Unsung Hero (BlogCast)

Scant months after the spring 1970, Beatles disbandment, George Harrison released his solo album, All Things Must Pass, ATMP (on this very day, fifty years ago).

My local FM station’s late afternoon DJ, Jim Curtis, immediately opted to air it, in it’s entirety, and, upon my ear-witnessing that bygone broadcast, four things became abundantly clear:

  • John, Paul, George and Ringo, recording / performing, individually, could now offer their mourning fans four times the musical output; a consolation prize that was truly groovy (slang-wise and in the vinyl sense, too).
  • For far too long, songsmith Harrison’s talents had been underappreciated and inordinately eclipsed by the Lennon / McCartney songwriting team.
  • Had the Beatles continued recording together, all 18 of those ATMP tracks could’ve fit in, perfectly, on their albums. Alas, one can only imagine how John, Paul and Ringo’s instrumental and vocal interpretations would’ve enhanced / changed the final mix.
  • I needed to get this musical masterpiece into my life / record library, ASAP (and did so scant days later).

Upon spinning this album in its entirety, late last evening, I decided to blog about it on its golden anniversary; to feature, in Side 1 thru 4 numerical order, each lead off track. It’ll be up to you whether you listen to all four songs in their entirety OR choose just one or two, OR merely sample ’em, etc.

Seeing how Harrison’s songs amply speak for themselves, my commentary will be minimal.

I’d Have You Anytime

This Harrison / Dylan collaboration, at face value, serves as a let’s take our friendship to the next level appeal to that special someone. Yet, the lyrics could also be interpreted as George’s clever way of re-introducing himself; his own appeal to fans to accept him in his new soloist role.

What Is Life

Could this track be considered the sequel to Lennon / McCartney’s All You Need Is Love? The resounding chorus, “Tell me, what is my life without your love; Tell me, who am I without you, by my side” doth ring true.

Beware of Darkness

The couplet, “Watch out now, take care, beware of greedy leaders; They take you where you should not go”, admonishes average Janes and Joes to never empower ideologues who are little more than PTDs (Politically Transmitted Diseases).

I Dig Love

We get a glimpse of Harrison’s less serious side. His whimsical, lyrical reversal, “I Love Dig”, doth prove so Lennonesque, too. Obviously, George spending all those years with John served him well. Even better, this track ends this post on an upbeat, playful note.

If you’d like to track thru past BlogCasts, they’re all neatly archived within both my BlogCast and Music categories. Check ’em out at your convenience.

Stay Publicly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

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It Was 80 Years Ago Today!

Musical Selection from George Harrison’s 1970, Triple Disc L.P. “All Things Must Pass”

I oft wish that that wretched prez, Richard M. Nixon, had had it his way; i.e., had successfully deported John Lennon. Say what?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, YEAH!

I mean, had John departed gun sick America and returned to the U.K. it’s highly unlikely he’d have ever crossed paths with his assassin back on December 8, 1980.

John might’ve even still been with us on this very day; his special day, October 9th, to be celebrating his 80th birthday, no doubt, in grand style.

My being one who believes in life, eternal, I know that as I type and as you read these words, Lennon has got to be having the time of his afterlife; standing center stage while plucking the strings of his electrified harp; perhaps even participating in an endless jam session with Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry and, naturally, his ex-bandmate, George Harrison (who, btw, is responsible for our above clip’s musical selection)!

Happy 80th John! Your music rocked our world; made it a far better, more joyous place to live in.

I’ll keep you in my thoughts come sundown, as I play “Imagine” on my keyboard; imagine all that could’ve been had that ill-fated, dark, December night never gone down.

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Stay Publicly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

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Build The Soundtrack To Survive The Pandemic

In younger days, I discovered a surefire Rx to chase away the blues / blahs / doldrums / emotional storm clouds… whatever ya wanna call ‘em. And no, I’m not talking about OTC meds / controlled substances / illicit street drugs… whatever ya wanna call ‘em.

Of course, lyrically speaking, John Lennon and Paul McCartney euphemistically called ‘em “friends” while Keith Richards and Mick Jagger opted for “little helpers”… but… lest I dig myself too deeply into the pit of digression… allow me to refocus…

What my “drugs” of choice actually involve are musical selections, which contain as many of the following active ingredients as possible: [1] whimsical or meaningful lyrics [2] compelling arrangements, [3] intricate chord progressions, [4] shifting key signatures.

Well… we’re in luck! The Welsh/Brit band Badfinger’s, Carry On Till Tomorrow has all four bases covered. They recorded it back in 1970, under the auspices of producer Sir Paul McCartney, no less! And song composers Tom Evans and Pete Ham’s minor chords, notwithstanding, their guitar driven musical arrangement, interwoven with lyrical rays of hope, drive it all home. Oh, btw, of the Four Stanzas my fave is the 3rd… but more about that in a moment.

Granted, my affinity for Carry On is not without good reason. I first heard it over my staticky FM car radio’s tinny speakers on Friday 11/09/1973, right after my early a.m. spin-out on an icy freeway overpass… one where I had narrowly averted a head-on collision with a semi-tractor-trailer. Winding up with nary a scratch on my body, my Chevy Nova’s body and any of the other motorists’ corporeal or vehicular bodies… well… to this very day… I still believe everyone’s unscathed condition had involved a miracle. I must’ve had an unseen co-pilot tug at my panic frozen hands… just in the nick of time… to steer everyone out of harm’s way. By the by, to date, this has been the closest I’ve ever come to death.

Just as I was drifting back into the slow flow of traffic on this stormy day, Carry On Till Tomorrow was carrying on, against the backdrop of the rising sun, breaking through the overcast and transforming the adjacent, freeway shoulders’ thigh high weeds into golden fields. WOW! In real time and nearly on cue, I was living out the 3rd stanza’s lyrics… check ’em out and try not to ditto my “WOW!”

“Drifting on the wings of freedom, leave this stormy day
And we’ll ride to tomorrow’s golden fields
For my life’s too short for waiting when I see the rising sun
Then I know again that I must carry on”

While the music continued melding with the meteorology, I offered, upward, my undying gratitude for all the tomorrows I was certain that (t)his miracle had just granted me.

My listening to this track, anew, earlier today, has reminded me of my long ago spiritual experience. Carry On Till Tomorrow is far more than a Tom Evans / Pete Ham song title. Even sans the miracle, this composition can stand alone as a motivational selection. I mean, the words “carry on” are right in the song title and get sung nearly 30 times… in just under 5 minutes.

I’ve now, officially, added this anthem to my playlist, which I’ve dubbed: The Soundtrack To Survive the Pandemic. Even if you’re not into tunes originating from this dinosaur’s musical epoch, don’t dismiss the overall concept. I highly recommend that you track down whatever anthems mean the most to you and create your own, unique version of The Soundtrack To Survive the Pandemic. Rallying around such music can be your morale booster. My version certainly is a mood elevator!

Danny McEvoy’s 03/31/2015 following cover will breathe new life into this rock classic, advance composers Tom Evans and Pete Ham’s half century old masterpiece into the new millennium and end this post… save to say…

Stay Safe – Stay Home – Stay Healthy… and Carry On Till Tomorrow… and Tomorrow… and Tomorrow… and Tomorrow… and Tomorrow… and Tomorrow… and Tomorrow… and Tomorrow… and Tomorrow… and Tomorrow… et cetera…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Music That Could End the War of Notions / Nations

To view this clip… adorned with dazzling human diversity… to listen to Choir! Choir! Choir!’s full-bodied voices raised in pitch perfect, joyous harmony… can make believers of us all.

To say the least, with messengers such as these fine folks… and all who are destined to travel upon their same path… John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over) message of hope will continue reverberating planet-wide… on and on and on… into eternity.

Be you a December holiday celebrant or not, may Lennon and Ono’s dream for a better world and better tomorrows be yours.

 

 

 

 

 

Hear Today (and Forevermore)… Vid(s) of the Day

 

The invention of gun powder and inhalation of nicotine…

Imagine that!

Deadly chemical compounds aided and abetted the Grim Reaper in his undying quest to prematurely rob music lovers… spanning cultures, ideologies, generations and geopolitical boundaries… of two of the most accomplished and acclaimed singers / songwriters / instrumentalists, who ever breathed in the oxygen.

Our lead Vid of the Day features YouTuber Paola Quezada’s visual montage tribute to John Lennon and George Harrison. As most of us already know, Lennon was shot to death by a mentally disturbed “fan” in NYC 39 December 8’s ago AND Harrison likely smoked himself into a November 29, 2001 early grave. The music accompanying the pix, of course, is none other than Harrison’s tribute to John… All Those Years Ago

Bonus Vid of the Day…

No tribute to Lennon would be complete sans YouTuber Jarle’s photo montage set to Paul McCartney’s musical memorial service for John, titled: Here Today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mr Suburbia’s Existence (Sunday Song Series)

Our Sunday Song Series, week #58, featured recording artists are a band of English indie rockers, known as the Kaiser Chiefs. Today, within the context of their composition Sunday Morning, they’ll be lyrically portraying the tedious, so-called life of Mr. Suburbia. Check out this sample couplet…

What I do is not life and death
By Sunday I’ve got nothing left

Hmm… seeing how Mr. S is apparently bogged down by a going-nowhere-fast / life-is-a-drag existence, he does sound a bit like John Lennon’s lyrical Nowhere Man. Might the two song characters be genetically and/or occupationally related?

To digress briefly… it is odd (tragic, too) how “fast” and “drag” are both applicable words in describing each man’s lot.

Anyway… you can read more about our featured musicians and their music over at Wikipedia.

Thank you for stopping by for a listen. You’re all invited back for our next venture into Sunday titled songs… seven days from now. Till then, I wish you all an immensely enjoyable, full life in the week ahead… and beyond…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagine Lennon at Age 78 ~ Vid of the Day (10/16/19)

Within storytellers Jack Barth and Richard Curtis’ Yesterday world, to 99.9999% of all Earthlings, the Beatles never even existed. One of the few storyline exceptions, is their protagonist, the struggling for success singer / songwriter / guitarist Jack Malik (actor Himesh Patel).

Our Vid of the Day showcases one of my favorite scenes, where Jack seeks out and finds John Lennon (actor Robert Carlyle). Obviously, within this alternate reality setting, Lennon had never been famous, ergo, he’d never been shot to death by a deranged fan.

ASIDE: Within my own yesterday world (12-08-1980), I’d been bowled over by a stampeding rhinovirus… had been barely awake while watching Monday Night Football with my dad. Oh, how I wish TV sportscaster Howard Cosell’s News Flash re the Lennon assassination had only been a feverish, delirium induced nightmare. But, to get back to Yesterday, i.e., the film…

It’s how Carlyle’s Lennon captures the real Lennon’s persona, his wit and wisdom, which breathes believability and life into this scene’s conversation, one where John offers Jack the following sage counsel…

“You want a good life? It’s not complicated. Tell the girl you love
that you love her. And tell the truth to everyone, whenever you can.”

I could never top this, save to say, I’d have been more gender inclusive…

“You want a good life? It’s not complicated.” Profess your love to
the one you love. “And tell the truth to everyone, whenever you can.”

 

 

 

 

 

When Will Dreamers’ Dreams Come True? (Vid of the Day)

Imagine has got to be one of the most powerful and empowering pleas for world peace and unity since Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech. Our above clip helps visualize Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s message… King’s too!

On a more musical note, Lennon’s rationale for recording Imagine in the C-Major key signature, had to have been intentional. What better way to make it more player friendly for cover musicians?* After all, the more performers, the better the odds at spreading a message that’s so instrumental to humanity’s survival.

So easy to play… so easy to sing… so easy to comprehend sentiments!

What’s not so easy is getting all seven plus billion Earthly souls to wake up and team up… to make Ono / Lennon’s lyrical and King’s oratorical dreams come true.

 

 

* TESTIMONIAL: As a keyboard novice, I managed to master Imagine quite quickly… with nary a glimpse at any sheet music.

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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…