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
One of the many gifts of living here in the Northern Rivers is the abundance of bird life. I am lucky enough to live on a property with a rainforest remnant plus tropical and native gardens, so there is no shortage of beautiful birdlife for me to enjoy. And while they are lucky enough to be wild and free, I do feel that they are my little buddies. When it comes to music, bird references are to be found in every genre, so I had plenty to choose from in this week’s show about BIRDS. Some of the songs I chose were just plain silly and some very serious. But what they all revealed was a little bit about how we relate avian qualities to our lives and ourselves.
We started the show with the incredibly appropriate I LIKE BIRDS from the Eels’ album Daisies of the Galaxy. And why wouldn’t you like a creature that has come to represent peace, freedom and happiness to name just a few of the more positive traits that appear in this week’s play-list?
History, however, hasn’t been too kind to blackbirds. They are often portrayed negatively, even though they are just as good looking and intelligent as other species. Paul McCartney spins this symbolism into a message of hope in the Beatles 1968 hit BLACKBIRD. We followed with The Be Good Tanyas and their version of Clarence Ashley’s THE COO COO BIRD. I’ve discovered that the Coo-Coo bird, unlike most other birds, rarely occur in pairs or as part of a group. Shy and retiring, they’d rather be heard than seen. Hmmm. Sounds a bit like a couple of radio presenters I know…
A nice triple play followed: Bob Marley with the very optimistic THREE LITTLE BIRDS, LITTLE WING from Jimi Hendrix and then the Purple one, Prince, pumped it out with WHEN DOVES CRY.
Alfred Hitchcock was one of the quirkiest directors ever. His 1963 film THE BIRDS, starring Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedron was notable for its lack of music. Except for a couple of songs sung by characters in the film, the soundscape was made up of screeching birds. The trailer for the film was just as idiosyncratic. Hitchcock presents it himself, under the guise of A LECTURE ON BIRDS. I think its hilarious. Take a look:
The Bluebird is a common symbol of happiness and optimism. Two songs we played, that epitomise this notion, are Johnnie Taylor’s LITTLE BLUEBIRD and Ella Fitzgerald, the queen of scat, singing BLUE SKIES.
John Lennon sings of the Sweet Bird of Paradox in SURPRISE, SURPRISE from his 1974 album Walls and Bridges. We followed that with KT Tunstall’s WHITE BIRD. An excellent artist who, despite the awards and peer support cruises under the radar somewhat. Take a look at this clip and become a fan:
Ready for some classical? No, its not Swan Lake. It’s my favourite Duck, DAFFY, with his version of THE HUNGARIAN RHAPSODY:
One of my favourite Australian singers is Jack Ladder. From the Love is Gone album, MOTHER, is a strange little song that likens his Mum to a chicken (I think…). The song also references BIRDS THE WORD and we took a listen to the RIVINGTONS original version of that tune too.
Taj Mahal and Etta James sang a great version of MOCKINGBIRD, originally recorded by Inez and Charlie Foxx and one of the last hits for Australian icon Johnny O’Keefe (with Margaret McLaren).
How could we have a show about BIRDS and not include Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker. His nickname was originally ‘Yardbird’ and that was shortenend over time to simply ‘Bird’. There are two stories as to how he got the name: One was that he lived “free as a bird”. The other is that when touring with Jay McShann, they accidentally hit a chicken (a yardbird) with their car and Parker made them stop to pick it up so he could have his landlady cook it. I think I’m going to go with the first possibility. It fits beautifully with the track we played – BLUEBIRD.
I had to include the theme from the Woody Woodpecker Show. Mel Blanc was the original voice of this animated character. He also voiced Daffy Duck and many, many more of our favourite cartoon characters. Woody made his first appearance in a short film in 1940 and you’ll still find him on children’s cartoon shows today.
And how good is AIN’T NOBODY HERE BUT US CHICKENS by Louis Jordan? James Brown has been quoted as saying that Jordan was one of his greatest influences: “He could sing, he could dance, he could play, he could act. He could do it all.” Jordan’s vocal style was arguably an important precursor to rap. On our show for DAYS OF THE WEEK we played “Saturday Night Fish Fry” (1950) which featured a rapid-fire, highly syncopated semi-spoken vocal delivery that is strongly reminiscent of the modern rap style.
No reason to leave the farmyard when you can play the Rolling Stones and LITTLE RED ROOSTER. Check out this clip featuring a very young, fresh faced Mick Jagger in 1965.
There are lots if songs about birds that talk of love and longing. Three that I particulary like are BLUEBIRDS OVER THE MOUNTAIN from Richie Valens, (also recorded by The Beach Boys), YELLOW BIRD from Chris Isaak and SONGBIRD by Bernard Fanning.
Time flew on this week’s show but before I flew the coop (groan…), I had time to play a rediscovery: A great songwriter and singer, still performing and probably better now than ever – Russell Morris with his 1972 hit THE WINGS OF AN EAGLE. Take a look at this recent clip and see if you agree. This song has a timeless quality.
Couldn’t resist closing the show with a piece of whimsy suggested by one of my loyal listeners: CHIRPY CHIRPY CHEEP CHEEP from the perfectly named band MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. This clip from Top of the Pops 1971 is worth including just for the outfits. I want those boots! And did I hear “bring back hot pants!”
Here’s the complete playlist:
I Like Birds – The Eels
Blackbird – The Beatles
The Coo Coo Bird – The Be Good Tanyas
Three Little Birds – Bob Marley
Little Wing – Jimi Hendrix
When Doves Cry – Prince & the Revolution
Bye Bye Blackbird – Etta James
Alfred Hitchcock ‘The Birds’ Lecture (Trailer)
Rocking Robin – Bobby Day
Chicken Payback – The Bees
The Chicken And The Hawk – Big Joe Turner
Little Bluebird – Johnnie Taylor
Blue Skies – Ella Fitzgerald
Surprise, Surprise (Sweet Bird Of Paradox) – John Lennon
White Bird – KT Tunstall
Daffy’s Rhapsody – Mel Blanc
Bird Dog – The Everly Brothers
Shake A Tail Feather – Ray Charles
Mother (Bird’s The Word) – Jack Ladder
Mockingbird – Taj Mahal & Etta James
Bluebird – Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker + The All-Stars
Night Owl – Carly Simon
Mockingbird – Rob Thomas
Woody Woodpecker Show – TV Themes
The Bird’s The Word – Rivingtons
Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens – Louis Jordan
Little Red Rooster – Rolling Stones
Blackbird – The Beautiful Girls
Bluebirds over the Mountain – Ritchie Valens
Yellow Bird – Chris Isaak
Songbird – Bernard Fanning
The Wings Of An Eagle – Russell Morris
Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep Middle of the Road
Next week: SPORT! I promise there will be no footie anthems. Help! Whaddyagot?
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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