Posts Tagged ‘smashedhits’
A piece about the origins of Louie Louie and the FBI’s investigation for the BBC News Magazine.
I am indebted to Alec Palao’s notes for the ace Ace Records Louie compilation Love That Louie: The Louie Louie Files, Dave Marsh’s Louie Louie: The History and Mythology of the World’s Most Famous Rock ‘n Roll Song; Including the Full Details of Its Torture and Persecution at the Hands of the Kingsmen, J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, and a Cast of Millions; and Introducing for the First Time Anywhere, the Actual Dirty Lyrics and the Radio 2 documentary Louie and the G-Men.
Also of interest:
• Kurt Cobain’s journal reference to ‘the famous musical knowledge of the louie louie chords’
• FBI files: Louie Louie (The Song)
• ‘a small sample of [Robert Lindahl’s] side of the story‘
- Guitar-like image, Bermondsey, November 2005
On the 40th anniversary of Nick Drake‘s death, a short piece for the BBC News Magazine:
His first album, the pastoral Five Leaves Left, correspondingly begins with the lines: ‘Time has told me you’re a rare, rare find / A troubled cure for a troubled mind’.
The second, Bryter Layter, is purposefully upbeat and the last, Pink Moon, ends: ‘So look, see the sights, the endless summer nights / And go play the game that you learned from the morning’. This is music of comfort, not of despair; rebirth, not death.
And there’s a John Peel version of my favourite track, Cello Song, at the Guardian.
A piece for the BBC about how Brian Wilson and Tony Asher composed God Only Knows.
These conversations were fractured. Wilson, who had been denied a childhood, would break off to show Asher his mechanical parrots or to watch episodes of Flipper, an “aquatic Lassie” series about a dolphin which invariably reduced him to tears.
In time, Wilson played Asher the pieces of music he had in mind for an album called Pet Sounds and Asher essayed some lyrics to fit the themes Wilson had in mind. When they got to God Only Knows, things didn’t start well. Wilson felt that “I may not always love you” was absolutely the wrong way to kick off a love song. Too negative, he insisted.
Indebted to Nick Kent’s The Dark Stuff, Kingsley Abbott’s Pet Sounds: The Greatest Album of the Twentieth Century, Timothy White’s The Nearest Faraway Place: Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys and the Southern Californian Experience and Brian Wilson’s Wouldn’t it be Nice: My Own Story (with Todd Gold (and Eugene E Landy)).
One rainy night in 1939, he wrote the opening lines of Aquarela do Brasil (Watercolour of Brazil): “Brasil, meu Brasil brasileiro.” This translates as “Brazil, my Brazilian Brazil”. Never have four words been more Brazilian, before or since.
The censors had issues with some colloquialisms and a folksy reference to tambourines, but Barroso persuaded them that his “samba exaltacao” was modern and patriotic enough to meet their exacting requirements.
I thoroughly enjoyed Misha Glenny’s radio documentary The Making of Brazil, Bryan McCann’s book Hello, Hello Brazil: Popular Music in the Making of Modern Brazil and Scott L. Baugh’s reference work Latino American Cinema: An Encyclopedia of Movies, Stars, Concepts, and Trends. I am indebted; they are recommended.
My favourite versions:
And here’s that Disney, and Ze Carioca alive and well in 2014:
A short-form piece for the Beeb on Stevie Wonder’s Another Star, the theme tune for the BBC’s World Cup coverage:
Another Star closes side four of Songs in the Key of Life – the very end of a four-album run in which Wonder relentlessly outdid himself. He had originally intended to follow his previous, Fulfillingness’s First Finale, with a sequel.
Fulfillingness’s Second Finale was to be a darker, socially conscious experience, but Wonder’s ambition overtook him, and he spent two years putting together a double album (with bonus single) instead.
No space this time for a collection of cover versions, so here they are.
With the Tokyo Philharmonic:
Salome De Bahia:
Caron Wheeler of Soul II Soul, Afrodiziak:
Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge:
And, of course, with Nile Rodgers and Daft Punk:
A brief thought on the auctioning of the lyrics for Like a Rolling Stone for the BBC News Magazine.
The Times They Are a-Changin’ owes not a little to the Sermon on the Mount’s “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”. That earlier Dylan could be reassuring, even. You can imagine The Times They Are a-Changin’ coming from a gospel choir. Like a Rolling Stone, from 1965, is anarchy, and Dylan sounds like he’s enjoying it.
A short-form Smashed Hits piece for the BBC News Magazine about Shipbuilding, pegged to the closure of the Portsmouth shipyards.
It would have sounded very different if Costello had written the song for himself – or written the music. Shipbuilding was originally a piano piece written by Madness’s producer Clive Langer for a gentler performer, Robert Wyatt. Langer bumped into Costello at a party and suggested they go out to his car and listen to a cassette of the tune. Costello subsequently called from an Australian tour to say he had “the best lyric I’ve ever written”. Wyatt’s song was made – and in 1983 Costello recorded it himself.
No room, sadly, for Chet Baker playing at London supper-and-jazz club The Canteen, approached by Costello and offering to play on EC’s version for scale. “I think we probably doubled it,” remembered Costello.