Sunday, July 31, 2011

Paul to play 2012 Olympics?

The report is that Paul has agreed to perform at the opening ceremony for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Sir Paul told Olympic organisers he's "up for" doing the show but detailed plans and choice of songs have yet to be finalised.

The Rolling Stones reportedly declined an offer to perform and Led Zeppelin are also said to be staying away after frontman Robert Plant said he was not interested.

A music industry source told the Daily Mirror: "The hope was to have the cream of British music all in the line up but it now looks like Macca will be joined by some younger stars on stage.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday cover

From the Sucker Punch soundtrack, "Tomorrow Never Knows" by Alison Mosshart (lead vocalist for the Kills) and Carla Azar. Of significance, it's nearly 5 minutes longer than the original, adding a roaming instrumental break in the middle.

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Paul in Montreal (7/26 and 7/27)

From The Montreal Gazette.

Night one:
McCartney’s band has been working with him for 10 years – longer than the Beatles (at least with Ringo Starr) were together. Bassist Brian Ray, guitarist Rusty Anderson, drummer Abe Loboriel, Jr., and keyboard player Paul “Wix” Wickens are as comfortable rocking up Birthday and Back In the U.S.S.R as they are providing the wordless, note-perfect harmonies in Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five or the Frere Jacques background vocals in Paperback Writer. And never do they stray far from the studio recordings. I’m Looking Through You, for example, sounded almost as sweet and breezy as its Rubber Soul source.

Night two:
But the second show was more satisfying for me because it was my good fortune to see it almost like a fan, without deadline worries, constant note-taking or non-stop thinking about what needed to be mentioned in the review. During Live and Let Die, I even allowed myself the luxury of a weird hallucinatory take on the stage action. As fireworks went off al over the place and plumes of fire shot up in front and back of the stage, a grinning McCartney looked as if he was gleefully playing through the apocalypse.

And the image made a lot of sense. There are many who find themselves in times of trouble and discover that it`s not Mother Mary, but Father McCartney – that was to be the priest`s name in Eleanor Rigby – who brings, if not the words of wisdom, then the notes that soothe their soul. It`s been a constant comfort for many in crisis. You can ask the 34,000 people who sang, shouted, clapped, beamed and cried their way through a pair of three-hour sets over the two nights.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My next project: "Revolution in the Head"

Now that I've completed my Beatles haiku project, I'm moving on to something much different and far more conventional: reading and analyzing a book. Of the vast number of books written about The Beatles, it seems none has received more praise than Ian MacDonald's 1994 classic, Revolution in the Head. As many of you likely know, MacDonald doesn't deliver a formal historical narrative but instead uses a song-by-song examination of The Beatles' catalog to tell their story. I don't think there's a better approach if one's aim is to capture the band's essence; The Beatles are their songs. Furthermore, MacDonald opens the book with a provocative cultural analysis of the 1960s, exploring how the Fabs were central to the societal disruptions of that decade and what the ramifications were.

My plan is to read the book at a rather measured pace, take notes, and regularly post commentaries on what I find most interesting. Thus far, I've only made it through the two prefaces, but already I've been struck by MacDonald's insights about various topics: the importance of the UK's system of art schools in fashioning the whimsical, concept-oriented tendencies of British pop acts; the differences between British and American sensibilities in music (the former generally characterized by sardonic irony and the latter by earnestness and naturalism); and the best way to view The Beatles as lyricists (i.e., not as great but as effective). It's stimulating material, and I have yet to reach page one.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Paul's cover of "Hitch Hike" by Marvin Gaye

It's from his performance over the weekend in Detroit.

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Paul in Detroit (7/24)

A recap of last night's concert at Comerica Park from the Detroit Free Press.

With a mix of enthusiasm and reverence, he talked about his visit to the Motown Historical Museum — the former studio complex on West Grand Boulevard that he called “the holy grail.” (He’d spent about two hours there today, according to a museum official.)

“That took me back,” he said, going on to recall his younger years studying Motown records to learn parts. He and his band then launched into a lively cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Hitch Hike,” picked “especially for Detroit,” McCartney said.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Assorted Paul news (pt. 2)

- During the second of his two recent shows at Yankee Stadium, Paul was joined onstage by Billy Joel for a rendition of "I Saw Her Standing There."

- Paul is revisiting the sonic wizardry of "Tomorrow Never Knows."

- About a week prior to last Thursday's landing, astronauts aboard the space shuttle Atlantis received a wake-up call from Macca.

- Rolling Stone: "Paul McCartney on 'Beatles 1,' Losing Linda and Being in New York on September 11th."

- Chicago Tribune: "Excerpts from Kot interviews with McCartney since 2001."

- Lastly, be sure to check out Mervyn Dendy's series of detailed articles that break down and analyze Paul's post-Beatles career.

Weekend reading

"Paul McCartney: Busting a few myths," by Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune.

Myth No. 2: Paul's just the bass player

Sure, and Mozart was just a hack piano player from Salzburg. The bass may be an unsung instrument, but it’s the bedrock of rock ‘n’ roll and soul. What’s more, McCartney reinvented its role in the Beatles, not just laying down a foundation for the song but often playing a strong counterpoint to the lead vocal. One of the reasons the Beatles’ songs sound so rich is the depth of composition, the melodic and harmonic layers – and McCartney’s ability to straddle rhythm and melody on bass was critical.

His flair was already apparent on the band’s earliest hits; on “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (1964), the bass is on equal footing with the guitars, and it’s like a song in itself on “Michelle” (1965). By the time of “Paperback Writer” (1966), McCartney is the lead instrumentalist, ushering in each verse like Britain’s answer to Motown’s James Jamerson. He’s nearly in subterranean funk territory with the deep tones of “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” (1967) and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” (1968), and stomps likeGodzilla through “Rain” (1966) and “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” (1968).

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ringo confirms he won't do 2012 Olympics

At last week's Mojo Awards, where he was recognized as an "icon," Ringo once again shot down rumors about him playing the 2012 Olympics in London. Watch below.

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Amy Winehouse, RIP

The wildly talented but troubled singer, 27, was found dead in her London apartment earlier today.

Here she is doing a cover of "All My Loving":

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Showtime to air Paul's 9/11 doc on 9/10

More here.

Paul McCartney is at the heart of a new documentary marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The Love We Make, by Gimme Shelter co-director Albert Maysles, follows the singer around New York in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks. It will air in the US on 10 September.

"There was so much suffering as a result of 9/11 it's hard to imagine how one might bring relief to those who were impacted by the attacks," Maysles explained to the New York Times. "But Paul had the answer: music and a film that would tell the full story."

On the morning of 11 September 2001, McCartney was in a grounded airplane in New York. After hearing of the terrorist attacks the former Beatle returned to the city, visiting Ground Zero, talking to residents, and planning an October benefit show, the Concert for New York City. The Love We Make follows McCartney through these six weeks, including backstage footage featuring David Bowie, Mick Jagger and former US president Bill Clinton.

Some have raised questions about the project.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Assorted Paul news (pt. 1)

- Paul worked with surfer/filmmaker Jack McCoy to craft a video for "Blue Sway," a previously unreleased song that is now seeing the light of day as a bonus track on the reissue of McCartney II. Watch it here.

- Paul may collaborate with Gorillaz at some point in the future.

- Macca says yes to cloud computing and crowd sourcing.

- Baby, you can drive Paul's (?) car.

- Finally, Huffington Post: "Why Sir Paul McCartney Might Be Justified In Not Having A Pre-Nup."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Assorted Beatles news (pt. 2)

- "Inside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Beatles Exhibit," via Rolling Stone.

- Have a look at some previously unpublished pics of The Beatles' first concert in the U.S. Read more about them here.

- A power struggle that broke out between rival Beatles tribute bands has been resolved.

- The famous music critic Jane Scott died in early July at the age of 92.

- After ten years in the making, the Museum of Liverpool has opened.

- Finally, Gibson lists the "Top 10 Legendary Rock Couples."

Assorted Beatles news (pt. 1)

- David Mason, the British musician who played the piccolo trumpet solo on "Penny Lane," died in April at the age of 85. (Excerpt: Before the session, the musician didn't know who the Beatles were and he was paid around $45 for his work.)

- The original gates to Liverpool's Strawberry Fields are being replaced in the interest of preservation.

- "The 100% For Sure Top Five Worst Beatles Songs Ever" and "The Top (Fab) Four Songs on Beatles' Solo Albums," according to LA Weekly.

- SF Weekly weighs in with "The Absolute, No-Debate Worst Song Any Beatle Ever Recorded."

- Lastly, Sir George Martin recently received an honorary degree from Oxford University.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Paul targeted by "News of the World"?

The phone-hacking scandal that is rocking London reportedly entails a subplot involving Paul.

Outside’s founder, Alan Edwards, and Sir Paul’s personal spokesman, Stuart Bell, who now runs his own public relations company, both allegedly had their telephones hacked during the period when the former Beatle separated from Miss Mills in 2006, after four years’ marriage. The High Court ordered Sir Paul to pay Miss Mills almost £25 million.

It is not thought that Sir Paul was hacked directly because his mobile phone number was known to only a handful of his closest friends, family and advisers.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"Do you think they would kill a closet republican?"

It's sad that the most unhelpful response to the story about John being a "closet republican" has come from the person who likely knew him best - Yoko. On Twitter, Yoko asked followers to submit questions to her, after which she would post her replies. One such exchange went as follows:

Is it true that John was a closet Republican? Media claiming he supported Reagan.
How could you even ask that question? John would be appalled. Nothing was kept in his closet. Whatever he believed in, he said it all out there. Do you think they would kill a closet republican? Think!

These are unfortunate words, to say the least. First, Yoko needs to clarify who exactly "they" are, because, from what I can gather, Mark David Chapman was and remains only one person. Is she insinuating that a conspiracy or cabal of some kind was behind John's murder? If so, she should be upfront about this instead of hiding behind an anonymous pronoun. Second, the implication of her statement is that John's political views were a contributing factor in his death (carried out by "they"). As Yoko well knows, by 1980 (and even much earlier) John had disengaged from radical politics and was comfortably living out his life as a family man; he posed no threat to the American political establishment (then in the hands of a Democrat). It begs the question: why would he be targeted then? Once again, Yoko didn't feel compelled to square this matter with her idle paranoid musings.

At the end of her response, Yoko implores her fan to "think." Indeed - heal thyself, Ms. Ono. Or, at a minimum, explain thyself.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Paul in NYC (7/15)

Here's a recap of Paul's performance from the New York Times.

As always, melody let Mr. McCartney put across musical and verbal non sequiturs few other songwriters could get away with: songs such as “Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five,” with its sudden interlude of Beach Boys harmony, or “Let ‘Em In,” which switches from piano bounce to military tattoo, with whistling, and has lyrics that juxtapose Martin Luther and Phil and Don (the Everly Brothers?). Melody easily carried Mr. McCartney through idiom after idiom: toe-tapping country in “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” hard rock in “Helter Skelter,” lilting ballad in “I Will,” something like ska in “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and the quasi-Slavic oompah in “Mrs. Vandebilt” (Mr. McCartney announced that they loved it in Ukraine).

Friday, July 15, 2011

Beatles "reunion" rumors rebuffed

In their own words or through representatives, Paul, Ringo, and Julian Lennon have all denied the report that a Beatles reunion (of sorts) might take place at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Representatives for both McCartney and Starr have shot down those reports, with McCartney calling it “tabloid stuff.” A rep for Starr said “this is not true.”

Julian Lennon, who theoretically would have filled his father’s role on stage at this event, commented via his Facebook page: “There will NEVER be a Beatles reunion, because two of the members of the band have since passed… And NO ONE could, or should try to replace them.”

Macca at Yankee Stadium tonight...

... and to mark the occasion, the New York Times published a meandering but not un-interesting piece about Paul, stadium rock, and baseball.

In a way the Beatles and stadium rock stumbled into each other unprepared. The Beatles, at the time, were using amplifiers less powerful than those in most people’s living room stereo systems today. And stadium public-address systems were designed for announcements and a bit of organ music, not for the pounding beat and rich instrumental textures of a rock band. Not that it mattered in the Beatles’ case: all that could be heard was the shrill roar of 56,000 screeching fans, and better amplification would hardly have helped. But a great deal of technical innovation was required before stadium shows could be regarded as anything like artistic experiences, let alone the gargantuan, carefully choreographed audio-video productions they are today.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Assorted John news

- Read about the short yet productive stretch of time that John lived at Tittenhurst Park in Ascot.

- John's handwritten lyrics for "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" sold for nearly $250,000 at an auction in May; one of his microphones (referenced in the top article) brought in significantly less; and a copy of Double Fantasy that he signed mere hours before his death was procured for about $40,000.

- Reportedly, Yoko is threatening to sue the owner of a Lennon-themed bar for copyright infringement.

- Satirist Stephen Colbert strengthens the case for John as a conservative.

- Lastly, Rolling Stone: "Bob Dylan on Drugs, John Lennon and Much More in 1969"

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Old news: Keef, the Stones, and the Fabs

- Keith Richards on his favorite Beatles song (and more).

- Video footage of Keef on Jimmy Fallon: segment 1, segment 2, and segment 3.

- Lastly, Paul has revealed that Mick Jagger used to refer to The Beatles as "the Four-headed Monster."

Doc about George to debut on HBO

Directed by Martin Scorsese, the two-part documentary George Harrison: Living in the Material World will reach the occupants of this material world via HBO on October 5 and 6.

The cable network said on Wednesday that it had acquired the North American television rights to “George Harrison: Living in the Material World,” a nonfiction feature from Mr. Scorsese that chronicles Harrison’s artistic and spiritual development through interviews, performances, home movies and other previously unseen footage. Among the colleagues and loved ones who appear in on-camera interviews are Harrison’s former band mates Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr; his collaborator and sometime romantic rival Eric Clapton; and the “Monty Python” alums Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle, as well as George Martin, Yoko Ono, Tom Petty, Phil Spector and Jackie Stewart.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Reviews of "Rave On"

Rave On is the newly released Buddy Holly tribute album that features Paul's raucous cover of "It's So Easy." Below are two takes on it.

From New York Daily News:
Two oldsters do wonders by bringing in surprising references to their own pasts.

Softie Paul McCartney stretches himself by reviving his distorted voice from "Birthday" for "It's So Easy," while rocking the track with far more Jerry Lee Lewis madness than Buddy Holly reserve. He even channels Wolfman Jack in a wild spoken coda.

Lou Reed goes even further with "Peggy Sue," bringing back the violins from "Heroin" to add grit and abstraction to a formerly innocent ditty.

From Pitchfork:
The departures from the originals are generally more entertaining than the straight readings. Lou Reed, an under-appreciated humorist, sings "Peggy Sue" with the aimless intensity of a very drunk person grinding through karaoke. "It's So Easy"-- a song Holly originally sang with a gee-whiz kind of tone-- is turned into a noisy blues about how hard it is to control yourself when you're horny. Happily, comfortingly, it is sung by Paul McCartney, the only Beatle funny enough to write a song about his sheepdog

Movies, etc.

Here's a round-up of recent news bits and articles dealing with The Beatles and movies:

- The Washington Times catalogs "Movies that rock."

- Paste lists "The 10 Best Musicians Biopics." (Editorial note: Quarryman, not "Quarrman;" and culminating, not "cultivating.")

- On the subject of biopics, one about Brian Epstein has received funding.

- Finally, Liam Gallagher's delusions of grandeur continue.

Monday, July 11, 2011

One last article about John's political evolution

"Lennon's freedom," via American Thinker.

Lennon was against abuse of power in his most raggedy radical days. Government is power, and it is the biggest abuser of power. Lennon was against war. What good person isn't? How we deal with these things is what separates the ideologies.

An Olympics reunion for the Fabs?

From Londonist:

Could Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr be joined on stage by the children of the other Beatles for a gig at the Olympics opening or closing ceremony?

The possibility comes at the end of a long chain of speculation by The Sun. First Macca teases an interviewer thus: “I hear there’s a rumour that I might be involved.” An ‘insider’ then provides additional, juicier details. “The organisers want The Beatles legend to appear alongside other big British acts…and they want Ringo on stage as well to make it extra special. There’s also the possibility that George Harrison and John Lennon could be represented by their kids.” (Note: Quote edited to remove The Sun’s shouty formatting.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Happy Beatles Day!

The fourth annual event is taking place today in Liverpool.

Jeremy Roberts, chairman of the Albert Dock Tenants' Association said: "Beatles Day is a fantastic celebration of the Fab Four and we are thrilled to host this year's event at the Albert Dock.

"The day is going to be action packed with music and entertainment, with all of the dock venues getting into the spirit with special offers and prize giveaways.

"We have been working very closely with the organisers to make this year's Beatles Day the best ever, and we are really looking forward to welcoming people from far and wide to join us."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saturday cover

Here's Miles Kane and co. thrashing their way (and how else could they do it?) through "Hey Bulldog."

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Weekend reading #2

"Hard to Imagine: Robert Hart on John Lennon & the Popularity of Jesus"

The real problem with what John Lennon said in 1966 is not what so many were quick to assume and to decry in a knee-jerk reaction. The real problem is the element of truth in what he said. The Beatles were more popular than the Lord himself among youth in England at the time, as was Frank Sinatra among the older set in America—and as are television, video games, and many other things of this world to very many people today. Lennon, the eccentric artist, poet, and musician, spoke all too accurately.

Another man, also named John, wrote centuries earlier about Jesus Christ: “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not” (John 1:10). The apostle’s words explain the almost hidden orthodoxy we can derive from those later words of Lennon, long assumed to have been blasphemous or boastful. In reality, they were diagnostic, and an expression of innocent, childlike honesty.

Weekend reading

From the A.V. Club: "Worst lyrical rhymes in popular music"

One of my favorite Beatles solo songs is Ringo Starr’s “It Don’t Come Easy,” probably because it was allegedly written by George Harrison. I love the backup singers and the saxophone, and I can generally get behind the song’s message. (It was my theme song when I was filling out college applications.) However, one verse has such lazy, lame rhymes that it makes me almost embarrassed to like it: “Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues / And you know it don’t come easy / You don’t have to shout or leap about / You can even play them easy.” First, George/Ringo rhymed “easy” with itself, but that line “You don’t have to shout or leap about” is what kills me. I think it’s the mental image of a person “leaping about” that ruins the verse for me. If I think about it, I understand the intention of the lyric, but those childlike rhymes just make it sound like the song was written in about two minutes on the toilet, and it’s what keeps me from considering it a great song, as opposed to pretty good.

What I'm digging right now

"Another Day" by Macca. It's "Eleanor Rigby" in brighter confines. The "do-do-dos" make for a blithe touch.

(If the video is removed, go here.)

Happy belated 71st, Ringo!

I badly dropped the ball yesterday by not acknowledging Ringo's birthday. This is to make amends.

- "Rock & Roll Birthday: Ringo Starr"

- "Ringo Starr’s 71st Birthday: A Life In Videos"

- "Sir Paul McCartney makes video wishing former Beatles bandmate Ringo Starr a happy 71st birthday"

- "Ringo Starr, Confident and Sober: Rolling Stone's 1992 Feature Story"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Today in Beatles history

Over the years, July 6th was of great significance to The Beatles:

7/6/1957 - John and Paul are introduced to one another at the Woolton Village Fete.

7/6/1961 - The first issue of Mersey Beat ("The Paper That Made The Beatles") is released.

7/6/1964 - The world premiere of A Hard Day's Night.

A haiku for pretty much every song by The Beatles

At long last, my Beatles haiku project has come to an end; the finished product is below. I began writing these haiku for a simple reason: I wanted to contribute something original to the world of Beatles writing. As far as I can gather from searching the Internet, no comparable undertaking has been completed and published. If this is the case, terrific. If not, I've still had a rich experience becoming intimately familiar with pretty much all of The Beatles' songs. As lightweight as these pseudo-poems may be, a lot of research went into their formation. I'd like to think that, on some level, this project serves as a history of The Beatles. It addresses the band's influences, the development of their sound, their individual personalities, important figures in their lives, significant events, the Lennon-McCartney partnership, and more. But I also realize that, on another level, it's just a curiously packaged collection of trivia.

Either way, I hope that you read it, enjoy it, and maybe even learn from it. If you spy any errors (i.e., misinformation or non-conformities with the 5-7-5 haiku format), please let me know.

Finally, it would be quite an affront to decency if I failed to thank The Beatles for their wonderful songs. They've brought so much joy and inspiration to so many people, including myself. I suppose these haiku could be seen as a show of gratitude (however meager by comparison) for all of that.

Here they are, by album:

- Please Please Me
- With The Beatles
- A Hard Day's Night
- Beatles for Sale
- Help!
- Rubber Soul
- Revolver
- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
- Magical Mystery Tour
- The Beatles
- Yellow Submarine
- Abbey Road
- Let It Be
- Singles and B-sides

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Singles and B-sides haiku

Below, you'll find the haiku I've written for The Beatles' non-album singles and B-sides. It's everything from the Past Masters collections with the exception of these songs: "Love Me Do" (which I had already done), the German-language renditions of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You" (skipped for obvious reasons, I think), the covers from the Long Tall Sally EP and Larry Williams' "Bad Boy" (I didn't feel like getting bogged down with covers), "Get Back" (which I had already done), the charity version of "Across the Universe" (it's superior to the one on Let It Be, but it's not blessed with canon status), and "Let It Be" (which I had already done). For all of the other songs, I wrote a haiku, and they collectively represent the last ones I composed or will compose; in other words, I'm done. Tomorrow, I will bring them all together in one post and finally close the book on this project.


1) "From Me to You"
2) "Thank You Girl"
3) "She Loves You"
4) "I'll Get You"
5) "I Want to Hold Your Hand"
6) "This Boy"
7) "I Call Your Name"
8) "I Feel Fine"
9) "She's a Woman"
10) "Yes It Is"
11) "I'm Down"
12) "Day Tripper"
13) "We Can Work It Out"
14) "Paperback Writer"
15) "Rain"
16) "Lady Madonna"
17) "The Inner Light"
18) "Hey Jude"
19) "Revolution"
20) "Don't Let Me Down"
21) "The Ballad of John and Yoko"
22) "Old Brown Shoe"
23) "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)"

Saturday, July 2, 2011

John's ex-spokesman denies claims

Elliot Mintz, one of John's close associates throughout the 1970s, had this to say about the ex-Beatle's alleged turn to conservative politics:

"From the time I met John in 1971, until the end, all of those things he expressed in 'Imagine' were part of his belief system until the last breath of his life. If you listen to the last recorded interviews that were done with John, you'll hear him express in his own words... his own beliefs... which are virtually identical to the beliefs he held in '71."

Friday, July 1, 2011

Super '80s Beatles cover

Here's Robert Palmer trying out "Not a Second Time":

(If the video is removed, go here.)