What’s captalism’s favourite pastime? Well, SHOPPING of course! Some of the songs in this week’s list were critical of the commodification of our society while others celebrated shopping as retail therapy. Objects of desire included everything from clothes and cars to food and liquor and we shopped in that threatened species, the little corner store, as well as their replacements, the supermarkets and malls. We gave away tickets to local charity event, The Spring Into Bangalow Fashion Parade, and welcomed local girl-group The Swinging Cowgirls into the studio for a live performance. All in all, a fun show.
The program kicked off at a rather luxurious looking pet shop, where Patti Page asks HOW MUCH IS THAT DOGGIE IN THE WINDOW? Let’s face it, if you’re a shop-a-holic you could do a lot worse than rescue a pup from being a living and breathing window display. I call that charity work myself.
The Coasters sang of being in a high-end department store without any credit on SHOPPING FOR CLOTHES. And we followed with Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, whose Mum told them to always SHOP AROUND when it comes to looking for love. Not bad advice actually.
Ben Folds does a great cover of the Clash song LOST IN THE SUPERMARKET for the kids film Over the Hedge, which had to make the list. As did The Kinks with the very appropriate DEDICATED FOLLOWER OF FASHION. Check this clip from 1973. I love Ray Davies: “Let’s have a laugh, because no-one’s here for art.” Genius.
Chuck Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive, with lyrics focusing on teen life and consumerism. On this week’s show he went shopping for a car on NO MONEY DOWN.
Here’s De La Soul with their critique of hip-hoppin’, gold-diggin’ girlfriends on SHOPPING BAGS. Its from the underrated album The Grind Date:
Up here in the village of Mullumbimby, the locals have lost the fight to stop a large Woolworths complex from being built in town. So I included a couple of songs for all those activists who are trying to preserve their quality of life. First up, Jonathan Richman bemoans the disappearance of the CORNER STORE. We followed with a perfect partner, Eugene McDaniels with SUPERMARKET BLUES: “I’ve got the supermarket blues, If I could choose, its really them I’d like to lose.” Yes, indeedy.
Two very funny tunes on the list are They Might Be Giants’ I AM A GROCERY BAG and TOO HIGH FOR THE SUPERMARKET from The Uninvited. It’s tough finding the ingredients for a simple tuna sandwich in a huge supermarket, especially when focus is a problem. Hilarious.
Fergie knows that shopping for labels is just shopping for affection on LABELS OF LOVE, from the soundtrack to the film Sex & The City, which is basically just a big ad for Manola’s etc. The Beatles have a bit of advice for the shopaholic in all of us on CAN’T BUY ME LOVE.
I’m not a big fan of The Pet Shop Boys but their 1987 techno-pop tune SHOPPING, which is more about political corruption than a day in the mall, proved to be especially suitable for this week’s show.
Margo Timmins, of The Cowboy Junkies, is going to buy you something small and frail and plastic. As she puts it: ‘CAUSE CHEAP IS HOW I FEEL. Brilliant.
Dolly Parton is also a bit partial to a little metaphor on THE BARGAIN STORE. And lending a little gravity to the list was good ol’ boy Bruce Springsteen with QUEEN OF THE SUPERMARKET.
Jonathan Richman championed the LONELY LITTLE THRIFT STORE and Bruno Mars, with a little help from Damian Marley, sang about the LIQUOR STORE BLUES.
And then I happily welcomed the Swingin’ Cowgirls into the studio for a bit of a jam and a singalong. They are going to be performing at the upcoming charity fashion event, Spring into Bangalow, and going by what we saw on the show, it will be a great night. Here they are performing at another local event, earlier this year:
We said goodbye to the Swingin’ Cowgirls with an equally sassy dame, Lily Allen. She’s giving her granny a hard time on NAN, YOU’RE A WINDOW SHOPPER.
The Replacements’ punk rock defense of the CUSTOMER was followed by Paul Weller and The Jam with MAN IN THE CORNER SHOP, a song about some middle-class punk rockers who suddenly have a whole lot of money but nothing substantial to spend it on.
Before Steven Patrick Morrissey was simply Morrissey, he was lead singer of The Smiths, a band who never charted higher than #10 but who nevertheless generated a cult following. Here they are with SHOPLIFTERS OF THE WORLD UNITE:
Sublime’s influences were reggae, punk and ska and our final track was an old ska song that they recorded a version of in 1996 called PAWN SHOP. The story goes that lead singer Brad Nowell’s raging addiction saw his guitar being pawned quite often, with their manager having to pay to get it out before their gigs. Sort of puts all those songs about SHOPPING into perspective doesn’t it?
Next week the show will be one of pure joy. Every song will feature HANDCLAPPING. I’d love to hear from you if you would like to request a track, or you may have an idea for a theme for an upcoming show. Let me know! Love to have your input.
Here’s this week’s playlist:
How Much Is That Doggie In The Window – Everlasting In Original 125 Golden Oldies (Vol.3), Patti Page
Shopping for Clothes – Atlantic Rhythm & Blues (1958-62) Vol. 4, The Coasters
Shop Around – The Ultimate Collection, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Lost In The Supermarket (Clash cover) – Over The Hedge soundtrack, Ben Folds
Dedicated Follower Of Fashion – The Complete Collection, The Kinks
No Money Down – After School Session, Chuck Berry
Shopping Bags (She Got from You) – The Grind Date, De La Soul
Corner Store – Jonathan Goes Country, Jonathan Richman
Supermarket Blues – Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse, Eugene McDaniels
I Am A Grocery Bag – TMBG UnLtd April, They Might Be Giants
Too High for the Supermarket. – Too High, The Uninvited
Labels Or Love – Sex And The City, Fergie
Shopping – Actually, Pet Shop Boys
‘Cause Cheap Is How I Feel – The Caution Horses, Cowboy Junkies
Can’t Buy Me Love – Hey Jude, The Beatles
Shopping Carts – (comedy skit), Steven Wright
The Bargain Store – The RCA Years 1967-1986 [Disc 2], Dolly Parton
Queen Of The Supermarket – Working On A Dream, Bruce Springsteen
Liquor Store Blues (feat. Damian Marley) – Single, Bruno Mars
The Lonely Little Thrift Store – I’m So Confused, Jonathan Richman
Nan You’re A Window Shopper – Alright, Still Lily Allen
Customer – Sorry Ma, Forgot To Take Out the Trash, The Replacements
Man In The Corner Shop – Direction, Reaction, Creation, The Jam
Shoplifters Of The World Unite – The Best Of Part 1, The Smiths
Pawn Shop – Sublime, Sublime
Figuring out who your friends are used to be pretty straight forward. Rarely did anyone I know have more than a handful of best buddies, but in the age of Facebook there’s nowhere to hide and in ten seconds flat you’ve got yourself hundreds of so-called ‘friends’ in your cyber-social network. At least with neighbours there’s no ambiguity. They either live next door to you or they don’t. Except in Byron Bay where, if you live in a holiday rental area, it’s a traveling circus. But that’s another story.
The risk with doing a show with this theme,of course, is that the songs tend to lean towards the warm and fuzzy, so I’ve made sure that if I have included a little bit of cheese, then its good cheese! The brie of pop, in fact. Personally, I prefer a gritty, more realistic look at friendships, so it was a diverse range of viewpoints that we presented in this week’s show. I also went out of my way to exclude any song that’s been used as a theme for a sit-com or reality tv series. And that was hard I tell you. Goodbye Dandy Warhols, The Rembrandts, Stevie Wonder and others.
We opened the show with some pure pop – the Spice Girls, way back when they really were friends, with WANNABE. Yeah, if you wannabe my lover, you better get on with my friends. Well, it’s a given isn’t it? The official video of the song isn’t that great, but you have to give them credit for a clip made with one continuous shot. Check it out:
The uncomplicated friendships formed at school are the source of a number of songs. The White Stripes with, most possibly, their gentlest track, WE ARE GOING TO BE FRIENDS, was followed by The Clash’s wonderful, yet underrated, STAY FREE – a song written by guitarist Mick Jones about his best mate at school who ended up in prison.
Bill Withers’ LEAN ON ME is a genuine heart-warmer. Some may think its cheesy, but to me it transcends that label and represents one of the classic friendship songs. Corrine Bailey Rae gives a nod to Bob Marley in PUT YOUR RECORDS ON: “three little birds sat on my window and they told me that I don’t need to worry.” A beautiful song about the supportive nature of friendship.
Michelle Shocked song ANCHORAGE is about friendship that’s expressed in letters going back and forth. The song touchingly and poignantly captures the pleasure of discovering a friend’s new life while realizing that life moves on and different paths must be followed.
There were at least three songs from The Beatles that fitted the theme but I chose IN MY LIFE, over the more obvious I GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS. Because I can.
BAD NEIGHBOURHOOD by Ronny & The Delinquents is notable for the fact that the band included Dr John before he became Dr. John. Malcolm Rebennack (his real name), was a guitarist in that band but his career almost came to an end when his left ring finger was injured by a gunshot while he was defending singer/keyboardist Ronnie Barron. After the injury, Rebennack concentrated on bass guitar before making piano his main instrument; pianist Professor Longhair was an important influence on Rebennack’s style.
Pioneering gospel and blues singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe had some good advice: DON’T TAKE EVERYBODY TO BE YOUR FRIEND. While Jerry McCain and His Upstarts had a whinge: MY NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOUR is a very amusing song about a neighbour that can’t stop borrowing stuff.
Not all companionship is welcome. Morrissey comments on the Manchester music scene in WE HATE IT WHEN OUR FRIENDS BECOME SUCCESSFUL. And in ARE ‘FRIENDS’ ELECTRIC? Gary Numan mixes genuine feelings of alienation with Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi fantasies to create a story of a man whose robot buddy has broken down. Awwww.
The Arcade Fire gave us NEIGHBORHOOD #2 from their Funeral album. The song is actually about Laika the first dog to have been sent into outer space, as the song goes, “for the good of the neighborhood”. Hey, isn’t the dog supposed to be man’s best friend? Quite a sad song, really.
Feeling the the need for some R&B to cheer me up so it was the Four Tops with a message that everyone needs to hear every now and again: REACH OUT I’LL BE THERE. And I never tire of the beautiful voice of Dido singing THANK YOU. Here she is with a fantastic acoustic performance of the song:
Country singers George Jones and Melba Montgomery take neighbourly love to a whole new level with LET’S INVITE THEM OVER. I must admit that today’s show throws a whole new light on our country cousins, doesn’t it?
War wanted to know WHY CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS? and The Lemonheads delivered a brutally honest song about a certain kind of dependent relationship: MY DRUG BUDDY. Here’s Evan Dando performing the track live with Chris Brokaw:
Sheryl Crowe’s song THERE GOES THE NEIGHBOURHOOD won a Grammy award in 2001 for Best Female Rock Performance but failed to chart in America. Go figure.
The Cars got all sooky on us with MY BEST FRIENDS GIRL. Yeah, she used to be mine. Oh well thems the breaks guys. Love and friendship is a complex mix. REO Speedwagon told us (they) HEARD IT FROM MY BEST FRIEND. Oh Oh. Can’t be good news. But we had a solution that may interest some: Rachel Yamagata tackled the the concept of bonk buddies in SIDEDISH FRIEND. Here she is performing the song on KCRW radio in 2008:
Even our country singer friends like the idea of a bit on the side. Conway Twitty & Loretta Lyn asked WHAT’S A LITTLE LOVE BETWEEN FRIENDS? Indeedy.
The Grateful Dead’s song FRIEND OF THE DEVIL is from their American Beauty album and the song, like most of the album, is acoustic. It is known for the riff lead guitarist Jerry Garcia plays and it’s the most covered of the Dead’s songlist.
Patti Labelle is at her best when she sings YOU ARE MY FRIEND. Great song, great voice, simple as that. Here she is in her very first live video with the bonus of an amazing intro from Debbie Henry. The year was 1991.
Now how many times have you heard someone say, after they’ve broken up with someone, that not only were they losing a lover they were losing their best friend? Blues artist Little Walter bemoaned the fact in LAST NIGHT.
It was time for a mood lifter and a couple of songs about Neighbours gave us just that. The Small Faces song LAZY SUNDAY (“Wouldn’t it be nice to get on wiv me neighbours) was suggested by Beck. Great. A perfect companion piece was the Rolling Stones, who also don’t seem to be getting on with their NEIGHBOURS. Do you think it might have something to do with them being rock bands? Here are the Stones performing live in Tempe Arizona during their 1981 tour:
Love, love, love DEAD END FRIENDS from Them Crooked Vultures, the rock supergroup formed in 2009 by John Paul Jones, (Led Zeppelin), Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters) and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age). Go Dave!
It always make me a little sad to listen to Freddie Mercury who died way too young but I had to include Queen’s YOU’RE MY BEST FRIEND:
Herman’s Hermits song MY SENTIMENTAL FRIEND sums up a lot of the material in today’s show including our very last song YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND, from Dusty Springfield covering the Carole King standard. That one was for Victoria.
A big thank you to Zoe for helping out with this week’s show.
Next week in the lead up to Anzac Day and the Australian Day of Remembrance, I’m dedicating the show to MEMORY. So, get your thinking caps on and send my your suggestions.
Here’s the playlist:
Wannabe – Spice Girls
We Are Going To Be Friends – The White Stripes
Stay Free – The Clash
Put Your Records On – Corrine Bailey Rae
Lean On Me – Bill Withers
Anchorage – Michelle Shocked
In My Life – The Beatles
Bad Neighbourhood – Ronny & the Delinquents
Don’t Take Everybody To Be Your Friend- Sister Rosetta Tharpe
My Next Door Neighbour – Jerry McCain And His Upstarts
We Hate It When Our Become Successful – Morrissey
Are ‘Friends’ Electric -Gary Numan + Tubeway Army
Neighborhood #2 (Laika) – The Arcade Fire
Reach Out I’ll Be There – The Four Tops
Thank You – Dido
Let’s Invite Them Over – George Jones & Melba Montgomery
Why Can’t We Be Friends – War
My Drug Buddy – The Lemonheads
There Goes The Neighbourhood – Sheryl Crow
My Best Friends Girl – The Cars
Heard It From A Friend – REO Speedwagon
Sidedish Friend – Rachael Yamagata
What’s A Little Love Between Friends – Conway Twitty & Lorretta Lyn
Friend of the Devil – Grateful Dead
You Are My Friend – Patti Labelle
Last Night – Little Walter
Lazy Sunday – The Small Faces
Neighbours – The Rolling Stones
Dead End Friends – Them Crooked Vultures
You’re My Best Friend – Queen
My Sentimental Friend – Herman’s Hermits
You’ve Got A Friend – Dusty Springfield
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time
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