How come every songwriter hasn’t written at least one song about schooldays? Come on, it has all the vital ingredients for a hit: that age-old conflict between discipline and rebellion, close friendships, sexual awakenings and enough traumatic experiences to feed a healthy persecution complex for the rest of your life. Mind you, while every songwriter may not have taken up the opportunity to reveal all about their schooldays, those that did contributed to a pretty good playlist this week.
We opened the show with SCHOOL DAYS by Chuck Berry who turns the joy of hearing the final bell into some hot rock’n’roll. Then it was Young MC who seems well versed in being sent to the PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE, while the Pipettes LIKE A BOY IN UNIFORM. Don’t we all?
Belle & Sebastian could pretty much compile an album of songs about classroom politics but the pick of the bunch is EXPECTATIONS, from the soundtrack to Juno. The song’s misfit heroine wins the heart of every indie boy by “making life-size models of the Velvet Underground from clay”. Now why didn’t I go to that school?
Jack White is a bit of a hero of mine, so I had to include The White Stripes with WE’RE GOING TO BE FRIENDS. Everyone needs a best buddie at school that’s for sure.
A couple of real classics followed. I would have been sent to detention if I hadn’t included ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL from Pink Floyd or Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ fantastic diss on school, JACK SHIT GEORGE.
Steely Dan had us bopping along to the fact that they are “never going back to” MY OLD SCHOOL. And then it was Sam Cooke with WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD.
Sonny Boy Williamson contributed one of the most provocative tracks on the playlist this week, GOOD MORNIN’ LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL. This blues classic was written about the schoolgirl as sexual fantasy. It’s since been covered by every classic-rock band under the sun, but I think the original is still the best.
ME AND JULIO DOWN BY THE SCHOOL YARD is a song performed by Paul Simon from his 1972 self-titled album. In my opinion he’s one of the best contemporary songwriters we have. Here he is performing the song live:
The music video of BAGGY TROUSERS, by Madness, was shot in an English school and park. The band’s saxophone player, Lee Thompson, decided he wanted to fly through the air for his solo, with the use of wires hanging from a crane. The resulting shot is one of the most popular of any of the Madness music videos.
ROCK N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL by The Ramones was followed by a personal pick: CATHOLIC SCHOOL GIRLS RULE, by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Yes, being an old tyke, or as they say in the trade a “lapsed Catholic”, I have to agree that Catholic Schoolgirls do rule!
A couple of little morality tales followed. James Brown warned DON’T BE A DROPOUT and then it was the wonderful Brenda Holloway performing with the Supremes, as back-up (how’s that!). The song was PLAY IT COOL, STAY IN SCHOOL. All good advice of course.
Cat Stevens took a trip down memory lane with OLD SCHOOL YARD and Busted revealed, THAT’S WHAT I GO TO SCHOOL FOR, a disarmingly frank pop tune about having a crush on a teacher.
Babs Gonzalez taught us a bit about Bebop with PROFESSOR BOP while Nat King Cole favours all things extra-curricular in YOU DON’T LEARN THAT IN SCHOOL.
Boomtown Rats followed with I DON’T LIKE MONDAYS and then it was Billy Bragg with the brilliant, THE SATURDAY BOY which I’ve played before, but with its school setting was a certainty to be played again this week.
Like most of The Coaster’s songs, CHARLIE BROWN was written by the songwriting team of Leiber And Stoller. They wrote hits for many artists, including Elvis Presley, The Drifters, and Ben E. King. The songs they wrote for The Coasters were usually more comical. In this case, the song is about a kid who is always getting in trouble and asks “why is everyone always picking on me?”
A nice piece of reggae followed, suggested by Lynden in Sydney: Dennis Alcapone with TEACH THE CHILDREN.
Otis Rush’s distinctive guitar style features a slow burning sound and long bent notes. With similar qualities to Magic Sam and Buddy Guy, his sound became known as West Side Chicago blues and is cited as an influence on many musicians, including Eric Clapton. Rush is left-handed and, unlike many left-handed guitarists, plays a left-handed instrument strung upside-down with the low E string at the bottom. He played often with the little finger of his pick hand curled under the low E for positioning . It is widely believed that this contributes to his distinctive sound. Check it out on this video where he performs HOMEWORK:
A little change of pace then with The Smiths and THE HEADMASTER RITUAL followed by Graham Parker & The Rumour with BACK TO SCHOOLDAYS.
Jerry Lee Lewis uses high school as a setting, rather than a storyline, in HIGH SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL. This would have been his fourth consecutive hit in a row, if controversy hadn’t raged about the fact that his new wife was hardly old enough to be in high school. Oops. Doesn’t seem to bother the audience at this concert in London in the 60’s:
It was nearly time for the final bell, but we still squeezed in another triple play: The Hollies with CARRIE ANNE, N.R.B.Q. with STILL IN SCHOOL and WAITIN’ IN SCHOOL from Ricky Nelson.
Our finale was reserved for a song that divides people. Personally I have a bit of a soft spot for TO SIR WITH LOVE, from the film of the same name. How gorgeous was Sidney Poitier? Here’s a clip of Lulu performing the song very recently, (I think it may have been 2008). And how good does she look?
Next week, I’m going to go against the grain. Yes I know that Valentines Day is coming up soon but the cynic in me has decided to mount an ANTI LOVE show. So, if you have any suggestions drop me a line.
Here’s the complete playlist from this week:
Next week: ANTI-LOVE
Music has demanded that we try on sunglasses at night, start wearing purple, elevate fashion models to goddess status and, most important of all, respect the power of orange knickers. And we follow in droves, don’t we? Because most of us are ‘dedicated followers of fashion’.
We opened the show with the very fashion-forward David Bowie and the track FASHION from the 1980 album Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) and followed with the equally style-conscious Prince with RASPBERRY BERET.
Then it was something a little obscure. I’m sure there is a point to preacher’s daughter Tori Amos’ song, THE POWER OF ORANGE KNICKERS, with it’s references to terrorist attacks, bitchy girls and little pills, but I’m afraid it escapes me. Never mind, great song nevertheless. Here she is performing live:
Amy Winehouse calls the kettle black with her critique of footballer’s wives and their F….. ME PUMPS. Gotta love a good stiletto! Here’s the official video, showing a healthy, happy Amy at her best:
Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins rendition of RABBIT FUR COAT, a song that spells out a mother’s devotion to her wardrobe, is an extraordinary, dark tale of how one woman hangs on to her fur when everything else in her life is lost.
The Pipettes turn the tables on certain rock stars by pointing out how nice those little schoolboys look in their matching blazers in I LIKE A BOY IN UNIFORM. And as the Happy Mondays explain, it’s not what you wear but how you wear it – it’s got to be a LOOSE FIT. Check them out:
Bob Dylan got to wondering how your head feels under that LEOPARD SKIN PILL-BOX HAT. Thanks to listener Phil for reminding me about that one. And while I am it, thanks to Zoe, Kira and Lynden, as well, for all your suggestions this week. Keep them coming.
Disco had its own fashion statement going on and a great example of this crazy superficial genre is Amanda Lear’s 1983 recording FASHION PACK. A Vietnamese transsexual, Amanda was born male, had a sex change, became a model and for some time was Salvador Dali’s muse. Now that’s what I call an interesting life! Here’s the video clip, in all it’s camp glory, for you to enjoy:
I love the satire in Jill Sobule’s ode to the ultimate clothes-horse, the SUPERMODEL. The song was perfectly placed in the soundtrack of one of my favourite comedies, Clueless. Also pretty funny is Minor Threat’s GOOD GUYS DON’T WEAR WHITE.
When it comes to fashion victims, there’s one stand-out anthem: It’s the Kinks with DEDICATED FOLLOWER OF FASHION. Two other classics in the playlist – The Hollies with LONG COOL WOMAN IN A BLACK DRESS and Wilson Pickett’s DEVIL WITH THE BLUE DRESS ON.
Lady GaGa summed up our topic of FASHION with her song of the same name. Of all the contemporary pop singers she stands out for her obsession with her image. She claims that: “When I’m writing music, I’m thinking about the clothes I want to wear on stage. It’s all about everything altogether — performance art, pop performance art, fashion. I want the imagery to be so strong that fans will want to eat and taste and lick every part of us.” Okaaaay. Check out this news item and you’ll get an idea of her fasion sense. Or nonsense. Whatever.
Then it was time for a blast from the past: Timmy Mallett’s ITSY BITSY TEENY WEENY YELLOW POLKA DOT BIKINI, which we partnered with PINK SHOE LACES from Connie Stevens.
Fats Waller does a good job of sprucing himself up when LULU’S BACK IN TOWN. And Big Bad Voodoo Daddy gave us the low-down on the ZOOT SUIT RIOT. The Zoot Suit, in case you didn’t know, is a suit with high-waisted, wide-legged, tight-cuffed, pegged trousers, and a long coat with wide lapels and wide padded shoulders. This style of clothing was popularized in the U.S. by African Americans, Latinos and Italian Americans during the late 1930s and 1940s. In England brightly coloured zoot suits with velvet lapels, that bore a slight resemblance to Edwardian clothing, were worn by Teddy Boys.
Next up it was a triple play dedicated to the gals that fire the frenzy for all things fashionable. Yep, three songs about models: CATWALKIN’ from Tony Tisdale, GIRLS ON FILM by Duran Duran and a cover of Kraftwerk’s MODEL by Zoot Woman.
Gwen Stefani’s ode to the HARAJUKU GIRLS of Tokyo has a special meaning as her back-up dancers are exactly that. The Harajuku District is one of the fashion capitals of the world, renowned for it’s unique and influential street fashion and it’s obviously had a lot of influence on Stafani’s own fashion label. I usually wouldn’t upload a video of a slide show but this one features Stefani’s song behind lots of pics of Harajuku fashion, so worth a look:
We all know that fashion is frivolous and silly but isn’t that what makes it so appealing, surely? In order to keep things in perspective we closed the show with a bit of satire: A tune that sums up the objectifying gaze of fashion like nothing else. Yup, it’s I’M TOO SEXY FOR MY SHIRT by Right Said Fred. Go boys:
I bet you thought I wouldn’t play that one. Nah, I have no pride or any fashion sense for that matter. But style? Well, that’s another matter.
To finish off this topic here’s something for you that I didn’t have time to mention on the show: favourite films about fashion. From my all time favourite film on the subject, a compilation of some of the best quotes from, ZOOLANDER.
If you would like to contribute your ideas for next week’s show, the topic will be: SONGS TO MAKE SANDWICHES BY. Yes I’m looking for songs about sandwiches, (has she gone completely bonkers? You may well ask!). You can include hot dogs or hamburgers. In fact, anything between bread qualifies. Or any ingredient that can go into a sandwich, like chicken or peanut butter, or honey. Come on guys, you can do it!
Here’s this week’s complete playlist: