Blog Archives

SMOKING

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

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
Advertisements

SWEETS

SWEETS: luscious lollipops, creamy cakes and pies, rich, dark chocolate and sticky toffees. Don’t pretend that these words don’t fill your mind with naughty thoughts. Yes, everyone knows that when songwriters come over all sweet it can only mean one thing, its “sexy time’.

You may be pleased to know that not all the songs on our playlist were about carnal delights. Having said that, we started the show with Bow Wow Wow’s cover of the Strangeloves I WANT CANDY. There is no doubting the sexual nature of this little ditty. “Candy on the beach, there’s nothing better.” “Someday soon I’ll make him mine and then I’ll have candy all the time.” Come on!

Nina Simone is hanging out for some more of something, and I don’t think its sugar, despite what she sings on the classic Blues track SUGAR IN MY BOWL. Big Maybelle is equally audacious. She reckons her man is just a nice piece of  CANDY.

I’ve definitely got a sweet tooth and, so, I was ecstatic to have Jackie and Renee from Brown Betty’s Bakery into the studio to tell us about their boutique business and to giveaway some mouth-watering goodies. I love Brown Betty’s, not just because they have the best baked goods out, but they really know how to work a theme. It’s 50’s retro:  the girls dress the part, the cakes look and taste delicious. During the show we gave away one of their specialties, the whoopie pie. It’s made of two round mound-shaped pieces of cake (usually chocolate), with a sweet creamy frosting sandwiched between them. It’s an American Amish tradition. According to food historians, Amish women would bake these (known as ‘hucklebucks’ at the time) and put them in farmers’ lunchboxes. When farmers would find these treats in their lunch, they would shout “Whoopie!” How cute is that.

Just for Jackie and Renee I played Dinah Washington’s version of MAKIN WHOOPEE, a case of a song that reverses my premise that all songs about sweet things are really about sex. This is just a song about sex, pure and simple. We followed with the Godfather of funk, Mr James Brown, and a song about another of my favourite treats. The song is called MOTHER POPCORN.

SEX AND CANDY, by Marcy Playground, is a track that doesn’t leave anything to the imagination. No room for innuendo, no sirree. The Four Tops gave us something a little less suspicious:  I CAN’T HELP MYSELF (SUGAR PIE, HONEY BUNCH). This is just one of those songs that puts a smile on your face. And you’ve got to love that.

Iggy Pop has this knack of dueting with the best people. On the track CANDY, he does it again, this time with Kate Pierson from the B-52s.

I try to play a couple of pieces of instrumental in each show, usually as background when we do Community Service Announcements or the local Gig Guide. The two I chose this week were perfect:  First up, Al Hirt with COTTON CANDY, known here in Australia as Fairy Floss. And, of course,  Hot Butter with POPCORN. With the latter, I swear I could not only hear the sound of popcorn popping, I could almost smell it. Mmmmmmm.

I was feeling an insulin rush coming on, so it was time for a little bit of Blues. MY COUNTRY SUGAR MAMA from Howlin’ Wolf was a perfect antidote. He was a big influence on the Rolling Stones so BROWN SUGAR, the opening track on the Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers, was a perfect follow up. Seemingly about a favourite sweetener, BROWN SUGAR boasts some scandalous lyrics.  It’s essentially a mix of a number of taboo subjects, including interracial sex, cunnilingus, slave rape, sadomasochism, lost virginity and heroin.

That reminds me, I’ll be joining the Midnight Ramblers this Saturday night between midnight and dawn to help present the Rolling Stones All Nighter. So make sure all you night owls tune in then. Should be fun.

And talking of fun, next up it was a couple of guilty pleasures: Spinal Tap with CUPS AND CAKES and then a childhood hero of mine, The Cookie Monster: “What else starts with C. Who cares! C IS FOR COOKIE.

We followed with a French pop song LES SUCETTES. In English that’s LOLLIPOPS. It was written by Serge Gainsbourg and recorded by an 18 year old France Gall in 1966. On the surface, LES SUCETTES is a pleasant children’s song about a girl who likes aniseed-flavoured lollipops. But Gainsbourg’s lyrics are full of playful double meanings referring to oral sex, which Gall says she simply didn’t understand at the time. Well she was 18 and it was 1966. Naughty Serge!

Call me naive, but I like to think that the next song we played really is innocent. It’s Mille Small’s MY BOY LOLLIPOP. We paired that with the antithesis of innocent: Madonna, with some help from Pharrell, claiming that she’s a one-stop CANDY SHOP. I, for one, believe her.

If you’re looking for a real sugar hit you can’t go past Aqua with CANDYMAN, Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs with SUGAR SHACK or The Undertones with MARS BARS. Christina Aguilera broke things up somewhat with her rendition of CANDYMAN and then it back to more bubblegum pop with Mika singing LOLLIPOP. Cute animation in this clip at least:

Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers play with my head, in a good way. Certainly the track ICE CREAM MAN seems to be designed to make radio presenters pay attention. It has at last 4 or 5 false endings, but I’m proud to say he didn’t fool me!

All this frivolity needed some tempering. So it was quite a beautiful song, from the very tasty Paolo Nutini, pleading for some CANDY, that did the trick.

The always brilliant Tom Waites contributed CHOCOLATE JESUS and then it was one for all my loyal listeners who have been asking me why I don’t play Roy Orbison, at least as regularly as I used to. Yes, very remiss of me. To fill the void, I chose CANDY MAN. We followed with The Beatles and SAVOY TRUFFLE, a song written by George Harrison about Eric Clapton’s huge sweet tooth.

We closed the show with a a song about a guy whose all upset ’cause “someone left the cake out in the rain.” “He just can’t take it cause it took so long to make it and he’ll never have that recipe again.” Sounds like a bad night on Masterchef doesn’t it? No, it’s MACARTHUR PARK written by the great Jimmy Webb and sung by esteemed actor Richard Harris.

Thanks to Renee and Jackie from Brown Betty’s Bakery for the giveaway of the Whoopee Pies and to everyone who contacted me during the week to say how much they enjoyed last week’s show on UNLIKELEY COVERS.

My sister is having a birthday next Tuesday, so to celebrate, the show next week will be on SISTERS AND BROTHERS. Love to hear from you with your suggestions.

Here’s this week’s full playlist:

I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow

Sugar In My Bowl – Live And Kickin’, Nina Simone

Candy – Candy Disc 1, Big Maybelle

Makin’ Whoopee – The Very Best Of Dinah Washington

Mother Popcorn, Pt. 1 – 20 All-Time Greatest Hits!, James Brown

Sex And Candy – Marcy Playground

I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) – The Four Tops

Candy (with Kate Pierson of B-52s) – Iggy Pop

Cotton Candy – Al Hirt

Sugar, Sugar – Billboard Top 100 Of 1969, The Archies

My Country Sugar Mama – The Real Folk Blues-More Real, Howlin’ Wolf

Brown Sugar – Hot Rocks, 1964-1971 [Disc 2], The Rolling Stones

Cups And Cakes – This Is Spinal Tap, Spinal Tap

C is for Cookie – The Cookie Monster

Les Sucettes – France Galle

My Boy Lollipop – Millie Small

Candy Shop – Hard Candy, Madonna

Candyman – Aqua, Aqua

Sugar Shack – Rock’n’Roll Love Songs, Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs

Mars Bars – The Best Of: Teenage Kicks, The Undertones

Candy Man – Back To Basics, Christina Aguilera

Lollipop – Life In Cartoon Motion, Mika

Popcorn – Hot Butter

Ice Cream Man – Best of Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers, The Modern Lovers

Candy – Paolo Nutini

Chocolate Jesus – Tom Waits

Candy Man – The Essential Roy Orbison (Disc 1), Roy Orbison

Savoy Truffle – The Beatles (White Album) [Disc 2], The Beatles

MacArthur Park – His Greatest Performances, Richard Harris

Next week: SISTERS & BROTHERS

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


%d bloggers like this: