Playlist: Episode 183

Folk Roots Radio on Valentine’s Day was all about the music, a lot of it new. Alongside a large number of love and heartbreak songs we also found room for sets celebrating Louis Riel Day and a new tribute album honouring the 1964 Johnny Cash album Bitter Tears – Ballads of the American Indian.

Our mystery theme was, of course, all about Valentine’s Day with a set of songs about “Love” where things turned out fairly positively. However, to provide some balance, we immediately followed up the ‘love’ set with another set of songs where things didn’t quite turn out as planned, and could probably best be summarized by the word “heartache”.

Our guilty pleasure this week also continued the Valentine’s Day theme with Elton John and Kiki Dee from 1976 with “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”, a song written by Elton with Bernie Taupin as a pastiche of the great duets popularized by Motown acts like Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell. Elton originally planned to sing the song with Dusty Springfield but unfortunately she was too sick to record it, so Kiki Dee stepped in. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart reached the top of both the UK and US charts in 1976, though the song never made it onto any album, apart from compilations. It was also Elton’s first UK No. 1. Elton also sang the song with Miss Piggy on the Muppet show in 1978. That Youtube is well worth checking out if for nothing more than to see Elton in his 70s pomp.

Thanks to Sally for the suggestion, and asking for some Elton John from his halcyon days in the 1970s. If you have a guilty pleasure you’d like to share – that song you still love though you think other people would find it unfashionable (believe me, they won’t), get in touch. We’d love to play it for you! And, if you have a good story about why you love that song, so much the better.

We followed Don’t Go Breaking My Heart with two more Elton John songs. The first, an incredible cover of “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” by Bettye LaVette from her fabulous album of covers of songs by British artists, “Interpretations: The British Songbook” (2010, Anti). We followed that with a mostly instrumental song that Elton wrote himself, “Song For Guy” (1978), a sad and very moving song about death. The song became known as Song for Guy after Elton heard that the motorcycle messenger boy who delivered to his office had been killed in a road accident. Song for Guy, which featured on the 1978 album “A single Man”, reached No 1 in 1979 in the UK, but didn’t breach the top 100 when released in the US. So there you are. I’m not sure how I managed to get from ‘love to death’ in three songs, but it just felt right to finish the set with that song.

The third Monday in February is Louis Riel. As a relatively new emigrant to Canada I’m still learning my Canadian history. I first learnt about Louis Riel from my good friend Peter Boyer (of Same Latitude As Rome) who wrote a song about Louis, “Song for Louis Riel”. Song for Louis Riel won the political category of the Folk Music Ontario‘s “Songs of the Heart” in 2014. We commemorated Louis Riel Day by lining up three songs that talk about Louis Riel – the man and myth. Louis Riel was a politician, founder of the great Canadian province of Manitoba, and spiritual leader of the Metis people of Canada. He led two resistance movements against the Canadian government and its first post-Confederation prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald. As Riel sought to preserve Métis rights and culture as their homelands progressively came under Canadian influence he is regarded by many today as a Canadian folk hero. We finished the set with a little rousing Metis fiddle music by the sadly departed fiddling great Mel Bedard

Later in the show we played a set of songs from a new album “Look Again To The Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited”. It’s a tribute to one of the most interesting – and critically acclaimed albums of Johnny Cash’s career. The socially conscious Bitter Tears – Ballads of the American Indian, was recorded in 1964 to raise awareness of the plight of Native Americans within the United States. To honour the 50th anniversary, Joe Henry has assembled an all-star cast from the world of Americana music to recreate the album. On this week’s show we played songs featuring Emmylou Harris, a href=”” target=”_blank”>Gillian Welch / David Rawlings, Rhiannon Giddens and Bill Miller. The album is definitely worthy checking out.

Well, that’s just about all the time we have for today. Check out the full playlist with artist links below. Thanks to all the artists who share their music with us, and thank you for listening. We’ll see you next week!

You can listen to the show again on Mixcloud.

Playlist: Episode 183 by Folk Roots Radio on Mixcloud

Mystery Theme: “Love”

Nicolas & The Iceni (Theme)
Lucy She Rises (Demo)
Roll Right (expected 2015)

Kate & Anna McGarrigle
Love Is
Heartbeats Accelerating (1990, Private) CDN

Dennis Ellsworth
Love Knows Love
Love Knows Love (2014, Busted Flat Records) CDN

Oh Susanna
Loved You More
Namedropper (2014, Sonic Unyon Records / Sony) CDN

Linda McRae
I’ll Watch Your Lovelight Shine
Fifty Shades Of Red (2014, Borealis) CDN

Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
I Love You I Do
Good Light (2013, Good Time Entertainment)

Julie Gold
Love Is Love Is Love
Love Is Love Is Love (2011, Self)

M. Mucci
Zero For Three
Imaginational Anthem Volume 7 (2015, Tompkins Square) CDN

The Lone Bellow
I Let You Go
Then Came The Morning (2014, Descendent Records)

Andy White
All It Does Is Rain
How Things Are (2014, Lowdenproud Records)

Rodney Crowell
Famous Last Words Of A Fool In Love
Tarpaper Sky (2014, New West)

Doug Seegers
Baby Lost Her Way Again
Going Down To The River (2014, Rounder Records)

Isabel & The Uncommons
I’d Give Away All Of My Love Songs
Hearts & Arrows (2014, Self)

Elton John & Kiki Dee
Don’t Go Breaking My Heart (1976)
Rocket Man – Number Ones (2007, Mercury Records)

Bettye LaVette
Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
Interpretations: The British Songbook (2010, Anti)

Elton John
Song For Guy (1978)
A Single Man (1998, Mercury Records)

Same Latitude As Rome
Song For Louis Riel
Early Days (2014, Self) CDN

Little Miss Higgins
Snowin’ Today: A Lament For Louis Riel
Across The Plains (2010, Self) CDN

Betty Soo & Doug Cox
Louis Riel
Across The Borderline: Lie To Me (2011, Borderline Talent) CDN

Mel Bedard
Louis Riel
24 Metis Fiddle Tunes (2008, Rig Publishing) CDN

Emmylou Harris
Apache Tears
Look Again To The Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears (2014, Masterworks / Sony)

Gillian Welch / David Rawlings
As Long As The Grass Shall Grow
Look Again To The Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears (2014, Masterworks / Sony)

Rhiannon Giddens
The Vanishing Race
Look Again To The Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears (2014, Masterworks / Sony)

Bill Miller
Look Again To The Wind
Look Again To The Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears (2014, Masterworks / Sony)

Samantha Martin
Send The Nightingale (2014, Self) CDN

Jez Lowe
Tether’s End
The Ballad Beyond (2014, Tantobie Records)

Pete Davies
It’s A Long Way Home
Long Way Home (2014, Home Routes Music)

About the author


Host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan Hall started in Radio in 1993 at WEFT 90.1fm in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Folk Roots Radio (formerly Royal City Rag) debuted on CFRU 93.3fm in August 2005 before developing into a syndicated radio show. As the host of Folk Roots Radio, Jan focuses on bringing new folk, roots and blues music and the voices of upcoming and independent artists to the airwaves. Jan is also a much sought after stage host and festival emcee. In 2019, Jan Hall received Folk Music Ontario's prestigious Estelle Klein Award for her contribution to Ontario's folk music community.

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