195 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

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

    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.

    Episode 154: “Happy Together” by the Turtles

    Episode 154: “Happy Together” by the Turtles

    Episode one hundred and fifty-four of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs is the last of our four-part mini-series on LA sunshine pop and folk-rock in summer 1967. 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 "Baby, Now That I've Found You" by the Foundations.

    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 Turtles songs in the episode.

    There's relatively little information available about the Turtles compared to other bands of their era, and so apart from the sources on the general LA scene referenced in all these podcasts, the information here comes from a small number of sources.

    This DVD is a decent short documentary on the band's career.

    Howard Kaylan's autobiography, Shell Shocked: My Life with the Turtles, Flo and Eddie, and Frank Zappa, Etc.,  is a fun read, if inevitably biased towards his own viewpoint. Jim Pons' Hard Core Love: Sex, Football, and Rock and Roll in the Kingdom of God is much less fun, being as it is largely organised around how his life led up to his latter-day religious beliefs, but is the only other book I'm aware of with a substantial amount of coverage of the Turtles.

    There are many compilations of the Turtles' material available, of which All The Singles is by far and away the best. The box set of all their albums with bonus tracks is now out of print on CD, but can still be bought as MP3s.

    Errata

    I say that the clarinet and saxophone have the same fingerings. This is not strictly true -- they have very, very, similar fingerings, and the same when you're just starting out on both instruments, but the clarinet has a wider range and overblows at a perfect twelfth rather than an octave. For a beginner, as Volman and Kaylan were, they're the same though.

    Also, for the first day or so it was uploaded, this episode included an excerpt of the studio version of "Everyone's Gone to the Movies" by Steely Dan rather than the demo version on which Volman and Kaylan sang. That has been fixed.

    Patreon

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

    Transcript

    We've spent a lot of time recently in the LA of summer 1967, at the point where the sunshine pop sound that was created when the surf harmonies of the Beach Boys collided with folk rock was at its apex, right before fashions changed and tight sunny pop songs with harmonies from LA became yesterday's news, and extended blues-rock improvisations from San Francisco became the latest in thing.

    This episode is the last part of this four-episode sequence, and is going to be shorter than those others. In many ways this one is a bridge between this sequence and next episode, where we travel back to London, because we're saying goodbye for a while to the LA scene, and when we do return to LA it will be, for the most part, to look at music that's a lot less sunshine and a lot more shadow. So this is a brief fade-out while we sing ba-ba-ba, a three-minute pop-song of an episode, a last bit of sunshine pop before we return to longer, more complicated, stories  in two weeks' time, at which point the sun will firmly set.

    Like many musicians associated with LA, Howard Kaylan was born elsewhere and migrated there as a child, and he seems to have regarded his move from upstate New York to LA as essentially a move to Disneyland itself. That impression can only have been made stronger by the fact that soon after his family moved there he got his first childhood girlfriend -- who happened to be a Mouseketeer on the TV.

    And TV was how young Howard filtered most of his perceptions -- particularly TV comedy. By the age of fourtee

    Episode 153: “Heroes and Villains” by the Beach Boys

    Episode 153: “Heroes and Villains” by the Beach Boys

    Episode one hundred and fifty-three of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “Heroes and Villains” by the Beach Boys, and the collapse of the Smile album. Click the full post to read liner notes, links to more information, and a transcript of the episode.

    Patreon backers also have a sixteen-minute bonus episode available, on "I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night" by the Electric Prunes.

    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. As well as the books I referred to in all the Beach Boys episodes, listed below, I used Domenic Priore's book Smile: The Story of Brian Wilson's Lost Masterpiece and Richard Henderson's 33 1/3 book on Van Dyke Parks' Song Cycle.

    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.

    Catch a Wave: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Beach Boys' Brian Wilson by Peter Ames Carlin is the best biography of Wilson.

    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 “Heroes and Villains”.

    The box set The Smile Sessions  contains an attempt to create a finished album from the unfinished sessions, plus several CDs of outtakes and session material.

    Transcript
    [Opening -- "intro to the album" studio chatter into "Our Prayer"]
    Before I start, I'd just like to note that this episode contains some discussion of mental illness, including historical negative attitudes towards it, so you may want to check the transcript or skip this one if that might be upsetting.

    In November and December 1966, the filmmaker David Oppenheim and the conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein collaborated on a TV film called "Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution".  The film was an early attempt at some of the kinds of things this podcast is doing, looking at how music and social events interact and evolve, though it was dealing with its present rather than the past.
    The film tried to cast as wide a net as possible in its fifty-one minutes. It looked at two bands from Manchester -- the Hollies and Herman's Hermits -- and how the people identified as their leaders, "Herman" (or Peter Noone) and Graham Nash, differed on the issue of preventing war:
    [Excerpt: Inside Pop, the Rock Revolution]

    And it made a star of East Coast teenage singer-songwriter Janis Ian with her song about interracial relationships, "Society's Child":

    [Excerpt: Janis Ian, "Society's Child"]

    And Bernstein spends a significant time, as one would expect, analysing the music of the Beatles and to a lesser extent the Stones, though they don't appear in the show. Bernstein does a lot to legitimise the music just by taking it seriously as a subject for analysis, at a time when most wouldn't:

    [Excerpt: Leonard Bernstein talking about "She Said She Said"]

    You can't see it, obviously, but in the clip that's from, as the Beatles recording is playing, Bernstein is conducting along with the music, as he would a symphony orchestra, showing where the b

    Episode 152: “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield

    Episode 152: “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield

    Episode 152 of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs looks at “For What It's Worth”, and the short but eventful career of Buffalo Springfield. 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 "By the Time I Get to Phoenix" by Glen Campbell.

    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 say Moby Grape never recorded the song "On the Other Side", but someone in the comments has pointed me to a demo of it which was released under the name "Stop"




    Resources


    As usual, there's a Mixcloud mix containing all the songs excerpted in the episode.

    This four-CD box set is the definitive collection of Buffalo Springfield's work, while if you want the mono version of the second album, the stereo version of the first, and the final album as released, but no demos or outtakes, you want this more recent box set.

    For What It's Worth: The Story of Buffalo Springfield by Richey Furay and John Einarson is obviously Furay's version of the story, but all the more interesting for that.

    For information on Steve Stills' early life I used Stephen Stills: Change Partners by David Roberts. 

    Information on both Stills and Young comes from Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young by David Browne. 

    Jimmy McDonough's Shakey is the definitive biography of Neil Young, while Young's Waging Heavy Peace is his autobiography.

    Patreon

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

    Transcript

    A quick note before we begin -- this episode deals with various disabilities. In particular, there are descriptions of epileptic seizures that come from non-medically-trained witnesses, many of whom took ableist attitudes towards the seizures. I don't know enough about epilepsy to know how accurate their descriptions and perceptions are, and I apologise if that means that by repeating some of their statements, I am inadvertently passing on myths about the condition. When I talk about this, I am talking about the after-the-fact recollections of musicians, none of them medically trained and many of them in altered states of consciousness, about events that had happened decades earlier. Please do not take anything said in a podcast about music history as being the last word on the causes or effects of epileptic seizures, rather than how those musicians remember them.

    Anyway, on with the show.

    One of the things you notice if you write about protest songs is that a lot of the time, the songs that people talk about as being important or impactful have aged very poorly. Even great songwriters like Bob Dylan or John Lennon, when writing material about the political events of the time, would write material they would later acknowledge was far from their best. Too often a song will be about a truly important event, and be powered by a real sense of outrage at injustice, but it will be overly specific, and then as soon as the immediate issue is no longer topical, the song is at best a curio.

    For example, the sentencing of the poet and rock band manager John Sinclair to ten years in prison for giving two joints to an undercover police officer was hugely controversial in the early seventies, but by the time John Lennon's song about it was released, Sinclair had been freed by the Supreme Court, and very, very few people would use the song as an example of why Lennon's songwriting still has lasting value:

    [Excerpt: John Lennon, "John Sinclair"]

    But there are exceptions, and those tend to be songs where rather than talking about specific headlines, the song is about the emotion that current events have caused. Ninety years on from its first success, for example, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" still h

    Episode 151: “San Francisco” by Scott McKenzie

    Episode 151: “San Francisco” by Scott McKenzie

    We start season four of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs with an extra-long look at "San Francisco" by Scott McKenzie, and at the Monterey Pop Festival, and the careers of the Mamas and the Papas and P.F. Sloan.  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 "Up, Up, and Away" by the 5th Dimension.

    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: An incorrect version of the file was previously uploaded, with the wrong section edited in at approximately 57 minutes. This was fixed about three hours after uploading, but some streaming services may have cached the wrong file.

    Also I say that John Phillips wrote "No, No, No, No". I got this from an interview with McKenzie, but he must have been misremembering -- the song is a cover version of "La Poupee Qui Fait Non" by Michel Polnareff, with English-language lyrics by Geoff Stephens



    Resources

    As usual, all the songs excerpted in the podcast can be heard in full at Mixcloud.

    Scott McKenzie's first album is available here.

    There are many compilations of the Mamas and the Papas' music, but sadly none that are in print in the UK have the original mono mixes. This set is about as good as you're going to find, though, for the stereo versions.

    Information on the Mamas and the Papas came from Go Where You Wanna Go: The Oral History of The Mamas and the Papas by Matthew Greenwald, California Dreamin': The True Story Of The Mamas and Papas by Michelle Phillips, and Papa John by John Phillips and Jim Jerome.

    Information on P.F. Sloan came from PF - TRAVELLING BAREFOOT ON A ROCKY ROAD by Stephen McParland and What's Exactly the Matter With Me? by P.F. Sloan and S.E. Feinberg.

    The film of the Monterey Pop Festival is available on this Criterion Blu-Ray set. Sadly the CD of the performances seems to be deleted.

    Patreon

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

    Transcript

    Welcome to season four of A History of Rock Music in Five Hundred Songs. It's good to be back.

    Before we start this episode, I just want to say one thing. I get a lot of credit at times for the way I don't shy away from dealing with the more unsavoury elements of the people being covered in my podcast -- particularly the more awful men. But as I said very early on, I only cover those aspects of their life when they're relevant to the music, because this is a music podcast and not a true crime podcast. But also I worry that in some cases this might mean I'm giving a false impression of some people. In the case of this episode, one of the central figures is John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas. Now, Phillips has posthumously been accused of some truly monstrous acts, the kind of thing that is truly unforgivable, and I believe those accusations. But those acts didn't take place during the time period covered by most of this episode, so I won't be covering them here -- but they're easily googlable if you want to know. I thought it best to get that out of the way at the start, so no-one's either anxiously waiting for the penny to drop or upset that I didn't acknowledge the elephant in the room.

    Separately, this episode will have some discussion of fatphobia and diet culture, and of a death that is at least in part attributable to those things. Those of you affected by that may want to skip this one or read the transcript. There are also some mentions of drug addiction and alcoholism.

    Anyway, on with the show.

    One of the things that causes problems with rock history is the tendency of people to have selective memories, and that's never more true than when it comes to the Summer of Love, summer of 1967. In the mythology that's built up a

    Season Four Announcement

    Season Four Announcement

    Transcript

    This is the official announcement that episode one hundred and fifty-one will be up in precisely one week. I've just finished recording it, and am now in the process of recording episodes one hundred and fifty-two through one hundred and fifty-four while Tilt edits one hundred and fifty-one. For those of you who are Patreon backers, the Patreon-only Q&A is up now.

    This will be the start of season four, which is going to work slightly differently from previous seasons, because of the time off I gave myself. I now have a better idea of how much work I can do in parallel, and I've come to the conclusion that the most sustainable release pattern is going to be two weeks on, one week off, so you'll be getting four episodes every six weeks. I will still release Patreon bonuses on the weeks I don't release a mainline episode.

    The episodes are going to be written and recorded in batches of four, and the general plan is going to be that every batch of four will have a long episode -- a ninety-minute or two-hour one -- a short half-hour episode, and two other episodes which will probably be about an hour but can vary depending on time constraints. In this batch, episode 151 is going to be the long one, episode 154 the shortest, and the two in the middle will be middling length.

    So, join us back here in a week, for the ghost of James Dean, a prediction of the future, and the start of the summer of love.

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