Occasionally, a songwriter writes a tune that’s essentially a letter to a musical peer or fellow composer. Sometimes that message is delivered in the form of a tribute and sometimes it’s delivered as an angry diatribe. Our playlist today features both but, like our opening track JAZZ THING from Gang Starr, most of our songs are marks of respect.
I like to include a little country music every now and again, especially if its by the great Johnny Cash. As a contribution to this week’s playlist, he sings about his country music idol on THE NIGHT HANK WILLIAMS CAME TO TOWN. Punk rockers The Ramones praise the rock artists who preceded them on DO YOU REMEMBER ROCK N ROLL RADIO. And then it was UK group Television Personalities, who are obviously Pink Floyd fans with I KNOW WHERE SYD BARRETT LIVES.
The most familiar soul hit on the airwaves during 1967 was Arthur Conley’s SWEET SOUL MUSIC on which he paid tribute to other great soulmen like Otis Redding and James Brown:
When it comes to soul, Stevie Wonder knows how much is owed to our jazz legends. SIR DUKE is his tribute to Duke Ellington, the influential jazz legend who died in 1974. He also acknowledges Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.
In 1980 Dexy’s Midnight Runners appeared out of nowhere, with a sound all their own. Nobody else at the time would have dreamt of producing an impassioned, brass-powered tribute to neglected 1960s soul singer Geno Washington, but they did and they took GENO to #1 in the UK.
Dexy’s Midnight Runners also recorded a version of JACKIE WILSON SAID, but I’m faithful to the original by Van Morrison which had to be part of the list too.
A little more country music was up next with the gorgeous Gillian Welch singing the ELVIS PRESLEY BLUES. This was followed closely by the one and only Ian Dury with his incredible piece of hero worship, SWEET GENE VINCENT. On this video Mick Jones of the Clash joins the band, The Blockheads. And as Dury quips to Jones: “Listen, we’ve got four chords on this one Michael!” Great band, great song. How does Mick Jones get through this number without once dropping the ciggie from his mouth? Hilarious.
Ian Hunter and Mott the Hoople’s reluctant youth anthem, ALL THE YOUNG DUDES was written by David Bowie. It namechecks T-Rex and references The Beatles and The Stones. Here they are, (with Bowie on back up!), performing at the Freddie Mercury tribute at Wembley Stadium:
The wonderful Jonathan Richman never disappoints me and he delivers again for this week’s playlist. On his song VELVET UNDERGROUND he even performs a few bars of the Velvet Underground’s Sister Ray in between dispensing eloquent insights into his heroes’ dark magic. How good is that!
Bono says that U2’s song STUCK IN A MOMENT YOU CAN’T GET OUT OF is a tribute to INXS singer Michael Hutchence. According to Bono it’s the conversation he wishes had actually taken place.
John Martyn, who died at a relatively early age himself, extends a concerned hand to a fading Nick Drake on the devastatingly tender SOLID AIR.
Canadian group Barenaked Ladies recorded a hit song about mental illness that references Beach Boy BRIAN WILSON. And just in case you’re wondering, Brian Wilson does do a version during his own live shows. And why wouldn’t he? It’s a great song. Fellow Canadian Allanah Myles also had a huge hit with my favourite of all the Elvis tribute songs: BLACK VELVET.
Paul Jones and Dave Kelly honour Blues legend SONNY BOY WILLIAMSON and Neil Young references Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols on HEY, HEY, MY MY (Into the Black). The line ‘It’s better to burn out than to fade away’ also became infamous in modern rock after being quoted in Kurt Cobain’s suicide note.
On a cheerier note, The Saw Doctors sing I’D LOVE TO BANG THE BANGLES, which pretty much speaks for itself. If you thought that was a wild proposition, you should take a listen to Bongwater’s NICK CAVE DOLLS. But hang in for the punchline on that one. A perfect follow up to that tune is Adam Ant’s GOODIE TWO SHOES, supposedly a critique of Cliff Richards virtuous and conservative image. “Don’t drink, don’t smoke… what do you do?”
A terrific song from Dory Previn is STONE FOR BESSIE SMITH. It isn’t just about the Blues singer Bessie Smith; it’s primarily about Janis Joplin who paid for Bessie Smith’s headstone but forgot to put anything aside for her own.
Early in his career, David Bowie often wrote about artists he admired, from Lou Reed to Andy Warhol to Iggy Pop. On SONG FOR BOB DYLAN a pre-Ziggy Bowie adopted Dylan’s nasal vocal style in order to pay tribute.
Down By Law also do an excellent tribute to the best rock band in the world: I WANNA BE IN AC/DC. Me too guys, me too.
It was hard choosing a song to go out on. Yes, of course there’s American Pie and Losing My Edge and the various spats between Paul McCartney and John Lennon, but in an effort not to be too predictable I’ve chose TUNIC (Song for Karen). Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon does a beautiful job of casting herself as the tragic Karen Carpenter reporting back from heaven.
I’ve got a marathon effort lined up for the next couple of weeks and I need your help! The playlist next week will start with a song referencing Zero or less and I’ll progressively play songs in numerical order until I run out of ideas. For example I could start with Elvis Costello’s Less Than Zero progress to Yeah yeah yeah’s Zero then Bob Marley’s One Love … you get the idea. Let’s see how far I get. If you help me we could be doing this for weeks! To make it easy to participate I’ll be posting onto the Theme Park Radio Facebook page.
But in the meantime, here’s this week’s complete playlist to peruse:
Jazz Thing – Gang Starr – Moment of Truth
The Night Hank Williams Came To Town – Johnny Cash – The Best Of Johnny Cash
Do You Remember Rock ‘N’ Roll Radio – The Ramones Shrek OST
I Know Where Syd Barrett Lives – Television Personalities And Don’t The Kids Just Love It
Sweet Soul Music – Arthur Conley – 60’s Soul
Sir Duke – Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key Of Life [Disc 1]
Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile) – Van Morrison
Geno – Dexys Midnight Runners – Searching For The Young Soul Rebels
Elvis Presley Blues – Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator)
Sweet Gene Vincent – Ian Dury and The Blockheads – The Very Best Of Ian Dury And The Blockheads
Blackbird, Bye Bye – Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock, Jack DeJohnette – Bye Bye Blackbird
All The Young Dudes – Mott The Hoople – Rock Classics 60’s & 70’s Volume 2
Velvet Underground – Jonathan Richman – I, Jonathan
Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of – U2 – The Best Of 1990-2000 & B-Sides CD1
Solid Air – John Martyn – No Little Boy
Brian Wilson – Barenaked Ladies – Barenaked Radio: Easter Special
Sonny Boy Williamson – Paul Jones & Dave Kelly – Live In London
Black Velvet – Alannah Myles – The Very Best of Alannah Myles
Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black) – Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps (Live)
Goodbye Pork Pie Hat – Charles Mingus – Mingus Ah Um
I’d Love To Kiss The Bangles – The Saw Doctors – Play it Again Sham
Nick Cave Dolls – Bongwater – Box of Bongwater
Goody Two Shoes – Adam Ant – Antics In The Forbidden Zone
Stone For Bessie Smith – Dory Previn – Mythical Kings And Iguanas
Song For Bob Dylan – David Bowie – Hunky Dory
(I Wanna Be In) AC/DC – Down By Law – Windwardtidesandwaywardsails
Tunic (Song For Karen) – Sonic Youth – Goo (Deluxe Edition) [Disc 1]
Next week: NOUGHT TO WHATEVER (Part 1)
As a penance for my birthday indulgence last week, our theme this time was WALKING & RUNNING. ‘Cause a little bit of exercise never hurt anyone, now did it? Still, I think painting the town red must have still been on my mind as we opened the program with Lou Reed’s WALK ON THE WILD SIDE, from the 1972 album Transformer. It was produced by David Bowie who also sang backing vocals.
Here in Byron Bay, ‘doing the lighthouse walk’ is a daily excursion for some people. So, Kate Bush’s RUNNING UP THAT HILL was dedicated to them. It’s a great one to put on your iPod if you’re one of those mad people who walk or run as your preferred form of exercise.
Now you all know I love my Motown. So, WALK AWAY RENEE, released in 1968 by the Four Tops, was a given. As was NOWHERE TO RUN, a signature tune for Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, that was released way back in 1965. Check out this video clip from the same year. What to say about the back up dancers? OMG, the outfits, the dance moves!!!
Annie Lennox contributed WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS (ouch!) and then it was another true classic: Johnny Cash singing I WALK THE LINE and to round out the triple play beautifully, it was Fats Domino with I’M WALKING. Although it’s not the version we played on the show, take a look at this great clip of Fats Domino performing the song with Ricky Nelson. A great combination. And who is that saxophone player? Brilliant.
A little bit of UB40 followed with DON’T WALK ON THE GRASS and then it was Rufus Thomas with one of his biggest hits, WALKING THE DOG.
Empire of the Sun walked away with lots of awards for their debut album, WALKING ON A DREAM and the song of the same name was perfect for our show this week. As was Raphael Saadiq’s very suggestive, LET’S TAKE A WALK. Believe it or not this video, (like the song) was created in 2008. I’m loving the retro feel.
One for all the sleepwalkers – the brilliant R&B voice of Berna Dean singing I WALK IN MY SLEEP. Then it was Jimmy Rogers with WALKING BY MYSELF and a request from Judi, listening in Cairns: Patsy Cline’s I GO WALKING AFTER MIDNIGHT.
Did you know that John Lennon disowned the song RUN FOR YOUR LIFE from the Rubber Soul album? He eventually wrote a much more politically correct tune called JEALOUS GUY. But hey, we live dangerously at the Theme Park, so RUN FOR YOUR LIFE it was. We followed with Steve Winwood and the Spencer Davis Group’s very appropriate, (if you were one of the Beatles’ girlfriends anyway), KEEP ON RUNNING. Check out the very young Steve Winwood in this clip. So cute.
It’s impossible NOT to sing along to WALKING ON SUNSHINE by Katrina and the Waves. It’s such an optimistic, sunny song that suits the fabulous Summer weather we are having here in beautiful Byron Bay.
WALK A MILE IN MY SHOES by Joe South and The Believers is a great song as is WALK ON from, none other than, Mr Roy Orbison. Then it was the incorrigible Tom Waits with WALKING SPANISH from my favourite album of his, Rain Dogs.
More R&B was on the agenda with the great Sam Cooke and I’LL COME RUNNING BACK TO YOU. He would have been 79 this week (January 22). Sadly he died at 33 years of age, in a shooting incident. He is quite rightly considered one of the pioneers and founders of soul music.
A couple of ballads that couldn’t be omitted from our show on WALKING & RUNNING are YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE by Gerry & The Pacemakers, (remember them?) and Dionne Warwick’s WALK ON BY.
Jack, in Sydney, requested WALK THIS WAY, from Run DMC and Aerosmith. Excellent choice. Love the combination of hard rock and hip-hop. There should be more of it, I say.
Then it was time for some Blues: One of my favourites from last year’s Byron Bay Blues Festival was Seasick Steve, so I was happy to play WALKING MAN from his album, I Started Out With Nothin’ And I Still Got Most Of It Left. Then it was John Lee Hooker with RUN ON and James Taylor covering Jnr Walker and the Allstars’ I’M A ROAD RUNNER.
Grace Jones is unique. She does an amazing version of WALKING IN THE RAIN, originally recorded by Australian band Flash and the Pan. You’ll find it on her Nightclubbing album, released in 1981.
A show on WALKING & RUNNING wouldn’t be the same without Creedence Clearwater Revival’s hit, RUN THROUGH THE JUNGLE. Or The Modern Lovers’ ROADRUNNER. Or The Bangles’ WALK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN. But my favourite from this week’s show has to be an oldie but a goodie, Helen Shapiro’s WALKING BACK TO HAPPINESS. Can you believe that she was only 14 when she recorded this in 1961? Wow.
Next week, the show falls on Australia Day so I have no choice but to play some of my favourite Australian tracks. Tune in then if you like your music homegrown or are hoping for some appropriate tunes to compliment your Australia Day party.
And in signing off, I offer you this wonderful piece of graffiti that came to my attention this week: “Be happy today. Why wait?”
Here’s this week’s playlist: