I Finally Saw The Beatles On The Big Screen!

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One of the biggest news events in Beatle-land this year has been the recent release of the Ron Howard documentary about the Beatles’ touring years, entitled The Beatles: Eight Days A Week. As I have mentioned before, it’s been a dream of mine for years to go see a Beatles movie in the theaters and pretend I’m a fan from the 1960s seeing A Hard Days Night upon its release.

I tried to do that back in 2012, when a documentary called The Beatles: The Lost Concert was scheduled for wide release in theaters. This documentary (supposedly) captured the frenzy of the Beatles’ first concert in North America, which occurred in Washington D.C. on February 11, 1964. Unfortunately, it was never released in theaters due to copyright issues. When I learned of its canceled release, I was heartbroken, but I never stopped believing that perhaps one day another Beatles documentary would find its way to a theater near me.

I first heard about The Beatles: Eight Days A Week over the summer, and even after watching the official trailer on the Beatles’ YouTube channel and visiting the movie’s website, I still sort of thought it was too good to be true. I reserved mild hope that I’d be able to see this movie, but I figured that my efforts to see the Beatles on the big screen and learn new Beatles trivia would be thwarted once again.

However, as events fell into place, the stars aligned, and my prayers were answered, I actually was able to see this movie at a theater near my school just a few weeks ago! I was so excited at the prospect of seeing 90 minutes of remastered Beatles footage and audio, and the movie definitely exceeded my giddily high expectations.

At this point in my Beatles fandom, I’ve read and watched so much about them that it’s difficult for me to be shocked by any aspect of their narrative. And yet I continue indulging in Beatles-related releases like this movie because I am always amazed at their magical story. The Beatles’ rise to success in the 1960s is a remarkable tale, filled with astounding chart domination, incredibly concentrated musical output, and incalculable influence on the culture of their era. I keep coming back to Beatles movies, articles, and programs because I revel in hearing about how they took the world by storm and altered the whole concept of rock music and success for a band. It’s infectious and endlessly fascinating.

Back to the movie at hand, it certainly did not blow my mind with a wholly new perspective on the Beatles’ touring years. However, it was a thoroughly enjoyable movie-watching experience for a Beatles fan. I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of backstage footage that I had somehow never come across on YouTube or television. These clips emphasized that the Beatles really were a hilarious four-headed monster, at least in their early days. The movie also detailed a few points about the Beatles’ stops in specific areas of which I was not previously aware.

These included a 1964 Beatles concert in Florida that they flatly refused to perform unless they sang to an unsegregated crowd. Though the Beatles were from England, they were very conscious of the racial tensions present in the US at the time and took this opportunity to maintain their belief that any form of segregation was morally wrong and unacceptable to them. This isn’t really a huge spoiler, but I previously had no idea that the venue actually agreed to unsegregate the seating for that particular concert so the Beatles would still perform,  which helped set a precedent for unsegregated concert venues in that and surrounding areas.

This movie also focuses a lot on the difficulties that the Beatles faced during their rise to worldwide acclaim through their tours. I was not wholly aware of the actual danger that they were in just entering a building or driving around. There were many clips of near-riots on streets all over the world that stemmed from the Beatles’ arrival in that particular city. This is a helpful reminder for aspiring musicians that the only sustainable reason to become a musician is because you deeply love music, not because you want to be famous. I am always in awe of the immense scope of Beatlemania in the mid 1960s, but it certainly was not all good days and sunshine.

Despite all of this, I would trade just about anything to spend one day experiencing the height of Beatlemania. However, seeing this movie in the theaters is probably the next best thing. The Beatles: Eight Days A Week may not be groundbreaking, but honestly, barring some huge, covered-up scandal I don’t know about, it is difficult for any new Beatles project to be groundbreaking. What I absolutely love about the release of this movie is how it contributes to keeping the Beatles’ music and story alive in today’s generation. As long as there is the occasional Beatles-related project or musical re-release, I’ll have confidence that they will remain eminent figures in cultural lore.

The Kinks: They Really Got Me

They are looking very ponderous and thoughtful here.

They are looking very ponderous and thoughtful here.

It seems that every few months, I become obsessed with a new band or artist that’s already famous to most humans and their household pets. Last summer, it was Elton John. February break, it was Gavin DeGraw. Spring break, it was the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

But as I’ve delved into the wonderful world of British Invasion-era bands, I’ve recently fallen deeply in love with the Kinks. I’ve enjoyed their music for a long time, but since I heard a couple of their songs on the radio last week, I’ve listened to them more than ever before. They are not completely unlike the Beatles, but they definitely have their own, distinctly British sound. There are so many things about them that I love, so I’ll list a few of them here.

1. They are (in my opinion) extremely underrated.
Sure, I like bands like Led Zeppelin and Queen a lot. They’re great. But I honestly feel that their overall musical output is just a tad over-celebrated. However, the Kinks, for some reason, are not on as much of a lauded pedestal as many other bands (yes, the Beatles are very lauded and celebrated, though deservedly so). I don’t know why this appeals to me, I guess I just like the idea that they are not as “mainstream” popular. And I always root for the “underdogs” of rock who never seem to get the accolades they deserve. Like George Harrison!

2. Ray Davies. Need I say more?
I’ve basically been listening to the Kinks nonstop for about three days, and I can safely say that I haven’t discovered a Kinks song I don’t like. I finally understand why Ray Davies is considered, as my dad has been telling me for years, a musical genius on par with the Beatles. His lyrical style is honest and accessible, but also clever, witty, and often amusing. I also love his voice, because it’s very different from any of my other favorite singers. Variety is, after all, the spice of life!
His songs are very melodic and easy on the ears, but they also make me stop and think about life. And his utter British-ness is, to me, very appealing. Just watch this video and you’ll see what I mean.

Yes, uninformed interviewers from the 60s and 70s always make me cringe (did this guy really think that people at a Kinks concert in 1977 would be screaming the whole time?), but Ray is so quietly charming and witty that I don’t even mind. He has fantastic hair, which always helps. He also says here that he isn’t as good looking as Mick Jagger, but I respectfully disagree. 🙂
Hmm, soft-spoken, underrated musical geniuses from the sixties with fantastic hair. Have we, at Beatle Me Do, seen this before…? 🙂

3. The Kinks invented a whole lot of things.
I did not know this, but apparently the 1965 Kinks song “See My Friends” is the actual first pop song credited with Indian influence, BEFORE the later, sitar-flavored “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” on the Beatles’ Rubber Soul. Now that I listen to it, I definitely hear it. Take a listen for yourself!

Also, their first big hit, “You Really Got Me,” is commonly recognized as one of the first proto-metal and punk songs because of its power chord structure and overall rawness. I’m not really into metal as a genre, but this is definitely one of the best harder rock songs of the early sixties.

4. They wrote my favorite rock Christmas song.

I listen to this year-round, with no shame whatsoever. It’s a really great song!

Now that I’ve introduced the Kinks on this Beatle blog, I will at some point in the future describe my favorite songs by them. In the meantime, I need to actually go through their discography in detail beyond their greatest hits compilations. I refuse to be an uneducated fan for long!
I’m also praying that the supposedly confirmed reunion album and tour between Ray and Dave will actually happen. How awesome to see these legends together in concert! One can only hope they will put aside their differences long enough to make their fans happy.
In the meantime, have a fantastic week! 🙂

Paul McCartney and Jimmy Fallon: A Fab Duo

So much cuteness in one photo!!!

So much cuteness in one photo!!!

So I’ve been kind of obsessed with Jimmy Fallon recently since he made his debut on The Tonight Show a few weeks ago. I think he’s hilarious and one of the most creative and entertaining comedians out there today. One thing, among many, that I love about him, is that he is known for his spot-on musical impersonations of people like Neil Young, Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, and others. He is also a huge fan of the Beatles and Paul McCartney! In fact, my mom actually spotted him at the Paul McCartney concert last June, and I think he appeared on the screen next to the stage once or twice. Whenever he interviews Paul on his show, he gets really excited and giggly, which I think is both adorable and the mark of a true super fan. Anyway, today I’ve decided to post a few videos of Jimmy and Paul, because they’re two wonderful people who are just hysterical together!

This video is priceless for so many reasons! Paul head-butting Jimmy, Paul attempting an American accent and sounding more like a British tourist with an acquired Texan accent, Paul saying “Honey Boo Boo” over and over again… I’m so thankful this exists.

A classic moment on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. This version of Yesterday might be my favorite. 🙂
Also, I love when Jimmy harmonizes on the last part of the song. He actually has quite a nice voice.

This might be the most heartfelt version of Here Today I’ve come across. It brings tears to my eyes whenever I watch it because it’s so powerful and bare. Also, when Jimmy tells Paul, “I love you,” at 3:30 in the video, I think I laughed and cried at the same time. If I was hosting a talk show and Paul was a guest, I would also profess my love for him on the air.

Hearing Paul using words like “selfie” and “photobomb” that mostly people under 20 say just makes my day. He truly is the coolest person in the world. And the picture they show at 0:35 is one of my absolute favorite Beatle pictures!

All right, I think that’s all for now. I will try to do a post tomorrow about my favorite covers of Beatles songs, so be on the lookout!

The Beatles, still fab after 50 years!

We love them, yeah yeah yeah!

We love them, yeah yeah yeah!

So I wanted to wait until after I watched the televised special commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on Ed Sullivan to do a blog post, but now that it’s over, here I am!

Overall, I thought it was a wonderful tribute. It had a good mix of old and new musicians, and while I didn’t really care for some people (why did Katy Perry oversing Yesterday??? Why did the Imagine Dragons do a boring version of Revolution???), I enjoyed it very much. My favorite performances were probably Jeff Lynne, Dhani Harrison, and Joe Walsh doing “Something” and Dave Grohl and Jeff Lynne doing “Hey Bulldog.” Both were done respectfully and not with too many vocal runs or falsettos or any of the annoying things that modern pop singers love to do. I also thoroughly enjoyed Eric Idle’s frequent Rutles name-drops and commentary on each of the Beatles’ childhoods. I had no idea he would be involved, so this was definitely a pleasant surprise!

But of course, Paul and Ringo (and John and George) were the stars of the show. Throughout the broadcast, the cameras frequently cut to Paul singing along or Ringo doing some air drumming, and I got the impression that they were rather touched by the whole extravaganza. It made me so incredibly happy to see Paul grinning with delight as Stevie Wonder sang “We Can Work It Out” or Ringo sang “Yellow Submarine.” It must be nice to be so loved by the entire world for half a century!

Paul and Ringo’s performances were also wonderful! Ringo sounded great as always, but Paul really sounded AMAZING!!! I mean, he rocked the house! I was singing along as he and Ringo sang With A Little Help From My Friends together and as he played Hey Jude to close the show, and I think I had a tear in my eye at the end. Seeing everyone from the show together onstage showing how much they love the Beatles and seeing all of the audience members dancing and singing along reminded me once again why the Beatles are still so revered today. Their music makes people love life, and that’s something that I don’t think will ever go out of style.

From seeing another fabulous Fab Four concert with my friends last night, to listening to a celebratory Breakfast With The Beatles this morning, to watching the TV special tonight, my weekend was filled to the brim with Beatleness. And I wouldn’t want it any other way!
In case you missed the special, here are some brief interview clips with David Letterman, Paul, and Ringo that were shown during the program.

Wow, what a great weekend to be a Beatles fan! I feel so fortunate to have even lived at the same time as two of the Beatles, and I know that while they were never together while I was alive, their music will live in my heart and the hearts of millions of others for 50 more years and beyond. Long live the Beatles!

HAPPY (belated) BIRTHDAY JOHN LENNON!!!!!!!!!

What a cute picture. I love you John!!!

What a cute picture. I love you John!!!

I realized today that I did not do a birthday post for John, since his birthday fell in the middle of the week this year. Still, better late than never, I always say! So today I’m wishing a very happy birthday to a man who would have been 73 this year and still is an inspiration to us all, John Lennon! Happy birthday John!!!

When I think about John, the first thing that comes to mind is how much the world today needs him. I wasn’t around when he was alive, but from what I’ve read and watched, he was a musical and emotional leader for an entire generation of people in the 60s and 70s. So many musicians I love have been inspired by and idolized him, including Elton John, Robyn Hitchcock, David Bowie, and many others. I feel like John is the one songwriter that almost all musicians can relate to and aspire to be like. His music is so honest, beautiful, and straight from the heart, and there is a certain Lennon-esque quality that I feel like is missing from most music today. I subscribe to the theory that music started to go south in quality after John was killed, because such a big musical icon was no longer around to set the example for the next generation of artists.

But this post is about celebrating John’s life, not mourning his death, and celebrate I shall! One thing I really like about John in particular out of the four Beatles is his witty, sharp, clever sense of humor. He was never at a loss for words, had so much to say, and always had a wry comeback or a funny joke to add to every interview. Take this video for example:

Of course, George is absolutely charming at the end of the video, but that’s besides the point. John just looks so uninterested in what this Swedish interviewer is asking that it cracks me up from the very beginning of the video. He is hilarious!

This next video is my absolute favorite clip from the movie “A Hard Day’s Night”. 47 seconds of awesomeness, capped off by what I think is the funniest line in the entire film.

Obviously this was scripted since it’s in a movie, but John’s delivery of that line in such a silly voice makes me laugh every single time!

I often wonder what John would be up to if he were still alive today. Would he still be an active presence in show business and be making new albums regularly, like Paul? Would he be touring the world with a rock supergroup, like Ringo? Would he have retired from the spotlight and decided to focus on other things, like George did for a while? I really don’t know. What would John think of the world today? Would he use social media like Facebook and Twitter? I have no idea. But I am certain that the world would be a better place with John in it.
Still, I have a feeling that people will still have the same reverence for John Lennon in 100 years as they do now. He is such an iconic figure that I don’t think will ever be forgotten. I certainly will never forget him!

To close out this birthday post, here’s John’s plea for peace, love, and happiness. We’re not there yet, John, but we’re working on it!

Once again, happy birthday to the amazing and wonderful John Lennon! You inspire me every day! I LOVE YOU!!!!! 🙂

George’s thoughts on Elton John and why I agree with him

I was inspired to do this post after re-watching one of my favorite George interviews last night because I felt like hearing his voice. He did this interview with Good Morning Australia in 1982, and I love it because he seems really relaxed and in a great mood, being his usual witty, funny self. But what really got me thinking was when he shared his thoughts on Elton John at the very end of this video after the reporter asked him what he thought of Elton. This comes at about 9:20 in the video.

At first after watching this, I thought, “I love you dearly Georgie, but how dare you talk smack about Elton John!!!!” But then I realized, as I always seem to do, that I actually somewhat agree with George’s assessment of Elton John’s music.

See, as I’ve delved into the world of Elton John over the past month or so, I’ve completely fallen in love with him and his music. It is definitely easy on the ears and very enjoyable to listen to, and I find that I seem to listen to him when I feel like being a rock star and want to belt out something like “Tiny Dancer”, pretending that I’m the frontwoman of some famous rock band. Elton is the ultimate rock star to me, and his music is fun to hear and to dance to. I’ve really come to appreciate good piano playing because of him, and “air piano” is now a regular part of my “air band” lineup, along with guitar, drums, and bass. (lefty bass of course, for Paul!)

But as I thought about what George said about Elton, I found myself thinking, “What a shock. George is right again.” Because as much as I love Elton’s songwriting and Bernie Taupin’s lyrics, I think that the very fact that Elton didn’t and still doesn’t write his own lyrics leads to somewhat of a disconnect between me and his music. Listening to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is certainly an experience, and Madman Across The Water is one of my new favorite albums, but the lyrics to Elton’s songs are all about storytelling. That does serve an important purpose in my life, no question, and his songs are beautiful and magical to listen to. But I don’t think that I learn all that much about who Elton is from his music. And I’m not saying that as a bad thing, but more as a reason why I think George’s assessment of him is rather accurate.

Where George wins out over Elton for me is the fact that his music is entirely written from his point of view. George wrote his own lyrics and wrote about what was important to him, and his soul and love for God shines through his music. George’s lyrics are always clever and beautiful, but they also show who he is as a person, which is a loving, funny, caring human being. For me, listening to George Harrison is more of a personal, intimate experience than listening to Elton John, and the sheer honesty of George’s music is just one of the many reasons why I love him. Again, I’m not at all saying that Elton’s music isn’t honest or personal, but he’s not who I listen to when I feel like really connecting with the lyrics of a song. I love singing along to Elton’s songs, and sometimes I honestly just want to listen to “Crocodile Rock” and nothing else for a while. But at some point, I want more than that, and that’s where George comes into play. His music and his words speak to me in a way that no one else can, and I love him for always seeming to be there for me whenever I need him.

In addition, although I love them both, I feel like I connect with George more as a person than I do with Elton, which probably factors into my opinion of their music. This definitely isn’t a fair comparison, because I love George more than just about anybody, but it’s true. From watching his interviews, Elton seems like a great guy with a hilarious sense of humor, but really, this is George Harrison I’m talking about. As we all know, to me, he’s the man. 🙂

And what am I basically trying to say by all of this? I’m not saying that George’s music is better than Elton’s, because I feel that music can’t really be categorized according to “goodness”. All I’m saying is that I agree with George’s assessment of Elton’s music because while I completely get where George is coming from in his songs and I understand his philosophy on life, I don’t always get that with Elton through his music. That is all. But they both rock!

I hope I didn’t ramble too much in this post. Sorry if I did. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAUL MCCARTNEY!!!!!

You say it's your birthday, it's Paul's birthday too yeah!!!

You say it’s your birthday, it’s Paul’s birthday too yeah!!!

Today is the 71st birthday of the legendary, fantastic, amazing Paul McCartney!!!! I can’t believe how good he looks for his age, especially when he’s onstage. Based on his performance quality, he’s still got the energy that he had 50 years ago. It amazes me how Paul has been in the music industry for a solid 50 years and is still going strong, with no signs of stopping. Go Paulie! I’m celebrating today by wearing my Out There concert t-shirt and listening to Paul’s music, and you should celebrate, too!

I must admit that while I’ve always really liked Paul as a person and a musician, and his status as my 2nd favorite Beatle has never seriously been in jeopardy, my love for him increased by about a million percent last week. Seeing him in concert really brought him to life for me, and it was then that I realized just what a fantastic person he is. I just love so many things about him: his adorably boyish looks (yes, I think he’s still attractive!), his cheerful smile that lights up the world, his unbelievable singing voice, his humor, his never-diminishing musicianship, his humbleness… Everything about Paul is awesome! I mean, how can you dislike someone with those droopy puppy dog eyes? He was the Cute Beatle for a reason! Look at that adorable face!!!!

Seriously... How can you not love Paul? Especially in this picture!

Seriously… How can you not love Paul? Especially in this picture!

Of course, I’m not completely superficial… I also really love the music that Paul has put out, with the Beatles, Wings, and as a solo artist. From what I’ve gathered, a lot of people completely dismiss Paul’s solo career, saying that the only good album he’s released since the Beatles is “Band On The Run” and that he can only write silly love songs. I do love “Band On The Run,” but that is NOT the only good album he’s released in the last 40 years!!! Other albums of his that I love and listen to regularly include Flaming Pie, Tug Of War, Ram, and two of my all-time favorite albums, Venus and Mars and Chaos and Creation in the Backyard. These albums are far from bad, and in fact, I think they’re fantastic. Paul’s music is what I turn to when I want to hear something that will perk me up and make me happy, and it works every time. Just hearing his voice, like hearing George’s voice, makes me happy and comforts me. His music is fun, joyful, and wonderful!

While Paul being a longtime vegetarian has not really convinced me to give up meat for good, I do admire his support for vegetarian and environmental causes. His heart is always in the right place, even if he makes mistakes sometimes like marrying Heather Mills, and I love him dearly and always will.

To close out this celebratory post, here’s a great interview of Paul on the Colbert Report from last Wednesday. I watched the whole episode, and he performed fantastically!

In conclusion, Paul McCartney is amazing, the world is a better place with him in it, and I love him so much!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAULIE!!!!! YOU ROCK!!!! 🙂