Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday cover

Listen to Paul's forceful and, at times, deliriously unhinged rendition of "It's So Easy" by Buddy Holly. It's part of the Holly tribute album, Rave On, that is set for release on June 28.

And for good measure, here's the original:

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Forever Young? In Some Ways, Yes"

An op-ed on Dylan, his fellow pop-music septuagenarians, and the developmental importance of age 14, from today's New York Times.

“Fourteen is a sort of magic age for the development of musical tastes,” says Daniel J. Levitin, a professor of psychology and the director of the Laboratory for Music Perception, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University. “Pubertal growth hormones make everything we’re experiencing, including music, seem very important. We’re just reaching a point in our cognitive development when we’re developing our own tastes. And musical tastes become a badge of identity.”

Biography seems to bear this out. When Robert Zimmerman (the future Bob Dylan) turned 14 as a freshman at Hibbing High School in Minnesota, Elvis Presley was releasing his early records, including “Mystery Train,” and Mr. Dylan discovered a way to channel his gestating creativity and ambition. “When I first heard Elvis’s voice I just knew that I wasn’t going to work for anybody, and nobody was going to be my boss,” Mr. Dylan once said. “Hearing him for the first time was like busting out of jail.”

Mr. McCartney, the son of a big-band musician, abandoned his first instrument, the trumpet, after hearing Presley. “It was Elvis who really got me hooked on beat music,” Mr. McCartney has been quoted as saying. “When I heard ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ ” — which was released in 1956, when Mr. McCartney turned 14 — “I thought, this is it.”

Happy 70th, Bob Dylan

The hour is late, but May 24th, 2011 isn't in the books yet. This means it's still Robert Zimmerman's 70th birthday, and there's still time to honor him.

Here's Paul toasting Dylan in an interview with The Onion's A.V. Club:
Because I'm in awe of Bob. Y'know, people say, "Who's your hero?" And he's always been… In The Beatles, he was our hero. I think he's great. He hit a period where people went, "Oh, I don't like him now." And I said, "No. It's Bob Dylan." To me, it's like Picasso, where people discuss his various periods, "This was better than this, was better than this." But I go, "No. It's Picasso. It's all good." Whether it's bad or good, it's all Picasso.

Here's John discussing the influence Dylan had on his songwriting, specifically "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away":
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away is my Dylan period. It's one of those that you sing a bit sadly to yourself, 'Here I stand, head in hand...' I'd started thinking about my own emotions. I don't know when exactly it started, like I'm A Loser or Hide Your Love Away, those kind of things. Instead of projecting myself into a situation, I would try to express what I felt about myself, which I'd done in my books. I think it was Dylan who helped me realise that - not by any discussion or anything, but by hearing his work.

And here's my favorite Dylan song - the musically zesty and narratively compelling penultimate track on Desire, "Black Diamond Bay."

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday cover

It's John's dazzling rendition of the Phil Spector classic, "Be My Baby."

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Weekend reading

In anticipation of Bob Dylan's 70th birthday (which is on Tuesday), The Independent has come up with a list of 70 reasons why Robert Allen Zimmerman is "the most important figure in pop-culture history."

23. Because The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan was such a huge influence on The Beatles. "We just played it, just wore it out," said George Harrison. "The content of the song lyrics and just the attitude – it was incredibly original and wonderful." John Lennon said: "For three weeks... we didn't stop playing it. We went potty about Dylan."

24. Because he introduced The Beatles to pot, without which there may have been no Rubber Soul, Revolver or Sgt Pepper.

Wait - no mention of the Traveling Wilburys? Weak sauce.

Trailers for Macca's reissues


(If the video is removed, go here.)

McCartney II:

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Paul to release pop standards album

Tentatively set for release in early 2012, the album will consist of "covers of pop standards from the pre-rock years."

Read more here.

Excerpt from the Rolling Stone article:
Working with an orchestra in Capitol Studios, McCartney quickly knocked out nearly a dozen tracks, including a handful with Diana Krall and her band. But he's keeping the titles under wraps for now: "They're just songs I admire," he says. "I'm trying to steer away from the obvious ones." McCartney also cut several of his own new songs in a similar vein — even singing into a microphone used by Nat "King" Cole. "It's get-home-from-work music," he says of the LP, tentatively scheduled for release early next year, following additional sessions in London. "You put it on and get a glass of wine."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"When I'm Sixty-Four"...

... as covered by one of the finer lunatics that Rock 'n' Roll has given the world: Keith Moon. It's from the obscure 1976 musical documentary, All This and World War II.

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In the tabloids...

... "Murder, the Mob and the new Lady Macca".

With her understated elegance, independent fortune, aversion to the limelight and no-nonsense job as the vice-president of a large New Jersey trucking company, Nancy Shevell could not be more different from the previous Lady McCartney.

But appearances can be deceptive — particularly in a city as image-obsessed as New York. For today, the Mail can reveal that the 51-year-old New York businesswoman who has just become engaged to Sir Paul McCartney has an extraordinary history of family drama and tragedy.

Not only was her father linked with the Mafia, but her uncle shot himself in the head after his own business — which had links to the Mob — went bankrupt.

If that were not enough, after battling with a serious drug problem for much of his life, Nancy’s only brother died after overdosing on a cocktail of drugs in a Los Angeles hotel room.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Today in music history

On this day in 1966, the Beach Boys released their magnum opus, Pet Sounds.

From Rolling Stone:
Not many American rock bands survived the mop-topped hordes of the 1964 British Invasion, but the Beach Boys endured — perhaps they knew presciently that their masterpiece was soon to come. It arrived in 1966, while America was still in the thrall of the Beatles’ Rubber Soul, and was met by many dubious ears, including those in the band: When group mastermind Brian Wilson played rough cuts of the songs, singer Mike Love derided them as music for dogs, inadvertently inspiring the title. Pet Sounds was a glorious, heart-rending experience, one miles away from the SoCal surf dudes’ previous happy-go-lucky pop. In somber, rich symphonics, Wilson exposed the deep pain of growing up, confessing his conflict wistfully in “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times” and “Caroline, No.” Yet he conveyed wonderment, his true gift, in the swoon of “God Only Knows” and “You Still Believe in Me” — and, in doing so, captured the timeless complexity of living romantically. Despite initially lackluster sales, Pet Sounds has since been embraced as the Beach Boys’ most enduring and acclaimed record. However, a few fans recognized the genius of the record instantly: The Beatles cited it as the inspiration for their own magnum opus, 1967's Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the lone record to top Pet Sounds in Rolling Stone’s "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" list.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Beatles on iTunes powers music sales

It's no coincidence that, once The Beatles became available on iTunes, music sales fared better.

Music sales in the United States were up 1.6 percent through May 8, according to Nielsen Soundscan. More than half of those sales went to digital retailers, as physical album sales continued to plummet.

Although Nielsen doesn't have specific sales figures for digital Beatles tracks, the patterns are pretty obvious. Sales of catalog music -- old stuff, that is -- shot up immediately in November, when The Beatles hit iTunes, and has continued to see year-over-year growth in every month since.

Friday YouTube

Via I Hate Young People:

Paul in Santiago, Chile (5/11)

Watch high-quality footage here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Nancy speaks

Mrs. Macca to-be has offered up some details about what the near future holds:

- New Yorker Nancy Shevell, who said it was “a total surprise” when the singer proposed, will divide her time between Macca’s homes in London and East Sussex

She said: “I’d love to live here [New York] but it’s probably England. I still have a job here so I’ll commute once a month.”

- When asked about their wedding plans, she said: “Small. Just our families. I don’t know the exact date.

“And don’t ask what I’ll wear, because how dressy do you get to stand before a Justice of the Peace in his chambers?”

Paul in Lima, Peru (5/9)

Read recaps here and here.

Excerpt from the former:
Prior to taking the stage, McCartney was presented with the Orden Del Sol by the Peruvian government's First Minister. The award is the highest recognition in Peru. McCartney was also given the first ever Orden Del Arbol Del La Quina in recognition of his environmental work, and the National Library of Peru gave him the Medal of Honour of Peruvian Culture.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Today in Beatles history

Via Gibson:
1960, The Silver Beetles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Stuart Sutcliffe, and Tommy Moore) auditioned for promoter Larry Parnes and singer Billy Fury for a job as Fury's backing group. Parnes was also looking for backing groups for his lesser-known acts, and The Silver Beetles were selected as backing group for singer Johnny Gentle's upcoming tour of Scotland. The group had changed its name from The Beatals to The Silver Beetles after Brian Casser (of Cass and the Cassanovas) remarked that the name Beatals was "ridiculous." He suggested they use the name Long John and the Silver Beetles, but John Lennon refused to be referred to as Long John.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Onion reviews "How I Won the War" ...

... and doesn't find much to recommend.

But most of the film concerns a long, often incoherent trudge through North Africa and the only fitfully amusing antics of Crawford’s charges, whose ranks include John Lennon, in his only acting performance outside the Beatles’ films. Though second billed, Lennon has no more screen time than other supporting players like Roy Kinnear, and no better sense of how to give shape to the material than anyone around him. Lester’s misfire looks back to Dr. Strangelove and ahead to Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H, but, though worth a look for the curious, it won’t make anyone forget either.

More on Macca's engagement

- "Sir Paul, you're a credit to your love songs"

- "Trust me do... after spending millions on divorce there seems to be no pre-nuptials in sight as Sir Paul McCartney embarks on marriage number three"

- "A monster ring, a Stella bag... and no pre-nup. This DOES look like love, Macca"

- "Five Things to Know About Paul McCartney's Fiancée"

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"The Life and Loves of Sir Paul McCartney"

A short bio of Macca, chronicling his unparalleled professional achievements and romantic ups and downs.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

For the third time...

... Paul is to wed. According to reports, he and his girlfriend Nancy Shevell recently became engaged.

Shevell is said to get on well with McCartney's five children, having appeared at Stella McCartney fashion shows, awards ceremonies and at Sir Paul's concerts. She is a wealthy woman in her own right, is on the board of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority and is vice president of a family-owned business conglomerate.

She was married for more than 20 years to the lawyer Bruce Blakeman, a close friend of the former New York governor George Pataki, who appointed her to the MTA board. Although his second marriage ended in an courtroom battle with Mills, a former model, McCartney remains optimistic about affairs of the heart, reportedly commenting on his romance with Shevell: "I just like being in love."

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Assorted Beatles news

- Paul is set to appear on a Buddy Holly tribute album.

- Gibson: "Paul McCartney’s first non-Beatles work, the soundtrack for the 1966 film The Family Way, will be released for the first time in its original form on CD."

- Some of the mics and recording equipment that John used early in his solo career are up for auction.

- Finally, Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe may have streets in Liverpool named after them.