Insects and spiders can be an absolute nuisance, especially in summer. They get in our hair, on our skin, even in our beds. They suck our blood and destroy our veggie gardens. But they also keep nature in balance, if we don’t go crazy with insecticides that is. And without those busy little bees we wouldn’t have all that lovely honey. So, like most of the subjects I pick for this show, our relationship with these creeping, crawling, flying and buzzing creatures is a complex one.
James Brown knows what I mean. He’s got ANTS IN HIS PANTS AND HE NEEDS TO DANCE Ouch! A great follow up to that was English soul singer Alice Russell with A FLY IN THE HAND. Here she is performing live in 2008. Great voice.
The B-52s’ song JUNE BUG is about a little beetle that only comes out at night. Sounds like a friend of mine. Lead singer, Fred Schneider, says the song’s message is to “go organic, don’t use pesticides”. Excellent. Loving the sound effects too.
Jason Mraz followed with a nice piece of pop about a BUTTERFLY and then it was Nina Simone with probably the best title for a song this week: FUNKIER THAN A MOSQUITO’S TWEETER. What is a mosquito’s tweeter? I have no idea and neither did any of our listeners when I asked. Anyone who does, please let me know.
The Eels do a great song about relationships, (the love/hate kind), called ANT FARM. And I’ve always loved Carly Simon’s version of ITSY BITSY SPIDER too. Who knew that there could be so many good songs about insects?
The Blues artists know how to make a song on any subject sound provocative. Slim Harpo does it to perfection with the very suggestive I’M A KING BEE. But if you want a funny song about a creepy crawly then you can’t go past country singer Jim Stafford’s rendition of SPIDERS & SNAKES.
Our hard-working BayFM President, Ros, suggested Ziggy Marley’s DRAGONFLY. Did you know that dragonflies can fly both forward and backward? And they can fly up to 30 miles an hour. Perfect choice for someone who doesn’t ever seem to stay still.
The Who’s BORIS THE SPIDER was written by the band’s bassist John Entwistle. It was supposedly Jimi Hendrix’s favourite Who song. Go figure.
I love the quirkiness of the Presidents of the United States and BOLL WEEVIL is a great example of their crazy novelty punk style. It’s from their self-titled album, released in 1995.
Butterflies have to be one of the most beautiful creatures on earth and they are just so important ecologically, as agents of pollination. So I made sure that there were a few songs about these wonderful flying insects in the show. One of my favourites is by Corrine Bailey Rae. She says that the song BUTTERFLY was written with her Mum in mind.
Another terrific butterfly song is by Chakra Khan. It’s called PAPILLON, which if my schoolgirl French serves me correctly, also means butterfly.
Some butterflies have evolved symbiotic and parasitic relationships with social insects such as ants. So it seemed the right time to introduce Adam Ant with his signature tune, ANTMUSIC.
Louie the Fly introduced a couple of songs about a much maligned little insect:
SHOO FLY PIE AND APPLE PAN DOWDY, by Doris Day, isn’t so much about a fly than about a pie made with molasses. This sticky, sweet substance attracts flies that have to be “shood” away. Tim Buckley’s song BUZZIN’ FLY is also about being attracted to something sweet, but in this case it’s a girl’s affections.
Did you know that the humble cockroach has been around for over 350 million years?
They Might Be Giants, do a very cheeky version of the SPIDER MAN theme song that had to be included. And then it was another suggestion from Andrew, one of the few Theme Park listeners who could come up with a suggestion for this week’s topic. It was a terrific song that I had totally forgotten: A SONG FROM UNDER THE FLOORBOARDS by Magazine. Here they are performing on the Jools Holland show in 2009:
We definitely needed a bit more Blues in the show, especially as I was giving away a great DVD, RED, WHITE AND BLUES, part of the 7 part series on the Blues by Martin Scorsese. This part, on the Blues in Britain, was directed by Mike Figgis, director of the film Leaving Las Vegas. Congratulations Mike who won that. Enjoy.
So, looking for more Blues, I couldn’t go past John Lee Hooker’s song about spiders, CRAWLIN’ BLACK SPIDER.
Robyn Hitchcock has a bit of a thing about spiders with both an album and an EP with tarantula in the name, but INSECT MOTHER is actually from his first album with The Egyptians, Fegmania.
Andrew had another great suggestion: Iggy Pop’s LOCO MOSQUITO. Heres a bit of insect trivia for you: Did you know that a mosquito beats its wings an amazing 500 times per second? No wonder I can never catch the little buggers.
The Dire Straits song THE BUG is about how random life is. One minute you’re the windshield, the next you’re the bug. So yeah, live life to the fullest is what I suppose they are suggesting, because you never know when it might all end.
On that note, its only fair that we finished the show on an up note. What better than something from disco diva Tina Charles. She’s been bitten by the best bug of all: THE LOVE BUG.
I’d love to have your suggestions for next week’s show which, as a lead up to my election show the following week, will be on TRUTH AND LIES. I think this has the potential to be a really interesting show, so get your thinking caps on.
For now, here’s this week’s full playlist:
I Got Ants In My Pants -The Big Payback, James Brown
A Fy in the Hand (Remix) – Alice Russell
Junebug – Cosmic Thing, B52s
Butterﬂy – We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things, Jason Mraz
Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter – Nina Simone
Ant Farm – Electro-Shock Blues, Eels
Coming Around Again/Itsy Bitsy Spider – Greatest Hits Live, Carly Simon
Glow Worm Cha-Cha-Cha – Ultra Lounge, Jackie Davis
I’m A King Bee – Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues, Slim Harpo
Spiders & Snakes – Jim Stafford
Dragonﬂy (Live) – Love Is My Religion Re-release, Ziggy Marley
There’s A Change In The Weather (extract to intro Weather update) Preservation Act 1, The Kinks
Boris the Spider – My Generation: The Very Best of the Who, The Who
Boll Weevil – The Presidents of the United States, The Presidents of the United States
Butterﬂy – Corinne Bailey Rae, Corrine Bailey Rae
Papillon – The Platinum Collection, Chaka Khan
Antmusic – Antbox 2, Adam Ant
Louie the Fly (Mortein ad)
Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy – The Story of Jazz, Doris Day
Buzzin’ Fly – The Dream Belongs To Me, Tim Buckley
La Cucharacha – Born Free, The George Mann Orchestra
Spider Man – They Might Be Giants
A Song from Under the Floorboards – Real Life and Thereafter / Forum, Magazine
Crawlin Black Spider – Boom Boom CD2, John Lee Hooker
Loco Mosquito – The Best of Iggy Pop, Iggy Pop
Insect Mother – Luminous Groove, Robyn Hitchcock And The Egyptians
The Bug – On Every Street, Dire Straits
Love Bug – Greatest Hits, Tina Charles
Next week: TRUTH & LIES
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
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FRUIT AND VEGETABLES, those health inducing, anti-oxidising good guys of our diet, provided the theme for this week. Lots of songs, across quite a few genres, so it was a lot of fun. We opened the show with Liz Phair and Material Issue singing THE TRA LA LA SONG from a very cute album Saturday Morning Cartoons’ Greatest Hits.
The great Nina Simone got all educational on us with the story of Adam and Eve and their taste for FORBIDDEN FRUIT and then The Paul Butterfield Blues Band kept things moving along with DIGGIN’ MY POTATOES.
Then it was the late Nick Drake with a beautiful meditation on the effect of fame: FRUIT TREE. So sad that he died at the very young age of 26.
K.T. Tunstall raised the mood with BLACK HORSE & THE CHERRY TREE. Here she is at her first U.K. television performance. The show is ‘Later with Jools Holland’.
Junior Brown loves a woman who’s good in the kitchen and he sings all ab0ut it in CATFISH AND COLLARD GREENS while Lynyrd Skynyrd are totally seduced by GEORGIA PEACHES. But if you want to talk sexy, you can’t go past the gorgeous Julie London as she relates how she feels about WATERMELON MAN.
I didn’t think it was possible for a white boy to sing reggae, but UK band UB40 proved me wrong with CHERRY OH BABY. Check out the video clip and see what you think:
And here’s proof positive that the 70’s was a decade to be reckoned with – it’s The Brothers Johnson with STRAWBERRY LETTER 23. And did you know that the strawberry is the only fruit that has its seeds on the outside? True.
Ray Charles’ Genius Likes Company album has supplied a number of tracks for me over the time that I’ve been presenting Theme Park and that’s because it’s a great album. This week it was SWEET POTATO PIE where Charles is joined by James Taylor.
An interesting combination in a triple play followed starting out with Goldfrapp and BLACK CHERRY, followed by The Beach Boys with VEGETABLES and The Ting Tings with FRUIT MACHINE, which I think might really be about a certain gaming device which is in turn a metaphor for something else, anyway, so what the hell. Check out the Ting Tings, another great indie duo. It seems to be the thing these days.
A couple of blasts from the past rocked us into the second half of the show: Little Richard explained what he meant by TUTTI FRUTTI, (I think), and Dee Dee Sharp got everyone up dancing to MASH POTATO TIME. I love this older stuff so much, I’m going to put both clips up. Little Richard’s is actually a performance he did in 1995 but Dee Dee Sharp’s is pure 60’s.
I love the occasional piece of comedy so was really happy to have stumbled across Stan Freberg’s version of the BANANA BOAT SONG. And just as funny, in their own strange way, are The Presidents of the United States who claim to be moving to the country where they’re going to eat a lot of PEACHES.
I was accused of stretching the topic a bit when I included Marvin Gaye’s I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE, but hey, grapes are fruits – right? And besides, it’s a classic.
Talking of classics, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s CALL THE WHOLE THING OFF is a fabulous tune about opposites attracting. “You say tomato…..”. Love it. Ageless.
In complete contrast, we followed with The Kills and SOUR CHERRY from their 2008 album, Midnight Boom. Check them out on this clip:
Couldn’t leave out BANANA PANCAKES by Jack Johnson. Yummy. And the banana pancakes aren’t bad either.
Next up it was PINEAPPLE EXPRESS from Huey Lewis and the News and we followed with the ultimate Tex-Mex supergroup, The Texas Tornados, singing GUACAMOLE.
Billy Holiday gave us, possibly, her most famous recording, STRANGE FRUIT, released in 1939. The song condems the lynchings of African Americans that occurred mainly in the South, but throughout the United States, during this time. Here’s some rare footage of one of the first anti-racism songs ever:
Difficult to know how to follow such a powerful song, but couldn’t go too far wrong with a great piece of instrumental jazz: Dizzie Gillespie’s PICKIN’ THE CABBAGE. And then it was JJ Cale with CHERRY STREET and the wonderful Tony Joe White with POLK SALAD ANNIE.
Before I knew it, the two hours was all up and it was time to sign off with E.G. Daily’s version of LIFE IS JUST A BOWL OF CHERRIES, which apparently means that life is meant to be simple and pleasant.
Next week, is my last show before I take a 2-week break so the theme will be HOLIDAYS. Let me know if you have any favourites you’d like me to play.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist: