Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"A Subtle Bit of PR For God"--GH

Interesting parallel between tonight's historic "Beatles Family" televised reunion and a worldwide televised Beatles' appearance 40 years ago yesterday--both were promoting Love. Love is now the title of the Beatles' Cirque du Soliel show, and 40 years ago "All You Need Is Love," propelled by 3 satellites, was broadcast worldwide. The photos from this week's post originate from screen captures of the Anthology colorized broadcast, as well as scans from the press conference and rehearsals from the 24th, obtained from various sources, including Beatles Monthly issues, old calendars, and Beatles 365 Days.

I understand that the song is often criticized, and I personally think it is unwarranted and without basis. "All You Need is Love" succinctly crystallized the perfect message the Beatles wished to convey to the world. I interpret John's lyrics philosophically--we can find ourselves, who we truly are, if we have love in our hearts. Our lives could be boundless and inner peace could be attained, but only with a universal love for all humankind. It's the message the Beatles always projected, and I wish more messages like this one were being broadcast worldwide today. I particularly love Brian Epstein's quote concerning the song, which was recorded at the last session he attended before his untimely death: "It is a wonderful, beautiful, spine-chilling record. It cannot be misinterpreted. It is a clear message saying that love is everything. It's the best thing they've done."

"We had been told we'd be seen recording it by the whole world at the same time. So we had one message for the world--love. We need more love in the world." Paul McCartney

Some things of note concerning the broadcast:
The "COME BACK MILLY!" sign--This was written by one of Paul's relatives. Paul's Auntie Milly (the very one that little Beatrice Milly is named after) was visiting her son and grandchildren in Australia. Her family in England thought she might stay in Australia indefinitely, so this message went out to let her know she was definitely missed. Auntie Milly saw the sign and returned home!

The ornate shirt on which Paul had painted the title of the song as well as other psychedelic designs (Paul's back can be seen in the Tony Bramwell photograph above) was stolen soon after the broadcast.

Various members of the pop culture elite attended and participated in the event: Paul's brother Mike, Keith Moon (can be viewed helping Ringo out on the drums, using brushes!), Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithful, Patti Boyd, Eric Clapton, Jane Asher, and many others.

Monday, June 18, 2007

It Happened In Monterey A Long Time Ago

On this day, Paul McCartney's 65th birthday, I've been thinking about Derek Taylor.

The reason this erudite, articulate, and endearing man has been on my mind lately is inevitable--forty years ago, Derek was at work making sure the Monterey Pop Festival remained as intended: a free concert celebrating music, love and flowers. He believed in the lofty ideals that summer held, and was genuinely committed to a revolution of hearts and minds. Derek's account in the Beatles Anthology sums up the nature of the free festival as such: "The police and fire departments, extremely negative at first, found they had nothing at all to trouble them and it soon became so cool and easy and peaceable that they were handing each other flowers. I presented a glass prism necklace to the chief of police at the final press conference. 'This is from us to you and it makes us one,' I said without cracking up, and he took it without embarrassment. Imagine such times...I wonder if you can. It did happen in Monterey, a long time ago. Musically, the festival was stunning beyond description. Almost all the artists were beyond praise, not only for their offer of free services, but for the power of their performance." (p. 254)

I pulled out my copy of It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, Taylor's chronicle of the golden summer of 1967, and smiled as I read his words. Another favorite book of mine is Richard DiLello's The Longest Cocktail Party, Apple's resident house-hippie's account of those crazy days. Derek comes to life in this book as the stabilizing factor amid the chaos. It's hard to believe that he's been gone for 10 years now...

The above scan is of the famous sketch Paul sent to the Monterey Pop Festival organizers. The Beatles had been asked to play the festival--can you imagine if they had? Paul recommended a London-based trio with an amazing guitarist for a leader instead--the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The rest, as they say, is history.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Time for Some Random Pictures

This week: Here are some random pictures I scanned from various sources...
I am currently occupied with other writing assignments at this time, so I'm taking a brief break from commentary at this blog. I shall return with more musings soon!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Beatles and the Stones Made it Good to be Alone

In their 1990 single "Beatles and the Stones," UK band House of Love summed up what growing up in the mid to late Sixties must have been like for many. I loved that song and video when it was in heavy rotation on MTV's 120 Minutes, a showcase for "alternative" music videos. What always stood out to me was the line that is the title of this post--"Beatles and the Stones made it good to be alone." This music offered understanding, comfort, and friendship to the loner or outcast. The music demanded one's attention--some kind of active listening--because the artists had much to communicate. This was for listening alone in the dead of the night, a ritual of youth.

Many young people are discovering the power of music in the 21st Century, too, despite the current tendency for music to be seen as disposable background filler. CD sales are plummeting, the industry is in a shambles of its own making, yet I still hold out, believing that the power of music will thrive in some fashion. For example, one of my 8th grade students talked to me about collecting records, and how his dad's Foghat album was one of his favorites. There's hope yet, my friends. Everywhere--world over--our young men and women are discovering that music can make it good to be alone. You can be who you are. You can create. You can be a part of something greater than you ever thought possible.

Much is still made about the differences between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, arguably the two top rock 'n' roll bands of all time. They were very different, however, with the Stones rooted deeply in a blues tradition, while the Beatles opted for more of an Everly Brothers/Buddy Holly/Elvis-meets-Motown kind of approach to rock 'n' roll.

The pictures I've included with this post cover many different meetings between the bands. They both respected each other and maintained friendships over the years. First, we have a picture of Mick backstage chatting with the Beatles in early '64. Second, we have a couple of pictures of the Beatles in the studio recording "Paperback Writer" and getting their first copies of Aftermath, an all Jagger-Richards creation. I love how intently Paul is pouring over the titles on the back of the album cover. Next, Mick is walking alongside John and Cynthia as they chat together.

Ah, and then the two psychedelic princes at Abbey Road for the Our World presentation of "All You Need is Love". John and Paul returned the favor by singing back up on the Stones' "We Love You", a response to Mick and Keith's drug bust (that George and Patti almost found themselves a part of, too). In August of '67 Mick and Marianne accompanied the Beatles on the train to Bangor to attend the Maharishi's lecture. [And lest we forget, the great Brian Jones plays saxophone of "You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)!"]

Moving on to 1968, Brian Jones, along with Donovan, is pictured with the Beatles and Apple records band Grapefruit. Keith and Anita attend the premiere of Yellow Submarine and John, Yoko, and Julian attend the Stones' Rock and Roll Circus. John and the Dirty Macs (Clapton, Richards, Mitch Mitchell) do an amazing "Yer Blues". (John calls Mick "Michael" and Mick calls John "Winston.") Fast forward to '72, and we have Mick with John and Yoko at the Record Plant in NYC, laughing, singing, and behaving like old friends. The last picture is of John, Yoko and Sean at the circus, with Mick sitting behind them. I also wanted to include a picture of John wearing a very cool "tongue logo" Stones' t-shirt during the "lost weekend."

In latter years, Mick expressed the opinion that Yoko was controlling John and preventing him from hanging out with Mick. John also publicly insulted the Stones and McCartney in the David Sheff Playboy interview, saying that if someone is into nostalgia, let them go see the "Rolling Wings" in concert. After John's death, Mick and Keith expressed their sadness in public statements. Mick wrote a beautiful essay about John for Yoko's book, Memories of John Lennon, published in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of John's death.