What if the Beatles Never Existed? (Vid of the Day)

Taking the plot of Director Danny Boyle’s alternate reality film, Yesterday, one step further, across into my multiverse’s uncharted spacial and temporal territory…

I believe it possible that, in a Beatleless world, 1950s era rock and roll could’ve gradually faded from the music scene and evolved into several, far more subdued musical eras.

That would’ve meant that the far less famous Paul McCartney, who still existed in our world, would’ve channeled his untold musical energy and talent into a different direction as well… as seen in our above clip.

BONUS VID: Speaking of channeling untold musical energy and talent, let’s make tracks over to YouTube to give a listen to the Glory of Love, a cappella cover by Leiana Kanae.

 

 

 

 

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September Songs

One of my most cherished, technically challenging, recording studio projects, ever, transpired on this very day in 2002. I owed my project’s success, in part, to being under the creative influence of…

Jose Feliciano: 8-time Grammy Award winner / musician / singer / composer
Sir George Martin: record producer / trailblazing, recording studio wizard / 5th Beatle
Mike O’Brien: DJ / poet / critical thinker (wellknown to Michigan’s 60s Era hippies)

To tell you my story, I need to tell you their stories…

Mike O’Brien had worked in an era where FM jocks were free to program their own music… free to speak their own minds, too. Both his musical and ideological tastes were frequently in tune with my own. Unbeknownst to him, he’d even played a minor role in my choosing broadcast arts as my college major.

He worked the 6 to 9 p.m., M-F gig and, along about 8:55 each night, concluded his broadcasts by playing two Jose Feliciano covers of Lennon / McCartney compositions… the instrumental Here, There and Everywhere [HTE] followed by the vocal In My Life [IML] (both of these tracks culled from the same album… titled Feliciano!).

His DJ MO: With HTE faded low, he’d [1] open up the talk-over mic to deliver his heartfelt, spoken interpretation of IML’s lyrics, [2] wish his listeners a goodnight, and [3] cross-fade / segue to track, fully, thru IML. In time… for reasons unknown… he stopped playing HTE. Perhaps he’d accidentally damaged / rendered un-listenable one of the record library’s, vinyl album copies?

Within two years… again, for reasons unknown… on a late September, Friday evening, O’Brien aired his farewell broadcast. Fortuitously, I had my monaural Sony TC-100 tape recorder rolling… a device (about the size of a Classic Star Trek tricorder) that boasted a fairly respectable frequency range of 50 – 10,000 hertz. Not bad, considering the snail’s pace tape speed of  4.7625 centimeters per second / 1.875 inches per second! Additionally, since I had also purchased that era’s state-of-the-art, Scotch brand, blank cassettes, I was assured sound quality par excellence.

Fast forwarding to 1995… with my own vinyl copy of Feliciano! now stylus damaged / rendered un-listenable, I was thrilled to discover an available CD reissue. However… one OH NO moment did reveal itself during the initial playback. AGAIN…for reasons unknown… reasons that defied all reason… In My Life’s ending had been radically shortened.

It was within that same era that the three surviving Beatles, courtesy of a recording studio, high tech exhumation, had been reunited with their old bandmate, the late John Lennon! How bittersweet that must’ve felt. Although the longtime Beatles producer, George Martin, had not been in charge, undoubtedly, his flair for trailblazing studio wizardry had rubbed off on co-producers Jeff Lynne and JPGR. Their project had resulted in the first new Beatles studio recordings since the band broke up in 1970… namely… Real Love and Free As A Bird. None of this would’ve been possible without Lennon’s home demo cassettes, which, ultimately, breathed new life into his old recordings. All in all, the word extraordinary does come to mind.

Fast forewarding to this day in 2002… It was while reminiscing about those long gone FM radio days of 1970, that it suddenly occurred to me that I possessed all the source material, audio gear and know-how necessary to produce an extraordinary recording of my own. As I brainstormed the procedure, it kinda / sorta felt like I was treading upon Sir George’s hallowed turf.

My Mission: To recreate / restore / enhance the last five minutes of Mike O’Brien’s final broadcast and simultaneously restore the musical measures missing from the Feliciano! CD reissue. The individual parts of the source material could all be played off each other… wind up complementing each other.

My DJ MO: engage my audio mixer to [1] playback the monaural cassette where O’Brien recites the IML poem while mixing in the absent HTE track (at a decibel level he would’ve chosen), [2] wait for O’Brien to cross-fade to IML, [3] at that point, seamlessly cross-fade my synchronized CD copy of IML (to eliminate the FM hiss / static, improve the signal to noise ratio and expand the frequency range), [4] execute a second seamless cross-fade back to the monaural cassette to restore the CD’s missing, song concluding measures and [5] utilize the finished master to burn a CD copy.

My Results: Sound-wise… my sector of the universe was, once more, in balance… everything back in its proper place! There were even a few hints of the very FM hiss / static, which accompanied O’Brien’s last show… so long ago. And somehow, even extraneous noise made it seem all the more real! Project-wise… all in all, the word extraordinary does come to mind.

My wish: For you to hear My Results. However, at present, that wish is not possible to fulfill. Even so… it’s still possible for us to get Jose Feliciano’s cover of In My Life into our lives. Play Back and Enjoy!

 

 

 

Playing in the E Major Leagues

Shortly after awakening, I found myself greeting the dawn of the new day seated at the piano. In a Lennon / McCartney mood, my mini recital… performed before a backyard audience of birds and bunnies… began with All My Loving.

Unexpectedly… along about mid-piece… I began wandering off onto the musical road less traveled… i.e., by transitioning an excerpt from another E Major, Fab Four composition… and then another and another and another… at which point, I “brought it all home” by polishing off the All My Loving selection.

Medley Working Titles:
A 5-Movement Fab-4 Mini Symphony in E Major
The Beatles in E Major

Total Tracking / “Travel” Time:
5 minutes

Lennon / McCartney Compositions:
All My Loving
Nowhere Man
With a Little Help From My Friends
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
Please Please Me

My Gratitude and Kudos to:
YouTube Piano Virtuoso Ryan(692)

Seeing how I had made this all come together so effortlessly, I began to suspect that my playing All My Loving just prior to last night’s golden slumbers had been of great help. It’s now my belief that… at some point during one of last night’s REM stages… I wound up experimenting with the juxtapositions of these five compositions… perhaps even playing out these abridged passages and perfecting their transition points on the keyboard of the subconscious mind.

Hence, my heightened belief in the positive power of creative dreaming.

While my own application of this phenomenon has been music-specific, there’s little doubt in my mind that what we all learn, while playing upon the REM field of dreams, can be applied, more generally, to many other areas of our lives.

“So long ago”, the late John Lennon, in his song, #9 Dream, lyrically posed two questions. Based on last night’s experience, I believe my answers to be valid…

“Was it in a dream?” My emphatic YES!
“Was it just a dream?” NOPE! There’s no such thing as “just a dream”!

 

 

 

Blur’s Clear View of Real Life ~ Sunday Song Series

Our Sunday Song Series, Week #44 selection (aptly titled Sunday Sunday), features alternative rock band Blur’s 1993 musical interpretation of traditional, Sunday activities. While some might deem drawing upon a slice of real life yawn-worthy, who, among us, would not also find such a thematic “hook” relatable?

Of course, some of us will be able to free associate Blur / Beatles comparisons considering how this track features [1] a musical arrangement reminiscent of the genius and sensibilities of the late Sir George Martin and [2] a storylined, frenzied videography evocative of the late Alun Owen… the gifted, imaginative screenwriter renown for A Hard Day’s Night.

Or, are my drawn parallels broad-brushed and/or overly charitable? If so, I guess we could chalk that up to my [1] now eyeballing far more days in my rearview mirror than on the road ahead, [2] wishful thinking that time travel could take us back to those magical, mystical Beatles yesterdays and [3] belief in Quantum Theory that suggests possible crossovers into alternative timelines… i.e., to points, somewhere in the vast Multiverse, where John Lennon had never been assassinated and George Harrison had not smoked himself into an early grave… where Owen and Martin, too, now enjoy a substantially enhanced longevity.

Don’t let me be misunderstood, either. Broaching such Beatles similarities is not to, in any way, detract from Blur’s own considerable body of work, created by singer/keyboardist Damon Albarn, guitarist/singer Graham Coxon, bassist Alex James and drummer Dave Rowntree. One must never blur Blur’s own, stand on their own eight feet, noteworthy talents.

If Blur blurring Beatles boundary lines occurs unintentionally, they could hardly be faulted for being under the Fab Four’s influence. I mean… one needn’t even be a musician to experience something so unavoidable.

Even if Blur’s blending occurs by design, it would be still be Albarn, Coxon, James and Rowntree clearly paying homage to Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr. And who, among us, could not wholeheartedly offer up our “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” to such a sentiment?

And while we’re on the subject, why not say, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” to our next Sunday Song, too? You are cordially invited back here… seven days from now…

 

 

 

 

Seventeen Come Sunday (Sunday Song Series)

Throughout the ages, life enriching, mind expanding, mood elevating orchestral performances have been within earshot of anyone who’ll dare to be musically adventurous… bold enough to “go there”. For all who do (or yearn to) march to the beat of a different drum… awaiting you is our featured Sunday Song Series Week #42 track…

Ralph Vaughan Williams’ English Folk Song Suite I – Seventeen Come Sunday

I know. I know. Some deem classical music to be uncool. Within the first few played notes, they’re apt to cut and run towards the nearest red X’ed circular exit sign. That’s no exaggeration, either. The YouTube view counts on such vlogs oft languish in the “dusty” absolute zero zone.

So… why risk featuring such music in this venue? Because [1] I dig that different drumbeat and [2] when it comes down to lackluster site “hits”… well… hell… I could’ve written “The Book”. If the tracks I do spin and blog about here brand me the musical misfit / literary leper… HEY… it’s no skin off my… uh… nose.

I suppose my “sordid” musical past is “to blame”… i.e., my experiencing nearly an entire lifetime’s worth of classical music. There are countless examples, but, to cite just a few…

As a young’un and tween, playing in “heavy rotation” on my monaural record player was Johann Strauss’ The Blue Danube Waltz, op.314. And no kidding… there were even the 6:30 p.m., M-F airings of NBC-TV’s Huntley / Brinkley Report, which featured… as its closing theme song… a brief segment from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, 2nd Movement… conducted by Arturo Toscanini

As a teenager, there were plenty of Sixties era orchestrally enhanced rockers. Instantly coming to mind is the Beatles’ A Day in the Life. And, as the Moody Blues could readily attest, it is possible to base and build an entire, half century long (and still counting) career upon Classical Music’s rock-solid foundation… starting with their entire album Days of Future Passed.

But that was the past… as for the future…

Our Sunday Song Series will be back seven days from now. Hopefully, you’ll be back, too?

 

ADDENDUM: Those above linked musical selections, if played back in their entirety, will take a bit over one hour. With time constraints being what they are in our lives, why not experience these tracks whilst cooking, dining, tidying up the joint, balancing the ol’ checkbook, studying… or even whilst creating your next blog post? Of course… that would mean missing out on some superb artwork which accompanies the Strauss vlog.

 

 

Try DownPlaying This

The Beatles’ 1964 Stateside Tour involving their February 7th arrival in NYC (at the newly christened JFK International Airport) and appearance on Ed Sullivan’s nationally televised variety show (on the 9th) could not have been better timed.

Americans, still in deep mourning following the 11/22/1963 assassination of our youngest, ever, 35th President… John F. Kennedy… desperately needed a reminder that life could go on.

To all horrified by that grotesque gun violence… especially this (then) 9-year-young boy and my contemporaries… John, Paul, George and Ringo were the embodiment of youthful exuberance. While their prime-time TV debut showcased their unique interpretation of rock ’n’ roll… one eventually becoming the soundtrack of life for an entire generation… something even more significant was in play… namely… how their raucous energy / high decibel music was the perfect Rx for blowing away that lingering, pervasive, suffocating, Dealey Plaza stench.

So… why the need to rehash this nearly 56-year-old tragedy?

Because of the swamp monster, who has been masquerading as the 45th president. Even though he is alive and (physically) well… well…

Ever since the orderly transition of power to that disorderly doofus, We… America’s critical thinkers… have been mourning the 01/20/2017 death of the presidency… the death of democracy, decency, intellectualism, logic, liberty, peace and genuine patriotism… the death of joy, itself.

From that day forward… uh… better make that backward… We have been in deep mourning… in desperate need of a lifeline. But, where to go to find that?

My reader(s)… just when I had begun to suspect those DC Washington Woes had indelibly stained my mood… my entire outlook on life… a deep shade of blue… somehow… someway… on some entirely different plane of consciousness… I wound up free associating the power of music… its stain remover / curative capabilities. Lo and behold, the Fab Four came to mind.

True, I could not step into a time machine to re-witness the birth of the Beatles. But, the next best, equivalent was well within reach… my access to CDs representing JPGR’s entire, recording studio produced discography.

Last week… I decided to PB that massive, Beatles soundtrack in chronological order. No sooner had Sir Paul’s 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 counted in I Saw Her Standing There than I felt my much needed grin begin… followed, a scant nanosecond later, by my buoyant mood… those lofty spirits persisting while tracking (at a clip of one or more CDs per day) until I polished off all 13 Beatles albums plus the two Past Masters volumes. And there were a couple of bonus tracks, too… namely… Free as a Bird and Real Love (McCartney, Harrison and Starr’s 1995 collaboration / overdub of their tracks with the late Lennon’s two previously recorded vocal tracks).

Even upon completion of my musical adventure last Friday, I could still revel in the fact that this was far from over. Hence, my spending the better portion of this week listening to these bonus Beatles albums… [1] Star-Club Live! in Hamburg, Germany 1962, [2] Live at the BBC, [3] Yellow Submarine Songtrack, [4] 1! [5] Let It Be Naked / Fly on the Wall and [6] LOVE.

My parting recommendation… should you ever find yourself feeling down about anything, try taking your fave recording artist / band out for a spin. Once that smile returns to your face, I’m sure you’ll concur that the healing power of music can never be downplayed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Lazy Afternoon Spent With Queen (Sunday Song Series)

Welcome to Week #11 of our Sunday Song Series. This time, we’ll be giving a listen to Queen’s Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon.

Considering its (approx) one minute tracking time, everything will all be over so rapidly that you might even opt to hang around to check out the following companion video… one which relates this song’s fascinating backstory and reaffirms that the groundbreaking influence of engineers / producers Roy Thomas Baker and (the late) Mike Stone, had both been every bit as vital to Queen’s sound / success as (the late) Sir George Martin’s innovative impact on the Beatles.

The Backstory to Queen’s “Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon”

If you can spare a scant minute more, also check out The Diamonds’ lead vocalist Lucie Halamikova… her performance enhanced by some really cool CGI and vintage video clips.

The Diamonds cover Queen’s “Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon”

I now thank you and invite you to return for installment #12 of our Sunday Song Series… a mere seven days from now.