Saturday, August 15, 2009

I Wanna Be Your Man

The most interesting Beatles fact about "I Wanna Be Your Man" is that this Lennon and and McCartney composition (mostly McCartney) provided the Rolling Stones with their first big hit, the Stones' version recorded in October of 1963. Lennon regarded it as a throwaway McCartney riff and was unwilling to give away primo material to any competing rock and roll group in their very early days. One may debate his wisdom since "World Without Love," recorded by Peter and Gordon, is considered a first-rate McCartney song from the Beatles' early period.

The song was recorded at Abbey Road Studios on September 11 and 12, 1963, with more work done on the track on October 3 and 23, 1963.

Starr sang lead vocal and played drums and maracas. Lennon played rhythm guitar and Hammond organ, McCartney played bass, and Harrison played lead guitar. Lennon and McCartney sang harmony vocals.

The song was included on With the Beatles in the UK and on Meet the Beatles in the U.S.

Ringo sang the song in live performances on and off from 1963 to 1966.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I'll Be Back

One of the fascinating Beatles facts about "I'll Be Back" is that this Lennon composition was originally conceived as a slow song in 3/4 time. As evidenced on Anthology, Vol. I, Lennon realized during Take 2 that the song wasn't working at this slow tempo, and the Beatles switched to 4/4 time on the next take.

The song was recorded during a single session at Abbey Road Studios on June 1, 1964 for the LP A Hard Day's Night (Parlophone issue), with a total of sixteen takes used to find the right sound. John frequently wrote his songs at a slower tempo only to speed them up later, with other examples being "Please Please Me" and "Revolution."

The song is a favorite of Beatles fans and has a distinctive sound because McCartney, Lennon, and Harrison all play acoustic guitars, giving the song a rich, full sound. McCartney played bass, Starr drums. Lennon handled the lead vocal, with McCartney doing the backing vocal.

Lennon was quite fond of the song, although he believed the middle eight to be "tatty." In the U.S., the song was issued on Beatles 65.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fixing a Hole

One of the many interesting Beatles facts about "Fixing a Hole" is that it was the first time the group had recorded any track in a studio other than one owned and operated by EMI. The song was recorded on February 9, 1967, with overdubs added at Abbey Road Studios on February 21. The song was written by McCartney, although Mal Evans claimed to have contributed to its composition.

McCartney wrote the song after repairing a hole in the roof on his Scottish farmhouse. Many fans would later insist that the song was an allusion to a junkie shooting up, with "the hole" referring to a needle mark on the arm. This interpretation never made sense since, in the context of the song, "fixing" the hole stops the narrator's mind from wandering, the opposite one would expect from a drug-induced experience. Others have maintained that the song refers to a junkie "cleaning up his act," which would be more in keeping with the lyrics, although McCartney stated on many occasions that the song was the outgrowth of his handyman's work in Scotland--nothing more--and there is no reason to doubt his veracity. Both Lennon and McCartney believed the song to be very good, with Lennon complimenting McCartney on especially good lyrics.

McCartney also stated that someone showed up at his home before going to the studio that evening, claiming to be Jesus. He took the person to the session, which proved uneventful. Lennon himself would later claim to be Jesus, but this is attributed to a later period in Beatles history (at Apple headquarters at Saville Row).

McCartney handled lead vocal and played bass. Harrison played lead guitar (double-tracked) and added a backing vocal. Lennon played maracas and also provided a backing vocal. Starr played drums.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I Me Mine

Not known as one of the Beatles mega-hits, there are still interesting facts about "I Me Mine." This Harrison composition was based on a tune played by a marching band George heard while watching television. In the film Let It Be, he plays the song for Ringo, describing it as a "heavy waltz." Ringo, George, and McCartney perform the song impromptu while Lennon and Yoko Ono waltz around the studio. The song was not laid down in its present form until one year later, when the group was informed that its rehearsal of the song would be included in the film.

The song as recorded on January 3, 1970 at Abbey Road Studios, minus Lennon. When the Let It Be project was handed over to producer Phil Spector, he overdubbed an orchestra and choir.

Harrison plays acoustic and lead guitar and sings lead vocal. McCartney plays piano and does background vocal. Starr plays drums, with Billy Preston on organ.

Harrison later titled his semi-autobiography I Me Mine, which was an odd assortment of pictures, handwritten song lyrics, and anecdotal material about his songs and his life. In the "bio," he wrote that the song was about problems people have pushing aside their egos. More specifically, "I Me Mine" grew out of his experimentation with LSD, after which he viewed everything as "mine" (Harrison's). After immersing himself in transcendental meditation, however, which demands that one clear the mind and transcend the ego, he claimed that he discovered the eternal observer within his consciousness, the self that represents what would later be known in quantum physics as non-local intelligence (or the Oneness or Divine Mind, as it is called in various belief systems).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

You Never Give Me Your Money

The Beatles facts for "You Never Give Me Your Money" are noteworthy because of the details relating to the song's inspiration. Apple Corps Ltd. was losing money because of a poor business plan that originally called for people to submit their artistic projects to the company--paintings, music, books, electronics, poetry, and much more. Apple, however, had no organized system to deal with (or execute) the massive number of submissions they received. (James Taylor is one of the few artists who was successfully signed by Apple and went on to have a successful, sustained career.) Also, Lennon and McCartney were fighting to own their own song publishing company.

The song was part of the B side of Abbey Road, beginning the suite (which was McCartney's idea). It leads into "Sun King," "Mean Mr. Mustard," "Polythene Pam," "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight," and "The End."

It was recorded at Olympic Sound Studios on May 6, 1969. Overdubs were added in July and August at Abbey Road Studios.

McCartney plays bass and sings lead. McCartney and Lennon provide backing vocals. Lennon plays lead guitar, Harrison plays rhythm, and Starr plays drums and tambourine.

Harrison was very fond of the track because he thought it to be very melodic.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The Beatles facts for "Yesterday" are especially interesting since this McCartney composition has been one of the most covered songs in rock and roll history. Issued on the Help! LP (the British version), it was also released as a single in the U.S. on September 13, 1965. Ironically, it wasn't released as a single in the UK until 1976 because the group did not anticipate "Yesterday" being such a huge hit. It was a radical departure from previous Beatles hits, but in retrospect, it was a precursor to the vast diversity and creativity the band would display on later albums and singles. It was also the first time that a band member performed solo on an album or single.

"Yesterday" was recorded on June 14, 1965 at Abbey Road Studios. It was recorded just a few hours after McCartney recorded the very raw "I'm Down." George Martin recorded McCartney singing while playing his Epiphone acoustic in one take. Other vocal takes were made, but none seemed an improvement on the original. Martin later scored the strings and overdubbed them onto the main track.

Lennon originally thought that this was one of Paul's greatest songs, although Lennon and Harrison later teased McCartney for always bringing up the song in conversation. (This in itself was a precursor to later arguments within the band that McCartney was starting to emphasize his own efforts and talents too much--and at the expense of the others.) Even later, after the band's break-up, John Lennon criticized McCartney harshly for bragging on the song so much.

McCartney believed at the time that it was the most "complete" song he'd written up to that point. That having been said, he stated in 1980 that although the lyrics work very well, the song evokes a mood or feeling as opposed to telling a coherent story.

The history of the song's composition is legendary. McCartney awoke with the tune in his head, unsure if he were remembering a song he'd heard somewhere else, possibly years before. He therefore played the chords for many people, asking if they were familiar with the melody. He finally became convinced that it was an original composition--his own--one that had come to him almost "too easily." The working title for the song was "Scrambled Eggs."

The song has been covered by more than 2700 artists, and this is a conservative estimate. The song was performed live by McCartney during the Beatles' tours of 1965 and 1966. He also performed the song on the 1976 Wings Over America tour.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dark Horse: The Album

Several interesting Beatles facts emerge as one considers Dark Horse, the LP released by George Harrison on December 20, 1974. Harrison was not able to finish recording the entire album at his home studio at Henley-on-Thames because he was busy preparing for his Dark Horse Tour at the end of 1974. Complicating matters further, Harrison came down with laryngitis, which did not deter him from recording the single "Dark Horse" or embarking on the tour. His throaty delivery on the single and album is obvious, but oddly enough the hoarse delivery of the lyrics became a trademark of sorts for the song.

It is perhaps not surprising that Harrison came down with an illness given the extraordinary stress (and life changes) he experienced in 1974. He separated from his wife, Patti Boyd, who he'd met on the set of A Hard Day's Night. Boyd left Harrison for mutual friend Eric Clapton. The ex-Beatle also formed Dark Horse Records and took up with his new love, Olivia Arias, who he would later marry. (Their son Dhani is now a singer in his own right.)

The tour was not well received by critics, who were disappointed with George's vocal quality as well as the Indian music portion of the concerts. Harrison took the criticism to heart and rarely toured afterwards, the most notable exception being his tour of Japan in 1991.

The album was recorded in October and December of 1974 and released on the Apple/EMI label. A remastered version for CD was released in 1992.

Session musicians included Eric Clapton (guitar), Ringo Starr (drums), Jim Keltner (drums), Billy Preston (keyboards), Nicky Hopkins (piano), Klaus Voorman (bass), Willie Weeks (bass), Mick Jones (guitar), Ron Wood (guitar), Steve Winwood (synthesizer), Robben Ford (guitar), Gary Wright (piano), and Tom Scott (flute and sax). Other sources also list Roger Kellaway (piano), Alvin Lee (guitar), Max Bennett (bass), Ray Cooper (percussion), Chuck Findley (horn), Neil Larsen (synthesizer), Andy Newmark (drums), Dick Newman (strings), and Gayle Levant (harp).

Tracks included:

Hari's on Tour (Express)
Simply Shady
So Sad
Bye Bye Love
Maya Love
Ding Dong, Ding Dong
Dark Horse
Far East Man
It Is He (Jai Sri Krishna)

The cover of The Everly Brothers "Bye Bye Love" contained slightly altered lyrics alluding to losing Patti Boyd to Clapton. "Ding Dong, Ding Dong" was also released as a New Year's single.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band: The Album

The most important of several Beatles facts for John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band is that it was the debut solo album for Lennon (discounting three experimental albums with wife Yoko Ono) and is considered to be one of Lennon's best efforts in his solo career. Rolling Stone ranked it # 22 on its list of all-time greatest albums. The album was recorded at the same time as Yoko's Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, which featured her avant garde style. The band backing Lennon was dubbed "plastic" because of various musicians called upon by Lennon and Ono since 1969 for solo work--a "conceptual band," as it was termed--as compared to the four permanent members of the Beatles.

The album is generally regarded as an outgrowth of the primal scream therapy Lennon undertook with Arthur Janov, producing cathartic feelings expressed in the LP's tracks. One example is "God," in which Lennon sings that he only believes in himself as opposed to any deity or authority/celebrity figure (Beatles, Elvis, etc.). The album was produced by Phil Spector (with production credits also assigned to Lennon and Ono) and recorded at Abbey Road Studios and Ascot Sound Studios from September 26, 1970 to October 23, 1970. It was released on December 11, 1970 on the Apple label, and was well received by critics in both the United States and Great Britain.

Musicians working on the album included Klaus Voorman (bass), Ringo Starr (drums), Alan White (percussion), Billy Preston (piano), and Phil Spector (piano). Lennon handled vocals and played guitar, piano, and electric keyboard.

Tracks include:

Hold On
I Found Out
Working Class hero
Well Well Well
Look at Me
My Mummy's Dead

With impetus from Yoko Ono, the album was remixed and re-issued for CD format in 2000 with two bonus tracks: "Power to the People" and "Do the Oz."

The artwork for the album was a shot of Lennon and Ono leaning against a tree. The photo was taken with an ordinary Instamatic camera.

The guitar work by Lennon on "Look at Me" is similar to that on "Julia" and "Dear Prudence" and was taught to Lennon, according to most sources, by Donovan when the two musicians were in Rishikesh, India in 1968.

For more information on Beatles albums (group and solo), go to Beatles Albums: Background and History or see the Sitemap below.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Ballad of John and Yoko

The main Beatles facts for "The Ballad of John and Yoko" are that the song was written by Lennon within a few days after his marriage to Yoko Ono on March 20, 1969 in Gibraltar, and also that Lennon and McCartney recorded the song by themselves, with no help from Starr or Harrison even though the song was released as a Beatles recording. This is surprising inasmuch as the feuding between Lennon and McCartney was at its peak during this time. The song recounts Lennon and Ono's trouble finding a place where they could be married, their subsequent honeymoon, and trips to Paris and Amsterdam, and staying in bed for a week (e.g., the bed-in at the Amsterdam Hilton).

The song was released in the UK on May 30, 1969 and in the U.S. on June 4, 1969. Ironically, it was the first Beatles' single to be released in stereo but was also the last song recorded with the intention of it being issued as a single. The song was banned on many radio stations in both the United States and Great Britain because of the line "Christ, you know it ain't easy." Because McCartney helped with the recording session, Lennon reciprocated by giving McCartney co-authorship credit for "Give Peace a Chance."

The song was recorded at Abbey Road Studios on April 14, 1969. Lennon played acoustic and lead guitars. McCartney played bass, drums, and piano. Lennon sang lead vocal, with McCartney turning in a great performance with harmony vocal. The two band members recorded a basic rhythm tracks (doing eleven takes) with only acoustic guitar, drums, and the lead vocal. They then decided on the best take and overdubbed the rest of the instruments in a single day. It is reported that John addressed Paul as "Ringo," while Paul addressed John as "George."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fool on the Hill

The interesting Beatles facts for "Fool on the Hill" are that, although this is a McCartney composition, Paul first played the song for John at his (Paul's) house at St. John's Wood while the two were collaborating on "With a Little Help from My Friends."

The track was recorded at Abbey Road Studios on September 25, 1967, with flutes added on October 20th of that year. Lennon told interviewers over the years that he believed the song to be one of McCartney's best lyrics, as it represented a completely formed idea.

The portion of Magical Mystery Tour devoted to this song features Paul in Nice, France. McCartney has attested in Anthology and other interviews that he crossed the English Channel to shoot the footage on a lark, forgetting his passport. His small crew also didn't bring the right camera lenses, causing them to request that the lenses be sent at a price of 4000 British pounds. The footage was shot on November 1 and 2, 1967. The scenes were regarded as some of the more successful of Magical Mystery Tour, which was thoroughly panned in Britain. The film segment was used in Anthology, and McCartney still uses this portion of the film in concert when performing "The Fool on the Hill." The iconic portion of the film segment shows McCartney, wearing a dark navy-blue peacoat, standing on a hilltop against a backdrop of clouds. He is also seen hopping and skipping around various locations in and near Nice.

McCartney sings vocal and plays piano, flute, and recorder; Harrison plays lead guitar, Lennon maracas and harmonica, Starr finger cymbals. Some sources attribute an additional harmonica to Harrison.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Day in the Life

Of the many Beatles facts associated with "A Day in the Life" from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the most important is that the song is a mixture of a Lennon tune gleaned from articles in the newspaper and a partial song by McCartney, the latter representing the middle of the track that starts after the orchestral buildup and an alarm clock ringing. McCartney's contribution to the track, a snippet he couldn't fully develop, is about waking up and catching a bus.

In the song, Lennon wrote of a car crash in South Kensington that caused the death of Tara Browne, the twenty-one-year-old male heir to the Guinness family. Lennon also used other details he saw in the paper, such as the fact that four thousand potholes needed to be filled in Blackburn, Lancashire. The lyric "I saw a film today ... the English army had just won the war" is a reference to How I Won the War, a Richard Lester film in which Lennon appeared.

The song was recorded at Abbey Road Studios between January 19 and February 10, 1967, with overdubs added later. The original backing track featured Lennon playing an acoustic guitar and McCartney playing piano--nothing more. Lennon counts into the song by saying "Sugarplum fairy, sugarplum fairy," which can be heard on the Anthology version.

Lennon's unusual vocal quality was produced by use of a tape echo. The vocal was sent into the tape machine, where it was split into "record" and "replay," with the "replay" being fed into the machine again (as well as Lennon's headphones).

Roadie Mal Evans counted from one to twenty-four to measure each bar that would later be filled in by an orchestra building to a crescendo. Evans set the alarm clock for timing purposes and was left in because it fit the motif of McCartney's "Woke up, got out of bed ..." The orchestra was McCartney's idea, although George Martin originally believed a building crescendo was over the top.

It was George Martin's idea to have the last note of the song last as long as possible. The note was achieved by three of the Beatles hitting the note on three pianos, with sound engineers controlling the rate of fade-out. The note lasts for forty-five seconds and precedes what is known as "The Inner Groove," a few seconds of repeating gibberish heard if old stereo tone arms were left on the vinyl.

Composer Leonard Bernstein was especially impressed with this track.

Instrumental attributions for Harrison and Starr vary depending on the sources consulted. Lennon and McCartney sang lead vocals for their respective parts. Lennon played his acoustic Gibson J-160E, McCartney piano. The orchestra was a forty-one piece assembly of classical musicians. Most sources agree that Lennon, McCartney, and Starr played the last piano chord, with some sources also putting Starr on toms, drums, or both. Harrison's contribution is unclear, although some sources say he played bongos and one of the pianos at the end. Other sources also have McCartney playing bass guitar. Most sources agree that Martin scored the strings for parts of the song but that McCartney directed the orchestral crescendo.

The song is regarded by fans and musicians alike as one of the most innovative tracks ever written and performed by the band. Lennon thought it to be among his finest work.

Monday, April 13, 2009

All You Need Is Love

The Beatles facts for "All You Need Is Love" go beyond the mere recording of the song since it was performed for Our World TV on June 25, 1967, a global telecast using new satellite technology. The program was a six-hour telecast seen by 400,000,000 people in over twenty countries. Many other performers took part in the event, which was designed to unify the people of the world.

The song was recorded on June 14, 1967 at Olympia Studios, although overdubs were added at Abbey Road later. The song is a Lennon composition, although there is disagreement among George Martin and the remaining Beatles as to whether Lennon wrote the song specifically for the telecast. It was released in the UK on July 7, 1967 and in the U.S. on July 17, 1967.

The song has a very long fadeout that includes material from the Beatles (such as McCartney singing "She loves you, yeah yeah yeah") as well as scores from George Martin that include "Greensleeves," "In the Mood," and Bach.

For the tracks that were combined from the sessions at the two studios, McCartney plays upright and electric bass, Lennon harpsichord, Harrison guitar and violin, Starr drums, George Martin piano. Session musicians played trumpets, trombones, saxophones, violins, cellos, and an accordion. The chorus for the live TV performance included Jane Asher, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Keith Moon, Patti Harrison, Graham Nash, Marianne Faithful, and others.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Within You Without You

This George Harrison composition from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band has many interesting Beatles facts. It was recorded on March 15, 1967 at Abbey Road Studios, with overdubs added on March 22 and April 3. Harrison wrote the melody for the song on a harmonium (not his sitar) while visiting the home of Klaus Voorman. The lyrics essentially describe what he and Voorman had been talking about that evening, and hence the first line of the song.

Harrison stated in many interviews that he didn't believe the other three band members were very interested in the track, although John Lennon said in his 1980 Playboy interview that he believed it was one George's best songs because of its clarity of purpose and a solid performance by Harrison.

A carpet was put on the floor of the studios, with flowers and incense added, to create the ambiance necessary for the Indian studio musicians. George Martin scored violins and cellos to mesh with the Indian instruments: dilruba (an Indian violin); tabla (Indian percussion); and swordmandel (similar to a zither).

Harrison said that he was especially fond of the 5/4 time of the interlude and the other distinctive cadences he borrowed from Indian music for the track.

The laughter at the end of the track was Harrison's idea because he believed the song was "too heavy" and wanted to lighten the atmosphere in order to segue into the next song. There was some disagreement on adding the laughter from the other Beatles.

Harrison sang lead vocal. Harrison and Neil Aspinall played the tamboura. Session musicians played all other instruments. No other Beatle aided in the recording of the song.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Beatles Anthology

There are dozens of Beatles facts about The Beatles Anthology. This title alludes to the three-part documentary series aired by ABC in 1995 (November 19, 22, 23), which was the first time the three surviving band members told their history in their own words. The series, which also featured interviews with Neil Aspinall and George Martin, covered the history of the group from its early inception in Liverpool to the breakup of the band in 1970.

The series was accompanied by the release of three double CDs with alternate versions of Beatles tracks from studio sessions, as well as live performances and songs never included in the original Beatles catalog, although many of the alternate versions and live perfomances had circulated as bootlegs for many years. The TV series, which required five years of production time in order to secure interviews and collect film footage, was produced by Apple manager Neil Aspinall.

Finally, a book, The Beatles Anthology, was released in 2000, with photos and interviews from the original TV series as well as new material. The large hardcover volume quickly became a New York Times bestseller.

Both the TV series and the CDs debuted two new Beatles songs, "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love," on which McCartney, Harrison, and Starr overdubbed new vocals and instrumentation to augment John Lennon's voice and guitar on two Lennon demo tapes provided by Yoko Ono. It was the closest thing the Beatles could do to effect a "reunion."

The first CD, Anthology 1, was released on November 17, 1995 and fetured material from the early days of the Quarrymen to the albums Please Please Me and With the Beatles.

Anthology 2 was released on on March 17, 1996, with material from Help, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Magical Mystery Tour.

Anthology 3 was released on October 28, 1996 and contained material from The White Album, Let It Be, and Abbey Road.

The covers for all three CD cases consisted of collages of peeling Beatles posters and were designed by musician and Beatles associate Klaus Voorman, who had designed the iconic cover for Revolver.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Beatles One

The Beatles facts for Beatles 1 are that is a compilation album featuring all number one British and American hit singles by the group and was released on November 13, 2000, the year representing the thirtieth anniversary of the band's break-up. It was released on the Apple label (with songs also registered to Parlophone and Capital). Production credits are attributed to George Martin and Phil Spector, although it was George Martin, together with Harrison, McCartney, and Starr, who compiled and produced the songs.

The twenty-seven songs were previously available on Past Masters, Volume One and Past Masters, Volume Two, as well as The Beatles 1962-1966 and The Beatles 1967-1970.

The songs were digitally remastered under the supervision of Peter Mew at Abbey Road Studios. Many fans have complained that the dynamic sound of the original analog masters was lost in the remastering. On the other hand, most fans believe that the songs sound clearer and more vibrant, with some original recording mistakes (and extraneous noises) now eliminated.

The package has become iconic, with the yellow numeral "1" set against a solid red background. The cover was designed by Rick Ward. The collection was released in CD, vinyl, and cassette formats. Beatles 1 reached Number One on charts in thirty-five countries. Apple claims that more than twenty-seven million copies have been sold to date.

Tracks include:

Love Me Do
From Me to You
She Loves You
I Want to Hold Your Hand
Can't Buy Me Love
A Hard Day's Night
I Feel Fine
Eight Days a Week
Ticket to Ride
Day Tripper
We Can Work It Out
Paperback Writer
Yellow Submarine
Eleanor Rigby
Penny Lane
All You Need Is Love
Hello, Goodbye
Lady Madonna
Hey Jude
Get Back
The Ballad of John and Yoko
Come Together
Let It Be
The Long and Winding Road

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Penny Lane

Of all Beatles facts associated with "Penny Lane" is that George Martin thought that the song, along with "Strawberry Fields Forever," should have been included on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band because it had the same feel as the other songs at the beginning of the Beatles' studio years. "Penny Lane" was the B-Side for "Strawberry Fields Forever" and is considered to be a McCartney response to the A-Side, much as "Paperback Writer" was a response to "Day Tripper." Penny Lane is a "bus roundabout" in Liverpool that still exists today. Both songs were about places the Beatles had encountered years earlier, and at one point, before the concept for Sgt. Pepper's emerged, the group considered using these two songs on an album about their childhood.

The song is primarily a McCartney composition, with Lennon having helped with a very few lyrics. It was recorded on December 29, 1966 at Abbey Road, with overdubs added over the following three weeks. The single was released in the UK on February 17, 1967, and in the U.S. on February 13, 1967. Neither "Penny Lane" nor "Strawberry Fields Forever" were issued on Parlophone's Magical Mystery Tour, but Capital included both songs on its release of the LP in the United States.

McCartney sang lead vocal, with Lennon providing harmony. McCartney played bass and flute; Lennon played piano, Harrison conga drum, Starr drums, George Martin piano, David Mason piccolo trumpet, and Philip Jones trumpet. Martin claims that McCartney's idea to use very high trumpet notes came from listening to Bach's Brandenburg concerti. George Martin transcribed McCartney's ideas into correct music notation for Mason and Jones.

McCartney admits to sneaking two obscenities into the lyrics that only the British might notice: "fish and finger pie" and "he keeps his fire engine clean."

As with "Strawberry Fields Forever," a promotional film was made for "Penny Lane." The two promos were shown in the U.S. for the first time on American Bandstand. The teens in the audience had mixed reactions to both the films and the songs, many feeling that they couldn't relate to the altered look and songs of the group, which represented sharp deviations from the standard rock and roll that had made the Beatles famous.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ticket to Ride

One of the most interesting Beatles facts for "Ticket to Ride" is that John Lennon, the sole composer, believed that it was the first heavy metal song. If one stretches the imagination, it's possible to listen to the heavy lead and rhythm guitars and understand what Lennon was saying. It's as if the song was more of a precursor than the actual first heavy metal song. A better case for "the first" can be made for "Helter Skelter" from the White Album.

The song was recorded on February 15, 1965 at Abbey Road Studios and featured on both Parlophone and Capital LP releases of Help. It was released as a single in in the UK on April 9, 1965 and in the U.S. on April 14, 1965. Like the single "Help," the label on the 45 rpm of "Ticket to Ride" also said, "From the United Artists screenplay Eight Arms to Hold You, which was the working title for the film.

Lennon sang lead vocal, with McCartney adding harmony. McCartney played bass and the distinctive lead guitar line. Lennon played rhythm guitar and Starr drums. Harrison played electric guitar, although sources disagree as to his studio contribution. Harrison did play lead during live performances, such as the performance of "Ticket to Ride" on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1965, a version which was played ridiculously fast and, like the other songs on their 1965 appearance on the Sullivan show, indicate performances not nearly as clean as their 1964 appearances (with the exception of McCartney's "Yesterday"). Lennon even fumbled the lyrics for both "Help" and "I Feel Fine," although he recovered quickly.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Imagine: The Album

There are many Beatles facts for John Lennon's Imagine, but the most important is that it is his most popular solo project owing to the title track (and also because it was recorded for its potential commercial value as opposed to Lennon's more avant-garde material before and after). It was recorded from June to July of 1971 and released on the Apple label on September 9, 1971 and October 8, 1971 in the U.S. and UK respectively. Production credits are assigned to John Lennon, Phil Spector, and Yoko Ono. The album is listed as number seventy-six on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Many of the basic tracks for Imagine were laid down at Lennon's home studio at Tittenhurst Park, with overdubs added at New York City's The Record Plant. Footage of several of the album's sessions was released on the documentary Gimme Some Truth.

One of the more popular tracks on the LP is "Jealous Guy," which was composed during the Beatles visit with the Maharishi in India in 1968. "Oh Yoko" has also remained one of Lennon's more popular songs, an upbeat homage to his wife. "How Do You Sleep?" is generally considered to be addressed to Paul McCartney. Its sarcastic tone was considered to be in bad taste by Ringo Starr, although George Harrison played on this track (and a few others on the album). The song "How?" is a reflection of Lennon's Primal Scream Therapy. The most popular ballad on the album is the very gentle "Oh My Love."

Session musicians for Imagine included Alan White (drums), Klaus Voorman (bass), George Harrison (electric and slide guitars and dobro), The Flux Fiddlers (strings), King Curtis (sax), Andy Davis, (acoustic guitar), Nicky Hopkins (piano), and Mike Pinder (of the Moody Blues--tambourine). Some sources also add Joey Molland, Rod Linton, Ted Turner, and Tom Evans on acoustic guitars.

Lennon provided vocals and played piano, acoustic and electric guitars, and harmonica.

Under the supervision of Yoko One, the album was remixed and remastered for a 2003 reissue.

The tracks include:

Crippled Inside
Jealous Guy
It's So Hard
I Don't Want to Be a Soldier
Gimme Some Truth
Oh My Love
How Do You Sleep?
Oh Yoko.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

McCartney: The Album

One of the primary Beatles facts for the album McCartney is that it was the first solo album released by the Beatle. Recorded from November 1969 to March 1970, it was released on April 17, 1970. The other Beatles tried to delay its release since it might potentially conflict with the impending release of the controversial Let It Be LP and film. Phil Spector was still mixing the album as late as March of 1970. McCartney not only declined to postpone the release of his album but declared on April 10, 1970 that he was leaving the band, in part because of his dissatisfaction with Spector's work on Let It Be. The group, of course, had already begun to slowly disintegrate during the White Album sessions.

A portion of the album was recorded at McCartney's home in London on a four-track tape recorder. Another portion was recorded at Abbey Road Studios under the pseudonym of Billy Martin. Some of the tracks were instrumentals (see below).

Except for some backing vocals from his wife Linda McCartney, Paul played all instruments on the album and sang all lead vocals. The instrumentation was quite varied and included electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums, organ, Mellotron, and mini-xylophone.

While George Harrison thought the album had merit, John Lennon thought that the LP lacked distinction given McCartney's perpetual desire for perfection in the recording studio.

The tracks include:

The Lovely Linda
That Would Be Something
Valentine Day (instrumental)
Every Night
Hot as Sun/Glasses (instrumental)
Man We Was Lonely
Oo You
Momma Miss America
Teddy Boy
Junk (instrumental)
Maybe I'm Amazed

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Double Fantasy

Of the many Beatles facts related to Double Fantasy, the saddest is that is was John Lennon's last release (not counting anthologies, compilations, archival material, and performances released posthumously since Lennon was assassinated on December 8, 1980, shortly after the double album's release). It was recorded at The Hit Factory for the Geffen label from August 4, 1980 to late September of that same year. Produced by John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and Jack Douglas, it was released on November 17, 1980.

The album marked Lennon's new burst of creativity, one that followed a five-year period, beginning in 1975, during which he suspended his recording career (except for occasional demos done at his apartment in the Dakota) in order to take care of his son Sean. His new creative energies had been kindled after sailing to Bermuda on the schooner Megan Jayne. When the schooner ran into heavy squalls and the crew became ill, Lennon lashed himself to the chrome railing and began to sing old Liverpool sea chanteys. It was as if he were exorcising himself of personal demons that had plagued him for years. Upon arriving in Bermuda, he began to compose again, calling Yoko on the phone to play early drafts of the songs. Indeed, so prolific was his output at this time that he would accumulate enough songs for more than just Double Fantasy. Another album, Milk and Honey, was already in the planning stage when Lennon was killed. In the months before he was shot, Lennon even called Julian in England to ask his older son's opinion of some tracks, and the greatest tragedy perhaps is that Lennon's road to reconciliation with Julian was cut short at this time of their lives.

The album was re-released in 2000. Singles issued from "Double Fantasy" (both releases) included "Watching the Wheels," "Woman," "Walking on Thin Ice," and "Just Like Starting Over." Double Fantasy won the Grammy Award for 1981 Album of the Year.

Lennon believed the personal demos of some of the tracks were exceptionally good because they conveyed immediacy and emotion, and he reworked some of the demos at the Dakota as well as the recording studio. The concept of the album was that the songs were John and Yoko singing to each other, an idea that appealed to the Lennons inasmuch as they were releasing to the public an intimate side of themselves. (Seven of the album's tracks are Ono's.) The LP's cover, showing a black and white photo of John and Yoko kissing, has become iconic in the world of music and beyond.

The tracks include:

(Just Like) Starting Over
Kiss Kiss Kiss *
Cleanup Time
Give Me Something *
I'm Losing You
I'm Moving On *
Beautiful Boy
Watching the Wheels
Yes I'm Your Angel *
Beautiful Boys *
Dear Yoko
Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him *
Hard Times Are Over *

(Songs with asterisks represent Yoko Ono's contributions.)

The 2000 re-release included the following extra tracks:

Help Me to Help Myself
Walking on Thin Ice *
Central Park Stroll (brief conversation)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I Want to Hold Your Hand

There are many Beatles facts associated with "I Want to Hold Your Hand," but the most pertinent is that before the issue of this song in the United States, Capitol Records had declined to release the Beatles' successful UK singles in America, songs such as "Please Please Me," "From Me to You," "Love Me Do," and "She Loves You." Producer George Martin believed that the latter song had been good enough to crack the American charts.

In preparation for the Beatles' first tour of America and their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, Brian Epstein reassured Capitol that "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was a record that would sell well in America.

The song was released as a single in the UK on November 29, 1963. It was released in the U.S. on January 13, 1964 and was the song most responsible, in tandem with the Sullivan appearance, for the beginning of Beatlemania in America.

This early composition was an equal collaboration between Lennon and McCartney, and part of the song was written in Jane Asher's basement. It was then recorded on October 17, 1963 at Abbey Road Studios, this session representing the first time that the Beatles used four-track recording equipment.

The song was performed live by the band in 1963 and 1964, and was performed on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, as well as at the Washington Coliseum and Carnegie Hall on the first American tour in February of 1964. "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand," a German version of the song (i.e., the song was recorded in German) appeared as a single in 1964 and was later issued on the LPs Something New, Rarities, and Past Masters, Volume 1.

Lennon and McCartney share lead vocals. Lennon plays rhythm guitar, Harrison lead, McCartney bass, and Starr drums.