I hear there’s a big wedding happening this Friday, so for my last show at this time slot, I decided to take a look at a quaint tradition that seems to be making a comeback. The subject of marriage is a perfect theme for songwriters as music has the ability to influence our mood and eat into our soul. It keeps us afloat when love is fresh, and life seems full of promise. But it can also reveal our deepest fears about a relationship, making problems seem way beyond repair. There are, of course, cynical songs about marriage but I tried to keep these to a minimum. No one likes a killjoy at an otherwise joyful time, now do we?
We launched the show with a great old Savoy recording. WEDDING BOOGIE features Little Esther and Johnny Otis with Esther as the bride, Mel Walker as the groom and Lee Graves as the preacher, and its hysterical.
That old romantic Al Green made a suggestion that a lot of you gals wait a lifetime to hear: LET’S GET MARRIED. Martha Reeves and the Vandellas celebrate getting their fella to the alter on THIRD FINGER LEFT HAND. And UK folk rock group Oysterband give a vibrant description of a wedding breakfast on BLOOD WEDDING.
If you’re after a real soul classic, then you can’t go past Freda Payne’s BAND OF GOLD. On this hit single, Freda’s guy is missing in action and she’s only got a ring to show for all her lovin’. Sweet Inspirations have a good piece of advice for Freda: WHY MARRY? They ask. Indeedy.
Ani diFranco does a gorgeous cover of Dusty Springfield’s WISHIN’ AND HOPIN’. It was used for the title sequence of the film My Best Friend’s Wedding, starring Julia Roberts and directed by Aussie filmmaker P.J.Hogan (who also directed Muriel’s Wedding).
Here’s another classic, this time in the rock genre: Nick Lowe KNEW THE BRIDE WHEN SHE USED TO ROCK N ROLL.
Rock n Roll legend Chuck Berry reckons that YOU NEVER CAN TELL. And from the soundtrack to the film, The Harder They Come, it was Toots and the Maytals with SWEET AND DANDY. Such a thrill it was to see them perform the song among their set at the Byron Bay Blues Fest this weekend.
Another of my favourites from the Blues Fest is Eli Paperboy Reed. What a voice. Here he is performing STAKE YOUR CLAIM: “Yeah, if you love me then take my name”. Oh Eli you sweet old fashioned boy you!
UK group, The Wombats released a terrific song about going to your exes’ wedding (never a good idea, I say). MY FIRST WEDDDING is from their album A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation.
The weather here in the Northern Rivers has been erratic, to say the least, so a good weather song, and a wonderful tune about love and marriage to boot, came from Ray Charles: COME RAIN OR COME SHINE.
Dancehall and reggae artist Yellowman turned the sound up a notch with a great version of I’M GETTING MARRIED IN THE MORNING, followed closely by doo-wop group The Cadets with CHURCH BELLS MAY RING.
The 5th Dimension gave us a medley of THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN and WEDDING BELL BLUES. Billy Davis and Marilyn McCoo, from the group, have been happily married for over 40 years and have even written a book about what makes their marriage work. Top tip: You’ve got to like the person you’re with, not just love them, because once the first flush of love subsides you need to know that you’re in a relationship with your best friend as well as your lover. Can’t disagree with that!
You can never claim that Theme Park doesn’t have a diverse playlist. The Easybeats followed with their 60’s hit, WEDDING RING, followed by Billy Idol’s WHITE WEDDING, which was written as a disapproving commentary on his sister’s shotgun wedding. How very conservative of him. Still, the video clip is a hoot:
The lovely Amy Rigby, married by the way to punk rocker Wreckless Eric, does a great song she wrote after divorcing her first husband, called WE’RE STRONGER THAN THAT. And, the always brilliant, Lyle Lovett contributed SHE’S NO LADY, (SHE’S MY WIFE) to the list. I think this clip is from the 80’s – check out Lyle’s hair. But better still, check out his wonderful voice. Like all the best artists, he’s a one-off.
Ernie K Doe and the Blue Diamonds sing about the bane of many a good marriage: MOTHER IN LAW. Of course, I’m not speaking from personal experience! Best to move on, and there’s no better way to put some romance back into the show than with more Al Green. One of my favourites is LET’S STAY TOGETHER. Here’s a live performance from 1972:
The Temptations followed with the delightfully delusional JUST MY IMAGINATION. And then it was another fantastic performer from the Blues Fest: Irma Thomas, with a song that she included in her set: YOU CAN HAVE MY HUSBAND BUT DON’T MESS WITH MY MAN.
Over the last three years of the show, I keep returning to two of my favourite artists – Louis Armstrong and Roy Orbison. And, of course they had songs on marriage for me this week as well. Louis with WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD and Roy with WEDDING DAY. But I had to close the show with a song for my husband of 23 years, sadly taken from us five years ago this week. Barry White’s very sexy YOU’RE THE FIRST, MY LAST, MY EVERYTHING is for you Graeme. Thanks for the music and the wonderful memories.
For the next 6 months, at least, you’ll find me still at BayFM, still churning out theme shows at the new time of 1-2pm on Mondays and I really hope to have your company next Monday on BayFM 99.9 or streaming at http://www.bayfm.org. As always I’ll keep putting my playlist and other info up at the blog, so keep checking in.
Next Monday’s theme will be MOTORVATIN’ MAMAS, just in time for Mothers Day. Send me your requests and suggestons. I’d love to hear from you.
Have a great week! Here’s the playlist:
Wedding Boogie - Little Esther Let's Get Married - Al Green Third Finger, Left Hand - Martha Reeves and The Vandellas Blood Wedding - Oysterband Band Of Gold - Freda Payne Why Marry? - Sweet Inspirations Wishin' And Hopin' - Ani DiFranco I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock And Roll) - Nick Lowe You Never Can Tell - Chuck Berry Sweet And Dandy - Toots and The Maytals Chapel Of Love - The Dixie Cups Stake Your Claim - Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves My First Wedding - The Wombats Come Rain or Come Shine - Ray Charles I'm Getting Married In The Morning - Yellowman Church Bells May Ring - The Cadets (Medley) The Worst That Could Happen, Wedding Bell Blues - 5th Dimension Wedding Ring - The Easybeats White Wedding - Billy Idol We're Stronger Than That - Amy Rigby She's No Lady - Lyle Lovett Mother-in-Law - Ernie K-Doe and the Blue Diamonds Let's Stay Together - Al Green Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) - The Temptations (You Can Have My Husband But) Don't Mess With My Man - Irma Thomas We Have All The Time In The World - Louis Armstrong Wedding Day - Roy Orbison You're The First, The Last, My Everything - Barry White
Next week: MOTORVATIN’ MAMAS
Love, and all its complexities, provides a bottomless pit of inspiration. A perfect opener for our Valentine’s Day protest this week was Bobbie Gentry’s rendition of I’LL NEVER FALL IN LOVE AGAIN. ‘What do you get when you kiss a guy? You get enough germs to catch pneumonia.” Songwriter Hal David was convinced that the angst-ridden game of love was no better than a chronic illness and who am I to disagree? The song is typical of all anti-love songs however: it’s resolve to give up on love is usually very short lived. Rather than a virus, it’s more like an addiction, for sure.
Jerry Butler is over it. He’s GIVING UP ON LOVE, a typical knee-jerk reaction from someone who has had his heart broken. The Dramatics, on the other hand, find out the hard way that there’s A THIN LIVE BETWEEN LOVE AND HATE.
Lot’s of suggestions from listeners this week for various Bob Dylan numbers but my choice was LOVE SICK from his 1997 album Time Out of Mind. He’s in love with a woman who he suspects of cheating and all he can do is wander the streets, moaning “I’m sick of love, but I’m in the thick of it.” Come on Bobby, man up!
Janis Joplin’s idol was Bessie Smith, (she even organised a campaign to pay for her tombstone after finding that the great Blues singer was buried in an unmarked grave). In the song CARELESS LOVE, Bessie’s been a-cheating and a-dumping, but is it her fault? Hell, no.
Rosemary Clooney, (now forever known as George Clooney’s auntie), makes a slightly less convincing argument against love, blaming it for sending her “a Joe who had winter and snow in his heart”. Bummer. The song is LOVE YOU DIDN’T DO RIGHT BY ME. Here’s a clip from the film WHITE CHRISTMAS, starring Clooney and Bing Crosby:
Next it was Soft Cell’s version of TAINTED LOVE, first released in 1964 by Gloria Jones and covered by Soft Cell in 1981. It’s a bit of a gay anthem and to celebrate that, here’s a wonderful video that uses the music as backing to Laurel & Hardy’s soft shoe shuffle in the film WAY OUT WEST. Enjoy.
Richard Hell & The Voidoids have a perfect response to the notion that love is perfect, a fairytale fed to us by Hollywood and the mass media. In the song LOVE COMES IN SPURTS Richard reckons love “murders your heart – they didn’t tell you that part”.
Bobby Bland is convinced that there AINT NO LOVE IN THE HEART OF THE CITY. Well he’s probably right about that. Poor Fats Domino thinks NO-ONE LOVES HIM, but at least he’s hopeful about the future, so no need to be too down in the dumps.
Talking of dumps, the Ben Folds Five gave us SONG FOR THE DUMPED and then the divine SoKo was equally candid with I WILL NEVER LOVE YOU MORE. And she plays the ukelele! Can it get better than that?
Joan Jett covered J. Geils Band hit, LOVE STINKS, on the soundtrack of a very mediocre film called MR WRONG starring Ellen De Generes. Despite the lame film, Joan’s version gives the song a bit more bite I think. Another of my favourite female artists is Shirley Manson, lead singer of the band Garbage, so we included their 1998 hit, SPECIAL. Here they are live on Letterman in 1996:
Betty Davis was the second wife of Miles Davis and an amazing artist in her own right. ANTI LOVE SONG is from her self-titled debut album and is notable not just for her powerful voice but for who she used to support her on the album. The Pointer Sisters sing back up, bassist Larry Graham and drummer Greg Errico, both veterans of Sly & the Family Stone are there, plus fellow San Francisco luminaries like master keyboardist Merl Saunders and guitarists Neal Schon and Douglas Rodriguez (both associated with Santana at the time) give this whole album reams of cred.
The great soul singer Teddy Pendergrass who sadly passed away a couple of weeks ago, contributed LOVE TKO and then another soul singer, who probably isn’t as well known but with a fine voice, Angie Stone, sang WISH I DIDN’T MISS YOU.
Here’s a perfect choice for our Anti-Love show: Public Image Ltd with THIS IS NOT A LOVE SONG. Thanks to regular contributor Lynden for that suggesiton.
Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks offered up a song that will surely put a smile back on your face if you’ve been disappointed by love: HOW CAN I MISS YOU WHEN YOU WON’T GO AWAY? Then it was Amy Rigby, married b.t.w. to punk rock alumni Wreckless Eric. She seems skeptical about romance as she contemplates a marriage based not on love but resignation. Not sure what Eric thinks about all that. The song is CYNICALLY YOURS.
The 13th Floor Elevators are convinced that YOU’RE GONNA MISS ME and we followed with something completley out of left field. From Gang of Four’s 2005 album Return the Gift, ANTHRAX is another of those songs that makes love out to be, not just dangerous, but lethal. Yikes.
Belle & Sebastian sound so sweet as they sing that they DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE. Maybe they’ve been listening to Nick Lowe’s song CRUEL TO BE KIND. Along with Wreckless Eric, Elvis Costello and others he was part of the Stiff Records line-up of artists. I’m thinking it might be time for a show dedicated to the ‘stiffies’ as they were referred to. Let me know what you think. Here’s a clip of Nick Lowe singing CRUEL TO BE KIND:
Heading into the home stretch, we played a very nice number by The Corrs, I NEVER LOVED YOU ANYWAY from their second album Talk on Corners. The final two songs couldn’t be more different from each other. First up it was Robert Plant and Alison Krauss with GONE, GONE, GONE – a good piece of advice for anyone in an unsatisfactory relationship. And then it was a song for all the battle weary lovers out there. Blossom Dearie is much more generous than many of us when we’ve been given the heave-ho by some love rat, but maybe there’s a lesson there. The song is the delicious I WISH YOU LOVE.
Now as well as February 14th being Valentine’s Day it’s also Chinese New Year. I did consider doing a show next week on all the Chinese animals (you know Year of the Tiger, Rat, Dog etc etc), but as I’ve already done cats and dogs, thought better of it. How about we stick with Western Astrology? Next week, the theme will be STAR SIGNS. Drop me a line if you have any requests or suggestions.
Here’s this week’s playlist: