I’m Siriusly Excited About The Beatles XM Station

beatles radio

The Beatles, perhaps waiting to hear one of their songs on the radio!

As has become a pattern for me, I tend to blog whenever there is some newsworthy event happening in the Beatleverse, and this happens to be one of those times. These events often revolve around Beatles music entering the public consciousness in a new way, such as through iTunes, Spotify, and now, their own Sirius XM Station, channel 18. I had no idea that this was even happening until a few days before the station went live, and my initial reactions to this announcement ranged from “It’s about time” to “Finally!” Nothing against Pearl Jam, but if they have their own radio station, the Beatles deserve their own station as well. I’m also aware that those in charge of the Beatles brand and catalog (namely Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and Olivia Harrison, among others) are notoriously stringent about licensing the Beatles name. In recent years, I think these restrictions have loosened. Though I hope the Beatles don’t start advertising “sausages and diapers,” as George feared they would, I greatly appreciate that they’re latching on to new technological and musical developments and remaining relevant to modern music listeners.

Upon my first listen, the station reminded me a lot of me putting my iTunes library on shuffle and listening only to Beatles or solo Beatles music, as I did quite frequently early on in my Beatles fandom. Listening to the Beatles station has made me nostalgic for what now seem like simpler times when I was 14 and 15, when I dove headfirst into my obsession with all things Beatles and cared little about embracing the rest of the musical world. I’ve also been on a couple of long car trips in the past few weeks and the Beatles Sirius station has kept me entertained for hours each time. Many times while listening to the station, I’ve been delighted to come across Beatles songs that I’d forgotten about or hadn’t listened to for months. These include the underrated gems “For No One” on Revolver and  “I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party” from Beatles For Sale. I’ve also greatly appreciated the commentary from friends and musicians close to the Beatles such as Peter Asher, as well as the “ear trivia” of playing a second of a Beatles song and revealing the song’s name later.

My one gripe with this development is that, somehow even on a Beatles-centric station that revolves completely around their music, George’s solo catalog is still vastly untapped. The station seems to roughly adhere to a format of “three Beatles songs, followed by one Paul McCartney and Wings song, and maybe a John or Ringo song occasionally,” which is fine. However, having now listened to several cumulative hours of the station over the past couple of weeks, I can count on one hand the number of George solo songs I’ve heard.

This is quite disappointing to someone who is as big a fan of George as I am and who knows the wealth of good material that he produced after the Beatles broke up. Songs like “Faster” from his album George Harrison, “Fish on the Sand” from Cloud Nine, or “Life Itself” from Somewhere in England are all exquisite songs that get zero radio airplay on this station, along with many other fantastic compositions. I hope that perhaps I just haven’t been listening at the right times and that George’s solo career actually has been greatly appreciated on this station in my absence. If not, I sincerely hope that the station begins playing more of his solo songs.

Other than this, I am absolutely thrilled that the Beatles are being celebrated 24/7 (or as the station cheekily notes, 24/8, referring to “Eight Days A Week”) on Sirius XM. They, perhaps more so than any other artist with their own radio station, have a large enough catalog of Beatles, solo Beatles, and Beatles influence songs to support a long stretch of engaging radio programming. What’s more, the whole vibe of the station feels like more than just another radio station. It really celebrates the Beatles’ musical achievements and the massive impact they had on their fans, as evidenced by soundbites from celebrity fans or screaming admirers from their heyday. I hope that it maintains its current charm and continues to celebrate both the sung and the unsung heroes of the Beatles’ success.

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Beatles Songs And Movies, A Beautiful Marriage

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This post, contrary to what this picture may imply, is not about Beatles songs in their OWN movies, but rather about Beatles songs in OTHER movies.

Music and movies are more intricately connected than we often give them credit for. Music may exist perfectly fine on its own without any attachment to a movie, but a movie would not be a fraction of its final product without accompanying music to set a mood. Music alone can give a movie scene a lighthearted tone, an eerie mysticism, or an inspirational spirit, even if the actual footage and dialogue used in the scene is the same regardless of the music choices. It also makes a difference to the audience whether the song is well-known or not, as the sudden appearance of a classic rock song, for example, in a movie is likely going to create a different reaction among an audience than a modern indie track.

It’s no surprise to me that many movies over the years have famously featured Beatles songs. The Beatles’ lyrics, especially for songs such as “Eleanor Rigby” and “A Day In The Life,” tell stories akin to how a movie strings together a narrative about characters, places, and hardships. This makes their songs well equipped to accompany movie scenes.  In addition, many opening riffs to Beatles songs are so iconic that the audience immediately recognizes them, adding a sense of familiarity to a scene in a movie that, by endearing itself to the audience in this way, allows the audience to sympathize with or relate more to the character in question than they may otherwise. I am more knowledgeable about music than I am about movies, but several notable examples of this beautiful marriage between Beatles songs and movies come to mind, which I’ll share with you here. Feel free to comment with any additional examples that may be close to your heart.

Baby You’re A Rich Man- The Social Network

This is one of the more critically acclaimed uses of a Beatles song in a movie that I can recall in recent memory, and with good reason. This song, which was originally directed by the Beatles towards their manager Brian Epstein regarding his hedonistic lifestyle, fits in perfectly to question Mark Zuckerberg at the end of this movie. If you’ve never seen The Social Network, during the scene with this song, Mark Zuckerberg is sitting in a conference room, on the cusp of Facebook’s truly explosive breakthrough into mainstream culture that is about to make him a billionaire. However, the movie ends (spoiler alert? this has been out for several years…) with him being put in his place by his constant refreshing of his friend request to his ex-girlfriend, and by this song playing in the movie’s background. I love how the song speaks directly to the listener, asking “How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people? How often have you been there?” The way the scene is shot, it seems like the song speaks directly to Zuckerberg. It’s a sharp critique of upper-class social life that remains relevant today, as do so many Beatles songs. I’m glad to see that an underrated song like this one received well-deserved attention for its feature in The Social Network, an excellent movie in its own right.

Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight- Sing

This is a more lighthearted addition to this list, which warrants a place mostly because of Jennifer Hudson’s incredible voice. I loved the movie Sing largely for how it celebrated an unbridled love for music, theater, and the arts in general. This song features in both the beginning and end of the movie, initially as a rather diva-esque moment for Jennifer Hudson’s character, and later as a satisfying moment of closure for the characters after the emotional roller coaster that they have all gone through. I cannot recall another animated movie in recent memory that used a Beatles song in as effective moving a manner as this one. Especially near the end of the movie, when the heartfelt characters are finally having their moment in the sun and singing their hearts out, I teared up a bit as this song played again in the movie’s background. Songs such as this from the second half of Abbey Road have a unique power to signify closure, in my opinion because they were among the last songs on the official last Beatles album. I always associate this song with the end of that fantastic album, and featuring it at the beginning and end of a heartwarming movie such as this created a familiar sonic pleasure for myself, and hopefully for other Beatles fans at the movie theater.

Because- American Beauty

Despite being the major Beatlemaniac that I am, I honestly don’t think I noticed that the version of this song in the movie is actually a cover, sung by Elliott Smith, until I looked it up. It sounds nearly identical to the original Beatles version, minus the instrumentation present on the Beatles’ version. This particular Beatles song is known for being one of their most beautiful and also most haunting songs, with which I completely agree. It perfectly complements the themes of the ultimate banality of American suburban life, and also the remarkable qualities present in every aspect of our lives, that this movie features. I find American Beauty a bit scary at times, especially at the very end, and this song plays perfectly into the slightly eerie tone of the entire movie.

Twist And Shout- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

This is one of my favorite scenes in one of my favorite movies of all time. The marriage of song and scene here perfectly captures the universal appeal of the Beatles and how they manage to bring diverse crowds together all over the world, nearly 50 years after they split up. One thing interesting about this scene is how it begins with just Ferris singing along on the parade float, but gradually the entire crowd joins in until the entire street is singing along, young and old, to this classic song. This also illustrates to me the power that Ferris wields throughout the movie to bring people together who may have never associated with each other before, such as his sister Jeanie and Charlie Sheen’s character in the police station. “Twist and Shout” also captures the carefree, happy-go-lucky spirit of the entire movie that defines Ferris’s free spirit on his day off. Out of all of the iconic scenes in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, this scene stands out as perhaps the most iconic precisely for the use of this song.

All You Need Is Love- Love Actually

Last, but certainly not least, is a wonderful scene from another one of my favorite movies, which is perhaps the most literal interpretation of a Beatles song on this list. This scene, like American Beauty, features a cover of a famous Beatles song, this time by a joyful choir in the church during a wedding ceremony. I love how the traditional organ music after the couple exchanges vows quickly segues into the opening chords to “All You Need Is Love,” which begins an even more ceremonious rendition of the song when groups of instrumentalists suddenly stand up from their pews and play the song’s familiar riffs, in my opinion one of the most charming parts of this entire enchanting movie. I love most how delighted Keira Knightley’s character is by the whole affair, though frankly I don’t blame her. If I was surprised on my wedding day with a gospel choir singing a Beatles song, I think I’d react similarly. Anyway, this short scene always sticks out to me as a particularly effective use of a Beatles song  to communicate the message most prominent throughout their musical catalog: love.

Notice how I did not include any songs from the movie Across The Universe, a 2007 movie which featured entirely Beatles songs and which I have not seen. I’ve heard mixed reviews of this movie in particular, and I’ve also only listened to several of the tracks from the movie, which are all sung by cast members. From what I’ve heard, I don’t really love these versions of some of my favorite songs, though perhaps in the context of the movie they leave a different impression. But that’s for another blog post to hash out.

I may do a sequel to this post in the future if I think of any more movies I love that feature Beatles songs, or if a new movie comes out with a Beatles song I love. That’s all for now!

2013: I’m looking through you, where did you go???

Oh my gosh, this is so adorable! I love them so much!!!

Oh my gosh, this is so adorable! I love them so much!!!

Wow. I can’t believe I’ve actually been running this blog for a whole year now. This year absolutely flew by, and I can’t believe I have been fortunate enough to see both Paul McCartney and Elton John live in the last 6 months. I definitely did not see that coming last January! I hope that this blog has brought some people entertainment and smiles, because that’s what the Beatles bring to me! 🙂

What I think is so wonderful about having a blog related to something you love is that it gives you the opportunity to express that love to the world however you want, whenever you want. It’s a wonderful thing to have this pastime, and I truly have enjoyed every second I’ve spent blogging. If anyone is hesitating about starting a blog, I would highly recommend that they go ahead and do it. I’ve found that blogging is very therapeutic and relaxing for me, and I’m sure the same goes for others as well. As I said when I started this, I wasn’t sure whether I’d have enough to write about the Beatles to carry a whole blog, but clearly that hasn’t been a problem because I’m still going. And my obsession with Elton John has helped that out a bit as well… Thanks Elton for providing additional blogging material. Not that you’re actually reading this. 🙂

If this is at all possible, I love the Beatles an infinite amount of times more now than I did even a year ago, and I was a pretty big fan back then already. While writing about them, I’ve found that my love for them is so much deeper than just enjoying their music and fawning over their good looks from 50 years ago. There’s something deeper with the Beatles and their music that makes them so timeless, and I think it’s that they showed a genuine understanding of what music is all about: putting abstract thoughts and feelings into songs that people will listen to again and again.

Perhaps this is why after the umpteenth time listening to Revolver or Rubber Soul, I always find something new to think about, because I interpret each song differently every time. There’s so much depth to the Beatles in the character and personality of each band member that gets translated into their music, and I greatly admire their work ethic and drive to push themselves musically. They are a perfect example of how people should always look to improve themselves and their work, no matter how great they think they are.

I also think that there is a certain pure beauty in the Beatles’ music that I find applies to most of the artists I like. Not everything is perfectly executed in every song, but there is always an intent behind each one to create something beautiful and an understanding of how to do so, and I respect that their music is not just slickly produced noise, it’s genuine, honest art.

I feel like I’ve rambled a lot, so now I’d like to share a cover the Beatles did on Live at the BBC that I’m currently listening to while I type this. It’s so beautiful, and they didn’t even write it, but they perform it so amazingly that I just have to share it here. I just love how John, Paul, and George’s voices sound together on this one, with John singing so tenderly on lead vocal and George and Paul providing some gorgeous backing harmonies. There’s so much heart and soul put into this that always makes me emotional, and if you listen to it, I think you’ll understand why.

I’ve tried to vary the content and format of my blog posts by switching things up and not always starting each post with a pretty picture of George Harrison, though I always want to, but if you have any suggestions on something I could do better, I’d appreciate any feedback. I think I might start doing a “Beatles Song of the Week” or something like that, but other than that I don’t have too many ideas. I will definitely continue blogging as regularly as I can this year, and I greatly appreciate each and every one of the over 7,000 views I’ve received. Is that a lot? Not really. But does that discourage me from trying to reach more people? NO! 🙂

I’ve very excited for this upcoming month, because there will be a couple of televised tributes to the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America about which I will surely be blogging. I hope that everyone who reads this blog has grown to love the Beatles, or just life in general, a little more because of it.
Have a great first full week in 2014!

Why I started this blog

My inspirations... AND GEORGE IS WEARING THE ORANGE SWEATER!

My inspirations… AND GEORGE IS WEARING THE ORANGE SWEATER!

First off, don’t get this confused with my post about how I got interested in the Beatles, although the reasons for both overlap quite a bit. Instead, this post is about what exactly possessed me to start a Beatle blog, about 11 months after I first became obsessed with them. I have some time today to post, and this is my big idea for the day.
I first got the idea to start a Beatle blog way back in November, on the 11th anniversary of George’s death. I was feeling sad and wished I could somehow express to the world how I felt about George and his passing. Sure, most of my friends love the Beatles, so I could talk to them, but it was a busy school day, so I only had so much time for long, heartfelt, George-related conversations. I then came up with the idea of starting a blog to express my MANY thoughts and opinions about not just George, but the Beatles in general. I emailed some of my friends and asked if they thought it was a good idea and if they would read my blog if I started one. They were all in favor, but I still wasn’t sure if I actually wanted to go ahead and start a blog of my own. I’m not really that new to the blogging world (my friend and I have a baking blog called dessertduo.wordpress.com- check it out!!!) but I didn’t know if I’d have enough to say about the Beatles to actually carry a blog. Also, I was seriously doubting that I had any time in my schedule to blog about the Beatles, because as much as I love them, school does unfortunately come first. And that’s why I’m procrastinating on my paper for Euro by posting this… 🙂

Finally, Christmas break rolled around, and during break, I went to see the Beatle tribute band The Fab Four in concert. It was the best night of my life, and words can’t express how much MORE I loved the Beatles after seeing that concert. I thought I couldn’t love them any more than I already did, but I was wrong. And after having forgotten about the blog idea for a while, I revisited it in my head, and decided to go ahead with it. I promised my mom that I wouldn’t let this blog distract me from my school work, and so far, I think I’ve achieved a nice balance of Beatles and school in my life.

This blog started out as just a Beatle blog, but since then, I’ve realized that I do actually like other things in life besides the Beatles, such as Monty Python, the Mets, and The Big Bang Theory. I’m sorry if I’ve disappointed anyone by not posting ONLY about the Beatles, but they are definitely the one thing that my life revolves almost entirely around, and I have a lot to say about them. This blog is where I vent about various things, like how awful most music is today and how much I want to see Paul in concert, and also where I get to express how much I truly love the Beatles with the rest of the “world”. (I’m being relatively modest and assuming that the large majority of the world does not read this blog…) It’s also a way for me to relax, listen to the Beatles, look at pictures of the Beatles, write about the Beatles, and pretend like I’m blogging. Ta da!

So, about 3 and a half months into this whole blog thing, I think it’s going pretty well. And I can’t wait to continue blogging about my four favorite lads for as long as I have something to say about them, which I hope will be forever.
To close this post, here are various catchphrases from my favorite things in life: Lets Go Mets! Bazinga! Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!
And finally… THE BEATLES RULE!!! 🙂