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. 🙂

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!

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!

Happy birthday Paul McCartney!!!

Paul's hair... That is all.

Paul’s hair… That is all.

It’s that time of year again where Beatle fans everywhere gather and celebrate Paul’s birthday!!! I’ll try not to make this a repeat of last year’s birthday post, but I will say that in light of Paul’s recent health scare, I’m glad he seems to be doing better. He’s one of those people that has an aura. I experienced that first hand last year when I saw him at the Barclays Center; as soon as he came onstage, the entire atmosphere of the place changed from extreme excitement to a giant outpouring of joy and affection and tears unlike anything I’ve ever seen. As I’ve said before, it was magical, and I hope that everyone is fortunate enough to experience his brilliance in person at least once.

Paul is 72 now, but he doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. I admire his energy and passion for what he does, and I can only hope that I am the same way in my adult years.

Obviously I love Paul a lot. Here are a couple of videos that explain why if I haven’t done a thorough enough job.

Wow, what a voice he still has! I’m so glad he did this!

This, folks, is the best Paul McCartney tribute video on Youtube. It captures his youthful exuberance perfectly.

I love how Paul can still relate to the youth of today. Also, as I’ve said before, he and Jimmy are great together.

Well, I hope Paul has an absolutely fab day!!! And I hope you do too! Listen to his music, watch some videos of Paul, or just think about why he’s the best. Satisfaction guaranteed. 🙂

Meet the Smithereens!

Meet the Smithereens

Meet the Smithereens

As you have probably gathered, I love watching musicians performing Beatles songs. Whether it’s Paul McCartney himself, a group of relatively young guys dressed as the Beatles, or a group of relatively old guys not dressed as the Beatles, I get a huge thrill out of seeing anyone playing Beatles songs with a live band. And who wouldn’t? The music speaks for itself!

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a Smithereens concert with my parents entitled “Meet the Smithereens!” after the Beatles’ first American album, “Meet the Beatles!”. The Smithereens, if you haven’t heard of them, are a rock band that was most commercially successful in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but they’ve been releasing music and performing consistently ever since. It’s no secret that they are huge fans of the Beatles; they’ve released three full Beatles tribute albums, and even their original music is what I’d call “Beatlesque with an edge”. So when I heard about this show that was taking place right in my town, I was really excited!!!

By now, I’m used to being just about the youngest person in attendance at most concerts, and though last night was no exception, it was still a really fun and Beatley evening. The Smithereens interspersed their own songs with a lot of well-known and not-so well-known Beatles songs (I was pleasantly surprised to hear them play “I’m a Loser” and “It’s Only Love”!) and also anecdotes about their childhood introduction to the Beatles way back in 1964. They played for about 2 hours and 20 minutes straight, Paul McCartney-style with no breaks or intermission. They really gave the audience their money’s worth! I was not that familiar with the Smithereens’ music before the concert, but now I can say that I am a true fan. They rock!

Ironically, I think my favorite part of the concert was when they played two non Beatles/Smithereens songs, just because it was so unexpected. In the middle of one of their biggest hits, “A Girl Like You,” they segued into “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan. Now, I’m not a huge Dylan fan, but I absolutely love this song, and I was thrilled to hear it live! THEN, right after that song, they played “Behind Blue Eyes,” which is my #1 favorite song by the Who! Two unexpected performances in a row! Still, the Beatles/Smithereens songs they played were all awesome. From the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” to the Smithereens’ “Behind the Wall of Sleep” and everything in between, this concert was absolutely fab.

While writing this, I just realized that I’ve seen a Beatles tribute concert in each of the last three months. Hopefully something will come up in April as well! 🙂
If the Smithereens come to a town near you, and especially if they are playing this Beatles tribute show, do not miss this chance to be thoroughly entertained. They rock, the Beatles rock, and live music in general is always better. But you knew that already. 🙂

Have a fantastic week!

The Beatles, still fab after 50 years!

We love them, yeah yeah yeah!

We love them, yeah yeah yeah!

So I wanted to wait until after I watched the televised special commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on Ed Sullivan to do a blog post, but now that it’s over, here I am!

Overall, I thought it was a wonderful tribute. It had a good mix of old and new musicians, and while I didn’t really care for some people (why did Katy Perry oversing Yesterday??? Why did the Imagine Dragons do a boring version of Revolution???), I enjoyed it very much. My favorite performances were probably Jeff Lynne, Dhani Harrison, and Joe Walsh doing “Something” and Dave Grohl and Jeff Lynne doing “Hey Bulldog.” Both were done respectfully and not with too many vocal runs or falsettos or any of the annoying things that modern pop singers love to do. I also thoroughly enjoyed Eric Idle’s frequent Rutles name-drops and commentary on each of the Beatles’ childhoods. I had no idea he would be involved, so this was definitely a pleasant surprise!

But of course, Paul and Ringo (and John and George) were the stars of the show. Throughout the broadcast, the cameras frequently cut to Paul singing along or Ringo doing some air drumming, and I got the impression that they were rather touched by the whole extravaganza. It made me so incredibly happy to see Paul grinning with delight as Stevie Wonder sang “We Can Work It Out” or Ringo sang “Yellow Submarine.” It must be nice to be so loved by the entire world for half a century!

Paul and Ringo’s performances were also wonderful! Ringo sounded great as always, but Paul really sounded AMAZING!!! I mean, he rocked the house! I was singing along as he and Ringo sang With A Little Help From My Friends together and as he played Hey Jude to close the show, and I think I had a tear in my eye at the end. Seeing everyone from the show together onstage showing how much they love the Beatles and seeing all of the audience members dancing and singing along reminded me once again why the Beatles are still so revered today. Their music makes people love life, and that’s something that I don’t think will ever go out of style.

From seeing another fabulous Fab Four concert with my friends last night, to listening to a celebratory Breakfast With The Beatles this morning, to watching the TV special tonight, my weekend was filled to the brim with Beatleness. And I wouldn’t want it any other way!
In case you missed the special, here are some brief interview clips with David Letterman, Paul, and Ringo that were shown during the program.

Wow, what a great weekend to be a Beatles fan! I feel so fortunate to have even lived at the same time as two of the Beatles, and I know that while they were never together while I was alive, their music will live in my heart and the hearts of millions of others for 50 more years and beyond. Long live the Beatles!