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.

Advertisements

A Beautiful Tribute to a Beautiful Man

I'm almost positive this lovely picture was being projected onto the screen...

I’m almost positive this lovely picture was being projected onto the screen…

As I posted yesterday, I attended a Fab Faux concert with my dad last night at the Beacon Theatre in NYC that paid tribute to George Harrison. And here I am now, 24 hours later, to write about it!

I had very high hopes for this concert, and despite the fact that my dad and I were in the very last row of the theatre and couldn’t see a supposedly beautiful picture of George that was projected on the back of the stage, a splendid time was had by all. From the very first note of Wah Wah to the very last note of Roll Over Beethoven, I had a rollicking good time singing along to every song, cheering for George, and occasionally tearing up at the beauty of it all. Throughout the concert, I couldn’t help but think how wonderful it was to be in a room with thousands of people who loved George as much as I did. If there’s one thing I love more than talking about how much I love George, it’s hearing other people talk about how much they love George, and all of the personal stories about George told by the band members made me very happy and emotional. While George himself was not there, his spirit definitely was watching over the whole thing.

Once again, I was absolutely floored by the musical perfection that was the Fab Faux. They are truly a fantastic band and I can’t think of any way to improve upon the tribute to George that they did. Every song was perfectly and beautifully done, and in addition to playing the hits and crowd favorites like My Sweet Lord, Give Me Love, Here Comes The Sun, Something, and the like, they also threw in some wild card songs that hardcore fans like myself were thrilled to hear, like Run Of The Mill, Any Road, and Living In The Material World. I was also ecstatic to hear them play George’s very first song, Don’t Bother Me from “With The Beatles”! My favorite George solo song, What Is Life, was also played, much to my delight. It’s hard to choose a favorite moment, but I think it’s a tie between Here Comes The Sun, which almost made me cry because it sounded so beautiful, and While My Guitar Gently Weeps, which absolutely brought the house down and got a standing ovation.

Here’s a couple of videos from the concert that I found on Youtube. I didn’t actually film these, but they give a good sense of the incredible musicianship that was on display last night.

This concert was the first time that I’d heard most of George’s songs played live, and it only further reminded me just how many amazing songs George wrote in his career. I never actually forgot how great his songs are, of course, but this concert proved that they sound awesome in a live setting as well!
Listening to the positively George-like guitar solos on songs like Beware of Darkness and My Sweet Lord and the mind-blowing sitar playing on Within You Without You (if there was one thing I wasn’t expecting, it was a guy playing sitar, but they even had that!) served as a reminder that George’s songs aren’t just songs; they’re beautiful, heartfelt, honest works of art.

I didn’t think it was possible for me to love George any more than I already do, but at the end of this concert, I was in love with him a million times more than I was at the beginning. At a few choice moments during the show, I just closed my eyes for a second and imagined that George was in the room, and it really felt like he was there. To me, George Harrison is simply the most beautiful human being who has ever lived, and this amazing concert in his honor was one that I will never forget.

I do hope that if you are a Beatles fan and the Fab Faux come to a theater near you that you have the opportunity to see them, because as far as Beatle tribute bands go, they are the absolute best. I hope that the Fab Faux do this type of George tribute show again, because it was fabulous!!!
Have a great week! Happy early Halloween!

Some George Harrison Demos

My sweet George... :)

My sweet George… 🙂

One of the reasons why I love George Harrison’s music so much is that his songs are always great even in demo or unfinished form. He had such a gentle, soulful voice that didn’t require excessive production to make the song great. So, here I’ve compiled some outstanding demos of his that I found on Youtube.

Dark Horse

If you’ve ever heard the studio version of this song, you probably noticed that George’s voice on it is a a bit hoarse-sounding. That’s because it was recorded when he was battling laryngitis, and he didn’t have enough time to recover before releasing the song. While I do like the original song in spite of the hoarseness, I think that this is a beautiful and far superior version purely because his voice sounds like his normal self here. This is what the song was supposed to be.

Hear Me Lord

This version is just stunning, especially with the really cool electric guitar sound. I do love the album version of this song as well, but I think this demo is just as good. Once again, his beautiful voice really shines when it’s just him and his guitar. I’ve always admired the fact that George released such spiritual, religiously inclined songs without fearing that the public wouldn’t like him. The old saying, “Just be yourself and people will like you,” truly applies to his music.

I Live For You

With all the fantastic songs on All Things Must Pass, I still can’t figure out why this song never made the album. It’s such a beautiful song and so very George. Still, I’m thankful that it was included on the 2001 remaster of All Things Must Pass and that it eventually got proper studio treatment.

It Don’t Come Easy

In case anyone was wondering, yes, this is the same song as Ringo’s “It Don’t Come Easy”. I have always known Ringo’s version of the song, and I was surprised to learn that George actually wrote it for him and recorded a demo! Anyway, I really like this song, and it easily could have fit on All Things Must Pass. This is also my #1 favorite George tribute video on Youtube. I honestly can’t count how many times I’ve watched it. It never gets old!!!

So there you have it. Four fantastic songs written by George Harrison, in demo form. Enjoy! Only 2 days until George’s birthday!!!!