178 episodes

Andrew Hickey presents a history of rock music from 1938 to 1999, looking at five hundred songs that shaped the genre.

A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs Andrew Hickey

    • Music
    • 4.7 • 93 Ratings

Andrew Hickey presents a history of rock music from 1938 to 1999, looking at five hundred songs that shaped the genre.

    Episode 149: “Respect” by Aretha Franklin

    Episode 149: “Respect” by Aretha Franklin

    Episode 149 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Respect", and the journey of Aretha Franklin from teenage gospel singer to the Queen of Soul. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.

    Patreon backers also have a fifteen-minute bonus episode available, on "I'm Just a Mops" by the Mops.

    Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt’s irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/

    Also, people may be interested in a Facebook discussion group for the podcast, run by a friend of mine (I'm not on FB myself) which can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/293630102611672/



    Errata

    I say "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby to a Dixie Melody" instead of "Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody". Also I say Spooner Oldham co-wrote "Do Right Woman". I meant Chips Moman.
    Resources


    No Mixcloud this week, as there are too many songs by Aretha Franklin.

    My main biographical source for Aretha Franklin is Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin by David Ritz, and this is where most of the quotes from musicians come from.

    I also relied heavily on I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You by Matt Dobkin.

    Information on C.L. Franklin came from Singing in a Strange Land: C. L. Franklin, the Black Church, and the Transformation of America by Nick Salvatore.

    Rick Hall's The Man From Muscle Shoals: My Journey from Shame to Fame contains his side of the story.

    Country Soul by Charles L Hughes is a great overview of the soul music made in Muscle Shoals, Memphis, and Nashville in the sixties. Peter Guralnick's Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm And Blues And The Southern Dream Of Freedom is possibly less essential, but still definitely worth reading.

    And the I Never Loved a Man album is available in this five-album box set for a ludicrously cheap price. But it's actually worth getting this nineteen-CD set with her first sixteen Atlantic albums and a couple of bonus discs of demos and outtakes. There's barely a duff track in the whole nineteen discs.

    Patreon

    This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them?

    Transcript
    Before I start this episode,  I have to say that there are some things people may want to be aware of before listening to this. This episode has to deal, at least in passing, with subjects including child sexual abuse, intimate partner abuse, racism, and misogyny. I will of course try to deal with those subjects as tactfully as possible, but those of you who may be upset by those topics may want to check the episode transcript before or instead of listening.

    Those of you who leave comments or send me messages saying "why can't you just talk about the music instead of all this woke virtue-signalling?" may also want to skip this episode. You can go ahead and skip all the future ones as well, I won't mind.

    And one more thing to say before I get into the meat of the episode -- this episode puts me in a more difficult position than most other episodes of the podcast have. When I've talked about awful things that have happened in the course of this podcast previously, I have either been talking about perpetrators -- people like Phil Spector or Jerry Lee Lewis who did truly reprehensible things -- or about victims who have talked very publicly about the abuse they've suffered, people like Ronnie Spector or Tina Turner, who said very clearly "this is what happened to me and I want it on the public record".

    In the case of Aretha Franklin, she has been portrayed as a victim *by others*, and there are things that have been said about her life and her relationships which suggest that she suffered in some very terrible ways. But she herself apparently never saw herself as a victim, and didn't want some aspects of her private life talking about. At the start of David Ritz's biography of her, wh

    Episode 148: “Light My Fire” by the Doors

    Episode 148: “Light My Fire” by the Doors

    Episode one hundred and forty-eight of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Light My Fire" by the Doors, the history of cool jazz, and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.

    Patreon backers also have a ten-minute bonus episode available, on "My Friend Jack" by the Smoke.

    Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt’s irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/



    Resources

    As usual, I’ve put together a Mixcloud mix containing all the music excerpted in this episode and the shorter spoken-word tracks.

    Information on Dick Bock, World Pacific, and Ravi Shankar came from Indian Sun: The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar by Oliver Craske.

    Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, and Robby Krieger have all released autobiographies. Densmore's is out of print, but I referred to Manzarek's and Krieger's here. Of the two Krieger's is vastly more reliable. I also used Mick Wall's book on the Doors and Stephen Davis' biography of Jim Morrison.

    Information about Elektra Records came from Follow the Music by Jac Holzman and Gavan Daws, which is available as a free PDF download on Elektra's website.

    Biographical information on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi comes from this book, written by one of his followers.

    The Doors' complete studio albums can be bought as MP3s for £14.

    Patreon

    This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them?

    Transcript
    There are two big problems that arise for anyone trying to get an accurate picture of history, and which have certainly arisen for me during the course of this podcast -- things which make sources unreliable enough that you feel you have to caveat everything you say on a subject. One of those is hagiography, and the converse desire to tear heroes down. No matter what one wants to say on, say, the subjects of Jesus or Mohammed or Joseph Smith, the only sources we have for their lives are written either by people who want to present them as unblemished paragons of virtue, or by people who want to destroy that portrayal -- we know that any source is written by someone with a bias, and it might be a bias we agree with, but it's still a bias.

    The other, related, problem, is deliberate disinformation. This comes up especially for people dealing with military history -- during conflicts, governments obviously don't want their opponents to know when their attacks have caused damage, or to know what their own plans are, and after a war has concluded the belligerent parties want to cover up their own mistakes and war crimes. We're sadly seeing that at the moment in the situation in Ukraine -- depending on one's media diet, one could get radically different ideas of what is actually going on in that terrible conflict.

    But it happens all the time, in all wars, and on all sides. Take the Vietnam War. While the US was involved on the side of the South Vietnamese government from the start of that conflict, it was in a very minor way, mostly just providing supplies and training. Most historians look at the real start of US involvement in that war as having been in August 1964. President Johnson had been wanting, since assuming the Presidency in November 1963 after the death of John F Kennedy, to get further into the war, but had needed an excuse to do so. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident provided him with that excuse.
    On August the second, a fleet of US warships entered into what the North Vietnamese considered their territorial waters -- they used a different distance from shore to mark their territorial waters than most other countries used, and one which wasn't generally accepted, but which they considered important. Because of this, some North Vietnamese ships started following the American ones. The American ships, who thought they weren't

    Episode 147: “Hey Joe” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

    Episode 147: “Hey Joe” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

    Episode one hundred and forty-seven of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Hey Joe" by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and is the longest episode to date, at over two hours.

    Patreon backers also have a twenty-two-minute bonus episode available, on "Making Time" by The Creation.

    Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt’s irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/



    Resources

    As usual, I've put together a Mixcloud mix containing all the music excerpted in this episode.

    For information on the Byrds, I relied mostly on Timeless Flight Revisited by Johnny Rogan, with some information from Chris Hillman’s autobiography.

    Information on Arthur Lee and Love came from Forever Changes: Arthur Lee and the Book of Love by John Einarson, and Arthur Lee: Alone Again Or by Barney Hoskyns.

    Information on Gary Usher's work with the Surfaris and the Sons of Adam came from The California Sound by Stephen McParland, which can be found at https://payhip.com/CMusicBooks

    Information on Jimi Hendrix came from Room Full of Mirrors by Charles R. Cross, Crosstown Traffic by Charles Shaar Murray, and Wild Thing by Philip Norman.

    Information on the history of "Hey Joe" itself came from all these sources plus Hey Joe: The Unauthorised Biography of a Rock Classic by Marc Shapiro, though note that most of that book is about post-1967 cover versions.

    Most of the pre-Experience session work by Jimi Hendrix I excerpt in this episode is on this box set of alternate takes and live recordings. And "Hey Joe" can be found on Are You Experienced?

    Patreon

    This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them?

    Transcript

    Just a quick note before we start – this episode deals with a song whose basic subject is a man murdering a woman, and that song also contains references to guns, and in some versions to cocaine use. Some versions excerpted also contain misogynistic slurs. If those things are likely to upset you, please skip this episode, as the whole episode focusses on that song. I would hope it goes without saying that I don't approve of misogyny, intimate partner violence, or murder, and my discussing a song does not mean I condone acts depicted in its lyrics, and the episode itself deals with the writing and recording of the song rather than its subject matter, but it would be impossible to talk about the record without excerpting the song. The normalisation of violence against women in rock music lyrics is a subject I will come back to, but did not have room for in what is already a very long episode. Anyway, on with the show.

    Let's talk about the folk process, shall we? We've talked before, like in the episodes on "Stagger Lee" and "Ida Red", about how there are some songs that aren't really individual songs in themselves, but are instead collections of related songs that might happen to share a name, or a title, or a story, or a melody, but which might be different in other ways.

    There are probably more songs that are like this than songs that aren't, and it doesn't just apply to folk songs, although that's where we see it most notably. You only have to look at the way a song like "Hound Dog" changed from the Willie Mae Thornton version to the version by Elvis, which only shared a handful of words with the original. Songs change, and recombine, and everyone who sings them brings something different to them, until they change in ways that nobody could have predicted, like a game of telephone.

    But there usually remains a core, an archetypal story or idea which remains constant no matter how much the song changes. Like Stagger Lee shooting Billy in a bar over a hat, or Frankie killing her man -- sometimes the man is Al, sometimes he's Johnny, but he always done her wrong.

    And one of those stories is about a man who shoots his cheating

    Episode 146: “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys

    Episode 146: “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys

    Episode one hundred and forty-six of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys, and the history of the theremin. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.

    Patreon backers also have a ten-minute bonus episode available, on "You're Gonna Miss Me" by the Thirteenth Floor Elevators.

    Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt’s irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/



    Resources

    There is no Mixcloud this week, because there were too many Beach Boys songs in the episode.

    I used many resources for this episode, most of which will be used in future Beach Boys episodes too. It’s difficult to enumerate everything here, because I have been an active member of the Beach Boys fan community for twenty-four years, and have at times just used my accumulated knowledge for this. But the resources I list here are ones I’ve checked for specific things.

    Stephen McParland has published many, many books on the California surf and hot-rod music scenes, including several on both the Beach Boys and Gary Usher.  His books can be found at https://payhip.com/CMusicBooks

    Andrew Doe’s Bellagio 10452 site is an invaluable resource.

    Jon Stebbins’ The Beach Boys FAQ is a good balance between accuracy and readability.

    And Philip Lambert’s Inside the Music of Brian Wilson is an excellent, though sadly out of print, musicological analysis of Wilson’s music from 1962 through 67.

    I have also referred to Brian Wilson’s autobiography, I Am Brian Wilson, and to Mike Love’s, Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy.

    As a good starting point for the Beach Boys’ music in general, I would recommend this budget-priced three-CD set, which has a surprisingly good selection of their material on it, including the single version of "Good Vibrations".

    Oddly, the single version of "Good Vibrations" is not on the The Smile Sessions box set. But an entire CD of outtakes of the track is, and that was the source for the session excerpts here.

    Information on Lev Termen comes from Theremin: Ether Music and Espionage by Albert Glinsky

    Transcript

    In ancient Greece, the god Hermes was a god of many things, as all the Greek gods were. Among those things, he was the god of diplomacy, he was a trickster god, a god of thieves, and he was a messenger god, who conveyed messages between realms. He was also a god of secret knowledge. In short, he was the kind of god who would have made a perfect spy.

    But he was also an inventor. In particular he was credited in Greek myth as having invented the lyre, an instrument somewhat similar to a guitar, harp, or zither, and as having used it to create beautiful sounds. But while Hermes the trickster god invented the lyre, in Greek myth it was a mortal man, Orpheus, who raised the instrument to perfection. Orpheus was a legendary figure, the greatest poet and musician of pre-Homeric Greece, and all sorts of things were attributed to him, some of which might even have been things that a real man of that name once did. He is credited with the "Orphic tripod" -- the classification of the elements into earth, water, and fire -- and with a collection of poems called the Rhapsodiae.

    The word Rhapsodiae comes from the Greek words rhaptein, meaning to stitch or sew, and ōidē, meaning song -- the word from which we get our word "ode", and  originally a rhapsōdos was someone who "stitched songs together" -- a reciter of long epic poems composed of several shorter pieces that the rhapsōdos would weave into one continuous piece. It's from that that we get the English word "rhapsody", which in the sixteenth century, when it was introduced into the language, meant a literary work that was a disjointed collection of patchwork bits, stitched together without much th

    Admin: Plan For The Future

    Admin: Plan For The Future

    Transcript



     As many of you will have noticed, the podcast hasn't been exactly regular in the last year or so. For the first couple of years of the podcast I had a buffer of several scripts written in advance, which allowed me to keep getting episodes out on a weekly basis even if stuff got in the way.



    But starting in late 2020, I had a series of massive life crises that essentially meant that I ate up all my buffer scripts, and from that point on any time anything caused even the slightest inconvenience, that would have a knock-on effect which would make the episode late. For the last fifteen months I have only averaged about an episode every ten days. It's no exaggeration to say that 2021 was the worst year of my life by quite some way. 



    Most of those crises have either passed or become the new normal, but they meant I used up all my buffer and then some, and it's been challenging to build up another buffer while running to catch up. I managed for several weeks at the beginning of this year to get weekly episodes out again, but with no buffer any temporary problem knocks me back off schedule.



    Luckily, everyone has been extraordinarily understanding about this, but I can only expect so much understanding before people start demanding results, so here's what I'm going to do.



    Episodes 146 through 150 will take as long as they take. I'm aiming for once a week, but I do have a couple of commitments in the next month that might make that difficult. Realistically, you can expect those to continue at about the same rate as the last year or so, an episode every ten days, give or take.



    I have previously taken two-week breaks when I got to an episode that was a multiple of fifty -- annual breaks that also mark the start and ends of new books in the series of books based on the podcast. When I get to episode 150, I will take a longer break. That break will last however long it takes for me to write four full main episode scripts. My best estimate of that is that it will take three weeks, but I'll keep people updated in the unlikely event it takes longer. Episode 151 will be up as soon as I have four scripts done. I will do another pledge week in the middle of the break, posting some old Patreon episodes to the main feed to show you what backers get, and so the feed won't be completely devoid of content.



    I will then once again have a buffer -- a month's worth of scripts prepared -- that should mean that I'll be able to get back on a properly regular schedule again, and stay there.



    Thank you all for your patience and support.

    Episode 145: “Tomorrow Never Knows” by the Beatles

    Episode 145: “Tomorrow Never Knows” by the Beatles

    This week’s episode looks at “Tomorrow Never Knows”, the making of Revolver by the Beatles, and the influence of Timothy Leary on the burgeoning psychedelic movement. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.

    Patreon backers also have a fifteen-minute bonus episode available, on "Keep on Running" by the Spencer Davis Group.

    Tilt Araiza has assisted invaluably by doing a first-pass edit, and will hopefully be doing so from now on. Check out Tilt’s irregular podcasts at http://www.podnose.com/jaffa-cakes-for-proust and http://sitcomclub.com/



    Errata

    A few things -- I say "Fairfield" at one point when I mean "Fairchild". While Timothy Leary was imprisoned in 1970 he wasn't actually placed in the cell next to Charles Manson until 1973. Sources differ on when Geoff Emerick started at EMI, and he *may* not have worked on "Sun Arise", though I've seen enough reliable sources saying he did that I think it's likely. And I've been told that Maureen Cleave denied having an affair with Lennon -- though note that I said it was "strongly rumoured" rather than something definite.

    Resources

    As usual, a mix of all the songs excerpted in this episode is available at Mixcloud.com.

    I have read literally dozens of books on the Beatles, and used bits of information from many of them. All my Beatles episodes refer to: The Complete Beatles Chronicle by Mark Lewisohn, All The Songs: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Release by Jean-Michel Guesdon, And The Band Begins To Play: The Definitive Guide To The Songs of The Beatles by Steve Lambley, The Beatles By Ear by Kevin Moore, Revolution in the Head by Ian MacDonald, and The Beatles Anthology.

    For this episode, I also referred to Last Interview by David Sheff, a longform interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono from shortly before Lennon's death; Many Years From Now by Barry Miles, an authorised biography of Paul McCartney; and Here, There, and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles by Geoff Emerick and Howard Massey.

    For information on Timothy Leary I used a variety of sources including The Most Dangerous Man in America by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis; Timothy Leary: Outside Looking In by Robert Forte; The Starseed Signals by Robert Anton Wilson; and especially The Harvard Psychedelic Club by Don Lattin.

    I also referred to both The Tibetan Book of the Dead and to The Psychedelic Experience.

    Leary's much-abridged audiobook version of The Psychedelic Experience can be purchased from Folkways Records.

    Sadly the first mono mix of "Tomorrow Never Knows" has been out of print since it was first issued. The only way to get the second mono mix is on this ludicrously-expensive out-of-print box set, but the stereo mix is easily available on Revolver.

    Patreon

    This podcast is brought to you by the generosity of my backers on Patreon. Why not join them?

    Transcript

    Before I start this episode, I'd like to note that it deals with a number of subjects some listeners might find upsetting, most notably psychedelic drug use, mental illness, and suicide. I think I've dealt with those subjects fairly respectfully, but you still may want to check the transcript if you have worries about these subjects.

    Also, we're now entering a period of music history with the start of the psychedelic era where many of the songs we're looking at are influenced by non-mainstream religious traditions, mysticism, and also increasingly by political ideas which may seem strange with nearly sixty years' hindsight. I'd just like to emphasise that when I talk about these ideas, I'm trying as best I can to present the thinking of the people I'm talking about, in an accurate and unbiased way, rather than talking about my own beliefs. We're going to head into some strange places in some of these episodes, and my intention is neither to mock the people I'm talking about nor to endorse their ideas, but to present those ideas to y

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
93 Ratings

93 Ratings

Tele-vision TV ,

Thoroughly researched and entertaining

Rarely have I encountered a podcast with this level of wide-ranging storytelling, in-depth research and sensitivity. The way Andrew Hickey introduces each episode with disclaimers and trigger warnings display his connection, not just to the history of rock music, but to humanity. As well, his willingness to tackle the subject of ‘icons’ of rock who have faltered ethically and failed as human beings, without using the ‘excuse the great artist for their failings’ trope.
Many of the obvious selection feature prominently, but the obscure and forgotten artifacts from rock’s early history, and a few that had been written off as unimportant or even trite, make this podcast the equivalent of being locked in the best stocked record store of all time, for eternity!
Thank you to Andrew for his ingenuity, curiosity, and deep empathy for his listeners and his subjects.

bas1809 ,

Fantastic tour de force!

Deep background information coupled with an intimate look at the people and places in which the music of my life grew and evolved. This starts off touring through my father’s 78s and early 45s and transitions smoothly to my own collection of 45s and 33s. Once I discovered this (at episode 146!) I went back, downloaded all the episodes, and started in happily at #1. (Spend the money to become a Patreon backer, because the episodes there are equally good.) Andrew, thank you from a former DJ and lover of Rock who has learned so much with each piece you’ve created.

DPM2112 ,

Fantastic

One of the best if not The Best music history podcast. So excellently prepared, researched and created and each show takes you down a path with so much detailed information along the way. Absolute love the format and you can tell Andrew has put a great deal of work into every show. Fantastic work Andrew.

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