I’m not a smoker and, in fact, I think its a pretty silly way to spend your time, but I have to admit that there are some terrific songs on the subject, both for and against. We started the program with Tex Williams and His Western Caravan with SMOKE! SMOKE! SMOKE! THAT CIGARETTE, a western swing novelty song recorded in 1947. While the line “Ive smoked all my life and I ain’t dead yet” suggests that the song is pro-smoking, the chorus includes lines like “Puff, puff, puff … smoke yourself to death”. So Tex is having a two way bet, let’s just say.
Here Tex’s song is used brilliantly to illustrate all the smoking on my favourite TV series, Mad Men. This video will have one of two results: The repetitious, perfunctory and seemingly pointless act of inhaling smoke may turn you completeley off smoking cigarettes. Or, the fact that this repetitious, perfunctory, and seemingly pointless act is carried out by such debonair, dashing human beings will make you run to your corner store and chimney down a carton before dinner. Either way, advertising works.
We couldn’t leave out references to tobacco’s more pungent partner in crime, marijuana. Before this recreational drug was criminalised in the US, there was a fertile genre known as reefer jazz, of which Ella Fitzgerald’s WHEN I GET LOW I GET HIGH is a lively example.
When it comes to Bluegrass, Jimmy Martin was known as The King. He recorded a great smoking song called I CAN’T QUIT CIGARETTES in 1966.
More currently, Hefner’s Darren Hayman gave us THE HYMN FOR THE CIGARETTES from the 1999 album The Fidelity Wars. Here the song is set against some of my favourite films including Contempt, Bad Education, Manhatten, Breathless, Coffee & Cigarettes, All About My Mother, A Bande A Part and more…
Talking Heads do a great version of TAKE ME TO THE RIVER “take my money, take my cigarettes I haven’t seen the worst of it yet…” and, of course, there’s Otis Redding, mixing caffeine with his nicotine on CIGARETTES AND COFFEE.
Neil Young’s ROLL ANOTHER NUMBER (FOR THE ROAD) is from his most uneven album ‘Tonight’s the Night’ on which he looks back at Woodstock through a fog of smoke, which probably explains a thing or two about the quality of the album.
Rufus Wainwright contributed his charismatic 2001 showtune, CIGARETTES AND CHOCOLATE MILK. Everything he likes is just a little bit harmful for him (know the feeling!).
Jazz legend Nina Simone has some good advice: DON’T SMOKE IN BED. She recorded her version of Willard Robison’s piece in 1958. And in 1959 a completely different style of music was being recorded by Joe and Rose Lee Maphis. Their honky tonk style of country music was also a crowd pleaser, with its old fashioned views about the role of women in society. Well it was 1959 folks. The song is DIM LIGHTS, THICK SMOKE (AND LOUD, LOUD, MUSIC).
David Bowie’s ROCK & ROLL SUICIDE is an avant garde showtune of sorts, where he references the Spanish poet Manuel Machado with the line “Time takes a cigarette…”
My pick from the multitude of reggae songs that celebrate weed is U Roy’s CHALICE IN THE PALACE because it has to be the most unusual of the bunch. Inspired by a dream, he outlines his plan to bond with the Queen over a hashpipe. Cool.
Ry Cooder proved, once again, that he must be the best slide guitarist in the world with a very nice live performance of FOOL FOR A CIGARETTE.
Canadian Hawksley Workman works a nice piece of sexual metaphor on JEALOUS OF YOUR CIGARETTE.
I had to include the Happy Mondays song LOOSE FIT, if only because it starts with someone lighting up and inhaling. Then it was a cruisy little number from Camper Van Beethoven who suggest we get high while the radio’s on. The song, GOOD GUYS & BAD GUYS, is a great example of the slacker ethos of the late 80’s.
Steve Miller reckons he’s a joker, a smoker and a midnight toker on The Steve Miller Band’s song JOKER. Brownsville Station’s SMOKIN’ IN THE BOYS ROOM took me back a few years. Remember when being a rebel was sharing a pack of Peter Stuyvesant’s behind the toilet block? Seems so distant now doesn’t it?
I love to play a little Pink Floyd now and again and HAVE A CIGAR from the album Wish You Were Here was perfect for this week’s show.
The Editors recorded a song about one of my big bugbears, SMOKERS OUTSIDE THE HOSPITAL DOORS. It drives me crazy when I go to visit someone in hospital and I see hospital workers and visitors congregating outside the hospital entrance smoking their lives away. Grrrr.
Super Furry Animals gave us a rambling, rousing slice of smoking philosophy on SMOKIN’, which we followed with REEFER MAN from Baron Lee and The Mill Blue Rhythm Band.
For all you Francophiles out there: Serge Gainsbourg and Catherine Deneuve want you to know that they’re big cigar fans. They even contend that God smokes them. I’m no theology expert, but who knows, they may be right! The song is DIEU EST UN FUMEUR DE HAVANES.
A couple of country songs on the subject of smoking: Lefty Frizzell with CIGARETTES AND COFFEE BLUES and a classic: Patsy Cline with THREE CIGARETTES IN AN ASHTRAY.
k.d. lang is a huge Patsy Cline fan and she’s covered many of her songs including THREE CIGARETTES IN AN ASHTRAY. And you’ve got to hand it to her for doing a whole album on smoking. So k.d. saw us out with a terrific song from the album Drag: MY LAST CIGARETTE.
Next week our show falls on March 8th which is International Women’s Day, so its a given that I’ll be presenting a program that features all my favourite female artists. Get in touch if you would like to request a particular song or artist. I’d love to hear from you.
Meanwhile, here’s the complete playlist from this week:
Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette) – Tex Williams and His Western Caravan, Theme Time Radio Hour Volume Three [Disc 2]
When I Get Low I Get High – Ella Fitzgerald The Early Years: Part 1 (1935-1938) [Disc 1]
I Can’t Quit Cigarettes – Jimmy Martin, Smoke That Cigarette: Pleasure To Burn
The Hymn For The Cigarettes – Hefner, The Best of Hefner
Take Me To The River – Talking Heads, The Best Of
Cigarettes And Coffee – Otis Redding, The Soul Album
Roll Another Number (For The Road) – Neil Young, Tonight’s The Night
Cigarettes And Chocolate Milk – Rufus Wainwright, Dreamworks Fall
Don’t Smoke In Bed – Nina Simone, Little Girl Blue
Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music) – Joe and Rose Lee Maphis, Smoke That Cigarette: Pleasure To Burn
Rock & Roll Suicide – David Bowie, The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust
Chalice In The Palace (1990 Digital Remaster) – U-Roy, Dread In A Babylon
Fool For A Cigarette / Feelin’ Good – Ry Cooder
Jealous Of Your Cigarette – Hawksley Workman, (Last Night We Were) The Delicious Wolves
Richard Diamond Advertisement – Richard Diamond, Smoke That Cigarette: Pleasure To Burn
Loose Fit – Happy Mondays, The Chillout Album, Vol. 2
Good Guys & Bad Guys – Camper Van Beethoven
The Joker – The Steve Miller Band, Groovin’ 70’s
Smokin’ In The Boy’s Room – Brownsville Station, Best Of Brownsville Station
Have A Cigar – Pink Floyd, Wish You Were Here
Smokers Outside The Hospital Doors – Editors, An End Has A Start
Smokin’ – Super Furry Animals, Outspaced
Reefer Man – Baron Lee and The Mill Blue Rhythm Band
Dieu fumeur de Havana – Serge Gainsbourg/Catherine Deneuve
Cigarettes And Coffee Blues – Lefty Frizzell
Three Cigarettes In An Ashtray – Patsy Cline, The Ultimate Collection
My Last Cigarette – k.d. lang, Drag
Next week: AUSTRALIAN WOMEN SINGERS
As you will no doubt be aware, the Academy Awards are coming up and in honour of the Oscar tradition of jazzing up a long-running format with dubious gimmicks, this week’s Theme Park was dedicated to Original Songs Recorded For Film. Here at BayFm we’re always on a budget so you just have to imagine the red carpet, the paparazzi and my fabulous outfit.
J’aimee Skippon-Volke from the Byron Film Festival also paid us a visit and we had a chat about what’s screening at the festival this year. She kindly gave away some tickets to our loyal subscribers, as did the wonderful people at the Dendy Cinema who are screening most of the Oscar nominees at the moment. Thanks guys and congrats to the lucky listeners who won those.
STAYIN’ ALIVE was written and recorded by The Bee Gees in 1977 for the film ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and the album defined the Bee Gees as they ushered in the disco era. None of the songs from this best selling album were nominated for an Oscar, with the Best Original Song of 1977 going to “You Light Up My Life’ from the widely panned film of the same name. Go figure.
Another oversight by the Academy is WHEN DOVES CRY from Prince’s brilliant album ‘Purple Rain’ which supported the film of the same name. Funky, sexy and totally rockin’ the album was nothing short of revolutionary and probably far too much for the staid Academy committee to take in. Prince doesn’t like to have his music on YouTube so it was difficult to get a good video of him performing the song, but here’s an extract from a DVD called ‘Prince – The Glory Years’:
Simon & Garfunkle wrote MRS ROBINSON especially for the film ‘The Graduate’. Thanks Judi, all the way from Cairns, for suggesting that one.
The Beatles A HARD DAY’S NIGHT is so iconic that many of us forget that all eight original songs plus four instrumentals are from the Beatles first movie.
And then it was one of my guilty pleasures, TONIGHT I’M GONNA ROCK YOU TONIGHT, from ‘This is Spinal Tap’. Not nominated for an Oscar either! What was the Academy thinking!
Prior to Bob Marley, nothing did more to make reggae popular than the soundtrack to THE HARDER THEY COME. Jimmy Cliff’s title song does the work of the film in less than four minutes. Gotta be the best reggae song ever written for a movie. The year was 1972 and the Oscar for Best Original song that year went to The Morning After from ‘The Poseidon Adventure’. Jimmy was robbed!
Here’s a song that actually did win an Oscar. Another guilty pleasure, I’m afraid, but in 1987 while all else around us was synth-pop, we fell hard for the film ‘Dirty Dancing’. The song? I’VE HAD THE TIME OF MY LIFE from Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes. Oh, stop it, you know you were waiting for this one! R.I.P. Patrick Swayze.
Ok, I’m on a roll…. Yet another song that won an Academy Award for Best Original Song, and who would have thought a rap song could pull it off? Eminem’s LOSE YOURSELF was written for his hit film 8 MILE, released in 2002.
Stevie Wonder’s I JUST CALLED TO SAY I LOVE YOU pipped two songs from the film ‘Footloose’ at the post to take out the Best Original Song in 1984. But he wasn’t the first black artist to take out the award. Back in 1971 Isaac Hayes’ soul and funk style THEME FROM SHAFT won the Oscar, making Hayes the first African American to win that honor (or any Academy Award in a non-acting category, for that matter). Check out the opening credit sequence from the film, which uses the theme so superbly. Damn right!
Danny Boyle’s amazing film ‘127 Hours’ is nominated in various categories this year, including Best Original Song and Best Film. He also directed ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ which in 2008 walked away with 8 Oscars. That year two of the songs from the film were nominated and JAI HO won the Oscar, but I prefer the song that missed out, O…SAYA by A.R. Rahman and M.I.A.
By having the actors write and perform their own songs, director Robert Altman managed to capture the sprawling heart of the ’70s Nashville music scene, the good, the bad and the just plain hokey. And while the album has its high and low points, the high points got their due: Keith Carradine’s I’M EASY won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 1975.
Zoe suggested that I play the whole album from the film INTO THE WILD. Ah yes, if only I had the time. But we definitely had to play something from this wonderful soundtrack, which was composed by Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam fame. So, my pick was SOCIETY.
Rebecca suggested PLAYGROUND LOVE from the Virgin Suicides soundtrack. it’s by the group Air and it has to be one of the most beautiful love songs written. An Oscar? No, of course not.
In 1969 the film ‘Midnight Cowboy’ won three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. But no best song, not even a nomination. It was a strong year with Raindrops are Falling on my Head from the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid taking out the honours, but I do have a soft spot for Harry Nilsson, so we had to play EVERYBODY’S TALKIN’. Here’s the opening sequence with Jon Voight as Joe Buck. Not even a nomination, what gives?
Bruce Springsteen’s STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA from the 1993 film ‘Philadelphia’ did go on to win Best Original Song for Springsteen. So, sometimes the Academy does get it right, it seems. As it did last year with THE WEARY KIND from a film that I also adore, ‘Crazy Heart’. The song was sung by Ryan Bingham.
MEMO FROM TURNER is a song written by the Rolling Stones for Nic Roeg’s film ‘Performance’. Ry Cooder provides slide guitar on the track, which was enough reason for me to include it, despite it not even being nominated for an Oscar. The film starred Mick Jagger as a sex-crazed rock star. I think it probably should have been awarded an Oscar for type-casting, surely! Love the fact that Mick lip-syncs to himself…
Like James Brown’s Black Caesar and Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man, Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Superfly’ album typified the blaxploitation tradition of soundtracks that eclipsed, and in this case outgrossed, their original inspirations. FREDDIE’S DEAD was my pick from this soundtrack.
It would have been remiss of me not to play at least one of the nominated songs from this year’s Academy Awards. So I went to go out on a limb and forecast that IF I RISE from ‘127 Hours’ should take the guernsey on Oscar’s night. With music by A.R. Rahman and lyrics by Dido and Rollo Armstrong, I think its the best of the bunch. Great footage from the film as well, on this clip:
We finished the show with a divine song from Louis Armstrong. WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD was one of the themes for the James Bond film ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, starring George Lazenby and Dianna Rigg. Composed by John Barry, with lyrics by Hal David, Barry has been quoted as saying that this is the finest piece of music he ever wrote.
Next week the theme will be SMOKING. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big fan of nicotine or other smoking substances, for that matter. But gee, there are some good songs on the topic, aren’t there? So I have no shame. Smoking it is. Or maybe we should call it THANKS FOR NOT SMOKING. Put your thinking caps on and get in touch, especially if you have an anti-smoking song for our list.
While you’re pondering your choices, take a look at the playlist from this week:
Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees, Bee Gees Greatest
When Doves Cry – Prince, Purple Rain
Mrs Robinson – Simon & Garfunkel, The Graduate
A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night
Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight – Spinal Tap, Back From the Dead
The Harder They Come – Jimmy Cliff, The Harder They Come
(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life – Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes, Dirty Dancing
Lose Yourself – Eminem, 8 Miles
I Just Called To Say I Love You – Stevie Wonder, The Very Best Of
Theme From Shaft – Issac Hayes, Shaft
O…Saya – A R Rahman & M.I.A., Slumdog Millionaire
I’m Easy – Keith Carradine, Nashville
Society – Eddie Vedder, Into The Wild
Playground Love – Air, Virgin Suicides
Everybody’s Talkin’ – Harry Nilsson, Midnight Cowboy
Streets of Philadelphia – Bruce Springsteen, Philadelphia
The Weary Kind – Ryan Bingham, Crazy Heart
Memo From Turner – The Rolling Stones, The Stones
Freddie’s Dead – Curtis Mayfield, Superfly
If I Rise – Dido, AR Rahman, 127 Hours
We Have All the Time In the World – Louis Armstrong, The Best of Bond
Next week: SMOKING
We’re well and truly into Summer and where are all those beautiful sunny days that this season promises? As I write this, I’m looking out at torrential rain. So, it was definitely wishful thinking that propelled me into this week’s playlist on THE SUN.
We opened the show with a song that radiates optimism, the Beatles GOOD DAY SUNSHINE, written by Paul McCartney and released on the 1966 album Revolver. A relatively new track comes from Michael Franti. I dedicated THE SOUND OF SUNSHINE to the lovely Suzie M. and her grandchildren, Reem & Aliyah who are huge Michael Franti fans.
Local lad Christian Pyle did a great job at the recent Mullumbimby Music Festival and although I played RAY OF YOUR SUNSHINE during my interview with him a couple of weeks ago, it such a great number I had to play it again. It’s from his Nothing Left to Burn album.
The Cream’s SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE is an absolute classic and is still their best-selling song of all time. Here’s Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce playing live circa 1968.
Beth Orton does a brilliant cover of The Ronettes I WISH I NEVER SAW THE SUNSHINE. I found it on the soundtrack to the film Twentyfourseven (brilliant film btw), but its also on her 1996 debut album ‘Trailer Park’. Here she performs live and is accompanied by the very talented Ted Barnes.
The wonderful Katie Noonan possibly does the best cover ever of Soundgarden’s BLACK HOLE SUN that I have ever heard. I usually don’t like to play videos that are simply photo montages, but I can’t give up the opportunity of putting her voice out there. Sublime.
There was no way I was doing a show on THE SUN without playing Stevie Wonder’s YOU ARE THE SUNSHINE OF MY LIFE. Here he is giving a rare studio concert at London’s Teddington Studios following the release of his ‘Conversation Peace’ album. A sensual ride for an intimate audience of less than 200 fans. You get the bonus of SUPERSTITION on this clip too, which I have to admit is actually my favourite Stevie Wonder number.
Bobby Hebb’s SUNNY is another very optimistic song, considering that it was written in response to his brother’s violent death which occurred on the same day of JFK’s assassination.
Two great songs that were released in 1966 are Donovan’s SUNSHINE SUPERMAN and The Kinks’ SUNNY AFTERNOON. The Kink’s strong Music Hall flavour and lyrical focus was part of a stylistic departure for the band, who had risen to fame in 1964-65 with a series of hard-driving, power-chord rock hits. Ironically, the promotional video for the single featured the band performing in a cold, snowy environment:
Nina Simone’s cover of George Harrison’s HERE COMES THE SUN is an almost religious experience. Starting slowly at first it builds to a flood of warmth and wonder. Unlike the weather here at the moment, unfortunately.
For Ros, and all the other reggae fans, we played Bob Marley’s SUN IS SHINING and followed with the Bill Withers standard – a perfectly apt song for Byron Bay at the moment: AIN’T NO SUNSHINE.
Let’s don’t get too despondent about the weather. As Elaine Page suggests “the sun will come out TOMORROW“. From the musical Annie that song went out to BayFM’s Tommy T-Jet who hosts All Things Camp Friday’s at 1pm.
The Eagles song TEQUILA SUNRISE was written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey and is from the album Desperado. I’ve been meaning to do a show just on The Eagles and its certainly on the agenda.
A show on THE SUN wouldn’t be the same if it didn’t include the Beach Boys. I had lots of suggestions for various tunes but I chose the very evocative THE WARMTH OF THE SUN. It was the B-side to Dance, Dance, Dance released in 1964.
Violent Femmes released their debut album in 1982. The music was an innovative combination of American folk music and punk rock, which would much later come to be known as “folk punk”. The lyrics were the common themes of yearning for love, sex and affection. The group quickly gained a following that never veered into mainstream commercialism. One of the songs that gained recognition was A BLISTER IN THE SUN.
2010 is the 25th anniversary of the very infectious WALKING ON SUNSHINE released by Katrina and the Waves. Can you believe it?
I don’t think the The Beloved were getting up with the birds to see the SUN RISING. Somehow I imagine they were on their way home from a big night out.
Australian band The Waifs recorded their 2007 album SUN DIRT WATER in Nashville and it was released on Jarrah Records, a fully independent label they share with John Butler Trio and MGM Distribution.
A couple of oldies but goodies come in the shape of THE SUN AIN’T GONNA SHINE ANYMORE from The Walker Brothers and DON’T LET THE SUN CATCH YOU CRYING from Gerry & The Pacemakers.
A while back I put together a show of songs that ask questions. And here’s a couple more: The Velvet Underground want to know WHO LOVES THE SUN and They Might Be Giants ask WHY DOES THE SUN SHINE?
The Spazzys is an all girl punk band from Melbourne who are heavily influenced by the Ramones. They’ve even taken their band’s name as their surname – Kat Spazzy, Lucy Spazzy and Ally Spazzy. Cool. The song SUNSHINE DRIVE is on their Aloha! Go Bananas album released in 2004 but my copy came from the soundtrack of the very good Australian film Suburban Mayhem.
One of The Kinks best known and most acclaimed songs is WATERLOO SUNSET. Ray Davies says, in a 2008 interview, that the song was a fantasy about his sister going off with her boyfriend and emigrating to another country.
Little Village were a supergroup who only released one album. Band members included Ry Cooder, John Hiatt, Nick Lowe and Jim Keitner. Sung by John Hiatt, the track SOLAR SEX PANEL certainly suggests a good use for the sun’s rays!
We closed the show with Pink Floyds’s very trippy SET THE CONTROLS FOR THE HEART OF THE SUN.
Next week, I’m going to celebrate the Xmas Party season with SONGS ABOUT DRINKING. I’m looking for everything from rowdy singalongs to barfly melancholia and guilty hangover confessionals. That should cover everything! It will be the day after the BayFM Xmas party, so I should be suitably hungover!
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Good Day Sunshine – Revolver, The Beatles
The Sound Of Sunshine – The Sound Of Sunshine, Michael Franti and Spearhead
Ray of Your Sunshine – Nothing Left to Burn, Christian Pyle
Sunshine Of Your Love – Eric Clapton Story, Cream
I Wish I Never Saw The Sunshine – Twentyfourseven Soundtrack, Beth Orton
Black Hole Sun – Time To Begin, Katie Noonan
You Are The Sunshine Of My Life – Ballad Collection, Stevie Wonder
Sunny – Rhythm & Blues, Bobby Hebb
Sunshine Superman [Extended] – Try For The Sun, Donovan
Sunny Afternoon – Lost And Found 1962-1969, The Kinks
Solar – Chet In Chicago, Chet Baker
Here Comes The Sun – The Very Best Of Nina Simone, Nina Simone
Sun Is Shining – Bob Marley Collection, Bob Marley
Ain’t No Sunshine – Lean On Me: Priceless Collection, Bill Withers
Tomorrow – Elaine Paige LIVE , Elaine Paige
Tequila Sunrise – The Very Best Of The Eagles, The Eagles
The Warmth Of The Sun – Shut Down Volume 2, The Beach Boys
Blister In The Sun – Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes
Walking On Sunshine – Sounds Of The Eighties: 1985, Katrina and The Waves
The Sun Rising – Single File, The Beloved
Sun Dirt Water – Sun Dirt Water, The Waifs
The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore – The Walker Brothers
Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying – Gerry & The Pacemakers, Gerry and The Pacemakers
Who Loves The Sun – High Fidelity [Bonus Tracks], The Velvet Underground
Why Does The Sun Shine? – Severe Tire Damage, They Might Be Giants
The Sunshine Drive – Suburban Mayhem Soundtrack, The Spazzys
Waterloo Sunset – The Ultimate Collection [Disc 1], The Kinks
Solar Sex Panel – Little Village, Little Village
Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun – A Saucerful Of Secrets, Pink Floyd
Next week: SONGS ABOUT DRINKING
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