Paul McCartney “Gets Back” To His Roots With “Carpool Karaoke”

This picture should be an official ad for happiness.

Whenever Paul McCartney is in the news, I (and the rest of the world) pay attention. Sometimes he’s announcing a new concert tour or a collaboration he did with another prominent musician. And sometimes, he’s appearing on late night television with another British celebrity, driving around his old stomping grounds and reminiscing about his Beatle days.

When I saw “Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke” pop up in my YouTube feed last week, I figured that it would be an amusing, nostalgic drive in London filled with many of my favorite Beatles songs. I did not expect that James Corden would be driving Paul around Liverpool and going to many of the actual sites that Paul has written about in his career. Here’s the clip in its glorious 23-minute entirety, for your viewing pleasure.

I watched all 23 minutes of this video with an ear-to-ear grin on my face. I was already a big fan of the Late Late Show’s “Carpool Karaoke” series before this aired, and I must confess that it had never consciously occurred to me that Paul would be a perfect guest. But as perhaps the most famous musician in the world, Paul seemed quite delighted to drive around for what was probably hours and regale James with stories about growing up in Liverpool. I geeked out when Paul signed his name on the Penny Lane sign, which reminded me of when I visited Abbey Road and gleefully signed my name on the wall outside the studio. I’ve now made a mental note to visit Liverpool one day and add my signature on that sign next to his.

I have thought many times over the years about how I’d love to take a pilgrimage to Liverpool and immerse myself in Beatles lore. Paul’s “Carpool Karaoke” certainly intensified that desire, while showing me yet again of why I fell in love with the Beatles in the first place. This segment, like the Beatles’ career, radiated positivity and love from beginning to end. It also reminded me that Paul’s music is a unifying force in this increasingly divided world. This was evidenced by the touching sequence where people of all ages rushed in off the street when they saw Paul unexpectedly playing a set in a local pub, and it looked like every person there was having the time of their lives. I couldn’t even imagine the chaotic thrill they must have felt as they saw their idol performing only several feet away, in a pub they’ve probably been to many times before.

I certainly did not go into this clip expecting to tear up, but I did get a bit teary-eyed at the constant sight of Paul greeting adoring fans and making their day, probably their life, everywhere he went. Of course, I was mentally putting myself in their shoes and imagining how I would feel absolutely elated if I ever met Paul in person. It was also humbling to hear him share how he and the other Beatles had no idea their music would even be remembered beyond the 60s. It is truly astonishing that this band had such a concentrated period of genius musical output in the 60s that still inspires people to love one another. I know that Paul has been famous for 55 years and probably tires of doing interviews and such, but I was inspired by his energy in this segment and how he gracefully handles his megastar status in the real world.

Of course, Paul’s wonderful songwriting has continued long after the Beatles disbanded, and I loved how this segment also promoted his upcoming album, “Egypt Station.” After watching this “Carpool Karaoke,” which featured a singalong to his new single “Come On To Me,” I immediately went to YouTube and listened to it and his other new song, “I Don’t Know,” on loop.

At age 76, Paul clearly has not lost his musical inspiration. These songs both highlight his knack for weaving together unexpected musical turns and catchy melodies. I particularly adore the musical break in “Come On To Me” that features a lively horn section, as well as the gorgeous piano intro to “I Don’t Know.” Though his last album, “New,” relied heavily on modern musical production and more techno-sounding touches, it seems like this album will have more of that classic instrumental feel that he’s done so well before. However, if Paul has taught me anything over the years, it’s that you can never quite predict what he’s going to do next. So I’ll reserve my full judgment until I can listen to the entire album when it comes out in September. Though I tend to blog sparingly during the school year, you can bet that I’ll do a post reviewing Paul’s new album as soon after that as I can.

As people often comment on particularly resonant YouTube videos, “I didn’t know how much I needed this until I watched it.” James Corden and the whole “Carpool Karaoke” team outdid themselves with this one. I don’t know if late night segments are even  eligible for awards, but this segment is the most Emmy-worthy piece of television I’ve watched in a long time. And we all need a little dose of Paul McCartney spreading joy every once in a while. He may be getting older, but I am so grateful that I still share this world with him and can enjoy new Paul McCartney songs as he releases them. What an incredible privilege it is to be able to say that I once saw him in concert. I am so glad that Paul and James teamed up for this latest “Carpool Karaoke” and gave the entire world a reason to smile for 23 minutes. It was truly a beautiful collaboration.


You Know You’re a Beatlemaniac… Part 2

The secret to getting the perfect moptop

The secret to getting the perfect moptop

Here is the series I started the other day, continued. You know you’re a Beatlemaniac/Harrison Head if:

– You mutter lines from Beatle movies or random Beatle quotes under your breath quite frequently during the appropriate moments in conversations, without wondering whether people will get the reference. Nine times out of ten, no one hears what you said.
– You think that George Harrison is by far the best looking man of all time, with Paul McCartney a clear second, and you wished that more people in the world today looked like him. Isn’t it a pity… (yes, that’s a George song. See what I mean about the random references?)
– You still want to marry George someday, even though he’s no longer around to propose to you. In your imagination, it’s possible.
– You get excited when someone has the same first or last name as a Beatle.
– You replace the names of people in songs with Beatle names, at least in your head. Example: Mrs. Robinson becomes Mrs. Harrison!
– You always wear a Beatle shirt on their birthdays and any other significant Beatle days of the year, so if it just so happens to be Paul’s birthday (mark your calendars; it’s June 18th!) and you’re wearing a Beatle shirt, it’s no coincidence!
– You actually care about how Beatles albums are selling on iTunes, and check it regularly. The day that “1” tops the rock charts, you celebrate with a Beatles listening marathon.
– You scour the newspaper every morning for Beatle news and references, and the day is considered somewhat of a failure if nothing Beatley is reported.
– You spend hours reading reviews of Beatle albums on iTunes and Amazon, just to make sure that everyone else in the world thinks they’re as great as you do.
– Your default “I’m bored in class… What do I think about?” thought is always about the Beatles.
– You’re left fuming after watching “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” on VH1 Classic, because even though the Beatles are #1 and Paul and John are on their separately as solo artists, George as a solo artist is nowhere to be found, therefore invalidating this list. Why not all three? Or four? Ringo???
– You’ve set Beatle pictures as the wallpaper on your iPod, and don’t intend to change that anytime soon. Furthermore, you greet your lock screen picture of George Harrison by saying, “Hello, handsome!” (okay, this might be a little weird for anyone besides me…)
– You can tell the Beatles’ singing voices and speaking voices’ apart quite easily, without even seeing who’s talking.
– Your only subscriptions on Youtube are to channels dedicated mostly to the Beatles.
– You’re comforted by the fact that most bands you know and love have cited the Beatles as a significant musical influence.
– You really wish you were related to the Harrisons/McCartneys/etc. Imagine having Paul as your grandfather! I’m sure he’d be very clean… (reference from A Hard Day’s Night. Go watch it if you don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s a great movie!)
– You truly believe that no matter how many Beatle shirts you own or Beatles songs you have on your iPod, there is always room for more.
– You wish that the Kidz Bop Sings The Beatles! album didn’t exist, because it makes your skin crawl just to think about it. Yes, this does exist, unfortunately. I threw up a little in my mouth listening to the preview of “A Hard Day’s Night” on iTunes out of curiosity. Those are 30 seconds I will never get back.
– You get very excited when someone sings a Beatles song on American Idol, only to be instantly disappointed (or sometimes, pleasantly surprised) by their rendition of the song.
– You’ve unofficially named one of your pillows after a Beatle.
– You regularly use the Optimum app to look for Beatle-related programming. This was how I found out about George Harrison: Living in the Material World, and when I first became a huge George fan. And the rest is history…
– You sing along to Beatle songs while looking at pictures of them, so it’s like you’re singing TO them. Poor George-in-the-picture must think you’re trying to seduce him or something, because you must have such a silly look on your face when you (frequently) sing to him!
– You own three or more Beatle-related shirts, which is most certainly not enough for a Beatlemaniac!
– You tell your family that the next time a trip to Britain is planned, a stop in Liverpool is absolutely, 100% necessary. This suggestion is generally met with groans of disinterest, because apparently, the birthplace of four musical geniuses is not worth visiting. Well, OF COURSE IT IS!!! 🙂

I’ll post the third part of this series next week. Until then, peace, love and Beatles to all!

Cool Songs from the Early Beatle Years

The Beatles at the Cavern Club

The Beatles at the Cavern Club

While the Beatles are in general a very highly rated band, one area of their career that I feel occasionally gets passed over is their earliest years, performing at clubs in Hamburg and Liverpool and covering songs by a wide range of artists, while also introducing some of their original songs that would later become classics. To hear many of these early songs, I recommend Anthology 1 and Live at the BBC. I noticed while listening to these songs that George sings lead on many of them, which made me very happy, of course! He seemed to be almost as featured a singer as John and Paul back in those days. Here are some highlights of the two afore-mentioned albums that I think are generally overlooked:

1. Three Cool Cats

I don’t know if I can accurately describe how much I love George’s voice on this song. So I’ll just say it: I LOVE HIS VOICE ON THIS SONG!!! He was really a fantastic singer and could rock out with the best of them, including John and Paul. Also, hearing George say “cats,” “chicks,” “candy bar,” “swinging their hips,” and “potato chips” all in one song, in his adorable Liverpudlian accent, is enough to make me fall in love with him. Never mind everything else about George; just hearing his voice is enough! On a different note, hearing John say “Hey man, save one chick for me!” always makes me laugh.

2. The Sheik of Araby

Another song sung by George, with John and Paul doing some funny background vocals. I think this song dates from the 1920s. No, I don’t know what the “unghhungh” sound at 0:24 and 1:03 is supposed to be, but it’s pretty funny!

3. Cry For A Shadow

This song is notable mainly because it’s the only song known to be credited Lennon/Harrison, and it’s one of the few released instrumentals in the Beatles’ catalog. I really like this song because of the cool guitar sound throughout, and to think that George was only about 17 or 18 when this was recorded, and already playing guitar at such a high level, is amazing.

4. Like Dreamers Do

This song, contrary to the previous three, features Paul on lead vocals, and I think he’s trying to do some sort of Elvis impression. In any event, he sounds great, and I love the intro.

5. Shout

I was pleasantly surprised to find there was a Beatle version of this song, since I had heard it before sung by different artists. The energy here is wonderful, and it’s a great song that the Beatles made even greater by covering. Well done lads!

6. I’ll Be On My Way

I think this is a really great song from the early years that could have easily been a hit single. It’s got everything a great Beatles song should have: catchy melody, lovely lyrics, and well performed vocals and harmonies. All in all, a pretty good effort for a bunch of teenagers. (of course, even when they were just starting out, the Beatles were WAY more than just a bunch of teenagers!)

7. Don’t Ever Change

I couldn’t go more than a few songs without stopping to talk about George again, so here he is singing with Paul. I wish they sang lead together more often, as they sound perfectly lovely harmonizing together. This is such a sweet song, and I wish there was a video of them singing it live. Unforunately, there is no surviving footage of the Beatles from the Cavern, apparently, except for this…

8. Some Other Guy

This rendition of “Some Other Guy” is just outstanding. This could have easily had a place on “Please Please Me” and no one today would think twice about it. One of my favorite Beatle covers for sure. I love it! Plus, they look so young and cute in this video. George was probably 18 or 19 here… Only 3-4 years older than I am now! If only… 🙂