By Marco den Ouden
Curves are part of the natural order. Straight lines are rare in nature. Even out in the cosmos, everything is curves and spheres. So we start with Loquat doing some Time Bending, contemplating time and space and possible life on faraway planets - "parallel places, unreachable sights". Al Stewart brings us a bit closer to home, seduced by the Sirens of Titan. Al's journey takes him by those great orbs of the solar system – Mars, Mercury and Saturn, of which Titan is the largest moon.
Earth seen from space must be an awesome sight. Few have actually seen it. Swedish jazzmen, the Esbjörn Svensson Trio, imagine what it must have been like for the world's first man in space to see that great curve of blue and white with the ethereal Gagarin's Point of View.
From Earth we look up and see the stars and the moon. In mythology we attach anthropomorphic qualities to these orbs, just speeding through space with out a care while we slave away. That Lucky Old Sun, thinks Ray Charles, "got nothin' to do but roll around heaven all day".
Here on Earth nature also favours curves over straight lines. One of the most pleasing shapes is the egg. The Dickies celebrate this awesome shape with Walk Like an Egg, a quirky but captivating little song.
Spheres play a big role in human amusement. Many games are played with balls, be it basketball, football or baseball. Each game has its heroes and Natalie Cole asks Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball? Not only was Robinson an All-Star for six consecutive seasons, and the MVP in 1949, he was the first African American to play in the major leagues, breaking the colour barrier for all time. A true American hero.
It's not just in sports that we find curves, circles and spheres. Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits meets a girl under the lights of a "big wheel" of fortune, lit up in bright neon. They ride together in the Tunnel of Love at an amusement park. But as part of an itinerant band, heis on the move and loses touch. He tries to find her again, searching through carousels and arcades.
We fight the natural order by building straight lines but our efforts sometimes come to naught. We try to build our roads as straight as we can, but while barrelling down the highway, our 18-wheeler belching Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves can lead to trouble as The Little Willies point out. The song has a double meaning - alluding to the curves of the waitress he has his eye on.
The most meaningful curves, in fact, are on ourselves. Smoke City tells of the appeal of the human form in Mr. Gorgeous (and Miss Curvaceous). Sometimes it's a single aspect of a person's looks that hold special appeal. For Sinead O'Connor it's Curly Locks (and who can blame her!) For the gentlemen of Queen, it's the derriere as they sing the praises of Fat Bottomed Girls.
Nice buns are also the focus of Anaconda. Postmodern Jukebox, an internet phenomenon who achieved fame and fortune through their Youtube video covers of popular songs, put a delightful spin on Nicki Minaj's rap number. They do a bluegrass version, and while they retain much of the innuendo of the original, they clean it up its explicit details with a humorous twist.
We conclude with some advice for the men out there (who have a vested interest in certain tender spheres). If you want to keep your anaconda happy, make sure your family jewels are in order. "Testicular cancer, it ain't no joy," according to punksters Oi Polloi. "Prostate cancer is on the increase." Keep healthy and it's A Whole New Ball Game! Good advice indeed!
Time Bending - Loquat
Sirens of Titan - Al Stewart
Gagarin's Point of View - Esbjorn Svensson Trio
That Lucky Old Sun - Ray Charles
Walk Like an Egg - The Dickies
Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball? - Natalie Cole
Tunnel of Love - Dire Straits
Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves - The Little Willies
Mr. Gorgeous (And Miss Curvaceous) - Smoke City
Curly Locks - Sinead O'Connor
Fat Bottomed Girls - Queen
Anaconda - Postmodern Jukebox
A Whole New Ball Game - Oi Polloi
The B-list playlist
Dead Man's Curve - Jan and Dean
Saturn 5 - Inspiral Carpets
Long and Winding Road - The Beatles
Golden Ring - George Jones & Tammy Wynette
Throw Me a Curve - The Go-Go's
Hero With a Wing - Robert Calvert
Every Day is a Winding Road - Cheryl Crow
The Little Black Egg - The Night Crawlers
She's a Rainbow - The Rolling Stones
Mars: Bringer of War - Tomita
Blue Moon - Ella Fitzgerald
Spiral - William Orbit with Kenna and Sugababes
Big Balls - AC/DC
Egg Man - Beastie Boys
Harmony of the Spheres - Steve Miller Band
Fussball - The Orb ft Lee "Scratch" Perry
Jupiter - Gustav Holst
Baby Got Back - Sir Mix-a-Lot
Spiral - Vangelis
Beyond the Blue Horizon - Michael Nesmith
The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Any More - The Walker Brothers
Big Shot - Bonzo Doo Dah Band
Corn Circles – The Waterboys
The Dent in the Fender - Jackie Leven
Ring of Bright Water - Dee Dee Warwick (not on YouTube - can be found here)
Guru's wildcard pick
Beyond the Blue Horizon by The Three Suns
One of the earliest music videos (called Soundies) which ran in a video jukebox called a Panoram. I just love the solos from around 1m:35sec. The accordion player is a bit of a fanatic and looks like the happiest guy on Earth. He is so into the accordion.
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic: Share: songs about curves and spheres. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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Fancy a turn behind the pumps at The Song Bar? Care to choose a playlist from songs nominated and write something about it? Then feel free to contact The Song Bar here, or try the usual email address.