Happy Birthday John Lennon!

John by Warhol, 1971

John by Warhol, 1971

Today would have been John Lennon’s 76th birthday, so I thought I’d finally end my algebra-revision-induced hiatus (fun times in high school, haha!) and talk a little bit about him. So happy birthday, John!

I’ve talked an awful lot about John on here before, so I’ll try to stay succinct here. John is easily one of my greatest heroes, for he has influenced so much of what my life consists of today. He was my introduction to what I would have precociously termed “contemporary music” before I discovered him – he taught me of what it was in the first place, of how it worked, of what it sounded like at its very best. His work encouraged me both to persevere with and work as hard as I did my schoolwork at my creative pursuits – music, art, writing – and to, as I grew into the age where you are supposed to begin to seriously consider what you will do when you”grow up”, think about continuing them not just as hobbies but as actual jobs; and in fact, it was him who inspired me to pick up a guitar, to take my voice beyond musical theatre and the like, to try and attempt to write songs, to actually use the criticism my English teachers gave me so that my pieces on here would begin to live up to the ones I read and admired in the music press in the first place; he made me consider the workings of the world, and encouraged me to also consider and create my own views on political issues; he taught me what it meant to be a fan. I admire him so much – for his writing, his guitar skills, his humour, his art, his activism… While he is now one among the myriad of creators that I admire – in the company of those like Bowie, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Poison Ivy Rorschach, Alex Chilton, Kim Gordon, David Lynch, Joan Didion, and many, many, many more from all manner of music genres, eras and artistic fields – he will always be one of the very few who has affected me enough to change the course of almost my entire life. Perhaps only Bowie and Patti have come close to influencing me in the way that he has. My life would be so unrecognisably different if I hadn’t come across his work – I am so grateful for his affect on who I am today.

So now, I’m going to stop talking and instead leave you with some of his music. Happy birthday, John! Thinking of you…

(Please excuse this in demo form, it is still impossible to find actual Beatles songs on YouTube after the mass exodus of them that occurred around the rerelease of 1 last year…)

(Let us not forget John’s input into Young Americans, one of my very very all-time favourite albums!!)

For George, John and Jim

The ten-or-so days from November 29th to December 8th is an odd time to be a music fan – or for me, anyway. Between these two dates are anniversaries of the deaths of two icons of rock, and what would have been the birthday of another. Each of these people have played important roles in my musical adventures, so today I will pay tribute to them.

November 29th marked the 14th anniversary of George Harrison’s death.

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Recently, I acquired a copy of All Things Must Pass on vinyl. I had not listened to to the album in a while, as it had been pulled from YouTube and I had been previously unable to find a physical copy. I soon got around to playing it, and as the opening slide guitar hooks of ‘I’d Have You Anytime’ began, I remembered just how amazing it is. The album is perhaps the greatest showcase of George’s incredible musicality; his songwriting (catchy, yet not poppy ), his lyrics (perhaps the most underrated aspect of his already-undervalued work – often poetic, yet not too wordy), his guitar skills (expressive, ethereal in its adeptness). The album is a body of incredibly well-written and well-played work; passionate & beautiful, and ‘technically’ good, too. This greatness is translated to much of his other work, as well, both solo and with The Beatles: listen to ‘Something’ or ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ (or any of his Beatles tracks from Rubber Soul onwards), or solo hits like ‘Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)’. (Many of these songs also display George’s extremely underrated lead guitar skills – his work was always simple, but sounded incredible. It is a pity he is not given more recognition for this.) Still, his work is still very underrated by the public, limited to knowledge of perhaps ‘Here Comes The Sun’ (and the assumption that his cuts were written by Lennon/McCartney) – but those that know of his songs know of their greatness, too. And what knowledge that is!

It should also be mentioned that Monty Python’s Life Of Brian wouldn’t exist without George. Ever since I first watched it as a kid, Brian has been an endless supply of laughs and bad puns, so thank you, George!

SEE ALSO: ‘All Things Must Pass’; ‘Happy Birthday George Harrison!’

December 8th marked the 35th anniversary of John Lennon’s death.

john

Regular readers of this blog will know that I consider John to be both my favourite Beatle and one of my heroes in general. I have said a lot about him before, but I will say it again: John is someone I admire for his incredible body of work, his humour and intelligence, his outspokenness and fearlessness and for the way he changed the world. His lyrics and music were the first thing that piqued my interest in rock, which has since become my greatest passion. He inspired me to begin playing guitar, and he was the first musician that made me want to be one, as well. His eagerness to speak up about inequality, war and other political problems – the fact that he and Yoko were not pleased to sit idly and watch world issues breed – is also something that I hugely respect to this day, and whilst I was politically aware long before I became a Beatles fan, it was his activism that made me think more deeply about my beliefs, too. He has greatly affected my life.

The tragic way that John died does not warrant mentioning. It is both especially saddening and ironic, considering that his mainstream reputation is that of a peace activist. However, John has left an amazing body of work and an incredible influence and legacy, and I feel that this is what is worth remembering. So thank you, John!

SEE ALSO: ‘Happy Birthday John!’ (2014)‘I Think I’m Gonna Be Sad – I Think It’s Today’‘Happy Birthday John Lennon’ (2015)

December 8th would have also been Jim Morrison’s birthday. He would have been 71.

(via wikipedia.org)

(via wikipedia.org)

I can barely remember a time when I didn’t know about The Doors. I listened to their music as a young kid – especially LA Woman – and when I acquired my first iPod, I can also remember being shocked that the title track of said album’s lyrics involved the word ‘damn’, and was adamant that a “song with swearing” wouldn’t enter my music library! As I grew a little older, though, The Doors’ dark psychedelia fascinated me, and they’ve been one of my favourite bands ever since.

Perhaps the greatest case for why I like The Doors is Morrison’s lyrics and poetry. He wrote beautifully eloquent words of thought-provoking subjects, which often still resonate today. It is his way with words that gives a song like ‘The End’ its broodingly dramatic mood, making it arguably among the greatest of all time. His lyrics are part of why The Doors’ music is so different to their contemporaries, and of what makes them so interesting. He was clearly an incredibly intelligent and creative guy, and though troubled around the time of his death, who knows what things he would have done had he lived? I also feel that he is underrated as a vocalist. His voice was incredible and was so different from those around him – it suited the musical atmospheres created by Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore perfectly. It is amazing that a band who released their classic discography within four years – and whose frontman didn’t make it to 30 – managed to change the world as much as they did…

Also, apologies for my sporadic posting of late – I’ll definitely post more over the coming weeks! 🙂

HAPPY (belated) BIRTHDAY JOHN LENNON!

john david bailey

(Image by David Bailey)

Author’s Note: I began this post a little over three weeks ago, on John’s actual birthday, but due to schoolwork, interstate trips and mild writers’ block, have taken the better part of a month to finish it. Oh well – at least I published it before November!

Quite a number of musicians I admire had their birthday, on October 9th – John Entwistle; PJ Harvey; Sean Ono Lennon. But most importantly, it would have been the 75th birthday of my favourite Beatle, John Lennon. Wishing John a very, very happy birthday, wherever he may be! I’ve written about John a lot on my blog, and I shall add to what I have already said, today.

For as long as I’ve been a Beatles fan, John has been my favourite Beatle. I cannot remember why I chose him, at first. During this time, I could barely tell each band member apart in the few images I had seen of them – let alone know much about John. Perhaps it was something to do with him being referenced in a novel I was reading at the time, and the fact that I liked ‘Imagine’.

However, it was him I chose, and it quickly became clear – as my knowledge of John and The Beatles quickly expanded – that he would have become my favourite Beatle, regardless of who I had picked first. As I sifted through interviews, read numerous biographies and watched just as many documentaries, John was the Beatle who interested me the most. Of course, I liked the other Beatles, too – George, in particular, has always interested me as well – but it was John who stood out.

At that point in time (the first half of 2013), my knowledge of rock music was limited to its successor in the popularity race: the current incarnation of pop. Rockstars were no longer figureheads of pop culture, instead replaced by boybands and other assorted popstars. So as I gradually became more knowledgeable about both John and The Beatles, perhaps one of the reasons he fascinated me so was that he was so different to the celebrities I had become accustomed to. Instead of singing formulaic songs written by a team of songwriters, John (like Paul and George) mainly wrote his own – accompanied by interesting, meaningful lyrics, and some of the most unconventionally inventive and memorable chord progressions and melodies to ever come out of rock. (At this point in time, I was yet to learn that writing your own songs was commonplace in rock music, so I was especially surprised. However, at the time of ‘Love Me Do’ and Please Please Me, a band penning their own hits would have been somewhat rare, as well – only a handful of rock and pop artists before The Beatles wrote their own songs.) Through reading interview transcripts, and watching both documentaries and Beatles films, I saw that he was both funny and intelligent, qualities that seemingly lacked the personalities of the pop stars that my world was saturated with. His political awareness, too, captivated me – I don’t think I’d ever heard of a politically-aware celebrity before John.

The music, unsurprisingly, was what drew me in first. I had been having music lessons – on both violin and flute – for a number of years beforehand, but my technical knowledge was exclusively limited to the classical concepts I had been taught; and despite being raised on my parents’ wonderful music taste – ranging from Mick Taylor-era Stones and The Doors’ LA Woman, to Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield (both of whom I loved as a small child) – I never showed much interest in rock. The Beatles’ and John’s music was the first that caught my attention, and the first music that I was passionate about. To my classically-trained ears, it all sounded incredibly different to what I knew – even now, with considerably more knowledge of rock and jazz theory, it still sounds “different”. They used chord progressions and fingerings that deviate almost completely from the accepted standards. Sometimes, on John’s songs, there would barely be a melody at all – John’s tunes were traditionally more rhythmic than melodic – but they still managed to be incredibly catchy, and among the best-written songs of all time. Inside their catalogue, which I had only just begun to devour, I discovered everything from tender ballads to psychedelic freak-outs, perfect pop tunes to ear-splitting hard rock, beautiful folk songs to searing garage cuts – sometimes incorporating the values of a number of genres into one. Their musical accomplishments on their respective instruments, whilst not of the classical technicality I knew, were undeniably great – John’s guitar inspired me so much that I began to learn guitar a few months later, something which has now become one of my favourite things in the world. They incorporated elements from classical, jazz and, of course, traditional Indian music into their songs, a concept that I thought genius; and I found their love of experimentalism in the studio – i.e. backmasking, tape loops, etc. – endlessly fascinating. It is this that shows their incredible creativity and inventiveness as a band; it is this that makes them so great. And even then, when I barely knew what a chord was – let alone anything concerning the technicalities of rock music – it was this that I first liked about the music of John and The Beatles. It was this inventiveness that has ensured that they have stayed the kings of rock music for over 50 years, and likely will for many to come.

And through John and The Beatles, I began to receive my education in rock music. As I skimmed through Wikipedia pages for each Beatles song, I discovered the differences between ‘solos’ and ‘instrumentals’; why you don’t have to be technically good to play quality rock’n’roll – just passionate; that lyrics shouldn’t have to rhyme to be among the best ever written (see ‘Across The Universe’). I soon learnt what a chord actually was, and the rules for piecing them together – which, with enough knowledge, are prime for being broken. I learnt how melodies lock together with the rhythm guitar, and drums, and bass; in fact, I learnt about what functions basses and drums serve, full stop. I learnt that there is more than one kind of guitar, and what purpose each kind – rhythm & lead, acoustic & electric – carries out. I soon discovered that John played rhythm guitar incredibly well (see here), so I wanted to pick it up as well – I began learning guitar in the January of 2014, among the best things I ever did, again widening my understanding my understanding (and knowledge) of “contemporary” music. I haven’t prepared for a classical violin exam for over a year, and don’t plan on doing so again, instead replacing the traditional methods with blues fiddle. I began to widen my music tastes and listen to artists other than The Beatles and their solo careers: beginning with The Velvet Underground, The Violent Femmes and the early Stones, and ending up today with tastes in everything from punk to noise rock to psychedelia to blues to folk, and just about everything in between. I dropped my somewhat snobbish opinion that no good music was created after 1980, and discovered a number of favourite artists from each decade, from the ’50s to this year. I began writing songs; I became an aspiring musician; I became a rock music fanatic. And whilst John and The Beatles no longer remain my sole influence – rather a part of an influential melting pot, consisting of everyone from Kim Gordon to the Violent Femmes to David Bowie to Tame Impala – they will always be my first. Rock music has influenced and inspired most of my life for nearly three years, and I can’t even imagine how different it would be if I hadn’t (somewhat accidentally) been introduced to The Beatles, one morning in early 2013.

John’s lyrics, too, had a similar impact. I had never listened to a song’s lyrics seriously before – because, I thought, what was to be taken seriously about them? During a time when the famously eloquent tune ‘Blurred Lines’ (sarcasm intended) was topping the charts, and we had all been subjected to the equally-articulate ‘Gangnam Style’ and ‘Call Me Maybe’ for the previous year, quality lyrics weren’t exactly a requirement for pop hits. They never had been, I guess, but I liked lyrics – I wrote poetry as a hobby, and I wanted to hear words that actually made sense, and were written about something other than a bad dance that would go viral on YouTube. Again, as I ploughed my way through The Beatles’ back catalogue, I discovered another of John’s talents – his writing. He wrote about love, but it wasn’t his sole subject; he wrote about everything from his politics to friendship, loneliness to happiness. He wrote about his life and experiences, and this added an emotion and passion that couldn’t be there otherwise. He managed to use as few words as possible, and yet convey the point of his song more beautifully than more could have. The fact that same man wrote ‘Across The Universe’, its beautiful lyrics a strong factor of the song’s dreamy atmosphere; ‘Revolution’, somewhat cynical yet still wonderfully idealistic at its core; the melancholia of ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’; the joyousness of ‘All You Need Is Love’ – this amazed me.  His writing revealed an eloquence, an intelligence and the right balance between seriousness and humour that represented what I had been looking for, lyrically.

Of course, John’s writing skills also shine through on his books, In His Own Write and A Spaniard In The Works. (Despite having been a hardcore fan for nearly three years, I have not gotten around to reading Skywriting By Word Of Mouth – yet…) I read the two of them a little over a year afterwards, and adored them instantly. They are absolutely hilarious, consisting of clever wordplay and punnery, satirising everything from politics and religion to life in general – and, of course, accompanied by cute illustrations to match each short story or poem! They showcase John’s incredibly unique (and funny) sense of humour, and I don’t think I have read anything like them before – or since.

(By John himself!)

(By John himself!)

Another thing about John that I liked was his political activism. I grew up in a house where we frequently discussed political issues, so I had always been surrounded by a political awareness, and just as I was getting into The Beatles, I had simultaneously begun to develop beliefs of my own. As I listened to more of John’s music, and discovered more about him, I discovered more about his political efforts as well: ‘Imagine’; the catchy and effective ‘Give Peace A Chance’, recorded at his and Yoko’s famous Bed In; the ever-controversial ‘Woman Is The Nigger Of The World’, which – when paired with the definition of the ‘n-word’ that John used whilst defending the song on the Dick Cavett Show – deserves more respect than it gets; the word-ninja criticism of politicians in ‘Gimme Some Truth’; John’s appearance at the John Sinclair Freedom Rally, soon after which Sinclair was released; the fact that the Nixon government felt so threatened by John as to attempt to deport him. His outspokenness and passion for political issues appealed to me – not only the fact that, like a lot of young people during his time, he was not afraid to rebel against the mainstream beliefs of the system, but that he spoke up about what he believed in, too. Instead of seeing John’s politics as naive, as many have done in recent years, I see them as incredibly interesting and thought-provoking, regardless of whether I agree. If anything, they encouraged a number of people to think about their views, which is always a good thing. And it was John’s fearless outspokenness on issues he cared about that aided this – the fact that he and Yoko weren’t afraid to publicly disapprove of everything from war to the patriarchy on prime-time chat shows is inspiring. I sometimes wonder what he would think of the world today: where terrorism threats frighten our governments into fighting back with yet more war, where Australia hasn’t seen a prime minister hold a full term since before the invention of the iPhone, where numerous civil wars rage across the world, where 1 in 5 Australian women don’t have anywhere near enough superannuation due to the gender pay gap. It is sad that we don’t have more celebrities like him today, who are willing to put aside their carefully-cultivated images to be loud about issues that affect our world.

(popmatters.com)

(popmatters.com)

Today, a small but vocal number of people have taken it upon themselves to attempt to destroy John’s legacy by creating serious and inexcusable allegations about him, using various ill-informed online sources. This saddens me, and not only because many of these claims can easily be debunked with a little research. I disagree with referring to John (or anyone, for the record), as a saint – John certainly was not one. (He was an incredibly complex man, by many accounts, and to reduce him to a caricature of a perfect “angel” who served solely to protest for peace is erasing all the other interesting things about him.) Seeing one’s role-model as a divine figure and worshipping them blindly is not particularly healthy. But barely anyone is a saint. No-one is perfect, and this is something humanity knows well – so why should we expect the impossible from our heroes and leaders? Whilst some of John’s behaviour shouldn’t be condoned, people need to remember the myriad of good things he did, as well – these outweigh the (truthful) bad. He made beautiful music; he wrote great lyrics, and hilarious books; he was a wonderfully positive political influence, even if just for getting young people to think about the subject; he’s been described as intelligent, witty and a genuinely nice guy by many people who knew him; he was in the greatest band that ever was, and probably ever will be. Our world would be a lesser place if it wasn’t for his contributions.

And so, a very happy – and very, very belated! – birthday to my favourite Beatle, John Lennon. Thank you for inspiring me, and for your wonderful influence on our world. 🙂

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Making Mixtapes…

The disappearance of mixtapes is sad, in my opinion. Making someone a YouTube playlist of their favourite tunes is a nice gesture, but it doesn’t seem to have as much thought and effort behind it. Plus, nothing beats listening to “physical” music.

So, in keeping with my mixtape-ish mood, I thought I’d make just that! Of course, for the sake of the Internet, a YouTube playlist will have to do, but anyway… And in keeping within the general theme of this blog, my mixtape will consist of all the songs from the ’60s and ’70s that are most important to me. So, here goes…

‘I’m Only Sleeping’, ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’, ‘Here There and Everywhere’, ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’, ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Anthology 3 Version)’ & ‘Long, Long, Long’: The Beatles

Revolver

‘I’m Only Sleeping’ is perhaps my most important Beatles song. I first heard it in late 2013, and was captivated by its psychedelic, lazy vibe, unlike anything I’d ever heard before. But in August 2014, I was listening to Revolver on vinyl, and the song came on. I felt a love for the music that I’d never felt before, and I realised just how special it was. I’d called The Beatles my favourite band for over a year prior, but it was only then that I knew what it meant…

‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ is my current favourite Beatles song. I love how, in under three minutes, it covers the history of rock’n’roll. Stretching from psychedelic imagery to Zeppelin-esque hard rock to a doo-wop parody, plus one of John’s best vocal performances, it’s definitely one of The Beatles’ best!

‘Here, There & Everywhere’ was one of John’s and Paul’s favourite Beatles songs, and it’s my favourite Paul-penned song. It has such a delicate vibe to it. The vocals from all parties are hypnotically beautiful – not to even mention the drums, and bass… A wondrous song!

‘Long, Long, Long’ & the Anthology 3 version of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ are both folky, George-written tunes from the White Album era. The former has long been a favourite of mine. In contrast to the cacophony of ‘Helter Skelter’ before it, it’s a beautifully peaceful tune, with the wonderful guitar, organ and drums among its highlights. The latter song is my favourite version of the tune. Whilst I love the official version, with its Clapton-played lead guitar, there isn’t much better than the gentle acoustic guitar and the shimmery organ of the Anthology 3 version, for me…

‘My Generation’, ‘The Real Me’, ‘I’m Free’ & ‘See Me, Feel Me’: The Who

Thewho-therealme1

Though I love the musical work from each Who member on ‘My Generation’ (John Entwistle’s bass, in particular!), my favourite part of the song is the lyrics. Where I live, among the mainstream media’s favourite pastimes is criticising anyone under the age of 30. ‘My Generation’, like the generations before who listened to the song, made for a good antidote to their criticism & generalisations.

‘The Real Me’ is my favourite Who song at the moment. Like most of their tunes, the guitars/bass/drums/vocals are amazing – one of my favourite things about the band is how each band member was really good at what they did. The perfect opener to one of my favourite Who albums, Quadrophenia!

‘I’m Free’ & ‘See Me, Feel Me‘ are both from Tommy, my other favourite Who album.The former is a rocker, with a standout rhythm guitar performance from Pete Townshend. It’s only recently that I began to listen to it more “in-depth”, but since I have, it has quickly become a favourite. The latter in contrast, was one of my original favourites. Roger Daltrey’s falsetto vocals and Keith Moon’s drums during the “listening to you” chorus, in particular, make the song a very deserved classic…

‘Stray Cat Blues’, ‘No Expectations’, ‘Under My Thumb’, ‘2000 Light Years From Home’ & ‘Midnight Rambler (Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out version)’: The Rolling Stones

their satanic majesties request

‘Stray Cat Blues’ & ‘No Expectations’ are from The Stones’ 7th album, Beggar’s Banquet. I’ve been listening to ‘Stray Cat Blues’ almost exclusively for the past few days. It’s edgy; it’s hard; it’s great! The instruments and vocals are all awesome, and I love it. ‘No Expectations’ is another favourite. Brian Jones’s slide guitar on the song is one of the last things he did with The Stones. It’s beautiful, and only proves Brian’s musical genius.

‘Under My Thumb’ & ‘2000 Light Years From Home’ are from my favourite Stones period, the mid-’60s. Despite the horribly misogynistic lyrics, I love ‘Under My Thumb’. The fuzzed bass and stabbing guitar are great, but the highlight of the song is definitely Brian’s marimba riff. And ‘2000’ is my favourite song on The Stones’ album that everyone loves to hate, and I love to love: Their Satanic Majesties Request. The mellotron, the keyboards, the guitar & the vocals bring a song by a primarily R&B band to sound more like Pink Floyd… Probably my favourite Stones song!

My dad introduced me to Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out, and ‘Midnight Rambler’ is perhaps my favourite song on the album. I love its rawness. But the most special bit about it, for me, is the cry of “Paint it black, you devil!” at the end. Dad and I joked about it for months, and continue to do so…

‘Venus In Furs’, ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’, ‘White Light/White Heat’, ‘I’m Waiting For The Man’ & ‘Sunday Morning’: The Velvet Underground

All_Tomorrow's_Parties--I'll_Be_Your_Mirror

‘Venus In Furs’ was my original favourite Velvets song. I remember being captivated by the cacophony of violas, guitars and drums the first time I listened to it. To this day, it’s one of my very favourites. I tried to cover it whilst busking earlier this year, with less-than-successful results…

It was only recently that I realised the beauty of ‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’. I never really liked Nico’s songs on The Velvets’ debut, The Velvet Underground and Nico, and ‘Mirror’ is one that she sings. It was only after listening to Beck’s cover of the song for his Record Club project that I realised how beautiful the song is. I particularly like the guitar part!

‘I’m Waiting For The Man’ is one of the rockier songs on Nico, yet is just as great. After the beauty of ‘Sunday Morning’, it’s refreshingly hard and punk-esque. I’ve always loved the song, and continue to do so today!

‘Sunday Morning’ was the song that introduced me to The Velvets, and perhaps the first non-Beatles song to have an impact on me. After hearing a cover of it on one of our favourite shows, my mum played me the song. And so began my love of a wonderful band…

‘White Light/White Heat’ is the title track of The Velvets’ second album. The songs are less “beautiful” than The Velvet Underground and Nico, but are no less experimental. It’s a tough, distorted avant-garde rock tune, and its influence on punk rock is easy to hear…

‘The End’, ‘L.A. Woman’, ‘Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)’ & ‘People Are Strange’: The Doors

TheDoorsTheDoorsalbumcover

‘The End’ & ‘Alabama Song’ are from The Doors’ self-titled debut. ‘The End’ is often regarded as one of The Doors’ masterpieces, and for good reason! Jim Morrison’s lyrics are some of his best, and the mysterious, psychedelic vibe that floats throughout the song is magical. The ending, with Jim’s infamous Oedipal spoken word section and rhythmic usage of the f-bomb, is also intriguing and helps create a magnificently climactic ending to the album. ‘Alabama Song’, in contrast, is a cover, but I love it all the same. Jim’s vocal performance on the song is one of my favourites, and I love Ray Manzarek’s pulsating, off-beat organ!

‘L.A. Woman‘ is the first song I can remember. One of my first memories is of my parents playing the song, and of being appalled once being informed that the song included the word ‘damn’! The album of the same name was in high rotation during my childhood, too. And now that I’m older, it has since become one of my favourite songs…

‘People Are Strange’ has always fascinated me, ever since I first heard it last year. The song was such a departure from any Doors stuff I’d heard before, at that point. Perhaps my favourite part of the song is the guitar, though the piano and, of course, the vocals give it quite a different vibe. It’s quite an understated song, and I like it a lot!

‘Welcome To The Machine’, ‘Interstellar Overdrive’, ‘The Gnome’ & ‘Wish You Were Here’: Pink Floyd

PinkFloyd-album-piperatthegatesofdawn_300

‘Welcome To The Machine’‘Wish You Were Here’ are both from, well, Wish You Were Here. The former is the song that introduced me to Floyd, and what made me a fan. I remember listening to the song last year – its hypnotising synths, the swirling vocals. It completely blew my mind, and I remain in utter awe of it. And ‘Wish You Were Here’ speaks for itself, really… The acoustic guitar that runs throughout the song is beautiful, and I love David Gilmour’s vocals, too. It’s easy to see why it’s perhaps Floyd’s best-known song!

‘Interstellar Overdrive’‘The Gnome’ are both from Pink Floyd’s debut, and the only album with input from Syd Barrett, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. ‘Interstellar Overdrive’ is an edgy, almost-overwhelming psychedelic cacophony. A favourite of mine since watching a video of Pink Floyd performing it live in 1967 with their notoriously-incredible stage show, I find the combination of experimental guitars, organs and drums captivating! ‘The Gnome’ is perhaps not a Floyd masterpiece. However, I’ve always loved the song, and it never fails to make me smile. My favourite part of the song is Barrett’s lyrics – they’re quite simple, and they almost read like some kind of whimsical fairytale, which I love!

‘Get It While You Can’: Janis Joplin + ‘Piece Of My Heart’ & ‘Turtle Blues’: Big Brother and the Holding Company

Janis_Joplin_cover

Whilst Pearl is not my favourite Janis Joplin album, it was the one that introduced me to her work. And ‘Get It While You Can’ is my favourite song on Pearl. Much like the rest of the album, it features a prominent organ part, which adds an almost psychedelic element to the song. And of course, Janis’s vocals are amazing!

‘Piece Of My Heart’ & ‘Turtle Blues’ are both from my favourite Joplin-fronted album, Cheap Thrills, by Big Brother and the Holding Company. ‘Piece Of My Heart’ not only features yet another amazing Janis vocal performance – but the guitar is great, too! The guitarists in the band – Sam Andrew and James Gurley – were ridiculously good, and I have a huge appreciation of them, as a guitarist myself. ‘Turtle Blues’, too, is one of my favourites. Janis’s vocals again go without saying, and the piano is awesome! One can only imagine what Janis would have gone on to do…

‘Dazed and Confused’, ‘Misty Mountain Hop’ & ‘Tangerine’: Led Zeppelin

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For a while, I thought of Led Zeppelin as a bit overrated. Then I heard ‘Dazed and Confused’. I listened attentively to Jimmy Page’s “weeping” guitar; John Paul Jones’s almost-mysterious bass; John Bonham’s thrashing drums; Robert Plant’s vocals, which I consider to be some of his best. And I’ve loved Zeppelin ever since.

I don’t know what it is about ‘Misty Mountain Hop’, but I really like it. I love the keyboard riff that runs throughout the song, and the drums, and the lead guitar, and the vocals, but even then… Maybe it’s the memories – it’s on Led Zeppelin IV, my first Zeppelin album, and it’s also featured in Almost Famous, a film I love. Either way, though, it’s a great song!

And I took my ‘tangerinetrees99’ from ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’, but you can imagine my pleasure when I discovered that Zeppelin had a song named ‘Tangerine’, a few months ago! I was even more pleased after listening to the song itself (one of the band’s folkier tunes), which I enjoyed. It’s now one of my favourites…

‘All Day And All Of The Night’ & ‘Sunny Afternoon’: The Kinks

Kinks_AllDay

‘All Day And All Of The Night’ was among my top-5 songs of all time for ages, and still remains one of my favourites. The fuzzed guitar riff, Ray Davies’ snarly vocals and Dave Davies’ flashy solo all make for a great rock’n’roll classic! It was perhaps this song that turned me onto the harder rock which I now also enjoy.

‘Sunny Afternoon’ is my current favourite Kinks song. I read someone comparing it to ‘I’m Only Sleeping’, the other day, and I can certainly see the similarities. The lazy vibe, paired with the bassline and another great Ray Davies vocal performances, make for a great song!

‘Suffragette City’: David Bowie

ZiggyStardust

‘Suffragette City’ is my favourite Bowie song right now, and the first one I consciously enjoyed. Throughout last year, the song would often appear on iTunes Radio, and I immediately liked it. The guitar, in particular, is great, and I can’t help but smile whenever I hear it!

‘Gloria’: Patti Smith

PattiSmithHorses

‘Gloria’ begins with understated piano chords, but soon turns into an exciting, protopunk epic – the perfect opening to Smith’s highly acclaimed debut, Horses. Although I only listened to the song for the first time about a month ago, its impact on me is huge. ‘Gloria’ is what hooked me on Horses, and what inspired me to check out the rest of Patti Smith’s work. She has quickly turned into one of my favourite artists – for her unique brand of alternative rock, for her fascinating punk poetry. And as a female musician myself, she is one of my biggest influences, alongside Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth and Courtney Barnett.

‘God’: John Lennon

JLPOBCover

‘God’ is my current favourite John Lennon song. I absolutely adore John’s vocals, and his piano – whilst not overly complicated and intricate – is perfect for the song. Ringo’s drums are great, too. And though I certainly believe in The Beatles, the lyrics are such typical John, and I love them all the same…

‘What Is Life’: George Harrison

What_Is_Life_(George_Harrison_single_-_cover_art)

‘What Is Life’ was the first George solo song I ever heard. Way back when I got George and Ringo confused in pictures (!), I absolutely adored the song and would turn the radio up really loud whenever it came on. A couple of years on, I still find that guitar riff utterly irresistible!

‘Our House’ & ‘Helpless’: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Crosby,_Stills,_Nash_&_Young_-_Deja_Vu

‘Our House’ was my favourite song for the year before I discovered The Beatles. It was always played on the radio, and the melody, in combination with the piano, must have appealed to me. It was only recently that I began to realise how great the song is, and it has since become one of my favourites, again…

‘Helpless’, however, is my current favourite Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song. Written and sung by Neil Young (who has one of my favourite voices, ever), it’s a wondrously beautiful, yet somewhat sad, ballad. I particularly love the lead guitar and, of course, Neil Young’s vocals.

‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’: Bob Dylan

dylan knockin on heavens door

‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ is far from my favourite Dylan song. But it has an important place in my musical history, for it was the first song I learnt to play on guitar. Guitar has since become a huge part of my identity. There is little more I enjoy than playing my instruments, and playing has given me a greater understanding and love of the music I’d begun to like beforehand. So thanks, Bob!

And there. Here’s the entire playlist mixtape:

If you were making a mixtape of the songs most important to you, what would you put on it? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

10 Underrated Songs From The Beatles’ Solo Careers

Image credit: ultimateclassicrock.com

Image credit: ultimateclassicrock.com

You could say that The Beatles’ solo work, as a whole, is underrated. So much media attention is directed towards The Beatles as a whole, and very deservedly so. But the music that each former member created after they split is somewhat overlooked by the general public.

But that’s not to say that The Beatles’ solo careers don’t get attention, too. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hadn’t heard the opening bars of piano of ‘Imagine’, or the slide guitar fills of ‘My Sweet Lord’, or the screaming vocals of ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’. But even with this, there are so many great songs from The Beatles’ solo careers that are very under-appreciated. So today, I thought I’d dedicate a list to a few gems in each Beatle’s solo career that I think don’t get enough attention. So in no particular order…

‘How?’ (John Lennon)

John’s pretty piano ballads make up a fair amount of his best-known songs: ‘Imagine’, ‘Love’, ‘Jealous Guy’, etc. But ‘How?’ never seems to quite get the same amount of accolades. Situated near the end of the Imagine album, the piano chords delicately land on the beats, and the violins add a beautifully shimmery extra layer. John’s vocals are also particularly delicate, suiting the overall dainty feel of the song. And like many of John’s songs from the time, the lyrics are quite personal and contemplative, as they were inspired by his Primal Scream Therapy. One of John’s prettiest songs!

‘Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)’ (George Harrison)

George wrote this song about his house, Friar Park, which he purchased early in 1970. The house was originally built in 1898 by a guy called Sir Frank Crisp, hence the title of the song. I think ‘Ballad’ has some of George’s best lyrics; within each verse, the listener is taken around Friar Park and surrounds. Spanning rooms, and gardens, and fountains of perpetual mirth, the words are witty and (like a lot of his songs) spiritual and just gorgeous! The song is wonderful from a musical aspect, too. Laden with reverb and slide guitar and jangly instruments, the song has a beautifully ethereal, dreamy sound to it. In fact, it’s dreamy, full stop!

‘Call Me Back Again’ (Paul McCartney & Wings)

Buried on the second side of Venus and Mars, I came to ‘Call Me Back Again’ after hearing it on iTunes’ free solo-Beatles EP last year. It has since become one of my favourite Paul solo song, and for good reason! Paul’s vocals scream out of the speakers, for one. The saxophones featured prominently in the song are pretty awesome, too. I’m particularly loving the lead guitar, too, which is wonderfully intricate and cool. A great song!

‘Well, Well, Well’ (John Lennon)

There are so many reasons why I think this song deserves way more attention. First of all, John’s guitar is amazing; laden with crunchy distortion and an almost-punk sensibility, it’s wonderful! Same goes for Klaus Voorman’s bass performance and Ringo’s drums. They, too, put on an amazingly rocking show! John’s lyrics talk of spending time with Yoko — of going to dinner with her, of their involvement in political activism. And John’s vocal performance is stunning; in the latter half of the song, he howls confrontationally over the grungy instrumentation. It’s not for everyone, but in my opinion, ‘Well Well Well’ is one of John’s best songs.

‘I’d Have You Anytime’ (George Harrison)

The opening track of George’s masterpiece, All Things Must Pass, George wrote this song with Bob Dylan in late 1968. (Harrison and Dylan wrote a number of songs together during this period.) Their lyrics muse on the friendship that had blossomed between the two, and George sings them in his typically sweet voice. I think that George’s slide guitar performance on the track is one of his very best; beautifully emotive and perfect. His choice of chords is very interesting, too. In my opinion, ‘I’d Have You Anytime’ is a beautiful song!

‘New York City’ (John Lennon)

‘New York City’ is the fifth song on Sometime In New York City, an album I would argue is completely underrated, full stop. And it’s a gloriously rockin’ song! I love the piano and John’s guitar and it has a wonderfully rough sound. John’s lyrics are what makes the song for me, though. A witty recount of him and Yoko’s move to New York, and all the people and troubles that they crossed along the way, I especially like the lyrics! An unfairly underrated rocker that’s pretty awesome, in my opinion.

‘Isn’t It A Pity (Version 2)’ (George Harrison)

Whilst Version 1 is also underrated, Version 2 of ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ is extremely under appreciated, probably because it’s “version two”. The song plays host to one of my favourite guitar performances from George ever, and the organ is also just dreamy! And of course ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ is a great song, anyway. George’s slightly sad lyrics are lifted up by the music, which — in typical Harrison style — is simply beautiful!

‘Dear Friend’ (Paul McCartney & Wings)

This song is heartbreakingly beautiful. Possibly Paul’s most beautiful song (in my opinion), his voice accompanies piano in such a sad yet gorgeous way. Paul’s lyrics are also atypically emotional and personal. He wrote them in response to the war-of-words that had surrounded his friendship with John since the late ’60s, and he sings them in such a vulnerably-gorgeous way. A wondrous song.

‘I’m The Greatest’ (Ringo Starr)

Not being super familiar with Ringo’s solo catalogue, I’m perhaps not the best person to select one of his more underrated songs. But I feel that this song never gets enough attention. Written by John, the song is a satirical take on the history of The Beatles and Ringo’s life, and it never fails to make me smile! Ringo, John and George played on the track, too, which makes it a Threetles song, which is a plus! An awesomely funny song!

What Beatles solo songs do you think are underrated? Be sure to send me a postcard, drop me a line…

Hope you’re having a great day, and good day sunshine ’till next post! 🙂

Nine Of My Favourite Lyrical Beatles Songs

I love these pictures!

I love these pictures!

In my opinion, The Beatles didn’t just write some of the world’s greatest tunes. They also wrote a lot of the greatest lyrics, too! Sometimes in music, lyrics are sadly underrated. But from being a Beatles fan, I’ve learnt that quality lyrics are just as important as the melody. From 1965 onward, their lyrics were particularly wonderful, proving that they were very talented when it came to writing. But even in the early days, there were still a lot of outstanding examples, too! So today, I thought I would pay homage to The Fab Four’s words of wisdom (pun intended), and list my favourite Beatles songs in the lyrical department. Let the list begin…

‘Across The Universe’

Widely recognised as one of The Beatles’ greatest lyrical songs, I can certainly see why. John’s beautiful metaphors and imagery could probably evoke exquisite scenes in the minds of even those who don’t think of themselves as imaginative. John uses words that just sound good together, too. An absolutely sublime piece of work that could definitely hold its own without the music!

FAVOURITE LINES: “Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes / They call me on and on across the universe.”

‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’

A song shrouded in controversy, the lyrics of ‘Lucy In The Sky’ create much psychedelic imagery. Inspired by Alice In Wonderland, a drawing by the young Julian Lennon (from which the song takes its name) and (probably) acid, the trippy lyrics create beautiful images of (among other things) newspaper taxis, tangerine trees and marmalade skies, tall cellophane flowers and a girl with kaleidoscope eyes…

FAVOURITE LINES: “Picture yourself in a boat on a river / With tangerine trees and marmalade skies / Somebody calls you, you  answer quite slowly / A girl with kaleidoscope eyes…”

‘Hey Bulldog’

This song’s lyrics are complete nonsense. And that is what makes them so good! Ever since I first heard the song, the different phrases have always captivated me. Whether it be words that probably don’t even exist, or the phrases that end each verse that kind of make sense or just a bunch of words piled in probably just ‘cos, the lyrics in this song are absolutely great!

FAVOURITE LINES: “Big man / Walking in the park / Wigwam / Frightened of the dark.”

‘In My Life’

The lyrics for ‘In My Life’ are beautiful! John  talks of his affection for those who have disappeared. But he has never loved anyone like the “muse” for this song. His love for people that went before pales in comparison. But he will never forget those who he has loved before…

FAVOURITE LINES: “And these memories lose their meaning / When I think of love as something new / Though I know I’ll never lose affection / For people and things that went before.”

‘Within You, Without You’

I reckon that this is George’s lyrical masterpiece. The words discuss how humans are only very small; that love could save the world; how the only person who can change themselves is them… Very deep.

FAVOURITE LINES: “When we find it, to try our best to hold it there with our love / With our love, we could save the world, if they only knew.”

‘Piggies’

I love this song! The piggies are of course the posh 1960s conservatives who loved looking down upon youth. George mocks them wonderfully  — he sings of how they always have “dirt to play around in”, and of how they didn’t care of what was going on around them…

FAVOURITE LINE: “Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon!”

‘For No One’

This is my favourite song ever written by Paul. The lyrics are especially powerful. Lamenting the end of a relationship, Paul sings of how it all went wrong, of how he and his partner fought; of when his other half left him, and of how he will never forget her… Quite sad.

FAVOURITE LINES: “She wakes up, she makes up / She takes her time and doesn’t feel she has to hurry / She no longer needs you.”

‘Blackbird’

The lyrics of ‘Blackbird’ are quite simplistic, but are nonetheless symbolic. Paul encourages the bird to learn to fly, and to learn to see with its various differences. The blackbird has been waiting all its life for the upcoming moment to arise. It then flies into the dark, black night, presumably to face the moment… Supposedly about the Civil Rights Movement.

FAVOURITE LINES: “All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise.”

‘The End’

Ironically, this is the last song that all four Beatles recorded together. Paul wrote the song, and decided that he wanted to end the cycle of solos with a meaningful couplet. And so he wrote two of the most beautiful lines of The Fab Four’s catalogue! The couplet has an air of finality to it, and is a poignant listen near the end of a poignant album. As with ‘Within You Without You’, very deep…

FAVOURITE (AND ONLY!) LINES: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

So hard to chose just nine! Which Beatles song do you think has the best words? What is your favourite Beatles lyric? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

Hope you’re all good, and I will post again soon! ‘Till then, good day sunshine 🙂

My Favourite John Lennon Solo Songs

John in 1971.

John in 1971.

Ever since I first decided that The Beatles were my favourite band, John Lennon has always been the Beatle that has captivated me the most. From the very beginning, I decided he was my favourite, despite knowing nothing about him. But as time went on, it became clear that John would become my favourite Beatle, regardless. But enough about that. You can read about why John is my favourite Beatle here and here. Today, I’m going to write about my favourite songs of his solo career!

From the minute I first listened to the Imagine album on a plane in January 2014, I immediately became a fan of John’s solo work. I mean, I already knew a few of his tunes. And I liked them a lot. But ever since that day, I have possessed much admiration for his too-short work outside The Beatles. I love his raw, emotional style, and his political themes, and the absolutely beautiful and heart-wrenching lyrics that he wrote so often. So here are some of my favourite John solo tunes, in no particular order… Enjoy!

1. ‘God’

I just listened to this song for the first time in months. I had forgotten how beautiful it is! John’s voice is heartbreaking; Ringo’s complicated drum fills in the ‘I don’t believe…’ part of the song are very much underrated; the piano, whilst simplistic, is perfect. And the iconic lyrics speak for themselves. Though many people don’t like them, I find them beautiful and heart-wrenching. They are quintessential John.

2. ‘Isolation’

It was only a few months ago that I began to give this great song its proper due. Naughty me. It’s wonderful! I particularly love the soaring middle eight, with John’s strong, slightly raspy vocals floating above everything, and the piano almost being hammered. And then John’s voice fades into a shimmery organ, and the piano becomes more gentle. And I love that, too.

3. ‘Well, Well, Well’

John’s guitar in this song is awesome! Crunchy and interesting notation, which occasionally clashes with the notes that John is singing, making this cool song sound even cooler! Ringo’s energetic drumming also contributes to the groovy feel of this song. And whilst John’s Yoko-style screaming at the end of the song can be a little confronting at first, I have found myself warming to them…

4. ‘Look At Me’

‘Look At Me’ couldn’t be more different from ‘Well, Well, Well’. The guitar is delicately finger-picked (or Travis-picked) in a similar to the guitar on ‘Dear Prudence’ and ‘Julia’. John’s vocals are so gentle and (in a way) sad, again much like ‘Julia’. The lyrics are beautifully vulnerable. A very delicate song. Though John is the stereotypical rocker in Beatles lore, this song shows that he was just as capable of tender ballads.

5. ‘Jealous Guy’

This was my absolute favourite John solo song for ages. And though I no longer have just one favourite, this song still makes my list. This song is beautiful. Much like ‘Look At Me’, John’s voice seems vulnerably exquisite. John’s piano is also gorgeous — a little more complex than some of his other parts… The Flux Fiddlers’ string overdubs are also the perfect icing on top of a delicious cake! And those lyrics… I wonder who they were for? (I also love Roxy Music’s cover of this song!)

6. ‘Gimme Some Truth’

I recently bought a first-ed. Imagine LP, and this song sounds truly amazing! The drums and guitars boom throughout the room, and John’s yelling vocals just scream! Wow… My favourite thing about this song, however, are the lyrics. In Australia, not many people are fond of our current government, and John’s chiding of “uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocrites” and “tight-lipped, condescending Mama’s little chauvinists” certainly rings true to many of us at the moment… And George’s solo flat-out rocks!

7. ‘Oh My Love’

What a beautiful song. George’s guitar riff in the beginning almost twinkles, and the piano duet between John and Nicky Hopkins is hypnotic. The lyrics, too, are simple, but convey what John wanted much clearer than more complex words would have. This song has been one of my favourites for ages, and is one I enjoy playing/singing on guitar a lot!

8. ‘Oh Yoko!’

Not one of John’s genius-riddled masterpieces, but a great song, all the same… The song is so upbeat, and it has such a happy air to it! John’s acoustic guitar drives the song along wonderfully, and I love the way he sings the song. And though the lyrics are definitely not one of his better examples, they sure do convey his love for Yoko! And don’t even get me started on that awesome harmonica solo… I can’t help but grin whenever I hear this song!

9. ‘Woman Is The Nigger of the World’

I’m going to be a bit controversial and put this song on my list. Because ever since I first heard it, I have loved it with a passion. Yoko — a fierce feminist — actually coined the phrase in 1969, and after showing John how badly females were being treated by the world, wrote a song with him about it. And you know what? I think John and Yoko had it right. Women were treated like slaves. There is still a gender pay gap. Women are still subject to discrimination, and it is now the 2010s. Go John and Yoko!

10. ‘#9 Dream’

This was one of the later John songs that I listened to, and I love it! Those strings are wonderfully slide-y, and John’s falsetto vocals are gorgeous. I love how the song has so many parts, and how it changes between these so swiftly. Apparently the chorus of ‘oh, bowakwa pousse pousse’ came to him in a dream, and we all know about his fascination with the number nine. And so how this gorgeous cut from Walls and Bridges came about!

And there we go! What’s your favourite John solo tune? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

I hope you’ve all had a great Easter break, and I will be back very soon with another post! But until then, good day sunshine 🙂

The Craziest Beatles-Related Conspiracy Theories…

PLEASE NOTE: I do not believe any of these conspiracy theories. I did not create them. This post isn’t to be taken too seriously…

Conspiracy theories. There’s a lot of them, about every single thing you could imagine. So it will be no surprise to you that there are a whole host of Beatles conspiracies! Sure, nearly every music fan has heard of Paul’s “death” in 1966, but the fun doesn’t stop there. Here are a few of the best theories concerning the Fab Four..

1. The infamous ‘Paul Is Dead’

Apparently proving that Paul was 'replaced' (hmm)...

Apparently proving that Paul was ‘replaced’ (hmm)…

Okay. Probably the most famous Beatles conspiracy. Also the oldest. And the one with the most clues. The ‘Paul is Dead’ conspiracy first reared its ugly head in 1969, after some slightly delusional college students in the US decided, after listening to Abbey Road, that there were many clues proving that Paul was DEAD. It runs like this: on the 9th of November, 1966, Paul supposedly got into an argument with John, George and Ringo and drove off angrily. He, however, crashed his car and was killed. And, of course, the other Beatles decided that this death needed to be covered up to spare the public the grief of just telling them. Paul was replaced with “William Campbell”, and clues telling of Paul’s death were included within every Beatles release from then on. Some of these were: “Paul”‘s bare feet on the cover of Abbey Road; the number plate on the Volkswagen Beetle on the cover of Abbey Road, LMW-28IF; the line ‘the walrus was Paul’ in ‘Glass Onion’ and his walrus costume in Magical Mystery Tour; the indecipherable speech at the end of ‘I’m So Tired’, supposedly saying ‘Paul is dead, man — miss, miss, miss him’ when played backwards; the various phone numbers that can apparently be made from the stars on the cover of Magical Mystery Tour, that were rumoured to be answered by various funeral parlours if rung in the ’60s; and a patch that Paul is wearing in the gatefold picture of Sgt Pepper that reads ‘O.P.D.’ (an acronym for ‘officially pronounced dead’). You can read more clues here.

William Campbell, or Faul, obviously went on to write some of “Paul”‘s best songs, come up with the entire concept of Sgt Pepper, and after The Beatles broke up, started and disbanded Wings. To this day, he loiters on this Earth, claiming to be the real Paul McCartney… 😉 And you know what? The Beatles weren’t even recording on the 9th of November, 1966. Making the entire conspiracy a piece of rubbish!

2. ‘The Fib Four’

The 'tapes' of the Fib Four

The ‘tapes’ of the Fib Four

In 1971, a guy named Martin Lewis compiled a Beatles bootleg discography, naming not-yet-released tunes for ’70s fans to wonder about. Among these were ‘That Means A Lot’ and ‘If You’ve Got Trouble’ (both on Anthology 2), and the infamous ‘Carnival of Light’. Also among these songs were four numbers named ‘Pink Limitus Shirt’, ‘Colliding Circles’, ‘Left Is Right (and Right is Wrong)’ and ‘Deckchair’, all ‘outtakes’ from late 1966. ‘Pink Limitus’ was written by George, ‘Deckchair’ a member of Paul’s ‘granny music’ creations, and both ‘Left Is Right’ and ‘Colliding Circles’ were John’s. These songs were stored in the Abbey Road vaults, in case The Beatles needed some cash, pronto. They were never found, thus leaving devout fans of yesteryear to ponder over.

And there’s good reason why these ‘songs’ have never been found. They never existed in the first place! Turns out that Lewis couldn’t find enough outtakes to fill out the discography, so decided to create a bunch of outtakes to take up some space. These became known as ‘The Fib Four’, when everyone worked out they didn’t actually exist. Lewis later became a well respected Beatles scholar, believe it or not.

3. The Beatles were created by The Illuminati to brainwash the youth

No, John and Paul weren't just being cheeky. Apparently.

No, John and Paul weren’t just being cheeky. Apparently.

According to this theory created by some dude named Dr John Coleman, The Beatles were not an actual band. They were, in fact, formed by The Illuminati. Their songs and actions were written and scripted by their ‘bosses’ with the sole intent of brainwashing the youth. The Coleman dude supposedly “proves” in his book (yes, book) on the conspiracy that The Beatles were a “psychological operation” created by The Tavistock Institute. Their creation apparently advanced the Illuminati’s goal of creating a Brave New World-esque ‘New Age Movement’ which “introduced soft drugs to middle-class American youth” and brainwashed them into rebellion. Clues for this conspiracy include the above pictures involving devil-ish hand-symbols, the band’s shadowed faces on the cover of With The Beatles, ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”s supposed references to Lucifer (or Satan!)…

Now, I think this is fairly obviously a load of rubbish. Though I can’t exactly disprove it (nobody has actually come out and responded), so… 😉

4. ‘The Lennon Prophecy’

The conspiracy's book. Yes. Book.

The conspiracy’s book. Yes. Book.

Oh dear. I’d forgotten about this one. Basically, the entire theory resides on this: John, in a desperate attempt to become more famous than Elvis, made a pact with Satan on the 8th of December, 1960. This pact expired in 1980, hence what happened… The clues for this theory include John’s placement on the back cover of Sgt Pepper, the cover of Abbey Road, and many examples of backmasking. And why do these clues all sound familiar? Oh yeah, that’s right. They’re all Paul Is Dead clues, too. You can read more about this one here.

I think we can quite safely say that this, again, is a load of rubbish. I mean, if you’re going to create a conspiracy, at least be original about it!

5. ‘The Beatles, as they were presented to us, never existed’

"Proof" for John.

“Proof” for John.

This is my favourite conspiracy of them all… The Beatles never existed! They were, in fact, played by a heap of different clones over the years! And clones, of course, can only be 95% – 99% accurate. Don’t believe the “researchers”? Luckily for you, they’ve compiled a bunch of photo comparisons, showing differences in height and eyebrows. And ears. And eyes. And guess what? They’ve also created a forum, just so you can discuss this — and all the other conspiracy theories which are definitely true! (Not.)

This theory got a lot of publicity late last year (I think it went viral on Reddit). I just went onto the website to find a picture for this post, and the actual website no longer shows proof! The website now only shows a page telling the reader to ‘please conduct your own personal research before believing what anybody says about anything’, and how all the articles written about their theory last year are not true and are ‘hatchet-jobs’. But thankfully, the forum still exists, and all their research will forever be preserved there. (You can find the website and forum here.) Again, I think we can quite safely say this is not true. Clearly the “researchers” have never heard of shoes, differences in posture and the ageing process…

And there we go! Have you heard of a particularly crazy Beatles conspiracy? Don’t forget to tell me in the comments!

I will be able to post a lot more than I have been very soon, so I should get my next post up (the next installment of ‘My Beatles Record Collection’!) here in less than a week! Yay! But until then, good day sunshine 🙂

Some awesomely random little-known Beatles factoids…

Filming the music clip for 'Penny Lane'... I love this picture!

Filming the music clip for ‘Penny Lane’… I love this picture!

I’ve had this idea for a while, but I decided to type it up this week! Ever since I first got into The Beatles, I’ve been really interested in interesting bits of trivia concerning them, and today, I will be writing about a few of my favourites. Many of my sources will be from my Beatle-y book library, or from various websites. And if you have any interesting facts of your own, please send me a postcard/drop me a line in the comments below! But for now, here is my list…

  • The Beatles, at one point, were asked to do the voices for the vultures in the film adaption of The Jungle Book. John’s reaction when asked? “There is no way The Beatles are going to sing for Mickey [expletive] Mouse!” Apparently the vultures are still Beatles-inspired, though (I haven’t actually seen The Jungle Book…)
  • John, however, actually came up with a Beatles film idea! He wanted The Beatles to make an adaption of The Lord of The Rings! Apparently J R R Tolkien vetoed it, as he didn’t like the idea of The Beatles playing the characters in his books.
  • By now, it is well documented that none of The Beatles could read a note of sheet music. But Paul (always proud of this fact) was, in fact, the only Beatle who ever tried. He took a few music lessons from Jane Asher’s mother in the mid-60s, though gave up after a very short while due to lack of patience.
  • One of John’s dreams in life was to write a children’s book much like Alice In Wonderland (one of his favourite books!) when he was old and retired. Sadly, he never got the chance. 😦
  • It is rumoured that each verse in ‘Come Together’ is about a Beatle. The theory says that verse one is most likely about Ringo, verse two about George (though some say verse one is George and verse two is Ringo), verse three about John and verse four about Paul. Though no-one really knows if this is true.
  • The first time John wore his iconic granny glasses (excepting the times he was forced to wear them as a child, before he got his Buddy Holly frames) was in the scene in Help! where The Beatles are in the airport, about to head off to The Bahamas. It’s kind of funny how all four Beatles in that scene look the spitting image of what they would look like later on in their lives…
  • Whenever The Beatles played in America, one of their contractual obligations (requested by them, I might add) was that they were never to play to a segregated audience! How cool is that?
  • Both John and Paul had cats named Jesus.
  • In 1964, a song called ‘Ringo, I Love You’ was released by someone named Bonnie Jo Mason. Bonnie Jo went on to become Cher… And who produced that song, you ask? Phil Spector. Who of course has many Beatley connections himself.
  • There are two people who do the voice of “George” in Yellow Submarine. A guy named Peter Batten was the original voice, but he was arrested during the making of the film, and was replaced by another guy by the name of Paul Angelis (the voice of “Ringo” and the Chief Blue Meanie).
  • Ringo and his wife, Barbara Bach, have been together the longest out of any serious relationship involving a Beatle. Though Olivia and George were together 20 years, and Paul and Linda were together 29 (and they would probably all still be together)…
  • David Gilmour (of Pink Floyd) owns the drawing that inspired ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’.
  • You know that infamous John quote — “Ringo isn’t the best drummer in the world. He isn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles!”? John didn’t even say that. It was actually said by a comedian called Jasper Carrott in 1983.
  • George was the first person to use the word ‘grotty’! The ‘grotty shirts’ scene in A Hard Day’s Night was, in fact, the first time the word was used. For all you Americans, ‘grotty’ has remained a popular Briticism (and Australianism!) since.
  • Apparently Nico (of The Velvet Underground and Nico fame) was at Brian Epstein’s Sgt Pepper party. She listened to ‘A Day In The Life’, and thought that the first bit and the orchestral climax were beautiful, but that the “stupid little pop song” in the middle ruined it. She told this to Paul — whoops…
  • It’s rumoured that Jim Morrison was at the session for ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’, and that he sang on various parts of it. Though this has never been proven.
  • Brian Jones played on numerous Beatles songs! He sang on both ‘Yellow Submarine’ and ‘All You Need Is Love’, played oboe on ‘Baby, You’re A Rich Man’ and saxophone on ‘You Know My Name’. In turn, John and Paul sang on The Stones’ song ‘We Love You’.
  • Paul played bass on Donovan’s 1967 song ‘Mellow Yellow’.
  • Before John and Yoko bought Tittenhurst Park, John rented a flat in Montagu Square from Ringo. When John and Yoko moved to New York, Ringo bought Tittenhurst Park!
  • In 1979, The Guinness Book of World Records  gave Paul a rhodium-plated disc for being the bestselling artist of all time. Due to his immense sales, platinum was insufficient enough!
  • John was the last Beatle to learn to drive. He passed his driving test on February 15th, 1965, at the age of 24.
  • On ‘All You Need Is Love’, George and Paul experiment a bit, instrument-wise — Paul plays a double bass and George plays a violin!
  • And unsurprisingly, The Beatles are the best-selling artists of all time, with at least 2,303,500,000 certified units sold!

And there we go! Some interesting Beatles facts for you all! Have you got a favourite Beatles factoid, or did I leave something off my list? Please drop me a line in the comments below!

Hope you’ve all had a great week! Today is a public holiday in Adelaide, and I’m off to the third and final day of WOMADelaide in a few hours. I’ve seen some really great acts, like Swedish indie-folk act First Aid Kit, Welsh musician Gruff Rhys (who was in Super Furry Animals), blues virtuoso C W Stoneking and a really cool Adelaide band called Max Savage and the False Idols… Oh, and I’ve been changing the appearance of ‘AYNITB’ a bit! I’m still messing around with backgrounds and headers, but please tell me what you think… Good day sunshine ’till next week! 🙂

9 Of My Favourite John Lennon Rhythm Guitar Performances

The aforementioned Beatle with the aforementioned instrument.

The aforementioned Beatle with the aforementioned instrument.

Hello (goodbye) all! Happy February, happy British Invasion anniversary (for the 9th) and happy Rooftop Concert anniversary (for the 30th of last month)! And so it’s back to school for tangerinetrees99. To paraphrase John, “Another school year, a new one just begun.” But anyway…

Today I thought I’d do a post around my favourite Beatle. (I think everyone who reads this blog knows which Beatle I’m talking about.) And something which not everyone immediately associates with that particular Beatle; his rhythm guitar skills!

Despite what a few people think, John was an incredibly good rhythm guitarist. (Rhythm guitar, by the way, is the rhythmic strumming of guitar chords, as opposed to lead guitar, which is fingering melodies.) In fact, he was an utter rhythm guitar genius. (And those who play rhythm guitar know that it is a lot harder than it looks.) Changing between dirty, bluesy sloppiness (a la ‘Revolution’) and incredibly precise, near-impossible perfection (a la ‘All My Loving’), with some stabbing proto-punk and tender fingerpicking in between, John helped Ringo make The Beatles drive.  John had a quirky yet strong sense of rhythm and timing, and often relied on the offbeats (beats 2 and 4 in a bar of 4 beats) to create his rhythm part. He also had a penchant for barre chords, also contributing to that distinctive Lennon sound. A deceptively simple concept to follow, John truly was one of the few who innovated rhythm guitar for generations to come. Here are nine of my Lennon rhythm favourites, in no particular order:

9. ‘She’s A Woman’

Despite one missed chord change, John’s barred, offbeat stabs of his Rickenbacker 325 practically sums up his style in one song. As much as I love Paul’s “Little Richard” vocals, my very favourite thing about this song is the rhythm part. Thanks Johnny!

8. ‘All My Loving’

A well-known example of John’s guitar skills, this song is practically impossible to play. Those nay-sayers need to be directed to this song. Just check out those super-fast triplets! Proves that The Beatles were always an incredibly good band, even before Rubber Soul!

7. ‘I’m Looking Through You’

This song is too overlooked. Not only is it one of Paul’s best songs (in my opinion), John’s acoustic guitar is damn groovy! Who can’t dig all those complicated finger movements and rhythms? Definitely one of my favourite songs to play. (George’s groovy distorted lead is cool, too!)

6. ‘Revolution’

As soon as that iconic distorted groove kicks off, John’s guitar work in ‘Revolution’ only goes up. John himself said that he found himself a better guitarist after working on this song! As you probably know by now, I have a penchant for distorted, dirty guitar work, of which John is the master. I seriously dig the sort of bluesy patterns John is beating out on his Casino. (Side note: Nicky Hopkins played keyboard on this track. He is probably the only guy ever to have played on the records of the Beatles, solo-Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Easybeats, Who…)

5. ‘Yer Blues’

Okay. This song was definitely going to be on the list. Again, deceptively simple. Actually near impossible. John’s quirky sense of timing certainly contributes to the absolutely groovy feel of this song! His rhythm part alternates between incredibly precise “frills” at the end of each line and sloppy swinging. I find the distinction between lead and rhythm very fine on this song, which is cool! The Rolling Stones Rock’n’Roll Circus performance of this song (with Eric Clapton on lead, Mitch Mitchell on drums and Keith Richards on bass) shows the distinction a little more, for those interested (also includes John and Mick Jagger doing incredibly bad US accents and being jokey…):

 

4. ‘Across The Universe’

John’s acoustic work here is just gorgeous! Especially the intro. It definitely isn’t as complicated as some of the stuff above. But it’s really beautiful to listen to. And isn’t that what true music is all about?

3. ‘Julia’

John used the fingerpicking technique that Donovan taught him in India on this absolutely heartbreaking track. John uses a few really obscure chords on this song. He really did have an impeccable knowledge of creative harmonies… Totally beautiful. Whilst he was a master of the dirty, sloppy rhythm, his tender fingerpicking is too underrated.

2. ‘Revolution 1’ (‘Kinfauns’ Demo Tapes version)

I know I included the single version of this song above, but I just had to include the ‘Kinfauns’ (George’s house at the time) Demo Tapes version! That guitar work at the beginning is something I love very much. I think John is also playing barre chords (or maybe with a capo), playing true to the “Lennon sound”. The Beatles all sound like they are enjoying themselves very much, which contributes to the fun sound of the demo!

1. ‘I Found Out’ 

Yes, I know this is in fact a song off John’s first solo album. Not a Beatles song (though Ringo does play drums on it). But I had to include it somewhere! That rumbling, dirty distortion is not something you hear every day… Some people even count it as proto punk! A really rockin’ song.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: ‘I’m So Tired’, ‘Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me and My Monkey’, ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)’, pretty much anything on A Hard Day’s Night, ‘Help!’, ‘She Said, She Said’, ‘I’m Only Sleeping’, many other songs…

And there we go! Exposing another exceptionally talented side of John, for which he isn’t always known for… Have you got a favourite Lennon rhythm part? Please tell me in the comments!

Oh, and yesterday, I played my first gig! It was really wonderful! Once I put the videos somewhere, I will post about the experience here, so keep an eye out… But until then, good day sunshine! 🙂