For Sunday: the Beatles sing “Here, There, and Everywhere”

beatles here there everywhere

Everyone knows the big Beatles songs: “Hey Jude,” “All You Need Is Love,” “Help!”, “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” But there are literally dozens of smaller songs that are really just as good: three-minute masterpieces.



This, from their album “Revolver,” is one of those three-minute masterpieces. It’s a gentle ballad with a few soft French-horn notes late in the song, just for effect. The lyrics play with the words of the title back and forth: “here,” “there,” “everywhere.”



The result is one of those love songs that we’re still listening to fifty years later.







For Sunday: “Only A Northern Song,” by the Beatles

only a northern song

This song is on the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” album. It ain’t very danceable. But I love it. (I guess I have a taste for interesting dissonance.)

When you’re listening late at night

You may think the bands are not quite right

But they are

They just play it like that



For Sunday: “Here Comes the Sun,” written by George Harrison, sung by the Beatles

George Harrison wrote at least one song on every Beatles album. This was this “Abbey Road” song. It is beautiful. In fact, I think it may rank with the songs of Schubert.



For Sunday: Siouxsie and the Banshees sing “Dear Prudence”


This is the most subversively psychedelic song ever recorded by the Beatles. It’s got perfectly innocent lyrics, inviting you to “come out to play.” But it’s much more insidious than that.



I would never say that another band did it better. But Siouxsie and the Banshees came close.








For Valentine’s Day: Paul McCartney sings “Martha My Dear”


I couldn’t think of anything appropriate for today.



Then I thought of this: Paul McCartney’s love song to his sheepdog Martha.



Hold your hand out, you silly girl; see what you’ve done . . .



Happy Valentine’s Day.


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Sunday blog: “Goodbye,” sung by Paul McCartney



This is a song you may or may not remember. Mary Hopkin had a moderately good run with it in the late 1960s. It was written by Paul McCartney, and it almost made it onto one of The Beatles’ albums.



There’s nothing like a sad song in a major key, performed in a bouncy up-tempo way.



Here, you can hear the Beatles themselves (well, mostly Paul) performing it.



Happy Sunday.


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Sunday blog: The Beatles (well, a couple of them) sing “What’s The New Mary Jane?”


A few years ago I decided I needed a complete set of the Beatles on CD, so I scoured eBay, and found a Ukrainian who was offering just that for sale. I paid my USD$110 and held my breath.



After about four months, just at the point when I was picturing some anonymous Yuri or Boris frolicking with my money on the banks of the Dneister and laughing at my gullibility, I received a very suspicious-looking parcel, wrapped in brown paper and ugly twine (I wish I’d kept it, it looked incredibly illicit) with a whole boatload of nicely-packaged Ukrainian CDs in it, with every note from every Beatles album, and a whole bunch of other music included besides. It was the Ultimate Deluxe Bootleg Black-Market Package, including album art and lots of studio recordings that I’d never heard before.



Here, from those highly suspect Ukrainian CDs, is a song I bet you’ve never heard. It’s called “What’s The New Mary Jane?” It was recorded by John, and George, and Yoko, and Mal Evans, while sitting on the floor during the taping of the White Album. They were incredibly high, in case you can’t tell. The song very nearly made it onto the album, too.



I like it.



What a shame Mary Jane had a pain at the party!


28_What’s_the_New_Mary_Jane.m4a Listen on Posterous




Birthday blog: Life goes on within you and without you


Happy birthday to me, kids!



My birthdays make me very thoughtful.  (Some say my birthdays make me moody and bitchy, but that’s all in the eye of the beholder.)



I get thoughtful because I start thinking about my own ending, which is barreling down the track straight at me. And sometimes I think about the ending of the human race, and the world as a whole.



Isn’t that lovely?



I was just reading a review of a new Brian Eno recording. It was described as “hopeful,” and ends with the words “Everything will be all right.”



You know, strangely enough, in the cosmic sense, I think that may well be absolutely true.



Just maybe not with human beings in the picture.



We are absolutely not necessary in the Universe. The Universe got by just fine before we human beings evolved into our current hip/square dichotomy.



I have read lots of science-fiction books in which human beings grow giant heads and colonize every planet in the galaxy; also I have read lots of religious texts in which we sprout wings and fly into a celestial DisneyWorld.



I think either of those conclusions would be groovy. But I’m not betting on either.



Human beings are just another weed in the weed patch. We bloom from time to time, and brighten the summer day once in a while.



But, as the late George Harrison said, a long long time ago, when we were all very young:



. . . You’re really only very small

And life goes on within you, and without you . . .



08_Within_You_Without_You.wma Listen on Posterous


Beatle John vs. Beatle Paul


My sister Susan, ten years older than me, was a huge Beatles fan in the early 1960s. She especially liked Paul.


Later, when I was in college and discovered the Beatles myself, I bought a copy of the White Album, which contained four terrible cheesecake photos of the Fab Four. I had the bright idea of mailing the dewy-eyed picture of Paul to Susan, who was then a farm housewife in Pasco, Washington. She sent it back to me hidden in a box of cookies. I sent it back to her in something else. We kept the back-and-forth up for years and years, right up to the time she passed away in 1995. She sent it to me one last time, and told me on the phone that evening: “I win!” She died soon after.


Like Susan, I love the Beatles. I have absorbed all kinds of abstruse Beatles lore over the years. (White Album quiz! Who was “Martha”? Who was “Julia”? Who was “Sexy Sadie”?)


Paul and John wrote together, of course. They critiqued each other’s work, very sarcastically sometimes, and ended up writing brilliant songs.


But sometimes you can tell who was in charge on any particular day.


Paul was (and is) a showman with vaudevillian inclinations. He likes broad gestures, peppy tunes, bright lyrics. Listen to “Martha My Dear” for an extreme (but very likeable) example.


John was moody. He liked slow, bluesy, simple tunes. His lyrics are darker. (EXPERT TEXPERT CHOKING SMOKERS DON’T YOU THINK THE JOKER LAUGHS AT YOU HO HO HO HEE HEE HEE HA HA HA!) Listen to “I Want You” for a polar/extreme example.


And then, of course, there is “A Day In The Life.”


The story goes like this: John had a poignant melody and some moody mysterious lyrics. Paul had a bouncy little riff and some chirpy little lyrics. Neither could make any headway. So they just jammed the two into one another. John’s sad quasi-pentatonic lament – “I heard the news today, oh boy” – is the opening and ending. Paul’s cute piano-driven tune – “Woke up, fell out of bed” – is the bridge. George Martin, their very smart producer, introduced echoes of either in the other. Those sighing riffs in the bridge passage are echoes of John’s melody; the piano chords in the opening and closing sections, that begin so quietly and become more and more pronounced, are Paul’s contribution. And then there’s that huge dissonant orchestral crescendo that ends both sections: George Martin’s own creation.


I am still amazed at the creativity of the Beatles. Even fifty years later (fifty years!), they still sound fresh and new and interesting.


Susan would be pleased.


And, Susan, if you’re listening: Paul’s a jerk. I always liked George better.






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