Our playlist this week was dedicated to SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS. We’re talking Na-na-na songs, obla-di songs, even la-la-la songs. Because, let’s face it, without meaningless words we may have missed out on some of our favourite pop anthems.
So WHO PUT THE BOMP IN THE BOMP, BOMP, BOMP, BOMP, BOMP? Well the original was recorded by Barry Mann in 1961. It parodied the nonsense words of the doo-wop songs that were popular during that period. Two that he refers to are the Marcels’ BLUE MOON and The Edsels’ RAMA LAMA DING DONG, which had both charted earlier that same year.
Ella Fitzgerald’s HOW HIGH THE MOON is a great example of scat singing, where the vocals are improvised using random and nonsense syllables. Fitzgerald is generally considered to be one of the greatest scat singers in jazz history. Pioneering Jamaican DJ and singer, Sister Nancy, also incorporates some scat into her chat with BAM BAM. Don’t ask me, I have no idea what BAM BAM means. And I’m not sure what BOM BOM means either. That was the title of our very own Daddy Cool’s contribution to this week’s list.
Time then for a counterpoint to all the merriment. There aren’t too many performers who could turn a “sha la la la” song” into one of romantic longing, but Tom Waits does so briliantly in JERSEY GIRL. And yes, I know that Bruce Springsteen does a version of this too, but it’s got to be Tom’s original version for me.
Way back in the 50’s The Gladiolas recorded LITTLE DARLIN’ in which they used their voices as instruments (adding an extra layer to the already full-on percussion). Their main aim wasn’t to experiment, however. All they wanted to do was to get you up dancing. As did The Crystals in 1963 with DA DO RON RON.
Yes, songs with MEANINGLESS WORDS have served generations of American black music very well indeed. And today, it seems it’s still all about the moves, baby. You only have to check out Beyonce’s SINGLE LADIES and my point is proven.
What I love about a show on SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS is that it gives me a great opportunity to play some comedy. Spike Milligan claimed that he wrote the YING TONG SONG as a bet with his brother, who claimed that Spike couldn’t get a song into the hit parade that only had two chords (in this case G and D7th). And Spike won!
We followed with punk group The Dickies with their version of BANANA SPLITS (The Tra-La La Song), from the soundtrack to the film Kick Arse and to round out the set, another fruit related song with some meaningless words, the wonderful Little Richard with TUTTI FRUTTI. I’m not sure where or when this concert took place, but I wish I’d been there!
Is there anyone in the world that doesn’t know the refrain from HEY JUDE by The Beatles? Na, Na, Na, Na- Na- Na. I don’t think so. That one was for Judi who listens via the Internet from Far North Queensland and who has sent me a very nice email. So big shout out to Jude!
It’s true that you can’t help but sing along to SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS isn’t it? Even Mr. Grumpy himself, Van Morrison, can’t help but deliver a song that, ironically, has made a lot of people very happy over the years: BROWN EYED GIRL.
Donna Summer’s version of STATE OF INDEPENDENCE was released in 1982 and featured a choir that included Michael Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Kenny Liggins, Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder and others. She’s always been known for her powerhouse vocal delivery and she’s one of the most successful recording artists of the 1970s. Her website states that she has sold more than 130 million records worldwide. One of today’s most fascinating artists is Lady Gaga and we played BAD ROMANCE from her Fame Monster album which also has a few meaningless words in it. As of April 16, 2010, her music videos gained over one billion viral views, becoming the first artist to reach this milestone. So she obviously doesn’t need any help from me so I’m going to get you to have a peek at Donna Summer instead!
Its been mooted that catchy songs are just that because they’re easy to sing along to. Meaningless words seem to help that process. Here’s another example for you: The J. Geils Band with CENTERFOLD. We played this one in our ‘Fashion’ show, but its such a good example of meaningless words in a song, it had to be included here too. Na, na, na, na, na,
A great triple play of classics followed: Reggae artist Barrington Levy with HERE I COME, the great Otis Redding with FA-FA-FA-FA-FA (SAD SONG) and Major Lance with UM, UM, UM, UM, UM. Another classic that wouldn’t be the same without its meaningless words is NA NA HEY HEY KISS HIM GOODBYE from Steam. It may have been a bit of a one-hit wonder but its served sports fans very well, ever since it was recorded in 1969.
All girl Aussie band, The Spazzys, offered up SUNSHINE DRIVE, which first appeared on their Aloha Go Bananas! album. I found my copy on the soundtrack to the film Suburban Mayhem. Its easy to see that they’re influenced by The Ramones who had a song of their own called PINHEAD that produced their concert catch-cry “Gabba, Gabba, Hey!”. For some reason that I can’t fathom, I didn’t actually play this song but, as penance, here’s a clip to satisfy all you Ramones fans. Who said punk was dead?
Back to some Pommy classics: the Kinks with DAVID WATTS, the Beatles with OB-LA-DI, OB-LA-DA and Manfred Mann with DO WAH DIDDY DIDDY. How upbeat is this little ditty? Check it out:
Pocket rocket, Brenda Lee recorded a very catchy tune that uses meaningless words, DUM DUM. No idea what the words mean and I’m not sure that Sting and the Police have a clue what they’re singing about when they declare DE DO DO DO, DE DA DA DA.
Another couple of classic tunes with meaningless words came from The Drifters with I COUNT THE TEARS and the Delfonics with LA LA MEANS I LOVE YOU. Does that mean that if you go to local club La La Land you’ll find love? Hmmmmm, don’t think so somehow.
We signed off with a doozy: GOOD MORNING STARSHINE by Oliver. Impossible not to singalong to this one.
Next week’s show will be on SHELTER. I’m thinking of both interpretations of the word. It could be a building or it could be the protection or refuge you find in something or someone. So get those suggestions in and, yes of course, the Stones GIMME SHELTER is a given!
Here’s this week’s playlist:
Who Put the Bomp (In the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp) – #1 Hits of the ’50s Volume 4, Barry Mann
Rama Lama Ding Dong – The Rama Lama Ding Dong EP, The Edsels
Blue Moon – The Original 60’s Summer Album, The Marcels
How High The Moon – Conﬁrmation, Ella Fitzgerald
Bam Bam – One Two, Sister Nancy
Bom Bom – The Essential Daddy Cool [Disc 1], Daddy Cool
Jersey Girl – Heartattack And Vine, Tom Waits
Little Darlin’ – Rock n’ Roll Boogie Hits Of ’57, The Gladiolas
Da Do Ron Ron (Re-Recorded / Remastered) – – Soundtrack To The ’60s (Re-Recorded / Remastered, The Crystals
Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) – Beyoncé
Ying Tong Song – Let’s All Sing Along With The Goons, The Goons
Banana Splits (The Tra La La Song) – Dickies
Tutti Frutti – Little Richard, Little Richard
Hey Jude – The Beatles
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
Bad Romance (Album Version) – Lady Gaga
State of independence – Donna Summer, Donna Summer
Centerfold – Best Of The J Geils Band, The J Geils Band
Here I Come – Here I Come, Barrington Levy
Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song) – Otis Redding
Um Um Um Um Um – Soul Masters: Um Um Um Um Um, Major Lance
Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye – ’60s: Gold, Steam
Heebie Jeebies – A Portrait Of New Orleans Jazz CD1, Louis Armstrong
The Sunshine Drive – Suburban Mayhem Soundtrack, The Spazzys
Do Wah Diddy Diddy – The British Invasion: History of British Rock, Vol. 2, Manfred Mann
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da – The Beatles (White Album) [Disc 1], The Beatles
David Watts – Greatest Hits, The Kinks
Dum Dum – Sweet Nothin’s, Brenda Lee
de do do do, de da da da – The Very Best, Sting & The Police
I Count The Tears – Greatest Hits, The Drifters
La La Means I Love You – The Legend of The Delfonics, The Delfonics
Good Morning Starshine – Billboard Top 100 Of 1969, Oliver
Next week: SHELTER
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
I’m baaaack! And this week’s theme was influenced by my recent road trip down the coast: STREETS AND ROADS. Street songs also include their close relations avenues, lanes and boulevards. They all tend to be about a particular destination. Songs about roads and highways, on the other hand, are inclined to reflect on a journey of some kind, metaphorical or not. Some of these songs immortalise where they came from, others where they’re going, but all seem to have something significant to say.
We opened the show with the Drifters’ ON BROADWAY – a road that reflects the best and worst of New York. The famous entertainment strip is the epitome of success for some but it’s also a desperate place to be if you are one of the less fortunate. Check out the Drifters doing a great job, but what’s with the outfits? Pyjamas with fringing. What the??????
TOBACCO ROAD was written by country singer John D. Loudermilk and inspired by Erskine Caldwell’s Depression-era novel of the same name. The song reeks of the American south. A group calling themselves the Nashville Teens recorded the original version, although they actually hailed from England. And I don’t think it was even Southern England, cheeky sods!
There are so many versions of the that definitive road song, ROUTE 66, but I rather like the Nat King cole rendition. Eddy Grant took us back to the 80’s with ELECTRIC AVENUE about a market street in Brixton, London. You may remember a cover version by Aussie band Men at Work, but there’s nothing like the original. Check it out:
The wonderful Emmylou Harris dueted with Dave Matthews on GULF COAST HIGHWAY. Now I don’t believe that there is an actual Gulf Coast Highway, but who cares when the song is so beautiful?
It was a toss up when it came to Bruce Springsteen’s contribution to the show – Both Thunder Road and Racing the Streets were worthy contenders but I had to give it to the Oscar winning anthem, STREETS OF PHILADELPHIA.
Louis Armstrong paid homage to his favourite street in New Orleans in BASIN STREET BLUES and although I gave it a spin on the AUTOMOBILE show, Grace Jones deserved another outing with PULL UP TO THE BUMPER, from her critically acclaimed album NIGHTCLUBBING.
Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland was going FARTHER UP THE ROAD while Bob Dylan delivered the classic HIGHWAY 61 REVISITED. And here’s some trivia about that particular highway, which travels from New Orleans through to the Canadian border. Bessie Smith met her death in an automobile accident on that road, Robert Johnson was said to have lost his soul to the devil at the crossroads of Highway 61 and Highway 49, Elvis Presley grew up in the housing projects built along it and Martin Luther King Jnr would later be murdered in a motel just off Highway 61.
The Beatles sang about PENNY LANE while David Byrne and the Talking Heads took the ROAD TO NOWHERE:
A show about roads needed a bit of hard rock and the obvious, of course, is Acca Dacca and HIGHWAY TO HELL. But I thought I’d give them a rest this week and instead, in celebration of the Deep Purple tour reaching Brisbane next month (yay!) it was HIGHWAY STAR instead. Once listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the Word’s loudest rock band, here they are performing live in 1972. Ian Gillian, you are hot! Can’t wait for them to reach Bris-vegas.
Kirsty MacColl calmed things down just a little with WALKING DOWN MADISON, a song that deals with the disparity between rich and poor on the most expensive street in New York, Madison Avenue. As the song goes: “From the sharks in the penthouse to the rats in the basement, it’s not that far”. Gerry Rafferty sang all about London’s BAKER STREET, probably most famous for the literary address of Sherlock Holmes’ residence.
Lots of our songs this week dealt with being down and out, so it was great to include a number by the wonderful Dinah Washington. She’s definitely got the right attitude as she goes walking ON THE SUNNY SIDE OF THE STREET. Recorded in 1956 with orchestra under the direction of Hal Mooney, the song was originally composed in 1930 by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields for the Broadway musical “International Revue” starring Gertrude Lawrence. The song has since become a jazz standard recorded by many.
In complete and utter contrast came the Australian Aria award winning hip-hop group, The Hilltop Hoods, with a song about life’s choices: THE HARD ROAD.
Chris Rea’s song, ROAD TO HELL, was apparently inspired by rush hour on a motorway. After being in Sydney I know how he feels! It’s been way too long since I played some Roy Orbison, so I DROVE ALL NIGHT was in, as it fitted so perfectly.
Green Day’s BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS is, I assume, about Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. Similar to New York’s BROADWAY, Sunset Boulevard is the primary location for live entertainment, as well as being the red-light district and a hang for the homeless.
A fitting follow-up was Ray Charles with LONELY AVENUE and it was up to Junior Walker and the Allstars to brighten the mood somewhat with ROAD RUNNER.
Another fantastic and, I think, optimistic song about leaving home and heading off for freedom, is VENTURA HIGHWAY, a 1972 hit for America.
The Mamas and Papas sang a song reportedly about the place where they all met, a bar in CREEQUE ALLEY while Ray Charles and the Stray Cats combined on a great version of HIT THE ROAD, JACK.
For anyone living on a rural property, like I do, Lucinda Williams’ CAR WHEELS ON A GRAVEL ROAD will resonate, for sure.
I returned from my trip to Sydney to hear the very sad news that our friend Susie McNair had passed away quietly on Tuesday March 16th. The final song of the program was dedicated to her memory. The Beatles, THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD, was the final single that they recorded as a group. R.I.P. Susie.
Thanks to the following listeners for contributing to this week’s list: Judi, Rebecca and Katie. Next week’s theme is HAIR, so get your thinking caps on!
Meanwhile, here’s this week’s complete playlist: