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The term “iconic” is used too casually these days. But if a performance is still remembered nearly 70 years after it first aired, and the performer is still remembered by virtually everyone on the planet nearly 60 years after her death, it probably more than meets the standard for “iconic”.

Although she wasn’t the person to perform of “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend” — that was Carol Channing in the Broadway musical ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ — Marilyn Monroe’s version, from the 1953 movie adaptation of the Broadway show, is the one everybody remembers today.

Marilyn Monroe’s performance was so…


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Yes, I know many would consider this an Elvis song…which it was originally, of course. But given the recent passing of ZZ Top’s bass player, Dusty Hill, who also recorded a barnstorming version of the song, it seemed more appropriate to give ZZ Top’s version an airing in his memory. (Don’t worry, Elvis is linked below in case you can’t listen to this song without your fix of The King.)

ZZ Top are one of my favourite bands of all time, largely because they take a very simple set up…just three guys together, without backing singers, gospel choirs or fireworks…


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Peter, Paul and Mary had a pivotal, if often forgotten, role in the development of popular music in the 1960s.

The folk revival of the early 1960s was, if not spearheaded by, at least helped along considerably by, Peter, Paul and Mary’s enthusiastic following. And their wonderful recordings of other people’s songs brought some — at the time — unknown artists to national prominence.

Peter, Paul and Mary very much kickstarted the career of the young Bob Dylan, who was little known outside the folk clubs when Peter, Paul and Mary’s cover of “Blowin’ In The Wind” sold over a…


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In a world that seems to be full of trouble, one thing’s for sure. A dose of Steps always makes the world feel like a better place.

I’ll be the first to admit, in this little corner of the internet where we get slightly over-obsessed about song lyrics, British pop group Steps isn’t perhaps…with the greatest respect to them…the first band you might think we’d be writing about.

Their success has been largely domestic, so if you’re reading this outside the UK, you may well not even have come across “H”, Lee, Claire, Lisa and Faye before. But you can…


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With this week’s news that Tony Bennett is retiring from live performances, it seemed appropriate to write about his signature song.

Tony Bennett is the last remaining great singer of another era — Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole are all long gone to that great recording studio in the sky. But Tony has kept on going, keeping the flame burning for some of the greatest songs ever written.

In recent years, he’s shone in his duets with Lady Gaga…perhaps one of music’s unlikeliest pairings but they both bring out the best in one another. …


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“Don’t Call Me Baby” was a UK Number One for Australian duo Madison Avenue in the early summer of 2000.

It had flirted briefly with the UK Top 30 at the tail end of 1999, but the re-release in early 2000 took Madison Avenue right to the top of the charts. Despite doing well in most of Europe, as well as in their Australian homeland, “Don’t Call Me Baby” didn’t get much traction in the mainstream US charts, although it did top the Billboard Dance Chart.

Hypnotically danceable, “Don’t Call Me Baby” is about a guy who is talking down…


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Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana” is a fine example of a songwriting style I really like…telling a complete story in just three minutes.

“Copacabana” is a fine example of many other things too…it’s certainly high-kitsch, has a fabulous brass section, lush backing singers, and it’s produced to within an inch of its life.

But they’re all bonuses. “Copacabana” is really all about the story. We all know what we’re in for when we hear…

Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl

And, like a great book we’re read dozens of times before, even though we already know the ending, we stick…


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“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” was the first song I learned to play half-competently on the piano. I don’t mean tunes like “Chopsticks”, which I had mastered more than competently by then.

But it was the first tune I’d heard on the radio and managed to find the sheet music for.

It took a few weeks, but eventually I could make a sound that was recognisably the tune of “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”…slightly halting in places — I still remember a couple of places where it was really easy to find all your fingers were in the wrong places on the…


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Being completely on your own, cut off from the world, used to be seen as a terrible fate. As the world gets more selfish and more cantankerous, I suspect a growing number of people might think that wasn’t such a bad way to live nowadays.

It was different in 1979, when The Police released “Message In A Bottle” as the lead single from their second album “Regatta de Blanc”. Back then, we didn’t long for a life of isolation and solitude, we longed for a life of companionship and togetherness…

Just a castaway, an island lost at sea, oh
Another lonely…


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There’s a French expression, which I won’t butcher here, which roughly translates as “the more things change, the more they stay the same”.

I was thinking about that the other day while reading an article which suggested that, despite all of our modern technology, the same human emotions which have always driven our behaviours continue to have the upper hand today. Technology was not a “new era”, it was an “old era”, conducted through different means.

When it comes to human behaviour, there is nothing more fundamental than love. We all want to be loved. We all want to find…

No Words, No Song

Without words, it’s just a nice tune. Add words — now you’ve got a song. And songs can change your world. I write about some that changed mine.

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