Some things I’ve been meaning to blog about

"On my honor, I will try, to blog once a week"

“On my honor, I will try, to blog once a week”

Hello everyone! I know I’ve been gone for a while, so today I’d like to chat about some things I’ve been wanting to discuss. It’s been a pretty busy month, what with senior year and college applications and such, but it’s also been fun and exciting in the Beatle world and the rest of the world!

First, last month, Conan O’Brian had a special “George Harrison Week” on his show in honor of the release of George’s early Apple solo albums in a box set. The performers included Norah Jones (Ravi Shankar’s daughter, in case you wanted to know the George connection), Paul Simon (George performed with him on SNL in 1976), Dhani Harrison (his son), and Beck (no idea what the George connection is here). I watched all of the performances, and of course, seeing people keeping his music alive made my little George heart very happy. My personal favorite was Dhani Harrison, simply because I love him and he, in addition to sounding a lot like George, is VERY musically talented.

There was also a George tribute concert in LA that same week called “George Fest,” which I really wish I could have seen. As I learned at the Fab Faux concert last year, George’s music sounds amazing live. Still, I’ve been pretty lucky with Beatle-related tribute concerts, so I’m not really THAT mad… 🙂

John Lennon’s birthday was two weeks ago, so clearly that passed already, but I’d like to do a belated-John’s birthday shout out. His music is really just as powerful today as I’m sure it was when it first came out 30-something years ago. If there’s one Beatle who has inspired multiple generations of songwriters to express themselves in their music, it’s probably him.
For some reason, John seems to have retained the image of the “cool” Beatle in this day and age. I wonder where that came from. Maybe it’s from his effortlessly cool look during the Rain and Paperback Writer video shoots…

I wish I looked that cool in sunglasses...

I wish I looked that cool in sunglasses…

John is definitely one cool dude. I hope he had a happy birthday wherever he is now. And depending on your beliefs, THAT, my friends, is up to you to decide… Because as John once said, “It’s up to you, yeah you, cause we all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun.” 🙂 Bonus points if you know what John solo song those lyrics are from!

Finally, I think my dad and I are officially Fab Faux groupies, because we were fortunate enough to see them for a third time in NYC last week. The theme was “Lennon vs. McCartney: A Heavyweight Battle” or something like that. It was basically just an excuse to play alternating John and Paul songs for a solid 2.5 hours, which is exactly what I was hoping for! As always, the Fab Faux did a fantastic job. As far as musicianship is concerned, they’re definitely the best band out there at playing Beatles songs. They always add the most special elements to Beatles songs, like a sitar on Norwegian Wood or a piccolo trumpet on Penny Lane, to really make the song perfect.

What I enjoyed about this show in particular is that they played a number of solo Lennon and McCartney songs in addition to their Beatles catalog. Having gone to more than a few Beatle tribute shows by now, I’m used to hearing the Beatle stuff played a lot. It never gets old, of course, but hearing their solo songs played live is a special treat. I think my favorite moment of the show, if it’s even possible to choose, was when they played “Jet,” from the Band On The Run album. I hadn’t heard that song in a while, but as soon as they started playing it I got really excited! It’s a fantastic song! The Fab Faux are the best, plain and simple. (sorry Fab Four, I love you guys too!)

Whew, that was certainly a large explosion of Beatleness. I should never stop blogging for a month, because then I’ll have far too much to say at once to cram into one post. And that wasn’t even all I had wanted to say! My friend and I saw a Foster the People concert last night, which was absolutely unbelievable, but I’ll save that for a separate post. They’re definitely worth an entire post.

I’m sure I’ll still be busy in the coming weeks, but I promise to blog again ASAP! Have a fantastic week!

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1964 The Tribute!

Clever take-off of the Rubber Soul album cover!

Clever take-off of the Rubber Soul album cover!

So last Friday I was fortunate enough to see yet another Beatle tribute band, 1964 the Tribute, in concert with my friend. It was sort of a spontaneous decision, but I’m glad we went because it was a really fun outing!

These guys have been around for a while. They formed sometime in the 1980s, presumably with rotating members since then. Unlike some others I’ve seen, this band specializes in the material from the Beatles’ touring years (1963-1966). As such, they don’t play any of the Sgt. Pepper or Abbey Road-era stuff. However, that didn’t really bother me because they played obscure early stuff that I loved, like George’s “Don’t Bother Me” from With The Beatles and “It’s Only Love” from Help. I also loved the encore medley they did with all early Beatle covers like “Money,” “Long Tall Sally,” “Rock and Roll Music,” and “Matchbox”.

Musically, I thought they sounded great. The instruments were all Beatle-accurate, and they had a lefty Paul, which is a major sticking point with me and Beatle tribute bands. It may seem nit-picky, but for me, if the Paul guy isn’t left-handed, it just doesn’t look right and throws my impression off.

So how do these guys compare to the likes of The Fab Four or The Fab Faux in terms of Beatle-tribute excellence? Well, I personally preferred the guys, looks-wise, in The Fab Four. I thought the John in 1964 The Tribute was actually the best I’ve seen; he was amazing and sounded and looked a lot like John. Honestly though, I liked the Paul, Ringo, and especially George in The Fab Four better in just about every aspect. I also don’t think 1964 was quite as instrumentally perfect as either of the other two bands.

However, this is not to say that these guys weren’t good; in reality, it’s the opposite. One thing I loved about 1964 was how funny they were, definitely the funniest Beatle tribute band I’ve seen. Some of their jokes were a little far-fetched for the actual Beatles (would George really insult John’s guitar playing on stage and promote his own? I don’t think so), but overall they were edgy and really entertaining. One hilarious moment came when “George” was talking about some guitar thing that he gave to Eric Clapton, and “John” quipped, “Is that all you gave him?”
Yes, I, George’s biggest fan, laughed at this joke. It was genuinely funny. I guess George-Eric-Pattie wife swapping jokes are still in style…? 🙂

Do other Beatle tribute bands offer a more comprehensive look at the Beatles than 1964? Yes; I think for pure accuracy and entertainment value, The Fab Four are still my #1 choice. However, would I recommend 1964 The Tribute to Beatle fans? Absolutely; they definitely do the Beatles’ music and legacy justice. I really enjoyed seeing them and if they come to a nearby theater soon, I would love to see them again.

That’s all for now. I hope you enjoy the start of September and thank you to anyone who regularly or occasionally reads this! I’m glad you find my endless Beatley/musical rants entertaining!

A Beautiful Tribute to a Beautiful Man

I'm almost positive this lovely picture was being projected onto the screen...

I’m almost positive this lovely picture was being projected onto the screen…

As I posted yesterday, I attended a Fab Faux concert with my dad last night at the Beacon Theatre in NYC that paid tribute to George Harrison. And here I am now, 24 hours later, to write about it!

I had very high hopes for this concert, and despite the fact that my dad and I were in the very last row of the theatre and couldn’t see a supposedly beautiful picture of George that was projected on the back of the stage, a splendid time was had by all. From the very first note of Wah Wah to the very last note of Roll Over Beethoven, I had a rollicking good time singing along to every song, cheering for George, and occasionally tearing up at the beauty of it all. Throughout the concert, I couldn’t help but think how wonderful it was to be in a room with thousands of people who loved George as much as I did. If there’s one thing I love more than talking about how much I love George, it’s hearing other people talk about how much they love George, and all of the personal stories about George told by the band members made me very happy and emotional. While George himself was not there, his spirit definitely was watching over the whole thing.

Once again, I was absolutely floored by the musical perfection that was the Fab Faux. They are truly a fantastic band and I can’t think of any way to improve upon the tribute to George that they did. Every song was perfectly and beautifully done, and in addition to playing the hits and crowd favorites like My Sweet Lord, Give Me Love, Here Comes The Sun, Something, and the like, they also threw in some wild card songs that hardcore fans like myself were thrilled to hear, like Run Of The Mill, Any Road, and Living In The Material World. I was also ecstatic to hear them play George’s very first song, Don’t Bother Me from “With The Beatles”! My favorite George solo song, What Is Life, was also played, much to my delight. It’s hard to choose a favorite moment, but I think it’s a tie between Here Comes The Sun, which almost made me cry because it sounded so beautiful, and While My Guitar Gently Weeps, which absolutely brought the house down and got a standing ovation.

Here’s a couple of videos from the concert that I found on Youtube. I didn’t actually film these, but they give a good sense of the incredible musicianship that was on display last night.

This concert was the first time that I’d heard most of George’s songs played live, and it only further reminded me just how many amazing songs George wrote in his career. I never actually forgot how great his songs are, of course, but this concert proved that they sound awesome in a live setting as well!
Listening to the positively George-like guitar solos on songs like Beware of Darkness and My Sweet Lord and the mind-blowing sitar playing on Within You Without You (if there was one thing I wasn’t expecting, it was a guy playing sitar, but they even had that!) served as a reminder that George’s songs aren’t just songs; they’re beautiful, heartfelt, honest works of art.

I didn’t think it was possible for me to love George any more than I already do, but at the end of this concert, I was in love with him a million times more than I was at the beginning. At a few choice moments during the show, I just closed my eyes for a second and imagined that George was in the room, and it really felt like he was there. To me, George Harrison is simply the most beautiful human being who has ever lived, and this amazing concert in his honor was one that I will never forget.

I do hope that if you are a Beatles fan and the Fab Faux come to a theater near you that you have the opportunity to see them, because as far as Beatle tribute bands go, they are the absolute best. I hope that the Fab Faux do this type of George tribute show again, because it was fabulous!!!
Have a great week! Happy early Halloween!

My Top 5 Scariest/Creepiest Beatles Songs

The Beatles, wearing silly costumes and looking adorable

The Beatles, wearing silly costumes and looking adorable

In honor of Halloween, which is in only 5 days, I’ve decided to make a short list of Beatles songs that, for whatever reason, creep me out or used to scare me. This won’t be as long a list as my usual lists, for the simple reason that there are not too many Beatles songs that make me scared! But, though they were originally the lovable moptops, the Beatles also had a dark side. So, without further ado, here is my list of scary Beatles songs!

5. Run For Your Life

Upon a casual listen, this song is pretty unassuming, but when you actually listen to the lyrics, it’s really creepy. Apparently the Beatles stole the first line, “I’d rather see you dead little girl than to be with another man” from an Elvis song called “Baby, Let’s Play House”, and they built the rest of the song around that. It’s basically about a man threatening to kill his girlfriend if she cheats on him. This song has never really scared me, but the lyrics are quite ominous, which makes it a good choice for this list!

4. Helter Skelter

Back before I became a devoted Beatles fan who would listen to anything they recorded, I used to not be able to listen to this song all the way through because it scared me too much. I can’t put my finger on why it scared me, but it just did. For whatever reason, I just could not get through it without pausing the song and listening to something else. Of course, I got over this fear a while ago, and rocking out to Helter Skelter at the Paul McCartney concert was one of my highlights of the night! Still, the fact that this song supposedly inspired the Manson murders makes it scary to me.

3. A Day In The Life

This is another song that I’ve grown to love and appreciate, but that for some reason used to scare the wits out of me. I think it was the orchestral links between the Lennon and McCartney sections of the song that scared me, and whenever I listened to that part of the song, I felt like a car was about to hit me.
The song is a work of art, and I thankfully can now listen to it all the way through without getting scared! But it certainly isn’t the cheeriest Beatles song out there…

2. I Want You (She’s So Heavy)

For some reason, I could not find the original album version of this on Youtube, but I did find a version performed live by The Fab Faux, so hopefully you get the gist of this song through their performance.
Whenever I listen to Abbey Road, I almost dread this song coming on, because it’s so long and demonic sounding that by the end, I’m always completely freaked out and silently willing it to be over so my heart can stop racing. The last few minutes of this song are entirely instrumental, and the “whooshing” sounds near the end sound like a plane about to crash. In other words, this is a pretty creepy song. Don’t listen to it if you fear the end of the world is upon us.

1. Revolution 9

This is by far the scariest Beatles “song” (I don’t really consider it a song) in existence, but it’s more than that. It’s quite possibly the weirdest, freakiest, creepiest 8 minutes ever recorded in the history of rock. This song creeps everybody out, including me, which is why this is the only Beatles song to date that I have only listened to once all the way through. I hate skipping songs on albums, but whenever I listen to the White Album, I just can’t bring myself to listen to this song. It’s too trippy and too scary for me to handle. This is probably a common choice for “scariest Beatles song,” but rightfully so, because it’s just insane. I love the Beatles, but this takes it a bit too far into the psychedelic territory for me to enjoy and appreciate.

And that completes my list! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and a happy early Halloween!
I’m also VERY excited for the Fab Faux George Harrison tribute concert that my dad and I are seeing tonight! I will surely be posting about it tomorrow, so be on the lookout!

The Fab Faux

The members of the Fab Faux, from left to right: Rich Pagano, Frank Agnello, Will Lee, Jimmy Vivino, and Jack Petruzzelli

The members of the Fab Faux, from left to right: Rich Pagano, Frank Agnello, Will Lee, Jimmy Vivino, and Jack Petruzzelli

I only have one word for this fantastic, New York based Beatle tribute band that I had the pleasure of seeing live last night… WOW!!!!!!!! They are AMAZING!!!!!!!!!
I can’t even accurately describe how wonderful this concert was. They played for almost 3 hours, doing a whole slew of Beatles classics in the first half and playing Abbey Road in its entirety in the second half. I was absolutely floored by their incredible musicianship and vocal talent in every song! Even though I was sitting way up in the balcony, it didn’t matter. The music was loud, the atmosphere was fun, and I sang along to every song as loud as I could!

It’s really hard for me to choose a favorite moment of the show, since they played so many songs. I loved that they did And Your Bird Can Sing, and Strawberry Fields Forever was absolutely outstanding with an extended percussion section at the end. The harmonies throughout the show were spot on, especially during Nowhere Man, and I loved the raucous encores of She Loves You and Twist and Shout. However, my favorite moment of the show came during While My Guitar Gently Weeps. The performance was amazing, and the guy who played the guitar solo definitely did Eric Clapton justice. But, just as I thought the song was over, I heard the Anthology 3 version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. Only that part wasn’t played live; I heard the actual recording with George’s voice being played! As soon as I heard the gentle, soothing voice of my sweet George coming through the sound system, I got a little choked up. I think I almost cried. It was a very emotional moment for me! It seemed like George was really there in spirit, and While My Guitar Gently Weeps definitely got the loudest applause of the night.
This video isn’t from the concert I attended, but you get the idea. What a thrill to hear them playing George’s song, and then to hear George’s actual voice!

As soon as the show was over, I was trying to decide whether I liked The Fab Faux or The Fab Four better. It’s a very different experience seeing the Fab Faux as opposed to the Fab Four live. With The Fab Faux, it’s more than four guys on stage and they’re not dressed like the Beatles, so you don’t get the sense that you’re actually seeing the Beatles live like you do with The Fab Four. However, The Fab Faux played for about an hour longer than the Fab Four did, and they were such great musicians that I didn’t even mind that they weren’t exactly imitating the Beatles. I think that any Beatle fan will enjoy both bands. I certainly did, and you’d be hard pressed to top either The Fab Faux or The Fab Four as far as paying tribute to the Beatles is concerned! Definitely see them if you have the chance!
I’m really hoping to attend their tribute concert to George for his 70th birthday in NYC in October. Imagine an entire concert with George songs! Besides actually seeing George Harrison live, which of course I’ll never get to do, this would be the next best thing.

Anyway, the Beatles rock, and the Fab Faux do too!