Charlie, Jeremy, Carey, Bob, Frank, Andy, Sam, Terry, Mr Sugimoto, James, Billy, Billy Ray, Michael – these are their stories.
Fee fee fi fi fo fo fum
I smell smoke in the auditorium
Because I think this is probably the best pair of opening lines in the whole of rock’n’roll, I decided to start by quoting them and then see what the opening lines of all 12 of my selections would tell me (and you). Charlie Brown is clearly a giant to the kids in his school, but perhaps
is where Pearl Jam’s Jeremy should have stayed, instead of playing out his (true) tragic story. Meanwhile Joni Mitchell is getting restless and ready to give Carey the push:
The wind is in from Africa
Last night I couldn’t sleep
– a fate that we know the Drive-By Truckers’ Bob will escape, because he don’t have no truck with women (except his mum).
Bob goes to church every Sunday
Every Sunday that the fish ain't biting
We know where Bob is at all times, but the girl in love with Frank Mills has carelessly mislaid him:
I met a boy called Frank Mills
On September 12th right here in front of the Waverley
– whereas nobody knows where on earth Andy Kaufman has got to. Perhaps he’s the Man On The Moon himself? Elvis is up there too, after all:
Mott the Hoople and the Game of Life (yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)
Andy Kaufman in the wrestling match (yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)
Telegram Sam seems a lot more reliable:
Telegram Sam Telegram Sam
You're my main man
But I’m afraid Terry won’t be coming back to Twinkle any time soon. (He got himself banned by the Beeb, though, for excessive morbidness. Way to go, Terry!):
He said to me he wanted to be near to me
He said he never wanted to be out of my sight.
OK, this is where my clever plan breaks down, because I don’t know any Japanese. But I do know that Happy Summer Wedding starts with
This one’s not really about babies – it’s about being away from home. But there again, my youngest grandson is Sweet Baby James.
There is a young cowboy, he lives on the range
His horse and his cattle are his only companions
The circus in Wild Billy’s Circus Story is a transgressive, Ray Bradburyesque kind of place. It throws its lure to tempt you from your humdrum everyday life – will you succumb?
The machinist climbs his Ferris wheel like a brave
And the fire-eater's lyin' in a pool of sweat, victim of the heat wave
We end with two songs about magic. Billy Ray may have been the Son Of A Preacher Man, but his is a sexual magic. I don’t suppose his dad knows what he gets up to.
Billy Ray was a preacher's son
And when his daddy would visit he'd come along
Crazy Man Michael is told of a prophecy by a raven, and he doesn’t believe in it. It comes true though.
Within the fire and out upon the sea
Crazy man Michael was walking.
but he achieves peace and redemption at the end, so I will quote the closing couplet as well:
For his true love is flown into every flower grown
And he must be keeper of the garden.
Charlie Brown – The Coasters
Jeremy – Pearl Jam
Carey – Joni Mitchell
Bob – Drive-By Truckers
Frank Mills – Veda Hille
Man On The Moon – REM
Telegram Sam – T Rex
Terry – Twinkle
Happy Summer Wedding – Goosehouse
Sweet Baby James – James Taylor
Wild Billy’s Circus Story – Bruce Springsteen
Son Of A Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield
Crazy Man Michael – Fairport Convention
Hats Off To Larry – Del Shannon
Fernando – ABBA
Oh No! Bruno! – NoMeansNo
Cocaine In My Brain – Dillinger
Detlef Schrempf – Band of Horses
Cadillac Jack – Andre Williams
I’m Frank – The Fall
Good Foot Charlie – Wunmi
Land – Patti Smith
Willie And The Hand Jive – Johnny Otis
So Long Frank Lloyd Wright – Simon and Garfunkel
Joe the Georgian – Al Stewart
Frankie – Sister Sledge
Spike by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
These playlists were inspired by readers' song nominations from last week's topic Don't call me Shirley? Songs featuring men's names. The next topic will launch on Thursday at 1pm UK time.
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