Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Being a Short Diversion on the Dubious Origins of Child of Nature

My internet pseudonymn is always "child of nature" because that is the title of my favorite unreleased John/Beatles song. John took the tune, changed the lyrics, and it became one of his most vulnerable and touching songs--"Jealous Guy" from the Imagine album. "Child of Nature" was written in India, inspired by the same Maharishi lecture that also inspired Paul's "Mother Nature's Son". John recorded a demo in May of 1968 at George's bungalow, Kinfauns, in Esher; thus, it's one of the famous White Album Esher demos. Here are the lyrics:

On the road to Rishikesh

I was dreaming more or less

And the dream I had was true

Yes, the dream I had was true

chorus:I'm just a child of nature

I don't need much to set me free

I'm just a child of nature

I'm one of nature's children

Sunlight shining in my eyes

As I face the desert skies

My thoughts return to home

Yes, my thoughts return to home

Underneath the mountain ranges

Where the wind that never changes

Touch the windows of my soul

Touch the windows of my soul

John revisited this song (along with George Harrison) during the infamous Get Back sessions. At this time, he had revised the lyrics to eliminate the reference to Rishikesh (as he had publically denounced the Maharishi) and changed it to "On the road to Marrakesh".

"Watching Rainbows" is also in reference to an unreleased jam The Beatles (minus George) ran through during the Get Back sessions on January 14, 1969. In the lyrics, John states "Instead of watching rainbows, I'm gonna make me some." This jam is also part of the "Madman/Mean Mister Mustard" jam.

Beatles Animated GIF Files

Here are links to some animated .gif files I created. Two of them are from the Magical Mystery Tour film. The others are from promo clips The Beatles filmed in a marathon session at Twickenham Film Studios on November 23, 1965.

We Can Work It Out

I Feel Fine--Ringo Gives A Wink

I Feel Fine--George sings into a punching bag

John in "Ticket To Ride"

Magical Mystery Tour--Coordinated Snaps

Magical Mystery Tour--Waving Through The Roof of the Bus

Warning To Dial-Up Users (like myself): These are LARGE files!

Screen Captures: March 20, 1964

Some screen captures of John chatting with Ready, Steady, Go! host Keith Fordyce about In His Own Write when the Beatles made an appearance on March 20, 1964.

Favorite Beatles Concerts--Footage and/or Audio

Song of the Moment: "Passport" by Los Brincos ('60s Spanish garage band)
Album of the Moment: The Flaming Lips--At War With The Mystics

As far as footage I've seen, my favorite would have to be the Les Beatles special taped on June 20, 1965 at the Palais des Sports in Paris. The songs were broadcast out of order (why no one knows!), but the Beatles really put in an enthusiastic performance. The audience sings along with some songs instead of constantly screaming (could be because of the boy-heavy audience). Paul is especially into it, bouncing all over the stage and really wailing! (The audio of this show has been on several bootlegs, probably the best of which is City of Light.)

The audio I enjoy the most is from the August 18, 1965, Atlanta show. The sound is really great, and once again, the Beatles appear to be very enthusiastic. It's also a funny show--when Paul breaks a string on his bass, John attempts to stall but in the end asks the audience to chat amongst themselves because he can think of nothing to say! The Beatles also seem thrilled with the PA system at Atlanta Stadium, and at other press conferences on this tour, they remark that Atlanta had been the best place they had played because of the new PA system. (Of course, Shea stadium is a great show--that goes without saying!)

The NME Pollwinners Concerts are also excellent. In '64, John's mike kept falling down and Paul & George's mike is off throught the first song. They still put in a very solid performance despite the hassles. For the '65 show, they wore the beige Shea jackets, and even though it's in b&w, they look very good. John and Ringo are chomping on gum throughout. George's guitar is a bit out of tune or something. Paul does a screaming version of Long Tall Sally for the encore, the last time this song would be played until some dates on the '66 tour. I also really love the entire Big Night Out show, even though the Beatles mimed their performance. All the Ready, Steady, Go performances are mimed, too, but the interviews and other segments are funny and at times enlightening (It's great to see Dusty Springfield interview the lads!). John is always hilarious when he botches a lyric while miming! Still on the subject of telecasts, I like their '64 Shindig where they do Kansas City, I'm a Loser, and Boys. John cracks me up during Kansas City, making faces while singing the "Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey" refrain--George doesn't notice even though they are sharing a mike.

I also love watching the "Sing for Shell" concert, filmed June 14, 1964, in Melbourne, Australia. This is an excellent concert; unfortunately, the tape of the concert in circulation (including the one I have) is missing the opening and most of "I Saw Her Standing There" (the opening song). The Beatles really seem to be enjoying themselves, and except for some equalization problems (John's guitar is turned up too loud, and you can barely hear George's lead), it's a fantastic performance. John does a cute little dance during the "clap your hands" routine, Paul & George both scratch Paul's nose (!), a guy rushes the stage to shake John's hand---hilarious! (Can't forget to mention the 1965 Blackpool Night Out!)

Bournemouth, August 1963

A portrait of John from August 1963. The Beatles were in Bournemouth to perform a week of shows (Monday Aug. 19th through Sat. the 24th) at the Gaumont Theatre. Many photos from this visit were taken by Beatles Book Monthly photographer Leslie Bryce, and I will be posting more of them later.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Police Station

Picture of John taken outside of the police station in A Hard Day's Night.

John Backstage

John backstage at the Hammersmith Odeon during rehearsals for The Beatles Christmas Show Dec. 1964 - Jan. 1965. This photo was first printed in the Nov. 1965 issue of The Beatles Book Monthly.

The Beatle Years: Dylan on Lennon...And Vice-Versa

The March 11, 2000, episode of The Beatle Years (hosted by Eliot Mintz) was a special devoted to the connections between two of the 20th century's greatest songwriters--John Lennon and Bob Dylan. What is especially fascinating about this show is that Mintz airs an interview he conducted with Dylan in 1992 concerning his memories and impressions of Lennon.

Dylan remarked that it was difficult to pick a favorite Lennon song, but he singled out "Nowhere Man" and finally chose "Mother" as his all-time favorite. "Don't ask me why, though," he remarked. Mintz brought up the subject of John's now infamous Dylan parodies. "Did it ever bother you?" Mintz asked. Dylan said that an old drummer of his used to play the parody of "Serve Somebody" to him, but that he wasn't bothered, he just wondered why Lennon cared so much. "It didn't bother me, it intrigued me. Why would it affect him this way? It was just a song." Mintz agreed. When point blank asked if he was offended, he replied, "Naw. Not really."

Dylan (if he isn't yanking our chain) confirmed that a tape of he and Lennon jamming together does exist. (I believe he mentioned this before.) They were at Kenwood, and he remembered a tape recorder running. He stated that they probably played some old Gene Vincent song, but he does not know where the tape is. Mintz asked, "It would be very nice to have that tape, wouldn't it?"and Dylan paused. "Yeah."Mintz asked Dylan to give him his impressions of John. "He was very quick witted, wasn't he? A lot of those English guys were smart," Dylan immediately replied, playing his great humble country bumpkin, Nashville Skyline-type guy--loved that response. He also added that Lennon was a "wonderful guy" and "as a musician, some one to look up to."

Dylan stated that John was a wonderful musician with a great voice, that he had the "attitude" even before primal scream therapy. Also, Dylan felt that John's version of "Stand By Me" was even better than the original. Dylan made the excellent point that often an artist's personality overshadows his work, but in his eyes Lennon was first and foremost a musician, "and lyrically he was no slouch, either." Mintz brought up that Lennon was always paranoid and nervous when he would come into contact with Dylan. "Did you notice that?" Dylan emphatically answered "No!" He also didn't feel any competition with the Beatles or Lennon because he was not trying to better somebody else. "The recording element wasn't my scene." He sort-of takes a shot at Brian Wilson.

Lennon and Dylan were very different as songwriters and performers, but I do believe that both of them were heavily influenced by each other's work. At another Beatles board, a member tried to argue that John Lennon was no poet, but Bob Dylan was, and that really bothered me. John was always a poet, even in simple lines like: "I gotta chip on my shoulder that's bigger than my feet." How can you top that? It's just as profound as anything Dylan ever wrote, just different. It's like the proverbial apples and oranges. Lennon is visceral and cerebral--he can cut you to the core. Dylan speaks to me, too, but it is a completely different experience, both enriching. But nothing has ever moved me like the Beatles in all their configurations, especially John.

Despite the healthy competition with Dylan, Lennon was more "influenced" by talented songwriters like Robinson, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Goffin & King, etc. (and also by his own experiences & soul) than he was influenced by Dylan. It seems to me that the Lennon-McCartney partnership spawned introspective songs from the onset, while some critics want to point out that it didn't happen until the Beatles For Sale album/period. "There's A Place" always springs to mind. I don't think Dylan felt competitive toward Lennon, but I do believe that the music of the Beatles had to have moved him or inspired him. The then-unreleased song "I Wanna Be Your Lover" points to that (and to the Stones). I've debated this with people who think that I blindly believe everything goes back to the Beatles (I made a guy furious by pointing out that Brian Wilson was inspired to make Pet Sounds after hearing the US Rubber Soul, but I digress...). When Dylan went electric---If an artist does not progress, what will become of his art? He had to move forward, expand, and become what he was destined to be. As Bob Johnston said, "He (Dylan) has the Holy Spirit. You can see it in his eyes."

Monday, May 29, 2006

The World's Best

The picture you see is the stereo German compilation on the S*R label, The World's Best. (And next to it, a lovely photo of John from '65.) A special aspect of this compilation is that it includes the 5 taps on the hi-hat intro for "All My Loving" (that's why Paul always counted "1-2-3-4-5" before the lads performed it live--it starts on the off beat.) The entire album sounds fantastic, and the cover is stunning. I love the picture from the "Strawberry Fields Forever" video shoot with the psychedelic painting in the sky behind them. Perfect.

The tracklisting is:
Good Day Sunshine
All My Loving
Eight Days A Week
No Reply
Rock And Roll Music
A Hard Day's Night
I Should Have Known Better
And I Love Her
Things We Said Today
Doctor Robert
Yellow Submarine
If I Fell
And Your Bird Can Sing
Eleanor Rigby

I've been listening to my Japanese vinyl pressing of the 1976 Capitol release, Rock 'N' Roll Music. George Martin remixed the songs (how much is debatable), and they're all in stereo. John had a fit about it, saying that his "Revolution" single was now a "piece of ice cream" instead of the hard-hitting punch that was the mono single mix. He's right--I love to listen to my Apple "Hey Jude/Revolution" 45, and crank it up! Love that distortion! I still enjoy this compilation, and Love Songs anyway. Can you believe the hideous artwork, though? John had asked Capitol if he could do the artwork for the album--and they TURNED HIM DOWN. Unbelieveable!

One of my favorite things to do is listen to The Beatles through headphones. "Strawberry Fields Forever" gives me that wonderful chill right at the base of my spine, when the svaramandle pans across the channels...I love that feeling.

I think I may listen to some "old skool" Beatlegs tonight, like Ultra Rare Trax and Unsurpassed Masters. There's nothin' better.

Favorite Albums Of All Time

All Beatles Albums, and plenty of solo ones, would encompass the top of my list, so I'll just continue from there.

The Kinks--The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society; Arthur; Lola; Face to Face; Something Else; Kink Kontroversey
Bob Dylan--Blonde on Blonde; Highway 61 Revisited; Bringing It All Back Home, Blood on the Tracks and all the great ones
The Jimi Hendrix Experience--Axis: Bold As Love; Are You Experienced; Electric Ladyland; all Jimi
The Pretty Things--Parachute; S.F. Sorrow; s/t; Get The Picture; Emotions
Love--Forever Changes; Da Capo; s/t Love Four Sail
The Sonics--Here Are The Sonics!!; Sonics Boom!; Introducing the Sonics
Small Faces--Ogden's Nut Gone Flake; Darlings of Wapping Wharf Laundrette, Decca Anthology
The Zombies--Odessey and Oracle; Zombies Heaven
The Velvet Underground and Nico--s/t; VU 1969 s/t; Loaded; White Light/White Heat; box set
The Byrds--The Notorious Byrd Brothers and all the greats that preceded it, also Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Marvin Gaye--What's Going On
The Dukes of Stratosphear--Chips from the Chocolate Fireball
The Action--Rolled Gold; Action Packed
The Rolling Stones--Between The Buttons; December's Children
Spirit--Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus; The Family That Plays Together
The Move--Movements; Message from the Country
Prince--Sign 'O' The Times; Purple Rain, Around the World In A Day; Dirty Mind, etc.
Kaleidoscope--Tangerine Dream; Faintly Blowing; From Home to Home; White-faced Lady
The Creation--Our Music is Red...With Purple Flashes
The Remains--s/t; A Session with the Remains
The Flamin Groovies--Shake Some Action
The Plimsouls--The Plimsouls...Plus!
The Who--The Who Sell Out; Who's Next
Pink Floyd--The Piper At The Gates of Dawn
The Ramones--s/t, Leave Home, Rocket To Russia
The Clash--s/t, London Calling, Sandinista!, Give 'em Enough Rope
Elvis Costello--My Aim Is True
Faces--Five Guys Walk Into A Bar

Just look at that gorgeous face!
Album of the Moment: The Flamin Groovies--Shake Some Action

Song of the Moment: The Plimsouls--"Everyday Things" (from The Plimsouls...Plus!)

Good news of the Day: I just purchased a Dutch BC-13 Beatles Blue Box from a fellow SH forum member for an excellent price! I know it isn't the UK box, but I think the Dutch version will satisfy my need for a blue box for a least until I upgrade my system.

Hello, fellow music lovers, and welcome to my first blog entry. Throughout the coming entries, you'll be entertained by the mundane information I impart here. Of course, the John Lennon and Beatles pictures will make up for my lack of witty reparte. I'll be posting my musings and observations about my life, work, interests, music, friends, and all things Beatles.

John, Miami, Feb. 1964

Robert Freeman photo from The Beatles 1964 Tour Program