There’s something about seeing an act in concert that, (if they’re good that is), makes you a fan forever. One of the first concerts I ever attended was by The Beatles. I know, I know, I’m showing my age! I had to get my Mum’s permission to go and, to be honest, we couldn’t hear a thing for all the screaming, much of which came from my best friend Helen. But we thought we were the ants pants and I’ve never forgotten that day.
So, it was fitting that SGT PEPPERS LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND opened our show on CONCERTS. Check out this clip from the movie ‘The Beatles Yellow Submarine’ and you’ll have to agree it was a perfect kick off to this week’s program:
Every concert is unique of course, but LCD Soundsystem reckon that DAFT PUNK IS PLAYING AT MY HOUSE. Oh, if only it were true!
Now, that would be a hard gig to follow. For something completely different, look no further than Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band with THE BRIDE STRIPPED BARE BY THE ‘BACHELORS’, a great piece of satire about performing on the English club circuit.
STAGE FRIGHT by The Band is a song that just may resonate with some of you. It tells the story of a performer who sings just like a bird but is terrified every time he has to get up in front of an audience. Here’s a clip from the film The Last Waltz, directed by Martin Scorsese in 1978. Rick Danko R.I.P.
Not shy at all are Dire Straits. SULTANS OF SWING is about a band blowing Dixie in double four time. A perfect concert song, if ever there was one. And here they are performing it live. Excellent. It’s the seminal concert at which they recorded the album ‘Alchemy: Dire Straits Live’. The album cover, btw, was taken from a painting by Australian artist Brett Whitely.
Wild Cherry’s PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC is autobiographical. The group were a rock band, but in 1975 were competing with Disco for their loyal followers attention. So they wrote a song to suit the times and it’s probably the most recognised funk song there is.
The lyrics of SMOKE ON THE WATER, by Deep Purple, tell a true story too. It was December 1971 and Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention were performing in concert at the Montreux Casino Theatre. In the middle of Don Preston’s King Kong synthesizer solo the place suddenly caught alight. Deep Purple were staying on the other side of the lake and witnessed the fire and the smoke on the water and the rest, as they say, is history.
Arguably, the most famous outdoor concert is Woodstock. And one of the most famous songs about that concert is Joni Mitchell’s WOODSTOCK. She wrote the song after being told about it by her then boyfriend Graham Nash. She wasn’t actually there herself. I prefer Matthews Southern Comfort’s version, which is probably heresy to all you Joni fans. But take a listen. I think its got a really relaxed tone to it that suits the material well. Some cool images of the Woodstock concert in this clip too.
David Bowie’s ZIGGY STARDUST is from the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Mars . A concert film of the same name was directed by D.A. Pennebaker in 1973. Here’s Bowie singing the song on the Jonathan Ross show in 2002. Is it just me, or does the Dude just get better and better?
Sadly all the soul legends referred to in Arthur Conley’s classic SWEET SOUL MUSIC are no longer with us. How good it would have been to see them all in concert. Arthur Conley passed away himself in 2003. Here he is, on the way to the Go-Go in 1966:
I do like to play a little country music now and again, and Johnny Cash’s song about THE NIGHT HANK WILLIAMS CAME TO TOWN fitted the playlist to a tee. As did Camera Obscura’s brilliant version of Abba’s SUPERTROUPER. But the finale of the show had to go to Jackson Browne’s ode to the hard-working roadie. THE LOAD OUT was a perfect finish to a show dedicated to concerts.
Next week’s show will be on SECRET VICES/GUILTY PLEASURES. I’ve been glued to the tele watching the Eurovision Song Contest this past weekend, so that’s my guilty pleasure at the moment. What’s yours? And have they written a song about it? Let me know!
Meanwhile, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles
Daft Punk Is Playing At My House – LCD Soundsystem
The Bride Stripped Bare By ‘Bachelors’ – Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
Stage Fright – The Band
Sultans Of Swing – Dire Straits
Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry
Smoke On The Water – Deep Purple
Woodstock – Matthews’ Southern Comfort
Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
Sweet Soul Music – Arthur Conley
The Night Hank Williams Came To Town – Johnny Cash
Super Trouper – Camera Obscura
The Load-Out – Jackson Browne
Next week: SECRET VICES
This week’s show is for all of you who like their sleep and also for those that have trouble sleeping, for one reason or another. Thankfully I’ve never been an insomniac. I hit that pillow and I’m a gonna and if you deprive me of my sleep its not safe to be around me, let me tell you.
The Beatles song I’M ONLY SLEEPING is a classic and it’s from, possibly, my favourite album of theirs, ‘Revolver’ so that had to make the mix. As did SOMEBODY’S BEEN SLEEPING from funky soul group 100 Proof (Aged in Soul). It’s inspired by the fairytale Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Spiderman gets a mention on The Cure’s LULLABY, the only song of theirs to make the UK top 5 (can you believe it?) but the brilliant videoclip was voted the best of the year in 1989. Well deserved too. Check it out:
Three songs about sleep deprivation followed: the Eels who portray anxiety to perfection on I NEED SOME SLEEP; Peter Wolf with SLEEPLESS from his album of the same name, released in 2002. And rounding out the triple play, Craig David who’s love life is causing him to lose sleep on INSOMNIA.
Swedish band Acid House Kings do the twee-pop thing to perfection on SLEEPING. That was followed by Bobby Lewis who delivered a real blast from the past with the 60’s recording of TOSSIN’ AND TURNIN’. Then it was The Romantics with TALKING IN YOUR SLEEP from 1989. Viewing this clip of The Romantics, I think the 80’s have a lot to answer for, when it comes to fashion and hair.
Written by Ray Davies of The Kinks, I GO TO SLEEP was originally recorded by Peggy Lee on her 1965 album Then Was Then – Now Is Now!. Davies didn’t write many songs that weren’t specifically for The Kinks, but this one was widely covered. We played the only version to have chart success – The Pretenders who took it to #7 in the UK.
Talking of Peggy Lee, we had to play her version of BLACK COFFEE. There are lots of great versions of this standard, but for me Peggy Lee does it best. Sorry k.d.
Jody Reynolds uses sleep as a metaphor for death on ENDLESS SLEEP and the iconic Hank Williams Snr knows that you can’t sleep when you have a guilty conscience, on the country classic YOUR CHEATIN HEART.
More golden oldies with Frank Sinatra’s IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING and The Four Tops with SHAKE IT, WAKE IT.
Contemporary (and Australian) singer Sarah Blasko brought us back to the present with a beautiful song on the topic of sleep: SLEEPER AWAKE. We followed that with a great suggestion from Quentin: James Kahu with SLEEP. It’s from his 2010 album ‘Through Me’. Take a look:
The nostalgia bug still had me on The Everly Brothers’ WAKE UP LITTLE SUSIE, Berna Dean’s I WALK IN MY SLEEP and Sammy Myers SLEEPING IN THE GROUND.
And it was inevitable that I would play John Lennon’s little dig at Paul McCartney on HOW DO YOU SLEEP.
REM’s DAYSLEEPER is not only perfect for our theme, with its references to Circadian rhythms and all, but even the name of the band is a sleep reference. Did you know that REM sleep, or Rapid eye movement sleep, accounts for 20–25% of total sleep time in most human adults? And that most of our memorable dreaming occurs in this stage? True.
Edwyn Collins contributred LOSING SLEEP from his album of the same name and then it was The Smiths with quite a sad song where, once again sleep serves as a metaphor for death. The song is ASLEEP.
Then it was even further back in time for the sublime Julie London and her version of TWO SLEEPY PEOPLE, followed by SLEEP from Little Willie John and ROCK ME TO SLEEP from Little Miss Cornshucks.
We closed the show with a couple of my favourites: First up it was Tom Waits, who probably knows more about late nights than I’ve had hot breakfasts. MIDNIGHT LULLABY is from his Closing Time album. Then it was the always brilliant Ian Dury & the Blockheads with WAKE UP AND MAKE LOVE TO ME. Beats sleeping every time, or so they tell me.
I’m really going out on a limb for our Easter Show. The topic is RESURRECTION. And I’m talking about dying and coming back from the grave, literally. Come on, by now you’ll know that Theme Park will go where others fear to tread! Now we’re not talking musical comebacks – that’s a whole other theme altogether! Of course there will be lots of gospel and blues and I can see some rock and punk and even some songs about zombies on the list already. What do you have for me?
While you’re contemplating that, check out this week’s playlist:
A Man’s Best Friend Is A Bed – Louis Jordan
I’m Only Sleeping – The Beatles
Somebody’s Been Sleeping [UK Single Edit] – 100 Proof (Aged In Soul)
Lullaby – The Cure
I Need Some Sleep – Eels
Insomnia – Craig David
Sleepless – Peter Wolf
Sleeping – Acid House Kings
Tossin’ And Turnin’ – Bobby Lewis
Talking In Your Sleep – The Romantics
I Go To Sleep – The Pretenders
Black Coffee – Peggy Lee
Your Cheatin Heart – Hank Williams Snr
Endless Sleep – Jody Reynolds
In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning – Frank Sinatra
Shake Me, Wake Me – The Four Tops
Sleeper Awake – Sarah Blasko
Sleep – James Kahu
Wake Up Little Susie – The Everly Brothers
I Walk In My Sleep – Berna Dean
Sleeping In The Ground – Sammy Myers
How Do You Sleep? – John Lennon
Sleep Walk – Santo and Johnny
Daysleeper – R.E.M.
Losing Sleep – Edwyn Collins
Asleep – The Smiths
Two Sleepy People – Julie London
Sleep – Little Willie John
Rock Me To Sleep – Little Miss Cornshucks (Mildred Cummings)
Midnight Lullaby – Tom Waits
Wake Up And Make Love With Me – Ian Dury and The Blockheads
Next week: RESURRECTION
I’ve been away in my home town of Sydney for a couple of weeks but you can’t keep me from Byron Bay for long, so I was all fired up for this week’s show on SONGS WITH SOUND FX in them. I’ve discovered that many a song has been enhanced by a clever piece of non-musical noise and our opening song, MY BROTHER MAKES THE NOISES FOR THE TALKIES summed up the program beautifully. It’s by the very entertaining UK group, the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.
Sounds of thunder accompany a song that suits the weather we’re having up here at the moment. WALKING IN THE RAIN is by the Ronettes, best known for their work with Phil Spector. With their beehive hairdos and tight skirts, they were known as the ‘bad girls’ of rock n roll. And now you know where Amy Winehouse go her ‘look’.
The sound of lapping waves welcomes in Otis Redding’ standard, SITTIN’ ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY. Redding wrote this song while living on a houseboat in Sausalito on the San Francisco Bay. It was recorded shortly before his tragic death at the age 0f 26. Released posthumously, it is his biggest hit ever.
There’s lots of playground noise on Cat Steven’s (REMEMBER THE DAYS OF) THE OLD SCHOOL YARD. And The Beatles use all kinds of carnival noises on BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR. KITE.
Jazz great Charles Mingus got his band to use their instruments to sound like foghorns and other harbour sounds on the remarkable A FOGGY DAY. In complete contrast, but somehow weirdly complementary, is M.I.A.’s PAPER PLANES. She utilizes the sounds of a cash register and heavy gunshot noise on this very provocative piece of hip-hop.
There were lots of requests for MONEY by Pink Floyd. And it had to be played, if not for the very good use of various sound effects, but because, well ….. it’s Pink Floyd!
Another fantastic song with sound effects is NO TIENE BILLET from Fruko y Sus Tesos. The rifle fire that tears through this brilliant Colombian tune implies that the eruption of violence, in a very poor country especially, is almost inevitable. On NITE CLUB, by the Specials, the only aggression heard is raised voices and the clinking of glasses.
George Gershwin’s AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, written in 1928, is full of imagery gone wild. It’s a brilliant song and a brilliant film too. This was Gene Kelly’s magnum opus. His choreography was of such a standard that the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences created a special Oscar that year in recognition of his achievement. Dancing to a segment of George Gershin’s stunning music, here is Kelly’s duet with the beautiful Leslie Caron:
Michael Jackson uses sound effects to the hilt on THRILLER and the Doors gave us another perfect weather song, with its thunder and lighting sound effect: RIDERS ON A STORM.
There are some very suggestive street sounds on what happens to be one of my all time favourite songs: LOOKING FOR THE HEART OF SATURDAY NIGHT from the sublime Mr. Tom Waits. And then there’s a beautiful song that reminds me of my home town, Sydney: The Platters’ HARBOR LIGHTS.
Yep, that’s a baby gurgling throughout Stevie Wonder’s ISN’T SHE LOVELY. And as far as car sounds go, you can’t go past the highly influential electronic pioneers, Kraftwerk, with AUTOBAHN. Check this out:
Talking of road sounds, you didn’t actually think I was going to leave out LEADER OF THE PACK by the Shangri Las did you? This clip is from the television show ‘Ive Got a Secret’, recorded in 1964. The ‘bikie’ is Robert Goulet!
Dancehall queen, Lady Saw, inserts self-made creaking sounds on BED NOISE. They’re so convincing that I can hear the neighbours complaining already! Neo Ska group, The Specials, seem to put sound effects on most of their songs. This is one of their big hits: GHOST TOWN. These guys have been around for 30 years and still going strong. Here they are on Top of the Pops in 1981. Blast from the past. Love, love, love.
The Surfaris break a surfboard just to make a point on WIPEOUT. Creaking doors and other creepy sounds illustrate MONSTER MASH, by the marvellously named Boris Pickett and the Crypkickers. And crashing glass introduces Billy Joel’s YOU MAY BE RIGHT. How’s that for a trio of songs with sound effects? And just because I can, here’s a nice little clip with lots of fun horror film clips, backed up by MONSTER MASH. Do you see where Michael Jackson got his inspiration for Thriller?
Our last song went out to Des who so ably sat in for me while I was away for a few weeks. His favourite is Bob Dylan and it seems that Bob isn’t against using a sound effect either. There’s a mean sounding whistling siren on HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED.
Hopefully I won’t need to use any alarms to keep you awake during next week show on SLEEP AND INSOMNIA. Lots of great songs in this category so get your thinking caps on and send me your suggestions. But remember, we’ve done DREAMING and TIREDNESS, so the list has to be specifically about sleeping, or not.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
My Brother Makes The Noises For The Talkies – Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
Walking In The Rain – The Ronettes
(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding
(Remember The Days Of The) Old School Yard – Cat Stevens
Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! – The Beatles
A Foggy Day – Charlie Mingus
Paper Planes – M.I.A.
Money – Pink Floyd
No Tiene Billete – Fruko y Sus Tesos
Nite Club – The Specials
An American In Paris – George Gershwin
Thriller – Michael Jackson
Riders on the Storm – The Doors
(Looking For) The Heart Of Saturday Night – Tom Waits
Harbor Lights – The Platters
Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder
Autobahn – Kraftwerk
Leader Of The Pack – The Shangri-Las
Bed Noise – Lady Saw
Ghost Town – The Specials
Wipe Out – The Surfaris
Monster Mash – Bobby (Boris) Pickett and the Crypt-kickers
You May Be Right – Billy Joel
Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan
Next week: SLEEP AND INSOMNIA!
I decided to be more playful than usual this week as I set out to compile a playlist of song titles that mentioned numbers. Easy-peasy, you’re thinking. Sure, but there was a condition. The songs had to be played in numerical sequence. I got to choose from pop, rock, country & jazz so it couldn’t be that hard, right? Right.
The show kicked off with LESS THAN ZERO by Elvis Costello and moved right into a beautiful track from Lamb, ZERO. Numero Uno was a piece of cake as I have already done a whole show just on the #1 so plenty to choose from there. I decided that should go with my #1 favourite artist, Roy Orbison with a song from the album, Mystery Girl, THE ONLY ONE. Another fave took over the #2 spot: Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston with IT TAKES TWO. And for #3 it was none other than the great Sarah Vaughan who, like a lot of us, only needs THREE LITTLE WORDS.
FOUR STRONG WINDS is a classic Canadian song by the legendary Canadian singer Neil Young. The perfect follow-up came from the adorable Nanci Griffith with LOVE AT THE FIVE AND DIME. Here she is performing live at the BBC:
The great reggae artist Gregory Isaacs, known as the ‘Cool Ruler’ sadly passed away late last year. His song SIX MONTHS filled the #6 spot and for #7 it had to be The White Stripes with SEVEN NATION ARMY. Such a shame that they’ve gone their separate ways.
There was only one #8 for this baby boomer: The Beatles with EIGHT DAYS A WEEK. And, for #9 Wilson Pickett with ENGINE NUMBER NINE, of course. Pure funk.
Brothers, by the Black Keys, was one of my album picks of 2010 so including TEN CENT PISTOL from that album was a no-brainer. Here they are performing live on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Excellent.
Cyndi Lauper features on David Byrne and Fat Boy Slim’s concept album Here Lies Love which is based on the lives of Imelda Marcos and her nanny Estrella Cumpas. The official video clip of ELEVEN DAYS is set against a Philippine movie of 1965 “Iginuhit ng Tadhana: The Ferdinand E. Marcos Story”, starring Gloria Romero and Luis Gonzalez.
I do love a bit of gospel singing, so Buddy Greene was in with TWELVE GATES TO THE CITY. Dickie Thompson is also evangelical, but not in the usual sense. He sings about THIRTEEN WOMEN and only one man in town. Now if I was a bloke I’d say he was a lucky b…..d! But being a woman, living in a small town, it sounds irritatingly familiar!
Next up, it was the genius that is Tiny Tim with all kinds of things to say about the number FOURTEEN. Not the usual Tiny Tim we’re used to hearing. I, for one, miss the ukelele I must admit. And I miss Tiny Tim who died of a heart attack in 1996 at the age of 64.
Number 15 in our playlist was another no-brainer: the almighty Radiohead with 15 STEPS. Here they are peforming live for their VH1 special:
We kept moving through the teenage years with gusto as Chuck Berry took the #16 spot with SWEET LITTLE SIXTEEN. And then Janis Ian calmed everything down with her incredibly insightful tune, AT SEVENTEEN.
The Stellas took the 18th spot with 18 from their 2008 album Cry Baby Cry. Time then for another classic: Steely Dan’s HEY NINETEEN. “Way back in 1967….”
For all the Bluegrass fans, I had to include Jimmy Martin’s 20:20 VISION and then it was a nice piece of rockabilly, suggested by Andy, Eddie Cochran’s TWENTY FLIGHT ROCK.
Rappers 50 cent and Nate Dogg have 21 QUESTIONS for their girlfriend. Not sure us girls need that much interrogation, but hey what do I know? This video has already gathered over 35million hits on You Tube! With lines like “I loves you like a fat kid likes cake”. Go figure!
Lily Allen knows how to churn out pop tunes and 22 is a good example. We followed that with the wonderful Brothers Johnson and another soul standard, STRAWBERRY LETTER 23.
Our two hours was almost up so only time for two more tunes in our attempt to get from zero to infinity. The #24 spot was filled by Bobby Bland’s TWENTY FOUR HOUR BLUES and the finale was handed to Edwin Starr’s TWENTY FIVE MILES. OMG what a voice! Brilliant. Wish I’d been at this particular concert.
We’ll continue our numerical exercise next week, starting at #26. So why not send me a message with suggestions for that list which should probably limit itself from 26-51. Let’s see how we go.
Until then, here’s this week’s full playlist:
Less Than Zero – Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True Pop
Zero – Lamb, Lamb
The Only One – Roy Orbison, Mystery Girl
It Takes Two – Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston, Ready Steady Go! The Sixties Sound Of Motown [Disc 1]
Three Little Words – Sarah Vaughan, The Mercury Jazz Story [Disc 1]
Four Strong Winds – Neil Young, Comes a Time
Love at the Five and Dime – Nanci Griffith, The Last of the True Believers
Six Months – Gregory Isaacs, Brand New Me
Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes, Elephant
Eight Days A Week – The Beatles, Beatles For Sale
Engine Number Nine – Wilson Pickett , Chronicles
Ten Cent Pistol – The Black Keys, Brothers
Eleven Days – David Byrne and Fatboy Slim, Here Lies Love
Twelve Gates To The City – Buddy Greene, A Few More Years
Thirteen Women – Dickie Thompson, Ultimate Rhythm & Soul Collection [Disc 1]
Fourteen – Tiny Tim, Girl
15 Step – Radiohead, In Rainbows
Sweet Little Sixteen – Chuck Berry, Yesterdays Gold Vol 07
At Seventeen – Janis Ian, Echoes Of The Radio [Disc 1]
18 – The Stellas, Cry Baby Cry
Hey Nineteen – Steely Dan, A Decade Of Steely Dan
20:20 Vision – Jimmy Martin
Twenty Flight Rock – Eddie Cochran, Big Artist Selection – Eddie Cochran
21 Questions – 50 Cent & Nate Dogg
22 – Lily Allen, It’s Not Me, It’s You
Strawberry Letter 23 – The Brothers Johnson, Strawberry Letter 23/The Very Best Of The Brothers Johnson
Twenty-Four Hour Blues – Bobby “Blue” Bland, Dreamer
Twenty-Five Miles – Edwin Starr
Next week: FROM NOUGHT TO WHATEVER (Part 2)
This week’s theme is inspired by the fact that Iggy Pop is headlining our major youth concert, The Big Day Out this month. And Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello and Jethro Tull will all be here in April for the Byron Blues Festival. I’m a baby boomer, so I’m ecstatic to be able to see all my heroes from the 60’s still performing. But, I have to ask: what is it about the first generation of rock n rollers – what keeps them going?
The reality is that from the moment rock music arrived on the scene it was a young person’s game: music made by young people for young people. It never intended to grow up or grow old. But it did. So what happens when rock’s youthful rebelliousness is delivered wrapped in wrinkles?
Lemmy from Motorhead has a formula for staying alive. He reckons you just breath (at all times). Lemmy, like Keith Richards, is one of the all time rock n roll survivors and therefore much revered by fans of a similar vintage.
Much to the dismay of our children, we baby boomers have carried on being the oldest swingers in town. We haven’t shown any sign of giving up on rock concerts, taking recreational drugs, (if we want to), and staying up all night. It’s why the biggest earners for rock concerts aren’t the Lady Gagas of the world, but veteran performers like AC/DC, The Eagles, Paul McCartney and The Who.
On MY GENERATION The Who were actually saying that they hoped they’d die before they got old. Hey, hold on a minute, they’re still singing it and they ARE old. What happened?
What happened started in the 50s when an entirely new species emerged with its very own music. They were called teenagers. And their music was called rock n roll:
Rock n roll created something special: The joy of hearing your parents shout out: “Turn that bloody racket down!” Because one of the social functions of rock has always been the defiance of the older generation. For performers like Elvis every gesture, every note was all about social disenfranchisement and rebellion. Elvis hit the scene wearing pink and black and leather outfits. He looked more like a pimp than a musician. “Outrageous!” reeled the grown-ups. But to the teenagers, he represented an escape from the stuffiness of the post-World War Two era.
No-one, even the musicians themselves, took rock and pop seriously, though. It was seen as a novelty, something that wasn’t meant to last. As the soundtrack to growing pains, it was temporary and disposable just like the people who made it.
By the early 60’s Beatlemania was gripping youth’s attention. The Establishment, however, remained doubtful that it was a fever that would last. Even the Beatles accepted the idea of their own inbuilt obsolescence.
With Beatlemania, and the British Invasion in general, many of the young established groups were being left behind. The tyranny of youth dictated that if you didn’t change with the times, you were old hat. One of the new incumbents was the band Manfred Mann.
In 1965 The Who recorded one of the ultimate anthems to youth, one that damned growing up and growing old. The young went on the offensive claiming their territory through guitar, bass and drums. The older generation were still recovering from a World War and all they wanted was some peace and quiet. To the younger generation old age just seemed really boring.
Ironically, the British Beat boom of the mid 60’s was based on music that was already old. Bands like the Stones, The Animals & Manfred Mann worshipped American Blues of the 20s 30s and 40s. Their recording heroes were still alive, but by rock roll’s new standards they were old men. Charlie Parker was born in 1920, Miles Davis in 1926 & Muddy Waters in 1913.
The self-absorbed rebelliousness of rock n roll gathered speed with the Rolling Stones. While the Who were busy burying the older generation, the Stones were singing about finding their satisfaction in sex.
The arrival of album culture in the late 60s proved that rock n roll was now thinking more in the long term. It didn’t sound disposable anymore. It was growing up, just like the people who made it. The Beatles Sgt Peppers album dared to imagine what life would be like at SIXTY FOUR. Up until now that was completely unthinkable for the baby boomer generation.
In the same year that the Beatles released the Sgt Peppers album, Procol Harum had a hit single with WHITER SHADE OF PALE. Things had started to get serious. The more experienced young musicians began wondering how far they could take their music. And they took their diehard fans with them. In many cases the fans had grown up with these bands and, along the way, they’d developed an appreciation of lyrics and music with more depth.
The end of the sixties saw the beginning of the rock n roll casualty list. The death of Brian Jones in 1969 seemed to crystalise a ‘live fast, die young’ attitude and brought a new reality to “I hope I die before I get old.” Janis Jopliin, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix all died at 27, confirming the myth that if you wanted to be a rock legend you had to die young.
The Stones, however, seemed determined to mature. After the death of Brian Jones they picked themselves up and went back on the road. For the band, it wasn’t over yet.
By the end of the 60’s the Stones had discovered the secret of survival, at least for now. Unfortunately, the Beatles didn’t. As if to prove that longevity and rock n roll was difficult for a group of young guys growing up together, they split in 1970. The Fab Four would go on to enjoy successful solo careers for many years to come but the surge of creativity that fed them in their youth proved more elusive for them and their generation as they grew older.
Today, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney and Pete Townsend can play arenas 45 years after they first had hits. Which is great. But the real question is: are they writing great songs? Or is the outpouring of creativity that launched their careers a factor of youth?
Herman’s Hermits got together in 1963 when lead singer Peter Noone was only 16. Their very first release, I’M INTO SOMETHING GOOD, was a #1 hit and although future recordings would get into the top ten, they were never to have a UK #1 again. The band, without Noone, continue to perform to this day and Peter Noone has gone on to have a successful career as both a singer and actor.
In the early 70’s, no performer demonstrated rock n roll’s reliance on youthful invention and raw power more than Iggy Pop. Here’s a great little doco that illustrates why he is known as the “Godfather of Punk”:
Not all rock n roll of the early 70’s was an expression of sexual energy and youthful physicality. By now prog rock was plundering the classical music collections so beloved of its middle class parents, as proof of its intention to last. It’s perpetrators, bands like Yes & Jethro Tull, seemed to be contemplating careers beyond the age of 30.
Performers found themselves living with their songs and growing into their material. One of the most requested songs from troops serving in Vietnam was I GOTTA GET OUT OF THIS PLACE by Eric Burdon & The Animals. Burdon continues to perform this song today when he entertains servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, it’s written into his contract. That’s what they call an anthem, folks.
In 1976, before the 60’s generation had a chance to mature, they were rudely cast aside by punk. It was a three-chord reign of terror, the ultimate Oedipal act. Snarling, spitting and clawing its way to the stage.
These weren’t the kids of the optimistic 60’s but a new young generation who felt abandoned. Everyone was in their way and, as always, no one understood them.
The bands of the post-punk era, like the Specials and Madness, while less dismissive of the past, still believed that rock and pop music were part of an essentially young experience.
In the early 80’s the Stones were back, yet again, having been absent from the stage for 6 years – while punk and its aftermath were the centre of attention. They were proving that they were in for the long haul.
In July 1985 the benefits of hanging in for the long term reached unexpected and unprecedented heights, with Live Aid. The international event sometimes looked like a version of Dad’s Army with acts like Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, The Who, and the Beach Boys joining pop stars of the 80s on stage. Watched by more than 400 million viewers in 60 countries, this was the rock n roll survivor’s finest hour. Suddenly being 40 didn’t seem so uncool. These were the masters, the legends, the acts deemed capable of feeding the world.
A lot of young people heard some of the older bands for the first time, saying “These bands are fantastic.” And then, the most hated people in their musical vocabulary, their parents, responded with “Yeah, we know, we love them too!”
What had begun with Live Aid in the 80’s continued into the 90s with projects like War Child. Performers from three generations of rock n roll – Paul McCartney, Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher recorded COME TOGETHER, in the new spirit of multi-generational tolerance. It was no longer a case of ‘My Generation’ but ‘Your Generation too”. Just as importantly, audiences for the music also started to span generations.
The new millennium witnessed an entirely new phenomenon: the revival and the comeback. Leonard Cohen, already in his 70’s, had decided to stop performing and recording altogether. At least that was the plan. But after having all his money misappropriated by a crooked manager, he had to go back on the road. And guess what, he loves it!
Audiences who had grown up and grown old with their heroes wanted them back. Age had invested their favourite bands with a new authenticity. Performers couldn’t believe their luck. Even Brian Wilson returned from the wilderness to be a Beach Boy once again.
Rock n roll is now revelling in a long life. What was about risk and youth is now about enjoying a grand old age. It’s about longevity, survival, nostalgia. Refusing to grow up, give up or shut up. The whole point of the baby boomer generation is that we made it up from the beginning and we’ve been making it up ever since. We’ve been pushing the boundaries, and unlike our parents, we’ve refused to accept old age.
Many thanks to BBC and You Tube community for the wealth of material, without which this week’s show would not be possible.
Next week, my special guests will be The Fridays, performing live in the studio, plus lots of songs about RESOLUTIONS. Any suggestions/requests, please leave me a message here.
In the meantime, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Lust For Life, Trainspotting soundtrack, Iggy Pop
My Generation, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack, The Who
Johnny B. Goode, Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues, Chuck Berry
Jailhouse Rock, Elvis Presley
Get A Job, Get a Job, The Silhouettes
Paul McCartney quote
Twist And Shout, Please Please Me, The Beatles
Paul Jones quote
Come Tomorrow, The Five Faces of Manfred Mann, Manfred Mann
(I’m Your) Hoochie Coochie Man, Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues, Muddy Waters
Let’s Spend The Night Together, Hot Rocks 1964-1971, The Rolling Stones
When I’m Sixty-Four, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles
She’s Leaving Home, Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles
A Whiter Shade Of Pale, The Big Chill soundtrack, Procol Harum
Brown Sugar, Sticky Fingers, The Rolling Stones
Peter Noone quote
I’m Into Something Good, The Original 60’s Summertime album, Herman’s Hermits
Iggy Pop i/view
Search And Destroy, Raw Power, Iggy Pop & The Stooges
Too Old To Rock ‘N’ Roll, Too Young To Die, Jethro Tull
We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place, The Most of the Animals, The Animals
God Save The Queen, Never Mind the Bollocks, The Sex Pistols
Too Much Too Young, The Singles Collection, The Specials
Baggy Trousers, Complete Madness, Madness
Mick Jagger quote
Start Me Up, Tattoo You, The Rolling Stones
Rockin’ All Over The World, Rockin’ All Over The World, Status Quo
Surfin’ USA, Endless Summer Legends, The Beach Boys
We Will Rock You, News of the World, Queen
Come Together, Help (War Child Benefit), Paul Weller & Friends
1969 (with i/view), Iggy Pop
In My Secret Life, Ten New Songs, Leonard Cohen
God Only Knows, Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys
Forever Young, Napolean Dynamite soundtrack, Alphaville
Next week: RESOLUTIONS
As someone who relies on trying to create a diverse playlist, week after week, the topic of MUSIC GENRES is one that’s dear to my heart. Useful as they are though, identifying genres is a murky and nebulous exercise, open to countless individual interpretations. Just go into any music store and try to establish why Ian Dury’s Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll can find itself in pop, rock and alternative, all at the same time, and you’ll know what I mean.
In 1979 Malcolm McLaren’s art school classmate Robin Scott had a one hit wonder with POP MUZIK, an ironic and mischievous little tune, under his pseudonym, M: “New York, London, Paris, Munich…. everybody’s talking ’bout pop music.”
According to Bob Seger, today’s music doesn’t have the same soul. He’s feeling nostalgic for some OLD TIME ROCK N ROLL. Sugarhill Gang, on the other hand, are more interested in hip-hop. Their song, RAPPERS DELIGHT, while not the first single to feature rapping, is generally considered to be the song that first made hip hop popular.
Wild Cherry’s song PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC is autobiographical in that Wild Cherry was mostly a hard rock outfit. In 1976, however, the Disco era was all the rage and many of the group’s loyal followers were asking for more dance songs. And so was born the request: “play that funky music, white boy”:
Back in 1970, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground celebrated ROCK & ROLL with their hit song of the same name. By 1977, Bob Marley – together with Steve Tyler & Joe Perry – were giving us three genres for the price of one on ROOTS, ROCK AND REGGAE.
Punk rocker Wreckless Eric took a swipe at the record companies, for the pressure they put on artists to produce a hit single, on POP SONG: “Just a two minute song with a snazzy middle eight.” Yeah, that’s all they wanted.
The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band refuse to take anything too seriously, even the blues. So if you merge music hall and blues, it begs the question: CAN BLUE MEN SING THE WHITES? Our girl Joan Jett is nothing but a rock chick so of course she’s going to sing, I LOVE ROCK N ROLL.
Brooklyn rappers Stetsasonic responded to early criticisms of their sampling by releasing TALKIN’ ALL THAT JAZZ which used a clever collage of borrowings from the likes of Lonnie Liston Smith and Donald Byrd.
I think Lynyrd Skynyrd may know a little bit about the track, SWAMP MUSIC. This style of music is particular to America’s south, particularly Louisiana and Southeastern Texas but it’s developed a worldwide following and I, for one, love it.
It’s both funny and revealing that The Killers wrote INDIE ROCK N ROLL to poke fun at the pretentious and sterile independent scene in their native Las Vegas, only to find that the song was embraced world-wide as a cheerfully un-ironic anthem. Here they are playing live and sounding great:
The Beatles take Chuck Berry’s ROCK N ROLL MUSIC and attack it with such intensity that it seems to symbolise what became known as the British Invasion of the 60’s. In total contrast is Wilco’s wistful ode to youth on HEAVY METAL DRUMMER, from the album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot:
Stevie Wonder ‘s contribution to this week’s topic came in the form of his dedication to Duke Ellington and other jazz greats on SIR DUKE. Arthur Conley did something similar, with his shout out to all the soul icons, on SWEET SOUL MUSIC:
Time for some blues, Creole style, with BOOGIE WOOGIE ZYDECO from Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band. Then it was a great piece of music, that recognises the enormous influence of Jazz on all kinds of music: JAZZ THING from Gang Starr. It’s from the soundtrack to the Spike Lee film MO BETTER BLUES, starring Denzel Washington. Absolutely brilliant clip.
There are so many songs that pay tribute to rock n roll that I had to be careful to not let them dominate. But there’s one that I couldn’t leave out – Ian Dury and the Blockheads with the rock n roll anthem, SEX & DRUGS & ROCK N ROLL. I hate the overuse of the word ‘awesome’ but in this case, it’s warranted – AWESOME!!
A song that merges soul and reggae is the very appropriately named REGGAE GOT SOUL from Toots and the Maytals. There are also loads of songs with Blues in the title, so many in fact that I had to restrain myself in this department too. But if you’re going to play one of them, you can’t get better than Buddy Guy with THE FIRST TIME I MET THE BLUES. In this clip he performs with bass player David Myers. It’s from the film CHICAGO BLUES, made in 1970. Now that’s what I call real music.
Bet you thought I wouldn’t give classical a mention. Well, Chuck Berry helped me out there with ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN. Here he expresses the desire for rhythm and blues to replace classical music on his local radio station. On this video clip he’s having a little bit of fun on a French TV show. Not sure of the year, but the song was recorded in 1956:
Couldn’t let disco get away with just a passing mention, so space was made for FRENCH DISKO by Stereolab. The Ramones rescue their disco queen and introduce her to something a bit more rebellious. Now, SHEENA IS A PUNK ROCKER.
We closed the show with a classic from Dire Straits – a song about a jazz band called SULTANS OF SWING.
Love to have your input for next week’s show. The theme is FUNNY SONGS: Songs that make you laugh or at least smirk because they are clever and witty. Ooh I’m looking forward to seeing what you send me.
Meanwhile, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Pop Muzik – Pop Muzik, M
Old Time Rock N’ Roll – Bob Seger
Rappers Delight – Sugarhill Gang
Play That Funky Music – Those Fabulous ’70s, Wild Cherry
Rock and Roll – Velvet Underground
Roots, Rock, Reggae – Chant Down Babylon, Bob Marley + Steven Tyler + Joe Perry
A Pop Song – Big Smash, Wreckless Eric
Can Blue Men Sing The Whites? – Cornology [Disc 1], Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
I Love Rock and Roll – Joan Jett
Mambo Italiano – Latin Fever [Disc 1], Shaft
Talkin’ All That Jazz – Hed Kandi: Back to Love, Vol. 4 Disc 2, Stetsasonic
Swamp Music – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Indie RnR – Demo, The Killers
Rock And Roll Music – Live At The BBC [Disc 2], The Beatles
Heavy Metal Drummer – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco
Sir Duke (Duke Ellington) – Songs In The Key Of Life, Stevie Wonder
Sweet Soul Music – 60’s Soul, Arthur Conley
Boogie Woogie Zydeco – Boogie Woogie Zydeco, Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band
Jazz Thing – Moment of Truth, Gang Starr
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll – No Thanks! – The ’70s Punk Rebellion (Disc 3), Ian Dury
Soul Makossa – Makossa Man: The Very Best Of Manu Dibango, Manu Dibango
Reggae Got Soul – True Love, Toots & The Maytals
First Time I Met The Blues – Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues – A Musical Journey, Buddy Guy
Roll Over Beethoven – 1956-Rock & Roll Era, Chuck Berry
French Disko – Refried Ectoplasm, Stereolab
Sheena Is A Punk Rocker – All The Stuff (And More), The Ramones
Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
A while back I did a show on ‘Covers That Are Better Than The Originals’ and I had so much fun with that. So this week it was UNLIKELY COVERS. Anything in the previous show was excluded, just to keep me on my toes. But have no fear, there were plenty more, and even quirkier versions, to choose from.
We opened the show with Peter Sellers’ hilarious version of the Beatles A HARD DAY’S NIGHT, in the style of Lawrence Olivier’s Richard 111. Thanks to Andrew for this request.
Andrew also requested the next track on our list: Hellsongs’ version of THUNDERSTRUCK. Hellsongs is an acoustic three-piece that plays what is best described as Lounge Metal. That means metal classics performed with surprisingly clear female vocals, soft guitars, an organ and two male choir-boys. They do a brilliant job of this AC/DC cover.
Stevie Wonder’s version of the Beatles classic WE CAN WORK IT OUT is a good example of what I think defines an UNLIKELEY COVER. Not only does he switch genre, he also reinterprets the emotions that underpin the track, taking it from melancholia to pure elation. So, here’s a treat: A clip from the recent 2010 Glastonbury Festival where Stevie sings both Master Blastin’ and We Can Work It Out. Enjoy.
I’LL BE MISSING YOU by P. Diddy, Faith Evans and 112, borrows the melody and arrangement of Police’s EVERY BREATH YOU TAKE to create a song that was recorded in memory of rap artist Notorious B.I.G., murdered in 1997. Thanks to Robyn for that suggestion.
Scottish alternative pop band Camera Obscura do a great version of the Abba hit SUPERTROUPER, so that had to be included. As did Nick Cave, with the very unlikely cover of Louis Armstrong’s WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD.
Algerian musician Rachid Taha does an intriguing Arabic version of the Clash standard ROCK THE CASBAH. Check it out:
As someone who loves their Bluegrass and is a hardcore Queen fan, (what’s not to love?), Hayseed Dixie appealed with their cover of Queen’s BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. Come on, you’ve got to get a chuckle out of this, surely:
We followed with a very gentle rendition of the Guns & Roses’ track SWEET CHILD OF MINE. It’s from Swedish singer Victoria Bergstrom, under her Taken By Trees moniker.
SWITCHED ON BACH is the name of an album by Walter (later to become Wendy) Carlos. Recorded in 1968, using the Moog synthesiser, it became the highest selling classical music recordings of its era. We played one of the best tracks from that album, SINFONIA 35. Carlos went on to make many more recordings, including scores for the Stanley Kubrick films A Clockwork Orange and The Shining.
Paul Kelly only needs his guitar, and his great voice, to create a knock-out acoustic version of the Amy Winehouse signature tune REHAB. I found this on one of the very excellent Triple J Like a Version albums.
One of my favourite films of all time is JUNO and one of the best songs on that soundtrack is Sonic Youth’s cover of The Carpenter’s SUPERSTAR. Karen would have been proud:
The phones ran hot when this next track was played: Legends Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings gave Procol Harum’s A WHITER SHADE OF PALE a country voice. And then the totally indiosyncratic William Shatner covered Pulp’s COMMON PEOPLE.
But if you thought that was crazy, how about Ani DiFranco and Jackie Chan (yes, that’s correct, Jackie Chan the Hong Kong actor). They contributed a bizarre duet of Nat King Cole’s UNFORGETTABLE. Ani’s voice is great, but methinks that Jacki should just stick to acting (or maybe not!).
We followed with The Clash’s version of Junior Murvin’s reggae classic POLICE & THIEVES. While a punk rock group covering reggae does seem a bit unusual, Joe Strummer makes this great track his own.
Gee, it was hard choosing one of Johnny Cash’s covers. His album American IV: The Man Comes Around is particularly good for UNLIKELY COVERS. My favourite is his version of the Nine Inch Nails song HURT but I have played that before, so I thought I’d bring you his cover of Depeche Mode’s PERSONAL JESUS instead. This album is especially moving as Cash died soon after its release.
Lesley Gore, (that’s right, she of IT’S MY PARTY AND I’LL CRY IF I WANT TO), gave us a great version of AD/DC’s DIRTY DEEDS DONE DIRT CHEAP. Just to prove that she can sing anything she wants to!
R & B great Billy Preston does an interesting cover of pop band Duran Duran’s GIRLS ON FILM. As do the Ramones when they do a punk version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE RAIN?
Here’s a combination I really love: C.W. Stoneking, with another track from Triple J’s Like a Version compilation: the White Stripes SEVEN NATION ARMY. Two of my favourite artists, Stoneking and Jack White. I think what makes this so good is that Stoneking hadn’t even heard the song before it was suggested that he do a cover, so it has this incredible freshness to the interpretation. Here’s an interview and his performance live in the studio. So jealous of that presenter!
We followed that with a great pairing: Jim Morrison and The Doors with their version of Howlin Wolf’s BACK DOOR MAN and Patti Smith’s amazing cover of Prince’s WHEN DOVES CRY. Thanks again to Rob for suggesting that one.
How perfect is Sid Vicious’s punk version of MY WAY, made famous originally by Frank Sinatra? Let’s face it, he couldn’t sing, couldn’t play but gee he knew how to take the piss out of society. Miss that.
What to finish the show with? Well, a cover of Led Zeppelin’s STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN seemed an obvious choice but which version? Rolf Harris came to mind, especially after his recent appearance at Glastonbury but I’m not a big fan. Instead, the honour went to one of the best musicians in rock history, Frank Zappa.
Next week the theme is a staple of pop music: SWEETS, all those yummy sugary foods that symbolise so much about personal relationships. Let me know if you have any good suggestions. Love having your input.
For now, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
A Hard Day’s Night (Beatles cover) – Time To Remember 1965, Peter Sellers
Thunderstruck (AC/DC cover) – Hymns In The Key Of 666, Hellsongs
We Can Work It Out (Beatles) – Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, Stevie Wonder
I’ll Be Missing You (Police) – P. Diddy
Super Trouper (Abba cover) – Tears For Affairs, Camera Obscura
What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong cover) – B-Sides & Rarities, Nick Cave/The Bad Seeds
Rock el Casbah (Clash cover) – Arabian 2000 & 1 Nights, Rachid Taha
Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen cover) – Killer Grass, Hayseed Dixie
Sweet Child Of Mine (Guns & Roses cover) – Taken By Trees (Victoria Bergsman)
Sinfonia 35 – Switched on Bach, Walter (Wendy) Carlos
Rehab (Amy Winehouse cover) – Like A Version Four, Paul Kelly
Superstar (Carpenters Cover) – Juno Soundtrack, Sonic Youth
A Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum cover) – Always On My Mind, Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings
Common People (Pulp) – Triple J Hottest 100: Volume 12 William Shatner/Joe Jackson
Unforgettable (Nat King Cole)- When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You’d Hear, Ani DiFranco & Jackie Chan
Police & Thieves (Junior Murvin) – The Clash, The Clash
Personal Jesus (Depeche Mode) – American IV: The Man Comes Around, Johnny Cash
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (AC/DC cover) – When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You’d Hear, Lesley Gore
Girls on Film (Duran Duran cover) – When Pigs Fly: Songs You Never Thought You’d Hear, Billy Preston
Have You Ever Seen the Rain (Creedence Clearwater) – The Ramones
Sinfonia 35 – Switched on Bach, Walter (Wendy) Carlos
Seven Nation Army (White Stripes cover) – Like A Version Four, C.W. Stoneking
Back Door Man (Howlin Wolf cover)- The Doors, Jim Morisson/The Doors
When Doves Cry (Prince cover) – When Doves Cry, Patti Smith
Surﬁn’ USA (Beach Boys) – The Jesus & Mary Chain
My Way (Frank Sinatra) – The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle, Sid Vicious
Stairway To Heaven (Led Zepelin Cover) – Frank Zappa
Next week: SWEETS (Yummy, yummy, yummy I’ve got love in my tummy!)
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
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
Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other. But what about the one-sided love affair? If we were rational we’d acknowledge that its simply addictive emotional masochism; the more unsuitable or unattainable the object of desire, the stronger the fascination. But when you’re madly in love with someone who doesn’t know you exist, being rational is the furthest thing from your mind. We’ve all been there. You feel like the walking wounded, the unloved one, the handicapped without the advantage of a great parking space! Charlie Brown says it best: “Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter like UNREQUITED LOVE.”
We opened the show with THE GIRL FROM IPANEMA from one of the best bossa nova singers ever, Astrud Gilberto, performing with Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz. There really was a girl from Ipanema – a 15 year old called Heloisa Pinto who used to walk past the Rio bar frequented by the songwriters,Vinicius Morais and Antonio Jobim. The song is a sweet tribute to the totally unattainable as well as an ode to youth. This music video is from the 1964 film “Get Yourself a College Girl”:
KILLING ME SOFTLY WITH HIS SONG has been covered by many artists, most notably by Roberta Flack, whose 1973 version topped the U.S. pop singles charts and won a Grammy Award. We opted to play the equally successful 1996 version, simply called KILLING ME SOFTLY, by Hip-Hop group The Fugees with Lauryn Hill on lead vocals.
Whitney Houston’s version of I WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU, released in 1992, became one of the best-selling singles of all time. It was written and originally recorded by Dolly Parton and her poignant and bittersweet version, with Parton’s trademark twang, was my choice this week.
I had to include Billy Bragg’s gentle, yet disturbing, song about a classroom crush, THE SATURDAY BOY, even if it was just for the line: ”I had to look in the dictionary/ To find out the meaning of unrequited.” The Violent Femmes’ upped the ante with a song about repressed lust. ADD IT UP has Gordon Gano promising himself, ‘the day after today I will stop’, but the music’s pent-up passion suggests otherwise.
When I announced this week’s theme there was lots of correspondence regarding which genre of music does ‘unrequited love’ best. Yes, I agree with BayFM’s Cowboy Sweetheart that country singers have it pretty much all sewn up, but you can’t go past a little soul music when it comes to love songs, requited or not. A couple of examples: JUST MY IMAGINATION from the Temptations and CUPID from Sam Cooke. And I didn’t forget the soulful sound of Ray Charles with YOU DON’T KNOW ME, delivering a duet with Diana Krall, from his Genius Loves Company album.
Joe Jackson is wonderfully incredulous when he asks: IS SHE REALLY GOING OUT WITH HIM? The Cars, on the other hand, are obsessed with their BEST FRIEND’S GIRL while Bowling For Soup are going nuts over the GIRL ALL THE BAD BOYS WANT. I love a band with a sense of humour. Check out the video from Bowling For Soup. By the way, the band’s name was derived from a comedy act by Steve Martin.
Now if you need convincing that country singers are the kings and queens of the lovelorn, here’s Patsy Cline with I FALL TO PIECES, from the Glenn Reeves Show, February 23, 1963.
LAYLA by the Eric Clapton’s group, Derek & The Dominos, is a tale of unrequited love inspired by Clapton’s relationship with his friend George Harrison’s then wife, Pattie Boyd Harrison. Here’s a video clip from 1984 of Eric Clapton peforming the song live with Bill Wyman on bass, Charlie Watts on drums, Jeff Beck on guitar, Stevie Winwood on piano …. have I died and gone to heaven?
A song that elevates lovelorn moping to operatic heights is Ben E King’s I WHO HAVE NOTHING and another, possibly, is Dionne Warwick’s WALK ON BY, written by Burt Bacharach and David Hal. It was recorded by Warwick in 1964 and became a landmark single for her.
A year later Donovan released his first single, CATCH THE WIND, and in 1967 The Small Faces recorded TIN SOLDIER, a song Steve Marriott wrote to his first wife Jenny. The song signalled a return to the band’s R&B roots after their previous forays into psychedelic rock and other musical experiments. P.P. Arnold can be heard singing back up vocals. Here’s some rare footage of The Small Faces with P.P. Arnold performing on Belgium television. The year was 1968. Go the Mods!
Written by the Bee Gees, IF I CAN’T HAVE YOU was given to Yvonne Elliman when the group became involved in the soundtrack for the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever. She scored a #1 hit in the US with the track.
Going a bit further back in time is the Everly Brothers version of ALL I HAVE TO DO IS DREAM. Recorded in 1958, it was recorded in just two takes and features Chet Atkins on guitar. The B side “Claudette” was the first major songwriting success for Roy Orbison. Two years later, Orbison recorded ONLY THE LONELY, his first major hit. An operatic rock ballad, it was a sound unheard of at the time, described by the New York Times as expressing “a clenchied, driven urgency.” Here’s Roy performing the song during the Black & White Night concert. No-one does it like the Big O.
From the sublime to the ridiculous: a teenager falls in love with a pin-up girl, in a picture dated 1929, in The Who’s PICTURES OF LILY and Fountains of Wayne sing about a schoolboy’s lust for his friends mother in STACEY’S MUM.
And then it was a couple of classics: FOR NO ONE from The Beatles Revolver album, written by Paul McCartney and a track from one of my all-time favourite albums, I’M WAITING FOR THE DAY from the Beach Boys Pet Sounds album.
In an effort to shake the lovelorn out of the doldrums, we closed the show with Radiohead’s masterpiece of poetic self-loathing, CREEP.
Here’s the complete playlist:
The Girl from Ipanema – Astrud Gilberto / João Gilberto / Stan Getz
Killing Me Softly – The Fugees
I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton
Diary – Bread
The Saturday Boy – Billy Bragg
Add It Up – Violent Femmes
Cupid – Sam Cooke
Just My Imagination – The Temptations
You Don’t Know Me – Ray Charles & Diana Krall
Strange And Beautiful (I’ll Put A Spell On You) – Aqualung
Is She Really Going Out With Him – Joe Jackson
My Best Friend’s Girl – The Cars
Girl All the Bad Boys Want – Bowling For Soup
White Flag – Dido
My Eyes Adored You – Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons
I Fall To Pieces – Patsy Cline
Layla – Derek & The Dominos
I’ll Kill Her – SoKo
I Who Have Nothing – Ben E. King
Walk On By – Dionne Warwick
Catch The Wind – Donovan
Tin Soldier – The Small Faces
If I Can’t Have You – Yvonne Elliman
All I Have To Do Is Dream – The Everly Brothers
Only The Lonely – Roy Orbison
Pictures Of Lily – The Who
Stacey’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne
For No One – The Beatles
I’m Waiting For The Day – The Beach Boys
Creep – Radiohead
Next week, we’re celebrating Halloween with SCARY SONGS FOR SILLY PEOPLE (or is that SILLY SONGS FOR SCARY PEOPLE?). Suggestions welcome.
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time.
Also streaming on http://www.bayfm.org
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