The Beatles's Celebrity

A unique and un-repeatable form.

It’s amazing to think about the impact The Beatles had on the history and shape of music in the short seven years when they were world famous. They restructured the concept of celebrity, expanding it around the globe and across traditional music-listening demographics. We always talk about “our” version of historical events—what’s our day that JFK died? When the bomb hit Pearl Harbor? Our Beatles?

We will never have our Beatles. Music tastes and culture in general has become so stratified that there will never be a modern band that stirs the same kind of superstardom as those kids from Liverpool. Simply because of the diversity of media sources and publications advertising new artists, a new Beatles could never happen again. The Top 40 charts—that popularized the band in the United States and the United Kingdom—doesn’t hold nearly as much weight as it did in the 1960’s.

If we even think about The Beatles’ accomplishments, there’s no band in history that has ever accomplished anything similar. The Beatles came out with four new records within the course of a year, traveled to little-known countries like Japan and the Philippines and sold out their shows. They made films and made-for-TV movies and coordinated their album releases to come out at the same time as their films. They started a recording studio, called Apple Studio, and expanded it to a multimedia corporation that included a production company and a clothing store.

The craziest part about all of their innovations was that it took place essentially in seven years--from the time their first album was released in 1963 until their final album, "Let It Be" was released in 1970.

Now, celebrity tries to mimic the patterns established way back when with The Beatles. Singers start starring in terrible movies--i.e. Justin Timberlake and Jennifer Lopez, but then they aren't taken seriously as musicians. Some musicians make clothing lines or start corporations, but most of them don't have the kind of control over their product that The Beatles had over Apple Studios. We simply don't believe in multitasking celebrities--although they continue to multitasks--calling them frauds or sell-outs in their new artistic enterprises.

I don't know if we'll ever completely understand The Beatles or their rare brand of super celebrity. And I know no group will ever replicate it.

Do you think that a band with the same influence as The Beatles will ever come around again?


The Best Beatles Songs for a Workout Playlist

Now that 2012 has been here for a couple of weeks, it is time to refocus on those resolutions for the new year. If you’re heading to the gym, hitting the track for a morning run, or simply walking around the block, make a fun playlist of upbeat Beatles songs to encourage you to keep on track and motivate you to complete your workouts. The Fab Four can be there with you every step of the way until you meet your goals. 
First, consider adding “I Saw Her Standing There.” It’s an exuberant ditty from the debut album from the Beatles, “Please Please Me.” It will really get you moving and grooving. Pop singer Tiffany’s cover with a twist, “I Saw Him Standing There,” was a hit in the 1980s. It’s catchy as well so, for a comparison, you may want to play them back to back on your list. 
John Lennon provided the lead vocals to “Money (That’s What I Want)” from the second-ever Beatles album, “With The Beatles.” It makes a really fun workout track or even one to use for choreographing your own dance routine. Other workout-worthy songs from this classic album include “All My Loving” and “Please Mr. Postman.”
After all the Beatles’ initial success in the United Kingdom, they made their United States record debut with “Introducing...The Beatles.” A great track from this album for any exercise playlist is “Love Me Do.” 
The Beatles’ third studio album was “A Hard Day’s Night.” With it came even more fun music. Consider adding “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” from this LP. Other songs from the career of the Fab Four that you want to add include “Yellow Submarine,” “Ticket to Ride,” “Help!,” “Paperback Writer,” “When I’m Sixty-Four," and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

George Harrison: the Underrated Beatle

"There are several things about George that sometimes get overlooked."

John Travolta said not long ago that he has a dinner party trick that always initiates a fascinating conversation. He says, “Everyone’s a Beatle. Which one are you?” Did you choose George Harrison? Perhaps not because he is one of the most underrated and lesser understood Beatles. Yet, he is also one of the most fascinating and most talented members of the fab four.
George achieved pop music success again in the 1980s as a solo artist. In fact, many children of the 1980s like myself knew him from such songs as “Got My Mind Set On You" before we discovered the joy of the Beatles’ music. Other popular music he recorded as a solo artist include “When We Was Fab,” which was a nod to when the Beatles were together and being called the Fab Four.
There are several things about George that sometimes get overlooked. Paul McCartney is probably the Beatle who is most outspoken about his vegetarian beliefs, even supporting his late wife, Linda, in a line of vegetarian frozen meals, and the couple often spoke publicly about the importance of vegetarianism for animals, people and the planet. However, few people realize that George was actually the first Beatle to go vegetarian in 1968, and he remained a vegetarian until his death in 2001. 
George cared deeply for animal rights. He was also passionate about human rights. He was very supportive of the civil rights movement, and he continued to work for peace all his life. The George Harrison Humanitarian Fund for UNICEF still does work to help people around the world.
Another little known fact about George is that he has written some of the Beatles’ best-loved tunes. Yes, John Lennon and Paul McCartney are known for writing most of the music, but George is a skilled songwriter in his own right. He penned such classics as “Here Comes the Sun.”

The Rare Beatles Christmas Albums

With 1967‘s “Christmastime Is Here Again!” the Beatles had fun with playing different characters in a scripted concept album for the holidays.

So this is Christmas... or at least the holiday season is in full swing now that Thanksgiving has passed us right on by. You can see signs of the holiday everywhere you go and hear the classic tunes on many stations of the radio. Many songs by former Beatles have become staples of the season, but there are even some Christmas albums which were released by the Beatles that are lesser known. Do you have all of this music on your season’s greetings playlist?
In 1963, the Beatles released a record for the holidays to their fan clubs in the United Kingdom; fans in the United States would have to wait a year to receive an edited version of the record as their Christmas gift from the fan club in 1964. The record included a personal holiday message from each Beatle, their rendition of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Ringo,” and several versions of “Good King Wenceslas.”
The band released Another Beatles Christmas Album to UK fans in 1964 while US fans received the album mentioned previously. Another Beatles Christmas Album included “Jingle Bells,” amusing person messages, and “Oh Can You Wash Your Father’s Shirt.”
In subsequence recording for fans at the holidays, they recorded “Happy Christmas to Ya List'nas", “Everywhere It's Christmas," and "Auld Lang Syne." They even had an original poem that was told with "Christmas Comes But Once a Year."
With 1967‘s “Christmastime Is Here Again!” the Beatles had fun with playing different characters in a scripted concept album for the holidays. Then, in 1968, they released a Christmas recorded where the Beatles recording their own parts separately, rather than as a group, and it included messages and music alike. Their seventh and final Christmas record in 1969 included parts recorded individually be each Beatle as well, as the band was breaking up at the time.
Later releases include a compilation LP after the band broke up, but fans are now still clamoring for a proper release of these rare Christmas recordings. Keep a look out for these valuables to add some extra Beatles fun to your playlist. Until then simply have a wonderful Christmas time and play the standards from John, Paul, George, and Ringo that they released after their Beatles years.

Why Do The Lennon vs. McCartney Rumors Persist?

Paul McCartney wed his love, Nancy Shevell, in London on October 2, 2011. It was a family affair, with his daughter, Stella, designing Nancy’s wedding dress, and his other kids involved in various ways in the ceremony. 
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all quite Beatles bliss for everyone. Julian Lennon, the son of John Lennon, has publicly complained about not being invited to either wedding. According to “The San Francisco Chronicle,” Julian felt dissed and opined on the snub. 
Julian even posted on his Facebook page, “Wow . . . Snubbed at Macca’s Wedding, Snubbed at the Anniversary of ‘LOVE’ in Vegas! (A Beatles Cirque de Soleil-themed show). Snubbed at Macca’s wedding reception in NYC, last night Snubbed at George Harrison’s Film Premiere . . . What have I done to be ignored in such a way? I was not invited to ANY of these events . . . I thought WE had a relationship . . . Obviously not . . . Gimme some truth . . . Maybe now it’s time to tell the Truth . . . I & My Mother will NOT be eradicated from History . . . How dare they.”
Here’s hoping that there is a happy reunion for all the Lennons with Paul McCartney and George Harrison. They’re a historically relevant musical family, and the Beatles will be tied together in lots of ways for many years to come. 

Tell Me Why I should Respect The Doors

Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll Martyrdom

The Doors.  Some critics called them one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Other critics thought they were nothing more than a bloated blues band.  Hard to say which critics I agree with.  Never a fan, but mildly appreciative of their contribution, I remember feeling rather annoyed at all the fuss over Jim Morrison's death.

I managed to experiment with drugs and alcohol in the mid-seventies without offing myself, so I always felt that Morrison's death was a personal tragedy, but hardly a musical or an intelligent one.  When Mark Chapman shot and killed John Lennon, I felt a deep sense of loss- for peace, for his family, and in a selfish way, for lovers of great music.  The Beatles were an iconic band and John Lennon was a remarkable, talented, and daring individual. 

John Lennon's death didn't make him any greater.  He didn't achieve cult status through martyrdom.  He was already so successful, as a musician, as a songwriter, and as a visionary, that his death brought a feeling of great loss- our generation lost their voice for peace.  John Lennon's greatness was already defined before his death.  Jim Morrison became a cult figure because of his death.  There's a difference.

What if Jim Morrison had lived?  Would The Doors have continued to be as successful as their past years?  We know they were in their prime when Jim Morrison died, similar to Nirvana's success just before Kurt Cobain killed himself.  Why not just replace him with another singer and move on?

Actually, it was attempted, but 30 years after his death. When keyboardist Ray Manazek and guitarist Robby Krieger decided to bring the band together and tour in 2003, they were immediately sued by former Door's drummer, John Densmore.  His injunction forced them to change their name to The Doors of the 21st Century.  Then they were sued by former Police drummer, Stewart Copeland, for breach of contract. Then they were sued by Jim Morrison's parents for misapropriation of Jim's poetry and likeness.  The band changed their name to The Doors of the Twenty-First Century, added singer Ian Astbury, formerly of The Cult, and went on tour anyway. 

Their tour was well received; Ian Astbury seemed to channel Morrison, sparking one reviewer to write that the juxtapositioning of Morrison to Astbury "is so convincing that it provokes an audible gasp from the crowd." Their ability to re-create their original sound, and to successfully convince audiences and critics alike, proves an important point- The Doors was a rock and Roll band, with each member contributing to the the dynamic. The Doors was not just a Jim Morrrison star vehicle. 

Still, the story of Jim Morrison's rise and subsequent tragic fall is a compelling story. Is it possible that his parents and Robby Krieger, knowing this, want to retain that myth, and then, to what purpose? In the end it is the same old story- show me the money.  The legend of Jim Morrison must be carefully protected. Without his mythical status, people like myself may begin to think his greatest achievement was his untimely death.  Without that, he might be just another aging rocker, playing small clubs in New Jersey, and living off his royalties, or perhaps starring in a reality show. 

What are your thoughts?  Can you convince me that I've got this all wrong?  I offer you this challenge.  Prove to me why Jim Morrison should be considered one of the greatest rock and roll visionaries in the history of the genre.  Convince me to be as great a fan as you are.  Come on baby, light my fire.


Norwegian Wood


Norwegian Wood

“Norwegian Wood” was released on the Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” album in 1965. It marked the first time that a sitar was played in one of their songs. In the lyrics, a guy goes home with a girl who has a flat furnished with Norwegian Wood, a then pretentious name for cheap pine. He has plans but she makes him “sleep in the bath.” So after she leaves, he lights a fire “isn’t it good, Norwegian Wood.” McCartney says that the ending indicates that the guy burned down the girl’s flat.


A Day in the Life


A Day in the Life

“A Day in the Life” is the song that closes the Beatle’s ground-breaking 1967 album, “Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”. The song has different sections composed by Lennon and McCartney. Lennon’s lyrics were taken from stories in a newspaper. McCartney’s parts were song fragments that he never completed. They also threw in a full orchestra crescendo and a 45 second piano chord fadeout.


She's Not There


She's Not There

“She’s Not There” was released in 1964 by the Zombies on their album “The Zombies” after it did well in the charts in the UK and the US as a single. It was written by Rod Argent, the Zombie keyboard player. Love the breathy lyrics and the jazzy minor key on the electric piano.



Tomorrow Never Knows


Tomorrow Never Knows

I loved the Beatles album Revolver the first time I heard it. One of the strangest songs on that album was “Tomorrow Never Knows.” They manipulated the vocal track with a Leslie speaker and double tracking. They also used tape loops and a flanger effect. The lyrics came from a book about the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Lennon used the book as a guide during LSD trips.