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Archive for the ‘Beatles’ Category

Page Flip: Ivor Davis, The Beatles and Me on Tour (2014)

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

ivordavisP. 62: “In Dallas on September 18, [1964], where they were due to play the Memorial Coliseum, the boys – particularly John – expressed a keen interest in driving by the notorious Texas School Book Depository, site of the Kennedy assassination just ten months earlier.

“‘Let’s take a quick look at the scene of the crime,’ John said as he finished off breakfast in his room late in the morning. John had been the most traumatized by President Kennedy’s murder.

“‘He brought it up time and again in interviews with me,’ remembered Art Schreiber, who covered the trip for the Westinghouse network of radio stations.’ He was genuinely outraged by America’s passion for guns and the daily reports of violence that played out nightly on television.’ And he didn’t hold back. He said he loved what little he had seen of America, but was sickened by what he called, ‘America’s fookin’ shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later cowboy mentality,’ Schreiber said.”

Pp. 88-89: “In the privacy of his suite, he also sounded off about gun-happy Americans and the U.S. political system, which he said allowed any trigger-happy geezer to own a weapon. He complained to Art Schreiber that America was still the Wild West, because hardly a day went by ‘without me reading about some bloody idiot with a gun shooting somebody else after a fight over a pint of beer.’

“‘There’s too many loonies with guns,’ he told Schreiber with eerie prescience.”

Song ID: The Beatles – “Across the Universe” (1968)

Monday, December 8th, 2014

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What springs to mind when this Let It Be song plays: 1) Its spiritual poetics, as if it were a hymn to Lennon’s imaginative Ono and her home continent’s mystic heritage; 2) evidence that the Maharishi era enhanced the Beatles’ artistry; and 3) that Lennon was a craftsman to the core.

Some Beatle versions you can choose from: 1) The official Let It Be one with Phil Spector’s overzealous angels; 2) the earlier version (on Past Masters) with bumble bees and horses; 3) The Anthology version where Lennon has trouble controlling his breath; and 4) the Let It Be Naked version, which is possibly the best one, although it omits the ascending eight notes reinforcing the outro on the familiar Spector version. Sigh.

Recently my teenage son asked me about the 1998 movie Pleasantville and I couldn’t quite articulate why my memories of it were so negative. So we watched it and near the end I thought, well that wasn’t so bad. Then Fiona Apple started up her moaning sick-bed rendition of “Across the Universe” and my memories made sense.

The Beatles – “Across the Universe” (1970)

Tom Doyle, Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s (2013)

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

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The following account also appears in Howard Sounes’s Fab (2010). Can’t help but be curious about this Mormon girl who got under Beatle Paul’s skin.

P. 38: “As the spring of 1971 turned to summer, the strangeness that came with Paul’s extraordinary fame began to creep back into the McCartneys’ lives…Determined devotees would make the long pilgrimmage to Argyll, since it was no secret now that the McCartneys spent much of their time near Campbeltown….

“More worryingly, a young girl, a Mormon from Utah, had taken to camping on the edge of some woods just beyond the boundary of High Park, so that she could get close to Paul without trespassing on his land. The McCartneys often saw her, partially hidden by the trees, watching them through binoculars. One day in the summer of 1971, Paul apparently snapped and, according to the girl, came out of the house, drove toward her in his Land Rover, and angrily emerged, shouting and swearing.

“The girl claimed that she couldn’t remember much of what happened next, except that in the aftermath, her nose was bleeding. The implication, obviously, was that McCartney had assaulted her, which Paul denied. ‘I have been asking her politely – pleading with her – to leave me and my family alone,’ he stated. ‘She refuses to recognize that I am married with a family.’ “

Here come ol’ flat top

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Before

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After

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Pop Matters’ White Album anniversary feature

Friday, November 21st, 2008

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Pop Matters is doing an anniversary feature on the Beatles’ White Album in which each song is commented on by a staff writer. I do a serviceable job on “Mother Nature’s Son” even though McCartney was probably just goofing on Donovan.

posted by Kim Simpson

The Point (1971): The Rock Man sets it straight

Monday, January 28th, 2008

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You can get The Point on DVD now, and if you grew up in the seventies, you’ll probably find watching it to be a cozy experience. It’s got animation by Fred Wolf (the same man who did, among other things, Free to Be You and Me as well as Tony the Tiger and Jolly Green Giant ads), music by Harry Nilsson (the whole thing was his idea in the first place), narration by Ringo Starr, and little Bobby Brady (Mike Lookinland) as Oblio. What especially hit the spot this time around was the Rock Man scene (a giant stone mountain with mouth and eyes), in which some ace mimic invokes the long departed voice of Lord Buckley.

The Rock Man sets it straight, from The Point

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Song ID: John Christie – “4th of July” (1974)

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

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Rare little beauty written by Paul McCartney. This 45 is apparently John Christie’s only release and also the only thing I know about him.

Update (12/06/10): My “only release” pronouncement has been mercifully disproven by Herman Hamerpagt (see comments below). Christie, who was a discovery of Dave Clark (of the Dave Clark 5) actually put out an album called Relax in ’74 and had a hand in Clark’s ’80s musical Time. A record hunter’s work is never done.

John Christie – “4th of July” (1974)

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The Beatles – “The Beatles’ Movie Medley” (1982)

Friday, March 2nd, 2007

OK, one last medley for the road. This Beatleflick tribute single (devoid of any sort of musical nod to Yellow Submarine) was a disjointed Frankenstein pastiche, but it did quite nicely, hitting #12 in ’82.

Song ID: Stars on 45 – “Medley” (1981)

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007

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Thoughts of the early ’80s and the Beatles have led me to this inescapable checkpoint: the Stars on 45 medley that absolutely owned the US airwaves (a Billboard #1 hit) during the summer of ’81 and which most of us had completely forgotten by the end of the year. It was the slick product of a gang of Dutch session players doing dead-on impersonations against a disco/handclap backdrop. Other aspects of this single were clear as mud, especially the song choices: “Beat the Clock” (Sparks), a “Stars on 45” disco theme inspired by “Stayin’ Alive” (Bee Gees), “Venus” (Shocking Blue), “Sugar Sugar” (The Archies), “No Reply” (Beatles, along with the next 8), “I’ll Be Back,” “Drive My Car,” “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” “We Can Work it Out,” “I Should Have Known Better,” “Nowhere Man,” “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl,” and closing with a reprise of the “Stars on 45” disco theme.

It’s a favorite game of mine, the attempt to ascertain what psychological aspects of society demand that certain songs become hits, but this one’s not so tough – it was a well-timed beneficiary of US Beatle nostalgia just a handful of months after Lennon’s murder in December ’80 (it entered the Billboard charts early the following April). I think it’s the only way a song with a blatant opening disco chant in a very acutely disco-hungover era could have gotten any significant airplay. (The actual disco sound, of course, never really went away, but flaunting the passé word “disco” certainly did.) But in retrospect, this song ultimately had less to do with Beatlemania and more to do with Medleymania, which kicked in in a big way because of it. More tomorrow.

In the American chart listings, by the way, every song in the Stars on 45 medley was listed as part of the title, making this the wordiest chart entry in Billboard history. But the short snippet of Sparks’ “Beat the Clock” at the beginning was never included among the titles. I wonder what the story is there.

Stars on 45 – “Stars on 45” (1981)

Song ID: Helen Shapiro – “Look Who It Is” (1963)

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

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The clip below shows Helen Shapiro – with Beatle props – doing her 1963 hit “Look Who It Is” on Ready, Steady, Go, almost a year before the moptops’ plane landed in New York City. The husky-voiced Helen had a handful of big UK hits in the early sixties, and the Beatles actually first toured England as her supporting act. And this is the craziest thing to me: she was only 16 when this was filmed. (Did her moment with George Harrison in the clip inspire this 1964 album cover, I wonder?)

Helen Shapiro – “Look Who It Is” (1963)