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WYEP's Hanks-Giving: A Tom Hanks Radio Takeover

Academy Award-winning actor Tom Hanks took over 91.3 WYEP on November 24th, 2022 for a special “Hanks-Giving” day of music. All of the music on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. were songs hand-picked by Tom Hanks exclusively for WYEP’s listeners.

Hanks provided WYEP with an eclectic and very fun list of 100 songs for the station takeover, with a 66-year timespan—ranging between music from 1956 all the way to a duet released a few months ago between Elvis Costello and Hanks’ wife Rita Wilson.

Did you miss Hanks-Giving? We’ll be rebroadcasting this special in January 2023.

Below are some of the songs on Tom’s Hanks-Giving song list, with song descriptions written by WYEP’s programming staff. The full list is here.

Helen Shapiro, “Keep Away From Other Girls” (1962)
“Hanks-Giving includes “Keep Away From Other Girls,” a 1962 single by London teen pop singer Helen Shapiro, a minor hit in England. Shapiro was practically unknown in the U.S., except perhaps by hardcore fans of The Beatles, who opened for the teenage star on a brief tour prior to the band’s fame. The peppy song—sung from the perspective of a woman suspicious of her suitor’s future fidelity—is clearly from another time and culture, featuring the lines “You gave me everything that a girl could want in that small restaurant/A hero sandwich and a glass of wine,” a somewhat disconcerting couplet being casually crooned by a 16-year-old.” ~Mike Sauter

Billy Fury, “Nothin’ Shakin’ (But the Leaves on the Trees)” (1964)
“British pop impresario Larry Parnes was known for taking boys with good looks and a decent voice and reinventing them as inoffensive pop stars with names like Vince Eager, Dickie Pride, or Johnny Gentle. Billy Fury (né Ron Wycherley) was one of Parnes’ stable of singers who had a string of U.K. hits from 1959 to the mid-1960s. Fury recorded this rockin’ cover of a minor 1959 hit by American singer and actor Eddie Fontaine and included it as the B-side to his 1964 single ‘I Will.'” ~Mike Sauter

The Del-Lords, “How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live” (1984)

“Guitarist Scott Kempner formed The Del-Lords in 1982 New York City after his previous band, pioneering American punkers The Dictators, split up. This song was the lead-off track to The Del-Lords’ 1984 debut album Frontier Days. Based on a 1929 Depression-era song by folk singer Blind Alfred Reed, The Del-Lords’ version updated the original to include some modern references, like “This poor boy’s got some big plans of his own/I’m gonna call up a couple of friends on the telephone/Tell ’em, bring some records and bring some beer.” While the band was popular on 1980s college radio they never hit the big time, but this upbeat rocker is an undeniably catchy slice of Dave Edmunds-Esque pop-twang.” ~Mike Sauter

The Johnny Otis Show – Castin’ My Spell (1959)
“Between the Bo Diddley beat, short but sweet guitar licks and playful lyrics about whipping up the perfect magic potion, “Castin’ My Spell” provides direct insight into the irresistibility of the music that would come to be called rock ‘n’ roll. Johnny Otis, like many of the rhythm and blues artists of his era who provided the foundation for rock music, isn’t necessarily a household name these days. But his influence has echoed through the decades. In addition to his own music career, he launched many others; Etta James, Little Esther, Big Mama Thorton, and Jackie Wilson are just a few of the artists he discovered. He brought the songs straight to L.A. viewers’ living rooms with The Johnny Otis Show in the mid-to-late 50s, a racially-integrated music program that provided a platform for jazz, doo-wop, and rhythm and blues artists.” ~Liz Felix

Bob Dylan – A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall (1962)
“Even in the early years of Bob Dylan’s recording career, it was clear that he was more than a protest singer. Although this song is often interpreted as a response to the threat of nuclear war in the early ’60s, Dylan himself has never confirmed this. Still, a strong sense of environmental disaster, nuclear fallout, or some other kind of world-ending doom lurk in a series of visceral one-liners (“I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’”, “the executioner’s face is always well-hidden”, “where black is the color, where none is the number” are just a few). With 20-plus covers by other artists over the years, it’s clear that this song resonates, whatever its true meaning. The stark original is a standout from Bob Dylan’s second album and a hint of how much change he was about to create in popular music.” ~Liz Felix

Iris Dement – Let the Mystery Be (1992)
“Finally, a beautiful, sweet hymn for all the agnostics in the house. Dement’s sense of whimsy offsets the serious nature of a song that ponders what happens after we die. No Angels, no Stairway to heaven, just an honest-to-God shrug of the shoulders and a bow to inevitable fate. Now that’s what I call faith.” ~ Rosemary Welsch

The Hollies – Carrie Anne (1967)
“Tightly fitted suits; carefully coiffed mopped hair and devastatingly catchy melodies with sweet slightly suggestive lyrics. It was the age of Beatlemania although The Hollies were a little behind the time with this 1967 hit written by Allan Clarke, Graham Nash, and Tommy Hicks. The Beatles were on to Sergeant Pepper by this point. Does it remind you of the band in ‘That Thing You Do?'” ~ Rosemary Welsch

Nelson Riddle Orchestra – The Theme From Route 66 (1962)
“Nelson Riddle was the definition of chic sophistication. A composer, arranger, orchestrator, and bandleader, he could effortlessly slide a rockabilly song out of its leather jacket and into a high-pop tux. His arrangement of “Route 66” is the aural equivalent of a 1960s nightclub pick-up, complete with highballs and cigarette smoke. Strings, piano, brass, snare drum, drive this baby home. Save your regrets for the morning.” ~ Rosemary Welsch

k.d. lang – Theme from The Valley of the Dolls (1997)
“Have you seen the movie “Valley of the Dolls?” It’s the ultimate tawdry soap opera, filled with catty gossip, backstabbing, drug and alcohol addiction, and general bad behavior by and against women trying to make it in showbiz. The theme was written by Dory and Andre Previn, who would end up with their own nasty divorce, so maybe there was inspiration brewing. Still, it’s a sophisticated piece of music originally sung by Dionne Warwick. It’s understandable why k.d. lang, with her amazing vocal range and sense of theatrics, was drawn to its swelling arrangement and dramatic lyrics.” ~ Rosemary Welsch

Elvis Perkins – Hey (2009)
“The son of Hollywood legend Anthony Perkins has created a path uniquely his own. A skillful songwriter, Elvis digs into genres and styles of music that find roots in the past while laying a path for something new and adventurous. I can’t say I know what “Hey” is about, but I love his use of language and imagery. It’s obliquely Dylan-Esque with a dash of New Orleans spirit.” ~ Rosemary Welsch

Liz Phair – Whip-Smart (1994)
“If you haven’t yet listened to Liz Phairs’ audible book “Never Said Nothing” I highly recommend it. She offers insight into her career and her creative process. She’s also re-recorded many of her hits, and with the added wisdom of life experience and better vocal technique, they shine anew. “Whipsmart” is the title track from her sophomore album and proves to be prophetic. Tracking the stages and disintegration of a relationship, Phair turns the experience into a template for how to raise a son, something she would begin to do two years after writing the song.” ~ Rosemary Welsch

Amy Winehouse – Back to Black (2007)
“Amy depicted the feeling of closing your heart after a deep betrayal, painting her emotions in various hues of black and telling her story as she hermits into a deep dark space of mourning. I remember seeing the music video for the first time and resonating with her journey of heartache deeply. Her still tone and haunting background vocals deepen the sadness of every word as you listen, taking you into your own shadows, and facing them head-on.” ~ Clara Kent

Barry White – Never, Never, Gonna Give You Up! (1973)
“Barry White is the King of SWOON! This song had all the women in my family in a trance and the men trying to keep up! This song is sure to transform your date night into a memorable one. The instrumentation alone can do the job, but Barry’s deep raspy tone and vocal approach is infatuation personified, carrying you into a steamy romance effortlessly.” ~ Clara Kent

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – Tha Crossroads (1995)
“Who knew this group from Ohio would permanently change the game in Hip-Hop forever. They are one of the first artists to usher in the melodic rap movement and triplet style that is very prominent in Hip-hop and rap today. This song was a culture shift in hip-hop and reverberated into many other genres, especially pop culture. Crossroads was a statement that many can relate to when it comes to loss and life. This song allowed the Black community to vent openly about the loss of loved ones to the struggles of street life due to systematic disparities and a long history of prejudices that lead to close and personal experiences, thus, why this song is a modern classic.” ~Clara Kent

Blink-182 – All The Small Things (1999)
“Everything changed when Blink-182 released Enema of the State in the summer of 1999. A once cultish band known for their sophomoric humor, split lead vocals, and the minor radio hit “Dammit,” Mark, Tom, and Travis became massive stars that summer when “What’s My Age Again?” became the band’s first crossover hit and when they made a memorable cameo in the movie American Pie. The following January, when “All The Small Things” hit the airwaves, Blink and their fans moved from the skate parks to the mainstream (which was not a very small thing at all).” ~Joey Spehar

The Romantics – What I Like About You (1990)
“The Romantics got their start on Valentine’s Day in 1977 (thus their name) and released their debut album in 1980. The self-titled record featured “What I Like About You” – a song that they’d already been playing for a few years in their live sets. People didn’t really take notice of the song until the end of the decade when it became a popular choice for advertisers, most notably Budweiser beer. In the years that followed, “What I Like About You” has become a ubiquitous piece of pop culture and the things we like most about The Romantics.” ~Joey Spehar

The Full Hanks-giving List:

Al Green - Take Me to the River
Alex the Astronaut - I Think You're Great
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
Asa - Bibanke
Asleep at the Wheel - Take Me Back to Tulsa
B. Bumble & the Stingers - Nola
Badfinger - Come and Get It
Barry White - Never, Never Gonna Give You Up
Basil Poledouris - Klendathu Drop
Benny Golson - Killer Joe
Bikini Machine - Get Down
Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys - Roll On Buddy, Roll On
Billy Fury - Nothin' Shakin' (But The Leaves On The Trees)
Black Market Audio - Waikiki Secret Service
Blink 182 - All The Small Things
Blondie - The Tide Is High
Bob Dylan - A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
Bobby Lewis - Tossin' And Turnin'
Bodeans - Only Love
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony - Tha Crossroads
Bonnie Raitt - Runaway
Booker T. & The MG's - Time Is Tight
Brandi Carlile - Sugartooth
Brian Wilson - Heroes and Villains
Bruce Springsteen - Meeting Across the River
Buck Owens - Right After The Dance
Buddy Knox - I Think I'm Gonna Kill Myself
Cam - Diane
Candi Staton - Stand By Your Man
Cannonball Adderley - Spectacular
Caro Emerald - A Night Like This
Chuck Berry - Brown Eyed Handsome Man
Clarence Carter - Wind It Up
Cocktail Slippers - Don't Ever Leave Me
Creedence Clearwater Revival - It Came Out of the Sky
Curtis Mayfield - Miss Black America
Darlene Love - Lord, If You're a Woman
David Bowie - Suffragette City
Dean Martin - Houston
Death Cab for Cutie - Gold Rush
Duane Eddy - Because They're Young
Dusty Springfield - Doodlin'
Edwyn Collins - A Girl Like You
Eilen Jewell - Where They Never Say Your Name
Electric Light Orchestra - Calling America
Elle King - Ex's and Oh's
Elvis Perkins - Hey
Elvis Presley - I'm Coming Home
Fastball - The Way
Fine Young Cannibals - Don't Look Back
Floyd Cramer - Last Date
Frank Sinatra - Brazil
George Jones & Tammy Wynette - Golden Ring
Helen Shapiro - Keep Away From Other Girls
Iggy Pop - Real Wild Child
Iris DeMent - Let The Mystery Be
Jack Nitzsche - The Lonely Surfer
James Brown - Get Up Offa That Thing
Jan & Dean - Ride the Wild Surf
Joe Tex - Hold What You've Got
Johnny Cash - I Hung My Head
Johnny Rivers - Secret Agent Man
Julie London - June in January
Junior Walker & the All Stars - Shake and Fingerpop
k.d. lang - Theme From The Valley Of The Dolls
Liz Phair - Whip-Smart
Marty Stuart - Tempted
Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats - S.O.B.
Nelson Riddle - Route 66 Theme
Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Holy Mountain
Patti Scialfa - City Boys
Patti Smith - Looking For You (I Was)
Rita Wilson & Elvis Costello - Fire
Ruston Kelly - Big Brown Bus
Shawn Colvin - Get Out of This House
Shivaree - John 2:14
Skeeter Davis - The End Of The World
The Beach Boys - Be True to Your School
The Beatles - Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand
The Bobby Fuller Four - Love's Made A Fool Of You
The Cascades - Rhythm of the Rain
The Challengers - K-39
The Clash - Brand New Cadillac
The Coolies - Pathetica
The Cranberries - Dreams
The Dandy Warhols - Bohemian Like You
The Dave Clark Five - Anyway You Want It
The Del McCoury Band - Nashville Cats
The Del-Lords - How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live
The Everly Brothers - The First in Line
The Go-Go's - Yes or No
The Handsome Family - Far from Any Road
The Hollies - Carrie Anne
The Johnny Otis Show - Castin' My Spell
The Pipettes - Pull Shapes
The Romantics - What I Like About You
The Shadows - Foot Tapper
Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra - Sukiyaki (Olha pro ceu-Ue O Muite
UB40 - Can't Help Falling in Love
Warren Zevon - Accidentally Like a Martyr