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 Getaway’: A Soaring Musical Getaway For RHCP

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Today I’m continuing my trend of occasionally diverging from Beatle-centric material to discuss the recent release of The Getaway, the 11th studio album by what is probably my second favorite band of all time, Red Hot Chili Peppers. This album has reaffirmed my belief that they are actually underrated by the general population for the incredible creativity and musicality of their catalog. They’re not just a funk-alternative-rock hybrid that sings “Under The Bridge” a lot, they are a genius musical conglomeration that has blessed the world with many, many awesome songs.

Speaking of awesome songs, this album is absolutely full of them! The Red Hot Chili Peppers strayed from their usual producer, Rick Rubin, on The Getaway, choosing to work instead with popular producer Danger Mouse. I’m not hugely up on music producers and their individual styles, but I do think that the change in producers is evident in this album’s more polished, modern sound. Some devoted fans of RHCP have complained about this, presumably longing for the days of yore when RHCP jumped all around the stage and wore nothing but socks during their concerts.

However, perhaps unsurprisingly, I am always a champion of a band’s musical evolution if I feel that they are still staying true to their musical roots. As good an album as Californication is, it really would be tedious if RHCP released six albums exactly like it. In my mind, there’s a distinct difference between a band evolving their sound and a band “selling out” with pop drivel. The Getaway certainly represents the former for RHCP; it features just enough experimentation that is well-balanced with more straightforward songs, and to me, it all sounds like the signature Chili Peppers that I love so dearly.

To give my more specific opinions on the album, I’m going to do a quick song-by-song rundown! Here we go!

  1. The Getaway– This is definitely one of the less rock-sounding songs on the album, but I love the scattered guitar work in the beginning, and it has a well-deserved place among the RHCP canon as a soothing, mellow track.
  2. Dark Necessities– I feel that the album version could benefit strongly from a more prominent guitar part. However, it is a fantastic song with an addicting base line, and I absolutely love the guitar solo break near the end!
  3. We Turn Red– This song didn’t stick out to me upon my initial listening of the album, but it certainly is funky and has interesting lyrics. I’ll have to listen to it some more to truly get into it, I think.
  4. The Longest Wave– THIS, my friends, is I believe the best song on the album! From the guitar introduction, to the soft verses, to the majestic chorus, I am obsessed with listening to this song on repeat. Ride the wave, because this song should become a RHCP classic if there’s any justice in this world.
  5. Goodbye Angels– This song really rocks, I love it!!! One of my favorites on the album as well, it builds beautifully and the guitar slashes throughout the song will get stuck in your head. Also that guitar break near the end is just brilliant.
  6. Sick Love– Important to note that this song features the one and only Sir Elton John! It’s interesting and honestly I think I’d prefer it as a classic Elton John song than a RHCP song, but I appreciate it nonetheless.
  7. Go Robot– Wow, there’s not one but TWO bass parts on this song! I think it sounds better as a live version, as the album version sounds a little overproduced even within the context of this album. Still, it’s extremely catchy and should be a single soon, I’d love to hear it on the radio!
  8. Feasting on the Flowers– I love the breezy guitar style throughout this song. I don’t have a ton to say about it honestly, but it’s not a bad song at all.
  9. Detroit– This song rocks pretty hard while still fitting in to the Chili Peppers’ more modern musical style. Again, the guitar here definitely drives the song and keeps it fun!
  10. This Ticonderoga– This awesome song weaves back and forth between two very musically distinct parts, though I do think the two sections are a little randomly put together. Still, the song’s internal diversity is a new, interesting musical step for the Chili Peppers.
  11. Encore– My other favorite song on the album!! It’s much more mellow alternative than the Chili Peppers commonly go, but the guitar is hypnotic and addicting. I actually like its verses better than the chorus, which is unusual for me, but the driving, sort of poppy beat here actually works really well as a constant thread throughout the song.
  12. The Hunter– This song is honestly a little slow for me and drags a bit to be a favorite of mine, but if you’re in the mood for a much slower Chili Peppers song, this one has a lovely airy guitar part.
  13. Dreams of a Samurai– This is probably the most overtly experimental song on The Getaway, but upon multiple listens, it’s quite a fascinating song and a grand, inspiring closing gesture on this amazing album.

One thing I love about this album as a whole is how it features their current guitarist, Josh Klinghoffer, much more prominently than did the previous Chili Peppers album, I’m With You. The aforementioned album was his first as an official member of the band, but his contribution to RHCP truly blossoms on The Getaway with the increased guitar presence and his lush backing vocals and harmonies. I’ve seen a lot of Josh-bashing on RHCP videos by overly nostalgic RHCP fans, but I think he’s a fantastic musician with a lot to offer for the Chili Peppers. I can’t wait to see what he’ll bring to the table for future RHCP albums!

So in conclusion, I love this album and I’ve been listening/harmonizing to it a lot this summer. With each listen, I continue to notice just how many diverse and interesting sounds there are on this album. For someone who enjoys unpacking individual elements of songs as they listen to them, this album is definitely for you. I’m so excited by its presence in my life, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that the Red Hot Chili Peppers tour the US soon to promote it! They are #1 on my current bucket list of concerts to see, and I have every faith that if/when I see them live, I will be transported on a musical getaway.