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FROM NOUGHT TO WHATEVER…

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)

Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
Also streaming via BayFM
Tragically also on Facebook and Twitter
Email me at: lyn.themeparkradio@gmail.com
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UNLIKELY COVERS

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

Also streaming on http://www.bayfm.org

Tragically also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maccalyn

FRIENDS & NEIGHBOURS

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

Next week: MEMORY

Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time

Also streaming on http://www.bayfm.org

Tragically also on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maccalyn

COMMUNICATION

Our theme this week was Communication – not the deep psychic stuff, but good old fashioned talking, letter writing and, would you believe telegrams (remember them?). I was going to play M.I.A.’s ‘U.R.A.Q.T.’ about texting (“you’re fuckin’ with my man and textin’ all the time…”) but I would have been in a bit of trouble over the expletives, I’m afraid. But I did play some other excellent hip-hop during the show, as well as my usual eclectic mix of rock, pop, blues, jazz and whatever I could find to fit the theme.

We opened the show with the Marvelettes ‘Beachwood 4-5789’. They also recorded the first Motown hit, ‘Please Mr. Postman’, but I had already showcased that one during the Motown Show in January. Besides, ‘Beachwood’ was a great opener for this particular show.

The telephone, whether it be landline or mobile, talking or texting, is still probably the most prominent way we keep in touch. So ‘Hanging Up the Telephone’, sung by Blondie’s Debby Harry was not only pop-punk perfection, but it also opens with the sound of a ringing phone. How good is that? Here’s the video from 1978.

Most letter songs feature absent lovers and none convey the absolute thrill of receiving a long awaited theboxtops-1message better than ‘The Letter’ from the Boxtops. They were known as a major ‘blue-eyed soul’ group during the 60’s. Hard to believe that Alex Chilton, who later formed Big Star and went onto a solo career, was only 16 at the time this was recorded in 1967. The song has been widely covered, most notably by Joe Cocker, but this original version still stands up well. 

Sonny Boy Williamson confimed what I have always knows, (that men are the worst gossips), with his rendition of ‘Don’t Get Me Talking’ while Buddy Guy and Junior Wells contributed ‘A Man of Many Words’ to the Blues segment of the show. 

My Roy Orbison song this week was a great one: ‘Communication Breakdown’. Written by Bill Dees, whose collaboration with Orbison led to a string of successful hits for Monument Records including ‘Communication Breakdown’, ‘Pretty Woman’ and ‘It’s Over’, just to name a few.

And then it was onto an absolutely divine song  by Nina Persson of the Cardigans, ‘Communication’ – “If this is communication , I disconnect”. If only it was that easy. Here’s a video of them doing a live performance in 2007. 

‘Hello Operator’ presented mobile phone refusenik Jack White choosing to use an operator, just like in the good old days. And, as if this was even too newfangled, by the second verse he’s trying to get his message out via canary. Ah ha, rightio then.

Remember when a wedding wasn’t a wedding without the best man reading out several telegrams from absentee friends and family?  I haven’t been to a wedding in ages. Tell me, do they read out emails and texts? Just doesn’t seem the same does it? In ‘Western Union Man’ Jerry Butler gives us a passionate attempt at contacting a girlfriend who won’t answer his phone calls. And Chuck Berry tries to get in touch with people who have phoned him in ‘Memphis Tennessee’. Today we would be asking why the hell aren’t they on Facebook! And then there’s Twitter, but please can we not go there? (really).

you-done-me-wrongJoe Jones seemed to be talking right at me with ‘You Talk Too Much’ and I loved Crowded House’s version of ‘Everybody’s Talkin’.  But how good was Hank Penny’s ‘Sweet Talkin Mama’ recorded in 1938? You can find this terrific bit of country swing on the compilation album You Done Me Wrong (Vintage Country Cheating Songs 1929-1952) distributed by Buzzola. 

There are lots of songs written in the form of letters. One of the best examples of this is Eminem’s ‘Stan’, a masterpiece of escalating desperation that exploits its conceit to its fullest. Sampling Dido’s ‘Thank You’ as the chorus is a piece of genius and the result is a song of chilling elegance that recognises that a letter is always a one-sided conversation.

We followed that with a total contrast – ‘Don’t Explain’ by Billie Holliday and then it was up to Muddy Waters to elevate the mood with ‘Long Distance Call’. There were so many other great songs. I particularly liked Bonnie Raitt’s take on people who talk behind your back. Her advice? Give them ‘Something to Talk About’. Absolutely.

We finished the show with one of my favourite Aretha Franklin numbers: ‘Say A Little Prayer’. This one had me up out of the seat and dancing.  And then a fantastic close from Mr. Cool Jazz himself, Chet Baker, with ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’. I loved this week’s show and I had a blast. Hope you did too.

Here’s the complete playlist:

Beachwood 4-5789   The Marvellettes

Hanging On The Telephone  – Blondie

Rikki Don’t Lose That Number   Steely Dan

The Letter   The Boxtops

Take A Letter Maria   R.B. Greaves

Please Read The Letter   Alison Krauss/Robert Plant

Don’t Start Me To Talkin’  Sonny Boy Williamson 

A Man Of Many Words  Buddy Guy & Junior Wells

A Little Less Conversation – Elvis Presley            

Communication Breakdown  Roy Orbison

Communication  – The Cardigans

Telephone Line – Electric Light Orchestra

Memphis, Tennessee  Chuck Berry

Hey, Western Union Man –  Jerry Butler

Hello Operator – The White Stripes

You Talk Too Much – Joe Jones

Everybody’s Talkin’  Crowded House

Sweet Talkin’ Mama – Hank Penny

Stan  Eminem & Dido 

Don’t Explain – Billie Holiday

Long Distance Call  Muddy Waters

The Phone Call  The Pretenders

Ring Ring Ring – De La Soul

The Word  The Beatles

I Heard It Through The Grapevine – Paul Weller & Amy Winehouse

What’d I Say – Ray Charles

People Are Talking  Shep & The Limelites

Something to Talk About  Bonnie Raitt

Answering Bell  Ryan Adams

I Say A Little Prayer For You  Aretha Frankin

Every Time We Say Goodbye  Chet Baker

Next week, the theme is Money. Any suggestions for songs for the show, or themes for future shows, are always welcome.

Listen to Lyn at the Theme Park, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time, on BayFM 99.9 or streaming at http://www.bayfm.org

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