Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday haiku - "If I Fell"

John's first true ballad,
"Fell" lays bare his need for love
and his fear of loss.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday YouTube

As a follow-up to the post I just did about "I Should Have Known Better," below is an enjoyable cover of the song by the Beach Boys. It's from their 1965 compilation of covers, Beach Boys' Party!, which also features versions of "Tell Me Why" and "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away." Even though the whole album was purely a studio creation, the listener is supposed to be under the impression that it was recorded at a party. This bit of contrivance achieves a pleasing effect: the Beach Boys' take on "I Should Have Known Better" comes with an atmosphere of revelry that really elevates it. There are even small details, like the abbreviated length of the song and botched lyrics, that make it seem spontaneous.
Enjoy: (If the video is removed, go here.)

Sunday haiku - "I Should Have Known Better"

The key to "Better":
John's harmonica section,
which is Dylanesque.

42 years ago today

The rooftop performance.

I'd designate "Don't Let Me Down," John's impassioned plea to Yoko, as the best song from the set. The Beatles actually played it twice, and in the version that's below John badly flubs the opening words of the second verse. We should be thankful he did because the moment that he and Paul share after the miscue is wonderful. Paul almost seems to walk John through the next line, and then the two exchange very knowing and genuine smiles. Coming amidst the band's protracted collapse, it's a reminder of the powerful bond that John and Paul had fostered over the years.

Finally, I'd be remiss to not quote John's parting shot: "I'd like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition." (Source: the link above.)


(If the video is removed, go here.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday haiku - "A Hard Day's Night"

Ringo used the phrase
to describe a long day's work,
and the song followed.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

More "Instant Karma" ...

... courtesy of U2:

(If the video is removed, go here.)

And Duran Duran:

(If the video is removed, go here.)

I believe it's safe to say that "Instant Karma" presents challenges for those who cover it.

A clarification from Hunter Davies ...

... regarding the rights to John's letters and drawings that will be published next year.

Excerpt from this article:
“I just got back from holiday to read that Yoko Ono has, quote, “sold her late husband’s letters”. She has done no such thing" he said bluntly.

"This whole project is my idea and all Yoko Ono has done is agree to the idea and give me permission to reproduce them as, of course, she holds the copyright. She has not sold them, to me or anyone else, and it is deeply offensive to suggest otherwise”.

Today in Beatles history

"... wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch, and we're putting it out for dinner." - John

It was on this day in 1970 that John wrote and recorded an instant classic, "Instant Karma." In my estimation, there are few pop songs that provide the kind of thrilling uplift that "Instant Karma" does;" it was an arena-anthem from perhaps an unlikely source. Or maybe an obvious source, considering the voice John possessed. As I wrote here, "I do know how in-the-moment and defiantly alive he (John) sounds on 'Instant Karma,' especially during its soaring chorus. What a burning spirit he possessed."

Released on February 6 of that same year, the Phil Spector-produced single was officially the work of John, Yoko, and the Plastic Ono Band.


(If the video is removed, go here.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Another great list courtesy of "Gibson"

"10 More Things You Might Not Know About John Lennon"

6. The “Lost Weekend” wasn’t very lost at all.

In the weeks before his death, while granting interviews to promote his forthcoming Double Fantasy, Lennon spoke of what he called “The Lost Weekend,” a period of 18 months in the mid-’70s during which he had separated from Yoko Ono, taken up with his personal assistant, May Pang, and gotten drunk on a regular basis. “Lennon tried to paint [this period] as this really desolate, drunken, bottoming-out episode, but that was a very small part of it,” says Rodriguez. “In fact, that time was the most productive post-Beatles era of his career, where he produced two albums of his own, he worked with Ringo on Goodnight Vienna, he produced an entire album [Pussy Cats] with Harry Nilsson, he recorded with David Bowie, Elton John, Mick Jagger. There was a staggering amount of productivity during that time, and the results just shined. It’s a myth that he himself helped propagate — that during [that] time he was just this pathetic figure who couldn’t get his act together until he was back with Yoko. Professionally, it’s not so.”

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday haiku - "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby"

On this fun cover,
George emulates Carl Perkins,
one of his idols.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Today in (post) Beatles history

From Gibson:
1971, George Harrison became the first solo Beatle to have a #1 when “My Sweet Lord” went to the top of the U.K. single charts. The song, from his All Things Must Pass album, stayed at #1 for five weeks. The track returned to the top of the U.K. charts in 2002, following his death.

Sunday haiku - "What You're Doing"

From the drum intro
to the guitar distortion,
"What" showed sonic growth.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday cover

This is a cover like no other. Listen to spoken-word specialist and all-around weirdo William Shatner work his magic by way of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Letters and drawings of John's to be published

Yoko sold the rights to Orion Books, which will publish the collection in October of 2012.

The book will be comprised of over 150 letters written over the course of Lennon's life, including notes to record companies and newspapers, several drawings and a letter to an eight-year-old boy. According to Alan Samson of Orion, a majority of the letters and drawings in the book have not been seen by the public.

Some are lauding Yoko for her decision.

It always makes us uncomfortable to see someone like Courtney Love steering herself off the rails with the proceeds from her late husband’s career. But, for one, Yoko Ono is not a drug-addled public embarrassment. And two, whenever there is demand (as there is to learn about John Lennon’s life) and limited supply, someone is going to get paid. It’s time we come to accept a few truths: Paul McCartney was the most Advanced Beatle; Yoko Ono didn’t break up the Beatles, and John Lennon ended his life as most middle-aged people aspire to: a happily married father and family man. If someone’s going to get paid from the immense interest he still generates all these years later, it might as well be his wife.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thursday mash-up: The Beatles/Muse

It's not a cover-to-cover success, but this hybrid of John's "Revolution" and "Starlight" by Muse works better than you might expect.

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Thursday haiku - "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party"

While at a soiree,
John gets stood up by his girl
and must leave in shame.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday haiku - "Every Little Thing"

Though John sang the lead,
it was Paul who wrote "Every" -
a rare occurrence.

Happy Birthday, Richard Lester!

The director of A Hard Day's Night, Help!, How I Won the War, and many other films was born on this day in 1932.

To gather a sense of how influential Lester was, read Roger Ebert's panegyric to A Hard Day's Night. I don't know if Ebert could have been more effusive: "After more than three decades, it has not aged and is not dated; it stands outside its time, its genre and even rock. It is one of the great life-affirming landmarks of the movies."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday haiku - "Honey Don't"

Carl Perkins wrote "Don't" -
hence its rockabilly style,
which suited Ringo.

More from "Gibson"

They do stellar work at that website, compiling cool lists, highlighting significant moments in rock 'n' roll history, and reporting relevant news.

Below are some Beatles-related Gibson links that have been hibernating in a Google Doc for too long:

- "Godfathers of Rock: The Top 10 Rock and Roll Managers"

- "This Day in Music Spotlight: The Man Who Turned Down The Beatles"

- "The Gibson Interview: Peter Asher Talks ’60s, Beatles and Apple Records"

- "Original Beatles Drummer Pete Best To Be Honored"

- "Lost Pics of Beatles, Zeppelin and Other Legends Surface"

- "Elvis Presley and The Beatles Top 2010’s 'Most Dangerous Autographs'"

- "From Me to You: The Top 10 Songs Written from One Artist to Another" (Editorial note: "Wish You Were Here" is vastly superior to "How Do You Sleep?".)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday reading

It's easy to take for granted that The Beatles are the greatest pop music group of all time. Because of this, we should occasionally remind ourselves of what actually made them so historic. Gibson provides a valuable primer.

As a group they made Time magazine’s list of the Most Important People of the 20th Century. And, indeed, they were. Collectively John, Paul, George and Ringo changed ideas about technology, marketing, corporate identity, songwriting, performance and a host of other areas while embodying the zeitgeist of the mid-through-late 1960s and early ’70s. The Rolling Stones wanted to be black American bluesmen. The Beatles wanted to create something new in their own image, and they did, laying the groundwork for other great pop bands from Badfinger to U2 to Radiohead to Kings of Leon.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Update on Ringo's birthplace

Liverpool City Council has not taken kindly to what members see as outside interference by Housing Minister Grant Shapps. Council Leader Joe Anderson insists that the plan to salvage the Welsh Streets, which has as its focus the terrace house where Ringo was born, is unpopular and too costly.

He (Anderson) said it would cost £22million to renovate all 295 homes at an average of £75,000 each, whereas demolition would cost £800,000.

With a Whitehall cut of £180million to the city’s housing grant, saving the streets was “simply not feasible”, he said.

After inviting Mr Shapps to visit the Welsh Streets, he added: “It is deeply disappointing that the Government’s much trumpeted [localism] scheme appears to have fallen at the first hurdle.

“Despite local people having been given an extensive voice in the plans, central Government can’t help but interfere and try to block the proposals.”

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday haiku - "Words of Love"

A faithful cover,
"Words" came from Buddy Holly,
whom John and Paul loved.

Update on Beatles iTunes sales

From EW:

Since the four unknown Liverpudlians finally arrived on iTunes last November 16, sales have been (shocker!) swift—two million songs and 450,000 albums (13 are available via the site) in the first week alone. And now, iTunes reps tell EW, they have hit new marks: 5 million and one million, respectively.

The top song, George loyalists will be happy to learn, remains the same: “Here Comes the Sun.” As does the top album, Abbey Road. Clearly, the catalog’s momentum has slowed since its initial bow two months ago; still, these are not-exactly-shabby numbers for music originally released over 40 years ago, and long available physically at any mall, record store, or swap meet in the land.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday haiku- "Eight Days a Week"

"Eight" made history,
as it was the first pop song
to have a fade-in.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday haiku - "Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey!"

It's a rock medley
that Little Richard did first
and the Fabs second.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wednesday Beatles potpourri

- For the second year in a row, Abbey Road was the highest-selling vinyl album in the U.S.

- "Handwritten Beatles Lyrics Included on British Library App"

- "'Beatles in Mono' CD box set: a lesson in collecting"

- Read about a Beatles museum that recently opened in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

- I've talked about David Barratt and his Beatles/ukulele project on several prior occasions, but those were before President Obama became (sort of) involved.

- Finally, "the Heatles"?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Assorted John news

- The first car that John owned, a 1965 Ferrari, is up for auction.

- Courtesy of Rolling Stone's David Fricke: "Twenty Underappreciated John Lennon Solo Songs"

- I'm a bit tardy with this: "Yoko Ono Lights 'Imagine Peace Tower' In Iceland"

- Here's a fascinating article about the close companionship between Elvis and Tom Jones. Evidently, both men loathed John for his outspoken ways.

- Finally: "Why Do So Many Assassins Have Three Names?"

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday YouTube

John's love for Yoko and early rock 'n' roll came together so winningly on "(Just Like) Starting Over":

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Assorted Paul news

- Paul is now preaching the vegetarian gospel to the Subcontinent, where many don't eat meat. He is calling for a national Vegetarian Day.

- "Paul McCartney 4-Pack Comes to 'Rock Band 3'"

- Footage of Paul at the Apollo.

- I failed to note that, back in November, Paul became a grandfather for the seventh time. His daughter Stella gave birth to a baby girl.

- "Paul McCartney: A biographer's nightmare"

- Understandably, Steve Martin was thrilled to have Paul contribute to his forthcoming bluegrass album, Rare Bird Alert.

- Finally, Macca leads a most enviable life.

Monday haiku - "Mr. Moonlight"

Poor "Mr. Moonlight":
many have deemed this cover
The Beatles' worst song.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Even more rumors: Brad Pitt to portray John?

One part of the article reporting this really jumps out:

The actor, 47, met with Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono to discuss playing the role and she was impressed by his plans to learn to sing and master the Liverpool accent, consequently giving the project her “blessing”.

So an American actor who still has to "learn to sing" will be playing a Liverpudlian who possessed an iconic voice? I know it's called acting for a reason, but this seems like a bridge too far.

Or maybe the project won't even come to fruition. We'll watch for more updates.

Sunday haiku - "I'll Follow the Sun"

Though he'll "lose a friend",
Paul says he must leave his girl
and "follow the sun".

Saturday, January 8, 2011

More rumors: Paul to play the royal wedding?


“William and Kate have chosen their wedding list and Paul McCartney is their #1 choice to perform,” a source told British tabloid The Daily Star. “He said he feels very privileged.”

The same source added, “They can’t think of anyone more perfect to kick off proceedings.”

A Royal spokesperson said, “None of it has been finalized.”

Friday, January 7, 2011

Details on The Beatles' iTunes deal?

Via Paste:

Reuters is reporting that the Beatles are being paid directly by iTunes for digital download royalties with songwriting mechanical royalties being paid directly to Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which controls most of the Beatles song catalog, according to industry sources.

If this is the case, the deal functionally acts as a licensing agreement as opposed to a standard digital retail sale, which would split royalties between the Beatles and Sony/ATV Music, significantly more lucrative than the traditional 20-25% “superstar” rate.

Friday haiku - "Rock and Roll Music"

A Chuck Berry song,
"Music" was long a staple
of the band's live act.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thursday haiku - "Baby's in Black"

"Oh what can I do",
wonder John and Paul on "Black",
a waltzy lament.

Opposition to saving Ringo's birthplace

Two recent articles in the UK press - here and here - highlight the feeling among some that Beatles-worship has become an overbearing cultural force and needs to be checked. This, the argument goes, is evidenced by the zealous campaign to save Ringo's early childhood home.

Excerpt from the first:
Such, anyway, is yet another episode in a story that has long since ballooned into absurdity: the transformation of the Beatles into a national religion – arguably bigger than Jesus, as John Lennon infamously put it. X Factor contestants must, by law, deliver warblesome readings of Let It Be and The Long and Winding Road; each time Sir Paul McCartney ventures out to hack out his versions of the hits, the public is encouraged to think something miraculous is afoot; Yoko Ono, bless her, keeps the posthumous Lennon machine grinding on.

Excerpt from the second:
Perhaps still kicking themselves that the Cavern Club was never preserved in its original form for future moptop-loving generations, the Beatleologists have gone barmy on the preservation front in latter years. The childhood homes of Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney are both National Trust attractions, and even the zebra crossing on Abbey Road has just been given Grade II listed status.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wednesday haiku - "I'm a Loser"

Blending folk and rock,
"Loser" was the first product
of John's "Dylan phase".

Paul at the Kennedy Center Honors

The event, which took place on December 5th but wasn't televised until the 28th, featured a number of tributes to Paul by artists ranging from No Doubt to Steven Tyler to James Taylor.

Watch No Doubt perform a medley of "Hello, Goodbye" and "Penny Lane" followed by Norah Jones and Dave Grohl's duet of "Maybe I'm Amazed":

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Here's Steven Tyler doing the last leg of Abbey Road (excluding "Her Majesty") as well as James Taylor and Mavis Staples giving their interpretation of "Let It Be," which goes into an all-performers rendition of "Hey Jude":

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Here's Alec Baldwin toasting Paul:

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Finally, watch and listen to the honorees as they reflect on their work and the award:

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tuesday haiku - "No Reply"

A tale of deceit
strong on tension and drama,
"No" explores John's fears.

"Ignore Yoko Ono and John Lennon"

Read the fiery contrarian Christopher Hitchens on the proper way to make a cup of tea.

Now that "the holidays"—at their new-style Ramadan length, with the addition of Hanukkah plus the spur and lash of commerce—are safely over, I can bear to confront the moment at their very beginning when my heart took its first dip. It was Dec. 8, and Yoko Ono had written a tribute to mark the 30th anniversary of the murder of her husband. In her New York Times op-ed, she recalled how the two of them would sometimes make tea together. He used to correct her method of doing so, saying, "Yoko, Yoko, you're supposed to first put the tea bags in, and then the hot water." (This she represented as his Englishness speaking, in two senses, though I am sure he would actually have varied the word order and said "put the tea bags in first.") This was fine, indeed excellent, and I was nodding appreciatively, but then the blow fell. One evening, he told her that an aunt had corrected him. The water should indeed precede the bags. "So all this time, we were doing it wrong?" she inquired. "Yeah," replied our hero, becoming in that moment a turncoat to more than a century of sturdy Liverpool tradition.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Beatles potpourri

- A British MP has gone to bat for Ringo's childhood home.

- In other domicile-related Ringo news, Mr. Starkey recently put his Aspen-area vacation home on the market.

- John's white Abbey Road suit reportedly sold at an auction for $46,000.

- A very cute story involving Paul's young daughter, Bea.

- Finally, Liam Gallagher manages to stay in the news ... by talking about The Beatles.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Saturday haiku - "Yesterday"

It's a true classic:
no song has been covered more
than Paul's "Yesterday".

Happy New Year !!!

(If the video is removed, go here.)