Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday haiku - "Got to Get You into My Life"

Packed with Motown zest,
"Life" is Paul's cheeky tribute
to marijuana.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday haiku - "I Want to Tell You"

George is frustrated:
though he has plenty to say,
the words escape him.

"Band on the Run" doc

NPR has posted on its website a short documentary about the making of Band on the Run. Give it a watch. The remastered version of Paul's (and Wings') 1973 classic will be out this Tuesday.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Assorted George/Ringo news

- Seattle Weekly recently interviewed Dhani Harrison. Money quote: "I was a vegetarian for years and then suddenly one day I just realized that bacon was the most awesome thing in the world. It's always the one to convert people from vegetarianism or veganism."

- Read Rolling Stone's three-star review of Fistful of Mercy's As I Call You Down.

- Appropriate for the Halloween season: One Beatle playing a Ouija board prank on another.

- Ringo's birthplace, a home on Madryn Street in Liverpool, has been visited of late by vandalizing "souvenir hunters." The domicile is set to be demolished at some point next year, though there are many campaigns actively resisting the measure.

Friday haiku - "Doctor Robert"

Based on someone real,
this "Doctor" got people high
with his "special cup".

Thursday, October 28, 2010

More on the Stones (that is, Keith Richards)

While we're on the subject of The Beatles' greatest rivals:

- In an interview with News of the World, Keith Richards touched on a three-day, drug-heavy road trip that he and John once took across the UK. Money quote: “We must have been on something exceptional."

- Here are some excerpts from Richards' new autobiography, Life.

A few of them:
On John Lennon:

For all his vaunted bravado – he couldn't keep up. … I don't think he ever left my house except horizontally. Or definitely propped up.

On the Beatles-Stones rivalry:

It was a very friendly relationship. It was also very cannily worked out, because in those days singles were coming out every six, eight weeks. And we'd try and time it so that we didn't clash. I remember John Lennon calling me up and saying, “Well, we've not finished mixing yet.” “We've got one ready to go.” “OK, you go first.”

- About an impromptu collaboration between Richards and Paul when they ran into each other on vacation.

- Finally, listen to Richards' wide-ranging interview on NPR's Fresh Air. I must say, Richards accomplishes the difficult task of scoring a lot of charm points with that classic smoker's laugh of his. Despite appearances, he actually has quite an engaging manner about himself.

Re: The Beatles vs. The Stones

Following up yesterday's post about The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones: Sound Opinions on the Great Rock 'n' Roll Rivalry, here's The Boston Globe's (bloodless) review of it.

As DeRogatis writes in his preface, the only real answer is both. So it’s not surprising that (spoiler alert) the book does not reach a definitive conclusion. Rather, “The Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones’’ stacks the two legendary acts head to head in chapters covering a rubric that includes the contributions of individual members, each group’s “cool’’ factor, and the role of drugs on their music. Though both DeRogatis and Kot confess to a personal preference for the Rolling Stones, this bias doesn’t prevent them from offering well-considered and, importantly, subjective debates for each set of criteria.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Beatles vs. The Stones

For an informative and lively read, have a look at this Beatles vs. Stones exchange between Greg Kot and Jim DeRogatis, two veteran Chicago-based music journalists and co-authors of the new book, The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones: Sound Opinions on the Great Rock 'n' Roll Rivalry. Most of it focuses on the relative merits of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Their Satanic Majesties Request, which was, effectively, the Stones' response to Pepper.

But even if the lesser moments are not A-level Stones songs — "On with the Show" could be dismissed as hokey vaudeville, "Sing This All Together" is basically an acid campfire song, and Wyman's contribution of "In Another Land" is evidence of why he doesn't have more song credits on Stones albums — they are less offensive than "When I'm Sixty-Four" or "Lovely Rita" and the other weaker moments on "Sgt. Pepper's." Here we are at the epicenter of the youth-culture revolt, the high moment of "tune in, turn on, drop out," and Paul McCartney is romanticizing being an old geezer and giving us a love song to a cop! And it doesn't end there. In "She's Leaving Home," he sympathizes with Mom and Dad rather than the girl who's setting off on her own in the first full blush of independence. Again and again, McCartney sympathizes with the establishment on "Sgt. Pepper's" rather the counterculture. Meanwhile, John Lennon is tripping like a wildebeest, writing one brilliant song about a circus poster ("Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!") and another, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," full of hallucinatory images and bearing the convenient initials L-S-D. Otherwise, he's pretty much missing in action.

Much of what DeRogatis, in the above excerpt, sees as flaws, I actually see as virtues (albeit mild ones). I like that The Beatles didn't make of Sgt. Pepper's a full-on counter-cultural statement, but instead gave us a proper Beatles album, complete with goofy songs by Paul and other material that didn't necessarily speak to the times. In fact, those thirteen songs aren't anything like sonic documents of the youth-revolt moment. Had The Beatles gone in that direction, Pepper would probably be perceived as even more stale, even more fly-in-amber than some already think it is. And, contra DeRogatis, I admire that Paul stayed true to himself with songs like "When I'm Sixty-Four" and "She's Leaving Home," and didn't feel the need to pander to rebellious youngsters. It complicates The Beatles' relationship with that moment, which I find interesting. DeRogatis also fails to recognize Paul's sympathetic treatment of the teenage runaway in "She's Leaving Home," i.e., "She's leaving home after living alone for so many years." That Paul sees both sides could be taken as a sign of maturity. Finally, how does DeRogatis not acknowledge "A Day in the Life" when discussing John's contributions to Pepper?. That's a major, major oversight.

Paul live

Paul and co. performed on Later with Jools Holland yesterday. Anticipating the re-release of Band on the Run next month, they played the title track and "Jet." Watch below.

"Band on the Run"

(If the video is removed, go here.)


(If the video is removed, go here.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday haiku - "For No One"

A baroque lament,
Paul's "For No One" swells with pain:
the pain of love lost.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Great non-Beatles song...

... with a random Beatles reference. It would be an overstatement to call "Ballrooms of Mars," a tune by T. Rex from their 1972 release The Slider, a "great song." I include it, though, because T. Rex put out a few of my favorite albums from the early '70s, and I wanted to incorporate their charged glam-rock into the blog somehow. The Beatles reference in "Mars" is specifically about John Lennon: "You're a gutter-gaunt gangster/John Lennon knows your name/And I've seen his." I'm not sure what that means, and it doesn't really matter. With T. Rex, it just comes down to the vibe: that often sexual, mischievous, and mysterious vibe. And "Ballrooms of Mars" delivers enough of it to make it count. Have a listen below.

"Ballrooms of Mars"

(If the video is removed, go here.)

You could also do yourself a major solid by listening to T. Rex's greatest song, the frenzied and triumphant "Metal Guru."

(If the video is removed, go here.)

The last pictures of John

The last pictures taken of John before his death have been made public. They come from an interview he did with British DJ Andy Peebles at New York's Hit Factory studio. John is alleged to have told Peebles that he didn't fear for himself walking the streets of NYC. This was just two days before Mark David Chapman gunned him down.

The pictures were taken by BBC producer Paul Williams at New York’s Hit Factory recording studio on December 6, 1980.

The interview had been due to begin at midday but Lennon and Yoko had stayed up late the previous
night recording the song Walking On Thin Ice, so they moved it to 6pm.

Lennon’s hair is in the then-fashionable ‘mullet’ style and he wears his customary distinctive spectacles with blue-tinted lenses.

Peebles, now 61 and working for the commercial station Smooth Radio, told the Daily Mail: ‘The interview was only due to last an hour. But John was enjoying reminiscing so much it ended up lasting three hours and 20 minutes.

Monday haiku - "And Your Bird Can Sing"

Is "Sing" about Paul
or maybe the Rolling Stones?
John always kept mum.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The science of earworms

Read about the efforts to understand why some songs get stuck in our head.

Now researchers in London believe they are on course to crack the code which determines why some tunes, known as earworms, seem to get stuck on repeat inside our brains. They say the results of their studies could be used to compose the perfect pop song, as well as enhancing our understanding of how the brain processes music.

More than 90 percent of people are estimated to experience earworms regularly, according to one recent study. The phenomenon has also been described as "sticky music," or as a "cognitive itch" which can only be scratched by constant mental repetition of a particular tune.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

John's adopted home

"John & Yoko, & NYC", from the Editorial Notebook of today's New York Times.

John Lennon could have lived anywhere. He chose New York, and clung to his adopted city with a ferocious love. Yoko Ono, too: “There’s such an incredible romanticism about being refugees,” she said. “We just felt like we returned to our motherland, which is New York, you know.”

. . .

Why were they refugees? Partly to flee a British press that had taken a fierce dislike to Yoko. Partly the longing to melt into the vastness of crowds. “One of me biggest kicks is going out to eat or going to the movies,” John said of his new home. “I’m just known enough to keep me ego floating, but unknown enough to get around, which is nice.”

Friday, October 22, 2010

Paul and Ringo reunite

The occasion was the launch of Mary McCartney's new book of photography, From Where I Stand. Of course, both Paul and Ringo wore smiles throughout, but I wonder how they truly regard each other. Even decades removed from their time together in The Beatles, all of that turbulent history must still play a role. I can't imagine the feelings between them are anything but complex and difficult to put into words.

The mini reunion comes days after McCartney, 68, discussed the rift that tore the Beatles apart in the press.

He said: 'Personally it was a nightmare. It was really difficult, because I knew I didn’t hate them, but I knew we had to save The Beatles, and I was the only one who was going to do it - because the three of them were just sending it down the chute.'

All is clearly forgiven now though, as the two looked closer than ever at the book launch, which was also attended by a pregnant Stella McCartney, Starr's wife Barbara Bach and his daughter Lee Starkey.

Review of the Lennon box set/greatest hits

The taste-making, young Turk website Pitchfork published a review of the new Lennon releases today, offering up what I consider an appropriate mix of veneration and criticism. As Douglas Wolk writes, John's "solo career is still a knotty, vexing mess." It's fitting for a man who himself was knotty, vexing, and so much more.

The current round of reissues and repackages includes the third and fourth posthumous boxed sets of his work, and the fifth-or-so stab at a greatest-hits compilation; they're still not nearly as satisfying as you'd expect from one of the most important figures in the history of rock. That's partly because Lennon spent his solo years painfully aware of how important he was, alternately trying to see how he could use his fame to act in the world and how he could rebel against his fame's trappings.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Watch Yoko on CNN

Yoko was recently interviewed by the dashing, always soigné Anderson Cooper. In part one of that piece, she touches on how she met John, and why she was blamed for unmaking The Beatles.

“I was used as a scapegoat, a very easy scapegoat. You know, a Japanese woman and whatever,” Yoko Ono tells CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview set to air Tuesday on CNN’s AC360°.

“You think some of it was sexism, racism?” Cooper queried.

“Sexism, racism,” Ono replied. “But also just remember that the United States and Britain were fighting with Japan in World War II. It was just after that in a way so I can understand how they felt.”

British media outlets were especially nasty toward Yoko. It's one of the reasons why she and John felt compelled to move stateside. In New York, they found a more hospitable environment. Obviously, it wasn't hospitable enough.

Oct. 21, 1969

I know it's a bit late in the day for this kind of post, but I'll go ahead regardless. It was on October 21st, 1969, that the fantastical rumor about Paul's premature death hit the airwaves of one of the biggest cities in the world. Roby Yonge, a DJ for New York's WABC radio station, broadcast a report about it that day, giving the story more of a global dimension than it had before. The following month, it reached the peak of its prominence. Read more here. And go here, here, and here for other posts I've done about the oh-so fascinating but oh-so overcooked "Paul-is-dead" hoax.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Assorted George news

- All Things Must Pass, George's classic solo outing from 1970, will be released in remastered vinyl form on November 26th.

- Read Olivia Harrison's reflections on her late husband, Ravi Shankar, and the music they made together (some of which is being issued today in a box set called Ravi Shankar/George Harrison Collaborations).

- Finally, the Los Angeles Times awarded three (out of four) stars to Fistful of Mercy's debut, As I Call You Down. George's son Dhani, along with Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur, make up the group.

Wednesday haiku - "Good Day Sunshine"

Sunny to the core,
"Good" was modeled on "Daydream",
a '60s pop hit.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Clash Magazine interviews Paul...

... about the arduous making of Band on the Run. Between the fear of once again not delivering a critical success, and two members of Wings quitting on the eve of recording, and the theft of the album's original demos after the band got mugged in Lagos, Paul was up against a lot and overcame it all. Band on the Run still easily stands as his finest post-Beatles work. Perhaps those hardships were the key.

Excerpt from the interview:
Because a couple of the guys [McCullough and Seiwell] left the band the night before we went to Lagos to make the record. That was like a bombshell. You can imagine me getting off that phone call: it was like, ‘Ah. Okay. Try and hold your nerve; try and keep it together. What do we do now? Sod it, we’re going’. And at that moment it was one of those, ‘I’ll show you. I will make the best album I’ve ever made now. I will put so much effort into it because I wanna just prove that we didn’t need you guys’.

Assorted Paul news

- Macca wants you to try your hand at covering "Band on the Run."

- The Mull of Kintyre, which Paul and the rest of Wings celebrated in a rather cloying song of the same name, is for sale.

- An unfavorable review of the new book, FAB: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney, and news about one book that won't be written.

- Paul co-produced his son James' debut release, Available Light, a 5-song EP that came out on September 21.

- Among Paul's barely newsworthy activities of late: dishing on the past; lobbying NASA; reaching out to the chronically incarcerated George Michael; designing tattoos; and engaging in a "daft elf 'n safety jig." (I love the British-ese of the last one.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Speaking of "She Said She Said..."

... below is the Black Keys' bluesy, rough-around-the-edges cover of it, which was released on their debut album, 2002's The Big Come Up. I prefer the gleaming studio crispness of the original, but I'm all for variety as well.

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Monday haiku - "She Said She Said"

The mix of acid,
Peter Fonda, and bad vibes
spurred John to write "She".

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Paul adds date in Buenos Aires

Macca's second show in the Argentine capital will fall on November 11, one day after the first.

Here's Paul on his rapport with South American fans:
"I love South American audiences. I always think I have Latin blood because I connect so strongly with their love of music and their love of rhythm and their love of melody, so I always feel like I have a very big bond with South American people and Latin people in general”. (Full quote here.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"Double Fantasy" reissue well-received

The stripped-down version of the final album John released while among the living is, expectedly, garnering higher marks than the original did. A studio revamping and the passage of time will do that. Let's compare. Then: "a self-obsessed disaster." Now: "a treat for any Lennon enthusiast."

Also, John currently has six albums on the Billboard Top 200.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday haiku - "Yellow Submarine"

A blithe children's song
written by Paul for Ringo,
"Yellow" teems with quirks.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More covers

Yesterday, I singled out "Please Mister Postman" for some kind words. The gist of it was this: what a magnetic vocal generated by John! And, overall, I would add, "Postman" strikes me as one of the best covers The Beatles ever recorded.

With covers in mind, I decided to read through this article, which has been sitting idle in a Google Doc of mine for some time. It lists the "20 Best Beatles Cover Songs." That is, covers of songs written by The Beatles. Give it a look.

One of my favorite covers (though it's not on the linked-to list): the Vines' rowdy-by-comparison reinvention of John's drowsy classic, "I'm Only Sleeping."

Thursday haiku - "Here, There and Everywhere"

A ballad by Paul,
"Here" earned raves from George Martin,
the Fabs' producer.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"the sooner, the better!"

In a post from last week, I called attention to John's lack of confidence in his own voice and pointed out that there was no rational basis for such anxiety. He saw it differently, though, and it's obvious why: John was a man consumed by self-doubt, so much so that he didn't trust one of his two or three top skills. (He probably didn't trust any of them, in fact.) Thus, just because John sometimes heard a different, less alluring voice than most of us hear doesn't mean we should view the situation with bewilderment. He had his reasons, and we need to be understanding. Right. And then after trying to convince yourself of this, your ears are visited by John tearing through "Please Mister Postman" (one of three Motown covers on With The Beatles), and you take in all of that playful soul, all of that smirking but sinewy conviction ("Check it and see/One more time for me!"), and you think, "John, you were out of your mind." Such was my experience earlier today.

Damon Albarn is no Gleek

The Blur/Gorillaz frontman recently told the Associated Press that he wouldn't allow the popular FOX show Glee to touch his music, dismissing the cast's past covers (which include songs by The Beatles) as "a very poor substitute for the real thing."

It's no surprise this is the opinion held by Albarn, a critic of consumerism and celebrity culture, and someone who seems to fashion himself a latter-day Joe Strummer (an impression obviously reinforced by the fact that two former members of the Clash, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon, perform as part of Gorillaz). Of greater importance, though, is the reason why Albarn was being interviewed by the AP at all: Gorillaz is on tour in North America. And this Sunday, one of my younger brothers and I will be seeing them. Can't wait.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tuesday Beatles potpourri

- The Social Network is a fabulously entertaining film, and it closes on a flawless note with "Baby, You're a Rich Man."

- A Los Angeles-area woman has made public her previously-unseen cache of rare rock 'n' roll artifacts, including pictures of The Beatles and hand-written lyrics belonging to John, that she amassed while active on the 1970s music scene.

- Production of the Yellow Submarine 3-D remake will be going ahead in April of next year.

- The memory of Brian Epstein has been honored with a special plaque in London.

- Experience the (rarely experienced) Pete Best Liverpool tour.

- Crosby, Stills & Nash are putting a cover of "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" on an album of theirs likely to be released next year.

- A new Smashing Pumpkins song called "Spangled" has an unmistakable Beatles feel to it. It's rather precious, rather Paul. (H/T: The Pitch)

- Lastly, watch an interview with the Quarrymen.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday haiku - "Love You To"

With a tambura,
tabla, and sitar all played,
"Love" beckons eastward.

"Two of Us"

Several weeks back, I linked to this three-part piece from Slate that addresses and dissects the complex chemistry between John and Paul. I raved about it at the time. Since then, I re-read it and once again felt that thrill of discovery. The article is just laced with penetrating insights, some of which I excerpted below. My only complaint is one that stems from envy: I wish I had come up with much of this myself.

What Paul represented to John—for good and for ill, for excitement and for fear—was a loss of control. All through his relationship with McCartney, the power between them would be fluid—a charged, creative exchange that fueled them and frustrated them, leading to creative peaks and valleys of recrimination and estrangement.

And it can all be traced to their first encounter. "The decision was made to make the group stronger," Lennon told Wenner. Had he decided to keep the power all to himself, he probably would have forsaken his power entirely.

. . .

Just as shorter people are more aware of height, Paul seems to have noticed the power dynamic more acutely. In a 1967 conversation about the band's Hamburg days, Lennon said that Paul had just recently told him about fights they had over who led the band. "I can't remember them," Lennon said. "It had stopped mattering by then. I wasn't so determined to be the leader at all costs." This is crucial. He had decided he didn't need to be the leader at all costs—itself a leadership claim. As the band rocketed to success, Lennon would increasingly acquiesce to Paul's ideas, much as a king in tumultuous times will defer to his counsel. But he never gave up the idea that he could, when he wanted, return straight to his throne.

. . .

At the top of their music sheets, they would write, "Another Lennon/McCartney original." They collapsed the space between them—not even an "and" would divide their names, just a slash.

. . .

Lennon eventually threw himself into the relationship—he literally asked people to consider them JohnandYoko. (Yoko made for the third person, following Pete Shotton and Paul McCartney, with whom he collapsed his name.)

. . .

It's supremely odd how history would play the collaboration between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. The result of one of the most intertwined partnerships in music history, their work would consistently be reduced to static roles. It's almost as if, faced with the bound pair, a culture obsessed with individualism found a way to cleave them in two.

. . .

They've lost too much of their individual distinction into a shared whole.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

In other news....

Believe it or not, there is actually Beatles news to report outside of everything related to John's 70th birthday. None so clamorous, admittedly, but worthy of mention all the same.

Here are some of the bigger items:

- In total, the cast of Glee has charted 75 songs on the Billboard Hot 100, which breaks the previous high of 71 held by The Beatles. It's of note that two of these songs are in fact covers of Fab Four originals: "Hello, Goodbye" and a beautifully re-imagined version of "I Want to Hold Your Hand," which was featured in last week's episode. Go here to read NPR on the implications of Glee's ascendancy.

- The South American leg of Paul's "Up and Coming" tour will include a stop in Argentina on November 10.

- Finally, Yoko has revealed that Paul played a crucial role in mending her marriage with John following the latter's "lost weekend."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, John

There might not be a better song for reflecting on the past and paying tribute to those no longer with us than "In My Life." So using it to celebrate John's time on this earth would seem to be the ultimate exercise of its poignant power. It certainly beats another journalist or sycophant weighing in on the matter (as sincere as they may be). The music says everything that needs to be said. Happy Birthday, John.

(If the video is removed, go here.)

The music does say everything, but the words of those who were closest to John obviously carry importance as well.

Here's Yoko's birthday message:

(If the video is removed, go here.)

And here's what Ringo had to say:

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Friday, October 8, 2010

The man of the hour

For someone no longer among the living, John is certainly commanding a huge amount of attention at present. The roster of Lennon-related happenings that are gracing this moment nearly 30 years removed from his death and close to what would've been his 70th birthday goes on and on and on. In conjunction, there has also been tribute after tribute after (embarrassingly hagiographic) tribute. Entities as disparate as Q, Ozzy Osbourne, and Google have taken part in keeping John's name in the news. Even the FBI has contributed (and in a way that's consistent with the past). And the lists! There are always lists. Among them: little-known facts; famous lyrics and quotes; classic guitar moments; and best/worst cinematic portrayals.

And there's much more (not all of it connected to the 70th birthday commemoration): straightforward profiles; various reviews of the recent Plastic Ono Band shows; critical reaction to Nowhere Boy; interviews about the documentary LENNONNYC; auctions; photo shoots; updates on Julian's career; and unfounded rumors.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday haiku - "I'm Only Sleeping"

An avid sleeper,
John used "Only's" drowsy feel
to capture that state.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday haiku - "Eleanor Rigby"

It's a haunting tale
of isolation and death,
and one of Paul's gems.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The solo years

The Lennon box set is now available. At, Simon Vozick-Levinson writes a summary of that solo career cut short.

But what to make of the four that followed? Emboldened by these triumphs, Lennon spent the next few years indulging seemingly every nutty idea that flashed across his brain. He vented radical politics on 1972′s Some Time in New York City (co-credited to wife Yoko Ono), pursued trippy tangents on 1973′s Mind Games, flirted with disco on 1974′s Walls and Bridges, and covered his favorite oldies in a boozy howl on 1975′s Rock ‘n’ Roll. Casual listeners should stick to the highlights on the new best-ofs. But digging deeper, particularly into the lushly ­remastered Mind Games and Walls and Bridges, will yield a wealth of beautiful and bizarre obscur­ities for more advanced Lennonites. Even when he didn’t quite achieve his far-­ranging ambitions during this period, it’s fascinating to hear him try.

Monday, October 4, 2010

"the most precious thing"

The Globe and Mail interviewed Yoko recently, and touched on (among other topics) the soon-to-be-released box set Gimme Some Truth; John's classic voice; and what we gain by recognizing the ex-Beatle's 70th birthday with such honorific hoopla.

When producer Jack Douglas was presented with the Double Fantasy demos, he thought they were so intimate that he didn’t think he could add anything to them. Does the stripped version of the album now being released get back to that original intimacy?

Definitely, definitely. All three of us were producers back then. I was the one who always wanted to put John’s voice a little bit stronger in the mix. This stripped down version of Double Fantasy was closer to John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band. On that one and others, like Mind Games, his voice was really up front.

He was insecure about his voice though, wasn’t he?

I know. But his voice was good without anything. His voice was, or is – it doesn’t need to be in the past tense, because he’s still here – one of the most unique and strong and powerful voices in the rock world. His voice was the most precious thing we had in making an album.

. . .

Of all that John doubted about himself, his voice was perhaps least deserving of attention: Mr. Lennon could sing. He could do soulful; he could do snide; he could do raucous; and he could do reflective. Here's how I previously described that potent weapon of his: "He has one of pop's most natural, vivid, and mysterious voices." I feel very secure in this opinion, and I was glad to see Yoko impart such high praise as well. (I know: what else would you expect?) John may have been outdone by Paul in terms of musicianship and songwriting ease, but the man who sang "Twist and Shout," "In My Life," and (a personal favorite) "Real Love" was the best vocalist The Beatles had and simply one of the greatest ever.

Paul heading to South America

Previously "semi-official," those tour stops in Brazil are now officially official. (Hat tip to Steve M.)

“It's great to bring this tour to Brazil. I love Brazil, they love their music - I love them, I love their music.” the former Beatle said in a statement in making the announcement.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sunday haiku - "Taxman"

A caustic rocker,
"Taxman" is George's protest
of British taxes.

Re: Tomorrow on CBS

Correction on yesterday's post: Julian and Sean did not both appear on CBS Sunday Morning earlier today. Only Julian did (or, at least, only video of Julian was provided on the CBS website). Click here to watch the interview.

A remarkable and haunting fact that the interviewer Anthony Mason brought up: John was abandoned by his mother Julia when he was five, and she died when he was 17, while Julian was abandoned by his father John when he was five, and John died when Julian was 17. That's astounding.

It was also remarkable to hear Julian express such grace and understanding toward his father, even after all of the emotional hardship he has endured over the years. He said that he has not only forgiven John but also moved beyond the pain of his childhood. I wonder if that's truly possible.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tomorrow on CBS

Julian and Sean Lennon will make a joint appearance on CBS Sunday Morning tomorrow to discuss their father's legacy and their relationship with each other (which, reportedly, is going through a period of reconciliation).

Excerpt from the first article:
Julian Lennon talks about his father’s legacy with correspondent Anthony Mason saying that, “Now more than ever I look back with a great deal of respect for him as a man - and his work. But not necessarily as a father.” Lennon says that he feels forgiveness towards his late father and also discusses the difficulty of emerging from his father’s shadow, as well as his bittersweet relationship with Yoko Ono.

What a quote from Julian. As readers of the blog may know, this is one area of John's life that I think often gets overlooked in the many encomiums and homilies to his greatness. Plainly put, John was a horrible father to his first son. And even in death, he deserves harsh judgement for his sins.

There's a picture from 1967 of John, Paul, Julian, and others arriving in Greece on holiday. It often comes to mind when I contemplate this subject, as it shows Paul, not John, walking along with Julian and holding his hand. John actually seems to be several steps behind the group - removed, distant, not involved. And that's how it was.

Here's Julian commenting on Paul's affection for him: "Paul and I used to hang about quite a bit ... more than Dad and I did. We had a great friendship going and there seems to be far more pictures of me and Paul playing together at that age than there are pictures of me and my dad." (Source: Wikipedia.)

Isn't there a strong literary element to Paul and Julian's bond? You have Paul, one half of an historic creative partnership that was fueled by so much more than a mutual desire to craft pop music, lending fatherly care to the young Julian, who was often neglected and mistreated by his actual dad, John, the other half of that extraordinary pair. Then you have "Hey Jude," a song of tender encouragement written by Paul for Julian, but mistaken by John as being for himself. And then you have the bitter recriminations volleyed back and forth between John and Paul at various points in their lives. John, especially, manifested deep hostility toward his other half, and it wasn't without a touch of envy. Envy of Paul's songwriting prowess, aspects of his image, and more. But where was the envy of Paul's loving relationship with Julian?

There's much more to it, and it's all so rich with tangled human emotion.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Beatles cover

I stumbled across this on YouTube today. It's a cover of "A Day in the Life" by Pete Doherty and Carl Barat, both members of the Libertines. Some of the uploader comments would have you believe it's the be all and end all of cover songs; I just don't hear it. What stood out for me was how exceedingly straightforward it is. And by that, I may mean "boring." When a cover essentially amounts to a rehash of the (superior) original, I often wonder what the point is. A mere change of settings, so to speak, doesn't go a long way.

Be the judge for yourself:

(If the video is removed, go here.)