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)
You may have heard that revenge is sweet but the truth is that it can be devastating, (well for one of you at the very least!). Hey, but I’m not here to give you a reality check. We all know that being sensible is incredibly difficult when you’re the one suffering from jealousy, or you’re demoralized, humiliated or simply just mad as hell. It’s times like these that you can’t be blamed for at least fantasizing about acts of vengeance.
Songwriters are in a great position to retaliate against slings and arrows than us mere mortals. They can attack their enemies in song and get away with it. Its non-violent and, (here’s the best bit), they even get paid to do it! How good is that? Maybe success is the best revenge!
We started the show with the ‘Godfather of Soul’, Mr. James Brown, singing THE PAYBACK from the album of the same name, released in 1974. The song’s lyrics are about the revenge Brown intends to take against the man who betrayed him, stole his money and his woman. Triple ouch! Here’s a clip from a show he did in Zaire in the same year as the album was recorded. Loving the bling.
Why shouldn’t Ben Folds get a little upset on SONG FOR THE DUMPED? After all, she took off with his black t-shirt. Unforgiveable.
Two of the great revenge songs have been covered ad infinitum. Wilson Pickett does a great version of STAGGER LEE as does Sam Cooke with FRANKIE & JOHNNY so, of course, both had to be included in the list.
When Alanis Morissette recorded the album Jagged Little Pill it changed the course of her career. The whole album is a revenge tactic against an old boyfriend but YOU OUGHTA KNOW is the standout track. Here’s a clip recorded live at Nulles Part Aillerurs in 1995. No longer the pop/dance artist of her teenage years, she’s quite the rock chick by this stage.
Lily Allen is hilarious on her revenge song, NOT BIG. Is there a better way to get revenge on a guy than to suggest that he doesn’t stack up in a certain department? The gorgeous Rihanna, on the other hand resorts to BREAKIN’ DISHES when her man has been out all night cheatin’. Of course this was way before a certain incident indicated that breaking dishes wasn’t going to make much difference to this girl’s love life. But let’s don’t go there. There’s been enough said, surely. Let’s just check out a very hot performance:
It was time for a response from the male sector: Robert Cray tried to convince us that he came out on top in I GUESS I SHOWED HER. And on BB King’s and Etta James’ THERE’S SOMETHING ON YOUR MIND, you have to wait a while for the punchline, but it’s worth it.
The Beatles deliver a nice little revenge tale with ROCKY RACOON, from their White Album, and The Dixie Chicks use comedy to get away with murder in a song aimed squarely at the issue of domestic violence on GOODBYE EARL.
Jimi Hendrix does a great version of HEY JOE, about a guy who takes retribution when his wife cheats on him. Here he is performing on the TV show ‘It’s Lulu’, sometime in the 70’s, and I love the expression on his face when the guitar goes out of tune for a second. A bit of a bonus too, with an extra song – dedicated to Cream – ‘Sunshine of Your Love’.
Mississipi John Hurt sings about a woman who takes some drastic action when her man does her wrong on FRANKIE. Bob Dylan’s revenge song steers away from domestic dilemmas and, instead, is aimed squarely at the Greenwich Village residents who criticized his departure from traditional folk towards the electric guitar and rock music. The song is POSITIVELY 4th STREET.
Robyn requested IT’S ALL OVER NOW BABY BLUE. She loves the song so much she suggested that I could play any version I like. So here’s Graham Bonnet with his excellent cover of the Bob Dylan classic. The clip is dated 1977. Thanks Rob!
I also included two New Wave songs that fit our theme of ‘Revenge’ very nicely. First up, another request from Robyn: Graham Parker gives the bird to all those girls that rejected him once upon a time on LOCAL GIRLS. And Deborah Harry sounds something akin to a ‘bunny boiler’ on a track that takes me back – ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.
Next up, it was a brilliant revenge song from the Drive By Truckers. THE WIG HE MADE HER WEAR is from their latest album The Big To Do and is, in my humble opinion, the best thing on it. Wish I had a decent clip of this track for you but alas, nowhere to be found.
Another request came from Judi. She wanted to hear any version of CRY ME A RIVER. When you give me carte blanche like that what am I to do than to take the opportunity to slip in the very sensuous voice of Julie London? Judi, who lives miles away in Cairns, Northern Queensland, tells me that she listens on the Internet. You can do that too you know. Just go to the BayFM.org site at the time the show is on air and press the listen button. Simple as that.
For something completely different, it had to be Kate Miller-Heidke with a song that I had to censor a little for radio. But no problem with uploading a clip here on the blog, assuming you don’t mind very funny, if explicit, lyrics. Here’s a live version of ARE YOU F****ING KIDDING ME? (THE FACEBOOK SONG).
Had to include the classic revenge song, Nancy Sinatra’s THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKING and something just a little more serious, J.J. Cale’s quite disturbing song about retribution, RIVER RUNS DEEP. But for a different kind of revenge song altogether, how about WHAT IF WE ALL STOPPED PAYING TAXES?, from Sharon Jones and the Dapkings. Yeah, let’s get back at the government! Brilliant idea.
We closed the show with an amazing track from The Decemberists: THE MARINER’S REVENGE SONG, a song filled with evil sea captains, vengeful mariners, giant whales, and much sea-faring woe. Revenge of the nerds, indeed.
Next week I won’t be here, but the lovely Des will be filling in for me with a show on MEN and I’ll be back the following week with a show on MADNESS.
In the meantime, remember that the greatest revenge is to live well.
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
The Big Payback – The Big Payback, James Brown
Song for the Dumped – Whatever and Ever Amen, Ben Folds Five
Stagger Lee – I’m in Love, Wilson Pickett
Frankie & Johnny – Greatest Hits, Sam Cooke
You Oughta Know – Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette
Not Big – Lily Allen
Breakin’ Dishes – Good Girl Gone Bad, Rhianna
I Guess I Showed Her – Strong Persuader, Robert Cray
There’s Something On Your Mind – BB King & Etta James
Revenge of the Sugar Plum Fairy – Transiberian Orchestra
Rocky Racoon – The Beatles (White Album) [Disc 1], The Beatles
Goodbye Earl – Fly, Dixie Chicks
Hey Joe – Jimi Hendrix
Frankie – Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues, Mississippi John Hurt
Positively 4th Street – Biograph (Disc 2), Bob Dylan
It’s All Over Now Baby Blue – Graham Bonnet
Local Girls – Squeezing out Sparks, Graham Parker
One Way or Another – Parallel Lines, Blondie/Deborah Harry
The Wig He Made Her Wear – The Big To-Do, Drive By Truckers
Cry Me A River – Diva Classics Icons, Julie London
Are You F*cking Kidding Me (Facebook Song) – Live At the Hi-Fi, Kate Miller-Heidke
These Boots Are Made For Walking – Boots, Nancy Sinatra
River Runs Deep – Naturally, J.J. Cale
What If We All Stopped Paying Taxes – The Dynamic Funk and Soul Sound of Daptone Records, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
The Mariner’s Revenge Song – Picaresque, The Decemberists
Week after next: MADNESS
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 4-6pm, Sydney time
In my opinion, a ‘list’ song, if it’s genuine, should feature at least half a dozen items. In compiling this week’s playlist I didn’t feel it was good enough to include songs that simply rattled off one number after another or letters of the alphabet, although place names and girl’s names did get a bit of a look in. So it was a bit of a challenge, but that’s what makes it so much fun.
We opened the program with the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band’s spoof of band leader introductions, INTRO & OUTRO, in which each instrument is played by an unlikely public figure: “Looking very relaxed, Adolf Hitler on vibes. Nice.” I couldn’t find a video clip of the original song but here are the Bonzos performing a version with the cast of the pre-Python show, “Do Not Adjust Your Set”, 1967-1969:
That song set a pretty high benchmark for the rest of the show. The only thing to do was to take a completely different direction and consequently it was a couple of R&B standards: Sam Cooke with WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD and The Temptations with THE WAY YOU DO THE THINGS YOU DO.
Bob Dylan’s SUBTERRANEAN HOMESICK BLUES is a lively example of the list song if ever there was one. I’ve played this before and also posted the video clip, so let’s don’t do that again. Instead let’s have a look at feminist electro-punk trio Le Tigre, who pay tribute to dozens of female visual artists, musicians, writers, feminists and others who have inspired them, in HOT TOPIC.
Just to stir things up, we followed with UK group Pop Will Eat Itself with CAN U DIG IT. It’s a list of their favourite things including disco, comic books, AC/DC and the Twilight Zone. Somehow I don’t think that Le Tigre and PWEI should ever meet.
In the 40’s & 50’s list songs were sophisticated affairs, delivered with polite confidence. There’s no better example than Sarah Vaughan singing THEY CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME. Vaughan died 10 years ago this week. Jazz commentator Scott Yanow described her as having “one of the most wondrous voices of the 20th century” and I couldn’t agree more.
John Lennon wasn’t concerned with being polite on his 1971 recording of GIMME SOME TRUTH. In fact, just the opposite, as he expressed frustration with deceptive politicians at the time of the Vietnam War: “short-haired, yellow bellied sons of Tricky Dicky”. It’s from the Imagine album. Here’s an extract of the documentary on the making of the album, featuring GIMME SOME TRUTH:
It’s also the 10th anniversary of Ian Dury’s death (on March 27th). He was a master of the ‘list’ song. Hard to choose, but decided to go with REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL (Part 3). If ever there was a tune that encapsulated Durie”s love for jazz, rock & vaudeville and his collaborator Chaz Jankel’s love of funk, then this is it. Here’s an extended version performed live in 1985.
If you are ready to ditch someone from your life, it was probably time to take a few notes from Simon & Garfunkle as they explained about the 50 WAYS TO LEAVE YOUR LOVER.
If you’re looking for a female perspective on the subject then Carole Bayer Sager is your girl. She’s in total control as she tells her ex-lover YOU’RE MOVING OUT TODAY. Lucinda Williams goes one step further. She’s CHANGED THE LOCKS:
Two more of the great jazz and blues singers are Etta James and Nina Simone. We played James’ THESE FOOLISH THINGS REMIND ME OF YOU and Simone’s AIN’T GOT NO, I GOT LIFE.
LOSING MY EDGE was LCD Soundsystem’s first single in 2002 and was born out of James Murphy’s horror at realising that he was being branded ‘cool’. It’s laugh out loud funny in my books and, not to mention, has a great vinyl list to cross check your ‘coolness’ against:
“But have you seen my records? This Heat, Pere Ubu, Outsiders, Nation of Ulysses, Mars, The Trojans, The Black Dice, Todd Terry, the Germs, Section 25, Althea and Donna, Sexual Harrassment, a-ha, Pere Ubu, Dorothy Ashby, PIL, the Fania All-Stars, the Bar-Kays, the Human League, the Normal, Lou Reed, Scott Walker, Monks, Niagra, Joy Division, Lower 48, the Association, Sun Ra, Scientists, Royal Trux, 10cc, Eric B. and Rakim, Index, Basic Channel, Soulsonic Force (“just hit me”!), Juan Atkins, David Axelrod, Electric Prunes, Gil! Scott! Heron!, the Slits, Faust, Mantronix, Pharaoh Sanders and the Fire Engines, the Swans, the Soft Cell, the Sonics, the Sonics, the Sonics, the Sonics.”
Moving back in time it was Wilson Pickett with LAND OF 1,000 DANCES and a track that I held back from my HAIR show last week because it was so perfect for this theme, BALD-HEADED LENA from Piano Red, later known as Dr. Feelgood. And to round out the triple play, it was Screamin’ Jay Hawkins with a recipe, which of course is nothing but a list. The song: ALLIGATOR WINE.
The Queens of the Stone Age delivered FEEL GOOD HIT OF THE SUMMER. Apart from the single word “and”, their salute to stimulants is nothing but a list, performed with the enthusiasm of those who know of what they speak. Unlike myself of course. Here’s the official clip with a nice piece of animation.
If you’re after something a little more highbrow, and also quite funny, then you can’t go past Divine Comedy with BOOKLOVERS. It lists over 70 different authors for you. Names that live forever.
Here’s a beauty – Monty Python with a song that asserts that all of the great philosophers were drunks – BRUCE’S PHILOSOPHY SONG. Here they are performing at the Hollywood Bowl. Hilarious.
And now for something completely different: Antonio Carlos Jobim with Elis Regina singing the Brazilian classic AGUAS DE MARCO, an impressionistic flood of nouns representing the journey of life towards death. The title is translated as WATERS OF MARCH. Here’s a link to a very good blog that will tell you more about ‘Tom’ Jobim and will also give you the English version of the lyrics: http://leftbankpress.blogspot.com/2006/02/aguas-de-marco-waters-of-march.html
And, from me (and YouTube, of course), a clip of the duo performing the song live:
Having put you in a Latin mood, it was time for some Latin fusion and the next number would surely have had you up and dancing. Lou Bega’s MAMBO NUMBER 5. Can you believe that it was Australia’s #1 single in 1999?
As we were heading towards the end of the program it was great to get my dose of Roy Orbison by including The Travelling Wilburys in the show. George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Roy Orbison made up the super group. Legends, one and all, they contributed an interesting little ditty called DIRTY WORLD, with Bob Dylan on lead vocals. And then it was time for two other ex-Beatles with songs about LISTS: Paul McCartney and Wings with LET EM IN and, how could we leave out John Lennon’s GIVE PEACE A CHANCE?
Billy Joel defended the Baby Boomer generation with his hit WE DIDN’T START THE FIRE. As the song goes: “We didn’t start the fire. It was always burning since the world was turning.” Well, yeah, but …
We closed the show with REM’s IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT (AND I FEEL FINE). Inspired by Bob Dylan’s SUBTERRANEAN HOMESICK BLUES, the track is known for its quick flying lyrics taking the form of what appears to be a stream of consciousness. Michael Stipe says that he wrote the song after dreaming that he was at a birthday party where all the other guests had the initials L.B. hence “Leonard Bernstein, Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce and Lester Bangs, birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean, boom!”
And on that note it was fini. Next week the theme will be FRIENDS & NEIGHBOURS, so get your thinking caps on. And try to avoid themes for sit-coms. Yes, it’s going to be harder than it looks.
Here’s the complete playlist for this week:
Intro And The Outro – Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
What A Wonderful World – Sam Cooke
The Way You Do The Things You Do – The Temptations
Subterranean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan
Hot Topic – Le Tigre
Can U Dig It – Pop Will Eat Itself
They Can’t Take That Away From Me – Sarah Vaughan
Night Train – James Brown
Gimme Some Truth – John Lennon
Reasons To Be Cheerful (Part 3) – Ian Dury and The Blockheads
Fifty ways to leave your lover – Simon & Garfunkel
You’re Moving Out Today – Carol Bayer Sager
Changed The Locks (Live) – Lucinda Williams
These Foolish Things (Remind M – Etta James
Ain’t Got No I Got Life – Nina Simone
Losing My Edge – LCD Soundsystem
Land Of 1000 Dances – Wilson Pickett
Bald-Headed Lena – Piano Red (Dr. Feelgood)
Alligator Wine – Frenzy Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Feel Good Hit of the Summer – Queens of the Stone Age
The Booklovers – Divine Comedy
Bruce’s Philosophers song – Monty Python
Aguas de Março – Elis Regina & Antonio Jobim
Mambo No.5 – Lou Bega
Dirty World – Traveling Wilburys
Let ‘Em In – Paul McCartney & Wings
Give Peace A Chance – John Lennon
We Didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel
It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine) – R.E.M.