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.

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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! 🙂

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I think I’m gonna be sad — I think it’s today…

A beautiful photo of John, who we sadly lost on this day. Love you.

A beautiful photo of John, who we sadly lost on this day. Love you.

On this day almost exactly 34 years ago (a previous Monday), an utterly horrible thing happened. A horrible, horrible thing. John Lennon was shot dead. I choose not to name his assassin, as he has said that he shot John for the fame that it could bring, and naming him would also be rewarding him. I choose to call him also what Paul calls him; ‘the jerk of all jerks’. I’m currently listening to Imagine, and am wearing my John-wearing-NYC-t-shirt shirt to remember him. (Not that I need any help with that, but anyway.) I’ve been half dreading this post. But here goes.

One of my very first Beatle-y memories is about John. Looking back, I think I may have known about him before I knew about The Beatles. It must have been 2009, which is coincidentally the year that the time machine in Yellow Submarine stops on. I wouldn’t have yet been ten. I remember eating dinner in front of our little box-shaped analogue TV in our dining room, at our tablecloth-covered round table which we no longer own. It must have been this day. I remember an image of the Dakota Building, and someone talking about this person named ‘John Lennon’. I then asked about who he was, and my mum explained to me who he was and how he died. Little did I know about how that man on the TV screen would change my life.

I don’t even remember why John became my favourite Beatle at first.  In around June last year (after slowly becoming a vague Beatles convert four months earlier), I read a book called Secrets and Sisterhood, which mentions John on the first page. Secrets and Sisterhood was my favourite book at the time (and still remains one of my favourite books, but the top spot is taken is by Looking For Alibrandi). But I  now know that John probably would have become my favourite Beatle, anyway.

In June 2013, I knew under 20 Beatles songs by name. I had no idea of the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership. And my knowledge of rock music was fairly rudimentary, as I played classical music. But as I became a bigger Beatles fan (and later, a bigger rock fan), and already being a reader, I also became a better-read Beatles fan. The first Beatle book I bought was a very expensive limited-edition printing of The Beatles’ Illustrated Lyrics, which is actually signed by Alan Aldridge. But I soon started reading actual information on John. And it almost seemed as if I was reading about myself. I realised that there was someone out there, a bit like me. And they just turned out to be John Lennon. I suppose that’s when I kind of confirmed my favourite Beatle.

Of course, over the past year, I have read/listened/watched so much stuff about John (and yes, I still refuse to read The Lives Of John Lennon) that I can quite safely call myself a John Lennon freak. (Not that I would call my love of him and the other Beatles ‘freaky’!) I laugh at his wit and humour; I find myself identifying with all his quotes about teachers and schools not recognising his ‘genius’ (long story). I find myself nodding in agreement at his political-themed songs; tears of laughter stream down my cheeks when I read one of his books (definitely recommended, if you have not done so already). I find myself studying every little thing (pun intended) in his songs (and then I find myself trying to recreate such things with varying amounts of); I wonder what the world would be like today if he were still with us. I thank him for making me think about politics, world issues, just important things, full stop; and yeah, I do find myself looking at pictures in which I find him attractive, but that’s not the point. And the music — well…

There was a study done earlier this year that shows that music can get the listener high. And I can identify with this so much. In August this year, I had an experience that I’ll never forget. I was listening to my Revolver vinyl, and part way through ‘I’m Only Sleeping’, an emotion I’d never felt before washed over me. A feeling of intense love and euphoria for the music. Thank you, John (and Paul, George and Ringo), for that.

John inspires me in so many ways, as well. As mentioned last post, John and George inspired me to pick up guitar. I might have my first (sort-of) gig coming up in January, something which I’m looking forward to very much. John inspired me to start writing songs. And whilst I haven’t written very many (yet), one of my goals this school holidays is to put some more time into that side of writing. John and the other Beatles actually reinvigorated my love of music, full stop. And whilst sometimes there is nothing more I want to do than jam out to Tame Impala, or dance around to The Black Keys, or sway and strum to Arcade Fire, or get that music high mentioned above from The Velvet Underground and Nico (especially ‘Venus In Furs’!), The Beatles will forever remain my favourite band. And that’s just how I like it.

I see no problem in being sad at John’s death. Whilst I was born a considerable amount of time after his death, I love John very much. Unlike George’s death, for which he was ready and whilst very sad was not unexpected, John was shot. In a time where he was arguably the happiest he had ever been. And still far, far, far, far too young to die. It saddens me that someone who wrote a song about giving peace a chance died in such a violent way. John seemed to be looking forward to the rest of the ’80s. He had just launched back into the music world. He was at peace with himself. And yet someone had to take this all away. So close to Christmas, as well. I’ve chosen not to listen to Double Fantasy, as I feel it would be too painful, knowing what happens less than a month later. I was reading someone’s memories of John’s death the other day, and they likened the loss as that of ‘a friend that I never met’. And I suppose that’s what it would have been like. John, to me, is like a friend I’ve never met. (And yes, I know I’m far too old to be having imaginary friends, but forget that.) And — as I said above — though I was not alive at the time of his life (and death), I still have no problem in being sad. Forget the fact that it’s unlikely anybody reading (or writing) this would have known him. And I see no problem in being angry at the person who shot him. Whilst we should probably keep in mind that the person who owned that gun was not right in the head, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be angry that he shot John. It’s rather sad that he wasn’t treated, actually. But I’m still angry. And sad. But despite that, here are a few John moments:

Some say Paul wrote the intro to ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, but they are wrong! Watch this scene from The Beatles’ US Visit — John seems to playing around with the opening to the masterpiece as early as February 1964. The instrument he is playing is called a melodica. It’s a pity that there wasn’t more footage of John messing around with the melodica, but I s’pose the filmmakers didn’t know where that sequence would appear three years later.

Hee hee! I love this scene. I mean, John Lennon in a bath playing with a toy boat. Need I say more? Will cheer you up… (And yes, I will stop fangirling.)

I’m probably being slightly controversial putting this up here, but I want to. In this clip, John defends his song ‘Woman Is the Nigger Of The World’. Being the feminist/leftist that I am, I already agree with the song, but what John says is too interesting to ignore. Still relevant today.

And of course this had to be here. I love the music video, I love the song. Some love to hate Yoko, but she inspired John. Without her, this (and the above — thank you, Yoko, for inventing that statement) wouldn’t exist.

I could write more than a few books on John and how I love him and how he has changed my life. But I won’t. I will conclude this massive post here. So, John, thank you. Thank you for making me a better person. Thank you for the music. Thank you for you. I can’t convey in words how much you have changed and influenced my life, but I have certainly tried today. We will never forget you. Love tangerinetrees

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john two

john looking so gorgeous

john three

All Things Must Pass…

Rest in peace, George.

Rest in peace, Georgie.

In Adelaide, it is currently the 29th of November, 2014. The 13th anniversary of George Harrison’s death. There is only one Beatle I haven’t done a ‘Happy Birthday’ post for, and I’m sad that that I have to write an ‘anniversary of death’ post about this particular Beatle beforehand. I’m currently listening to Living In The Material World/All Things Must Pass (I might listen to my Cloud Nine vinyl later) and wearing my Yellow Submarine t-shirt in his memory.

I realise I haven’t done a post on George within this blog yet. In fact, I don’t think I’ve really written about George since June. Rather stupid of me, ‘cos he is my second-favourite Beatle. But anyway, I shall make up for such crimes over the school holidays…

George was the last Beatle I found out about, in around March 2013. I remember a friend (who actually introduced me to The Beatles) coming to school one day and telling me that she’d discovered The Beatles wrote all their own songs, her example being ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ being credited to a ‘George Harrison’. Ah, I thought. The name of the elusive fourth Beatle. And ever since that rainy Autumn day nearly two years ago, I’ve never forgotten that name. For a few months, George was my least favourite Beatle. I don’t know why (nobody told you / how to unfold your love…) — my theory is that I placed him fourth purely because I knew next to nothing about him. But then — about a year ago (December 2013, if my memory serves correct) — George Harrison: Living In The Material World was played on Australian TV. I know for a fact that quite a few George fans have come out of watching that wonderful film, and I am among them. I became so interested with George and his music, and rightfully so. (Though I did love ‘What Is Life’ beforehand.) I can only say that I’ve listened to two of his solo albums in full (plus part of a third), but all of his songs that I’ve heard — Beatles (I’ve obviously heard all of those!) or otherwise — are absolutely impeccable. A truly underrated songwriter, I must say… (Yay! ‘Wah Wah’ — my favourite George song — is playing!).

Last year, I found out what day George died on the, well, day. I remember being quite sad, but George didn’t really mean that much to me at that point. I would have known under one-hundred Beatles songs (I now know over 250 Beatles songs…), and this was pre-Living In The Material World. I was slightly sad this morning, but now I am focusing on remembering George. As my mum said precisely a year ago, ‘Knowing what sort of person he was, George wouldn’t have wanted you to be sad.’ And whilst George’s death is very, very sad (he died far too young), it wouldn’t have been a surprise. By the time he passed on, the cancer had spread to his brain and he was ready to die. His death wasn’t as unexpected as John’s. From what I have read/watched, I think George was ready.

George (and John) inspired me to pick up guitar, earlier this year. And wow, how I thank them! Playing guitar is one of the few factors that completely changed my life in the past couple of years (The Beatles being another), and through it, not only have I come a long way in the music world, I’ve also found a heap of other good music. I can now play the large majority of my favourite songs, and I’m now dabbling in the world of songwriting. In fact, my two guitars are called John and George. And so I thank the two namesakes for inspiring me to try my hand at playing guitar!

Talking of guitar, George really was amazing at the instrument. When I listen to the licks on his solo stuff, they’re not just licks, or riffs. They swirl around the listener’s brain, like a butterfly that has been freed into an open field. They are, quite literally (in my mind), swirls. I count George as one of those iconic guitarists that you can pick from their playing within a few seconds. He really knew how to make his guitar ‘speak’. I also think he was a fabulous musician in general — he played everything from a Moog to violin, showing his versatility. Here are some of my favourite George moments (though I’m going to do a post on my favourite George songs at a later date):

‘Cloud Nine’ is a really groovy song. The guitar is awesome. George sings it wonderfully.

‘Long, Long, Long’ — George’s acoustic work in this song is stellar. The song is stellar. It sits right after a stellar song, as the last track of a stellar side of a stellar double album. (And I’m not being sarcastic. Serious.)

The obligatory ‘My Sweet Lord’! The solo in this is subject to the swirling effect I was discussing above. Beautiful.

(There are so many other George moments I love as well, others off the top of my head including ‘I Dig Love’, the two versions of ‘Isn’t It a Pity’ and ‘Art Of Dying’ — the latter rather appropriate for today, sadly.)

George also seemed like a genuinely nice person. Quite selfless, I think. There are so many stories about him being a really lovely person, ranging from the relatively well-known tale of him mortgaging Friar Park so he could create Handmade Films to fund Life of Brian (thank the not-Messiah (‘He’s not the Messiah! He’s a very naughty boy!) for that!), to him inviting fans to his house to meet him. And whilst he wasn’t perfect, who is?

And I really have only just started listening to the lyrics in his songs (stupid me), and they’re beautiful. I’m currently listening to ‘Beware Of Darkness’, and wow… His words — whether they be about God, or love, or the loss of friendship, or anything in particular — they really talk to those who care to listen. No wonder he is my second-favourite Beatle!

And one final thing: there’s a wonderful George quote that really resonates with me (well, a lot of his quotes resonate with me, but anyway), in particular. I posted it in ‘Words Are Flowing Out’, but here it is, anyway: “It’s nothing to do with how many years old you are, or how big your body is. It’s down to what your greater consciousness is, and if you can live in harmony with what’s going on in creation.” Something happened earlier this year (a story for later) that kind of threw me in at the deep end, and all of sudden made me feel very young. I had never been ‘the youngest’ before. And this quote helped me realise that age doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things. Although I connect with John the most, I feel a special kind of connection with George as well. He reminds me of, well, me a bit. George continuously inspires me, and whilst I’m not a religious person, his principles were very, very sensible. Thank you, George.

But anyway, rest in peace, Georgie. Whether it be the Dylanesque ‘Apple Scruffs’, or the swirling paisley (yep, my term) feel of ‘My Sweet Lord’, the slides on ‘I Dig Love’, or the heavy riffing on ‘Wah Wah’ and ‘What Is Life’, your music really was something special. You were something special. There is so much I could say about you, but I shall cover that another day. We love you and miss you like mad. But as you once said, all things must pass. Wherever you are, I hope you have a beautiful day. Say hello to John for us. tangerinetrees99

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george with a border collie

george with a tambourine on his head

beautiful picture