it.
By the early 60’s Beatlemania was gripping youth’s attention. The Establishment, however, remained doubtful that it was a fever that would last. Even the Beatles accepted the idea of their own inbuilt obsolescence.
With Beatlemania, and the British Invasion in general, many of the young established groups were being left behind. The tyranny of youth dictated that if you didn’t change with the times, you were old hat. One of the new incumbents was the band Manfred Mann.
In 1965 The Who recorded one of the ultimate anthems to youth, one that damned growing up and growing old. The young went on the offensive claiming their territory through guitar, bass and drums. The older generation were still recovering from a World War and all they wanted was some peace and quiet. To the younger generation old age just seemed really boring.
Ironically, the British Beat boom of the mid 60’s was based on music that was already old. Bands like the Stones, The Animals & Manfred Mann worshipped American Blues of the 20s 30s and 40s. Their recording heroes were still alive, but by rock roll’s new standards they were old men. Charlie Parker was born in 1920, Miles Davis in 1926 & Muddy Waters in 1913.
The self-absorbed rebelliousness of rock n roll gathered speed with the Rolling Stones. While the Who were busy burying the older generation, the Stones were singing about finding their satisfaction in sex.
The arrival of album culture in the late 60s proved that rock n roll was now thinking more in the long term. It didn’t sound disposable anymore. It was growing up, just like the people who made it. The Beatles Sgt Peppers album dared to imagine what life would be like at SIXTY FOUR. Up until now that was completely unthinkable for the baby boomer generation.
In the same year that the Beatles released the Sgt Peppers album, Procol Harum had a hit single with WHITER SHADE OF PALE. Things had started to get serious. The more experienced young musicians began wondering how far they could take their music. And they took their diehard fans with them. In many cases the fans had grown up with these bands and, along the way, they’d developed an appreciation of lyrics and music with more depth.
The end of the sixties saw the beginning of the rock n roll casualty list. The death of Brian Jones in 1969 seemed to crystalise a ‘live fast, die young’ attitude and brought a new reality to “I hope I die before I get old.” Janis Jopliin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix all died at 27, confirming the myth that if you wanted to be a rock legend you had to die young.
The Stones, however, seemed determined to mature. After the death of Brian Jones they picked themselves up and went back on the road. For the band, it wasn’t over yet.
By the end of the 60’s the Stones had discovered the secret of survival, at least for now. Unfortunately, the Beatles didn’t. As if to prove that longevity and rock n roll was difficult for a group of young guys growing up together, they split in 1970. The Fab Four would go on to enjoy successful solo careers for many years to come but the surge of creativity that fed them in their youth proved more elusive for them and their generation as they grew older.
Today, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and Pete Townsend can play arenas 45 years after they first had hits. Which is great. But the real question is: are they writing great songs? Or is the outpouring of creativity that launched their careers a factor of youth?
Herman’s Hermits got together in 1963 when lead singer Peter Noone was only 16. Their very first release, I’M INTO SOMETHING GOOD, was a #1 hit and although future recordings would get into the top ten, they were never to have a UK #1 again. The band, without Noone, continue to perform to this day and Peter Noone has gone on to have a successful career as both a singer and actor.
In the early 70’s, no performer demonstrated rock n roll’s reliance on youthful invention and raw power more than Iggy Pop. Here’s a great little doco that illustrates why he is known as the “Godfather of Punk”:
Not all rock n roll of the early 70’s was an expression of sexual energy and youthful physicality. By now prog rock was plundering the classical music collections so beloved of its middle class parents, as proof of its intention to last. It’s perpetrators, bands like Yes & Jethro Tull, seemed to be contemplating careers beyond the age of 30.
Performers found themselves living with their songs and growing into their material. One of the most requested songs from troops serving in Vietnam was I GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE by Eric Burdon & The Animals. Burdon continues to perform this song today when he entertains servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, it’s written into his contract. That’s what they call an anthem, folks.
In 1976, before the 60’s generation had a chance to mature, they were rudely cast aside by punk. It was a three-chord reign of terror, the ultimate Oedipal act. Snarling, spitting and clawing its way to the stage.
These weren’t the kids of the optimistic 60’s but a new young generation who felt abandoned. Everyone was in their way and, as always, no one understood them.
The bands of the post-punk era, like the Specials and Madness, while less dismissive of the past, still believed that rock and pop music were part of an essentially young experience.
In the early 80’s the Stones were back, yet again, having been absent from the stage for 6 years – while punk and its aftermath were the centre of attention. They were proving that they were in for the long haul.
In July 1985 the benefits of hanging in for the long term reached unexpected and unprecedented heights, with Live Aid. The international event sometimes looked like a version of Dad’s Army with acts like Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, The Who, and the Beach Boys joining pop stars of the 80s on stage. Watched by more than 400 million viewers in 60 countries, this was the rock n roll survivor’s finest hour. Suddenly being 40 didn’t seem so uncool. These were the masters, the legends, the acts deemed capable of feeding the world.
A lot of young people heard some of the older bands for the first time, saying “These bands are fantastic.” And then, the most hated people in their musical vocabulary, their parents, responded with “Yeah, we know, we love them too!”
What had begun with Live Aid in the 80’s continued into the 90s with projects like War Child. Performers from three generations of rock n roll – Paul McCartney, Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher recorded COME TOGETHER, in the new spirit of multi-generational tolerance. It was no longer a case of ‘My Generation’ but ‘Your Generation too”. Just as importantly, audiences for the music also started to span generations.
The new millennium witnessed an entirely new phenomenon: the revival and the comeback. Leonard Cohen, already in his 70’s, had decided to stop performing and recording altogether. At least that was the plan. But after having all his money misappropriated by a crooked manager, he had to go back on the road. And guess what, he loves it!
Audiences who had grown up and grown old with their heroes wanted them back. Age had invested their favourite bands with a new authenticity. Performers couldn’t believe their luck. Even Brian Wilson returned from the wilderness to be a Beach Boy once again.
Rock n roll is now revelling in a long life. What was about risk and youth is now about enjoying a grand old age. It’s about longevity, survival, nostalgia. Refusing to grow up, give up or shut up. The whole point of the baby boomer generation is that we made it up from the beginning and we’ve been making it up ever since. We’ve been pushing the boundaries, and unlike our parents, we’ve refused to accept old age.
Many thanks to BBC and You Tube community for the wealth of material, without which this week’s show would not be possible.
Next week, my special guests will be The Fridays, performing live in the studio, plus lots of songs about RESOLUTIONS. Any suggestions/requests, please leave me a message here.
In the meantime, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Lust For Life, Trainspotting soundtrack, Iggy Pop
My Generation, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack, The Who
Johnny B. Goode, Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues, Chuck Berry
Jailhouse Rock, Elvis Presley
Get A Job, Get a Job, The Silhouettes
Paul McCartney quote
Twist And Shout, Please Please Me, The Beatles
Paul Jones quote
Come Tomorrow, The Five Faces of Manfred Mann, Manfred Mann
(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man, Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues, Muddy Waters
Let’s Spend The Night Together, Hot Rocks 1964-1971, The Rolling Stones
When I’m Sixty-Four, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles
She’s Leaving Home, Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles
A Whiter Shade Of Pale, The Big Chill soundtrack, Procol Harum
Brown Sugar, Sticky Fingers, The Rolling Stones
Peter Noone quote
I’m Into Something Good, The Original 60’s Summertime album, Herman’s Hermits
Iggy Pop i/view
Search And Destroy, Raw Power, Iggy Pop & The Stooges
Too Old To Rock ‘N’ Roll, Too Young To Die, Jethro Tull
We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place, The Most of the Animals, The Animals
God Save The Queen, Never Mind the Bollocks, The Sex Pistols
Too Much Too Young, The Singles Collection, The Specials
Baggy Trousers, Complete Madness, Madness
Mick Jagger quote
Start Me Up, Tattoo You, The Rolling Stones
Rockin’ All Over The World, Rockin’ All Over The World, Status Quo
Surfin’ USA, Endless Summer Legends, The Beach Boys
We Will Rock You, News of the World, Queen
Come Together, Help (War Child Benefit), Paul Weller & Friends
1969 (with i/view), Iggy Pop
In My Secret Life, Ten New Songs, Leonard Cohen
God Only Knows, Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys
Forever Young, Napolean Dynamite soundtrack, Alphaville
Next week: RESOLUTIONS
Ok, so there are intros and then they’re are great intros. What qualifies as great in my books? In this week’s playlist some songs feature opening segments that are totally independent from the rest of the track. Others just start with the main riff. Our opening song, INTRO/SWEET JANE is from Lou Reed’s live album Rock n Roll Animal, released in 1974, and it’s a terrific example of a great intro. The opening jam from guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner creates an air of anticipation for what is still to come. The quality of this video clip isn’t great but I had to include it because any chance to see Lou and the band performing in 1974 is worth the annoyance.
The Breeders, (what a brilliant name for an almost all girl band), was formed in 1988 by Kim Deal of The Pixies and Tanya Donnelly of Throwing Muses. Their most successful album Last Splash produced the hit single CANNONBALL and the outstanding part of that song’s intro is the bass line, performed by Josephine Wiggs. The music video was directed by Kim Gordon and Spike Jonze and its a doozy:
The opening salutation on Stevie Wonder’s SIR DUKE is not an introduction that blends into the song; those actual chords are never repeated. It’s a tribute to Duke Ellington and so the intro sets the tone for the piece as a whole, foreshadowing the looser, jazzier solos later in the song.
On Isaac Hayes’ brilliant funk version of the Dionne Warwick classic WALK ON BY the intro becomes a song within a song. On this clip Isaac performs live at Music Scene in 1969. OMG: Sex on a stick. But, about those girls dresses…..
The song ONE STEP BEYOND is from the Madness album of the same name. It was originally written and recorded by the Jamaican ska musician Prince Buster. The spoken line, “Don’t watch that, watch this” in the intro is from another Prince Buster song The Scorcher. Here they are at Glastonbury 2007 showing why they have such a great reputation for live performance:
One of the most recognisable intros in rock history is HOTEL CALIFORNIA from The Eagles. But when it comes to intros that get your attention and then drag you in, kicking and screaming, it has to be rock legends Led Zeppelin. IMMIGRANT SONG is famous for Robert Plant’s distinctive wailing cry at the beginning and the recurring staccato riff from Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and, (sigh), John Bonham.
The Rolling Stones’ GIMME SHELTER starts rather timidly, with Keith Richards’ set of wavering chords, but it soon builds into a crescendo dominated by the lead guitar line. Here they are performing live in Amsterdam, 1995 with Lisa Fisher on back-up. Watch until the end and get a little bonus from Charlie Watts.
SMOKE ON THE WATER from Deep Purple is known for Ritchie Blackmore’s instantly recognisable opening riff. The lyrics of the song tell a true story: on 4 December 1971 Deep Purple had set up camp in Montreux Switzerland to record an album using a mobile recording studio at the entertainment complex that was part of the Montreux Casino. On the eve of the recording session a Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention concert was held in the casino’s theatre. In the middle of Don Preston’s synthesizer solo on “King Kong”, the place suddenly caught fire when somebody in the audience fired a flare gun into the rattan covered ceiling. The resulting fire destroyed the entire casino complex, along with all the Mothers’ equipment. The “smoke on the water” that became the title of the song referred to the smoke from the fire spreading over Lake Geneva from the burning casino as the members of Deep Purple watched the fire from their hotel across the lake.
It was difficult to pick from AC/DC’s repertoire of great introductions but I went with my all-time favourite, THUNDERSTRUCK. Angus Young gets the crowd going during this intro at Donnington 1991:
Derek & The Dominoes’ LAYLA has got to be one of rock’s definitive love songs. The introduction contains an overdub-heavy guitar solo, a duet of sorts between Duane Allman’s slide guitar and Eric Clapton’s bent notes.
A couple of controversial tracks followed, both with unique introductions. FIRESTARTER, by UK band The Prodigy, caught attention because the song was deemed, by some, to be violent. The video clip, directed by Walter Stern, further fueled these claims. Shot in stark black and white, in an used part of the London Underground, some television stations refused to air the clip. Which just makes me want to show it to you, even more! I think its brilliant.
The Prodigy are a hard act to follow but I think we succeeded with the compelling and dark Massive Attack track INTERTIA CREEPS. It’s from their excellent album Mezzanine.
When The Temptations’ PAPA WAS A ROLLING STONE was released in 1972 it was 12 minutes long! Thankfully there is a shorter version that’s suitable for radio that keeps that amazing intro intact. It begins with an extended instrumental starting with a solo plucked bass guitar, backed by hi-hat cymbals. Other instruments including a blues guitar, wah-wah guitar, Wurlitzer Electric Piano, handclaps, horns and strings gradually join in.
In 1974 David Bowie became obsessed with soul music and it resulted in the album YOUNG AMERICANS, which he created with the help of the great soul singer Luther Vandross. Here’s the Thin White Duke on the Dick Cavett Show in 1974 with, amongst others, Vandross singing back-up! Loving the shoulder pads.
The Beatles track I FEEL FINE was the first recorded song to feature guitar feedback. The story goes that, while recording, John Lennon accidentally left his guitar too close to his amp, producing the interesting whine that’s in tune with the riff’s opening note.
As an intro to our Gig Guide, I couldn’t resist playing some of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I PUT A SPELL ON YOU. The demented opening and the cabaret style act, together with a cigarette smoking skull called ‘Henry’, laid the foundation for future ‘shock rock’ performers like Dr. John.
Another iconic opener belongs to the The Small Faces tune TIN SOLDIER. Here’s some rare coverage of the band with P.P.Arnold on Belgium TV in 1968. Go the Mods!
Quentin, from BayFM’s ‘Q’s Blues & Jazz’ suggested I do a show on Roads and Streets but I’d already done that quite a while ago. (I know, even I can’t remember what themes I’ve covered most of the time!). But she planted a seed that led me to Gerry Rafferty BAKER STREET and that consequently led to this week’s theme. So thank you Q! BAKER STREET has a stand-out opening with its prominent eight-bar saxophone hook, played by Raphael Ravenscroft.
As we headed for the close of the show, my favourite rock groups came to the fore. Pink Floyd’s MONEY had to be included for its distinctive opening of an impressive bass line and its seven-beat loop of money related sound effects.
While the Beatles may have been the first band to use feedback on a recording, the incredible Jimi Hendrix perfected the art. Again, which track to choose? FOXY LADY has always been a favourite and it does feature that almost excrutiating feedback at the beginning.
Our final track had me pushing up the sound and dancing out of the studio. Led Zeppelin seem to specialise in fantastic opening segments. A track that I absolutely adore is KASHMIR.
Next week we’ll be previewing the Mullumbimby Music Festival. Lots of great music and, I hope, an interview or two. Should be fun.
Here’s the complete playlist from this week’s show on Great Introductions:
Intro / Sweet Jane – Rock And Roll Animal, Lou Reed
Cannonball – Last Splash, The Breeders
Sir Duke – Songs In The Key Of Life [Disc 1], Stevie Wonder
Walk On By – Dead Presidents, Isaac Hayes
One Step Beyond – Total Madness: The Very Best Of Madness Madness
Hotel California – Hotel California, The Eagles
Immigrant Song – Rock 3, Led Zeppelin
Gimme Shelter – Hot Rocks, 1964-1971 [Disc 2], The Rolling Stones
Wipe Out – The Perfect Wave, The Surfaris
Smoke On The Water – Machine Head, Deep Purple
Thunderstruck – Razor’s Edge, AC/DC
Layla – Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs, Derek and The Dominos
Firestarter – Fat of the Land, The Prodigy
Inertia Creeps – Mezzanine, Massive Attack
Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone – Motown: The Classic Years [Disc 2], The Temptations
Young Americans – Young Americans [Bonus Tracks], David Bowie
I Put A Spell On You – Replay/Gold – Vol 1 No 5, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
I Feel Fine – Beatles 1, The Beatles
Tin Soldier – The Best Sixties Album In The World Ever III-[Disc 2], The Small Faces
Baker Street – City To City, Gerry Rafferty
Money – Pink Floyd, Pink Floyd
Foxy Lady – Experience Hendrix: The Best Of Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix
Kashmir – Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin
Next week: MULLUMBIMBY MUSIC FESTIVAL PREVIEW
I can’t believe that going into our 5th season I still hadn’t put a show together on carnivals, circuses and the like. Well, we remedied that this week. A great introduction was supplied by Eddie Izzard doing a cover of The Beatles BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR KITE. It’s from the soundtrack to the film Across The Universe directed by Julie Taymor. “Just tune in, turn off, drop out, drop in, switch on, switch off, and explode!”
Yes, I know that the Red Hot Chilli Peppers do a great version of LOVE ROLLERCOASTER, but it was the original that made the playlist. It first appeared on the Ohio Players Honey album in 1975. In this clip from the television show Midnight Special, you get the bonus of Wolfman Jack doing the intro and some crazy boy dancers. Ahhh the 70’s.
Thanks to Ku Promotions for our giveaway this week: two tickets to The Audreys’ concert. They’re a band of four boys and one girl, playing rootsy kind of music and are based in Adelaide, Australia. They have released two records, one in 2006 called Between Last Night and Us and one in 2008 called When the Flood Comes, both of which has won the ARIA Award for Best Blues and Roots Album. I’ve seen them perform twice now and they really are a knockout. Their latest album, Sometimes the Stars, features the track TROUBLE SOMEHOW:
I love the collaborative work between Mark Lanegan (ex Queens of the Stone Age) and Isobel Campbell (ex Belle & Sebastian). THE CIRCUS IS LEAVING TOWN is from their latest album, Ballad of the Broken Seas. Here’s a great interview with them which features a slice of the song within it. It was shown when Isobel won the Mercury Prize for the album, which she produced.
Total change of pace came with a couple of tracks from the 60’s: Al Johnson with CARNIVAL TIME from his 1962 album, Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Freddie Cannon with his hit, PALISADES PARK. And just to mix it up a bit I threw in some Fun Lovin’ Criminals with CONEY ISLAND GIRL.
The Stylistics were one of the most successful soul groups of the early 70’s and their song SIDESHOW fitted the theme perfectly. As did a true classic from Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – THE TEARS OF A CLOWN.
Nellie the Elephant is a classic children’s song written in 1956. It became a UK #1 hit for punk band, The Toy Dolls, when they covered the song in 1983. Michael ‘Olga’ Algar, led vocalist, guitar and bass player, is the only remaining member of the original line-up, who continue to perform. I love the way that they used the aesthetics of punk to express a real sense of fun.
This following clip is from the Martin Scorsese film The Last Waltz, a documentary of the concert by The Band, held on Thanksgiving Day, November 25 1976. It was advertised as the group’s last show and they were joined by an illustrious line-up of talent including Van Morrison. Here they are with CARAVAN:
The Decemberists’ songs range from upbeat pop to instrumentally lush ballads, and often employ instruments like the accordian, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer organ and upright bass. In their lyrics, the band rejects the angst and introspection common to modern rock and instead favour a storytelling approach, as evidenced in songs such as MY MOTHER WAS A CHINESE TRAPEZE ARTIST. It’s from the 5 Songs EP.
The 1986 Madness song (Waiting for) THE GHOST TRAIN was actually about apartheid in South Africa but hey, I love the title and based on that alone it made the playlist.
“I got blisters on my fingers!!!!” yells Ringo Starr, (I think), at the end of The Beatles’ frenetic HELTER SKELTER. Written by Paul McCartney, he deliberately tried to create a sound that was as loud and dirty as possible. Done.
Moving onto something a lot more mellow, it was Alison Goldfrapp with the very beautiful CLOWNS from her 2008 album Seventh Tree. And you thought I only played the old stuff. Oh you of little faith!
With his astonishingly accomplished guitar playing, Stevie Ray Vaughan ignited the blues revival of the ’80s. He was inspired equally from bluesmen like Albert King, Otis Rush and Muddy Waters and rock & roll players like Jimi Hendrix and Lonnie Mack as well as the stray jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell, developing a uniquely eclectic and fiery style that sounded like no other guitarist, regardless of genre. It’s been said that Vaughan bridged the gap between blues and rock like no other artist had since the late ’60s. His tragic death in 1990, at the age of 35 in a helicopter accident, only emphasized his influence in blues and American rock & roll. Here he is with Double Trouble performing TIGHTROPE:
There Goes Rhymin’ Simon is the second solo studio album from Paul Simon, released in 1973. the album covers several styles and genres. Our choice from the album was, of course, TAKE ME TO THE MARDI GRAS.
Natalie Merchant has been quoted as saying that she named her first solo album Tigerlily because the word evoked a feeling that was both ‘fierce’ and delicate’. Released in 1995 the album included the hit single CARNIVAL in which the protaganist compares the colourful sights and sounds of New York with being at a carnival.
A trio of guilty pleasures were lined up next: Back in 1967 The Hollies released ON A CAROUSEL and Manfred Mann were also were enraptured with the circus on HA! HA! SAID THE CLOWN. But the guiltiest of pleasures was still to come: In 1971 Cher released her first chart-topper, as a solo artist, in the United States: GYPSIES, TRAMPS AND THIEVES. Come on, you’ve gotta love Cher!
Swedish group, The Cardigans, had their first international breakthrough with their 1995 album Life which included the track CARNIVAL, a very cruisy pop tune with the gorgeous Nina Persson on vocals.
Beirut is an interesting band. They’re American yet their music combines elements of Eastern European and Balkan folk with Western pop music. They successfully fuse mainstream and indie-rock with the World Music market and consequently have a very unique sound. CAROUSELS, from their 2007 album Lon Gisland, is a great example of their work.
Beirut proved to be a great lead in to our final song of the day, the very gothic CARNY by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. I love the use of accordian on this track (thanks to Warren Ellis). It gives the song an even more intense circus-like feel.
I’m happy to say that I’ll be back for another season of the Theme Park, same time same airspace. So keep listening locally on BayFM99.9 or streaming live on BayFM.org. And I’d love to get your suggestions for next week’s show, which will be on GAMBLING.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Being For The Beneﬁt Of Mr. Kite – Across The Universe, Eddie Izzard
Carnival – The Black Rider, Tom Waits
Love Rollercoaster – Funk Classics, The 70’s, Ohio Players
Enter The Circus – Back To Basics, Christina Aguilera
Troubles Somehow – Sometimes the Stars, The Audreys
The Circus Is Leaving Town – Ballad of the Broken Seas Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan
Carnival Time – Mardi Gras In New Orleans, Al Johnson
Palisades Park – The Rock ‘n’ Roll Classics, Freddy Cannon
Coney Island Girl – Come Find Yourself, Fun Lovin’ Criminals
Sideshow – Ultimate Slow Jams 9 [Disc 4], The Stylistics
The Tears Of A Clown – Motown’s Biggest Pop Hits, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
Nellie The Elephant – The Wonderful World Of The Toy Dolls, Toy Dolls
Caravan – The Last Waltz [Disc 2], The Band + Van Morrison
My Mother Was A Chinese Trapeze Artist – 5 Songs, The Decemberists
Goodbye Cruel World – Jukebox Hits 1961, James Darren
The Ghost Train – Rock TV Classic, Madness
Helter Skelter – The Beatles (White Album) [Disc 2], The Beatles
Clowns – Seventh Tree, Goldfrapp
Tightrope [Live] – SRV (Disc 3), Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
Take Me To The Mardi Gras – There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, Paul Simon
Carnival – Tigerlily, Natalie Merchant
Fire Eater – Naturally, Three Dog Night
Ha! Ha! Said The Clown – Manfred Mann
On A Carousel – The Hits Of 1967, The Hollies
Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves – Billboard Top Rock ‘N’ Roll Hits: 1971, Cher
Carnival – Life, The Cardigans
Carousels – The Lon Gisland EP, Beirut
The Carny – The Best Of, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds
When it comes to popular music, there’s crazy and then there’s CRAZY. According to a lot of the songs in our play-list today, crazy is how you feel when you’re infatuated with someone and hey, while that can be confusing, its also a lot of fun. Even Sigmund Freud acknowledged: “one is very crazy when in love”.
The good thing about being a bit loopy is that it can produce some great songwriting. And while we included a lot of “crazy in love” type tunes in the show this week, we also entered into some heavy territory with material written by a few of our tortured souls. The truth is that any song about mental illness can make you uncomfortable to some extent, either because its too frivolous or because its too close to the bone. But you know that here at the Theme Park we like to live dangerously.
We opened the show with Gary Jules’ cover of the Tears for Fears song MAD WORLD. I first heard this version on the brilliantly eccentric movie Donnie Darko. Requested by Clare, it proved to be a great start to a show full of songs about trying to stay sane in this crazy, crazy world.
We moved on with a couple of fairly harmless tunes about losing your marbles – and from completley different ends of the musical spectrum: I THINK I’M PARANOID from Garbage and TWISTED from jazz legend Annie Ross, with help from Dave Lambert and Jon Hendricks.
A country tune that regards the issue of mental health very seriously indeed is called PSYCHO. The version we played was by Jack Kittel and, to be honest, it really creeped me out. So I was happy to follow with the more innocent NERVOUS BREAKDOWN, essentially an upbeat love song from the great Eddie Cochran.
Let’s get the Australian attitude to insanity into perspective: I had an email during the week from Sue, asking me for the origin of the expression ‘mad as a meat axe’, meaning ‘nuts, crazy or insane’. Here’s what I discovered: this is a uniquely Australian expression that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. It joins a whole group of expressions that start with the words ‘as mad as’ such as ‘mad as a beetle’ (the insect that is), ‘mad as a dingbat’, ‘mad as a gum tree full of galahs’ and ‘mad as a cut snake’. These expressions are recorded as far back as 1910 and are nothing more than verbal creativity gone wild.
And talking of wild, we had to include James Brown’s song about his fear that, if his girlfriend leaves him, he’ll GO CRAZY. And then it was one of the craziest songs (and videos) ever: The Avalanches with FRONTIER PSYCHIATRIST:
Had to include Gnarls Barkley’s hit CRAZY because, not only is it pop perfection, it was requested by both Lynden and Robyn. Al Royal from BayFM’s Friday 10pm slot, asked for INSANE IN THE BRAIN from Cypress Hill. And how could I refuse?
There’s always room for a great jazz standard and this week we included Peggy Lee with YOU’RE DRIVING ME CRAZY. Judi tells me she’s a huge Patsy Cline fan and so, as predictable as it might be, there was no way we were leaving out the queen of country’s signature tune, CRAZY.
Changing the tone somewhat, it was time for a track from someone who knows just a little bit about crazy behaviour: Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath with PARANOID. And you’ve got to love Goldie Lookin’ Chain’s YOUR MISSUS IS A NUTTER, supposedly about Posh & Becks.
According to The Pixies songwriter, Black Francis, WAVE OF MUTILATION is about “Japanese businessmen doing murder-suicides with their families because they’d failed in business, and they’re driving off a pier into the ocean.” Wild concepts like this make The Pixies a hard act to follow, but Beth Hart gives it a good shot with a cover of Belinda Carlisle’s LEAVE THE LIGHT ON:
The novelty song, HOORAY, HOORAY, I’M GOING AWAY was recorded in 1947, by Beatrice Kay, and it’s an obvious forerunner to Napolean 14th’s 60’s hit, THEY’RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY, HA HA. Born in 1907, Beatrice was a singer, vaudevillian, stage and film actress and she even hosted her own radio show. She died in 1979.
Still alive and kicking is the wonderful Mose Allison who gave us one of the ‘crazy in love’ songs that make up a lot of this week’s show: LOST MIND. But if you’re looking for authenticity in your songs about madness, then country singer Porter Wagoner is your man. He wrote THE RUBBER ROOM after spending some time in a mental hospital for a little R&R.
Which brings us to 19th NERVOUS BREAKDOWN from the Rolling Stones. Released in 1966 on the Aftermath album, it’s well known for Bill Wyman’s dive-bombing bass line at the end of the song:
But if you want to talk scary mad, then it has to be the brilliant PSYCHO KILLER from the one and only Talking Heads.
Whew, I was feeling the need for a little more lightness in the list. Relief came with one of the great Blues artists, Little Walter, with CRAZY MIXED UP WORLD. And despite the title of the song, there is nothing but pure joy in the song that gave a certain Ska group their name: from Prince Buster it is, of course, MADNESS. Here he is performing alongside Suggs and Georgie Fame. How good is that?
Green Day’s contribution to our line-up of loony tunes was BASKET CASE and we followed with one of the first grunge/garage bands, The Sonics, with PSYCHO. Love that band! Kurt Cobain cited them as a great influence, so it was fitting that we included a track from the group whose lead singer and songwriter suffered from manic depression and drug dependency that, unfortunately, led to his suicide. I chose the Nirvana song they wrote about another tragic public figure: FRANCES FARMER WILL HAVE HER REVENGE ON SEATTLE.
But if you want to talk influential then The Ramones are on everyone’s list. So much to choose from with these guys and requests by multiple listeners, but for me it had to be I WANNA BE SEDATED.
Bruce Hornsby is a versatile and prolific artist. Known for the spontaneity and creativity of his live performances, Hornsby draws frequently from classical, jazz, bluegrass, folk, Motown, rock, blues and jam band musical traditions with his songwriting. But we didn’t play one of his originals today but instead it was a great version he does of Elton John’s MADMAN ACROSS THE WATER.
Theme Park is followed by a great show called Postmodern Backlash, (still not quite sure what that means!), and its hosted by Hudson. So because I know that he loves his calypso music I also included The Mighty Sparrow with MAD BOMBER.
We finished the show with Pink Floyd’s SHINE ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND. The song is their tribute to former band member Syd Barrett who left the band in 1968 amidst speculation of mental illness aggravated by heavy drug use. As gloomy as that sounds it’s a beautiful piece of music and a fitting end to the program.
Next week I’ll be celebrating Australia’s first female Prime Minister (go Julia!) with a show on WOMEN. I’d love to receive your requests and suggestions.
And here’s my final word on madness: Remember what Hunter S Thompson had to say: “I wouldn’t recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
Here’s this week full list:
Mad World – Donnie Darko Soundtrack, Gary Jules
I Think I´m Paranoid – Version 2.0, Garbage
Twisted – Jazz Legends: Divas (Disc 2), Annie Ross +Lambert/Hendricks
Movie Clip – Insane Asylum
Psycho – Jack Kittel
Nervous Breakdown – Eddie Cochran
I’ll Go Crazy – Try Me, James Brown
Frontier Psychiatrist – Frontier Psychiatrist, The Avalanches
Crazy – Gnarls Barkley
Insane in the Brain – Black Sunday, Cypress Hill
You’re Driving Me Crazy – While We’re Young, Peggy Lee
Crazy – Patsy Cline
Paranoid – Paranoid, Black Sabbath
Mad Lad – You Never Can Tell (His Complete Chess Recordings, Chuck Berry
Your Missus Is A Nutter – Goldie Lookin’ Chain
Wave of Mutilation – Pump up the Volume [Motion Picture Soundtrack], The Pixies
Leave The Light On – Leave the Light On, Beth Hart
Hooray Hooray I’m Going Away – Beatrice Kay
Lost Mind – Promised Land, Mose Allison
The Rubber Room – Porter Wagoner
19th Nervous Breakdown – Hot Rocks, 1964-1971 [Disc 1], The Rolling Stones
Clockwork Orange clip
Psycho Killer – Talking Heads
Crazy Mixed Up World – Rock N’ Roll ’50s Blues Essentials, Little Walter
Madness – Prince Buster
Basket Case – Dookie, Green Day
Sound grab: Psycho/The Murder – Psycho/Hitchock, Composer Bernard Hermann/Los Angeles Philharmonic
Psycho – Maintaining My Cool, The Sonics
Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle – In Utero, Nirvana
I Wanna Be Sedated – The Ramones
Madman Across the Water – Two Rooms: Celebrating the Songs of Elton John, Bruce Hornsby
Mad Bomber – King Sparrow’s Calypso Carnival, The Mighty Sparrow
Shine On You Crazy Diamond – Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd
Next week: WOMEN
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
How come every songwriter hasn’t written at least one song about schooldays? Come on, it has all the vital ingredients for a hit: that age-old conflict between discipline and rebellion, close friendships, sexual awakenings and enough traumatic experiences to feed a healthy persecution complex for the rest of your life. Mind you, while every songwriter may not have taken up the opportunity to reveal all about their schooldays, those that did contributed to a pretty good playlist this week.
We opened the show with SCHOOL DAYS by Chuck Berry who turns the joy of hearing the final bell into some hot rock’n’roll. Then it was Young MC who seems well versed in being sent to the PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE, while the Pipettes LIKE A BOY IN UNIFORM. Don’t we all?
Belle & Sebastian could pretty much compile an album of songs about classroom politics but the pick of the bunch is EXPECTATIONS, from the soundtrack to Juno. The song’s misfit heroine wins the heart of every indie boy by “making life-size models of the Velvet Underground from clay”. Now why didn’t I go to that school?
Jack White is a bit of a hero of mine, so I had to include The White Stripes with WE’RE GOING TO BE FRIENDS. Everyone needs a best buddie at school that’s for sure.
A couple of real classics followed. I would have been sent to detention if I hadn’t included ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL from Pink Floyd or Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ fantastic diss on school, JACK SHIT GEORGE.
Steely Dan had us bopping along to the fact that they are “never going back to” MY OLD SCHOOL. And then it was Sam Cooke with WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD.
Sonny Boy Williamson contributed one of the most provocative tracks on the playlist this week, GOOD MORNIN’ LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL. This blues classic was written about the schoolgirl as sexual fantasy. It’s since been covered by every classic-rock band under the sun, but I think the original is still the best.
ME AND JULIO DOWN BY THE SCHOOL YARD is a song performed by Paul Simon from his 1972 self-titled album. In my opinion he’s one of the best contemporary songwriters we have. Here he is performing the song live:
The music video of BAGGY TROUSERS, by Madness, was shot in an English school and park. The band’s saxophone player, Lee Thompson, decided he wanted to fly through the air for his solo, with the use of wires hanging from a crane. The resulting shot is one of the most popular of any of the Madness music videos.
ROCK N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL by The Ramones was followed by a personal pick: CATHOLIC SCHOOL GIRLS RULE, by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Yes, being an old tyke, or as they say in the trade a “lapsed Catholic”, I have to agree that Catholic Schoolgirls do rule!
A couple of little morality tales followed. James Brown warned DON’T BE A DROPOUT and then it was the wonderful Brenda Holloway performing with the Supremes, as back-up (how’s that!). The song was PLAY IT COOL, STAY IN SCHOOL. All good advice of course.
Cat Stevens took a trip down memory lane with OLD SCHOOL YARD and Busted revealed, THAT’S WHAT I GO TO SCHOOL FOR, a disarmingly frank pop tune about having a crush on a teacher.
Babs Gonzalez taught us a bit about Bebop with PROFESSOR BOP while Nat King Cole favours all things extra-curricular in YOU DON’T LEARN THAT IN SCHOOL.
Boomtown Rats followed with I DON’T LIKE MONDAYS and then it was Billy Bragg with the brilliant, THE SATURDAY BOY which I’ve played before, but with its school setting was a certainty to be played again this week.
Like most of The Coaster’s songs, CHARLIE BROWN was written by the songwriting team of Leiber And Stoller. They wrote hits for many artists, including Elvis Presley, The Drifters, and Ben E. King. The songs they wrote for The Coasters were usually more comical. In this case, the song is about a kid who is always getting in trouble and asks “why is everyone always picking on me?”
A nice piece of reggae followed, suggested by Lynden in Sydney: Dennis Alcapone with TEACH THE CHILDREN.
Otis Rush’s distinctive guitar style features a slow burning sound and long bent notes. With similar qualities to Magic Sam and Buddy Guy, his sound became known as West Side Chicago blues and is cited as an influence on many musicians, including Eric Clapton. Rush is left-handed and, unlike many left-handed guitarists, plays a left-handed instrument strung upside-down with the low E string at the bottom. He played often with the little finger of his pick hand curled under the low E for positioning . It is widely believed that this contributes to his distinctive sound. Check it out on this video where he performs HOMEWORK:
A little change of pace then with The Smiths and THE HEADMASTER RITUAL followed by Graham Parker & The Rumour with BACK TO SCHOOLDAYS.
Jerry Lee Lewis uses high school as a setting, rather than a storyline, in HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL. This would have been his fourth consecutive hit in a row, if controversy hadn’t raged about the fact that his new wife was hardly old enough to be in high school. Oops. Doesn’t seem to bother the audience at this concert in London in the 60’s:
It was nearly time for the final bell, but we still squeezed in another triple play: The Hollies with CARRIE ANNE, N.R.B.Q. with STILL IN SCHOOL and WAITIN’ IN SCHOOL from Ricky Nelson.
Our finale was reserved for a song that divides people. Personally I have a bit of a soft spot for TO SIR WITH LOVE, from the film of the same name. How gorgeous was Sidney Poitier? Here’s a clip of Lulu performing the song very recently, (I think it may have been 2008). And how good does she look?
Next week, I’m going to go against the grain. Yes I know that Valentines Day is coming up soon but the cynic in me has decided to mount an ANTI LOVE show. So, if you have any suggestions drop me a line.
Here’s the complete playlist from this week:
Next week: ANTI-LOVE