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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A Very Beatley Christmas

Well hello, blogosphere! I realize that the last time I posted was around Thanksgiving, and I am very sorry it’s been so long. Today I wanted to talk about a few fantastic Beatle-related gifts I got over the holidays, as well as discuss a couple of new Paul McCartney songs that have been in the news recently. It’s truly amazing to me how Paul is over 70 years old, has been world-famous for 50 of them, and has accomplished basically everything under the sun, and yet he’s still motivated to create innovative, interesting music. I suppose that the drive and motivation that led him to be so successful in the first place has never really left him.

Anyway, this holiday season was festive as always. I listened regularly to my favorite rock Christmas songs and sang along enthusiastically (while others cringed) when “Wonderful Christmastime” came on the radio. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it may be the actual #1 most annoying Christmas song ever on some official lists, but I genuinely love it and will defend it until Santa tells me otherwise.
I was lucky enough to receive a couple of really thoughtful, awesome Beatles-related presents that I wanted to share with you. One was an adorable mug-and-saucer set, where the saucer looks like a record from the top and both say “All You Need Is Love.” I now have two Beatles mugs to rotate through while drinking tea. The more the merrier!

I really love this!

I really love this!

As a secret Santa gift, I also received a fantastic Beatles Anthology-like book called “John, Paul, George, and Ringo: The Definitive Illustrated Chronicle of the Beatles”. I haven’t looked through the entire thing yet, but from what I’ve gathered, it’s basically like The Beatles Anthology but with more pictures and graphics, and not written by the Beatles. It’s definitely a valuable addition to my (admittedly small) collection of Beatles books.

With that cover, how could I not be excited to read this?!?!

With that cover, how could I not be excited to read this?!?!

This isn’t really Beatley per se, but my parents were awesome and gave me a really cool Kinks shirt that I now sport proudly in addition to my many Beatles shirts. Although I think upon first glance, most people probably just think it’s a Beatles shirt and don’t inquire further. Oh well, I know that I’m wearing a Kinks shirt, and that’s all that really matters!

I honestly didn't even know they made Kinks shirts!

I honestly didn’t even know they made Kinks shirts!

In other news, Paul McCartney has released two songs recently that have caught the media’s attention. One of them was a collaboration with Kanye called “Only One” which, honestly, is better than I thought it would be.

Still, the song is basically all autotuned-Kanye with Paul playing keyboards in the background. I respect that Paul enjoys collaborating with modern artists, but next time, I hope he does something more like that reuniting-with-surviving-members-of-Nirvana thing he did that resulted in “Cut Me Some Slack,” a fantastic rock song. But aside from that, it’s really not a bad song.

Another song Paul has released recently is called “Hope For The Future,” and it’s part of the soundtrack he did for a huge new video game called Destiny. This one I really like; it’s cool, modern, and edgy without being too overly experimental.

Again, if doing stuff like this is where Paul is in his career right now, I’m completely in favor of that. As long as he’s still relevant to music and today’s youth in some way, he can basically do whatever he wants. After all, he’s Paul freaking McCartney.

So that’s where my Beatley world is at right now. I’m not sure what my next post will be, but I can guarantee that it will be soon. Until then, have a fab week!

Top 10 Beatles songs to listen to in the car

I got the idea for this post while listening to Breakfast with the Beatles in the car this morning, and I thought it might be helpful if any readers are looking to make a Beatles driving playlist. The songs here don’t necessarily have to do with driving subject-wise, but I think that the vibes of all these songs are conducive to driving (or passenging). Feel free to disagree or come up with your own list. Here we go!

10. I Want To Hold Your Hand

I’m not going to say a ton about each song on this list, but the opening riff to this is just so good. It’s a great song to sing along to and it’s always a crowd pleaser. If it comes on the radio, crank it up and enjoy!

9. If I Needed Someone

Again, it’s really the riff here that makes this a “car song” for me. The relaxing, slightly lazy pace makes it perfect for any drive, any time. This is one I would listen to with the windows open, unless it’s snowing. Then, definitely close the windows. 🙂

8. A Hard Day’s Night

This is a great car song mostly because the opening chord is so instantly recognizable. It’s nice to know exactly what song is playing in the car without having to take your eyes off the road (or if you’re passenging, your phone, most likely), so this song is a great candidate for any Beatlemaniac’s car playlist.

7. I Am The Walrus

I’m going to assume that no one driving will be tripping on LSD (which would be very dangerous indeed), so I don’t think listening to this in the car will blow your mind TOO much… Anyway, I’m not exactly sure why I chose this song for this list. Once again, the opening is very famous, but aside from that, I just like it a lot. Not that I ever really do this, but if I were driving around with friends late at night and the car windows were open, this is the song I would want to bother the neighborhood with.

6. Day Tripper

For anyone who thinks this song is literally about taking day trips to the countryside, you’re wrong. It’s slightly more metaphorical (and naughtier) than that. But anyway, this riff combined with the awesome harmonies and the chorus makes it a fantastic song to listen to in the car. As I’ve said before, this is definitely one of my top 5 favorite Beatles songs. For a brief time, you can at least imagine that it’s about day trips. 🙂

5. Help!

Once again, the instantly recognizable opening makes it a good car song. I also think that the layered, call and-response harmonies throughout have a sort of Beach Boys-ish vibe that makes me think of driving cars in California. (again, I am clearly not a Californian…)

4. Get Back

This song is literally about going back to somewhere, and it mentions California and Arizona (two states 3,000 miles from me), so I thought it would be a good addition to this list. I think I’ve said this before, but I really like the drums on this song for some reason. Even after everything they had already accomplished musically in such a short time, the Beatles still found ways to innovate on this album.

3. One After 909

This isn’t a hugely popular Beatles song, but it REALLY makes me think of cruising along a highway on a nice day. I love the keyboards and guitar on this track. A relatively unknown Beatley tidbit is that this was actually one of the first songs the Beatles wrote, way back in the late 1950s. There’s a couple of versions of this on Anthology 1, but I definitely prefer this faster Let It Be version to any of the earlier ones.

2. Back in the USSR

This is a classic, and the plane sound effect at the beginning gets me every time. Again, I love listening to this in the car because it’s so upbeat and has a fantastic guitar solo. Many of you may know that Ringo quit the band for a bit while they were making the White Album, so who do you suppose plays drums on this song? That’s right, it’s the multi-instrumentally talented Paul!

Annnnd…

1. Drive My Car

So it might be a bit of a cop-out to have this as #1, but I honestly could not think of a better choice. The “driving cars” in this song may be metaphorical (I bet you can guess what it refers to…), but it’s still a great song to listen to in the car! And come on, who doesn’t love the “Beep beep, beep beep, yeah!” part? Just don’t honk the horn along with that part, as you may get some Looks of Doom from neighboring drivers. 🙂

So, that’s it for this list. On my list of “future posts,” in case you’re interested: Top 10 non-Beatles songs to listen to in the car, reviews of Phillip Phillips’ “Behind the Light” and U2’s “Songs of Innocence,” my thoughts on Conan’s George Harrison Week, and much more. Stay tuned folks!

A Smorgaspost

Hello! The month of August always seems to fly by, doesn’t it? Before I knew it, it was August 20th and I hadn’t blogged since the first day of the month… Cue the guilt. But here I am! Today I figured I’d talk about a few things, Beatley and not, that have been going on in my life and in the world recently.

First, I was very fortunate to see one of my current favorite musicians, Gavin DeGraw, in concert last week with my friend. I’d been looking forward to this for months, and he did not disappoint in the slightest! Gavin was charismatic, funny, and charming, and he sounded amazing! If there’s anyone out there today who will never need autotune, it’s him. He is also a fantastic piano player, and if there’s anyone even close to a modern “piano man” like Elton John or Billy Joel, it’s also him. I love him for constantly restoring my faith in today’s popular music, and I sincerely hope I get to see him live again soon.

Here are a couple of pictures I took at the concert:

We were pretty close to the stage!

We were pretty close to the stage!

I zoomed in, we weren't actually right in front of him, but it was still really exciting!

I zoomed in, we weren’t actually right in front of him, but it was still really exciting!

The two acts who performed first, Andrew McMahon and Matt Nathanson, were also fantastic. I didn’t know any songs by either of them before the concert, but they are now officially on my musical radar!

And now, for something completely different…
Apparently, Paul McCartney and Kanye West are collaborating. I’m not really sure what to make of this. On one hand, Paul has probably done just about everything on his musical bucket list, so why not collab with Kanye? On the other hand, if this means Paul will be rapping… Well, actually, I’d love to hear that. Who am I kidding? But I hope whatever they come up with will be skewed more towards Paul’s musical senses than Kanye’s.
To quote Forrest Gump, “And that’s all I have to say about that.” 🙂

Paul also made news recently for performing the last-ever gig at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, CA. I was reading reviews of the concert recently, and while it sounded like an amazing concert, the highway traffic getting there was so bad that thousands of people didn’t even get to the stadium in time for the concert.
If that were me, I would have gotten out of the car and walked. As I’ve said, for Paul, it’s always worth it. If I had to walk from New York to California with the promise of seeing Paul again, I probably would. Just give me a few weeks… 🙂

Finally, the Emmys are coming up, and remember that Beatles special from way back in February? Well, it’s nominated for… Something technical sounding in the TV special category. I think it’s also nominated for writing for a TV special. Anyway, I’m hoping some Beatle-affiliated people will be there solely for this reason. If this special doesn’t win anything, I’ll have to be content hoping that The Big Bang Theory, The Tonight Show, Sherlock, and The Normal Heart (the only other programs nominated that I really care about) win everything. Should be an exciting evening!

Anyway, school unfortunately starts soon for me… 😦 I’m a senior in high school this year. Yikes. Time really does fly. I was a mere sophomore when I started this blog! Though I’m sure it will be a busy year, I promise to continue blogging as often as possible and keep you updated on all things Beatles. After all, if there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that I am never too busy to listen to the Beatles!

I’m planning on posting a sequel to the “Random songs I’ve been obsessed with recently” post I did a while ago, so be on the lookout for that in the near future. Aside from that, have a fab rest of the week/weekend/summer/year! (depending on how often you read this…)

Happy birthday Paul McCartney!!!

Paul's hair... That is all.

Paul’s hair… That is all.

It’s that time of year again where Beatle fans everywhere gather and celebrate Paul’s birthday!!! I’ll try not to make this a repeat of last year’s birthday post, but I will say that in light of Paul’s recent health scare, I’m glad he seems to be doing better. He’s one of those people that has an aura. I experienced that first hand last year when I saw him at the Barclays Center; as soon as he came onstage, the entire atmosphere of the place changed from extreme excitement to a giant outpouring of joy and affection and tears unlike anything I’ve ever seen. As I’ve said before, it was magical, and I hope that everyone is fortunate enough to experience his brilliance in person at least once.

Paul is 72 now, but he doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. I admire his energy and passion for what he does, and I can only hope that I am the same way in my adult years.

Obviously I love Paul a lot. Here are a couple of videos that explain why if I haven’t done a thorough enough job.

Wow, what a voice he still has! I’m so glad he did this!

This, folks, is the best Paul McCartney tribute video on Youtube. It captures his youthful exuberance perfectly.

I love how Paul can still relate to the youth of today. Also, as I’ve said before, he and Jimmy are great together.

Well, I hope Paul has an absolutely fab day!!! And I hope you do too! Listen to his music, watch some videos of Paul, or just think about why he’s the best. Satisfaction guaranteed. 🙂

More Beatlesque Songs

I saw this online a while ago. It's so true.

I saw this online a while ago. It’s so true.

So, I know it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve blogged. With SATs, finals, APs, and whatnot, May will certainly be a crazy month. But I promise to keep blogging as often as possible! Today I’ve decided to do a part 2 to the post I did way back last year about Beatlesque songs, because while I love entertaining people about the Beatles, I also love showing just how much the Beatles have influenced music by posting songs by other artists. So, here we go!

Universally Speaking- Red Hot Chili Peppers

I’ve been listening to this band a lot recently, and one thing I love about them is their versatility. Their songs range from being funky and hip-hoppy to more mellow alt rock to… Well, this one, the opening to which could absolutely be part of a Beatles song. This song is really cheery and upbeat and makes me feel happy about life, which is definitely a sign of a Beatlesque song.

10538 Overture- Electric Light Orchestra

If you’ve seen the movie “American Hustle,” then you know this song. I firmly believe that had the Beatles continued making music through the 1970s, they would have morphed into something similar to ELO. This song contains a lot of clear nods to the Beatles, like the psychedelic vocals and the strings throughout, without ripping them off of any direct melodies. ELO is just brilliant. It’s a crime that they’re not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Addicted to You- The Smith Bros

I love this song, mostly because of this video. 🙂
But if you can get past the pictures, the song itself is actually pretty Beatle-like, especially the bridge part in the middle. It’s a great song that very accurately summarizes my love for all things Beatles.

God On My Side- World Party

I think this sounds more like an Oasis song than a Beatles song in actuality, but it has a lot of wonderful Beatley qualities and is just an all-around beautiful song that I had to post it here! This whole album, “Goodbye Jumbo,” is fantastic and has a very diverse collection of songs, but all of them are subtly Beatlesque in their own special ways. Definitely check out the rest of the album if you like this song.

Flesh Number One (Beatle Dennis)- Robyn Hitchcock

If you’ve never heard of Robyn Hitchcock, he’s a British musician whose entire catalog is practically an homage to the Beatles. All of his songs are lovely and relaxing, like this one. Also, this song has the world “Beatle” in the title, so there’s that. 🙂

Hopefully these songs will tide you over until I post again, which I promise will be soon. Until then, enjoy spring, enjoy the nice weather, and enjoy the Beatles!