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.

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George Martin, The Real 5th Beatle

george martin

The man who made the Beatles into rock pioneers.

Hello followers and readers of Beatle Me Do! I have returned from a hiatus for which I greatly apologize, but I have a few ideas for fun posts that I will be publishing throughout the summer! In the meantime, I have decided to dedicate a post to the late Beatles producer, George Martin, who died on March 8 of this year at age 90. Before becoming a music producer with the Beatles, Martin primarily produced comedy albums. However, he is most well known for signing the Beatles to a record contract in 1962 and producing every single Beatles album except for Let It Be, which was (some say) infamously produced by Phil Spector.

The debate over who is “the fifth Beatle” has gone on for decades and is practically a cliche by now. Some Beatles fans support awarding this illustrious title to members of the Beatles camp such as their manager, Brian Epstein, or their first drummer, Pete Best. However, if there really is such a thing as “the fifth Beatle,” I strongly believe that George Martin deserves that title.

His work in the studio with the Beatles helped transform their songs from acoustic demos into sonic masterpieces. He was a major player in the Beatles’ studio experimentation starting in around 1965 and strongly supported their use of the studio itself as an instrument. When the Beatles were on top of the charts and the musical world, George Martin was the man behind the curtain, the wizard of Oz who literally orchestrated their success. His death marks the passing of a figure essential to the Beatles’ musical innovation.

I’d like to touch on a few Beatles songs on which Martin had a particularly noticeable influence. First up is the acoustic version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps from the Beatles Cirque de Soleil show, Love. This show features some remixes of Beatles songs, but these remixes are composed only by compiling bits and pieces from different Beatles songs. This particular version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps originates from a demo version from the Beatles Anthology 3. It features a George Martin-composed orchestration that was the only original music composed for the Love album. I absolutely love this version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps; it’s a beautiful song made even more poignant and striking by the orchestra. Seeing the Love show is definitely on my Beatles-related bucket list!

Next, I’m going back to one of Martin’s first orchestral contributions to Beatles music, the famed song Yesterday, which features only Paul McCartney, an acoustic guitar, and a beautiful Martin-composed string quartet. Supposedly Paul was a bit skeptical about the idea of putting a string quartet on a song released by a rock band, but was convinced otherwise after Martin explained exactly how he planned to arrange it based on the chords of the song. This song is now legendary among the many iconic tracks in the Beatles’ catalog, thanks not only to the beauty of its melody and lyrics but also to the perfect melancholy accompaniment that the strings provide.

Another song which has an unmistakable George Martin touch is In My Life, on which he plays the sped-up piano break at the end of the song. I believe this is one of, if not the only, Beatles songs to feature a piano solo, or if not it was definitely the first to do so. It’s songs like this that truly embody the spirit of Rubber Soul, an album which challenged the definition of rock and roll and began pushing the boundaries of musical experimentation in rock music.

Eleanor Rigby is one of those Beatles songs that features an orchestra arrangement so strikingly iconic that I could listen to just the instrumentals and enjoy the song just as much. This is all thanks to George Martin, who insisted on creating a relentlessly staccato string arrangement that I regard as an absolute masterpiece. You can listen to the instrumental version of Eleanor Rigby, a track on the Beatles Anthology 2 album, here. Every time I listen to this track and try not to let my inner sing-along drown out what I’m actually hearing, I notice new little intricacies of the arrangement. It’s songs like this that absolutely astound me as to their fearless musicality and give me a true appreciation for the power of orchestral music. This song is just perfect.

Finally, what better way to close out this George Martin tribute post than with the behemoth of all classical arrangements in rock songs, the string section in A Day In The Life. This song is often ranked as the #1 best Beatles song, and while it’s not my #1 personal favorite, it is without a doubt an absolute, indisputable masterpiece. This is largely due to the enormous, chaotic, vaguely conducted orchestra part that builds and builds and always makes me feel like a car is about to hit me. Martin’s touch on this song is evident in its sonic power to completely overwhelm your senses and leave you breathless at its conclusion. What a song to close out Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. What. A. Song. Period.

Rest in peace, George Martin. I know this tribute is a few months late, but I tried to make a post that pays the proper respect to a man who was literally  and figuratively instrumental in crafting many of my favorite songs of all time. He was among the giants of the musical world, and he will certainly be missed.

 

Beatles, “Blackbird,” and Break-Up Rumors

Today I’d mostly like to discuss Dave Grohl’s recent performance of the Beatles’ famed “Blackbird” at the Oscars. I knew about a few of the scheduled Oscar performances before the date of the program, but for some reason I hadn’t heard about this one and it took me completely by surprise. When I heard those iconic opening chords and saw Dave Grohl alone on the stage with a guitar, I knew it would be a good tribute, and I was not disappointed. From spearheading production of the Sound City documentary from a few years ago, to recording “Cut Me Some Slack” with Paul McCartney, to performing on the Beatles 50th Anniversary Special, Dave Grohl has certainly earned my respect and admiration for his Beatles and classic rock-related ventures. He is one cool dude. In case you missed his feature on the Oscars, here it is for you!

One brief un-Beatles related tangent… This performance, along with some ambiguous comments by members of Foo Fighters, recently led to a rumor that Foo Fighters were breaking up, once and for all. Apparently these rumors have surfaced before, but supposedly this time Dave was striking out on his own to “do his own thing musically” and get away from the band.

So how did Foo Fighters respond to this rumor? Not with a concisely-stated tweet or Facebook post, but with this masterful 7 minute-long video. You really have to watch it yourself to get its full effect.

In conclusion, anything Beatles-related that Dave Grohl does is bound to be wonderful, and the members of Foo Fighters are complete bosses. Also in case you’re just not patient enough to watch the entire video and have not heard the news, Foo Fighters is NOT breaking up. Spoiler alert.

Anyway, going back to the original topic, I just love how Beatles music is now used to pay tribute to people that have nothing to do with the 60s or rock music in general. Their songs have become universal anthems for just about any subject or person because they were written with a timeless, relatable appeal. Not just Blackbird, but songs like Hey Jude, Yesterday, Let It Be, In My Life, and many others have been covered so often by other artists that I bet there are some people today who don’t know that those songs are originally by the Beatles. In those cases, I’d rather that they know the song’s origins, but as long as Beatles songs are still relevant in some form in this generation, their music is living on and speaking to people. That’s about all I can ask.

You didn't seriously think I'd forget his birthday, now did you?

You didn’t seriously think I’d forget his birthday, now did you?

Finally, happy belated birthday to George Harrison, who after all this time is still definitely my favorite Beatle and one of my musical and personal inspirations. I’ve devoted many a post to him on this blog, but for now I’ll just say that his music is thoughtful, creative, and truly beautiful, just like him. I wish his solo songs were more well known by the general population, but with recent releases like the “George Fest” DVD and the masterful Scorcese documentary from a few years ago, he seems to be gaining more acclaim, slowly but surely. Let’s continue that upwards trend, to 2020 and beyond!

As is the nature of the Beatles in the 21st century, something new Beatles-related is bound to come up soon, but for now I’m signing off. Enjoy your days, and may they all be Good Days (of) Sunshine. 🙂

A Magical Mystery Post

Well it’s late at night and I’ve decided to do a post where I just talk about a few Beatles and music-related things that come to mind. In the past with blogging, I’ve found that my favorite posts are borne out of an utter lack of initial ideas that then becomes an uninterrupted stream of consciousness. So let’s just see where this goes!

It’s been 23 days since the news broke that David Bowie had died, and though some of the initial shock and disbelief has passed for me, I still find myself listening to his songs a lot more than I ever have before. I stand by my favorites that I posted last month, but as I’ve continued to dig deeper into his catalogue, I’ve discovered more songs of his that I absolutely love, including Hang On To Yourself. I had never heard of this song until about a month ago, but one day it came up on shuffle and I could not stop listening. I think it’s one of his catchiest and most fun songs, and certainly an underrated cut from the Ziggy Stardust album. It also sounds kind of punk-ish, yet another example of Bowie being musically ahead of his time. Definitely take a listen if you don’t know it already! (or even if you do, because it is a fantastic song)

This week also marks 52 years since the Beatles first landed in America to perform on the Ed Sullivan show, thus spurring the Beatlemania we all know and that I’ve posted about many, many times before on this blog. Once again, I continue to admire how strong of a presence the Beatles have in society today. They’ve even made it into children’s books!

Awwww this is just so cute!

Awwww this is just so cute!

My mom sent me this picture of a cute book she saw recently, which made me realize that the Beatles are truly at “textbook-status” now. They’re basically historical figures, synonymous with an era in history defined by revolutions in music, politics, fashion, and countless other things. The fact that books like this are being published to make the Beatles accessible to young children is truly heartwarming. It gives me continued confidence that the greatness and brilliance of the Beatles will never fade from the world.

Random Beatles Song I’ve Been Listening To A Lot Recently: You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away

For some reason I couldn’t find the original version of this on YouTube, nor could I find the clip with it from the Help movie. 😦

Anyway, one thing I’ve realized about this song as I’ve listened to it more and more is that it is, in my opinion, one of the Beatles songs that has aged the best. It really sounds like it could be released today, that’s how timeless it is, and I absolutely adore the melody. As much as I love the Beatles’ more experimental songs like I Am The Walrus, I also admire their simpler, more folksy songs that can be performed with just a guitar and a voice. This is one of my favorite Beatles songs to walk around singing to myself. I never get sick of it! If I one day learn how to play guitar, I will learn this song for sure.

That’s all for now folks. I’ll be back soon!

 

It’s Been a Long, Long, Long Time

I saw this and it made me chuckle for about five minutes. It's a gem.

I saw this and it made me chuckle for about five minutes. It’s a gem.

Well, hello everyone! As you may be able to tell from the title, I realize that I have not posted in approximately 11 months. That is a travesty. I can’t pretend like there’s a valid excuse for this either, other than the old “life getting in the way” excuse. All I can really say is that I’m in college now and obviously busy doing various things, but a couple of very nice comments left recently on this blog reminded me just how much I really enjoy blogging. So, I’m back in action!

First, a couple of things that have happened recently in the Beatle-verse. I was ecstatic to go onto YouTube a while back and see that the Beatles YouTube channel has actually started uploading some old Beatles music videos, like Revolution and Hello Goodbye, in HD! I honestly forgot they even had a legitimate YouTube channel, but it should really be updated more frequently because there is a lot of quality Beatles footage that deserves the HD treatment. Seeing the Sgt. Pepper suits in all their high definition glory is enough to make this worthwhile.

While re-watching some old Beatles music video-prototypes, I am reminded yet again of how innovative and forward-thinking the Beatles really were. Their early “promotional videos” with songs like Help and I Feel Fine may seem archaic now, but they really were some of the first music videos in popular music. When I watch music videos today, like “Hello” by Adele for example, that get upwards of 500 million views, it makes me wonder how many views the Beatles’ videos would get if they were released on YouTube or Vevo today. With their immense fandom in the 1960s, I’d imagine that they might get a comparable amount of views to modern musicians like Adele. Funny to find connections between the Beatles and musicians today yet again.
Also can I just say that I am so happy Adele is back and better than ever! I’m in love with her new album and she is a breath of fresh air on the radio.

In other news, with all of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut and even the shooting that occurred today in California, I find myself wondering naively why people can’t just channel their anger into avenues other than killing people. There are so many Beatles songs that advocate for peace and understanding, like All You Need Is Love and Good Day Sunshine, and it makes me sad that these songs exist in a world with so much hatred. I suppose all I can do is continue sharing my favorite Beatles songs with others in the hopes that their inspiring messages can convince maybe one person not to do something terrible. Everyone reading this, do the same! It might make a difference.

Also, there’s a new ELO album! Jeff Lynne, famous for not only ELO but also for producing The Beatles Anthology project and a few albums with George Harrison, is back in the public eye! I saw his performance on The Tonight Show recently and I was so happy that he performed both a new song and a classic, Mr Blue Sky. If there’s musician out there today not named Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr whose music truly captures the spirit of the Beatles, it’s him. Someone needs to get him into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ASAP, and I usually don’t care much about stuff like that, but it’s seriously about time Jeff Lynne was immortalized for his massive contributions to music.

Before I wrap this up, I’d just like to say that it is extremely weird to be blogging from my dorm room and not the attic in my house. College is certainly a new experience, but I am trying to appreciate every moment, take advantage of opportunities that come my way, and remember the things I love that make me feel better whenever I’m down. Spoiler alert, one of those things is the Beatles.

Random Beatles song I’ve been enjoying recently: You”re Gonna Lose That Girl

I almost forgot about this song until it came up on my phone the other day, but it truly is a gem from the Help! album and movie. Definitely yet another underrated Beatles song in their massive canon of musical creations.

I really believe that I will not wait 11 months to blog again. It won’t happen. I will actually try to blog more regularly for the foreseeable future. Enjoy the holiday season everyone!

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!

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving!

Don't know what George is eating here, but he certainly looks good. :)

Don’t know what George is eating here, but he certainly looks good. 🙂

Well, it’s time again for a glorious few days off in honor of Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving not only for the delicious foods associated with it and the fact that it’s much less stressful than Christmas, but also because it has a warm, friendly message. Although the Beatles are from England, where Thanksgiving isn’t really a holiday, here are some Beatles songs to help get you in the Thanksgiving spirit. And perhaps to help you fall asleep on the couch after the meal if you eat too much. 🙂

Come Together

So I suppose if you listen to the words of this song, it doesn’t REALLY have to do with a family coming together to sit around the table at Thanksgiving… But based on the title alone, I think it fits.
The song is supposedly about John criticizing the other band members, but if you look at it from a different perspective, maybe what he’s really saying is that despite their differences and frustrations with each other, they all managed to “come together” to make one last album, Abbey Road. Then again, maybe that’s not it. I’m purely theorizing here.

All Together Now

This is possibly one of the most adorable Beatles songs I know. Again, it’s not really about families joining together to celebrate a holiday, but you can imagine whatever you’d like. If anyone has ever enjoyed being “All Together Now” with their family on Thanksgiving, this song should work for you.

It’s All Too Much

I can never get over the cool electronic guitar blast in the beginning of this song! It’s perhaps one of my favorite single moments from any Beatles song, along with the feedback opening to “I Feel Fine”.
This song should inspire you to limit your food-related intake on Thanksgiving day. Don’t starve yourself, but please folks, be sensible. 🙂 Also, one of the lyrics is literally, “All the world is birthday cake/So take a piece, but not too much,” which I think is pretty self-explanatory.

I’m So Tired

This is definitely in contention for “laziest Beatles song,” along with “I’m Only Sleeping”. The Beatles were hard workers, sure, but of course they needed a break every now and then. I think this song pretty accurately represents anyone who has recently eaten a large meal and can’t get off the couch, and it’s also, in my opinion, one of the more underrated cuts from the White Album.

Cold Turkey

Yes, this song is about heroin withdrawal, and no, it doesn’t have anything to do with turkey itself, but it’s the only Beatles-related song I know with “turkey” actually in the title, so here you go. A not-always-publicized fact about this song is that John lobbied for this to be on Abbey Road, but Paul didn’t think it was enough of a “Beatles song,” so it was nixed. Personally, I think that if Revolution, a far more controversial song subject-wise, was okay to release as a Beatles song, this definitely could have been worked within the Beatles catalogue. But what does it really matter? I’m still very “thankful” for the song. (see what I did there?)

If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, have a very happy holiday. If you aren’t, cheers. 🙂
Since I have a few days off, I will hopefully blog again sometime this weekend! Yay for (briefly) having actual time to blog again!