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
NIGHT is a time that’s often associated with danger and the fear of the unknown. Midnight, especially, has a particular importance in human imagination and culture. Seances, for instance, are usually conducted around this time. And then, of course there are the vampires and werewolves, who only come out at night. Yes, there’s lots happening out there in the dark! When it comes to song lyrics, however, night-time is a great time for love-making. As Ray Charles points out, NIGHT TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We opened the show with HERE COMES THE NIGHT. The song was originally recorded in 1964 by Lulu but the version we played was a huge hit for the band Them and their lead vocalist Van Morrison in 1965.
I’m pretty impressed by the very talented singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens who contributed one of the few songs on the list that references the occult. THEY ARE NIGHT ZOMBIES! THEY ARE NEIGHBOURS! THEY HAVE COME BACK FROM THE DEAD! AHHH is from his 2005 album Illinois. Here he is performing live with the very cute Illnoisemakers:
We followed with supreme soul singer Marvin Gaye with IF I SHOULD DIE TONIGHT. It’s from his classic 1973 album Let’s Get It On. Serving as Gaye’s first venture into the funk genre and romance-themed music, Let’s Get It On incorporates smooth soul, doo-wop and quiet storm. It’s been noted by critics for its sexually-suggestive lyrics, and was cited by one writer as “one of the most sexually charged albums ever recorded”. Woohoo.
And talking of Woohoo, thanks to the Woohoo Review Band who donated their latest album, Dear Animals, for a giveaway on the show this week. They’re a Melbourne based, gypsy style band and the song we played from the album, MR 9 O’CLOCK was a good example of the madcap dance tunes that inhabit the album.
They say that Frank Sinatra was at his best vocally in the 1950’s and it’s hard to argue when you listen to IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING . That goes out to Inchie who does a great show on BayFM on Friday’s 4-6pm, called Strictly Vinyl.
Back to the 70’s. The Eagles were one of the most successful recording artists of the period. Their 1975 album, One of These Nights, was the last album to feature founding member Bernie Leadon, who left the band during the One of These Nights tour, disillusioned with the direction the band were going in. With the departure of Leadon, the Eagles’ early country sound almost completely disappeared and the band moved on to a harder sound. One Of These Nights would prove to be a breakthrough album for the band, making them international superstars.
You all know by now that I consider Roy Orbison the patron saint of Theme Park and I realise that I’ve played this song before, but hey, what the …. had to give Roy’s I DROVE ALL NIGHT another play. Jeff Lynne remixed Orbison’s 1987 recordings for the posthumous album King of Hearts of which I DROVE ALL NIGHT was one of the tracks.
Brilliant reggae artist Gregory Isaacs passed away on October 25 after a long battle with lung cancer. So of course, I had to play his signature tune NIGHT NURSE.
I’m also a bit of a Tom Waits fan and his debut studio album, Closing Time, recorded in 1973 is an absolute classic. It was produced and arranged by Lovin’ Spoonful member Jerry Yester. The song we chose was MIDNIGHT LULLABY. Then it was time to go way back to 1953 and some New Orleans Blues with Professor Longhair singing IN THE NIGHT. I’m pretty sure Tom would have approved.
Opening the second hour of the show was Gladys Knight & the Pips with their 1973 number one hit single, MIDNIGHT TRAIN TO GEORGIA. Oh my God, The Pips, the moves! Check it out:
Two goodies from 1965 followed. Maryanne Faithful sang of SUMMER NIGHTS and The Strangeloves did a great version of NIGHT TIME. The Strangeloves were a New York garage band who created a false back-story that they were Australian sheep farmers. I don’t think it helped their record sales somehow, so not sure what that was all about!
Here’s a quirky Blues number for you: Zulu Bollin with WHY DON’T YOU EAT WHERE YOU SLEPT LAST NIGHT? Reasonable question, surely.
The 85 year old B.B. King is still going strong and, in fact, will be here next April for the Byron Blues Festival. I, for one, can’t wait. We played the sublime NIGHT LIFE with King and Willie Nelson. How great would it be to see Willie Nelson at the Festival? One can only hope and pray I ‘spose.
Another of my faves is Bob Seger. You can’t sit still to anything he plays and that includes NIGHT MOVES.
I also can’t get enough of Tom Waits so we had to play LOOKING FOR THE HEART OF SATURDAY NIGHT from the album of the same name, released in 1974. The album cover is based on THE WEE SMALL HOURS by Frank Sinatra, which we had played earlier in the show.
Van Morrison thinks he knows how to have a WILD NIGHT. But I have a feeling that The Rolling Stones might know a thing or two about that too. LET’S SPEND THE NIGHT TOGETHER was written by bad boys Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and was originally released as a single in 1967. Here’s a clip from Top of the Pops from that same year:
NIGHT TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME is a blues standard that has been interpreted and recorded by a variety of music artists. Ray Charles’ hit version was released in 1958 and is featured on the soundtrack to the film Ray.
I almost didn’t include The Moody Blues’ classic anthem, NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN, simply because it might seem just so predictable. But, let’s face it, that hasn’t stopped me in the past! Here they are at The Montreaux Festival in 1997, still going strong.
As a prelude to the end of the show, could I find anything better than the beautiful sound of The Spaniels with GOOD NIGHT SWEETHEART. It’s a great piece of doo-wop from 1953.
I closed the show with a great double. Eric Clapton’s AFTER MIDNIGHT got the ball rolling and it was taken up with a vengeance by AC/DC. This time it was YOU SHOOK ME ALL NIGHT LONG from the 1980 album Back to Black. Here they are performing live at Donington in 1991:
For next week’s show I’m looking for songs that announce themselves in style, so start nominating your FAVOURITE SONG INTRODUCTIONS. Leave me a message on the blog or at the Theme Park page on Facebook. I’d love to hear from you.
Until then, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Here Comes The Night – The Best Of Van Morrison, Them
They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbours!! – Illinois, Sufjan Stevens
If I Should Die Tonight – Let’s Get It On, Marvin Gaye
Mr 9 O’Clock – Dear Animals, The Woohoo Revue
Nighthawkin’ – Greetings From L.A., Tim Buckley
December 1963 (Oh What a Night) – Oh What a Night, Four Seasons
In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning – In the Wee Small Hours, Frank Sinatra
One Of These Nights – One Of These Nights, The Eagles
I Drove All Night – The Soul of Rock And Roll, Roy Orbison
All Night Long – The R&B Years – 1954 [Disc 4], Joe Houston
Night Nurse – Night Nurse, Gregory Isaacs
Midnight Lullaby – Closing Time, Tom Waits
In The Night – Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues, Professor Longhair
Midnight Train To Georgia – Mellow Moods [Disc 2], Gladys Knight and The Pips
Summer Nights – Marianne Faithfull, Marianne Faithfull
Night Time – Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First…., The Strangeloves
Why Don’t You Eat Where You Slept Las Night – Hot Rhythm And Cool Blues, Zulu Bollin
Night Life – Deuces Wild, B.B. King With Willie Nelson
Night Moves – Greatest Hits, Bob Seger
(Looking For) The Heart Of Saturday Night – The Heart Of Saturday Night, Tom Waits
Night Train – Sex Machine, James Brown
Wild Night – Twentyfourseven, Van Morrison
Let’s Spend The Night Together – Hot Rocks, 1964-1971 [Disc 1], The Rolling Stones
(Night Tiime Is) The Right Time – Ray, Movie Soundtrack, Ray Charles
Nights In White Satin – The Moody Blues
Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight – Earth Angel – Doo Wop Classics, The Spaniels
After Midnight – The Cream Of Clapton, Eric Clapton
You Shook Me All Night Long – Back In Black, AC/DC
The Melbourne Cup is Australia’s major thoroughbred horse race. Held since 1861, on the first Tuesday in November, it’s billed as The race that stops a nation. It’s the richest and most prestigious “two-mile” handicap, and one of the richest turf races, in the world. So, it was inevitable that this week’s theme would tie in with this iconic Australian event. GAMBLING, therefore, it was. We contemplated the repercussions of hedging your bets, whether it was on the ponies, at the poker table or simply as a result of playing that universal game of chance, love.
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullets opened the show with their highly energetic live rendition of RAMBLIN’ GAMBLIN’ MAN. We followed with a request from regular listener, Andy, who wanted to hear Ry Cooder’s I GOT MINE. It’s from the Chicken Skin Music album and, apparently it’s an old pop song from the minstrel and medicine show tradition. Cooder says that he learned this version from renowned Blues artist Pink Anderson, who followed tent shows in his early years.
Another regular contributor to the show, Robyn, asked for jazz-rock group Steely Dan’s DO IT AGAIN. The track features on their debut 1972 album Can’t Buy A Thrill and is the first in popular music to include an organ solo. Here they are live on the Midnight Special 1973:
Now if you want to hear a song or two about gambling guilt then you can’t go past the Blues. Lightnin’ Hopkins’ ONCE WAS A GAMBLER featured on the Crazy Heart soundtrack and it was a terrific suggestion from Des. And just to prove that gambling is not just a man’s preoccupation, pioneering singer and guitarist Memphis Minnie bemoaned the life of a GAMBLING WOMAN.
Could Lady GaGa be today’s version of Memphis Minnie? For all of you out there who may doubt this performer’s artistry, check out her acoustic and live version of POKER FACE on BBC Radio. Any doubts about her talent should now be dismissed, surely.
Ska revival band, The Specials, have to be one of the coolest bands on earth. Formed in 1977 and still going strong after a lengthy break between 1981 and 2008, we played their cover of the Pioneers race-track tune, LONGSHOT KICK DE BUCKET. Here they are in 1979:
Another of my fave bands is Wilco and they gave us their gambling track, CASINO QUEEN. Wendy contacted us and requested THE JOKER from The Steve Miller Band. Great choice. Here they are live on the Jools Holland show. Even Cee Lo Green was loving this peformance. Cool pink suit too, Cee Lo!
Big Audio Dynamite was formed in 1984 by the ex-guitarist and singer of The Clash, Mick Jones. The band was notable for their effective mixture of varied musical styles incorporating elements of punk rock, dance, hip-hop, reggae and funk. Here they are with THE BOTTOM LINE.
Melissa contacted me to say that she loves Ray Charles. Who doesn’t? He is a music legend. Frank Sinatra called Ray “the only real genius in show-business”. His song BLACKJACK was a perfect song for this week’s theme. A little less known is blues and sould singer Little Johnny Taylor. He recorded throughout the 60’s and 70’s and performed live throughout the 80’s and 90’s. His song YOU WIN, I LOSE is another of those tunes about hedging your bets on love and it’s a beauty.
Closer to home, The Little River Band have a number of tracks that suit this week’s topic but none better than LONESOME LOSER. And if you’re looking for some bellylaughs, then Melbourne group, Mic Conway and the National Junk Band’s RACE CALL OF LIFE TO DEATH should do the trick. It’s on their Corporate Chook album. As they so cleverly point out, our whole life is a gamble so we may as well just go for it!
The Animals’ HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN was a shoo-in, of course. As was The Rolling Stones with TUMBLING DICE, from their Exile on Main Street album.
I bet by now you were wondering whether I would play the absolutely predictable THE GAMBLER by Kenny Rogers?” Well, of course, yes. I have no shame. This is an absolute classic and couldn’t possibly be omitted: “You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em, know when to walk away, know when to run.”
And talking of classics…..
Big Joe Turner was an American Blues “shouter” who came to fame in the 1950’s with his pioneering rock and roll recordings, particularly Shake Rattle & Roll. His unique voice was well served on our featured song this week, LIFE IS LIKE A CARD GAME.
The Band’s song about the dangers of drinking and gambling, UP ON CRIPPLE CREEK, features on their second self-titled album and was released as a single in 1969. They also perform the song on the live concert film The Last Waltz:
The hero of UP ON CRIPPLE CREEK gets into all kinds of trouble essentially because he’s looking for love. The great T-Bone Walker, the first Blues artist to use an electric guitar, also knows all about love gone wrong on LOVE IS JUST A GAMBLE. We followed with the legendary Stanley Brothers who contributed their thoughts on the matter with a great piece of bluegrass called IF I LOSE.
The Jerry Garcia Band performed DEAL live at Shoreline Ampitheatre California on September 1, 1990. A Grateful Dead concert was to have occurred at the venue on this date but was cancelled due to the untimely death of Dead keyboard player Brent Mydland. That one was for Hudson who follows The Theme Park with an excellent BayFM program, Post Modern Backlash.
I’m sure that there would be no argument if I asserted that Jimmie Rodgers is the godfather of Country music. His deceptively simple delivery of a song like GAMBLING ROOM BLUES, with his distinctive yodelling added for good measure, is just so evocative. He performed in the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Big jump to 1979, (a very good year btw), with The Clash and THE CARD CHEAT from their 3rd album, London Calling.
Tim Freedman of Australian group The Whitlams knows a thing or two about telling a story in song. And, as we headed for Theme Park’s finishing post, what better way to comment on this country’s obsession with gambling than to play The Whitlams’ BLOW UP THE POKIES? Here’s Tim on the SBS program Insight explaining the meaning of the song and doing a beautiful solo performance.
Just to lift the mood, our closing double appealed to the rock chick in me: Everclear with BLACKJACK and the one and only AC/DC with a song that has a couple of versions, and is rife with double meaning. Of course I choose to interpret THE JACK as being about gambling. What they’re gambling on, of course, is up for discussion.
Thanks too to Melissa, Robyn, Des, Andy & Wendy for your suggestions for this week’s show. Much appreciated.
Next week’s theme, is on NIGHT which has been inspired by last week’s RECLAIM THE NIGHT women’s march. I’d like to thank all the women, young and old, who marched together in Byron Bay, and the men who supported us. It was inspirational, empowering and a heap of fun. If you weren’t there, make sure that you get involved next year. Violence against women is prevalent and shoudn’t be accepted. (End of community service announcement!)
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man – Live Bullet, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band
I Got Mine – Chicken Skin Music, Ry Cooder
Do It Again – Can’t Buy A Thrill, Steely Dan
Once Was A Gambler – The Best Of Lightning Hopkins, Lightnin’ Hopkins
Gambling Woman – High Rollers – Vintage Gambling, Memphis Minnie
Poker Face – The Fame, Lady Gaga
Longshot Kick De Bucket – 1992 – Live: Too Much Too Young, The Specials
Casino Queen – A.M., Wilco
The Joker – Groovin’ 70’s [Disc 10], The Steve Miller Band
The Bottom Line – Planet BAD: Greatest Hits, Big Audio Dynamite
Blackjack – Pure Genius, Ray Charles
You Win, I Lose – Mo’ Mod Jazz, Little Johnny Taylor
Lonesome Loser – Greatest Hits, Little River Band
Race Call Of Life To Death – Corporate Chook, Mic Conway’s National Junk Band
House Of The Rising Sun – Time Life: Sound Of The Sixties, The Animals
Tumbling Dice – Exile On Main Street, The Rolling Stones
The Gambler – Greatest Hits, Kenny Rogers
Viva Las Vegas – Command Performances: The Essential Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley
Life Is Like A Card Game – High Rollers – Vintage Gambling, Big Joe Turner
Up On Cripple Creek – Anthology, Vol. 1, The Band
Love Is Just A Gamble – 50s R&B Classics, T-Bone Walker
If I Lose – Theme Time Radio Hour, The Stanley Brothers
Deal – Garcia, Jerry Garcia
Gambling Bar Room Blues – High Rollers – Vintage Gambling, Jimmie Rodgers
The Card Cheat – London Calling, The Clash
Blow Up The Pokies – Take 40 Australia, The Whitlams
Blackjack – Slow Motion Daydream, Everclear
The Jack – High Voltage, AC/DC
The weather has been in the news, more than usual of late, what with hurricanes, tornadoes and our own Lennox Head being declared a national disaster area after a mini tornado destroyed homes and caused chaos to this beautiful little coastal town. What’s a girl to do but to create a playlist around BAD WEATHER?
We opened the show with a request from Robyn: the incredibly seductive BABY ITS COLD OUTSIDE by Ray Charles and Betty Carter. The song could just as easily fitted into our Sexy Songs list for last week, but glad we held it over.
Now when it comes to songs about the weather, rain seems to be the metaphor of choice. It can describe heartache or happiness, and lots more in-between. The Ronettes daydream about the qualities that make up the perfect boyfriend on WALKING IN THE RAIN. However, the Walker Brothers – with their remake of Frankie Valli’s THE SUN AIN’T GONNA SHINE ANYMORE – see bad weather as a symbol of loneliness. Either way, two great songs. Here’s a blast from the past for all you baby boomers, the Walker Brothers on Ready, Steady, Go in 1966:
Next it was Status Quo with RAIN from their Blue for You album, released in 1976. The track was originally intended for the album On The Level, but at the time of the recording sessions Rick Parfitt had not completed the song and so it was held over to the band’s next release.
Shirley Manson only seems to be happy when she’s miserable in the Garbage song I’M ONLY HAPPY WHEN IT RAINS. Fitting then that we followed with the Prince of Darkness himself, Nick Cave. The song TUPELO, with its great sound effects and talk of black clouds, was also a perfect fit for a show on Bad Weather.
A great song that carries an emotional whallop is LOUISIANA 1927, a devastating account of the great Mississippi floods, which has become identified with the more recent Hurricane Katrina. Written, and originally recorded by Randy Newman, Aaron Neville’s version is sublime. Here he is performing at the Concert for Hurricane Relief in 2008:
We followed with the great Muddy Waters and BLOW WIND BLOW and then it was Leon Russell with a cover of the Bob Dylan classic, A HARD RAINS A GONNA FALL. This track was requested by for Judi, listening in Cairns, where they know a little bit about a rainy season. The song STORMY WEATHER is one of my favourites. Written and originally recorded in 1933, its been covered by all the greats, but I do particularly like the Etta James version that we played this week.
The inspiration for RAIN, by the Beatles – according to Neil Aspinall, the Beatles roadie, and John Lennon – was Australia’s own weather. Apparently when they arrived here to tour, the weather was so bad that Lennon was quoted as saying that: “I’ve never seen rain as hard as that.” He went on to say that RAIN was “about people moaning about the weather all the time”. Three promotional films were made for the song. These videos, along with other Beatles videos at the time, sparked George Harrison to say during the Beatles Anthology, “So I suppose, in a way, we invented MTV”.
The Red Hot Chilli Peppers track SNOW may not be about the kind of snow that makes cute little snowmen, but it is a great song in any case. Its from the Stadium Arcadium album. And while we’re talking of metaphor, Tom Waits has a lot to say about the weather on EMOTIONAL WEATHER REPORT. The track is featured on the album Nighthawks at the Diner, recorded in 1975. The title was inspired by Edward Hopper’s 1942 painting Nighthawks. Here’s Tom performing the song at the Rockpalast in Koln, West Germany in 1977:
Irma Thomas is quite rightfully called “the Soul Queen of New Orleans” and she has several songs about the weather that fitted the bill, but none better, in my opinion, than ITS RAINING SO HARD. We followed with Bill Withers and AIN’T NO SUNSHINE WHEN SHE’S GONE. Neil Young was lucky enough to get some help on harmonies from the wonderful Nicolette Larsen on FOUR STRONG WINDS. Larsen, who died in 1997, had a big hit with a cover of Young’s LOTTA LOVE in 1978.
I couldn’t do a show on Bad Weather and not include AC/DC’s THUNDERSTRUCK. Rumour is that the song was inspired by Angus Young’s hair-raising experience when a plane he was on was struck by lightning. Not sure if that’s true or not.
What I do know is that Natalie Merchant and the 10,000 Maniacs “get a shiver in their bones” just thinking about the climate conditions on LIKE THE WEATHER. We followed with Blur and THIS IS A LOW, which was inspired by, of all things, a shipping forecast.
Back to some rock with Creedence Clearwater Revival’s HAVE YOU SEEN THE RAIN and a song for Alex in Sydney, and all the other Deep Purple fans, STORMBRINGER.
When it comes to R&B, The Temptations just want the weather to match their mood on I WISH IT WOULD RAIN but Anne Peebles finds the weather brings back unwanted memories of a past love on I CAN’T STAND THE RAIN.
I love the infectious tone of Bob Dylan’s RAINY DAY WOMEN, which is matched by the very excellent COLD COLD FEELING from T-Bone Walker. As much as I was enjoying myself, we closed the show with The Doors and RIDERS ON THE STORM. The song was inspired by the song “Ghost Riders in the Sky: A Cowboy Legend”. It incorporates real sound effects of thunder and rain, along with Ray Manzarek’s Fender Rhodes electric piano playing, which emulates the sound of rain. Good stuff.
The topic for next week’s show is a doozy. They say success is the best revenge, but, when it comes to musos a bitchy payback song seems to fit the bill. I thing we’ll have a lot of fun with our playlist of REVENGE SONGS, so I hope you’ll join me then. And if you have any suggestions for the playlist please get in touch. It’s always great to have your input.
Here’s this week’s playlist:
Baby, It’s Cold Outside – Soulful Christmas, Ray Charles & Betty Carter
Walking In The Rain – Phil Spector Wall of Sound Vol. 1 – The Ronettes
The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore – Walker Brothers
Rain – Blue For You, Status Quo
I’m Only Happy When It Rains – Garbage, Garbage
Tupelo – The Best Of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Louisiana 1927 – Warm Your Heart, Aaron Neville
Blow Wind Blow – Baby Please Don’t Go, Muddy Waters
A Hard Rains A-Gonna Fall – Remember the Titans (Movie Soundtrack), Leon Russell
Frosty – Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues – A Musical Journey, Albert Collins
Stormy Weather – At Last!, Etta James
Rain – Past Masters Volume Two, The Beatles
Snow ((Hey Oh)) – Stadium Arcadium, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Emotional Weather Report – Nighthawks at the Diner, Tom Waits
It’s Raining So Hard – Irma Thomas
Ain’t no Sunshine – Bill Withers
Four Strong Winds – Comes a Time, Neil Young
Thunderstruck – The Razors Edge, ACDC
Like The Weather – MTV Unplugged, 10,000 Maniacs
This Is A Low – Parklife, Blur
Have You Ever Seen The Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival
Stormbringer – Deepest Purple: The Very Best of Deep Purple, Deep Purple
I Wish It Would Rain – My Girl: The Very Best Of The Tempations [Disc 1], The Temptations
I Can’t Stand The Rain – I Can’t Stand The Rain, Ann Peebles
Rainy Day Women – Forrest Gump (Movie Soundtrack), Bob Dylan
Cold Cold Feeling – The Talkin Guitar (The Best Of), T-Bone Walker
Riders on the storm – The Doors (movie soundtrack), The Doors
Next week: REVENGE SONGS
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
I’m writing this with a slight hangover. Last night was BayFM’s trivia fundraiser on the theme of The Dead Musicians Club. Great night had by all. I loved the theme so much that I organised this week’s show around the same topic. And, let’s face it, a little bit of outrageous promotion for the event didn’t hurt either. And if you are wondering, I teamed up with the lovely Andy and we dressed as Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungeon.
Trying to fit all my favourite musicians into the two hour slot was, of course, impossible. But I had a good go at it. First up it was Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions with PEOPLE GET READY. Mayfield died in 1999 after 10 years of ill health due to being paralysed after an onstage accident. His music continues to be part of hip-hop’s DNA. Rappers like Jay-Z and Snoop Dog have sampled his lyrics and its reported that his estate receives five sample requests a month, with each one fetching up to $350,000. So Curtis, or at least his estate, isn’t doing too badly.
In order to fit as many of the artists that I could into the line-up it was necessary to occasionally play a duet. And, I ask you, is there any better than Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong? Ella died in 1996 and is widely considered one of the supreme interpreters of the Great American Songbook. Louis Armstrong passed away in 1971. His influence extends way beyond jazz music. By the end of his career in the 1960’s, he was widely regarded as a profound influence on popular music in general.The duet I chose was DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME.
Both Buddy Holly and Patsy Cline died in plane crashes and both were very young at the time of their passing. They continue to influence country, rock and pop music to this day. We played LEAVIN’ ON YOUR MIND from Patsy Cline and CRYIN’ WAITIN’ HOPIN’ from Buddy Holly. Oldies, but goodies.
Wilson Pickett was known for his influence on R&B, rock n roll and soul. Is there a better dance floor filler than his rendition of DEVIL WITH THE BLUE DRESS ON? No way.
Two artists who found the fame game just a bit too difficult are Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and singer/songwriter Nick Drake. Both committed suicide while still very young. At the time of Cobain’s death in 1994 he was worth less than $1 million but future royalties have been valued at over $100 million. Drake failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime, however his work has gradually achieved wider notice and recognition. He now ranks among the most influential English singer-songwriters of the last 50 years. He died in 1974. We played Drake’s FRUIT TREE, a request from Anthony, and Nirvana’s COME AS YOU ARE. Here’s a clip of Nirvana performing unplugged in New York in the early 90’s:
Naturally I couldn’t do a show about dead musicians without including Michael Jackson. We chose ROCK WITH YOU from the Off the Wall album. After his death in 2009 Jackson became the best-selling artist of the year, selling over 31 million albums worldwide. He named James Brown “his greatest inspiration”. So it was fitting that we played I FEEL GOOD from Brown as well. He died on Xmas Day 2006 due to complications from pneumonia.
It’s a myth, you know, that Mama Cass Elliott died chocking on a peanut butter sandwich. The real story is that she died of a heart attack after performing back-to-back concerts in London in 1974. She died in the same flat in Mayfair, (on loan from Harry Nilsson), that the Who’s drummer Keith Moon would die in, a little over four years later. I played Elliot’s great version of the Buddy Holly classic, WORDS OF LOVE and followed with a song for Rolling Stones founder, and multi-instrumentalist, Brian Jones. It’s one that showcased Jones’ skill on the side guitar: LITTLE RED ROOSTER.
Lynard Skynard came to worldwide recognition in 1973 before three members and one road crew member died in a plane crash in 1977. Keyboardist Billy Powell died in 2009, aged 56, from a heart attack. Of its original members, only Gary Rossington remains as part of the present line-up. We followed with another good ol’ Southern boy you may have heard of: cultural icon Elvis Presley with BURNING LOVE.
Bob Marley, who passed away in 1981, had to wait for death to make him a U.S. superstar. The week he was diagnosed with cancer he played Madison Square Garden — opening for the Commodores. Fellow Wailer, Peter Tosh, was on the brink of a successful solo career when he was murdered in 1987. I played the Wailers version of GET UP, STAND UP, with both Peter Tosh and Bob Marley on the track.
We said goodbye to both Malcolm McLaren and Sid Vicious with the Sex Pistols’ anthem GOD SAVE THE QUEEN. Here’s what all the fuss was about, way back then:
While punk rock stirred things up, for a while, R&B never went away. Marvin Gaye’s career spanned the entire history of Rhythm & Blues from 50’s doo wop to 80’s contemporary soul. He was murdered by his own father after an argument in 1984. Otis Redding died in plane crash a month before his biggest hit was released. He was only 26. We listened to Marvin Gaye’s sublime WHAT’S GOIN’ ON followed by the song that would make Otis Redding’s estate worth more money than he ever saw when he was alive – SITTIN ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY.
If we’re talking punk, however, I have to say that my favourite band is The Clash. Lead singer and lyricist for the group, Joe Strummer, died suddenly in 2002 from an undiagnosed congenital heart defect. Highly intelligent and politically pro-active, he was the first artist to make the recording, pressing and distribution of his records carbon neutral. Onya Joe. Check out this clip of LONDON CALLING:
Two great artists who died of cancer are 60’s icon, Dusty Springfield, and the incredible Ray Charles. For Dusty we played the power ballad, YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME, and for Ray Charles, the very appropriate, HARD TIMES.
I’ve played Johnny Cash’s amazing cover of the Nine Inch Nails track, HURT, before but it couldn’t be left out of a show like this. He recorded it in 2002 and it was one of Cash’s final releases before his death in 2003. The video for the song is regarded as his epitaph.
One of my sentimental favourites is Freddy Mercury who died of pneumonia resulting from AIDS in 1991. As lead singer of rock group Queen he also composed many of their hits. He had a successful solo career too and I chose one of those recordings for this week’s show: THERE MUST BE MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS.
Another of my favourites is Tim Buckley and one of my favourite albums is his Greetings from LA. Buckley died at 28 from a drug overdose with nothing more than a guitar, amplifier and a lot of debt to his name. His legacy of 11 albums has rectified that somewhat, I hope. Hard to pick one track but we went with MOVE WITH ME.
Another victim of drug addiction was the pioneering Janis Joplin. She died at 27 from a heroin overdose and one of the last songs she recorded was a birthday greeting for John Lennon. The founder of the Beatles was assassinated in 1980, aged 40. So we started the set with Joplin’s CRY BABY and followed with Lennon’s HOW? from the Imagine album.
And finally, my favourite artist, dead or alive – Roy Orbison with his signature tune, PRETTY WOMAN. This clip is from the Black & White Night DVD, a great video featuring Orbison and friends including Jackson Browne, T Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello, k.d. lang, Bonnie Rait, J.D. Souther, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and Jennifer Warnes. Heaven. And for all things ‘Roy’ go to the website at: http://www.royorbison.com/
We wrapped the show up with a great artist who passed away only a couple of days ago, at the ripe old age of 92. Lena Horne helped break down barriers for generations of performers. We played her signature tune, STORMY WEATHER from the 1943 film of the same name. It’s a sizzling performance. I want that movie for my collection!
And we still had time to fit in the very charismatic Jim Morrison and The Doors with RIDERS ON A STORM. Whew. Now I know that there are some glaring omissions. But it’s only a two hour show folks!
Next week I’ve been inspired by some postings on Facebook to create a show on SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS. Like Na-Na-Hey-Hey and Doo-Ron-Ron. That kind of thing. Love to hear your suggestions.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
People Get Ready – The Anthology 1961-1977, Curtis Mayﬁeld & The Impressions
Dream A Little Dream Of Me – Easy Listening, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
Leavin’ On Your Mind – The Patsy Cline Story, Patsy Cline
Cryin’ Waitin’ Hopin’ – Buddy Holly
Devil With The Blue Dress On – Wilson Pickett
Come As You Are – Nirvana, Nirvana
Fruit Tree – Twentyfourseven Soundtrack, Nick Drake
I Feel Good – James Brown
Rock With You (Single Version) – Off the Wall, Michael Jackson
Words of Love – Mama’s Big Ones, Mama Cass Elliot
Little Red Rooster – Rolling Stones
Summertime – Charlie Parker & Chet Baker
Sweet Home Alabama – Forrest Gump Soundtrack, Lynard Skynard
Burning Love – Elvis Presley
Get Up Stand Up – Back To Zion, Bob Marley & The Wailers
God Save The Queen – Never Mind The Bollocks, The Sex Pistols
What’s Going On – The Big Chill soundtrack, Marvin Gaye
Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding
London Calling – The Clash
You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me – The British Beat: Best Of The ’60s, Dusty Springﬁeld
Hard Times – Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues, Ray Charles
Hurt – American IV: The Man Comes Around, Johnny Cash
There Must Be More To Life Than This – The Very Best of Freddie Mercury, Freddie Mercury
Fever – Verve Remixed 3, Adam Freeland & Sarah Vaughan
Move With Me – Greetings From L.A., Tim Buckley
Purple Haze – Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix
Cry Baby – Cry Baby (The Ultimate Collection), Janis Joplin
How? – Lennon, John Lennon
Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
Stormy Weather – Hollywood Musicals, Lena Horne
Riders on the storm – The Doors soundtrack, The Doors
Next week: SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS
I’m baaaack! And this week’s theme was influenced by my recent road trip down the coast: STREETS AND ROADS. Street songs also include their close relations avenues, lanes and boulevards. They all tend to be about a particular destination. Songs about roads and highways, on the other hand, are inclined to reflect on a journey of some kind, metaphorical or not. Some of these songs immortalise where they came from, others where they’re going, but all seem to have something significant to say.
We opened the show with the Drifters’ ON BROADWAY – a road that reflects the best and worst of New York. The famous entertainment strip is the epitome of success for some but it’s also a desperate place to be if you are one of the less fortunate. Check out the Drifters doing a great job, but what’s with the outfits? Pyjamas with fringing. What the??????
TOBACCO ROAD was written by country singer John D. Loudermilk and inspired by Erskine Caldwell’s Depression-era novel of the same name. The song reeks of the American south. A group calling themselves the Nashville Teens recorded the original version, although they actually hailed from England. And I don’t think it was even Southern England, cheeky sods!
There are so many versions of the that definitive road song, ROUTE 66, but I rather like the Nat King cole rendition. Eddy Grant took us back to the 80’s with ELECTRIC AVENUE about a market street in Brixton, London. You may remember a cover version by Aussie band Men at Work, but there’s nothing like the original. Check it out:
The wonderful Emmylou Harris dueted with Dave Matthews on GULF COAST HIGHWAY. Now I don’t believe that there is an actual Gulf Coast Highway, but who cares when the song is so beautiful?
It was a toss up when it came to Bruce Springsteen’s contribution to the show – Both Thunder Road and Racing the Streets were worthy contenders but I had to give it to the Oscar winning anthem, STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA.
Louis Armstrong paid homage to his favourite street in New Orleans in BASIN STREET BLUES and although I gave it a spin on the AUTOMOBILE show, Grace Jones deserved another outing with PULL UP TO THE BUMPER, from her critically acclaimed album NIGHTCLUBBING.
Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland was going FARTHER UP THE ROAD while Bob Dylan delivered the classic HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED. And here’s some trivia about that particular highway, which travels from New Orleans through to the Canadian border. Bessie Smith met her death in an automobile accident on that road, Robert Johnson was said to have lost his soul to the devil at the crossroads of Highway 61 and Highway 49, Elvis Presley grew up in the housing projects built along it and Martin Luther King Jnr would later be murdered in a motel just off Highway 61.
The Beatles sang about PENNY LANE while David Byrne and the Talking Heads took the ROAD TO NOWHERE:
A show about roads needed a bit of hard rock and the obvious, of course, is Acca Dacca and HIGHWAY TO HELL. But I thought I’d give them a rest this week and instead, in celebration of the Deep Purple tour reaching Brisbane next month (yay!) it was HIGHWAY STAR instead. Once listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the Word’s loudest rock band, here they are performing live in 1972. Ian Gillian, you are hot! Can’t wait for them to reach Bris-vegas.
Kirsty MacColl calmed things down just a little with WALKING DOWN MADISON, a song that deals with the disparity between rich and poor on the most expensive street in New York, Madison Avenue. As the song goes: “From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement, it’s not that far”. Gerry Rafferty sang all about London’s BAKER STREET, probably most famous for the literary address of Sherlock Holmes’ residence.
Lots of our songs this week dealt with being down and out, so it was great to include a number by the wonderful Dinah Washington. She’s definitely got the right attitude as she goes walking ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET. Recorded in 1956 with orchestra under the direction of Hal Mooney, the song was originally composed in 1930 by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields for the Broadway musical “International Revue” starring Gertrude Lawrence. The song has since become a jazz standard recorded by many.
In complete and utter contrast came the Australian Aria award winning hip-hop group, The Hilltop Hoods, with a song about life’s choices: THE HARD ROAD.
Chris Rea’s song, ROAD TO HELL, was apparently inspired by rush hour on a motorway. After being in Sydney I know how he feels! It’s been way too long since I played some Roy Orbison, so I DROVE ALL NIGHT was in, as it fitted so perfectly.
Green Day’s BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS is, I assume, about Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Similar to New York’s BROADWAY, Sunset Boulevard is the primary location for live entertainment, as well as being the red-light district and a hang for the homeless.
A fitting follow-up was Ray Charles with LONELY AVENUE and it was up to Junior Walker and the Allstars to brighten the mood somewhat with ROAD RUNNER.
Another fantastic and, I think, optimistic song about leaving home and heading off for freedom, is VENTURA HIGHWAY, a 1972 hit for America.
The Mamas and Papas sang a song reportedly about the place where they all met, a bar in CREEQUE ALLEY while Ray Charles and the Stray Cats combined on a great version of HIT THE ROAD, JACK.
For anyone living on a rural property, like I do, Lucinda Williams’ CAR WHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD will resonate, for sure.
I returned from my trip to Sydney to hear the very sad news that our friend Susie McNair had passed away quietly on Tuesday March 16th. The final song of the program was dedicated to her memory. The Beatles, THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD, was the final single that they recorded as a group. R.I.P. Susie.
Thanks to the following listeners for contributing to this week’s list: Judi, Rebecca and Katie. Next week’s theme is HAIR, so get your thinking caps on!
Meanwhile, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
FRUIT AND VEGETABLES, those health inducing, anti-oxidising good guys of our diet, provided the theme for this week. Lots of songs, across quite a few genres, so it was a lot of fun. We opened the show with Liz Phair and Material Issue singing THE TRA LA LA SONG from a very cute album Saturday Morning Cartoons’ Greatest Hits.
The great Nina Simone got all educational on us with the story of Adam and Eve and their taste for FORBIDDEN FRUIT and then The Paul Butterfield Blues Band kept things moving along with DIGGIN’ MY POTATOES.
Then it was the late Nick Drake with a beautiful meditation on the effect of fame: FRUIT TREE. So sad that he died at the very young age of 26.
K.T. Tunstall raised the mood with BLACK HORSE & THE CHERRY TREE. Here she is at her first U.K. television performance. The show is ‘Later with Jools Holland’.
Junior Brown loves a woman who’s good in the kitchen and he sings all ab0ut it in CATFISH AND COLLARD GREENS while Lynyrd Skynyrd are totally seduced by GEORGIA PEACHES. But if you want to talk sexy, you can’t go past the gorgeous Julie London as she relates how she feels about WATERMELON MAN.
I didn’t think it was possible for a white boy to sing reggae, but UK band UB40 proved me wrong with CHERRY OH BABY. Check out the video clip and see what you think:
And here’s proof positive that the 70’s was a decade to be reckoned with – it’s The Brothers Johnson with STRAWBERRY LETTER 23. And did you know that the strawberry is the only fruit that has its seeds on the outside? True.
Ray Charles’ Genius Likes Company album has supplied a number of tracks for me over the time that I’ve been presenting Theme Park and that’s because it’s a great album. This week it was SWEET POTATO PIE where Charles is joined by James Taylor.
An interesting combination in a triple play followed starting out with Goldfrapp and BLACK CHERRY, followed by The Beach Boys with VEGETABLES and The Ting Tings with FRUIT MACHINE, which I think might really be about a certain gaming device which is in turn a metaphor for something else, anyway, so what the hell. Check out the Ting Tings, another great indie duo. It seems to be the thing these days.
A couple of blasts from the past rocked us into the second half of the show: Little Richard explained what he meant by TUTTI FRUTTI, (I think), and Dee Dee Sharp got everyone up dancing to MASH POTATO TIME. I love this older stuff so much, I’m going to put both clips up. Little Richard’s is actually a performance he did in 1995 but Dee Dee Sharp’s is pure 60’s.
I love the occasional piece of comedy so was really happy to have stumbled across Stan Freberg’s version of the BANANA BOAT SONG. And just as funny, in their own strange way, are The Presidents of the United States who claim to be moving to the country where they’re going to eat a lot of PEACHES.
I was accused of stretching the topic a bit when I included Marvin Gaye’s I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE, but hey, grapes are fruits – right? And besides, it’s a classic.
Talking of classics, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF is a fabulous tune about opposites attracting. “You say tomato…..”. Love it. Ageless.
In complete contrast, we followed with The Kills and SOUR CHERRY from their 2008 album, Midnight Boom. Check them out on this clip:
Couldn’t leave out BANANA PANCAKES by Jack Johnson. Yummy. And the banana pancakes aren’t bad either.
Next up it was PINEAPPLE EXPRESS from Huey Lewis and the News and we followed with the ultimate Tex-Mex supergroup, The Texas Tornados, singing GUACAMOLE.
Billy Holiday gave us, possibly, her most famous recording, STRANGE FRUIT, released in 1939. The song condems the lynchings of African Americans that occurred mainly in the South, but throughout the United States, during this time. Here’s some rare footage of one of the first anti-racism songs ever:
Difficult to know how to follow such a powerful song, but couldn’t go too far wrong with a great piece of instrumental jazz: Dizzie Gillespie’s PICKIN’ THE CABBAGE. And then it was JJ Cale with CHERRY STREET and the wonderful Tony Joe White with POLK SALAD ANNIE.
Before I knew it, the two hours was all up and it was time to sign off with E.G. Daily’s version of LIFE IS JUST A BOWL OF CHERRIES, which apparently means that life is meant to be simple and pleasant.
Next week, is my last show before I take a 2-week break so the theme will be HOLIDAYS. Let me know if you have any favourites you’d like me to play.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
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.
The mercury’s rising, summer is here and I’m feeling hot, hot, hot. So, it’s time to get the sarongs out, start mixing up a marghertia or two and celebrate our steamy weather. Yes, folks this week’s show was a sizzler.
We opened with THE HEAT IS ON from American soul and funk group, The Isley Brothers, released in 1975 on the album of the same name and then it was Buster Poindexter, otherwise known as David Johansen of the New York Dolls. His cover of Arrow’s HOT, HOT, HOT apparently haunts him to this day. Well Dave, thats what happens when you record a hit pop tune. Just be happy with the royalties. He’s not looking too unhappy in this clip:
If the weather doesn’t deliver, you can always find other ways to raise the temperature. Ask Martha and the Vandellas who gave us one of the greatest intros in pop music with their song HEATWAVE. The high octane James Brown knows a thing or two about the topic of his tune, BODY HEAT. Here’s a clip from The Lost James Brown Tapes, a 60 minute video tape available on DVD.
One of my all time favourite films is Napoleon Dynamite and the soundtrack to the film is great too. Check out one of the signature tunes, from the film, CANNED HEAT from Jamiroquai:
Every now and again I like to throw a bit of contemporary pop into the mix and this week it was Katy Perry with HOT ‘N’ COLD and we followed with one of my favourite dance tracks, Adam Freeland remixing the wonderful Sarah Vaughan’s version of FEVER.
Anyone remember glam rock? Marc Bolan & T-Rex were up next with one of the best examples of this genre: HOT LOVE. Check out this clip from Top of the Pops, 1971. Ah go-go girls, whatever happened to them? Well, the ones in this clip are probably all grandmothers now. Scary.
More roaming down memory lane: Style Council with LONG HOT SUMMER and then it was The Triffids’ dreamy and disturbing TOO HOT TO MOVE, TOO HOT TO THINK. The song reflects on our hot, Australian summer nights.
The idiosyncratic, and highly influential, Captain Beefheart divides people. I’m a fan, especially of our next song, HOT HEAD. The Captain takes the usual hot-love cliches to deliriously literal extremes with his funky brand of the Blues.
Ella Fitzgerald reckons it’s TOO DARN HOT and Prince Buster agrees. His delicious piece of Jamaican Ska, TOO HOT had me up and grooving in the studio. And then it was time for one of the highlights of the recent Mullumbimby Music Festival, Oka with THAT’S HOT.
I can never listen to Glenn Frey’s THE HEAT IS ON without conjuring up the film BEVERLY HILLS COP. So to put it into context, here’s the official video, using footage from the film, starring Eddie Murphy:
Another favourite of mine is John Fogarty, this time with the wonderful gospel group The Fairfield Four, singing A HUNDRED AND TEN IN THE SHADE from Fogarty’s Blue Moon Swamp album. Great album and worth a listen if you’re a Fogarty or Creedence fan. Here’s a clip to whet your appetite:
Of course we had to include Billy Idol’s HOT IN THE CITY. Not so obvious, maybe, is the next tune we played: MELT YOUR HEART from the divine Jenny Lewis. A nice suggestion too, from listener Zoe: SUMMERTIME CLOTHES from Animal Collective. Andy’s suggestion was Nouvelle Vague’s I MELT WITH YOU and Lynden’s suggestion was a little on the obscure side. But when John Lennon’s goes COLD TURKEY his temperature rises and his fever is high. So, yeah, into the show on HEAT it went.
The great Ray Charles was next with IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT along with a little smooth jazz from Paul Hardcastle and the Jazzmasters, with Helen Rogers on vocals for BODY HEAT.
We closed the show with disco queen Donna Summer and HOT STUFF and the Godfather of funk, James Brown with HOT PANTS! Can you believe that this clip from 1985 was just a rehearsal?
Next week’s show is my Christmas A-Go-Go special, so tune in for some surprising Xmas tunes and I’ll have some giveaways especially for my lovely Theme Park listeners. In the meantime, here’s this week’s complete playlist.
So what makes a great cover? I think it’s when an artist makes a song his or her own, while still respecting the essence of the original. There are some exceptional covers that completely redefine a song to the point that we identify the tune with the cover artist forever more. And we had a few of those this week in our show about COVERS THAT ARE BETTER THAN THE ORIGINALS.
John Coltrane transformed The Sound of Music’s perky pick me up MY FAVOURITE THINGS into something of a jazz landmark, so, as our opener, it served as a very good example of a song that was reinvented for the listener. Another supreme example of a good cover is Ray Charles rendition of the Beatles ELEANOR RIGBY. His powerful and moving version uses R & B piano and gospel vocals to create something unique from what was a pretty perfect piece of pop to begin with. Check out this clip from the Dick Cavett show 1972. Loving the Raelettes moves, not to mention the pastel kaftans!
In his latter years Johnny Cash recorded a number of covers that, at first glance, seem at odds with his ‘country’ persona. None is more moving than HURT. Cash takes all the self-pity out of the Nine Inch Nails junkie confessional and turns it into an old man’s devastating deathbed testimonial. Take a look at this video clip. It’s a poignant performance that’s almost haunting, as it was created just prior to Cash’s untimely death. Whether or not you’re a Johnny Cash fan, this performance is powerful and deep with emotion.
ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER from Jimi Hendrix was written, and first recorded, by Bob Dylan. He’s one of the most-covered musicians in history for a reason: Besides writing some of the best songs of the rock era, he’s made lots of recordings that sound unfinished, even skeletal.The original of ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER is spine-chilling in its own strange way, but the song didn’t become a classic until Jimi Hendrix unleashed his version. Hendrix seems to channel pure myth and mystery. Of course, it wouldn’t work without Dylan’s lyrics and unsettling chords, but the Hendrix solos actually sound like wind howling and wildcats growling, don’t you think?
Canadian band, Cowboy Junkies, version of The Velvet Underground’s SWEET JANE was based on the one that was included in 1969: The Velvet Underground Live. Lou Reed himself described it as “the best and most authentic version I have ever heard”. At the risk of including way too many video clips, I have to show you this:
The Lennon/McCartney single, WE CAN WORK IT OUT, comes from the middle of The Beatles most radical creative reinvention, the 1965 shift from the straightforward pop of Help! To the multi-faceted Rubber Soul, which would revolutionise their music, and by extension, everybody’s else’s. So, it’s fitting that when Stevie Wonder covered the song on 1970’s Signed, Sealed & Delivered, he was in the middle of a similar transition from Motown’s teenage wunderkid to the socially conscious and superfunky artist he became in the mid 70’s. Wonder’s performance is so powerful, in fact, that it changes the meaning of the song without changing a word.
We teamed that with Ike & Tina Turner’s version of PROUD MARY. As Tina explains in the fairly subdued preface: “We never, ever do nothin’ nice and easy. We always do it nice and rough.” The Turners – and their band – then tear the intro to shreds by kicking up the tempo, adding horns and driving it all with a beat that practically demands that people dance. By comparison, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s original mid-tempo rock number sounds positively bland.
One sure-fire way to reinvent a song is to flip the sex of the singer. Two examples of that are Melanie’s version of the Stones’ RUBY TUESDAY and Regina Spektor’s version of John Lennon’s REAL LOVE.
Another is Janis Joplin’s cover of Roger Miller’s ME AND BOBBY MCGEE. Joplin’s version gave her the only number one single of her career and only the second posthumous number one single in rock n roll history (the first was Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding).
Back to boys on boys: Edgar & Johnny Winter do a wonderful version of TOBACCO ROAD, recorded originally by the Nashville Teens. And idiosyncratic Melbourne performer, C.W. Stoneking, puts a whole new spin on the White Stripes SEVEN NATION ARMY. The clip is from radio station’s Triple J’s ‘Like A Version’ series, available on CD/DVD. Wild.
My favourite number in this week’s playlist was suggested by a Sydney listener, Lynden (thank you!): Jazz singer Patricia Barber with her interpretation of Sonny & Cher’s THE BEAT GOES ON. And then Stevie Ray Vaughan gave Jimi Hendrix a run for his money with his version of VOODOO WOMAN.
Two of my all time favourite R&B artists followed: Al Green taking the Bee Gees ballad HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART to a whole new level and Aretha Franklin showing us how her version of Otis Redding’s RESPECT made it, not only an anthem for the feminist movement and the civil rights moviement, but, her very own signature song. Here’s a great little doco from Ovation TV looking at Aretha’s background and the important place that the song has in history.
English groups of the 60’s, in particular The Beatles, weren’t adverse to borrowing from the American R&B artists of the day to create some of their early hits (think of the Beatles Please Mr. Postman as an example). One R&B song that achieves a great transformation from R&B to rock is the Rolling Stones cover of the Temptations JUST MY IMAGINATION.
A male rock song that benefited greatly from being sung by a woman is GLORIA. Patti Smith introduced bisexuality and religious guilt to the horny garage rock song, originally recorded by Van Morrison’s band Them.
BY THE TIME I GET TO PHOENIX was originally recorded by Jimmy Webb. Isaac Hayes takes the listener on an epic journey by re-imagining the song’s entire context so persuasively that by the time he starts actually singing, the emotional force just about knocks our socks off.
Sometimes it’s hard to listen to any Doors song with a straight face, let alone LIGHT MY FIRE. Jackie Wilson had a bit of fun with his vastly superior version: its pure funk and I love the way Wilson punctuates it with his trademark squeals and screeches. It’s way sexier than the Doors’ psychedelic original, that’s for sure.
One of those songs that will forever be owned by the cover artist is Sinead O’Connor’s NOTHING COMPARES 2 U. Originally recorded by Prince’s group Family but no-one much remembers that now. Here’s the official clip showing her at the pinnacle of her career. Beautiful.
Now before the messages start filling my inbox, I’m sure that I’ve missed some obvious great covers and two hours is not nearly enough time to give credit where credit is due. Let’s go on the record as saying that, yes, every cover of a Leonard Cohen number is probably better than the original (sorry Leonard) but if I hear HALLELUJA one more time I will scream; that Cat Power is very good, but not a genius and that no-one can do Roy Orbison like Roy Orbison, not even kd lang.
And so I chose to go out with the Clash’s cover of I FOUGHT THE LAW AND THE LAW WON, originally recorded by The Bobby Fuller Four and then it was something quite special: ARE YOU LONESOME TONIGHT? was first published in 1926 and was most notably covered by Elvis Presley in 1960. I have no idea when this version was recorded, most probably when the Beatles toured the US in the mid 60’s. It’s Elvis with Roy Orbison and the Beatles doing back-up. I’ve only been able to find it as a download but if anyone has any back story on this, let me know. And the finale was The Beatles covering TWIST & SHOUT, originally recorded by the Top Notes but most people may be more aware of the Isley Brothers version. The Beatles definitely made this one their own.
Here’s the complete playlist, with original artists in brackets:
My Favourite Things (Julie Andrews/ The Sound Of Music) – John Coltrane
Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles) – Ray Charles
Hurt (Nine Inch Nails) – Johnny Cash
All Along The Watchtower (Bob Dylan) – Jimi Hendrix
Sweet Jane (Lou Reed/Velvet Underground) – Cowboy Junkies
We Can Work It Out (Beatles) – Stevie Wonder
Proud Mary (Creedence Clearwater Revival) – Ike & Tina Turner
Ruby Tuesday (Rolling Stones) – Melanie Safka
Real Love (John Lennon) – Regina Spektor
Seven Nation Army (White Stripes) – C.W. Stoneking
Tobacco Road (Nashville Teens) – Edgar & Johnny Winter
Me And Bobby McGee (Roger Miller) – Janis Joplin
The Beat Goes On (Sonny & Cher) – Patricia Barber
After Midnight (JJ Cale) – Eric Clapton
Voodoo Child (Jimi Hendrix) – Stevie Ray Vaughan
How Can You Mend A Broken Heart? (Bee Gees) – Al Green
Respect (Otis Redding) – Aretha Franklin
Just My Imagination (The Temptations) – The Rolling Stones
Gloria (Van Morrison/Them) – Patti Smith
By The Time I Get To Phoenix (Johnny Rivers/Glen Campbell) – Isaac Hayes
Light My Fire (The Doors) – Jackie Wilson
Nothing Compares 2 U (The Family/Prince) – Sinead O’Connor
I Fought The Law (Bobby Fuller Four) – The Clash
Are You Lonesome Tonight – Elvis Presley & Roy Orbison (with the Beatles as the backup singers)
Twist And Shout (Top Notes/Isley Bros) – The Beatles