Well, we’ve reached the end of our series, dear readers. The last three tracks for your consideration. Download ’em all. Give ’em all a good mulling over and then head to The Heavy Petting Zoo’s Facebook Page to vote on which of the 14 (Connick’s is already in HPZ rotation) should be added to Grandma Cyd’s playlist. Would Lyle Lovett sound good following Dean Martin? Can Good Lovelies provide a nice segue from Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters? Isn’t some of Paul McCartney’s stuff tailor made for the Zoo? If you’re not a fan of the Cute Beatle, do you go with the Quiet One and vote George in instead? Could we EVER hear Grandma Cyd proclaim the immortal words, “And next we heard U2” on the Heavy Petting Zoo?! It’s all a matter of personal preference, but we want to hear yours! Go on.
A great big thanks to Grandma Cyd for collaborating on this fun project. Here are your last 3 tracks for consideration. Hope you hadn’t made up your mind yet …
CONTENDERS AND PRETENDERS: Part 5 of 5
Which modern songs deserve placement alongside the classics?
The Bonzo Dog Band – Tubas in the Moonlight (from 1969’s Tadpoles)
Paul: 4.5 olives
Grandma Cyd: 5 olives
Grandma Cyd: Off we go.
Paul: I was impressed to learn you liked this one. I think soundwise it fits the bill of the show, but lyrically—as with many Bonzos songs—it’s a bit left field. And we’ve been pretty derisive of some of the songs’ lyrics this week.
Grandma Cyd: Derisive? No way! Not you and me!You were surprised? I’d say this was pretty close to what I think you were aiming for in terms of finding songs that would fit the 1930s-1950s style. In fact, of all the songs you picked, this one’s the closest to the 1930s feel, I think.
Paul: Well in terms of how it sounds, sure. But I also expected the Russian judge to get a little uppity about the concept of love soundtracked by tubas. In the moonlight. I had this whole defense planned where I questioned who pets in the park, and so forth.
Grandma Cyd: Sorry to make your whole arsenal go to waste. But maybe there’d be more pettin’ in the park if there were tubas in the backdrop. I mean, what’s more romantic than a little “Oompa-oompa”? We already established that “wahka wahka’s” appropriate (or did we?).
Paul: The Al Martino version of “Volare” does not make me want to pet in the park. Maybe do a little goofy dancing. But not pet in the park. Tubas in the moonlight might. Although I think the sound of the Bonzos song is even more “come hither” sounding than actual tubas.
Grandma Cyd: But it’s a subtle tuba presence. That’s why it works. It’s not some crazy Sousa march or something. You know?
Paul: This is true.
Grandma Cyd: There’s that cute little solo in the middle. That’s all you need. Smooooth.
Paul: I should try to find more Bonzo songs that would be appropriate for HPZ. That could be a series unto itself.
Grandma Cyd: Can we talk about this Bonzo business? Bonzo. What’s up with that? Is he a Muppet?
Paul: I don’t know how they got their name, actually. And yes, I know that’s the kind of thing I should know. They were just a comedic act in the 1960s that actually turned out some really good songs. About hunting tigers and Ali Baba’s camel. And garbagemen. And falling in love to the sound of tubas. Actually, they wrote a song called “Death Cab for Cutie,” which they play in the Beatles’ movie, “Magical Mystery Tour.” And that’s where the modern band got their name. The Bonzos’ drummer went onto play with George Harrison. Neil Innes, who was one of the main songwriters, went onto do a lot of stuff with Monty Python and play the John Lennon part of Ron Nasty in the Rutles. They did a lot of good stuff.
Grandma Cyd: Huh. Never heard of ‘em. But I like! I’m still surprised you thought I wouldn’t like it just because of the lyrics! Have you heard Cole Porter’s lyrics? They get played on my show all the time! (Sorry, had to get one more dig in there.)
Paul: And that would’ve been part of my defense. Nah, I thought it had a chance, but you never know when you put a comedy record into the mix.
Grandma Cyd: Well then, it turns out we’re allies after all. I can’t believe I’m about to do it—because I’m the Russian judge and all—but I’m thinkin’ 5!
Paul: Wow, five olives for the Bonzos.
Grandma Cyd: I know. Yet unmatched by anybody except Connick. Crazy, huh?
Paul: I think I’m going to go 4.5. It’s near perfect. I just would’ve preferred another verse toward the end, instead of extended solos and repeating, “Tubas in the moonlight will bring my loved one home.” And you’re wrong, you gave 5 to Good Lovelies.
Grandma Cyd: Oh wow. I’m slipping in my old age.
Ronnie Lane – Only You (from 1980’s See Me)
Paul: 4 olives
Grandma Cyd: 3 olives
Paul: I have it on record now with the Edgar Jones discussion that you might be on the lookout for more of this kind of song, with that 50s vibe.
Grandma Cyd: It wouldn’t hurt to build up my 50s collection, especially now that my 1930s collection has gotten such a boost that it’s surpassing the other decades. But actually, this makes me think, “60s.” More specifically, it has me thinking, “The Wonders.” That band in “That Thing You Do.” When they’re rehearsing for the state fair or whatever. Or weren’t they called the “Oneders”? Oh-NEED-ers.
Paul: Right. I can’t remember the slow song they do. “All My Only Dreams” or something like that? ‘Cos at the state fairs, they only play the upbeat ones. “That Thing You Do” and the one the guitar player sings. “Dance With Me Tonight” or whatever.
Grandma Cyd: Oh wow, your memory of this movie is much better than mine if you’re recalling song titles.
Paul: I don’t know, I get a late 50s, early rock and roll ballad vibe out of this. Much like I would from Santo & Johnny’s “Sleepwalk” or something.
Grandma Cyd: Yeah, it’s hard for me to discern between the late 50s and early 60s, to be honest with you. It’s why sometimes you’ll hear a 60s song pop up on the show from time to time.
Paul: Like “I’m Beginning To See the Light.” Time and time and time again.
Grandma Cyd: Are you complaining, Mr. “Play ‘I’m Beginning To See the Light,’” as you said last Saturday? It’s the best version of that song ever.
Paul: It is. I completely agree. But here, you played “(Marie’s the Name of) His Latest Flame,” and that recording actually sounds more modern than this.
Grandma Cyd: I did that for you, too, since you can count on one finger how many Elvis songs you like. But I actually am not a fan of that track. I do get the most compliments, though, on shows that contain a lot of 50s and 60s tunes. I can’t figure out if that’s to say listeners don’t like the 1930s or 1940s as much, or if it’s that the 1950s-1960s songs are more familiar to them and it’s harder to hear on the radio nowadays. So then I wonder, “Should my show turn into more of an oldies show just because the commercial stations are shifting to the 70s?” I’d rather not, but I don’t want to bore people, either.
Paul: I don’t think you have that problem. It wouldn’t all go toward the 50s and 60s. That’d actually give it more variety. And with that variety, I believe this would fit in quite well. Even if it’s from 1980.
Grandma Cyd: Yes, the song could fit in a 50s set. But it’s also kind of a snoozer, no? The whole second half?
Paul: What, the sax solo and just repeating “Only you…”? You want to be careful what you say about Ronnie Lane. He is the patron saint of my blog, you know. He’s the dude in that banner pic at the top.
Grandma Cyd: Ooooh, I could never read that handwriting. What earned him this prestigious title?
Paul: My adoration of him, basically.
Grandma Cyd: How come I only have one of his songs—“Only You”— in my iTunes? You’d think there would be more given I download just about everything you share!
Paul: I did a whole month of Ronnie Lane stuff years ago. It got kind of excessive. I didn’t want it to get to too much. But I know his song “Tin and Tambourine” was on one of my autumn mixes. And “Eddie’s Dreaming,” which is a song he did with the Small Faces, is on the first summer mix.
Grandma Cyd: Oh yeah. I had that. Where did it go? Hmm, I had that too. If they’re not in my iTunes, I know they’re still on my iPod.
Paul: Regardless, [“Only You”] doesn’t feature the standards for your show, that being orchestration or a whole bevy of horns, but I still think it wafts nicely into that dreamy, old-time romantic thing. Maybe more malt shop than moonlight in a gazebo or something. But I’d say it’s as much of a make out song as most of the stuff you play.
Grandma Cyd: It seems like, as far as olive ratings go, I’ll have to take an average. It’s usable, but I would hope that it’s not a song that causes people to yell something like, “Be done with it already!” because of the repetitive lyrics at the end. I’ll give it 3 olives, though.
Paul: I’m gonna go 4.
Grandma Cyd: You do it to spite me, don’t you?
Paul McCartney & Wings – You Gave Me the Answer (from 1975’s Venus and Mars)
Paul: 5 olives
Grandma Cyd: 4 olives
Grandma Cyd: Oh, yes. Well at least it’s a song we played on the show, so I do remember it.
Paul: Now, again I’ll say this. McCartney’s a big Astaire fan, and he wrote more than a few tunes in this vein, dating back to his time with the Beatles. I would argue even songs like “When I’m Sixty-Four” and “Honey Pie” could sound perfectly in place on HPZ. I like the production he gave this one though, because it’s kind of right in the middle of an arena rock album and it’s got that real thin, vintage production.
Grandma Cyd: I was surprised to hear he’s an Astaire fan. Not something I expected to hear about McCartney.
Paul: Really? You should check this out when you get the chance. [GOTTA SING, GOTTA DANCE] Didn’t quite have Astaire’s moves. But he’s big into that stuff.
Grandma Cyd: The risk of playing a McCartney tune in the middle of HPZ is that it’s McCartney! People know his voice and they might ask, “Why are the Beatles part of a show that’s supposed to focus on the 1930s-50s?” Or worse, they’d figure out that it’s Wings and then feel really duped! It seems hypocritical for me to say that, given that there are other songs in this series that I’d consider playing. The issue is that it’s McCartney. McCARTNEY. Big name. Recognizable voice. So very much tethered to the 60s (and the 80s).
Paul: Well, I’d argue Harry Connick has a very distinguishable voice. And musically he may harken more back to your era. But is he tethered?
Grandma Cyd: He’s not as famous as McCartney—no way. I guess I was getting at the fame thing. I have played a Beatles song on my show, though.
Paul: I understand. But what about Elvis? You play Elvis.
Grandma Cyd: I don’t remember how I incorporated it. But I got a couple “likes” on Facebook after I did it. Elvis is 50s. Why wouldn’t he count?
Paul: Elvis was in the 1950s, but if you get into “Suspicious Minds” and that, that was all stuff he did in the 60s and 70s. I mean, actually, I’d argue most of his post-1950s stuff is more in line with the type of stuff you play on your show. The 1950s stuff is more rockabilly.
Grandma Cyd: It is harder to smoothly incorporate him, yes. I usually have to do it next to a country set (Patsy Cline and others), or—with the rockabilly—next to Buddy Holly or some such. I think that’s why I don’t play him as often as other artists, much to my aunt’s dismay.
Paul: I get what you’re aiming at. I know you said the same thing about U2 (had either of us liked that track).
Grandma Cyd: Right.
Paul: But if we go from a standpoint of “Would this song be out of place on HPZ?,” which is basically what this series is all about, I think it’s very, very, very, very hard to argue “You Gave Me the Answer” would not. I mean, it sounds more vintage than the Bobby Darin tracks you play. By the way, if you’re ever looking to do a show with a Beatles tie, you might be interested to know that Lennon and Harrison were huge Hoagy Carmichael fans. Harrison even covered a couple Hoagy tunes on his Somewhere in England LP. And Ringo’s first solo album was him doing a bunch of standards. Throw in an array of Macca tracks that have this feel (there are more than a few), and you got a nifty show.
Grandma Cyd: NO WAY. You mean I’m not the only one who cares about Hoagy Carmichael? And my company is George Harrison and John Lennon? I never felt more awesome (in a nerdly way) than I do right now.
Grandma Cyd: Well thanks for telling me that! Anyway, those reservations aside, I do like this song. And there’s something in the melody that I can relate to an Astaire tune.
Paul: Totally. I love his ad libs during the solo. “Shall we dance? … This is fun! … We should do this more often.”
Grandma Cyd: I think when he drops an octave or so at, “You, you seem to like me,” or whatever the lyric is. Haha, can we call what Randy Newman does in his song “ad libbing”?
Paul: Sure. Randy sounds like he’s just speaking off the cuff in “Shame” anyway.
Grandma Cyd: Why didn’t Paul call his imaginary dance partner “bitch” or something? I mean, I think yelling at a woman in the name of ad libbing is really sexy. (Sarcasm).
Grandma Cyd: I see you ruminating over this line.
Paul: Well he doesn’t walk the “piss” line. Although in “Too Many People,” people think he opens the song with “Piss off, yeah.” But per your summation of FCC standards, that’s OK.
Grandma Cyd: Yep, it is. Silly, huh?
Paul: So it goes. By the way, Macca always gets a lot of slack for his lyrics, but can I say how much I dig the “You’ll never be crowned by the aristocracy. To their delight, you’d merely invite them in for a cup of tea” bit? I might be the only one, but I think that’s a nifty turn of phrase that fits the whole mood of the song superbly.
Grandma Cyd: It’s cute! A cute little ditty.
Paul: Big surprise – 5 olives.
Grandma Cyd: I’m shocked. Utterly shocked. I’ll give it a 4. Heck, we played it last Saturday. I’d feel like a cheat if I went down to 3.5.
Paul: Well I call that a series. And I think everything that got at least a 3 from you should enter into your playlist. But that’s not for me to decide, is it?
Grandma Cyd: Although I think it could work, if I did that, my show might be due for an entire change of format. And I’m enlightened to see that in the recent polls where I asked what music people prefer to hear on my show (1930s, 1940s, or 1950s), the leader was 1940s! We’re talking WWII, go-get-’em tunes. (And then some). Good choices there, Pabs.
Paul: Always a pleasure, Grandma Cyd. Let me know when you want to do that Beatles show.
Go vote. And have a good weekend, all.