NIGHT is a time that’s often associated with danger and the fear of the unknown. Midnight, especially, has a particular importance in human imagination and culture. Seances, for instance, are usually conducted around this time. And then, of course there are the vampires and werewolves, who only come out at night. Yes, there’s lots happening out there in the dark! When it comes to song lyrics, however, night-time is a great time for love-making. As Ray Charles points out, NIGHT TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We opened the show with HERE COMES THE NIGHT. The song was originally recorded in 1964 by Lulu but the version we played was a huge hit for the band Them and their lead vocalist Van Morrison in 1965.
I’m pretty impressed by the very talented singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens who contributed one of the few songs on the list that references the occult. THEY ARE NIGHT ZOMBIES! THEY ARE NEIGHBOURS! THEY HAVE COME BACK FROM THE DEAD! AHHH is from his 2005 album Illinois. Here he is performing live with the very cute Illnoisemakers:
We followed with supreme soul singer Marvin Gaye with IF I SHOULD DIE TONIGHT. It’s from his classic 1973 album Let’s Get It On. Serving as Gaye’s first venture into the funk genre and romance-themed music, Let’s Get It On incorporates smooth soul, doo-wop and quiet storm. It’s been noted by critics for its sexually-suggestive lyrics, and was cited by one writer as “one of the most sexually charged albums ever recorded”. Woohoo.
And talking of Woohoo, thanks to the Woohoo Review Band who donated their latest album, Dear Animals, for a giveaway on the show this week. They’re a Melbourne based, gypsy style band and the song we played from the album, MR 9 O’CLOCK was a good example of the madcap dance tunes that inhabit the album.
They say that Frank Sinatra was at his best vocally in the 1950’s and it’s hard to argue when you listen to IN THE WEE SMALL HOURS OF THE MORNING . That goes out to Inchie who does a great show on BayFM on Friday’s 4-6pm, called Strictly Vinyl.
Back to the 70’s. The Eagles were one of the most successful recording artists of the period. Their 1975 album, One of These Nights, was the last album to feature founding member Bernie Leadon, who left the band during the One of These Nights tour, disillusioned with the direction the band were going in. With the departure of Leadon, the Eagles’ early country sound almost completely disappeared and the band moved on to a harder sound. One Of These Nights would prove to be a breakthrough album for the band, making them international superstars.
You all know by now that I consider Roy Orbison the patron saint of Theme Park and I realise that I’ve played this song before, but hey, what the …. had to give Roy’s I DROVE ALL NIGHT another play. Jeff Lynne remixed Orbison’s 1987 recordings for the posthumous album King of Hearts of which I DROVE ALL NIGHT was one of the tracks.
Brilliant reggae artist Gregory Isaacs passed away on October 25 after a long battle with lung cancer. So of course, I had to play his signature tune NIGHT NURSE.
I’m also a bit of a Tom Waits fan and his debut studio album, Closing Time, recorded in 1973 is an absolute classic. It was produced and arranged by Lovin’ Spoonful member Jerry Yester. The song we chose was MIDNIGHT LULLABY. Then it was time to go way back to 1953 and some New Orleans Blues with Professor Longhair singing IN THE NIGHT. I’m pretty sure Tom would have approved.
Opening the second hour of the show was Gladys Knight & the Pips with their 1973 number one hit single, MIDNIGHT TRAIN TO GEORGIA. Oh my God, The Pips, the moves! Check it out:
Two goodies from 1965 followed. Maryanne Faithful sang of SUMMER NIGHTS and The Strangeloves did a great version of NIGHT TIME. The Strangeloves were a New York garage band who created a false back-story that they were Australian sheep farmers. I don’t think it helped their record sales somehow, so not sure what that was all about!
Here’s a quirky Blues number for you: Zulu Bollin with WHY DON’T YOU EAT WHERE YOU SLEPT LAST NIGHT? Reasonable question, surely.
The 85 year old B.B. King is still going strong and, in fact, will be here next April for the Byron Blues Festival. I, for one, can’t wait. We played the sublime NIGHT LIFE with King and Willie Nelson. How great would it be to see Willie Nelson at the Festival? One can only hope and pray I ‘spose.
Another of my faves is Bob Seger. You can’t sit still to anything he plays and that includes NIGHT MOVES.
I also can’t get enough of Tom Waits so we had to play LOOKING FOR THE HEART OF SATURDAY NIGHT from the album of the same name, released in 1974. The album cover is based on THE WEE SMALL HOURS by Frank Sinatra, which we had played earlier in the show.
Van Morrison thinks he knows how to have a WILD NIGHT. But I have a feeling that The Rolling Stones might know a thing or two about that too. LET’S SPEND THE NIGHT TOGETHER was written by bad boys Mick Jagger and Keith Richards and was originally released as a single in 1967. Here’s a clip from Top of the Pops from that same year:
NIGHT TIME IS THE RIGHT TIME is a blues standard that has been interpreted and recorded by a variety of music artists. Ray Charles’ hit version was released in 1958 and is featured on the soundtrack to the film Ray.
I almost didn’t include The Moody Blues’ classic anthem, NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN, simply because it might seem just so predictable. But, let’s face it, that hasn’t stopped me in the past! Here they are at The Montreaux Festival in 1997, still going strong.
As a prelude to the end of the show, could I find anything better than the beautiful sound of The Spaniels with GOOD NIGHT SWEETHEART. It’s a great piece of doo-wop from 1953.
I closed the show with a great double. Eric Clapton’s AFTER MIDNIGHT got the ball rolling and it was taken up with a vengeance by AC/DC. This time it was YOU SHOOK ME ALL NIGHT LONG from the 1980 album Back to Black. Here they are performing live at Donington in 1991:
For next week’s show I’m looking for songs that announce themselves in style, so start nominating your FAVOURITE SONG INTRODUCTIONS. Leave me a message on the blog or at the Theme Park page on Facebook. I’d love to hear from you.
Until then, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Here Comes The Night – The Best Of Van Morrison, Them
They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbours!! – Illinois, Sufjan Stevens
If I Should Die Tonight – Let’s Get It On, Marvin Gaye
Mr 9 O’Clock – Dear Animals, The Woohoo Revue
Nighthawkin’ – Greetings From L.A., Tim Buckley
December 1963 (Oh What a Night) – Oh What a Night, Four Seasons
In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning – In the Wee Small Hours, Frank Sinatra
One Of These Nights – One Of These Nights, The Eagles
I Drove All Night – The Soul of Rock And Roll, Roy Orbison
All Night Long – The R&B Years – 1954 [Disc 4], Joe Houston
Night Nurse – Night Nurse, Gregory Isaacs
Midnight Lullaby – Closing Time, Tom Waits
In The Night – Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues, Professor Longhair
Midnight Train To Georgia – Mellow Moods [Disc 2], Gladys Knight and The Pips
Summer Nights – Marianne Faithfull, Marianne Faithfull
Night Time – Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The First…., The Strangeloves
Why Don’t You Eat Where You Slept Las Night – Hot Rhythm And Cool Blues, Zulu Bollin
Night Life – Deuces Wild, B.B. King With Willie Nelson
Night Moves – Greatest Hits, Bob Seger
(Looking For) The Heart Of Saturday Night – The Heart Of Saturday Night, Tom Waits
Night Train – Sex Machine, James Brown
Wild Night – Twentyfourseven, Van Morrison
Let’s Spend The Night Together – Hot Rocks, 1964-1971 [Disc 1], The Rolling Stones
(Night Tiime Is) The Right Time – Ray, Movie Soundtrack, Ray Charles
Nights In White Satin – The Moody Blues
Goodnight Sweetheart, Goodnight – Earth Angel – Doo Wop Classics, The Spaniels
After Midnight – The Cream Of Clapton, Eric Clapton
You Shook Me All Night Long – Back In Black, AC/DC
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
Just to prove that I don’t take anything too seriously, especially sex, we opened this week’s show with BUSINESS TIME from the absolutely brilliant Flight of the Conchords.
The ‘sexy’ theme seemed to connect with many of our listeners because I had quite a bit of input this week. And its clear that different music serves different moods. For smooth and erotic you can’t go past R&B and for hot and heavy it has to be rock or funk. I tried to steer away from the patently obvious, but some sex anthems just couldn’t be omitted because, hey what the hell, they do it for me!
What makes a song sexy? Sometimes it’s in the smallest details. It can be an erotic tone to the voice or a throbbing bassline. A song that does both has to be AM I THE ONE from the amazing Beth Hart.
On FOXY LADY, Jimi Hendrix’s instrument isn’t so much a guitar as a penis with an amplifier. Even Hendrix might have met his match with Betty Davis, especially when she sings IF I’M IN LUCK I MIGHT JUST GET PICKED UP. Her hubbie, Miles Davis, suspected the two of having an affair at one stage. Despite the song’s title, her carnal, funk-rock delivery leaves no doubt as to who’s picking up who here.
OK, let’s calm down a bit. Time for the wonderful Dusty Springfield with BREAKFAST IN BED. On this track she offers a shoulder to cry on, and much more as well. I have to agree with listener Ian that Al Green just can’t be left out of a playlist of sexy songs, so I included LETS STAY TOGETHER to keep both of us happy.
Dinah Washington and Julia Lee were a couple of free-spirits who used the thin veil of double entendre to sing about their basic desires. Long before she made a name for herself singing the Great American songbooks, Washington often sang from a far more racy playlist that included the blatantly provocative BIG LONG SLIDIN THING. And Julia Lee & Her Boyfriends weren’t ashamed to demand that you DON’T COME TOO SOON.
Chris Isaak is one sexy looking dude and the perfectly pitched WICKED GAME was a certainty for this list. As was the far more explicit HEAD from pocket sexpot Prince. You can’t get a decent Prince clip and I prefer to show you the Isaak clip any old way. Helena Christiansen and Chris Isaak, directed by Herb Ritts. A no-brainer.
Santana’s SAMBA PA TI was suggested by Lynden who says that author Nick Hornby nominated it as a ‘song that exudes sex, despite having no lyrics/ vocals”. I think he may be right.
Alison Goldfrapp is the perfect fusion of disco, glam and electro. Not to mention sex. Check out the video clip of TWIST:
Is there a lyric as sexy as Kate Bush’s breathy, evocative “Mmmm yes” on THE SENSUAL WORLD?
Tim Buckley’s GET ON TOP was requested by Tracey, who assures me that his album, ‘Greetings From LA’ is what you need if you want to rock the Casbah with someone special. I can’t actually argue with that. After all, he talks in tongues and how good is that?
One of my favourite sexy songs comes from ex Belle & Sebastian member, Isobel Campbell, and Queens of the Stone Ager, Mark Lanegan, who sing the very provocative COME ON OVER TURN ME ON. Irresistible. I’d be over in a flash.
Don’t ask me what the title of Happy Mondays BOB’S YER UNCLE means but the lyrics seem to have as much to do with an Uncle Bob as Prince’s Red Corvette is about a car.
Fiona Apple’s song CRIMINAL is apparently a guilty admission about using your sexuality to get what you want. So that’s a bad thing, right?
Two songs that I find pretty sexy, although they couldn’t be more different, followed. On paper, the lines, “Will you come inside me/Do you wanna ride inside my love?” would seem to defy subtlety, but Minnie Riperton’s famous five-octave range lends those words an almost spiritual dimension on INSIDE MY LOVE. Minnie’s polar opposite is the one and only Janis Joplin. From one of my top 10 albums, Cheap Thrills, I chose the desperate yearning of I NEED A MAN TO LOVE.
How sexy is Marvyn Gaye’s LET’S GET IT ON? Here he is a the 1980 Monreux Festival. Someone hand that man a towel! Hotter than hot.
Another sexy song, from the gorgeous vamp Meow Meow, is I’M HUNGRY (AND THAT AIN’T RIGHT). She’s a fantastic New York based cabaret performer that I saw in Sydney in March. If you ever get a chance to catch her act, do it!
Heading towards the end of the show and I hadn’t played any hard rock! Easily fixed with AC/DC’s YOU SHOOK ME ALL NIGHT LONG. The music video has proven to be somewhat controversial with its use of leather clad women and a mechanical bull. During the shot with the bull, the woman playing lead singer Brian’s lover accidentally jabbed herself with her spur twice. The roadie who came to her aid married her a year later. Angus gave them a mechanical bull for a wedding present as a joke. When asked about the meaning of the video, the band said that its goal was to, quote, “be as politically incorrect as possible.” See what you think:
A natural closer was another rock classic – WHOLE LOTTA LOVE, by Led Zeppelin and we even got to fit in about 20 seconds of disco queen Donna Summer’s LOVE TO LOVE YOU BABY. Oh, come on, I had to have at least one disco cliche in there, surely.
Thanks to Steve from Sax Leather in the Byron Industrial Estate for a great giveaway of some very saucy sex toys. And thanks too to the Gay Mardi Gras Film Festival, which is taking place this weekend at the Dendy Cinemas, for their ticket giveaway.
Thanks also to Lynden, Tracey, Julie, and Steve for your suggestions this week. Apologies to those whose songs didn’t make the list including Andrew whose pick of Ian Dury’s WAKE UP AND MAKE LOVE TO ME, while amusing, wasn’t what I’d call erotic. But I love having your input. And that brings me to next week’s theme, which was going to be on Winter until I remembered that I’d done that last June! So a little segue to the left and we’ll do a show on BAD WEATHER. Rain, storms, wind and even snow. So get your thinking caps on, preferably a nice little woolly beanie and let me know what you’d like to hear.
Here’s this week’s playlist:
Business Time – Flight of the Conchords
Am I The One – Beth Hart
If I’m In Luck I Might Get Picked Up – Betty Davis, Betty Davis
Foxy Lady – Experience Hendrix: The Best Of Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix
Breakfast In Bed – Anthology Disc 2, Dusty Springﬁeld
Let’s Stay Together – Tarantino Experience II, Al Green
Big Long Slidin’ Thing – Ultimate Rock N’ Roll Drinkers & Sinners, Dinah Washington
Don’t Come Too Soon – Ultimate Rock N’ Roll Drinkers & Sinners, Julia Lee And Her Boyfriends
Wicked Game – Best of Chris Isaak, Chris Isaak
Head – Dirty Mind, Prince
Samba Pa Ti – The Ultimate Collection (CD1), Santana
Twist – Black Cherry, Goldfrapp
The Sensual World – The Sensual World, Kate Bush
Get On Top – Greetings From L.A., Tim Buckley
Come On Over (Turn Me On) – Sunday At Devil Dirt, Isobel Campbell And Mark Lanegan
Criminal – Fiona Apple
Bob’s yer Uncle – The Platinum Collection [Re-Mastered], Happy Mondays
Inside My Love – Perfect Angel / Adventures In Paradise, Minnie Riperton
I Need A Man To Love – Cheap Thrills, Janis Joplin/Big Brother & The Holding Company
Stay With Me Til Dawn – Smooth Groove Masters
Let’s Get It On – Anthology (Disc 2), Marvin Gaye
I’m Hungry (and that ain’t right) – Here kitty kitty … the lost sessions, Meow Meow & Thomas M.Lauderdale
You Shook Me All Night Long – Back in Black, AC/DC
Whole Lotta Love – Early Days: The Best of Led Zeppelin, Vol. 1, Led Zeppelin
Love To Love You Baby – Donna Summer
Next week: BAD WEATHER
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
I’m writing this with a slight hangover. Last night was BayFM’s trivia fundraiser on the theme of The Dead Musicians Club. Great night had by all. I loved the theme so much that I organised this week’s show around the same topic. And, let’s face it, a little bit of outrageous promotion for the event didn’t hurt either. And if you are wondering, I teamed up with the lovely Andy and we dressed as Sid Vicious & Nancy Spungeon.
Trying to fit all my favourite musicians into the two hour slot was, of course, impossible. But I had a good go at it. First up it was Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions with PEOPLE GET READY. Mayfield died in 1999 after 10 years of ill health due to being paralysed after an onstage accident. His music continues to be part of hip-hop’s DNA. Rappers like Jay-Z and Snoop Dog have sampled his lyrics and its reported that his estate receives five sample requests a month, with each one fetching up to $350,000. So Curtis, or at least his estate, isn’t doing too badly.
In order to fit as many of the artists that I could into the line-up it was necessary to occasionally play a duet. And, I ask you, is there any better than Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong? Ella died in 1996 and is widely considered one of the supreme interpreters of the Great American Songbook. Louis Armstrong passed away in 1971. His influence extends way beyond jazz music. By the end of his career in the 1960’s, he was widely regarded as a profound influence on popular music in general.The duet I chose was DREAM A LITTLE DREAM OF ME.
Both Buddy Holly and Patsy Cline died in plane crashes and both were very young at the time of their passing. They continue to influence country, rock and pop music to this day. We played LEAVIN’ ON YOUR MIND from Patsy Cline and CRYIN’ WAITIN’ HOPIN’ from Buddy Holly. Oldies, but goodies.
Wilson Pickett was known for his influence on R&B, rock n roll and soul. Is there a better dance floor filler than his rendition of DEVIL WITH THE BLUE DRESS ON? No way.
Two artists who found the fame game just a bit too difficult are Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and singer/songwriter Nick Drake. Both committed suicide while still very young. At the time of Cobain’s death in 1994 he was worth less than $1 million but future royalties have been valued at over $100 million. Drake failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime, however his work has gradually achieved wider notice and recognition. He now ranks among the most influential English singer-songwriters of the last 50 years. He died in 1974. We played Drake’s FRUIT TREE, a request from Anthony, and Nirvana’s COME AS YOU ARE. Here’s a clip of Nirvana performing unplugged in New York in the early 90’s:
Naturally I couldn’t do a show about dead musicians without including Michael Jackson. We chose ROCK WITH YOU from the Off the Wall album. After his death in 2009 Jackson became the best-selling artist of the year, selling over 31 million albums worldwide. He named James Brown “his greatest inspiration”. So it was fitting that we played I FEEL GOOD from Brown as well. He died on Xmas Day 2006 due to complications from pneumonia.
It’s a myth, you know, that Mama Cass Elliott died chocking on a peanut butter sandwich. The real story is that she died of a heart attack after performing back-to-back concerts in London in 1974. She died in the same flat in Mayfair, (on loan from Harry Nilsson), that the Who’s drummer Keith Moon would die in, a little over four years later. I played Elliot’s great version of the Buddy Holly classic, WORDS OF LOVE and followed with a song for Rolling Stones founder, and multi-instrumentalist, Brian Jones. It’s one that showcased Jones’ skill on the side guitar: LITTLE RED ROOSTER.
Lynard Skynard came to worldwide recognition in 1973 before three members and one road crew member died in a plane crash in 1977. Keyboardist Billy Powell died in 2009, aged 56, from a heart attack. Of its original members, only Gary Rossington remains as part of the present line-up. We followed with another good ol’ Southern boy you may have heard of: cultural icon Elvis Presley with BURNING LOVE.
Bob Marley, who passed away in 1981, had to wait for death to make him a U.S. superstar. The week he was diagnosed with cancer he played Madison Square Garden — opening for the Commodores. Fellow Wailer, Peter Tosh, was on the brink of a successful solo career when he was murdered in 1987. I played the Wailers version of GET UP, STAND UP, with both Peter Tosh and Bob Marley on the track.
We said goodbye to both Malcolm McLaren and Sid Vicious with the Sex Pistols’ anthem GOD SAVE THE QUEEN. Here’s what all the fuss was about, way back then:
While punk rock stirred things up, for a while, R&B never went away. Marvin Gaye’s career spanned the entire history of Rhythm & Blues from 50’s doo wop to 80’s contemporary soul. He was murdered by his own father after an argument in 1984. Otis Redding died in plane crash a month before his biggest hit was released. He was only 26. We listened to Marvin Gaye’s sublime WHAT’S GOIN’ ON followed by the song that would make Otis Redding’s estate worth more money than he ever saw when he was alive – SITTIN ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY.
If we’re talking punk, however, I have to say that my favourite band is The Clash. Lead singer and lyricist for the group, Joe Strummer, died suddenly in 2002 from an undiagnosed congenital heart defect. Highly intelligent and politically pro-active, he was the first artist to make the recording, pressing and distribution of his records carbon neutral. Onya Joe. Check out this clip of LONDON CALLING:
Two great artists who died of cancer are 60’s icon, Dusty Springfield, and the incredible Ray Charles. For Dusty we played the power ballad, YOU DON’T HAVE TO SAY YOU LOVE ME, and for Ray Charles, the very appropriate, HARD TIMES.
I’ve played Johnny Cash’s amazing cover of the Nine Inch Nails track, HURT, before but it couldn’t be left out of a show like this. He recorded it in 2002 and it was one of Cash’s final releases before his death in 2003. The video for the song is regarded as his epitaph.
One of my sentimental favourites is Freddy Mercury who died of pneumonia resulting from AIDS in 1991. As lead singer of rock group Queen he also composed many of their hits. He had a successful solo career too and I chose one of those recordings for this week’s show: THERE MUST BE MORE TO LIFE THAN THIS.
Another of my favourites is Tim Buckley and one of my favourite albums is his Greetings from LA. Buckley died at 28 from a drug overdose with nothing more than a guitar, amplifier and a lot of debt to his name. His legacy of 11 albums has rectified that somewhat, I hope. Hard to pick one track but we went with MOVE WITH ME.
Another victim of drug addiction was the pioneering Janis Joplin. She died at 27 from a heroin overdose and one of the last songs she recorded was a birthday greeting for John Lennon. The founder of the Beatles was assassinated in 1980, aged 40. So we started the set with Joplin’s CRY BABY and followed with Lennon’s HOW? from the Imagine album.
And finally, my favourite artist, dead or alive – Roy Orbison with his signature tune, PRETTY WOMAN. This clip is from the Black & White Night DVD, a great video featuring Orbison and friends including Jackson Browne, T Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello, k.d. lang, Bonnie Rait, J.D. Souther, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and Jennifer Warnes. Heaven. And for all things ‘Roy’ go to the website at: http://www.royorbison.com/
We wrapped the show up with a great artist who passed away only a couple of days ago, at the ripe old age of 92. Lena Horne helped break down barriers for generations of performers. We played her signature tune, STORMY WEATHER from the 1943 film of the same name. It’s a sizzling performance. I want that movie for my collection!
And we still had time to fit in the very charismatic Jim Morrison and The Doors with RIDERS ON A STORM. Whew. Now I know that there are some glaring omissions. But it’s only a two hour show folks!
Next week I’ve been inspired by some postings on Facebook to create a show on SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS. Like Na-Na-Hey-Hey and Doo-Ron-Ron. That kind of thing. Love to hear your suggestions.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
People Get Ready – The Anthology 1961-1977, Curtis Mayﬁeld & The Impressions
Dream A Little Dream Of Me – Easy Listening, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong
Leavin’ On Your Mind – The Patsy Cline Story, Patsy Cline
Cryin’ Waitin’ Hopin’ – Buddy Holly
Devil With The Blue Dress On – Wilson Pickett
Come As You Are – Nirvana, Nirvana
Fruit Tree – Twentyfourseven Soundtrack, Nick Drake
I Feel Good – James Brown
Rock With You (Single Version) – Off the Wall, Michael Jackson
Words of Love – Mama’s Big Ones, Mama Cass Elliot
Little Red Rooster – Rolling Stones
Summertime – Charlie Parker & Chet Baker
Sweet Home Alabama – Forrest Gump Soundtrack, Lynard Skynard
Burning Love – Elvis Presley
Get Up Stand Up – Back To Zion, Bob Marley & The Wailers
God Save The Queen – Never Mind The Bollocks, The Sex Pistols
What’s Going On – The Big Chill soundtrack, Marvin Gaye
Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay – Otis Redding
London Calling – The Clash
You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me – The British Beat: Best Of The ’60s, Dusty Springﬁeld
Hard Times – Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues, Ray Charles
Hurt – American IV: The Man Comes Around, Johnny Cash
There Must Be More To Life Than This – The Very Best of Freddie Mercury, Freddie Mercury
Fever – Verve Remixed 3, Adam Freeland & Sarah Vaughan
Move With Me – Greetings From L.A., Tim Buckley
Purple Haze – Experience Hendrix: The Best of Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix
Cry Baby – Cry Baby (The Ultimate Collection), Janis Joplin
How? – Lennon, John Lennon
Oh, Pretty Woman – Roy Orbison
Stormy Weather – Hollywood Musicals, Lena Horne
Riders on the storm – The Doors soundtrack, The Doors
Next week: SONGS WITH MEANINGLESS WORDS