Songlines

Humorist David Stafford presents a five-part series which considers the origins of some of the best-known songs that have entered the collective memory.

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Episodes

SeriesEpisodeTitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
20060110
20060117
20060416

John Cavanagh on the stories behind songs. 2/8. This edition features Where Have all the Flowers Gone, written then forgotten by Pete Seeger. It became famous after success in the US.

20060423
20060512
20060514

John Cavanagh on the stories behind songs. Terry Jacks' Seasons in the Sun is often written off as cheesy and sentimental. John explores the tragic tale's history.

20060521
(i Can't Get No) Satisfaction2009070620090711

John Cavanagh tells the story of the Rolling Stones classic (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction. Built around a powerful opening riff, the song attacked advertising and consumerism.

John Cavanagh tells the story of the Rolling Stones classic (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.

A Change Is Gonna Come2009062220090627
20091227 (RS)

John Cavanagh tells the story behind Sam Cooke's 'A Change Is Gonna Come' - the song referred to by Barack Obama in his presidential acceptance speech.

John Cavanagh tells the story behind Sam Cooke's 'A Change Is Gonna Come'.

Auld Lang Syne20081228
20100101 (BBC7)
20101120 (BBC7)
20101121 (BBC7)

Musicologist John Cavanagh explores the evolution of the timeless Scottish ballad.

Raise your glass to musicologist John Cavanagh, as he explores the evolution of the timeless Scottish ballad.

John Cavanagh explores the evolution of this famous Burns song.

Auld Lang Syne has been described as the song that nobody knows, but Songlines aims to put that to rights as John Cavanagh explores the evolution of this famous Burns song.

John Cavanagh explores the evolution of the timeless Scottish ballad.

Euro Songlines2009061520090620

John Cavanagh explores ABBA's Fernando, which links a Swedish ballad of lost love with a chip shop in Walthamstow, plus he finds out why the track was such a big hit.

John Cavanagh explores ABBA's Fernando and finds out why the track was such a big hit.

I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)20081224

Songlines celebrates as the Proclaimers' I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) turns twenty.

John Cavanagh talks to famous fans including Matt Lucas, David Tennant and Chris Evans.

Lili Marlene2006042720060428

John Cavanagh looks at the stories behind songs. He looks at Lili Marlene, it was banned by Joeseph Goebells but went on to become one of the best known songs of World War Two.

My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose2009010420100123 (BBC7)
20120214 (BBC7)
20120215 (BBC7)

John Cavanagh explores Robert Burns' classic love song with help from Kenneth McKellar.

John Cavanagh explores Robert Burns' classic love song with help from Kenneth McKellar, Jean Redpath and Sheena Wellington.

John Cavanagh explores the famous rivalries surrounding A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns.

A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns is one of Scotland's most enduring love songs.

John Cavanagh explores the famous rivalries surrounding its publication.

Seasons In The Sun20060511

Terry Jacks' Seasons in the Sun is often written off as cheesy and sentimental. John explores the tragic tale's history.

Will You Love Me Tomorrow *2009062920090704

John Cavanagh tells the story of Gerry Goffin and Carole King's Will You Love Me Tomorrow. Written over four decades ago, the song addresses issues which remain relevant today.

John Cavanagh tells the story of Gerry Goffin and Carole King's classic song.

012006040720060409

John Cavanagh takes a look at A Man's A Man, Robert Burns' famous democratic song of liberty and freedom, in which he takes a pot shot at the pretensions of the ruling class.

01A Man's A Man For A' That2006040620090111
20100116 (BBC7)
20101113 (BBC7)
20101119 (BBC7)

John Cavanagh probes Robert Burns' famous democratic song of liberty and freedom - also aimed at the pretentious ruling class.

John Cavanagh probes Robert Burns' famous democratic song of liberty and freedom.

John Cavanagh takes a look at A Man's a Man For A' That by Robert Burns.

John Cavanagh takes a look at A Man's a Man For A' That, Robert Burns' famous democratic song of liberty and freedom, which was also aimed at the pretentions of the ruling class.

John Cavanagh takes a look at A Man's A Man, Robert Burns' famous democratic song of liberty and freedom, in which he takes a pot shot at the pretensions of the ruling class.

01American Pie2007040520070406

Described by Don McLean as 'the first rock dream', the mysteries surrounding his classic song, American Pie, are unravelled by John Cavanagh.

01The House Of The Rising Sun20061001

'There is a house in New Orleans they call the Rising Sun'.

It's an opening line so embedded in the psyche of a generation that it's impossible to say without bursting into song.

John Cavanagh goes in search of the original rising sun house, and discovers how the Animals' classic rock rendition of House of the Rising Sun took a 17th century English folk song to number one in 1964.

0220061008

The story of one of the most evocative laments in Scottish culture. After the Battle of Flodden, a badly wounded soldier ran all the way home to Selkirk. On his arrival he cast a captured English standard around his head to show that all the others had been killed. But were they? John Cavanagh traces the origins of the song and the tune, now played all over the world to commemorate those who have fallen in combat.

02Fairytale Of New York2007041220070413

In 1987 Shane Mcgowan and Jem Finer penned the Pogues hit Fairytale of New York.

Twenty years on and the song still has Irish emigrants weeping into their pints.

It's also become a legacy to the late Kirsty Mccoll and a perennial Christmas classic.

Songlines delves into the remarkable story behind the song.

02Where Have All The Flowers Gone?2006041320060414

Written then forgotten by Pete Seeger. It became famous after success in the US.

032006042020060421

Think you know the story behind the song? John Cavanagh explores the high and the low roads on the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond with guests Donnie Munro, Sheena Wellington and Kenneth McKellar.

03Morning Has Broken20061015

The hymn that became a pop song, then a hymn again. Its roots lie in the small Mull village of Bunessan.

03R E S P E C T2007041920070420

Songlines demands your R.E.S.P.E.C.T this week for a soul classic.

Otis Redding first ignited the listeners' attention before the song burst into flames with Aretha Franklin's interpretation, transforming it into a rallying call for civil rights in America, as well as an anthem for women around the world.

Plus John Cavanagh discovers a unique 21st century interpretation dedicated just to him.

0420060131
04Happy Birthday2007042620070427

Be careful the next time you go to sing Happy Birthday in public as you may have to pay royalties, because unbelievably, the song is still under copyright until 2030.

In today's Songlines, John Cavanagh reveals remarkable stories behind the world's most popular song.

04Lili Marlene20060430

He looks at Lili Marlene, it was banned by Joeseph Goebells but went on to become one of the best known songs of World War Two.

04What's Goin' On20061022

Marvin Gaye's classic that captured the revolutionary mood of 1970s America.

0520060507

John Cavanagh on the stories behind songs. Farewell to the Place: A lament written by Mairi Mhor Nan Oran, a politically motivated crofter. Her influence is still felt today.

05Bridge Over Troubled Water2007051020070511

Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water is a song of peace, hope and healing, but the recording of the song and album exposed many of the underlying tensions that eventually led to the break up of the harmonious duo. John Cavanagh delves into the story behind the song.

05Farewell To The Place2006050420060505

A lament written by Mairi Mhor Nan Oran, a politically motivated crofter.

Her influence is still felt today.

05What's Goin On2006020720060208

It's early 70s America, there's a generation in revolt - and out of Motown comes a record which asks the question on everyones lips - What's Going On. The story of Marvin Gaye's surprise hit.

06Tomorrow Belongs To Me2007051720070518

Aspirational anthem or neo-nazi rallying cry? Songlines investigates the incredible legacy of Tomorrow Belongs to Me.

Written for Cabaret, the song charts Germany's pre-war tipping point from decadence to destruction, but is now feted by racist groups who've entirely missed the irony. John Cavanagh asks if it's too late to reclaim it.

06 LASTRedemption Song20060214

was the last track on the last album recorded and released before Bob Marley died of cancer in 1981.

John Cavanagh explores the song's universal and lasting power.

07Let It Be2007052420070525

John Cavanagh puts the iconic Beatles song Let It Be under the spotlight.

Inspired by a dream Paul Mccartney had about his late mother, what went on in the recording studio, where dozens of versions of the song were cut? What provoked John Lennon's frustrations and outbursts towards McCartney, and what mystery still surrounds Aretha Franklin's recording of the song?

07The Bonnie Banks Of Loch Lomond20061119

John Cavanagh explores roads high and low on the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond with guests Donnie Munro and Kenneth McKellar.

07You'll Never Walk Alone2006051820060519

John Cavanagh traces the history of You'll Never Walk Alone, from its origins in a Broadway musical to its adoption by football fans and its status in the American AIDS awareness movement.

08Lili Marleen20061126

John Cavanagh comes out from underneath the lamplight to tell us the haunting story of Lili Marleen. Banned by Goebbels, it became one of the best known songs of World War II.

08 LAST2007053120070601
08 LASTAe Fond Kiss2006052520060526
20060528 (RS)

Eddi Reader, Sheena Wellington and Harry Nical join John Cavanagh to tell the story behind the most beautiful Scottish love songs.

09Farewell To The Place20061203

A beautiful lament written in the 19th century by Mairi Mhor Nan Oran.

A strong, politically-motivated crofting woman, her influence still resonates today, particularly on her home of Skye.

Over the years, Soraidh Leis An Ait has become an anthem for the island.

John Cavanagh finds out why.

10Seasons In The Sun20061210

Terry Jacks' Seasons In The Sun is often written off as sentimental and cheesy. Yet at the time it struck a chord - we felt the emotion and sang along to every word.

John Cavanagh explores the song's varied history: from its origins as a French Chanson to the more recent Nirvana cover version, and reveals why this tragic tale of death can still affect us today.

11You'll Never Walk Alone20061217

From its origins in a Broadway musical to its adoption by football fans, through to its torch song status in the American AIDS awareness movement, You'll Never Walk Alone has proved to be one of the most inspiration songs of the 20th century.

John Cavanagh visits Liverpool's Anfield ground as he traces its history.

13 LASTAe Fond Kiss20061224

Robert Burns wrote Ae Fond Kiss after parting from his unrequited love Clarinda. John Cavanagh investigates the story behind one of the most beautiful Scottish love songs.

0101On Ilkla Moor Bah T'at1998113019990323

Richard Whiteley and Bill Oddie help to reveal the true story of life and death on a Yorkshire moor.

0102Amazing Grace1998120119990330

SNP leader Alex Salmond and members of an American gospel choir trace the journey of this hymn, from the town of Olney in Cambridgeshire to the American Deep South via Joan Baez and the Scots Guards.

0103Happy Birthday1998120219990406

Patty and Mildred Hill died penniless, but their birthday ditty is probably the best-known song in the world.

Children's entertainers and Italian restaurant waiters join forces to trace its roots.

0104The Red Flag1998120319990413

Originally an Irish anthem, this was the acid test for aspiring Labour politicians.

With Tony Benn

0105 LASTThe Star-spangled Banner1998120419990420

The American national anthem was written by Francis Scott Key after watching the British siege of Baltimore.

Comedian Adam Long and American football team the Monarchs help to tell the story.

0201Danny Boy2000050120010724

He explores the origins of the Cetic song of love, loss and yearning.

With Ronnie Drew of the Dubliners and Henry Kelly.

0202The Floral Dance20000502

From tenor Peter Dawson to the Helston Brass Band and Terry Wogan, Stafford traces the evolution of the floral dance.

0203La Marseillaise20000503

As accusations of racism and blood lust envelop the French national anthem, David Stafford seeks expert witness from Tony Benn MP, French scholar Malcolm Cook and lyricist Charles Hart.

0204Kum Ba Yah20000504

Heard in America's Deep South and in brownie camps in the Home Counties, this song with origins in Swahili is probably one of our most travelled collective-memory songs.

With Sheffield singer-songwriter John Shuttleworth (aka comedian Graham Fellows) and chief scout George Perdy.

0205 LASTMorning Has Broken20000505

Rick Wakeman recalls his famous piano introduction to the 1973 Cat Stevens version, and the Beverley Sisters discuss the song's universal appeal.

0301It's A Long Way To Tipperary20020304

David Stafford uncovers the true story behind the First World War anthem.

0302Clementine2002030520030219

David Stafford deconstructs the origins of the American folk song / David Stafford deconstructs the origins of the American folk song.

0303Guantanamera2002030620030220

David Stafford investigates the history and the symbolism of the old Cuban love song.

0304Ave Maria20020307

David Stafford investigates the history of the sacred chant, with a little help from soprano Lesley Garrett.

0305 LASTSkye Boat Song2002030820030218

David Stafford investigates the history of the romantic lullaby that is also a symbol of Scottish nationalism.

0401American Pie20071028

Described by Don McLean as 'the first rock dream', the mysteries surrounding his classic song, American Pie, are unravelled by John Cavanagh

0402Let It Be20071104

John Cavanagh puts the iconic Beatles song Let It Be under the spotlight.

Inspired by a dream Paul Mccartney had about his own dead mother, what went on in the recording studio, where dozens of versions of the song were cut? What provoked John Lennon's frustrations and outbursts towards Paul Mccartney, and what mystery still surrounds Aretha Franklin's recording of Let It Be?

0403R E S P E C T20071118

Songlines demands your R.E.S.P.E.C.T this week for a soul classic.

Otis Redding first ignited the listeners' attention before the song burst into flames with Aretha Franklin's interpretation, transforming it into a rallying call for civil rights in America, as well as an anthem for women around the world.

Plus John Cavanagh discovers a unique 21st Century interpretation dedicated just to him.

0404Happy Birthday20071125

Be careful the next time you go to sing Happy Birthday in public - you may have to pay royalties!

Unbelievably, the song is still under copyright until 2030.

In today's Songlines, John Cavanagh reveals remarkable stories behind the most popular song in the world, Happy Birthday to You.

0405Bridge Over Troubled Water20071202

Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water is a song of peace, hope, and healing, but the recording of the song and album exposed many of the underlying tensions that eventually led to the break up of the harmonious duo.

John Cavanagh delves into the story behind the song.

0406Tomorrow Belongs To Me20071209

Aspirational anthem or neo-nazi rallying cry? Songlines investigates the incredible legacy of Tomorrow Belongs to Me.

Written for Cabaret, the song charts Germany's pre-war tipping point from decadence to destruction, but is now feted by racist groups who've entirely missed the irony.

John Cavanagh asks if it's too late to reclaim it.

0407The Girl From Ipanema20071216

For many, The Girl From Ipanema is lift music, with connotations of cocktail lounges and hotel lobbies.

In today's Songlines, John Cavanagh explores the song's origins and reclaims the magic of the original.

Let the sibilant Portuguese lyrics, the trembling vocals of Astud Gilberto and the sexy saxophone of Stan Getz carry you off to Rio.

0408 LASTFairytale Of New York20071225

In 1987 Shane McGowan and Jem Finer penned the Pogues hit Fairytale of New York.

Twenty years on and the song still has Irish emigrants weeping into their pints.

It has also become a legacy to the late Kirsty McColl and a perennial Christmas classic.

Songlines delves into the remarkable story behind the song.

0501Ghost Town2008050520080511

John Cavanagh uncovers the story behind Ghost Town, by The Specials.

A song that's been described as the most prescient number one in British chart history.

0502Louie Louie2008051220080518

With its famous opening riff, Louie Louie is one of the most covered songs in the world.

John Cavanagh unravels the truth behind those notorious muffled lyrics.

0503Always On My Mind2008051920080525

It has been covered by Brenda Lee, Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson and the Pet Shop Boys.

John Cavanagh tells the story behind this enduring ballad.

0504Eve Of Destruction2008052620080601

PF Sloan's song Eve of Destruction was banned in 1965 but its powerful lyrics still resonate 40 years later.

John Cavanagh looks at this apocalyptic vision of the planet.

0505Annie Laurie2008060220080608

It's probably Scotland's most famous love song and was a favourite with soldiers during the Crimean War.

John Cavanagh looks at the origins of this evocative ballad.

0506Stairway To Heaven *2008060920080615

Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven is the most played song in the history of American radio.

John Cavanagh tells the story behind this epic rock anthem.

0507I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)2008061620080622
20081228 (RS)

Songlines celebrates as the Proclaimers' I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) turns 20.

John Cavanagh invites some famous fans to the party including Matt Lucas, David Tennant and Chris Evans, while Charlie and Craig Reid tell us why Easter Road Stadium will always be the spiritual home of this worldwide anthem.

0508 LASTHallelujah *2008062320080629

It was originally written by Leonard Cohen in 1985 but it remained obscure for over a decade.

Transformed by John Cale, revised by Jeff Buckley and even adapted as a tribute to football player Mark Viduka, it has become one of the most used songs in film and TV.

John Cavanagh discovers how the cult classic became so popular.

09Annie Laurie20110801

is probably Scotland's best-known love song and was a great favourite with soldiers during the Crimean war. The evocative ballad is now sung and loved all over the world but the story behind the song is less well known. John Cavangh reveals the real Annie Laurie who inspired her sweetheart to write the lyrics and the Lady who much later adapted his words and gave them the beautiful melody we know today.

John Cavanagh reveals the origins of Scotland's enduring ballad, Annie Laurie.

09Stairway To Heaven20110801

1/1

Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven is the most played song in the history of American radio. Soon after its release, guitar shops began to ban budding guitarists from trying out their skills on the intro. Stairway has been covered by more than a hundred artists and the song is so popular that Rolf Harris was able to storm the charts with his wobble board version. John Cavanagh tells the story behind the classic song that has become the template for the epic rock anthem.

John Cavanagh tells the story behind the classic rock anthem, Stairway to Heaven.