Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Julia

"Julia" is a song written by John Lennon, with lyrical help from Yoko Ono.  Some phrases (such as "Half of what I say is meaningless . . . " and "When I cannot sing my heart . . . ") were borrowed from Kahil Gibran.  It was released on the White Album in 1968.  Lennon wrote the song during the Beatles' visit to study with the Maharishi in Rishikesh in northern India.  This is where Donovan taught Lennon a finger-picking style called Travis-picking, which is what Lennon used for "Julia."

John said, "Julia was my mother.  But it [the song] was sort of a combination of Yoko and my mother blended into one." 

The line "oceanchild calls me" refers to Yoko's letters to John in India.  Yoko means "oceanchild" in Japanese.

Julia was John's mother, and it was she who encouraged John's interest in music and bought him his first guitar.  Julia separated from John's father, however, and started a family with another man.  At this time, John was taken in by his Aunt Mimi.  John's relationship with his mother was strained at this point, and he didn't see much of Julia until adolescence, when their relationship improved.  John's half-sister, Julia Baird, said, "As he grew older, John would stay with us more often.  In the evenings . . . John and mummy would sit together and listen to records.  She was an Elvis Presley fan from the word go, and she and John would jive around the room to 'Heartbreak Hotel' and other great Elvis songs.  John inherited his love of music from her, and she encouraged him to start with piano and banjo, making him play a tune again and again until he got it right."

John himself said, "I lost her twice.  Once as a five year old when I was moved in with my auntie.  And once again when she actually physically died."

"Julia" was recorded on October 13, 1968 at Abbey Road.  Lennon sings the vocal and plays acoustic guitar (double-tracked).  This was the only song he recorded during his Beatles years without help from other members of the band.

"Julia" was the B side to the single "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," which was released in 1976 by Capital records.

The song was covered by Ramsey Lewis.  Sean Lennon performed the song live on October 2, 2001 at radio City Music Hall in New York City for the concert Come Together: A Night for John Lennon's Words and Music.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" is a McCartney composition that appeared on the White Album, which was released in 1968 on the Apple label.  The first line ("Desmond has a barrow . . . ") referred to Jamaican reggae performer Desmond Dekker, who had recently toured Great Britain.  The title itself was an expression used by Jimmy Scott-Emuakpor, a Jamaican conga player and friend of McCartney.

Scott-Emuakpor later tried to claim partial song writing credit and asked McCartney for royalties.  McCartney describes the issue as follows in his 1980 Playboy interview: "A fella who used to hang around the clubs used to say 'ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on,' and he got annoyed when I did a song of it 'cause he wanted a cut.  I said, 'Come on, Jimmy.  It's just an expression.  If you'd written the song, you could have had the cut.'  He also used to say, 'Nothin's too much.  Just outta sight.'  He was just one of those guys who had great expressions, you know."

The Beatles gathered in May of 1968 at George Harrison's house in Surrey to record twenty-seven demos for the White Album, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" among them and performed solo by McCartney on acoustic guitar.  The song would appear much later on the White Album Unplugged.  The song is also reported to have been used as a spontaneous sing-along while the Beatles were with the Maharishi in India.

Several sources agree that Lennon hated the track.  Studio engineer Geoff Emerick said Lennon "openly and vocally detested the song."  Emerick and fellow sound engineer Richard Lush agree that Lennon arrived at one of the sessions very stoned and announced "Alright, we're gonna do 'Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.'"  Lush said that, "He went straight to the piano and smashed the keys with an almighty amount of volume, twice the speed they'd done it before, and said, 'This is it!  Come on!'  He was really aggravated.  That was the version they ended up using."

During one session, McCartney recorded his lead vocal several times in an attempt to get it done perfectly, a common McCartney trait.  Pete Shotton reported that after what appeared to be a perfect take, McCartney said he'd have to do it again because he'd sung "Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face" when he meant to use the name Molly in the line.  John and George both said they thought it was fine the way it was.  Paul decided to leave the song as he'd recorded it, citing that listeners would wonder if Desmond was a bisexual or transvestite.

McCartney wanted the song released as a single in 1968, but Harrison and Lennon were against it, believing it to be trite.  It was released in several countries as a single, however, although not in the UK or United States.  In France and elsewhere, it was released as a single with "While My Guitar gently Weeps" as the B side.  In the Philippines, the B side was "I Will."  The song was released as a single by Capital in 1976 with "Julia" as the B side and rose to No. 49 on the Billboard chart.  It was the first Beatles single not to break into the top 30.

Despite mixed reviews of the song from the very beginning, producer Phil Spector said the song was a great hit with a good hook and melody line.  Stewart Copeland, drummer for the Police, liked the song and claimed it was the first example of "white reggae." 

"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" was recorded on August 20, 1968 at Abbey Road.  There is disagreement as to who performed on the track.  Some sources say that no other Beatle performed and that McCartney played bass, electric and acoustic guitars, drums and sang all vocals.  Other sources claim that McCartney sang lead vocal, with McCartney and Harrison singing backing vocals.  These sources also maintain that McCartney played bass, Lennon piano, Harrison acoustic guitar, and Starr drums and bongos.  All Beatles are said to have performed handclaps. 

McCartney has performed the song live on tour since 2009 and is currently singing it on his Out There tour (2013-2014).

The song has been liberally covered by other artists.  A few are Jimmy Cliff, Bing Crosby, Maria Muldaur, Desmond Dekker, and dozens of others.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

No Reply

"No Reply" is a Lennon composition that was released on Parlophone's Beatles for Sale in the UK and on Beatles '65 in the United States.  Lennon wrote "No Reply" for singer Tommy Quickly, who declined to record it.  The Beatles recorded a demo of the song on June 3, 1964 while Ringo was in the hospital to have his tonsils removed, with Jimmy Nicol having been hired to fill in on drums.  An unidentified drummer played on the demo, however.

Lennon said, "That's my song.  It was sort of my version of silhouettes.  I had that image of walking down the street and seeing her silhouetted in the window and not answering the phone."  Indeed, Lennon said that the song was inspired by the song "Silhouettes," a single recorded in 1957 by the doo-wop group The Rays. 

Lennon also said, "I remember Dick James coming to me after we did the song and saying, 'You're getting better now--that was a complete story.'  Apparently before that he thought my songs tended to sort of wander off."  Dick James was a music publisher.

The song has no chorus but rather uses the structure verse-verse-bridge-verse, with "No reply" sung as a refrain.

The final version was recorded at Abbey Road on September 30, 1964.  Lennon sings the double-tracked lead, and McCartney and Harrison sing harmony vocals.  Lennon plays acoustic guitar, McCartney bass, Harrison lead, and Starr drums.  Some sources disagree on Harrison's harmony vocal.   Other sources say George Martin played piano.

The song was covered by Stars on 45.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

We Can Work It Out

"We Can Work It Out" is a McCartney composition (Lennon helped with the middle eight) that was released in December of 1965 as part of a double A-sided single with "Day Tripper."  Both songs were recorded during the Rubber Soul sessions.  It entered the Top 40 and rose to No. 1 for two weeks and dropped to No. 2 before climbing back to No. 1 for one more week.  "We Can Work It Out" was the sixth number one single in a row for the Beatles, following "I Feel Fine," "Eight Days a Week," "Ticket to Ride," "Help," and "Yesterday."

Lennon said, "Paul did the first half.  I did the middle eight.  But you've got Paul writing real optimistic, ya know, and me, real impatient."  In other words, the optimism of the verses shifts to a minor key in the middle that emphasizes philosophical struggle and reality.  The song is thought to be a reference to Paul's attitude towards his relationship with his girlfriend, Jane Asher.  It was George's impromptu idea during the session to slow the middle eight to waltz time.

The song was recorded at Abbey Road on October 20, 1965, with vocal overdubs done on October 29.  McCartney sang lead vocal, and Lennon sang harmony vocal.  McCartney played bass, Lennon acoustic guitar, Harrison tambourine, and Starr drums.

Despite the acoustic nature of the song, it was included in the Beatles' live set in 1965.  During the December 1965 tour in the UK, Lennon and McCartney shared lead vocals.

"We Can Work It Out " was covered by Deep Purple, Stevie Wonder, Petula Clark, The Four Seasons, Humble Pie, and Chaka Khan.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Things We Said Today

"Things We Said Today" is a McCartney composition that he wrote on vacation aboard a yacht in May of 1964 with girlfriend Jane Asher, as well as Ringo Starr and his wife Maureen.  The song was one of three written for the film A Hard Day's Night  (The other two were "Can't Buy Me Love" and "And I Love Her.")  It was recorded in advance of the film so that the song could be lip-synced, although the song was not included in the movie. 

In the UK, "Things We Said Today" was the B side of "A Hard Day's Night."  (In the United States, the B side to "A Hard day's Night was "I Should Have Known Better.")  The song was released in the UK on the Parlophone LP of A Hard Day's Night.  In the United States, it was released by Capital Records on Something New.

McCartney said of the song that, "I wrote this on acoustic.  It was a slightly nostalgic thing already, a future nostalgia.  We'll remember the things we said today sometime in the future, so the song projects itself into the future."

Musically, the song moves from ballad to rock via the change to a major key in the middle before returning to the melancholy of the minor key.  Lennon hits a triple A note on the piano to reinforce the unique guitar strumming pattern.

"Things We Said Today" was recorded in three takes on June 2, 1964 at Abbey Road.  The first take was a false start; the second take established the rhythm track; the third take included overdubs of the lead vocal, tambourine, and piano.  The piano was originally intended to be dropped from the final mix but can be heard because of leakage into other microphones in the studio.

McCartney sings lead vocal and Lennon sings harmony.  McCartney plays bass, Lennon acoustic guitar and piano, Harrison lead, and Starr drums.  Some sources claim that Harrison did the harmony vocals both in the studio and during live performances.

Lennon was quoted as saying, "Good song."

"Things We Said Today" was included in the Beatles' set list for their North American tour in 1964 (the United States and Canada).  The Beatles also performed the song twice on the BBC: July 14 and 17, 1964.  The first performance was included on the Live at the BBC CD in 1994.

Covers of the song were recorded by Chet Atkins, Jackie DeShannon, Larry Carlton, Dwight Yoakam, and Mary McCaslin.

From 1989 on, Paul McCartney has included the song in his various world tours, such as Back in the U.S. and Out There tours.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

I've Just Seen a Face

"I've Just Seen a Face" is a McCartney composition that first appeared on Help! in the UK on Parlophone, and in the United States on the Capital LP Rubber Soul (being the first track on the album).  The working title for the song was "Auntie Gin's Theme" since it was a favorite of McCartney's Aunt Gin, his father's sister.

McCartney liked the number very much.  He said, "It was slightly country and western from my point of view.  It was faster, though.  It was a strange uptempo thing.  I was quite pleased with it.  The lyric works.  It keeps dragging you forward.  It keeps pulling you to the next line.  There's an instant quality to it that I liked."  Other critics have noted that the song's "propulsion" that McCartney alludes to is achieved because of the songs internal rhymes, such as "I have never known/The like of this/I've been alone/And I have missed things. . . "

Music critic Ian McDonald said that the track "lifted the later stages of the Help! album with its quickfire freshness."

The song has been included in live performances in the span of McCartney's solo career.  It was one of five songs included in his Wings Over America tour in 1976.  He also played the song on the TV show Unplugged in 1991 and included it on his Live in Red Square CD in 2005.  The song has occasionally made the set list for his more recent tours, including his Out There tour (2013-2014).

The song has been covered by David Lee Roth, The Dillards, Calamity Jane, Holly Cole, The Paperboys, John Pizzarelli, Tyler Hilton, Jim Sturgis, and many more.  The George Martin Orchestra recorded the song as an instrumental.

The song was recorded at Abbey Road on June 14, 1965.  McCartney sings lead vocal with no backing.  Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison all play acoustic guitar, and Starr plays drums (brushed snare) and maracas.  It is one of the few Beatles tracks that has no bass.  The introduction is quite distinctive and features McCartney playing six string while Harrison plays bass notes on a twelve string.  The twelve string continues throughout as it punctuates the fast strumming of the six-string guitars with Harrison hitting just one string at a time on the twelve string.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In My Life

"In My Life" is one of the two songs in which authorship was disputed between Lennon and McCartney (the other being "Eleanor Rigby"), although the song will almost surely be remembered as a Lennon composition. 

Here are the pertinent Beatles facts.  Lennon said that he was thinking about Penny Lane and other places from his past when he wrote it.  Lennon went on to say that this was the first song he consciously wrote about his life.  He claimed that the song started out as being a bus journey of sorts from his house at 250 Menlove Avenue to town, citing all the places he could remember, such as Penny Lane (the song was written before McCartney wrote "Penny Lane"), Strawberry Fields, and the Tram Sheds.  Lennon, however said it was boring, wasn't working, and could have been called "What I Did on My Holiday Bus Trip."  "But then I laid back," he said in his 1980 Playboy interview, "and these lyrics started coming to me about the places I remember . . . I'd struggled for days and hours trying to write clever lyrics.  Then I gave up, and 'In My Life' came to me."

McCartney was very specific about his contribution, as can be seen in his 1984 interview in Playboy, in which he said, "I think I wrote the tune to that.  John either forgot or didn't think I wrote the tune.  I remember he had the words, like a poem . . . I recall going off for half an hour and sitting with a Melletron he had, writing the tune, which was Miracles inspired, as I remember."

But Lennon has a completely different recollection.  He said, "Paul helped me with the middle eight. . . . In 'In My Life,' his contribution melodically was the harmony and the middle eight itself."

The line about friends both living and dead is allegedly about Lennon's friend Pete Shotton and the deceased former Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe.  In the same Playboy interview, Lennon said, "It was, I think, my first real major piece of work.  Up till then it had all been sort of glib and throwaway.  And that was the first time I consciously put [the] literary part of myself into the lyric."

"In My Life" was one of George Harrison's favorite Lennon-McCartney songs.  He caused some harsh feelings, however, when he performed the song in 1974, changing one line to "In my life I love God more," although some sources say he changed it to "In my life I love Him more."

The song was recorded on October 18, 1965 at Abbey Road, with instrumentals overdubbed on October 22.  A gap was intentionally left in the track for a solo.  In the Beatles' absence, George Martin filled in this gap with an Elizabethan-style piano part that he electronically speeded up.

Lennon sang a double-tracked lead vocal, and McCartney sang harmony.  Harrison played lead guitar, McCartney bass, Starr drums, and George Martin piano.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Roll Over Beethoven

"Roll Over Beethoven" was a Chuck Berry hit covered by the Beatles and one of the most popular songs from the Beatles' early period.  The song was part of the Beatles' performing and touring repertoire from 1956 to 1964 and established George Harrison as a regular vocalist even if he didn't sing as many songs as Lennon and McCartney.  One Beatles fact that not many fans are aware of is that John Lennon sang lead until 1961, at which time the lead vocal was given to George.  The song was featured in the Beatles' 1964 concerts at the Washington Coliseum and Carnegie Hall.

The song was recorded by the Beatles at Abbey Road studios on July 30, 1963.  Harrison sings the double-tracked lead vocal and plays lead guitar.  Lennon played rhythm, McCartney bass, and Starr drums.  Lennon, McCartney, and Starr all did handclaps for the track.  The song was considered for release as a single, although George Martin decided to release "Can't Buy Me Love" in its place.

The song was written by Chuck Berry and released as a single for Chess Records on May 14, 1956, with "Drifting Heart" as its B side.  (This release date shows how avidly the Beatles were listening to classic rock and roll while growing up in Liverpool.)  The song stayed in the Top 40 for only one week and peaked at number 29.

According to several sources, the song's lyrics mirror Chuck Berry's home life while growing up.  He wrote the song because his sister always monopolized the family piano in order to play classical music, including compositions by famous classical composers such as Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.  Berry worked many other references into the song, such as the phrases 'blue suede shoes" (a Carl Perkins song) and "hey diddle diddle" from the nursery rhyme.  The "cat and the fiddle" refers to Berry contemporary Bo Diddley, who was an accomplished violin player.  The line "shot of rhythm and blues" was later used as a song title by composer Arthur Alexander (and another song covered by the Beatles).

The song is now considered to be a rock classic and is rated number 97 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time."  It has been covered by numerous artists such as Jerry, Lee Lewis, Leon Russell, Johnny Rivers,  The Rolling Stones, Johnny Winter, Electric Light Orchestra, and many others.  The Beatles cover, however, remains the most popular (and perhaps eclipsing Berry's original version in terms of recognition).

The Beatles obviously loved the song since it was representative of an early fast-paced rock and roll song by one of their favorite composers.  The song was featured on the Parlophone release With the Beatles and as the opening track of the Capital release of The Beatles' Second Album.  In 1994, Apple released a live version recorded on February 28, 1964 as part of the CD Live at the BBC.  Director Richard Lester also inserted the song into the first two Beatles' films, A Hard Day's Night and Help!

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Long Tall Sally

"Long Tall Sally" is a Beatles cover released in the UK on June 19, 1964 on EP disc (extended play), which remained number one on the charts for seven weeks.  The song was composed by Enotris Johnson, Richard Penniman (Little Richard), and Robert Blackwell.  It was sung and originally made famous by Little Richard, although most music fans recognize the Beatles' cover as the quintessential version.

This song was a favorite of Paul McCartney, who rendered the song in his classic blues shouting style.  He sang the song during his first public performance at a holiday camp at age fifteen.  The song was part of the Beatles' repertoire for many years, from their days in Hamburg to their final tour dates in 1966.  It was performed in 1964 at the Washington Coliseum and at Carnegie Hall during the Beatles' first visit to the United States.  It was also performed during the Beatles' 1964 North American tour, the Beatles' Christmas shows in 1964, and the Beatles' European tour in 1965. 

"Long Tall Sally" was the last song performed at the Beatles' final concert appearance, which was held at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966.  McCartney later performed the song at the Prince's Trust Concert in 1986, accompanied by many other rock stars.  He currently sings the song occasionally on his solo tours, including his Out There Tour.

"Lone Tall Sally" was first recorded in New Orleans by Little Richard, who titled the track "The Thing."  he recorded it a second time and released it as a single on March 12, 1956 using the title of "Long Tall Sally."  It was a hit both in the UK and the United States.

The Beatles recorded the song on March 1, 1964 at Abbey Road Studios, and it was included on the Capital release The Beatles' Second Album, issued only in the United States.  The recording session was unusual in that only one take was needed, perhaps because the Beatles had played the song so many times over the years leading up the Beatlemania and their rise to stardom.  It was later included in The Beatles Past Masters: Volume One since it had never been issued on any of the original Beatles' Parlophone LPs.

McCartney handles the lead vocal and plays bass.  Lennon plays rhythm guitar, Harrison lead, and Starr drums.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Love Me Do

"Love Me Do" was the first Beatles' single on Parlophone and was released October 5, 1962.  Brian Epstein ordered ten thousand copies for his record store in hopes that the large order would help the song to chart.  Capital declined to issue the single, although Vee Jay released it on August 10, 1964.

McCartney wrote most of the song at seventeen years of age when he played hooky from school in 1958.  Lennon contributed to the middle of the song.  The Beatles played the song when they auditioned for George Martin on June 6, 1962.  Martin didn't particularly like the song, although he felt at the time of the recording session that it was the best the group had to offer.

Two versions of the song were recorded.  The first version was recorded on September 4, 1962 at Abbey Road. Lennon was originally supposed to sing lead vocal, but at the last minute that duty was given to McCartney so that Lennon could play harmonica, a decision that George Martin made that day in the studio. McCartney sang lead vocal and Lennon sang backing and harmony.  McCartney played bass, Lennon harmonica and Rickenbacker Capri 325, Harrison acoustic guitar, and Starr drums.  Martin was not satisfied until take seventeen.

Version two was recorded September 11, 1962, with session drummer Andy White replacing Starr on drums, who played tambourine.  (Having recently joined the Beatles, replacing Pete Best, Starr was devastated by the move and has chided George Martin ever since.)  Martin eventually chose the September 4 version to be released as the single, although version two was used on the Please Please Me LP.

Engineer Norman Smith said that the Beatles' equipment wasn't very good, resulting in poor quality takes for version one.  Paul's bass guitar was therefore connected to the studio's own bass amplifier, and John's amplifier had to be secured with rope because it was rattling and buzzing badly.

The Beatles, who refused to wear headphones (and rarely ever did in their early days), were surprised at how differently the music they sang on the studio floor sounded in the control room.

Other Beatles facts about the track and the sessions include the following: Harrison had a black eye at the sessions after the Beatles and Brian Epstein were attacked by fans of Pete Best after Best was dismissed from the group.  (Starr's first live performance with the group was at The Cavern on August 18, 1962.)  Starr's drum kit was a Premier, a Christmas present he received at age nineteen.  Finally, Lennon's harmonica was allegedly shoplifted in Arnheim, Holland.  Lennon admired the harmonica style of Delbert McClinton and tried to imitate him.  He would use the harmonica on other tracks, such as "From Me to You" and "Please Please Me" but eventually believed that the instrument was being used too much.

The Beatles sang the song on tour in 1962 and 1963.  A promotional video of the song was made (long before the age of music videos), featuring the Beatles wearing dark suits while miming the song in the studio.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Yellow Submarine

"Yellow Submarine" is a McCartney composition featured on the Yellow Submarine LP and in the film of the same name.  Lennon added a small number of impromptu lyrics during the recording session.  In a Playboy interview, McCartney said that, "I wrote that in bed one night.  As a kid's story.  And then we thought it would be good for Ringo to do."  In ABC's Beatles Anthology, he added that the images for the song came to him in the twilight stage of falling asleep, a time when odd pictures enter the mind.  Lennon said that Donovan Leitch helped out with the lyrics.

The song was released in the UK on August 5, 1966 as the B side to "Eleanor Rigby."  It was released in the United States on August 8, 1966, climbed to No. 2 on the Top 40, and remained in the top forty for eight weeks.

McCartney admitted he anticipated that the song would inevitably be ascribed drug connotations given the cultural time period in which it was released and the surreal nature of the lyrics and subsequent film.  He also said, however, that if he heard children singing the song years later, it would have been worth it.  (This has indeed proven to be the case.  The song has been covered by numerous artists and has been featured on several compilations and CDs of children's music, including a cover by noted children's singer Raffi.)  As McCartney said, "Kids will understand it easier than adults."

Many critics believed that the song was about war and the fate of mankind to one day live underwater, but Starr echoed McCartney's sentiments.  "It's simply a children's song with no hidden meanings."

Citing that the Beatles always liked to try new things in the studio, producer George Martin said that it was a fun track to work on and "made life a bit more interesting" with features such as chains rattling and the sound of bubbles being blown into a tank.

John placed a hand mike into his Vox amplifier and spoke through it, saying, "Full steam ahead."  Recording engineer Geoff Emerick said that, "For certain things, such as background vocals on 'Yellow Submarine,' we always used to use live chambers.  EMI did have echo plates, but we never used them."

The track was recorded on May 26, 1966 at Abbey Road.  The song's special effects were overdubbed on June 1.

Starr sings lead vocal, with Harrison, Lennon, and McCartney providing backing vocals (on the chorus).  Lennon and McCartney play acoustic guitar, Harrison tambourine, and Starr drums.  Session musicians played the brass band section.  On the fadeout, the chorus included Neil Aspinall, Mal Evans, George Martin, Geoff Emerick, Patti Boyd Harrison, and studio staff members.  Lennon blew bubbles through a straw, and Harrison swirled water in a bucket.  The submarine crew speaking in the middle of the song was mainly comprised of Lennon and McCartney.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Helter Skelter

"Helter Skelter" is a McCartney composition written for the White Album in response to a remark by Pete Townsend who claimed that The Who had recently recorded a track that was the loudest, dirtiest rock and roll song ever done.  McCartney's response was "Got to do it.  And we decided to do the loudest, nastiest, sweatiest rock number we could.  That was Helter Skelter."

The first version of the song was recorded at Abbey Road on July 18, 1968 and was an astounding twenty-four minutes long.  Technical engineer Brian Gibson said, "The version on the album was out of control.  They were completely out of their heads that night.  But, as usual, a blind eye was turned to what the Beatles did in the studio.  Everyone knew what substance they were taking, but they were really a law unto themselves in the studio."

The final album version was recorded at Abbey Road on September 9 and 10, 1968 using an eight-track machine EMI had recently purchased.  At the end of the song, Ringo screams, "I got blisters on my fingers!"

A mono version of the song was used on the U.S. Rarities LP.  McCartney's vocal is clearer, the drumming at the end is different, beeping and laughing noises are heard at the beginning, and there is no fadeout. 

McCartney sings lead vocal, with Lennon and Harrison supplying backing vocals.  McCartney and Lennon both play lead and rhythm guitar, Lennon plays saxophone, Harrison plays rhythm guitar, Mal Evans plays trumpet, and Ringo plays drums. 

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I Don't Want to Spoil the Party

The Beatles fact for "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" is that it is a Lennon composition recorded on September 29, 1964 at Abbey Road.  It was the B side to the single "Eight Days a Week."  Lennon was quoted as saying, "That was a very personal one of mine."

Lennon sings lead vocal and McCartney backing vocal.  Harrison played lead guitar (Gretsch Tennessean PX6119), Lennon acoustic guitar, McCartney bass, and Starr drums and tambourine.

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And Your Bird Can Sing

The Beatles facts for "And Your Bird Can Sing" are as follows:  The song is a Lennon composition included on the Revolver album.  Lennon said that it was "Another one of my throwaways."  He also said it was "Another horror."  Harrison, however, liked the song, noting that he and McCartney "played in harmony--quite a complicated little line that goes right through the middle eight."

A take of the song is featured on Beatles Anthology 2 in which Lennon and McCartney cannot make it through the piece because of their own laughter.  The working title of the song was "You Don't Get Me."

The song was recorded at Abby Road on April 20, 1966.  Harrison played lead guitar, Lennon rhythm, McCartney bass, and Starr drums and tambourine.  Lennon sings lead vocal, and McCartney sings harmony.

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What You're Doing

The Beatles facts for "What You're Doing" are as follows.  The song is a McCartney composition recorded at Abbey Road on September 29 and 30, 1964 but re-recorded on October 26, 1964.

McCartney plays bass, Harrison lead guitar, Lennon acoustic guitar, Starr drums, and George Martin piano.  McCartney sings lead vocal, and Lennon sings backing vocal.

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Every Little Thing

The most interesting Beatles fact for "Every Little Thing" from Beatles For Sale is that it is a McCartney composition but that the lead vocal was sung by Lennon.  This was an extreme rarity among most Lennon-McCartney compositions.

The song was recorded September 29 and 30, 1964 at Abbey Road.  Lennon sings lead vocal and McCartney sings background vocal.  McCartney plays bass, Harrison lead, Lennon acoustic rhythm guitar, and Starr drums and timpani.

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The Beatles' Rooftop Concert

There are many pertinent facts about the Beatles' fabled Rooftop Concert.  The concert came at the end of the Let It Be recording sessions.  The original concept for the album and accompanying film documentary, Let It Be, was to conclude the project and film with a Beatles concert, although no agreement could be found as to where it should take place.  Ringo recalls that some ideas centered on performing at the Palladium.  Other ideas included performing on board a ship or on a Greek island.  The lack of agreement reflected the band's turmoil during this period, a friction that can clearly be seen in the Let It Be film.  General consensus says that a few days before thr Rooftop Concert was staged, the Beatles finally decided to get the project over with--by that time they were ready to end the very unhappy sessions--by simply going to the rooftop of 3 Savile Row in London and playing some of the tracks they'd been working on.

The concert was held on January 30, 1969 after Beatles roadies brought the instruments, amplifiers, and recording equipment to the roof.  The film's director, Michael Lindsay-Hogg used camera crews to record the group's performance from many angles, including exterior shots from the roofs of other buildings as well as the sidewalk, where pedestrian reaction was also captured on tape.  Engineer Alan Parson used two eight-track machines to record the musical event.

Spectators on lunch break congregated on the streets below when the Beatles started playing, and while most people, young and old, received the concert favorably, the Metropolitan Police became concerned about the growing traffic and noise.  Neil Aspinall and other Apple employees refused to allow the police inside to halt the concert but relented when faced with arrest although they did their best to stall for time.

The concert was comprised of nine takes of five songs:

Get Back
Don't Let Me Down
I've Got a Feeling
One After 909
I Dig a Pony

Takes of "I've Got a Feeling," "One After 909," and "I Dig a Pony" were used on the vinyl issue of Let It Be.  The concert abruptly ended with "Get Back," after which Lennon utters the famous line "I'd like to thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition."  Ringo and McCartney have both said that they had hoped that the police would have literally dragged them away in order to have a dramatic ending to the film.

The concert has become both iconic and legendary.  In the fifth season of The Simpsons, for example, Homer's barbershop quartet performs on the roof of Moe's Tavern.  Episode guest George Harrison drives up in a car and says, "It's been done."  A rooftop concert was also featured in the 2007 film Across the Universe.

For the concert, Lennon played lead and rhythm guitar, McCartney bass, Harrison lead and rhythm guitar, Starr drums, and Billy Preston the electric piano.  Lennon and McCartney do lead and backing vocals, and Harrison does backing vocals.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Paul McCartney's Out There Tour

Out There is Paul McCartney's current tour (2013-2014) in which he continues to play a set list of predominantly Beatles songs.  It is sometimes listed as the "Out There! Tour."  The production elements include a "scissor platform," laser lights, new video graphics, and a stage floor with illuminated LED panels.  The tour has (and will) visit both old and new venues around the world.

The Out There Tour began in South America on May 4, 2013.  In May, 2013, McCartney played in Belo Horizonte, Goiania, and Fortaleza.  In May and June, 2013, McCartney played in North America at Orlando, Austin, Memphis, Tulsa, New York City, and Manchester.  In June, 2013 he played in Europe at Warsaw, Verona, and Vienna.  In July and August, 2013 he returned to North America to play in Ottawa, Boston, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Seattle, Quebec City, San Francisco, Winnipeg, and Regina.   In November, 2013, he played in Asia at Osaka, Fukuoka, and Tokyo.

In April, 2014, he played in South America at Montevideo, Santiago, Lima, and Quito.  Tour dates in May for South Korea and Japan were cancelled, as were North America dates in June, due to a viral infection that temporarily hospitalized the singer.  The June North America dates in the United States have been rescheduled to October.  The concert has resumed according to the following schedule running from July to October, 2014.  In these months, McCartney has played (or will play) in Albany, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Fargo, Lincoln, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Missoula, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, Lubbock, New Orleans, Dallas, Atlanta, Nashville, Jacksonville, Louisville, and Greensboro.

The basic set list includes the following songs (with no intermission).  Some substitutions have been made during the tour.

Eight Days a Week
Junior's Farm
All My Loving
Listen to What the Man Said
Let Me Roll It
Paperback Writer
My Valentine
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-five
The Long and Winding Road
Maybe I'm Amazed
I've Just Seen a Face
On My Way to Work
We Can Work It Out
Another Day
And I Love Her
Blackbird
Here Today
Your Mother Should Know
Lady Madonna
All Together Now
Lovely Rita
Mrs. Vanderbilt
Eleanor Rigby
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite
Something
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hey Jude

Encore One
Day Tripper
Hi, Hi, Hi
Get Back

Encore Two
Yesterday
Helter Skelter
Golden Slumbers
Carry That Weight
The End

Some songs added to the set list (substituting for others) have included the following:

Hope of Deliverance
Things We Said Today
I Saw Her Standing There
Michelle
Mull of Kintyre
Long Tall Sally
Birthday
Magical Mystery Tour
San Francisco Bay Blues

The tour has been wildly successful, and McCartney continues to use his backup band comprised of Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray (acoustic and electric guitars, bass), Abe Laboriel, Jr. (drums), and Wix Wickens (keyboards and percussion).  McCartney plays bass, electric and acoustic guitars, piano, organ, and ukulele.

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She's Leaving Home

"She's Leaving Home" is a track from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band.  It was written primarily by McCartney after reading a newspaper article in the Daily Mirror about a runaway girl.  Lennon contributed some of the lyrics that allegedly drew upon his childhood with his Aunt Mimi (i.e., not getting the kind of love he wanted).  McCartney said that the girl in the song is a younger version of the lonely Eleanor Rigby.

McCartney sings lead vocal, with Lennon doing the lead vocal in selected spots while also handling backing vocal.  The Beatles didn't play any instruments on the track.  Session musicians played strings and harp arranged by Mike Leander.  George Martin was hurt because McCartney was in a hurry to lay down the instruments and didn't wait for Martin, who was scheduled to do another recording session, to do the arrangement.

McCartney said it was one of his typical ballads and that one of his daughters liked it very much, although he didn't specify which daughter it was.

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Oh! Darling

This McCartney song placed on Abbey Road was recorded at Abbey Road Studios on April 20, with overdubs added on April 26, July 23, and August 8 and 11.  McCartney, thinking that his voice sounded too clear, went into the studio every day for a week to sing it until it attained a throaty quality.  An earlier version of the song was performed in the Let It Be film.  An off-the-cuff version of the song can be heard (with modified, humorous lyrics) on Anthology 3.

Harrison commented that the track is "mainly Paul shouting," with the other Beatles doing "a few things in the background."  Lennon liked the song very much, although he believed it was more his own style and that he could have performed it better.

McCartney plays bass, Harrison lead guitar and synthesizer, and Starr drums.  McCartney handles lead vocal, with Lennon doing a backing vocal.

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Yer Blues

There are many interesting Beatles facts associated with "Yer Blues," a track on the White Album.  The song was written by Lennon in India while he was, in his own words, "up there trying to reach God and feeling suicidal," a sentiment echoed in the song's lyrics. (Insert Dylan reference here.)  The song was originally titled "Your Blues," but Lennon, feeling that the song's connotations were too heavy, thought that "Yer Blues" would lighten the track's mood.  McCartney did not agree with the name change.

Lennon performed the song at the Toronto Rock 'n Roll Revival Concert in September, 1969.  A bootleg album for the Rolling Stones' unreleased film called Rock 'n Roll Circus includes a performance of "Yer Blues" by Lennon, Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, and Mitch Mitchell.

The song was recorded at Abbey Road on August 13,, 1968, with overdubs done on August 14.  The count-in was added on August 20.  Lennon handles the lead vocal and plays lead guitar.  Harrison also plays lead, McCartney bass, and Starr the drums.

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