Blog Archives

SONGS ABOUT GAMBLING

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

Next week:  SONGS ABOUT NIGHT

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

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


DAYS OF THE WEEK

TBWfrontAccording to T-Bone Walker they may call it STORMY MONDAY but Tuesday’s just as bad. Wednesday and Thursday don’t get much of a  rap either. And with Sunday set aside for Church, I’m sure T-Bone was mighty grateful for Friday and Saturday. Yes, DAYS OF THE WEEK, was our theme this week. Lots of songs available for Friday and Saturday and even Sunday, Monday and Tuesday delivered a few choices but poor old Wednesday and Thursday didn’t offer up much at all. Mind you, the songs that did get included were goodies.

Queen moved the show along with the cheery little ditty called LAZING ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON, followed by Louis Jordan & His Tympany 5 telling us all about the SATURDAY NIGHT FISH FRY. Rounding out the bracket, Eskimo Joe gave us one of those rare songs about Wednesday: RUBY WEDNESDAY.

nitty_gritty_dirt_band_hireThe Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, (left), who have been performing in one incarnation or the other since 1966, delivered  the toe-tappin’ LOUISANNA SATURDAY NIGHT. I’ve played this song before but I never tire of it: Tom Waits with one of his best, THE HEART OF SATURDAY NIGHT. I also never tire of the great Neil Young so OUT ON THE WEEKEND, from the Harvest album, was a shoo-in for this show.

Tori Amos does a great cover of the Boomtown Rats song I DON’T LIKE MONDAYS but my favourite piece of nostalgia this week was the Moody Blues classic TUESDAY AFTERNOON. Check out this video from 1970. Looks like they are playing at the pub down the road on a Friday night. Ah, those were the days!

De La Soul know how to party on SATURDAYS. But Stevie Wonder, having been dumped by his girlfriend, calls the 2nd day of the week TUESDAY HEARTBREAK. Saving the day, The Young Rascals know which day of the week promises some laid-back relaxing: yes, it’s all about Sunday in their smash hit song of 1967: GROOVIN’.

Here’s some trivia for you about Sunday: Did you know that the The Gregorian Calendar repeats every 400 years, and no century starts on a Sunday? Also, the Jewish New Year never falls on a Sunday. And only those months beginning on a Sunday will contain a Friday the 13th.

And talking of Fridays, here is a great video clip of  The Easybeats performing FRIDAY ON MY MIND.  

I like to include movie and TV themes whenever I can because its essentially a nostalgia show and nothing takes you back to a time and place better than the theme music from an iconic television series. This week it was the theme to HAPPY DAYS. Here’s the show’s intro for your trip down memory lane:

Cold Chisel’s 1984 hit SATURDAY NIGHT was written by Don Walker who I’m looking forward to hearing from at the upcoming Writers Festival here in Byron Bay. I bet he’s got a few good stories to tell!

There was a lot to choose from when it came to the weekend – obviously everyone’s favourite time of the week. There was The Specials with FRIDAY NIGHT, SATURDAY MORNING, Oliver Cheatham with GET DOWN SATURDAY NIGHT and the Sam Cooke classicANOTHER SATURDAY NIGHT. 

Monday, on the other hand, is not a songwriters favourite day of the week, that’s for sure.  Fats Domino can only see it as BLUE MONDAY and the Mamas & The Papas claim, in MONDAY MONDAY, that “Every other day of the week is fine, yeah, but whenever Monday comes it finds me crying all of the time”. Yep, you can’t trust Mondays if you’re aiming to avoid misery. Mind you, the Mamas and Papas look pretty happy in this video clip from 1966, a year that saw this tune at #1 for 10 weeks in the Billboard Top 40. Check it out:

The Cure don’t care about any other day than Friday because, as the song goes: FRIDAY, I’M IN LOVE.  The Rolling Stones offered up a song about my favourite day of the week, RUBY TUESDAY. The Bangles find Monday all a bit manic, (don’t we all?), while Loverboy are WORKING FOR THE WEEKEND. And then it was another oldie but goodie – Chicago’s SATURDAY IN THE PARK: Check out this clip that was filmed in Chicago in November, 1972. 

I closed the show with one more song about Tuesday, from one of my favourite female artists, Michelle Branch with TUESDAY MORNING. Here’s the complete playlist:

Call It Stormy Monday 3:03 T-Bone Walker Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues – A Musical Journey (Disc 2) Blues 3
Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon 1:07 Queen A night at the opera Pop 11
Saturday Night Fish Fry 4:34 Louis Jordan & His Tympany 5 Louis Jordan and His Tympany Jazz 10
Ruby Wednesday 1:33 Eskimo Joe AlternRock 4
Tuesday’s Gone 7:33 Lynard Skynard Dazed And Confused soundtrack Rock 5
Louisianna Saturday Night 2:16 Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On Country 5
The Heart of Saturday Night 3:53 Tom Waits The Heart of Saturday Night Blues 5
I Don’t Like Mondays 4:21 Tori Amos Strange Little Girls Alternative 8
Tuesday Afternoon 4:53 Moody Blues Classic Rock 6
Out On The Weekend 4:35 Neil Young Harvest Folk Rock 4
Groovin’ 2:28 The Young Rascals Smooth Grooves: Cruisin’ Classics Soul and R&B 9
Tuesday Heartbreak 3:03 Stevie Wonder Talking Book R&B 8
Saturdays 4:03 De La Soul Hip Hop 5
Friday On My Mind (1966) 2:46 The Easybeats Sounds Of Australia Rock 7
Happy Days 1:15 TV Theme Song 7
Friday Night 3:07 Lily Allen Alright Still Pop 4
Lonely Weekends  (Sun Records – 1959) 2:11 Charlie Rich The Sun Story (compilation) Country 8
Thursday 3:26 Morphine Cure for Pain Rock 4
Saturday Night 4:18 Cold Chisel Rock 3
Get Down Saturday Night 7:33 Oliver Cheatham Funk 10
Friday Night, Saturday Morning 3:34 The Specials Singles Ska 2
Another Saturday Night 2:24 Sam Cooke The Man & HIs Music R&B
Blue Monday 2:17 Fats Domino Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues – A Musical Journey (Disc 3) Blues 6
Monday, Monday 3:27 Mamas & The Papas Folk Rock 7
Friday I’m in Love 3:34 The Cure The 90’s Pop
Ruby Tuesday 3:20 The Rolling Stones Hot Rocks, 1964-1971 [Disc 1] Rock 5
Manic Monday 3:02 The Bangles Pop 4
Saturday in the Park 3:55 Chicago Chicago IX: Greatest Hits Rock 4
Working for the Weekend 3:43 Loverboy Get Lucky Pop 6
Tuesday Morning 4:43 Michelle Branch Hotel Paper Alternative 3

Call It Stormy Monday – T-Bone Walker

Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon – Queen

Saturday Night Fish Fry – Louis Jordan & His Tympany 5

Ruby Wednesday – Eskimo Joe

Tuesday’s Gone – Lynard Skynard

Louisianna Saturday Night – Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

The Heart of Saturday Night – Tom Waits

I Don’t Like Mondays – Tori Amos

Tuesday Afternoon – Moody Blues

Out On The Weekend – Neil Young

Groovin’ – The Young Rascals

Tuesday Heartbreak – Stevie Wonder

Saturdays – De La Soul

Friday On My Mind – The Easybeats

Happy Days – TV Theme Song

Friday Night – Lily Allen

Lonely Weekends – Charlie Rich

Thursday  – Morphine

Saturday Night – Cold Chisel

Get Down Saturday Night – Oliver Cheatham

Friday Night, Saturday Morning – The Specials

Another Saturday Night – Sam Cooke

Blue Monday – Fats Domino 

Monday, Monday – Mamas & The Papas

Friday I’m in Love – The Cure

Ruby Tuesday – The Rolling Stones

Manic Monday – The Bangles

Saturday in the Park – Chicago

Working for the Weekend – Loverboy

Tuesday Morning – Michelle Branch

For the next three weeks I’ll be focusing on TRAINS, PLANES AND AUTOMOBILES
Next week: TRAINS. Suggestions welcome!
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park, Tuesdays 2-4pm (Sydney time).
Tragically, also on Facebook: http://facebook.com/maccalyn
%d bloggers like this: