BayFM has installed Airnet which is a groovy plug-in to their website that links my playlist to all the things I used to spend hours compiling on this blog. Of course you don’t get all my witty repartee, but I’ll be calling in here each week with shorter and sweeter anecdotes for you, as I see fit.
In the meantime you can get the playlist by hopping onto my Presenter’s Page at BayFM99.9 in Byron Bay and don’t forget that, wherever you are, you can always listen via the streaming facility.
Today’s show on CLASSIC FLOOR FILLERS is already up, so check it out, listen in, and you can always leave me messages here on the blog, or at my email address listed below. Love to get your feedback or suggestions for themes or tracks. Next week, its B-sides!
The playlist and lots of linked info is HERE.
Trains criss-cross the musical landscape like nothing else. Blues, country and jazz are especially prone to a song about trains as the genres were dominant in our culture before the decline of the railroads. And these trains always bear a lot of symbolic freight – from separations to reunions, deaths to dance moves (remember Little Eva’s LOCOMOTION anyone?). We opened the show with Gove Scrivenor singing I’VE GOT A THING ABOUT TRAINS. Join the club Gove! My Dad was a railway worker and so trains hold a certain sentimental fascination for me too.
The classic song MYSTERY TRAIN is evocative enough to have inspired one of my favourite films by Jim Jarmusch. How could you go wrong with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Joe Strummer and Tom Waits in the cast? Elvis’ version of the song MYSTERY TRAIN gave the tune a strong injection of optimism but, before the King got hold of it, Little Junior’s Blue Flames made the tune a spooky piece of work.
Trains have particular resonance in black music: trains to heaven, trains to hell, and trains to freedom. The O’Jays’ LOVE TRAIN is a, very funky, utopian call for global unity. Check out this great video clip: its from the television show ‘Soul Train’ and its the weekly line dance, using the O’Jays music. The year was 1973. Loving the hair, the outfits….
The Staple Singers gospel song, THIS TRAIN, is “bound for glory”, but not, please note, if you’re a gambler or a midnight rambler. Less restricting is Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions with PEOPLE GET READY. And I can’t get enough of The Ethiopians as they ride an unstoppable bassline all the way to Skaville.
And, just to prove that songs about Trains are in favour across all genres and generations, Michelle Shocked delivered a goodie that uses the train symbolically: IF LOVE WAS A TRAIN. (According to Michelle, she’d be a slow one –excellent!). Soul Asylum followed with RUNAWAY TRAIN and then it was Sarah McLachlan with the fantastic song TRAIN WRECK from her Afterglow album. Check out this live performance:
We played Arlo Guthrie’s version of THE CITY OF NEW ORLEANS. Steve Goodman wrote the song in 1970. He was actually on the train and wrote about what he saw looking out of the window and while playing cards in the club car. Everything in the song happened on the ride. When he returned home he heard that the train was going to be taken out of service, due to a lack of passengers. He reworked the lyrics a bit and used the song to save the train. Arlo Guthrie’s cover in 1972 brought attention to rail lines that were vanishing across middle America when people, who lived in rural areas, relied on trains to travel.
Railroad songs are populated by a colorful assortment of characters: heroes, outlaws and lovers to name a few. But one of the most enduring, especially in country music, is the humble hobo. The itinerant “wanderer” has been a recurring character throughout history but the railroads presented him with the opportunity to cover vast expanses of territory in relatively little time. For many, the urge to hop a train and ride it as far as it would take them was a form of wanderlust too powerful to resist. For others, the rails offered a way out of desperate situations. Whatever the reason, railroads – and hobos – provided plenty of material for good song lyrics.
Jimmy Rodgers got his material first hand. The son of a railway worker, he went to work as a “water boy” on the trains at age fourteen. His song WAITING FOR THE TRAIN, was recorded in the early 1930s. It captures the hobo’s feelings of loneliness beautifully. Another hobo classic followed: I GOT THE BOXCAR BLUES from Boxcar Willie.
The Guns & Roses song NIGHT TRAIN is only slightly connected to Trains. A a tribute to an infamous brand of cheap Californian wine called NIGHT TRAIN EXPRESS, it was extremely popular with the band during their early days – mainly because of its low price and high alcohol content. However, on this clip from a live performance in 1988, they profess in their intro that its not about drugs and drink, but about a ‘walk in the park’. Uh huh. Check it out:
Big Joe Turner is hoping that the MIDNIGHT SPECIAL will bring his baby back to him. And Otis Rush is also a bit despondent: There are SO MANY ROADS and SO MANY TRAINS to ride before he can find his baby again. No matter what the lyrics seem to say, all our train songs today had one thing in common: they use the train journey as a metaphor for life.
Our last song of the day took me back to my back-packing days: Crosby Stills & Nash with MARRAKESH EXPRESS. Here’s a BBC clip of Graham Nash and David Crosby (not sure why Stills wasn’t there). Sweet stuff.
Next week, its PLANES.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
I’ve Got A Thing About Trains – Gove Scrivenor
Mystery Train – Little Junior Parker & His Blue Flames
The Train (Feat Scar & Sleepy Brown) – Outkast
Love Train – Ojays
This Train – The Staple Singers
People Get Ready – Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions
Train To Skaville – The Ethiopians
If Love Was a Train – Michelle Shocked
Runaway Train – Soul Aslyum
Train Wreck – Sarah McLachlan
The City of New Orleans – Arlo Guthrie
Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
That Train Don’t Stop Here – Ruth Brown
Last Train to Clarksville – The Monkees
Waiting For A Train – Jimmy Rodgers
I Got The Boxcar Blues – Boxcar Willie
Engine Number Nine – Wilson Pickett
Party Train – The Dazz Band
Midnight Train To Georgia – Gladys Knight and the Pips
Jumping Someone Else’s Train – The Cure
Night Train – Guns N’ Roses
Midnight Special Train – Big Joe Turner
So Many Roads, So Many Trains – Otis Rush
Hear My Train A-Comin’ – Jimi Hendrix
Long Train Runnin’ – The Doobie Brothers
Marrakesh Express – Crosby, Stills & Nash
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM Tuesdays 2-4pm (Sydney time). Also streaming at http://www.bayfm.org
Tragically also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maccalyn
and Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/themeparkradio
If they can have Xmas in July then I reckon I can do a show about the sea in winter. And I did. It was never going to be the kind of breezy show I would do if it was summer, because, for me anyway, at this time of the year the ocean appears even more immense and overwhelming. Many of the songs in this week’s playlist reflected that.
Our magnificent opening track by the O’Jays, SHIP AHOY, was a perfect example. It’s introduced by the creak of timbers and the crack of slave-owners whips and is an angry tour de force that presents the ocean as a partner in crime.
And while there were other serious songs in the line-up, there were plenty of frivolous and joyful tunes as well. And nothing could be more joyful than the sound of the ukulele: It was fantastic to have some live music in the show today as Ben, Renee and Azo from the group Blue Hulas took over the studio for a segment. They are the Northern Rivers original, (and, as far as I know, only), Hawaiian style band and their cruisy, island style music – complete with ukulele – was just right for this week’s theme.
The Beach Boys recorded a version of UNDER THE BOARDWALK, but it was the Drifters original version that I chose to play this week and gave some time to the Beach Boys for SAIL ON SAILOR, which is quite a serious song that uses the sea as a metaphor for life. Another serious song about the ocean is reggae star Fred Locks’ BLACK STAR LINER. The title refers to the shipping line that was used to transport black Americans to Africa as part of the Back-to-Africa movement of the 19th century.
Some light relief came from Bobby Darin’s hit from 1959, BEYOND THE SEA. I tried unsuccessfully to get a copy of the original version for the show: LA MER by French singer Charles Trenet. I’ll track this down, hopefully, and play in a future show.
A big welcome back to Roy Orbison with one of his best, LEAH. Check out this clip from the DVD Black & White Night where Roy is supported by Jackson Browne, T Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello, k.d.Lang, Bonnie Raitt, J.D. Souther, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and Jennifer Warnes. Nice group of friends!
SEVEN SEAS OF RHYE from Queen was worth including just for its ending: ‘We all like to be beside the Seaside’. Other personal favourites that I played included LIGHTHOUSE from The Waifs and FROM THE SEA by Eskimo Joe. Talking of favourites: I had to include the Marvelettes with TOO MANY FISH IN THE SEA and the gorgeous Blossom Dearie singing her version of BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA.
How’s this for a diverse three in a row: An evocative piece of bubblegum from Aqua with WE BELONG TO THE SEA, a little reggae with ON THE BEACH IN HAWAI’I from Ziggy Marley and Led Zeppelin’s DOWN BY THE SEASIDE from their 1975 album Physical Graffiti. Whew. Here’s the beautiful lead singer of Aqua, Lene Nystrom Rasted, in the weird but wonderful video clip for WE BELONG TO THE SEA:
A request from Vanessa followed: Johnny Cash with SEA OF HEARTBREAK and I chose to follow that with Jenny Lewis singing BLACK SAND. For a little change of pace we played The Presets with GIRL AND THE SEA followed by Panic At The Disco’s BEHIND THE SEA. And then it was time for I’M THE OCEAN from the album Mirror Ball by Neil Young and featuring Pearl Jam.
Jason Mraz’s live rendition of WALK ON THE OCEAN was followed by the one and only Billy Holiday asking us HOW DEEP IS THE OCEAN? And then the Ramones contributed ROCKAWAY BEACH. I can’t quite get my head around the Ramones singing about the beach, but what the hell do I know – it was the highest charting single of their career. Go figure.
We finished the show with Getaway Plan’s WHERE THE CITY MEETS THE SEA and the wonderful Cat Power with SEA OF LOVE.
Next week, I’m celebrating the SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS Music Festival being held here in Byron Bay. The show’s theme will be GRASS – no, not THAT grass – well maybe there will be some songs about THAT grass. And if I can’t find enough songs about grass I’ll move onto trees and flowers. I’d love to hear from you with your suggestions.
Here’s this week’s playlist on the SEA:
Ship Ahoy (2008 Single Version) – The O’Jays
Under The Boardwalk – The Drifters
Sail on Sailor – The Beach Boys
Beyond The Sea – Bobby Darin
Black Star Liner – Fred Locks
Leah – Roy Orbison
A Salty Dog – Procol Harum
A Drop In The Ocean – Moloko
Seven Seas Of Rhye – Queen
Lighthouse – The Waifs
From the Sea – Eskimo Joe
Too Many Fish In The Sea – The Marvelettes
Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea – Blossom Dearie
We Belong to the Sea – Aqua
On the Beach In Hawai’i – Ziggy Marley
Down By The Seaside – Led Zeppelin
Sea Of Heartbreak – Johnny Cash
Black Sand – Jenny Lewis
Girl And The Sea – The Presets
Behind The Sea – Panic At The Disco
I’m the Ocean – Neil Young/Pearl Jam
Walk on the Ocean – Jason Mraz
How Deep Is The Ocean – Billie Holiday
Rockaway Beach – The Ramones
Oceans Away – The Fray
Where The City Meets The Sea – The Getaway Plan
Sea Of Love [Remastered Version] – Cat Power
Next week: GRASS (+ trees, flowers).
Listen to Lyn McCarthy on BayFM99.9 Tuesdays 2-4pm (Sydney time).
Also streaming on http://www.bayfm.org.
Tragically, also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maccalyn
And Twitter: http://twitter.com/themeparkradio