It’s an ambivalent kind of a colour, yellow, isn’t it? One the one hand it’s all sunshine, buttercups and bananas, but on the other – well, we’ll get to that part later on. First, let’s have the happy stuff. Lots of people liked the Neville Brothers‘ Yellow Moon this week, and I do too, so we can start with that. Then you can’t yet anything more yellow than the JCB in the JCB Song, now can you? Of course, if you’re the motorist stuck behind it on the bypass, you might get less fond of yellow after a bit. You might start wondering where that girl with the Yellow Eyes has got to, and whether you could break her heart.
So you cannot see him when the sun shines, because he is the colour of the sunshine? And he’s a Yellow Fly? Hmm. And wait – there’s a song called The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth? This is getting weird. Peter Smith Is A Banana? Oh please. Let’s think about parking instead. But no, even an innocuous-sounding title like Double Yellow Lines is really about trying to find your way home after a night out in Dundee, when the yellow haar is coming up the river and everything looks all wrong.
Then again, when you hear there’s a song called Yellow Dog Blues, and it’s about an ‘easy rider’ who dumps his girlfriend and skips town, you might think the dog in question was a personification of said scumbag, but you’d be wrong. It’s a railway line. Things aren’t always what they seem.
I don’t know what kind of yellow fever Jocelyn Pook is singing about in Yellow Fever Psalm, because she’s singing it back to front like one of those competitions they keep having on Radio 3. I do know that Fela Kuti, however, isn’t singing about the kind of Yellow Fever you first thought of – the song’s about the fashion for skin-lightening among women in Kenya, and it’s fair to say they haven’t found a solution for that one yet, even though Fela was singing about it in 1971 and we know a lot more these days about the dangers of the chemicals used. It’s more complicated than ‘just say no’, though – like so many things.
Frank Zappa’s message is a bit more straightforward. Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow, people. Dog germs aren’t the same as people germs – I read that in the paper, so it must be true. And speaking of matters lavatorial, I have a confession to make: I’m ashamed to say that whenever I hear Donovan’s Mellow Yellow what immediately comes to mind is that old hippy water-saving mantra “When it’s yellow, let it mellow. When it’s brown, flush it down”. Sorry, Donovan. Sorry, everybody.
1 Yellow Moon – The Neville Brothers
2 JCB Song – Nizlopi
3 Yellow Eyes – Rayland Baxter
4 Yellow Fly – Ivor Cutler
5 The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
6 Peter Smith Is A Banana – The Deep Freeze Mice
7 Double Yellow Lines – The View
8 Yellow Dog Blues – Bessie Smith
9 Yellow Fever Psalm – Jocelyn Pook
10 Yellow Fever – Fela Kuti
11 Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow – Frank Zappa
12 Mellow Yellow – Donovan
1 Little Sunflower – Dorothy Ashby
2 Yellow Moon – Pearl Jam
3 Yellow Brick Road – Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band
4 Yellow Man – Randy Newman
5 Marshmellow Yellow – Peaking Lights
6 18 Yellow Roses – Bobby Darin
7 Bright Yellow Gun – Throwing Muses
8 Yellow – Sheila E
9 Chartreuse – Louis Jordan
10 Pale Yellow – Ditty Bops
11 Yellow Coat – Screaming Jay Hawkins
12 Sunflower – Low
Inside Out – The Traveling Wilburys
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic Pumpkin up the volume: songs about the colour or term yellow. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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