Strawberry Fields Forever

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Strawberry Fields Forever

Strawberry Fields forever was first released as a single and then on the album Magical Mystery Tour. The name came from the garden of a Salvation Army house named Strawberry Field in Liverpool where John Lennon played as a child. Lennon was going through a difficult period and using psychedelics. He once said that the song was “psycho-analysis set to music.”

 

Penny Lane Barbershop

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Penny Lane

I always wonder where song writers get the inspiration for a particular song. Many different things inspire them including people, places, pets, experiences, ideas, books, movies, etc. Some are impossible to figure out unless the song writer explains the source, but others are pretty easy. The source of the Beatle song Penny Lane is obvious. This song was first released as a single and then on the album Magical Mystery Tour.

The Beatles grew in Liverpool, England. Penny Lane is a Liverpool street in a business district. The lyrics of the song refer to businesses along the street and to people that you might see there. There are some obscure slang terms and some surreal imagery as well. Ian MacDonald claimed that the song was inspired by Paul McCartney taking LSD but McCartney claims that he first took LSD months after the song was written. There are also some interesting musical elements such as the use of different instruments to accent reference to different people.

All in all, this is a great Beatle song, whatever the inspiration!

Song of the Day: "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"

Many of us have a special place in our hearts for the trippy Beatles song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” Maybe it’s because it’s so out of this world; while Lennon claims it was inspired by a picture his son Julian drew, many of us still feel like it had to be inspired by an acid trip or something similar! With lyrics like “tangerine trees and marmalade skies” and “rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies,” it’s hard to not imagine it being drug-inspired.

Still, kids are incredibly creative, and I could definitely see my own child come up with anthropomorphic-toy people who eat candy-based pies, for sure. In fact, she could do that well before breakfast on a normal day.

A friend of mine dressed up as Lucy for Halloween last year and she pulled it off so beautifully; I wrote a very macabre poem about Lucy once as well. Something about the song just seems to stir one’s artistry up and inspire you. I would wholly suggest that anyone suffering from artist block play this song for a while and see what you come up with! Even if you just start with one lyric, you’re bound to find something interesting.

You can listen to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” (and check out the trippy cartoon accompanying it) here.

Song of the Day: "I Want to Hold Your Hand"

Yesterday I gave my mom some slack about one of her favorite Beatles songs, so I thought I’d pay some homage to that very song today because, let’s face it, it’s not a bad song! In fact, it’s a very good song—one of the earliest rock and roll songs made—and it’s based on such a simple, heartfelt lyric.

I can think of dozens of times when I used this song to feel more joyful or energized. It’s a great workout song, for one, but it’s also great to play when it’s raining, or you can’t choose which bill to pay with the meager funds you’ve got, or you’ve suffered some other disappointment. Remember when Kurt sang the song when his father was in a coma at the hospital on Glee? That was one of the most emotionally charged, memorable moments of the usually goofy (gleeful) show. So as much pop and mirth can be extracted from the song, we know it can be used in a more somber, meaningful way, too.

You can enjoy the Beatles song “I Want to Hold Your Hand” here. And if you could do me a favor, email it to your mother. Even if she’s not a fan of the Beatles, what mom doesn’t want to hear that her child wants to hold her hand?

Beatles Song of the Day: “Strawberry Fields Forever”

Whether you’re a fan of their poppy old sound or some of their trippier stuff, you’ve probably got a favorite Beatles song—or ten, or twenty. You might even argue over what’s better with friends and family; my mother and I could go ten rounds with her claiming that “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” is better than my favorite, “Hey Jude” (please). Whatever you feel and whatever you like, we’d like for you to share it here at Beatles Talk.

As you might expect, I grew up on all of the oldest Beatles songs. My mom played “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help” on the way to my grandmother’s house (where we traveled daily for years), “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Day Tripper” on the way home. Aside from the Supremes, I don’t think she played anyone’s music more. But all I heard, of course, were the selections she’d taped on cassette to play over and over again.

When I went to college and started to have access to more music online (as well as from my friends’ collections), I was floored by what I found. The later years resonated so much more with me, and I took to requesting them at the small house concerts we’d have in the dorms. I am definitely no Beatles expert, but “I Am the Walrus,” “Helter Skelter,” and so many others just made me feel so complete (I’m sure many of my emotions were also due to my increasing amount of activism, too).

My favorite by far in those times was the song “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Wow, what a trip! Not only was the music sort of India-sounding with a marching beat thrown in (who else could do that?), it also had some of the most gorgeous lyrics I’d ever heard, such as “Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.” (Then again, it had some of the most wishy washy lyrics, too, such as “I mean it must be high or low/ That is you can't you know tune in but it's all right.”

Of course, it also sounded rather haunting—not just the ending (cranberry sauce? I buried Paul?) but just the way it was sung in general sounded different from any other song I’d ever heard. Apparently in an interview, Lennon mentioned that the song was about how he knew he was different from everyone else around him, so maybe that’s why it meant so much to me.

You can hear the song on YouTube here.

Rain Does the Beatles

 

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Rain does the Beatles

Many years ago, Burt took me to see Rain, a Beatles tribute band. The members of Rain were musicians who toured with the show, Beatlemania. In preparation for this touring audio visual tribute to the Beatles, thousands of musicians were auditioned. They had to play, sing and look like one of the four Beatles. After the show closed, Rain formed. They each had an uncanny physical resemblance to one of the Fab Four.

One of the benefits of cover bands who are doing a tribute to a well know band with a lot of albums is that they can pick and choose from the whole catalog of the band they are imitating. Real bands usually blend some of their hits with material from their latest albums. The bands doing only greatest hits in concert are usually at the end of their careers. They have often reformed after splitting up and there are often new people that were not band members when the original hits were recorded.  Some of these retreaded bands are touring under the original name with only one or two of the original members. They may reproduce the original hits but they are really tribute bands themselves if they have a lot of new players.

The Rain show was incredible. The four were note perfect on the Beatle songs, often using backup tape and machines to fill in the sound of additional musicians. Because they moved thru the songs in chronological sequence, there were frequent costume changes, including wigs, to mimic the appearance of the Beatles at different stages of their long career. They were obviously having a good time on stage, staying in character and bantering in Liverpool accents. It was really fun and thrilling to follow the arc of one of the most famous bands of all time as their appearances and musical styles changed through time.

Burt and I love to go to live shows, especially of the bands whose music provided the sound track for different stages of our lives. The Beatles have been there from the beginning. They created such amazing and memorable music. You can always hear their songs on the radio or play the CDs. But there is something about a live performance that can’t be duplicated. With only two of the originals left, we will never see the Beatles on stage again but excellent tribute bands like Rain can bring back live performances of their songs. Rain is still playing on Broadway in New York.

 

Cirque de Soleil Loves the Beatles

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Cirque de Soleil Loves the Beatles

 

The Cirque de Soleil puts on fantastic shows. Burt and I saw them here in Seattle several years ago. The costumes, music, acrobatics and humor were incredible. We have also seen several of their shows on TV. They are always innovating and exploring new territory. Recently, they seem to be taking over Las Vegas with more and more resident shows being created at big Casinos. One of their new Vegas shows called Love features acrobatics and dance performed to a medley of Beatle songs.

George Harrison was friend of one of the founders of the Cirque and the idea for the show grew out of their friendship. They created the show in 2006 as a joint venture between the Cirque and Apple Corps Ltd, founded by the Beatles. 130 Beatles songs have been combined and blended to make the sound track created by George Martin who produced most of the Beatle albums. The show is a loose retelling of the story of the Beatles from their early days to their break up. Many of the people featured in the Beatle songs are realized as stage characters including Sgt. Pepper, Eleanor Rigby, Lady Madonna, etc.

The Mirage Hotel built a custom 2,000 seat theater to house the show. Two big projections screens show images to support the stage performance and thousands of speakers provide amazing sound.

The show opens with a building blend of several songs and then launches into Get Back on a set of a fragmented World War II cityscape all presided over by Sgt. Pepper as conductor. Dancing and wirework abound as the tone and lighting changes to the accompaniment of Glass Onion. Octopus Garden features florescent flags, umbrellas and dangling sea creatures in blue light to simulate an underwater scene. Within You and Without You has dancers drawing out billowing fabric over the audience. The undulating shroud rises into the air. During A Day in the life, a bizarre dream sequence unfolds around a young child in a bed. A Volkswagen hit his mother who rises on a wire rig as the car explodes with each body piece being carried by a different dancer. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (reprise) closes the show by filling the stage with dancers in a circus extravaganza.   

If you are a Beatles fan, you will hear new arrangements of their songs accompanied with fantastic stage interpretations that will give you a fresh perspective on old favorites. If you are not a Beatles fan, after this introduction to their music, you soon will be. If you can’t make the Vegas show, get the sound track album!

Paul Hindemith - "Heckelphone Trio op. 47" (Video)

I kinda have no idea why this was slated for posting here. I must have come across it while reading Alex Ross' book on twentieth century classical music. Hindemith is entertaining - apparently - but not something all too useful for repeat visits.

New Exhibit at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will Feature Women

See it for yourself May 13, 2011 through February 2012

As originally reported in Spinner, Cleveland, Ohio's very own Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will be opening a new exhibit soon that will pay tribute to the ladies of music. The exhibit will showcase a variety of women and how they have helped define our musical culture over the decades. We will likely see a wide and very diverse selection of powerful female musicians showcased. The exhibit officially opens May 13 and will run through February of next 2012.

"Ticket to Ride" Music Video & Lyrics - The Beatles

"She's got a ticket to ride, But she don't care."

It doesn't get any more "real" than this folks. "Ticket to Ride" is one of my favorite Beatles songs and thanks to the wonderful World Wide Web, we can watch the music video (which is like over 50 years old!) and still see that the lyrics apply to life all this time after. Classic stuff, my friends.

Lyrics (Lennon/McCartney):

I think I'm gonna be sad,
I think it's today, yeah.
The girl that's driving me mad
Is going away.

She's got a ticket to ride,
She's got a ticket to ride,
She's got a ticket to ride,
But she don't care.


She said that living with me
Is bringing her down yeah.
For she would never be free
When I was around.


She's got a ticket to ride,
She's got a ticket to ride,
She's got a ticket to ride,
But she don't care.


I don't know why she's ridin' so high,
She ought to think twice,
She ought to do right by me.
Before she gets to saying goodbye,
She ought to think twice,
She ought to do right by me.
I think I'm gonna be sad,
I think it's today yeah.
The girl that's driving me mad
Is going away, yeah.


She's got a ticket to ride,
She's got a ticket to ride,
She's got a ticket to ride,
But she don't care.


I don't know why she's ridin' so high,
She ought to think twice,
She ought to do right by me.
Before she gets to saying goodbye,
She ought to think twice,
She ought to do right by me.
She said that living with me,
Is bringing her down, yeah.
For she would never be free
When I was around.


Ah, she's got a ticket to ride,
She's got a ticket to ride,
She's got a ticket to ride,
But she don't care.


My baby don't care, my baby don't care.
My baby don't care, my baby don't care.
My baby don't care, my baby don't care.

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