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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Oh the weather outside is frightful… But Paul is so delightful!!!

A lovely pic of Paul and Linda singing together!

A lovely pic of Paul and Linda singing together!

So it’s snowing here in NY! School was dismissed early today (hooray!) and I had a few extra hours on my hands, and what do you suppose I decided to do??? Well, after doing some homework, I decided to sit down and watch Rockshow, the 3 hour concert documentary made of Paul McCartney and Wings’ 1976 tour of North America. I honestly can’t imagine a better way to spend a snowy afternoon than sitting in my basement for hours on end watching Paul sing to me via the television, albeit in a movie from 35 years ago.

This was a movie that as a major Beatles and Paul fan, I’d been wanting to watch for a long time, and I was certainly not disappointed! For those expecting a movie with lots of behind-the-scenes footage of the band, this has none of that. It’s just the concert, from beginning to end, but really, shouldn’t that be enough? It’s Paul, for crying out loud. He’s (arguably) the single most entertaining person who has ever lived!

Watching this reminded me of the absolute joy I felt watching Paul onstage live last June, and I loved watching him perform many of the same songs in this movie, like “Lady Madonna” and “Blackbird”, as well as a bunch of Wings songs, that he did when I saw him. It’s definitely not hard to believe it’s the same person; he does the same little Paul things now, like making what I call his “bass-face”, that he did 40 years ago. Paul truly is a natural showman, definitely the best out of the four Beatles, and his love for music shines through in his performing.

I’d also like to add that Paul just looks amazing in this movie. From the mullet which only he can pull off, to the sparkly jacket and pink tie, to the odd but charming shiny pants, to his amazingly perfect, angelic, sexy, raspy voice, he is a bonafide rock star in every sense of the word. Paul is just so perfect at music and life. I felt the need to clap after every song while watching this movie, even though he obviously can’t hear me. I seriously need to meet this man, give him a big hug, and tell him just how much I love him.

So, if you’re wondering what all of this fuss is about, here are a couple of awesome clips from the movie! The first one is of a song not actually written by Paul, but by other Wings member Denny Laine! What I did not realize before watching this movie is that Denny actually has a great voice, though he is a little kooky. And I am obsessed with this version of the song. It’s by far the best version I’ve heard.

This song, “Bluebird,” is I think one of Paul’s most underrated solo songs. It’s really quite lovely, and this version is wonderful. Even after all of the screaming and high-octane rock numbers, Paul always knows how to scale it back vocally for a song like this. That’s why he’s so great!

The reason that I’m including this next song, “Let ‘Em In,” is purely because at 1:03 in the video, Paul clearly says, “Do me a FLAVOR” instead of the actual lyric, “Do me a FAVOR”! I laughed when I heard that. Silly Paulie. 🙂
This song seems pretty easy to learn on the piano, so I may attempt it in the future. I’ll let you all know how that turns out…

Okay, one more video. This one is of “Jet,” one of my absolute favorite Paul songs, and this is what I mean when I’m describing his voice during this concert. Especially during this song, he just sounds so irresistibly sexy! I was practically drooling while watching this at home. And when he does the little “Ooh, she said!” hand gestures… I lost it. Maybe it’s a good thing I didn’t grow up in the 70s, for everyone else’s sake…

That’s all for now! I do have an idea for another post, but that may have to wait until tomorrow. Stay fab everyone!

My Top 10 Favorite Guitar Solos

My sweet George, playing the instrument featured in this post!

My sweet George, playing the instrument featured in this post!

Here it is, another countdown list! Today I’ve decided that since so many of the songs I love feature a guitar prominently in them, this list would probably be a good one to make. One thing that I think has sort of gone out of fashion in the music industry today is the art of beautiful and emotional guitar playing. Even in some mainstream pop songs today, a guitar is present, but it’s usually just there and is not intended to make a statement or improve the song, which is a shame. I think the guitar is a beautiful instrument that deserves to be featured in more of today’s popular songs!!!
Most of these guitar solos are pretty close together in my mind, so there really isn’t a big difference between the placements of the songs, but I have put them in order from 10 to 1, with 1 being my favorite guitar solo. (hint- it’s a Beatles song!!!) I hope you enjoy this list!

10. Cheer Down- George Harrison

The entire last minute to this song is basically an extended guitar solo, but I love it so much!!! This is definitely one of George’s least-known yet absolutely-amazing songs! If you’ve ever seen the movie Lethal Weapon 2, this song, co-written by George with Tom Petty, plays during the credits! I’m in love with the guitar here, because George’s slide guitar is amazing and brilliant, as it is in all of his songs!

9. I Live For You- George Harrison

This song is achingly beautiful, and the guitar solo, which starts at about 1:58 in the song, is just gorgeous. I often tear up listening to this song because it’s so beautiful and perfect, just like George! I can’t for the life of me figure out how George managed to get such an incredible, distinctive sound out of his guitars, but I suppose it’s a testament to his musical genius.

8. Something- The Beatles

For this song, the guitar solo starts at about 1:43 in the video. This is yet another fine example of George’s guitar-playing prowess. I bet you’re noticing a theme so far… 🙂
As I’ve stated before, this is one of my very favorite Beatles songs, and the guitar solo is just one of the reasons why. It’s to the point and works with the song, and most of all, it’s beautifully played. I’ve probably listened to this song hundreds of times by now, but I never get sick of it!

7. Taxman- The Beatles

This is probably one of the most famous Beatles guitar solos, but it was Paul, not George, who played it! I think this proves that while he’s no George, Paul was and still is a fantastic guitarist, in addition to being a fantastic everything else. Even when I play this on Beatles Rock Band, I still can never get it 100% right, so I imagine that it’s pretty hard to play on an actual guitar!

6. Badge- Cream

Don’t worry, not EVERY solo on this list is from a Beatles song! Although most of them are… Anyway, this song was co-written by Eric Clapton and our old friend, George Harrison! The story behind the rather obscure title is that George was writing the bridge for the song when Eric walked in the room, probably drunk, and saw the paper upside down. He wondered why George wrote “Badge” at the top of the paper, and thus the song’s name was born! This is just an incredible song, and I LOVE the guitar part starting at about 1:08 in the video, played by George. The solo itself, played by Eric, is awesome as well. I think I’m a little obsessed with this song, actually.

5. Till There Was You- The Beatles

The solo here starts at 1:23 in the video. I can’t get enough of George’s jazzy guitar playing throughout this song, and the perfect solo is just the icing on the cake! This song was originally from The Music Man, although apparently the Beatles didn’t know that until after they recorded it, and I think it’s one of the best examples of George’s fantastic guitar playing from the earlier Beatle years. He was extraordinarily talented from a young age, and he only got better as he got older!

4. It Don’t Come Easy- Ringo Starr

In addition to this being song containing one of my favorite guitar solos (which starts at 1:40 in the video), this song also contains a fabulous riff, played by none other than George Harrison! I think I’ve said before that it was actually George who wrote this fantastic song, and I’m so glad he did. There’s a fabulous version of this song floating around that has George singing instead of Ringo, but I think both versions are equally great. Anyway, this solo is typical George awesomeness, and it rocks!

3. While My Guitar Gently Weeps- The Beatles

You didn’t really think that I’d leave my favorite Beatles song out of this list, did you? 🙂
The solo here starts at about 1:56 in the video, and it is memorable for a couple of reasons. Besides being just all around amazing, this was the first and only time that Eric Clapton played guitar on a Beatles song, so that weeping guitar you hear is all him. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Eric Clapton is the Guitar God for a reason. He can play the guitar like no other!

2. Maybe I’m Amazed- Paul McCartney and Wings

While this song was originally featured on Paul’s first solo album, McCartney, it became even more famous when he played it with Wings on their 1976 “Wings Over America” tour, and I think this version here is the best one. The solo, played by Wings guitarist Jimmy McCullough, starts at about 1:23 in the video, and I just love it! No real reason, but it’s really moving and beautifully played here. Whenever I hear this song, I always find myself anticipating the guitar solo, and as soon as it begins, the song comes alive in a whole new way.

And now… Number 1!!!

1. Let It Be- The Beatles

Out of the hundreds of Beatle guitar solos out there, this is the one that always sticks in my head. It’s powerful, edgy, and moving, and George just rocks the heck out of it! For some reason, the original album version of Let It Be (there are at least 3 official versions in existence) is the only one with this fantastic solo, and that is why it is my favorite version of all! Nothing can top this guitar solo for me!!!

I see after writing this post that I probably need to go discover some guitar solos from other groups. While I work on that, have a wonderful week! Hint hint, there will probably be some Paul McCartney and Elton John posts coming your way next weekend!

My Top 10 Favorite Music Videos

I realize that I haven’t done a list-type post in a while, and so I’ve decided to post my all-time favorite music videos today. Truthfully, I’m not really that into music videos, and I haven’t watched that many at all. In fact, I might be the only person in the last 30 years who has never bothered to watch the music video for “Thriller”. I know, I’m so out of it, but I really only watch videos from artists that I listen to A LOT, and that’s why every video in this list is of a song by the Beatles, George Harrison, Elton John, or Paul McCartney. But anyway, here’s my list of music videos that I love. Enjoy!

10. I Am The Walrus- The Beatles

This is quite possibly the trippiest music video ever made. I mean, the song is basically nonsense lyrics written by John solely to confuse people who were reading too much in to the Beatles’ lyrics, and the video is in the same psychedelic vein as the movie it accompanies, Magical Mystery Tour. Nevertheless, this is one of my favorite Beatles songs, and likewise the video is one of my favorite videos. I love it precisely because it’s so weird and strange. Becoming a Beatles fan has made me accept the weird and absurd things in life much more easily, and this video is definitely weird and absurd. But it’s just so artsy and cool at the same time!

9. Junior’s Farm- Paul McCartney and Wings

I know I’ve posted this before, and it’s really more of a promo than it is a traditional music video, but I love it so much that I had to post it here! Mostly I love it because Paul is such a cutie here, but the song is also awesome. Still, not too much going on here. Just sit back and enjoy the view of Paul McCartney’s adorable face for 4 and a half minutes… 🙂

8. I’m Still Standing- Elton John

This video is a classic! One of the judges from Dancing with the Stars, Bruno Tonioli, actually directed and choreographed it, and he appears in various costumes throughout the video. I love how Elton is basically just strutting around the entire time, being fabulous. The video is definitely a little odd, but since it was the 1980s, I’ll give it a pass. It’s fun and the song is great, and really, that’s all that matters!

7. This Song- George Harrison

George’s quirky sense of humor is definitely showcased in this hilarious, Monty Python-esque video! (which I think was directed by Eric Idle) The song itself is mocking the court case in which George was sued for plagiarism over “My Sweet Lord”, and the video makes a complete mockery of the court system itself. Georgie looks gorgeous in this video with his long, wavy hair, and I love his cute dance moves and expressions that he makes throughout the video. This video is pretty much a party, and it rocks!

6. Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word- Elton John

I’ll admit that along with Junior’s Farm, this is the most superficial choice on this list. Why? Because the only reason why I love this video, other than the beautiful song itself, is the fact that Elton John just looks so darn attractive here! I do love him with the glasses too, of course, but seeing his beautiful eyes is always nice. And that is all I have to say about that. 🙂

5. Say Say Say- Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson

See, even without Thriller, Michael Jackson did make it on this list, but not without a little help from his friend Paul McCartney! I think this video is just hilarious. It’s so goofy and fun, and it’s nice to see Paul and Michael together before Michael bought, excuse me, STOLE the rights to all of the Beatles songs!!! 🙂

4. Free as a Bird- The Beatles

I know this isn’t my #1 favorite music video, but it is hands down in my opinion the most brilliant music video ever made. It actually won the Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video in 1997, and rightfully so. It’s just amazing how so many aspects of the Beatles’ lives and career are so beautifully melded together in this one video. There are a lot of subtle references to various lyrics in various Beatles songs hidden throughout the video, and I think it’s fun to try to find all of them! If you can’t be bothered, just sit back and enjoy a wonderful video and a beautiful song from the best band ever.

3. Don’t Go Breaking My Heart- Elton John and Kiki Dee

After searching for this video on Youtube for weeks, I finally found it! (but not on Youtube)
I actually could not stop squealing with delight as I watched this video, for many reasons. First, I think it’s the cutest, yet most awkward music video I’ve ever seen. Without his piano, Elton looks like he has no idea what to do with his arms, and I love how he just keeps moving them randomly. Apparently this was a spur-of-the-moment video and was filmed in one take, which definitely shows in the occasional missed cues. Still, I just love this! It’s so cute! The “dance break” is hilarious, but my favorite part comes at about 2:30 in the video, where Elton kisses the little flap on the front of Kiki’s overalls and then makes a really funny, “Did I do that?” face! How I wish I could have been in her place… Elton is such a cutie pie. Ahhh, this song is so catchy and this video is wonderful!!!

2. Crackerbox Palace- George Harrison

Another goofy, Python-esque video from the lovely George Harrison! This one is also directed by Eric Idle, which definitely shows because there are many random things in this video, like elves, that wouldn’t really make sense outside of a Python/Harrison environment. This videos always cheers me up and makes me smile. Once again, George’s hairstyle here is one of my favorites of his, and I love how relaxed and happy he looks. Happy George = Happy me!!!

1. Ever Present Past- Paul McCartney

This, folks, is my #1 favorite music video. Why? Well, it’s Paul McCartney, in a suit and Converse, dancing adorably in his old age to a wonderful and catchy song. That really should be enough. But seriously, this video is just awesome. Paulie is still so cute! As proven years before in Magical Mystery Tour, out of the four Beatles, Paul is by far the best dancer. He has a great sense of rhythm and actually looks graceful doing the moves. The brilliance of this video is rather self-explanatory, and Paul is a musical genius. The end. 🙂

Honorable mentions for this include my entire “Hilarious Beatle Promos” post. Check it out if you haven’t already!
Have a great week!