Hair is more than just the stuff that sits on top of your head. Hair can be a metaphor for life, for youth, for sensuality. And, as such, the subject has created a lot of interest from songwriters. The long and the short of it is that hair, or the lack thereof, lends itself to every genre of popular music.
So, just to be quirky, we started the show with two songs about having no hair at all. The very appropriately named Professor Longhair gave us BALD HEAD and Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson contributed CLEANHEAD BLUES in which he claims that if it wasn’t for women he’d still have his curly locks. Oh yeah, sure. I’m not sure how old this clip is, but what a great venue!
Donna Simpson of The Waifs is a blonde who is much darker underneath than her image projects. Or so their song, THE HAIRCUT goes. So, let’s talk colour. McFly know a girl with FIVE COLOURS IN HER HAIR. If they were any cuter, they would have to be arrested. They remind me of the Monkees. Not sure if that’s a good thing.
Still on colour, Louis Jordan wants to know why YOU DYED YOUR HAIR CHARTREUSE. That’s the green colour your hair goes if you get a bad bleaching job, by the way.
There were no blonde jokes in the show this week, and certainly no ginger jokes. All in support of the sisterhood, you understand. And the brotherhood for that matter! But I do have a great quote for you from Dolly Parton. When asked whether she was offended by blonde jokes she responded by saying no, because she knew she wasn’t dumb. And she also knew she wasn’t blonde. Boom Boom.
Country singer Eddie Noack reckons that GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES but he’s not fussy about hair colour at all. As long as you’re a female, you’re in with a chance. The Meteors, on the other hand, are definitely suckers for LONG BLOND HAIR. Sonny Burgess likes a RED HEADED WOMAN, although he does sound rather ambivalent about her. Check out this clip from 2008 where he is performing at a Rockabilly Festival. He must be at least 80 years of age and he’s still going strong. Brilliant.
Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band give us the song that we had to have on our show about HAIR. Yes, a little ditty about dandruff, KING OF SCURF. “I had alot of acne and pimples, I had to stay at home. Eventually, no one came near me, all I had was my comb”. Hilarious.
Time for something a little more serious, perhaps. Easily fixed by Nina Simone with BLACK IS THE COLOUR OF MY TRUE LOVE’S HAIR and we followed with India Arie and I AM NOT MY HAIR.
Now if you want proof positive that you can write a song about any old thing in the 70’s, take a listen to Crosby Stills Nash & Young with ALMOST CUT MY HAIR. They’re performing at Wembley Stadium in 1974, although I don’t see any sign of Neil Young.
George Thorogood followed with another track that will resonate with all you baby boomers: GET A HAIRCUT. And continuing the theme, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band sang about LONG HAIRED MUSIC.
Our only Motown track this week was LET YOUR HAIR DOWN by the Temptations. Letting your hair down means that you behave in a free or uninhibited manner. The origin of the saying goes back to the 17th century when women’s hair was normally pinned up and was only let down for brushing or washing. The term used for this at the time was dishevelling. Anyone who is unkempt and generally untidy might now be described as disheveled, but then it applied specifically to hair which was unpinned. There you go. A little bit of trivia for you.
Beck was next with DEVIL’S HAIRCUT followed by Owen who sang about that lover’s dilemma in WHO FOUND WHO’S HAIR IN WHO’S BED? There is a slight language warning on this one, but can you blame the poor guy for swearing?
Yay, we did include one for those of you with short hair: SHORT-HAIRED WOMAN from Lightning Hopkins. Reportedly, Michael Hutchence of INXS wrote SUICIDE BLONDE with, then girlfriend, Kylie Minogue in mind. Neil Young, whose true love’s hair is enormously important too, wants to live with a CINNAMON GIRL.
We enjoyed a lot of great guitar work on this week’s show. And amongst them is the band Wishbone Ash, considered one of the major innovators of the harmony twin lead guitar format. In BLOWIN’ FREE they hanker after a girl with golden brown hair, “blowin’ free like a cornfield’. I said they were great guitarists, I didn’t say anything about the lyrics now did I? Here they are performing in 1973:
I have to declare a bit of a thing for Led Zeppelin so had to play THE GIRL I LOVE SHE GOT LONG BLACK WAVY HAIR. As all good rock chicks do, of course. Me, being a red-head, doesn’t qualify I’m afraid.
One of my favourite acts from last year’s Byron Bay Blues Festival were THE DRIVE BY TRUCKERS. I discovered an amazing song of theirs, set in the week before Easter. Perfect. It’s about a preacher who was murdered by his wife all because of THE WIG HE MADE HER WEAR. I think its one of the most interesting things they’ve done. Unfortunately no decent clip available as yet.
But I do have a great clip of Little Birdy performing her hit, HAIRDO. Great voice.
We followed with PJ Harvey’s rendition of HAIR which revisits the story of Samson, who, as we know, was incredibily vulnerable without his locks.
We needed a song about the good old fringe, or ‘bangs’ as the Americans call it. And what better than BANGS by They Might Be Giants. The Beatles made their version of ‘bangs’ – the mop-top – world-famous and early in their career they covered Carl Perkins’ LEND ME YOUR COMB, so I thought I’d include Perkins version in this week’s show too.
BayFM will be at this year’s Byron Bay Blues Fest at our very own tent. I’ll be there Saturday April 3, between 12 and 3:30 so drop in and say hello.
It was appropriate then to close the show with a tune from one of the great Blues performers: Magic Slim and the Teardrops with GIVE ME BACK MY WIG.
Have a wonderful Easter! Here’s the complete playlist:
Next week: The topic is LISTS.
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.