I hear there’s a big wedding happening this Friday, so for my last show at this time slot, I decided to take a look at a quaint tradition that seems to be making a comeback. The subject of marriage is a perfect theme for songwriters as music has the ability to influence our mood and eat into our soul. It keeps us afloat when love is fresh, and life seems full of promise. But it can also reveal our deepest fears about a relationship, making problems seem way beyond repair. There are, of course, cynical songs about marriage but I tried to keep these to a minimum. No one likes a killjoy at an otherwise joyful time, now do we?
We launched the show with a great old Savoy recording. WEDDING BOOGIE features Little Esther and Johnny Otis with Esther as the bride, Mel Walker as the groom and Lee Graves as the preacher, and its hysterical.
That old romantic Al Green made a suggestion that a lot of you gals wait a lifetime to hear: LET’S GET MARRIED. Martha Reeves and the Vandellas celebrate getting their fella to the alter on THIRD FINGER LEFT HAND. And UK folk rock group Oysterband give a vibrant description of a wedding breakfast on BLOOD WEDDING.
If you’re after a real soul classic, then you can’t go past Freda Payne’s BAND OF GOLD. On this hit single, Freda’s guy is missing in action and she’s only got a ring to show for all her lovin’. Sweet Inspirations have a good piece of advice for Freda: WHY MARRY? They ask. Indeedy.
Ani diFranco does a gorgeous cover of Dusty Springfield’s WISHIN’ AND HOPIN’. It was used for the title sequence of the film My Best Friend’s Wedding, starring Julia Roberts and directed by Aussie filmmaker P.J.Hogan (who also directed Muriel’s Wedding).
Here’s another classic, this time in the rock genre: Nick Lowe KNEW THE BRIDE WHEN SHE USED TO ROCK N ROLL.
Rock n Roll legend Chuck Berry reckons that YOU NEVER CAN TELL. And from the soundtrack to the film, The Harder They Come, it was Toots and the Maytals with SWEET AND DANDY. Such a thrill it was to see them perform the song among their set at the Byron Bay Blues Fest this weekend.
Another of my favourites from the Blues Fest is Eli Paperboy Reed. What a voice. Here he is performing STAKE YOUR CLAIM: “Yeah, if you love me then take my name”. Oh Eli you sweet old fashioned boy you!
UK group, The Wombats released a terrific song about going to your exes’ wedding (never a good idea, I say). MY FIRST WEDDDING is from their album A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation.
The weather here in the Northern Rivers has been erratic, to say the least, so a good weather song, and a wonderful tune about love and marriage to boot, came from Ray Charles: COME RAIN OR COME SHINE.
Dancehall and reggae artist Yellowman turned the sound up a notch with a great version of I’M GETTING MARRIED IN THE MORNING, followed closely by doo-wop group The Cadets with CHURCH BELLS MAY RING.
The 5th Dimension gave us a medley of THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN and WEDDING BELL BLUES. Billy Davis and Marilyn McCoo, from the group, have been happily married for over 40 years and have even written a book about what makes their marriage work. Top tip: You’ve got to like the person you’re with, not just love them, because once the first flush of love subsides you need to know that you’re in a relationship with your best friend as well as your lover. Can’t disagree with that!
You can never claim that Theme Park doesn’t have a diverse playlist. The Easybeats followed with their 60’s hit, WEDDING RING, followed by Billy Idol’s WHITE WEDDING, which was written as a disapproving commentary on his sister’s shotgun wedding. How very conservative of him. Still, the video clip is a hoot:
The lovely Amy Rigby, married by the way to punk rocker Wreckless Eric, does a great song she wrote after divorcing her first husband, called WE’RE STRONGER THAN THAT. And, the always brilliant, Lyle Lovett contributed SHE’S NO LADY, (SHE’S MY WIFE) to the list. I think this clip is from the 80’s – check out Lyle’s hair. But better still, check out his wonderful voice. Like all the best artists, he’s a one-off.
Ernie K Doe and the Blue Diamonds sing about the bane of many a good marriage: MOTHER IN LAW. Of course, I’m not speaking from personal experience! Best to move on, and there’s no better way to put some romance back into the show than with more Al Green. One of my favourites is LET’S STAY TOGETHER. Here’s a live performance from 1972:
The Temptations followed with the delightfully delusional JUST MY IMAGINATION. And then it was another fantastic performer from the Blues Fest: Irma Thomas, with a song that she included in her set: YOU CAN HAVE MY HUSBAND BUT DON’T MESS WITH MY MAN.
Over the last three years of the show, I keep returning to two of my favourite artists – Louis Armstrong and Roy Orbison. And, of course they had songs on marriage for me this week as well. Louis with WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD and Roy with WEDDING DAY. But I had to close the show with a song for my husband of 23 years, sadly taken from us five years ago this week. Barry White’s very sexy YOU’RE THE FIRST, MY LAST, MY EVERYTHING is for you Graeme. Thanks for the music and the wonderful memories.
For the next 6 months, at least, you’ll find me still at BayFM, still churning out theme shows at the new time of 1-2pm on Mondays and I really hope to have your company next Monday on BayFM 99.9 or streaming at http://www.bayfm.org. As always I’ll keep putting my playlist and other info up at the blog, so keep checking in.
Next Monday’s theme will be MOTORVATIN’ MAMAS, just in time for Mothers Day. Send me your requests and suggestons. I’d love to hear from you.
Have a great week! Here’s the playlist:
Wedding Boogie - Little Esther Let's Get Married - Al Green Third Finger, Left Hand - Martha Reeves and The Vandellas Blood Wedding - Oysterband Band Of Gold - Freda Payne Why Marry? - Sweet Inspirations Wishin' And Hopin' - Ani DiFranco I Knew The Bride (When She Used To Rock And Roll) - Nick Lowe You Never Can Tell - Chuck Berry Sweet And Dandy - Toots and The Maytals Chapel Of Love - The Dixie Cups Stake Your Claim - Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves My First Wedding - The Wombats Come Rain or Come Shine - Ray Charles I'm Getting Married In The Morning - Yellowman Church Bells May Ring - The Cadets (Medley) The Worst That Could Happen, Wedding Bell Blues - 5th Dimension Wedding Ring - The Easybeats White Wedding - Billy Idol We're Stronger Than That - Amy Rigby She's No Lady - Lyle Lovett Mother-in-Law - Ernie K-Doe and the Blue Diamonds Let's Stay Together - Al Green Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) - The Temptations (You Can Have My Husband But) Don't Mess With My Man - Irma Thomas We Have All The Time In The World - Louis Armstrong Wedding Day - Roy Orbison You're The First, The Last, My Everything - Barry White
Next week: MOTORVATIN’ MAMAS
As someone who relies on trying to create a diverse playlist, week after week, the topic of MUSIC GENRES is one that’s dear to my heart. Useful as they are though, identifying genres is a murky and nebulous exercise, open to countless individual interpretations. Just go into any music store and try to establish why Ian Dury’s Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll can find itself in pop, rock and alternative, all at the same time, and you’ll know what I mean.
In 1979 Malcolm McLaren’s art school classmate Robin Scott had a one hit wonder with POP MUZIK, an ironic and mischievous little tune, under his pseudonym, M: “New York, London, Paris, Munich…. everybody’s talking ’bout pop music.”
According to Bob Seger, today’s music doesn’t have the same soul. He’s feeling nostalgic for some OLD TIME ROCK N ROLL. Sugarhill Gang, on the other hand, are more interested in hip-hop. Their song, RAPPERS DELIGHT, while not the first single to feature rapping, is generally considered to be the song that first made hip hop popular.
Wild Cherry’s song PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC is autobiographical in that Wild Cherry was mostly a hard rock outfit. In 1976, however, the Disco era was all the rage and many of the group’s loyal followers were asking for more dance songs. And so was born the request: “play that funky music, white boy”:
Back in 1970, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground celebrated ROCK & ROLL with their hit song of the same name. By 1977, Bob Marley – together with Steve Tyler & Joe Perry – were giving us three genres for the price of one on ROOTS, ROCK AND REGGAE.
Punk rocker Wreckless Eric took a swipe at the record companies, for the pressure they put on artists to produce a hit single, on POP SONG: “Just a two minute song with a snazzy middle eight.” Yeah, that’s all they wanted.
The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band refuse to take anything too seriously, even the blues. So if you merge music hall and blues, it begs the question: CAN BLUE MEN SING THE WHITES? Our girl Joan Jett is nothing but a rock chick so of course she’s going to sing, I LOVE ROCK N ROLL.
Brooklyn rappers Stetsasonic responded to early criticisms of their sampling by releasing TALKIN’ ALL THAT JAZZ which used a clever collage of borrowings from the likes of Lonnie Liston Smith and Donald Byrd.
I think Lynyrd Skynyrd may know a little bit about the track, SWAMP MUSIC. This style of music is particular to America’s south, particularly Louisiana and Southeastern Texas but it’s developed a worldwide following and I, for one, love it.
It’s both funny and revealing that The Killers wrote INDIE ROCK N ROLL to poke fun at the pretentious and sterile independent scene in their native Las Vegas, only to find that the song was embraced world-wide as a cheerfully un-ironic anthem. Here they are playing live and sounding great:
The Beatles take Chuck Berry’s ROCK N ROLL MUSIC and attack it with such intensity that it seems to symbolise what became known as the British Invasion of the 60’s. In total contrast is Wilco’s wistful ode to youth on HEAVY METAL DRUMMER, from the album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot:
Stevie Wonder ‘s contribution to this week’s topic came in the form of his dedication to Duke Ellington and other jazz greats on SIR DUKE. Arthur Conley did something similar, with his shout out to all the soul icons, on SWEET SOUL MUSIC:
Time for some blues, Creole style, with BOOGIE WOOGIE ZYDECO from Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band. Then it was a great piece of music, that recognises the enormous influence of Jazz on all kinds of music: JAZZ THING from Gang Starr. It’s from the soundtrack to the Spike Lee film MO BETTER BLUES, starring Denzel Washington. Absolutely brilliant clip.
There are so many songs that pay tribute to rock n roll that I had to be careful to not let them dominate. But there’s one that I couldn’t leave out – Ian Dury and the Blockheads with the rock n roll anthem, SEX & DRUGS & ROCK N ROLL. I hate the overuse of the word ‘awesome’ but in this case, it’s warranted – AWESOME!!
A song that merges soul and reggae is the very appropriately named REGGAE GOT SOUL from Toots and the Maytals. There are also loads of songs with Blues in the title, so many in fact that I had to restrain myself in this department too. But if you’re going to play one of them, you can’t get better than Buddy Guy with THE FIRST TIME I MET THE BLUES. In this clip he performs with bass player David Myers. It’s from the film CHICAGO BLUES, made in 1970. Now that’s what I call real music.
Bet you thought I wouldn’t give classical a mention. Well, Chuck Berry helped me out there with ROLL OVER BEETHOVEN. Here he expresses the desire for rhythm and blues to replace classical music on his local radio station. On this video clip he’s having a little bit of fun on a French TV show. Not sure of the year, but the song was recorded in 1956:
Couldn’t let disco get away with just a passing mention, so space was made for FRENCH DISKO by Stereolab. The Ramones rescue their disco queen and introduce her to something a bit more rebellious. Now, SHEENA IS A PUNK ROCKER.
We closed the show with a classic from Dire Straits – a song about a jazz band called SULTANS OF SWING.
Love to have your input for next week’s show. The theme is FUNNY SONGS: Songs that make you laugh or at least smirk because they are clever and witty. Ooh I’m looking forward to seeing what you send me.
Meanwhile, here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Pop Muzik – Pop Muzik, M
Old Time Rock N’ Roll – Bob Seger
Rappers Delight – Sugarhill Gang
Play That Funky Music – Those Fabulous ’70s, Wild Cherry
Rock and Roll – Velvet Underground
Roots, Rock, Reggae – Chant Down Babylon, Bob Marley + Steven Tyler + Joe Perry
A Pop Song – Big Smash, Wreckless Eric
Can Blue Men Sing The Whites? – Cornology [Disc 1], Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
I Love Rock and Roll – Joan Jett
Mambo Italiano – Latin Fever [Disc 1], Shaft
Talkin’ All That Jazz – Hed Kandi: Back to Love, Vol. 4 Disc 2, Stetsasonic
Swamp Music – Lynyrd Skynyrd
Indie RnR – Demo, The Killers
Rock And Roll Music – Live At The BBC [Disc 2], The Beatles
Heavy Metal Drummer – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco
Sir Duke (Duke Ellington) – Songs In The Key Of Life, Stevie Wonder
Sweet Soul Music – 60’s Soul, Arthur Conley
Boogie Woogie Zydeco – Boogie Woogie Zydeco, Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band
Jazz Thing – Moment of Truth, Gang Starr
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll – No Thanks! – The ’70s Punk Rebellion (Disc 3), Ian Dury
Soul Makossa – Makossa Man: The Very Best Of Manu Dibango, Manu Dibango
Reggae Got Soul – True Love, Toots & The Maytals
First Time I Met The Blues – Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues – A Musical Journey, Buddy Guy
Roll Over Beethoven – 1956-Rock & Roll Era, Chuck Berry
French Disko – Refried Ectoplasm, Stereolab
Sheena Is A Punk Rocker – All The Stuff (And More), The Ramones
Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time