Figuring out who your friends are used to be pretty straight forward. Rarely did anyone I know have more than a handful of best buddies, but in the age of Facebook there’s nowhere to hide and in ten seconds flat you’ve got yourself hundreds of so-called ‘friends’ in your cyber-social network. At least with neighbours there’s no ambiguity. They either live next door to you or they don’t. Except in Byron Bay where, if you live in a holiday rental area, it’s a traveling circus. But that’s another story.
The risk with doing a show with this theme,of course, is that the songs tend to lean towards the warm and fuzzy, so I’ve made sure that if I have included a little bit of cheese, then its good cheese! The brie of pop, in fact. Personally, I prefer a gritty, more realistic look at friendships, so it was a diverse range of viewpoints that we presented in this week’s show. I also went out of my way to exclude any song that’s been used as a theme for a sit-com or reality tv series. And that was hard I tell you. Goodbye Dandy Warhols, The Rembrandts, Stevie Wonder and others.
We opened the show with some pure pop – the Spice Girls, way back when they really were friends, with WANNABE. Yeah, if you wannabe my lover, you better get on with my friends. Well, it’s a given isn’t it? The official video of the song isn’t that great, but you have to give them credit for a clip made with one continuous shot. Check it out:
The uncomplicated friendships formed at school are the source of a number of songs. The White Stripes with, most possibly, their gentlest track, WE ARE GOING TO BE FRIENDS, was followed by The Clash’s wonderful, yet underrated, STAY FREE – a song written by guitarist Mick Jones about his best mate at school who ended up in prison.
Bill Withers’ LEAN ON ME is a genuine heart-warmer. Some may think its cheesy, but to me it transcends that label and represents one of the classic friendship songs. Corrine Bailey Rae gives a nod to Bob Marley in PUT YOUR RECORDS ON: “three little birds sat on my window and they told me that I don’t need to worry.” A beautiful song about the supportive nature of friendship.
Michelle Shocked song ANCHORAGE is about friendship that’s expressed in letters going back and forth. The song touchingly and poignantly captures the pleasure of discovering a friend’s new life while realizing that life moves on and different paths must be followed.
There were at least three songs from The Beatles that fitted the theme but I chose IN MY LIFE, over the more obvious I GET BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS. Because I can.
BAD NEIGHBOURHOOD by Ronny & The Delinquents is notable for the fact that the band included Dr John before he became Dr. John. Malcolm Rebennack (his real name), was a guitarist in that band but his career almost came to an end when his left ring finger was injured by a gunshot while he was defending singer/keyboardist Ronnie Barron. After the injury, Rebennack concentrated on bass guitar before making piano his main instrument; pianist Professor Longhair was an important influence on Rebennack’s style.
Pioneering gospel and blues singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe had some good advice: DON’T TAKE EVERYBODY TO BE YOUR FRIEND. While Jerry McCain and His Upstarts had a whinge: MY NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOUR is a very amusing song about a neighbour that can’t stop borrowing stuff.
Not all companionship is welcome. Morrissey comments on the Manchester music scene in WE HATE IT WHEN OUR FRIENDS BECOME SUCCESSFUL. And in ARE ‘FRIENDS’ ELECTRIC? Gary Numan mixes genuine feelings of alienation with Philip K. Dick’s sci-fi fantasies to create a story of a man whose robot buddy has broken down. Awwww.
The Arcade Fire gave us NEIGHBORHOOD #2 from their Funeral album. The song is actually about Laika the first dog to have been sent into outer space, as the song goes, “for the good of the neighborhood”. Hey, isn’t the dog supposed to be man’s best friend? Quite a sad song, really.
Feeling the the need for some R&B to cheer me up so it was the Four Tops with a message that everyone needs to hear every now and again: REACH OUT I’LL BE THERE. And I never tire of the beautiful voice of Dido singing THANK YOU. Here she is with a fantastic acoustic performance of the song:
Country singers George Jones and Melba Montgomery take neighbourly love to a whole new level with LET’S INVITE THEM OVER. I must admit that today’s show throws a whole new light on our country cousins, doesn’t it?
War wanted to know WHY CAN’T WE BE FRIENDS? and The Lemonheads delivered a brutally honest song about a certain kind of dependent relationship: MY DRUG BUDDY. Here’s Evan Dando performing the track live with Chris Brokaw:
Sheryl Crowe’s song THERE GOES THE NEIGHBOURHOOD won a Grammy award in 2001 for Best Female Rock Performance but failed to chart in America. Go figure.
The Cars got all sooky on us with MY BEST FRIENDS GIRL. Yeah, she used to be mine. Oh well thems the breaks guys. Love and friendship is a complex mix. REO Speedwagon told us (they) HEARD IT FROM MY BEST FRIEND. Oh Oh. Can’t be good news. But we had a solution that may interest some: Rachel Yamagata tackled the the concept of bonk buddies in SIDEDISH FRIEND. Here she is performing the song on KCRW radio in 2008:
Even our country singer friends like the idea of a bit on the side. Conway Twitty & Loretta Lyn asked WHAT’S A LITTLE LOVE BETWEEN FRIENDS? Indeedy.
The Grateful Dead’s song FRIEND OF THE DEVIL is from their American Beauty album and the song, like most of the album, is acoustic. It is known for the riff lead guitarist Jerry Garcia plays and it’s the most covered of the Dead’s songlist.
Patti Labelle is at her best when she sings YOU ARE MY FRIEND. Great song, great voice, simple as that. Here she is in her very first live video with the bonus of an amazing intro from Debbie Henry. The year was 1991.
Now how many times have you heard someone say, after they’ve broken up with someone, that not only were they losing a lover they were losing their best friend? Blues artist Little Walter bemoaned the fact in LAST NIGHT.
It was time for a mood lifter and a couple of songs about Neighbours gave us just that. The Small Faces song LAZY SUNDAY (“Wouldn’t it be nice to get on wiv me neighbours) was suggested by Beck. Great. A perfect companion piece was the Rolling Stones, who also don’t seem to be getting on with their NEIGHBOURS. Do you think it might have something to do with them being rock bands? Here are the Stones performing live in Tempe Arizona during their 1981 tour:
Love, love, love DEAD END FRIENDS from Them Crooked Vultures, the rock supergroup formed in 2009 by John Paul Jones, (Led Zeppelin), Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters) and Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age). Go Dave!
It always make me a little sad to listen to Freddie Mercury who died way too young but I had to include Queen’s YOU’RE MY BEST FRIEND:
Herman’s Hermits song MY SENTIMENTAL FRIEND sums up a lot of the material in today’s show including our very last song YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND, from Dusty Springfield covering the Carole King standard. That one was for Victoria.
A big thank you to Zoe for helping out with this week’s show.
Next week in the lead up to Anzac Day and the Australian Day of Remembrance, I’m dedicating the show to MEMORY. So, get your thinking caps on and send my your suggestions.
Here’s the playlist:
Wannabe – Spice Girls
We Are Going To Be Friends – The White Stripes
Stay Free – The Clash
Put Your Records On – Corrine Bailey Rae
Lean On Me – Bill Withers
Anchorage – Michelle Shocked
In My Life – The Beatles
Bad Neighbourhood – Ronny & the Delinquents
Don’t Take Everybody To Be Your Friend- Sister Rosetta Tharpe
My Next Door Neighbour – Jerry McCain And His Upstarts
We Hate It When Our Become Successful – Morrissey
Are ‘Friends’ Electric -Gary Numan + Tubeway Army
Neighborhood #2 (Laika) – The Arcade Fire
Reach Out I’ll Be There – The Four Tops
Thank You – Dido
Let’s Invite Them Over – George Jones & Melba Montgomery
Why Can’t We Be Friends – War
My Drug Buddy – The Lemonheads
There Goes The Neighbourhood – Sheryl Crow
My Best Friends Girl – The Cars
Heard It From A Friend – REO Speedwagon
Sidedish Friend – Rachael Yamagata
What’s A Little Love Between Friends – Conway Twitty & Lorretta Lyn
Friend of the Devil – Grateful Dead
You Are My Friend – Patti Labelle
Last Night – Little Walter
Lazy Sunday – The Small Faces
Neighbours – The Rolling Stones
Dead End Friends – Them Crooked Vultures
You’re My Best Friend – Queen
My Sentimental Friend – Herman’s Hermits
You’ve Got A Friend – Dusty Springfield
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time
Slip on your kaftans and tie-dye t-shirts. Adorn yourself with flowers and beads. We’re going to light-up some joss-sticks, “ban the bomb” and “make love not war!” This week’s theme is dedicated to that period in 1967 that saw as many as 100,000 people converge on the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood of San Francisco, creating what was to become known as the counterculture movement. The melting pot of music, psychedelic drugs, sexual freedom, creative expression and politics became a defining moment of the 60’s and forever more will be known as THE SUMMER OF LOVE.
It’s easy to reject songs that seem to have been around forever, but consider the context of these songs’ origins and you’ll realize that what many of these musicians were doing hadn’t been done before and, in many cases, would never be done again. So respect to the hippies and the funk soul sisters & brothers and the year 1967 – a time of exploration and finding new ways of expression.
We opened the show with the THE ACID COMMERCIAL from Country Joe & The Fish and then it was the Beatles with ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE. Arguably the greatest band in the world at the top of their powers, Lennon’s anthem to love may not be his strongest but it’s definitely his catchiest. The Beatles made a worldwide television broadcast of the song, in between sessions of transcendental meditation, and it became a #1 hit in both the US & UK. Check out the clip from this transmission and see if you can see Mick Jagger in the audience.
A song that summed up the mood of those flocking to Haight-Ashbury in that Summer of 67 is, of course, Scott McKenzie’s IF YOU’RE GOING TO SAN FRANCISCO, (be sure to wear flowers in your hair). Written by John Phillips of the Mamas & The Papas, it was originally created to promote the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, which is regarded as being the beginning of the Summer of Love.
FOR WHAT ITS WORTH, by Buffalo Springfield, is about the closing of the Pandora’s Box Club on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles and the clash that followed between the police and kids. But the song quickly took on a larger meaning, symbolizing the generational friction happening all across the country as the hippies and flower children freaked out the authorities from coast to coast. Here’s a great clip from the Monterey Festival:
When you listen to PURPLE HAZE, from Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Are You Experienced?’ album, you can’t help but imagine the rush of a million wanna-be guitarists running into music stores hoping to be just like Jimi. Check out this video from 1967 with Jimi Hendrix on Guitar, Noel Redding on Bass and Mitch Mitchell on Drums:
In the early sixties The Beach Boys were synonymous with surfing and Californian youth culture. By the mid-sixties, however, their musical style had become a little more complex. A 1967 example of this new sophisticated sound was HEROES AND VILLAINS. We followed with a song that had the distinction of being the first track to be played on BBC Radio One when it launched in 1967, FLOWERS IN THE RAIN by The Move. And, to round out the triple play, The Turtles with HAPPY TOGETHER. This track can lift anyone’s mood. While their vocal harmonies verged on sugar-sweet, I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like this song.
I’M A BELIEVER, the Monkees’ hit, was written by none other than Neil Diamond. The song stayed at the top of the charts for six weeks and was the biggest selling single of 1967. That’s right, they even outsold the Beatles and the Stones, and while Neil Diamond, continued to write and perform, he never really needed to work another day in his life after this song took off. The Mamas & Papas hit, DEDICATED TO THE ONE I LOVE, was originally a hit for the Shirelles in 1961. Here are the Mamas & The Papas with their ’67 version:
Three more classics of the period: Cream’s I FEEL FREE, the Byrds’ SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROCK N ROLL STAR and Jefferson Airplane’s SOMEBODY TO LOVE. And then it was Procol Harum with WHITER SHADE OF PALE. This track contains perhaps the most recognizable Hammond B-3 organ rock line ever, snatched from Bach and perhaps a soul player or two. The vague lyrics, however, aren’t very memorable, making the organ bit seem even more imposing and significant than it probably deserves. But hey, what do I know? Here they are on Top of the Pops 1967. Make up your own mind.
Three more songs from that magical time in 1967 referred to as THE SUMMER OF LOVE include I’M A MAN from The Spencer Davis Group, written by Steve Winwood, SAN FRANCISCO NIGHTS from Eric Burdon & the Animals and GET TOGETHER from the Youngbloods.
But the band that epitomised the musical creativity of the sixties is The Beatles. A DAY IN THE LIFE, from their Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, utilised a 40 piece orchestra taking 24 bars to go from the lowest note on their instruments to the highest and six people banging on three pianos at the same time in order to produce one huge power chord. The song obliterated every rule that ever existed for what a pop song should sound like and how it should be made, simple as that. Check it out:
One of the most instantly recognizable riffs in rock history is SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE, from Cream. And one of the most representative of the period is the Small Faces tune ITCHYCOO PARK. For me, though, when it comes to this period, I can’t overlook Janis Joplin. So an essential track from 1967 has to be Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin singing DOWN ON ME.
Jimi Hendrix also deserved another play and this time it was FOXEY LADY. It’s probably worth mentioning here that up until this point Blues guitarists would never have done what Hendrix does on this track. The rule was that the guitar sound should be clean and pure. Jimi however, never got that memo and thank goodness for that.
As well as a time that was marked by anti-Vietnam demonstartions, 1967, unfortunately, was also a time of race riots, which also fed into the peace movement and hippie revolution with its ideals of compassion, awareness and love. So, in deference to our soul brothers and sisters, it was time for some R&B with I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE by Gladys Knight and the Pips. This song became a #2 hit in 1967 and Marvin Gay’s renditon hit #1 the following year. But sticking to the plan, we listened to The Pips version and followed with the one and only Jackie Wilson with his landmark single, HIGHER AND HIGHER.
Although they were a white band, the Young Rascals GROOVIN’ was pure soul with its memorable Afro-Cuban mood and mid-tempo groove. Timeless song. Check out the clip of them performing live.
The next track was a bit of a cheat, since it wasn’t released until 1969, after the band had broken up. But TIME OF THE SEASON by The Zombies was written and recorded in August 1967 and the vibe is pure SUMMER OF LOVE, baby. And then it was the Who with I CAN SEE FOR MILES, the only real hit from their crazy concept album The Who Sell Out and SHE’S A RAINBOW from the Rolling Stones. We’ll overlook the Stones vain attempt of trying to one-up the Beatles and just concentrate on those first seven piano notes, which have been likened to the musical equivalent of heroin.
We closed the show with STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER from the Beatles. The band recorded a version by themselves in one key and then they did a version with an orchestra in a different key. The version you know and love is BOTH versions mixed together, speeding the band version up and the orchestral version down. Magic. This promotional video was filmed in January 1967 and was directed by Peter Goldmann, at the time a Swedish TV director.
Now next week’s show is going to be hotter than hot. As a tribute to the upcoming Summer holiday season the theme will be HEAT. Put your thinking caps on and get in touch!
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Next week: HEAT
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time.
Also streaming on http://www.bayfm.org