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SONGS ABOUT CALIFORNIA

Our theme this week was about a place that’s linked to money, sunshine, fame and freedom. It sounds a lot like my home town of Byron Bay, but  no, this week’s program was about the equally tantalising American state of  CALIFORNIA.

We started with Al Jolson’s CALIFORNIA HERE I COME. Written for the 1921 Broadway musical Bombo, it’s often called the unofficial state song of California. Another standard is the Mamas & The Papas’ love song to their home state: CALIFORNIA DREAMING. Bobby Womack’s version is, in my opinion, just sublime. Here’s some original footage and images of California in the 50’s, set against his music:

Chuck Berry wrote THE PROMISED LAND while in jail and, apparently, he used the prison library to plot his hero’s trip from Virginia to Los Angeles.

Train is a band that comes from San Francisco so their song, SAVE ME SAN FRANCISCO, is, we assume,  straight from the heart. And like a lot of the tunes in today’s list, it’s really about missing someone you’ve left behind. The songs is  from the album of the same name, released in 2009.

Led Zeppelin’s GOING TO CALIFORNIA is reportedly about Joni Mitchell. The story goes that Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were both infatuated with her at the time. They were all in their early 20’s and it was crazy days for all and sundry. Here’s Led Zepp. playing live at Earls Court in 1975:

Arlo Guthrie contributed a song that’s based on him going through LA airport with a couple of joints in his pocket. Not that I condone that kind of behaviour, of course (!) He performed COMING INTO LOS ANGELES live at Woodstock in 1969 where, it appears, it went down a treat:

Yes, Arlo Guthrie just wants to have some fun. I don’t think he’s the only one. Sheryl Crowe is in a similar state of mind on ALL I WANNA DO.

The Rivieras are also out there havin’ fun on CALIFORNIA SUN, a hit for them in 1964. Albert Hammond’s IT NEVER RAINS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA also reminds me of Byron Bay. Must be the sub-tropical thing.  Does this ring a bell? “It Doesn’t Rain in California but girl don’t they warn ya, it pours, it pours.” Sounds like Byron to me.

We followed with the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The title of CALIFORNICATION was borrowed for the title of one of my favourite  television shows.

Two of the best voices ever belong to Dionne Warwick and Roy Orbison.  Warwick sings of being a deflated Hollywood hopeful heading home, on DO YOU KNOW THE WAY TO SAN JOSE? Orbison, who can’t wait to get back to where his lover is – and therefore where the sun always shines –  is brilliant on CALIFORNIA BLUE. It’s from his comeback album, Mystery Girl, recorded just before he died in 1988.

I bet you were wondering how long it would take me to play HOTEL CALIFORNIA by The Eagles? Only an hour! Yes how could I not play this song on a show dedicated to songs about California?

Latest media favourite, pop-singer Kate Perry, gets a little bit of help from Snoop Dogg on CALIFORNIA GURLS. Can you believe that this video clip has racked up nearly 50 million hits? Sweet.

Unbelievably,  I found a slice of hip-hop I could use with no swear words in it!  2PAC and Dr Dre are almost subdued on CALIFORNIA LOVE. We followed with some Thin Lizzy who know how hard it is to make it in HOLLYWOOD (When you’re down on your luck).

The Sir Douglas Quintet’s MENDOCINO is also a classic. It’s a song about a county in the north of California, renowned for distinctive Pacific Ocean coastline, old growth forests, wine production and liberal views on cannabis. Sounds like it should be Byron Shire’s sister state, doesn’t it?

Everclear do a  song about my favourite part of Los Angeles, SANTA MONICA. It’s a place, also not unlike Byron, with a great beach, fantastic restaurants, farmers markets and a laid-back feel to it. The song was written by the band’s lead singer Art Alexakis and its actually quite a melancholy tune about suicide.

When Otis Redding sang about  SITTIN’ ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY, it was the very groovy city of San Francisco he was referring to. We followed that with a piece of music that pays homage to the Mexican population of California: The brilliant Chicano rock band Thee Midniters with WHITTIER BOULEVARD.

The Red Hot Chilli Peppers seem to be obsessed with California as they have recorded quite a few tracks about the area. Our second Peppers track was DANI CALIFORNIA which we followed with a number by  Tom Petty.  FREE FALLING references areas of Los Angeles, from the San Fernando Valley to Ventura Boulevard and Mulholland Drive, all of which conjure up various movies out of Hollywood.  Petty has been qouted as saying that the multitude of acoustic guitars on the track were used to create a dreamlke quality.

Now if you really want dreamy, then you can’t go past the  epitome of Californian folk/rock, Joni Mitchell, with CALIFORNIA. You can sort of see what those bad boys from Crosby, Stills & Nash  and Led Zeppelin saw in her, can’t you?

The song we had to have,of course, was CALIFORNIA GIRLS.When you think of California, you can’t help but think of surfing and, of course, The Beach Boys. They recorded the song in 1965 and it maintains its popularity today, simply because it sums up everything that is great about the beach lifestyle.

Even Kings of Leon do a song about this sunny state.  However, CALIFORNIA WAITING doesn’t sound like too much fun somehow.  Here they are performing on the Jonathan Ross show:

We finished the show with LA WOMAN, from the last studio album recorded by The Doors before Jim Morrison’s death in July 1971. It’s arguably the most blues/rock oriented tracks that the band recorded.

Now if you would like to contribute to next week’s show, and I hope you do, then the topic will be one that’s close to my heart: SHOPPING. Drop me a line if you have a suggestion or a request.

And as the governor of California would say….. I’LL BE BACK.

Here’s this week’s complete playlist:

California Here I Come – Al Jolson

California Dreaming – The Very Best of Bobby Womack, Bobby Womack

The Promised Land – Chuck Berry Greatest Hits, Chuck Berry

Save Me San Francisco – Save Me San Francisco, Train

Going to California – Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin

Coming into Los Angeles – Woodstock 1969, Arlo Guthrie

All I Wanna Do – Sheryl Crow

California Sun – The Rivieras

It Never Rains In Southern California – Albert Hammond

Californication – Californication, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Do You Know the Way to San Jose – Her All Time Greatest Hits, Dionne Warwick

California Blue – Mystery Girl, Roy Orbison

Hotel California – Hotel California, Eagles

California Gurls – California Gurls, Kate Perry ft. Snoop Dogg

California Love – All Eyez On Me, 2pac ft. Dr.Dre

Hollywood (Down On Your Luck) – Renegade, Thin Lizzy

Mendocino – Sir Douglas Quintet

California – Orange County Soundtrack, Phantom Planet

Santa Monica – Everclear

Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding

Whittier Blvd. – Latin Oldies, Thee Midniters

Dani California – Stadium Arcadium, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Free Falling – Tom Petty

California – Joni Mitchell, Joni Mitchell

California Girls – Made in U.S.A., The Beach Boys

California Waiting – Holy Roller Novocaine, Kings of Leon

LA Woman – Legacy: The Absolute Best, The Doors

Next week:  SHOPPING!
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
Also streaming via BayFM
Tragically also on Facebook and Twitter
Email me at: lyn.themeparkradio@gmail.com

BAD WEATHER

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

Also streaming on http://www.bayfm.org

Tragically also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maccalyn


BACK TO SCHOOL

How come every songwriter hasn’t written at least one song about schooldays? Come on, it has all the vital ingredients for a hit: that age-old conflict between discipline and rebellion, close friendships, sexual awakenings and enough traumatic experiences to feed  a healthy persecution complex for the rest of your life. Mind you, while  every songwriter may not have taken up the opportunity to reveal all about their schooldays,  those that did contributed to a pretty good playlist this week.

We opened the show with SCHOOL DAYS by Chuck Berry who turns the joy of hearing the final bell into some hot rock’n’roll.  Then it was Young MC who seems well versed in being sent to the PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE, while the Pipettes LIKE A BOY IN UNIFORM. Don’t we all?

Belle & Sebastian could pretty much compile an album of songs about classroom politics but the pick of the bunch is EXPECTATIONS, from the soundtrack to Juno. The song’s misfit heroine wins the heart of every indie boy by “making life-size models of the Velvet Underground from clay”. Now why didn’t I go to that school?

Jack White is a bit of a hero of mine, so I had to include The White Stripes with WE’RE GOING TO BE FRIENDS. Everyone needs a best buddie at school that’s for sure.

A couple of real classics followed. I would have been sent to detention if I hadn’t included ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL from Pink Floyd or Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ fantastic diss on school,  JACK SHIT GEORGE.

Steely Dan had us bopping along to the fact that they are “never going back to”  MY OLD SCHOOL. And then it was Sam Cooke with WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD.

Sonny Boy Williamson contributed one of the most provocative tracks on the playlist this week, GOOD MORNIN’ LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL. This blues classic was written about the schoolgirl as sexual fantasy. It’s since been covered by every classic-rock band under the sun, but I think the original is still the best.

ME AND JULIO DOWN BY THE SCHOOL YARD is a song performed by Paul Simon from his 1972 self-titled album. In my opinion he’s one of the best contemporary songwriters we have. Here he is performing the song live:

The music video of BAGGY TROUSERS, by Madness,  was shot in an English school and park. The band’s saxophone player, Lee Thompson, decided he wanted to fly through the air for his solo, with the use of wires hanging from a crane. The resulting shot is one of the most popular of any of  the Madness music videos.

ROCK N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL by The Ramones was followed by a personal pick: CATHOLIC SCHOOL GIRLS RULE, by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Yes, being an old tyke, or as they say in the trade a “lapsed Catholic”, I have to agree that Catholic Schoolgirls do rule!

A couple of little morality tales followed. James Brown warned DON’T BE A DROPOUT and then it was the wonderful Brenda Holloway performing with the Supremes, as back-up (how’s that!). The song was PLAY IT COOL, STAY IN SCHOOL. All good advice of course.

Cat Stevens took a trip down memory lane with OLD SCHOOL YARD and Busted revealed, THAT’S WHAT I GO TO SCHOOL FOR, a disarmingly frank pop tune about having a crush on a teacher.

Babs Gonzalez taught us a bit about Bebop with PROFESSOR BOP while Nat King Cole favours all things extra-curricular in YOU DON’T LEARN THAT IN SCHOOL.

Boomtown Rats followed with I DON’T LIKE MONDAYS and then it was Billy Bragg with the brilliant, THE SATURDAY BOY which I’ve played before, but with its school setting was a certainty to be played again this week.

Like most of The Coaster’s songs, CHARLIE BROWN was written by the songwriting team of Leiber And Stoller. They wrote hits for many artists, including Elvis Presley, The Drifters, and Ben E. King. The songs they wrote for The Coasters were usually more comical. In this case, the song is about a kid who is always getting in trouble and asks “why is everyone always picking on me?”

A nice piece of reggae followed, suggested by Lynden in Sydney: Dennis Alcapone with TEACH THE CHILDREN.

Otis Rush’s distinctive guitar style features a slow burning sound and long bent notes. With similar qualities to Magic Sam and Buddy Guy, his sound became known as West Side Chicago blues and is cited as an influence on many musicians, including Eric Clapton.  Rush is left-handed and, unlike many left-handed guitarists, plays a left-handed instrument strung upside-down with the low E string at the bottom. He played often with the little finger of his pick hand curled under the low E for positioning . It is widely believed that this contributes to his distinctive sound. Check it out on this video where he performs HOMEWORK:

A little change of pace then with The Smiths and THE HEADMASTER RITUAL followed by Graham Parker & The Rumour with BACK TO SCHOOLDAYS.

Jerry Lee Lewis uses high school as a setting, rather than a storyline, in HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL.  This would have been his fourth consecutive hit in a row, if controversy hadn’t raged about the fact that his new wife was hardly old enough to be in high school. Oops. Doesn’t seem to bother the audience at this concert in London in the 60’s:

It was nearly time for the final bell, but we still squeezed in another triple play:   The Hollies with CARRIE ANNE, N.R.B.Q. with STILL IN SCHOOL and WAITIN’ IN SCHOOL from Ricky Nelson.

Our finale was reserved for a song that divides people. Personally I have a bit of a soft spot for TO SIR WITH LOVE, from the film of the same name. How gorgeous was Sidney Poitier? Here’s a clip of Lulu performing the song very recently, (I think it may have been 2008).  And how good does she look?

Next week, I’m going to go against the grain. Yes I know that Valentines Day is coming up soon but the cynic in me has decided to mount an ANTI LOVE show. So, if you have any suggestions drop me a line.

Here’s the complete playlist from this week:

School Days – Chuck Berry
Principal’s office – Young MC
I Like A Boy In Uniform – The Pipettes
Expectations – Belle & Sebastian
We’re Going to Be Friends – The White Stripes
Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2) – Pink Floyd
Jack Shit George – Ian Dury and The Blockheads
Quiet Afternoon – Stanley Clarke
My Old School – Steely Dan
What A Wonderful World – Sam Cooke
Good Mornin’ Little School Girl – Sonny Boy Williamson
Me and Julio Down By the School Yard – Paul Simon
Be True To Your School – The Beach Boys
Baggy Trousers – Madness
Rock N Roll High School – The Ramones
Catholic School Girls Rule – Red Hot Chili Peppers
Don’t Be a Dropout – James Brown
Play It Cool, Stay In School – Brenda Holloway & The Supremes
Old School Yard – Cat Stevens
That’s What I Go To School For – Busted
You Don’t Learn That in School – Nat King Cole
Professor Bop – Babs Gonzales
I Don’t Like Mondays – Boomtownrats
The Saturday Boy – Billy Bragg
Charlie Brown – The Coasters
Homework – Otis Rush
Teach The Children – Dennis Alcapone
The Headmaster Ritual – The Smiths
Back To Schooldays – Graham Parker
High School Confidential – Jerry Lee Lewis
Carrie Anne – The Hollies
Still In School – N.R.B.Q.
Waitin’ In School – Ricky Nelson
To Sir With Love – Lulu

Next week: ANTI-LOVE

Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time
Also streaming on http://www.bayfm.org

Tragically also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maccalyn

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