Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Magical Mystery Tour Revisited"

The Beatles' psychedelic nostalgia-trip pic of 1967 remains (indeed) a mystery to many people. Below is a documentary that sheds some light on the origins, production and legacy of what was almost certainly the band's oddest creative endeavor.

Watch Magical Mystery Tour Revisited on PBS. See more from Great Performances.

(If the video is removed or not working, go here.)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

In few hands but John Lennon's could this sad, maybe even spooky Vietnam protest song have become a Christmas standard. Happy holidays!
"Happy Xmas (War Is Over)"
(If the video is removed, go here.)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

"Cut Me Some Slack"

In the same calendar year now, Paul has put out a dapper standards album called Kisses on the Bottom and contributed lead vocals to "Cut Me Some Slack," the stomping Nirvana-reunion jam that was debuted at the 12-12-12 Sandy benefit concert. That's impressive range, but it's not unheard of from Paul. Consider that on "The White Album" only two tracks separate "Helter Skelter" and "Honey Pie," a pair of McCartney creations that are as different as any in The Beatles' songbook and that almost seem to parallel the dichotomy above. In a sense, "Helter Skelter" makes it easier for "Cut Me Some Slack" to work. There's the foreknowledge that heavy, hard-charging confines aren't totally unfamiliar to Paul. In fact, he made a classic belting his way through them. Then when you get into the song, it's hard not to detect traces of "Helter Skelter" itself, especially in the brief, wiry chorus. And while Paul's voice is certainly not what it used to be, he brings just enough grit to the proceedings. 70 years old, and he's rocking out with Dave Grohl and company. Just awesome.
For more on the song, go here.
"Cut Me Some Slack"
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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hunter Davies on John and Paul

A money quote from The John Lennon Letters:
Their friendship, love for each other, collaboration always had inherent elements of rivalry, competition, jealousy. They were different characters, with different strengths, talents, and beliefs, so it was surprising they stayed so close, worked so well, for so long. John felt that Paul had a tendency to be too smooth, superficial, charming and glib. Paul felt John could at times be too brutal, cruel, unfair. In truth, each of them could be like the other.

Friday, December 14, 2012

R.I.P., Ravi Shankar

The master sitarist and dear friend of George passed away on Tuesday at the age of 92. Below is some of the coverage of his death.
- NYT: "Ravi Shankar, Sitarist Who Introduced Indian Music to the West, Dies at 92"
Excerpt: Ravi Shankar, the sitar virtuoso and composer who died on Tuesday at 92, created a passion among Western audiences for the rhythmically vital, melodically flowing ragas of classical Indian music — a fascination that had expanded by the mid-1970s into a flourishing market for world music of all kinds.
In particular, his work with two young semi-apprentices in the 1960s — George Harrison of the Beatles and the composer Philip Glass, a founder of Minimalism — was profoundly influential on both popular and classical music.
- WSJ: "When Ravi Shankar Met George Harrison"
Excerpt: But when Mr. Harrison first approached Mr. Shankar for lessons in the mid-1960s, the idea of blending Indian classical music with pop music was puzzling to the sitar maestro.
“It is strange to see pop musicians with sitars. I was confused at first. It had so little to do with our classical music. When George Harrison came to me, I didn’t know what to think,” said Mr. Shankar in Raga.
“But I found he really wanted to learn. I never thought our meeting would cause such an explosion, that Indian music would suddenly appear on the pop scene,” he added.
- The Guardian: "Ravi Shankar: the Beatles' muse who turned his back on rock"
Excerpt: Harrison learned about Shankar from the Byrds and, after adding sitar lines to Norwegian Wood, the Beatle sought him out and later went to India for lessons. Shankar was now treated like a rock star, playing at the Monterey pop festival in 1967, then Woodstock and the Concert for Bangladesh at Madison Square Garden, and enjoying co-billing on Harrison's Dark Horse tour in 1974. It was then he decided that his career had gone horribly wrong. Western rock audiences decided India meant drugs and free love, and Shankar was shocked at the way his music was misunderstood.
"The association with India was so wrong," he once told me. "The superficiality of everyone becoming 'spiritual', the cliches of yoga … the Kama Sutra, LSD and hash … It was all against our music and our approach to music because we consider it so sacred." As for Harrison, Shankar said "he himself was very sorry and sad to see the way it was twisted and taken so casually. He never dreamed it would turn out like this."
- The Telegraph: "How Ravi Shankar was charmed by George Harrison"
Finally, here's George and Ravi together in an interview:
(If the video is removed, go here.)

Saturday, December 8, 2012


It was 32 years ago today that John Lennon was taken from this world.
What a burning, thrillingly alive spirit he possessed. We all shine on.
(If the video is removed, go here.)