199 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
    • 4.8 • 245 Ratings

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

    Episode 158: “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane

    Episode 158: “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane

    Episode one hundred and fifty-eight of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “White Rabbit”, Jefferson Airplane, and the rise of the San Francisco sound. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.

    Patreon backers also have a twenty-three-minute bonus episode available, on "Omaha" by Moby Grape.

    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/



    Erratum

    I refer to Back to Methuselah by Robert Heinlein. This is of course a play by George Bernard Shaw. What I meant to say was Methuselah's Children.

    Resources

    I hope to upload a Mixcloud tomorrow, and will edit it in, but have had some problems with the site today.

    Jefferson Airplane's first four studio albums, plus a 1968 live album, can be found in this box set.

    I've referred to three main books here. Got a Revolution!: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane by Jeff Tamarkin is written with the co-operation of the band members, but still finds room to criticise them. Jefferson Airplane On Track by Richard Molesworth is a song-by-song guide to the band's music. And Been So Long: My Life and Music by Jorma Kaukonen is Kaukonen's autobiography.

    Some information on Skip Spence and Matthew Katz also comes from What's Big and Purple and Lives in the Ocean?: The Moby Grape Story, by Cam Cobb, which I also used for this week's bonus.

    Patreon

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

    Transcript

    Before I start, I need to confess an important and hugely embarrassing error in this episode. I've only ever seen Marty Balin's name written down, never heard it spoken, and only after recording the episode, during the editing process, did I discover I mispronounce it throughout. It's usually an advantage for the podcast that I get my information from books rather than TV documentaries and the like, because they contain far more information, but occasionally it causes problems like that. My apologies.

    Also a brief note that this episode contains some mentions of racism, antisemitism, drug and alcohol abuse, and gun violence.

    One of the themes we've looked at in recent episodes is the way the centre of the musical world -- at least the musical world as it was regarded by the people who thought of themselves as hip in the mid-sixties -- was changing in 1967. Up to this point, for a few years there had been two clear centres of the rock and pop music worlds. In the UK, there was London, and any British band who meant anything had to base themselves there. And in the US, at some point around 1963, the centre of the music industry had moved West. Up to then it had largely been based in New York, and there was still a thriving industry there as of the mid sixties. But increasingly the records that mattered, that everyone in the country had been listening to, had come out of LA

    Soul music was, of course, still coming primarily from Detroit and from the Country-Soul triangle in Tennessee and Alabama, but when it came to the new brand of electric-guitar rock that was taking over the airwaves, LA was, up until the first few months of 1967, the only city that was competing with London, and was the place to be.

    But as we heard in the episode on "San Francisco", with the Monterey Pop Festival all that started to change. While the business part of the music business remained centred in LA, and would largely remain so, LA was no longer the hip place to be. Almost overnight, jangly guitars, harmonies, and Brian Jones hairstyles were out, and feedback, extended solos, and droopy moustaches were in. The place to be was no longer LA, but a few hundred miles North, in San Francisco -- something that the LA bands were not all entirely happy about:

    [Excerpt: The Mothers of Invention, "Who N

    Episode 157: “See Emily Play” by The Pink Floyd

    Episode 157: “See Emily Play” by The Pink Floyd

    Episode one hundred and fifty-seven of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “See Emily Play", the birth of the UK underground, and the career of Roger Barrett, known as Syd. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.

    Patreon backers also have a twenty-five-minute bonus episode available, on "First Girl I Loved" by the Incredible String Band.

    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

    No Mixcloud this time, due to the number of Pink Floyd songs.

    I referred to two biographies of Barrett in this episode -- A Very Irregular Head by Rob Chapman is the one I would recommend, and the one whose narrative I have largely followed. Some of the information has been superseded by newer discoveries, but Chapman is almost unique in people writing about Barrett in that he actually seems to care about the facts and try to get things right rather than make up something more interesting. Crazy Diamond by Mike Watkinson and Pete Anderson is much less reliable, but does have quite a few interview quotes that aren't duplicated by Chapman.

    Information about Joe Boyd comes from Boyd's book White Bicycles.

    In this and future episodes on Pink Floyd I'm also relying on Nick Mason's Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd and Pink Floyd: All the Songs by Jean-Michel Guesdon and Philippe Margotin.

    The compilation Relics contains many of the most important tracks from Barrett's time with Pink Floyd, while Piper at the Gates of Dawn is his one full album with them. Those who want a fuller history of his time with the group will want to get Piper and also the box set Cambridge St/ation 1965-1967.

    Barrett only released two solo albums during his career. They're available as a bundle here. Completists will also want the rarities and outtakes collection Opel. 

    ERRATA:

    I talk about “Interstellar Overdrive” as if Barrett wrote it solo. The song is credited to all four members, but it was Barrett who came up with the riff I talk about.

    And annoyingly, given the lengths I went to to deal correctly with Barrett's name, I repeatedly refer to "Dave" Gilmour, when Gilmour prefers David.

    Patreon

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

    Transcript

    A note before I begin -- this episode deals with drug use and mental illness, so anyone who might be upset by those subjects might want to skip this one.

    But also, there's a rather unique problem in how I deal with the name of the main artist in the story today. The man everyone knows as Syd Barrett was born Roger Barrett, used that name with his family for his whole life, and in later years very strongly disliked being called "Syd", yet everyone other than his family called him that at all times until he left the music industry, and that's the name that appears on record labels, including his solo albums.

    I don't believe it's right to refer to people by names they choose not to go by themselves, but the name Barrett went by throughout his brief period in the public eye was different from the one he went by later, and by all accounts he was actually distressed by its use in later years. So what I'm going to do in this episode is refer to him as "Roger Barrett" when a full name is necessary for disambiguation or just "Barrett" otherwise, but I'll leave any quotes from other people referring to "Syd" as they were originally phrased.

    In future episodes on Pink Floyd, I'll refer to him just as Barrett, but in episodes where I discuss his influence on other artists, I will probably have to use "Syd Barrett" because otherwise people who haven't listened to this episode won't know what on Earth I'm talking about.

    Anyway, on with the show.

    “It’s gone!” sighed the Rat

    Episode 156: “I Was Made to Love Her” by Stevie Wonder

    Episode 156: “I Was Made to Love Her” by Stevie Wonder

    Episode one hundred and fifty-six of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “I Was Made to Love Her", the early career of Stevie Wonder, and the Detroit riots of 1967. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.

    Patreon backers also have a twenty-minute bonus episode available, on "Groovin'" by the Young Rascals.

    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 playlist of all the recordings excerpted in this episode.

    The best value way to get all of Stevie Wonder's early singles is this MP3 collection, which has the original mono single mixes of fifty-five tracks for a very reasonable price. For those who prefer physical media, this is a decent single-CD collection of his early work at a very low price indeed.

    As well as the general Motown information listed below, I’ve also referred to Signed, Sealed, and Delivered: The Soulful Journey of Stevie Wonder by Mark Ribowsky, which rather astonishingly is the only full-length biography of Wonder, to Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and the Rise and Fall of American Soul by Craig Werner, and to Detroit 67: The Year That Changed Soul by Stuart Cosgrove.

    For Motown-related information in this and other Motown episodes, I’ve used the following resources:

    Where Did Our Love Go? The Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound by Nelson George is an excellent popular history of the various companies that became Motown.

    To Be Loved by Berry Gordy is Gordy’s own, understandably one-sided, but relatively well-written, autobiography.

    Women of Motown: An Oral History by Susan Whitall is a collection of interviews with women involved in Motown.

    I Hear a Symphony: Motown and Crossover R&B by J. Andrew Flory is an academic look at Motown.

    The Motown Encyclopaedia by Graham Betts is an exhaustive look at the people and records involved in Motown’s thirty-year history.

    How Sweet It Is by Lamont Dozier and Scott B. Bomar is Dozier’s autobiography, while Come and Get These Memories by Brian and Eddie Holland and Dave Thompson is the Holland brothers’.

    Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson by "Dr Licks" is a mixture of a short biography of the great bass player, and tablature of his most impressive bass parts.

    And Motown Junkies is an infrequently-updated blog looking at (so far) the first 694 tracks released on Motown singles.

    Patreon

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

    Transcript
    A quick note before I begin -- this episode deals with disability and racism, and also deals from the very beginning with sex work and domestic violence. It also has some discussion of police violence and sexual assault. As always I will try to deal with those subjects as non-judgementally and sensitively as possible, but if you worry that anything about those subjects might disturb you, please check the transcript.

    Calvin Judkins was not a good man. Lula Mae Hardaway thought at first he might be, when he took her in, with her infant son whose father had left before the boy was born. He was someone who seemed, when he played the piano, to be deeply sensitive and emotional, and he even did the decent thing and married her when he got her pregnant.

    She thought she could save him, even though he was a street hustler and not even very good at it, and thirty years older than her -- she was only nineteen, he was nearly fifty. But she soon discovered that he wasn't interested in being saved, and instead he was interested in hurting her. He became physically and financially abusive, and started pimping her out.

    Lula would eventually realise that C

    Admin: Podcast Now Fortnightly

    Admin: Podcast Now Fortnightly

    Transcript



    You'll have noticed that my experiment with timings has been only a qualified success. While my buffer did allow me to get episodes going out weekly for a while, they've started to lag again, as events and health have derailed things -- though I have managed to get a bonus episode up for Patreon backers every week. As the upcoming episode is the second one in a row to have a significant delay, I've decided that that's a sign the weekly rate for the main podcast is clearly unsustainable with these longer episodes, even with the skip weeks -- but it's also clear that I can do a main episode every two weeks without any problem, and can get a bonus episode done every week, and that that is very, very sustainable even in times of stress. I now know for sure what my productivity rate can be.
    So this is an official announcement that for the foreseeable future, this is a fortnightly podcast, with episodes going up every other Monday, but with backer bonuses every week. It may return to the weekly schedule at some point, but for now that's the plan. Episode 156, on Stevie Wonder, will be up on Monday, and then the episode after that, on Pink Floyd, will be on the seventh of November. See you then.

    Episode 155: “Waterloo Sunset” by the Kinks

    Episode 155: “Waterloo Sunset” by the Kinks

    Episode one hundred and fifty-five of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Waterloo Sunset” by the Kinks, and the self-inflicted damage the group did to their career between 1965 and 1967. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.



    Patreon backers also have a nineteen-minute bonus episode available, on "Excerpt From a Teenage Opera" by Keith West.



    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



    No Mixcloud this week, as there are too many Kinks songs.



    I’ve used several resources for this and future episodes on the Kinks, most notably Ray Davies: A Complicated Life by Johnny Rogan and You Really Got Me by Nick Hasted.



    X-Ray by Ray Davies is a remarkable autobiography with a framing story set in a dystopian science-fiction future, while Kink by Dave Davies is more revealing but less well-written.



    The Anthology 1964-1971 is a great box set that covers the Kinks’ Pye years, which overlap almost exactly with their period of greatest creativity. For those who don’t want a full box set, this two-CD set covers all the big hits.



    And this is the interview with Rasa I discuss in the episode.



    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 has some mentions of racism and homophobia, several discussions of physical violence, one mention of domestic violence, and some discussion of mental illness. I've tried to discuss these things with a reasonable amount of sensitivity, but there's a tabloid element to some of my sources which inevitably percolates through, so be warned if you find those things upsetting. 



    One of the promises I made right at the start of this project was that I would not be doing the thing that almost all podcasts do of making huge chunks of the episodes be about myself -- if I've had to update people about something in my life that affects the podcast, I've done it in separate admin episodes, so the episodes themselves will not be taken up with stuff about me. The podcast is not about me.



    I am making a very slight exception in this episode, for reasons that will become clear -- there's no way for me to tell this particular story the way I need to without bringing myself into it at least a little. So I wanted to state upfront that this is a one-off thing. The podcast is not suddenly going to change. 



    But one question that I get asked a lot -- far more than I'd expect -- is "do the people you talk about in the podcast ever get in touch with you about what you've said?"



    Now that has actually happened twice, both times involving people leaving comments on relatively early episodes. The first time is probably the single thing I'm proudest of achieving with this series, and it was a comment left on the episode on "Goodnight My Love" a couple of years back:



    [Excerpt: Jesse Belvin, "Goodnight My Love"]



    That comment was from Debra Frazier and read “Jesse Belvin is my Beloved Uncle, my mother’s brother. I’ve been waiting all my life for him to be recognized in this manner. I must say the content in this podcast is 100% correct!Joann and Jesse practically raised me. Can’t express how grateful I am. Just so glad someone got it right. I still miss them dearly to this day. My world was forever changed Feb. 6th 1960. I can remember him writing most of those songs right there in my grandmother’s living room. I think I’m his last living closest relative, that knows everything in this podcast is true."



    That comment by itself would have justified me doing this whole podcast.



    The other such comment actually came a couple of weeks ago,

    A Request

    A Request

    Transcript



    Hi. We're still on a skip week, the main podcast will be back next week, but as we've now reached a point in the podcast where more of the people discussed are living than dead, I'd just like to say something, and make a request.
    I've seen several people asking people mentioned in the podcast if they're listeners, on Twitter and other social media, and I would very much rather people stop doing that. Please don't tag any living subjects of my podcast episodes into tweets about those episodes. I can't stop you, of course, and I'm not meaning to shame anyone who has, as they've done it for the best of reasons, but it makes me extremely uncomfortable.
    I've had people take offence before at things I've written about their work which I didn't intend to be offensive. Creative people will often focus on a single negative aside in what is otherwise a wall of praise, and it can cause them real upset.
    I can't stop any subjects of podcast episodes from listening to them, but the podcast is not ultimately for them.
    The very best case scenario is that knowing those people are going to hear the podcast makes me uncomfortable and restricts what I say, making the podcast less good. The worst-case scenario is someone takes legal action because of something I've said, and the podcast has to end altogether.
    But mostly, I just know that if someone I've talked about is going to listen to my podcast, there's a good chance that they'll pick up on one casual remark I didn't even think about and ruminate about it all day. And I don't want to make people I admire have bad days.
    So please, do keep telling your friends about the podcast, but don't tell the stars I talk about. I know you all mean well when you do it, but it can cause far more harm than good.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
245 Ratings

245 Ratings

mrsalrmysic ,

A must for any music fan

This podcast has been my most exciting find this year…. Incredibly well researched, exceptionally informative, music clips intertwined all the way through, a soothing voice to narrate. I rarely review anything, but after listening to 19 episodes and having my life significantly enhanced I felt I had to encourage others to enjoy this.

furanse.e.ra ,

A must listen

Already a monumental achievement, and the series is not even one third of the way through. The shorter bonus episodes for supporters are just as good as the main shows.

Ripper time ,

Much more than 500 songs…

Chanced upon Hickey’s amazingly detailed series and now I can’t get enough…like having a new like-minded friend who can regale you with background and stories about all those artists you love, and even some you didn’t…each podcast does far more than investigate the song in the title, the tangents and links he uncovers are fascinating and endlessly rewarding for further listening and reading. I imagine his encyclopaedic knowledge is the result of a lifetime’s research!

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