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.

My favorite covers of Beatles songs

I know it’s not just me saying this, but the Beatles are probably the most popular band of all time. So it’s no wonder that they are also by far the most covered band of all time, with Yesterday and Something as their most covered songs. I enjoy listening to a good Beatle cover because it’s interesting to see how different artists interpret Beatles songs, so today I’ll post some of my favorite Beatle covers. Some strip the song down to just vocals and an acoustic guitar and some add so much orchestration that it barely resembles the original song, but both methods of covering are equally valid and equally meaningful. I hope you enjoy!

Gavin Degraw- And I Love Her

I’ve just recently started listening to Gavin Degraw, and I think it’s safe to say that I’m in completely love with him and his beautiful, heartfelt, authentic music. I might do a post about him in the near future, so I’ll say more then, but here I’ll just say that his voice on this cover and in general makes me melt inside. 🙂

Elton John- Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

This is one of the more famous Beatle covers out there, and it’s also the only one to ever hit #1 on the charts. In typically fabulous Elton John fashion, he took an already brilliant Beatles song and added layers of vocals and orchestration to turn it into something completely different. I still prefer the original song, but I will admit that this cover is ALMOST as good as the original.

Green Day- Working Class Hero

So technically this is a John Lennon solo song and not a Beatles song, but I love this cover so much that I had to include it in this list. Green Day rocks, and this cover is just brilliant. It’s hard to top John Lennon on one of his own songs, but I think they almost do it here.

Gregg Allman- Rain

I first heard this version on Breakfast with the Beatles one Sunday, and I could not believe my ears. This sounds almost nothing like the original Beatles song, but it’s so soulful and beautiful that I can’t help but sway and nod my head whenever I hear it. Gregg Allman’s voice perfectly epitomizes rock, gospel, and soul combined.

Emmylou Harris- Here, There, and Everywhere

This cover is absolutely stunning. I love how minimal the instrumentation is because it really helps showcase the amazing song and her beautiful voice.

Paul McCartney and Eric Clapton- Something

It’s kind of hard to call this a cover because Something is technically a Beatles song, and Paul was technically a Beatle. But, since George wrote it and the original song has neither a ukulele intro nor an Eric Clapton, I’m including it here. My favorite part of this is the bridge starting at 3:12. The harmonies there are just outstanding! Two rock gods at their finest, while paying tribute to another.

I hope you check out one, a few, or all of these covers because they’re all worthwhile versions done by worthwhile musicians. Next week, I’ll get off the Beatle train for a bit to review Foster the People’s new album (their first in 3 years!!!), which comes out on Tuesday. Other than that, I’m not quite sure what else I’ll be posting over the next few weeks, so stick around and it may show. 🙂
Have a wonderful week!

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!

Paul McCartney’s “New” Song!

This week, as I was tuned in to the 12:00 Beatle Block on Q 104.3, I heard something that caught me completely off guard. They reported that Paul McCartney had just released a new single, entitled, rather appropriately, “New”, and that his new album was coming out on October 14th in the UK and October 15th in the US! I knew that Paul was making a new album, but I had no idea about this new song! What a wonderful surprise for a Beatles/McCartney fanatic like me!
And so I thought I’d share this song and my thoughts on it here on my blog. Here you go!

My first thought when I first listened to this song was, “IT’S BEATLE PAUL!!!! HE’S BACK!!!” Not that he ever left, of course, but this song is so wonderfully Beatlesque that I practically jumped for joy when I heard it. It’s so bouncy and happy, and I’m almost certain that wrote the lyrics with his wife Nancy in mind. There’s definitely a lot of Penny Lane in there, with some Got To Get You Into My Life and Fixing A Hole for good measure. And yet it doesn’t sound retro, but instead it sounds fresh and modern. I love how Paul continues to reinvent himself with every song and album he releases, and as long as he keeps loving to make music, it will show in his songs.
As much as I love George, nothing makes me quite as instantly happy as hearing Paul’s voice, and it’s awesome that he’s going strong after all these years. He is still a relevant musician, he can still write amazing songs, and he still rocks! I can’t wait for the album in October! I LOVE PAUL!!!!!!

My Top 10 Favorite John Lennon Solo Songs

My all time favorite picture of John Lennon!

My all time favorite picture of John Lennon!

I intend to do a solo countdown for each Beatle, and John Lennon’s solo career is next up on my list. Although I’m not as familiar with his solo work as I am with George’s or Paul’s, he has a lot of great songs from his too-short career. I used to not be a big fan of John in general, for some reason, but once I started listening more closely to his solo songs, I began to appreciate him much more. And now we arrive at this countdown! Here we go!

10. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)

John wrote this for his son, Sean, back in the late 70s. I can really feel the emotion he puts into this, and he seems so protective and loving of his son. I suppose that he wanted to try again at being a father after his first attempt with Julian in the heyday of Beatlemania didn’t work out so well. In any event, he succeeded, both with this song and with Sean.

9. Working Class Hero

Despite John’s use of the F-word in this song, twice, I love the lyrics and the whole song in general. This is John at his most honest, and the guitar part is haunting, but beautiful.

8. Cold Turkey

I think Eric Clapton plays guitar on this song, but even if he doesn’t, I LOVE the guitar on this song!!!! This could have been a Beatles song. I believe the Beatles rehearsed this at some point, but I guess it didn’t make the cut. Oh well, neither did 90% of George’s songs, and he turned out all right!

7. Imagine

It would basically be blasphemy if I didn’t have Imagine on my list, so here it is. Seriously though, it’s not my favorie John song ever, and I haven’t spent hours studying the lyrics like some people, but I do love the song. I think that people take this song a bit too seriously sometimes, and they forget that, as John once said, “It’s just a song, man!” Since John didn’t take it too seriously, neither will I!

6. Whatever Gets You Thru The Night

This was John’s only #1 hit while he was alive, and he wrote it with Elton John. They actually had a deal where John agreed to appear on stage with Elton John if it went to #1. John didn’t think it would get to #1, but it did, and he appeared on stage at Madison Square Garden because of it. Anyway, this is one of John’s most upbeat and bounciest songs, and I love it!

5. Instant Karma

This song rocks!!! I love singing along to the chorus! Also, I think George played guitar on this track. Double the Beatles, double the awesomeness!

4. Watching the Wheels

This song is kind of like Imagine, but I actually like it better. The piano part is so soothing, and as usual with John, the lyrics are great. I first heard it in a ice cream store in Montauk, of all places. I’m not quite sure why I remember that.

3. #9 Dream

Ahhh, it’s Beatlesque John! This song could easily be a psychadelic Beatles song, and also reminds me a lot of one of my favorite George songs, Dream Away, especially in the “ow bowakawa” part (Spell check, anyone?) Also, one of the lyrics is actually, “Dream, dream away.” I wonder if George was inspired by this song? My Beatley senses tell me YES!

2. Jealous Guy

For some reason, this song is so beautiful that I’m always tearing up within the first 10 seconds. Combine that with an emotional Lennon/McCartney video, and I’m a wreck. It’s just so perfect. Lennon/McCartney videos always make me emotional. I don’t think I’ve ever heard this song in a public setting, but I guarantee that if I did, I’d have a hard time holding back the tears.

1. Nobody Told Me

This is my favorite John solo song and my favorite John tribute video, combined! This is rocking John at his best! He knew how to have a good time! This is the song to listen to when you’ve been working hard and nobody told you there’d be days like these. Strange days, indeed!

So there you have it. Lennon in a nutshell, sort of. But here are some more solo John songs to check out if you’re curious!
Power to the People
(Just Like) Starting Over
Oh, Yoko!
Woman
Happy Christmas, War is Over!
How Do You Sleep?
Mind Games

For all you Lennon Lovers, here’s another, stunningly beautiful picture of John to end the post. I’ve always firmly believed that George was the best looking Beatle, but John sure gives him a run for his money here!

John Lennon, lookin' fine!

John Lennon, lookin’ fine!

My Top 10 Favorite George Harrison Solo Songs

What can I say? George looks so cute here!!!

What can I say? George looks so cute here!!!

I’ve been really looking forward to this post! I love George, so you think this would be an easy list to compile, but this was actually very difficult. The solo career of George Harrison cannot be summed up in just 10 songs, but here I’ve done my best to list my 10 personal favorites of his. I hope you enjoy the list!

10. All Things Must Pass

This is such a beautiful song. I love the emotion that George puts into the vocals. He always sounds so soulful and honest in his songs, and on this one in particular, the piano with the guitar and the beautiful singing and lyrics all work so well together. This is George at his best on what is generally considered his best album, 1970’s All Things Must Pass. I have to agree; listening to the album, it really is a masterpiece.

9. Crackerbox Palace

As you might notice from the whimsical video, this song is COMPLETELY different than All Things Must Pass! I love this song and the video that accompanies it equally. The song is quirky and fun, just like George, and that’s reflected in the video. Every time I watch the beginning with him popping out of the baby carriage, I laugh at his silly sense of humor! He was definitely the right Beatle to fund Monty Python!

8. Dream Away

Dream Away is perhaps George’s most poppy and upbeat song, and I love it for its bouncy tempo and nonsensical lyrics. What exactly does “Ori in iay, ori in iay” mean anyway? I haven’t a clue, but anything in George-language has to be good, right? 🙂

7. Awaiting On You All

This song has an awesome tempo with awesome lyrics, and awesome background vocals. In short, it’s awesome! I’ve always found it interesting that George mentions seeing Jesus in the song, even though he wasn’t a Christian at the time, or at least I don’t think he was. Perhaps he was more religiously openminded than I thought.

6. Faster

This is one of those George songs that I’m very surprised isn’t generally roped in with his best songs. I think it’s really catchy, infectious, and has a great arrangement. The car sounds in the beginning are fun, and I like that it shows off yet another side of George’s personality, the lover of car racing side. It takes me a while to get into and really appreciate some of George’s songs, but after hearing exactly 3 seconds of the iTunes preview of this song, I was hooked.

5. Wah Wah

George apparently wrote this in 1968 after walking out of the Let It Be sessions, frustrated with his fellow bandmates, Paul in particular. According to George, a “wah wah” is Britspeak for a massive headache. I’m sad that he and Paul had an argument, but hey, his fans got a great song out of it! This is so good, it doesn’t even need the lyrics. It could practically just be an instrumental jam session and would still be great. This proves that George could rock just as hard as the other Beatles when he wanted to.

4. Blow Away

I know from experience that this is the PERFECT song to wake up to in the morning! It’s so warm and inviting, and listening to it feels like receiving a big hug from George. The beginning of the song just makes me go “ahhhhhhh” with relaxation. It, like many of George’s songs, always cheers me up or puts me in a good mood.

3. Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)

This was basically my theme song during the week following Hurricane Sandy. Whenever I felt like things were hopeless and we’d never get power back, I sat in my room, listened to this song, and felt much better. I have to thank George a lot because I was starting to feel kind of sad after having no power for over a week, and this song really kept me going. George’s voice is so soulful on this song that it makes me tear up a bit sometimes, in a “Gosh, I wish he was still around” way. But then I remember that he left such beautiful music for everyone to enjoy, it’s almost like he’s still here.

2. My Sweet Lord

I can’t accurately describe how much I love and am addicted to this song! I could literally listen to it on repeat for hours and not get sick of it. In fact, whenever it comes up in the Shuffle mode on my iPod, I always have to play it at least 3 times in a row before listening to another song. If the beauty of my sweet George could be summed up in a song, this is definitely it. From the opening guitar strums to the slide guitar solo to the Hare Krishna chant, it’s perfection. But, it is NOT my #1 favorite George song…

1. What is Life

THIS is my #1 favorite George song because it ROCKS! I love the guitar riff in the beginning, and in general, it’s just amazing. I’ve had this song on my iPod for a long time, before I even knew who George Harrison was (yes, there was such a time in my life), and even though I didn’t recognize the singer, I loved the song and would sing it to myself all the time. Later, when I discovered the Beatles and figured out who George was, I found out that he sang this song that I’d loved for years! Now that George and the Beatles are such a big part of my life, I wonder what life would be like without them. I can’t even imagine it at this point. What is life without George Harrison??? (answer: not as good!)

I said before that George’s solo career can’t possibly be summarized in only 10 songs, so here are 10 more “honorable mention” songs, just like I did for the Beatles list. Since most people probably aren’t all that familiar with George’s solo discography, I’ll post the song and the album next to it in parentheses.
So Sad (Dark Horse)
That’s The Way It Goes (Gone Troppo)
Hear Me Lord and Beware of Darkness (All Things Must Pass)
This Song and Beautiful Girl (33 and 1/3)
Miss O’Dell (Living in the Material World- iTunes Bonus Tracks)
Devil’s Radio (Cloud Nine)
Pisces Fish and Any Road (Brainwashed)

That’s all for now! Enjoy the weekend and one last picture of George Harrison!

Gorgeous George from 1976, one more time

Gorgeous George from 1976, one more time