HAPPY BIRTHDAY RINGO STARR!

Ringo during the 'Get Back' sessions (Image credit: thebeatles.com)

Ringo during the ‘Get Back’ sessions
(Image credit: thebeatles.com)

As you probably know, today (July 7) is the 75th birthday of Richard Starkey, a.k.a. Ringo Starr! Happy birthday, Ringo! Like Paul, I’ve never written that much about Ringo, so today is my chance…

When people are asked to name their favourite drummers, there’s the obvious ones. Keith Moon, John Bonham, Neil Peart, Ginger Baker. And for good reason, ‘cos they’re exceptional players. Moon and Bonham take two spots in my ‘top three drummers’.

And of course, Ringo is the other person in my list. And I think that he’s one of the most underrated drummers, ever. Way too many people underestimate his abilities. But although I’m not a drummer, his playing, in my opinion, is wonderful! What’s special about his style is that it is quite understated; no drum solos, no flashy beats. But that wouldn’t have gone with The Beatles’ style. He was absolutely perfect for them.

Ringo is a very inventive drummer, too — whether it be the bassy fills in ‘A Day In The Life’, or the syncopated rock of ‘Ticket To Ride’, or anything in between, he executes his parts so well! The fact that he uses a right handed kit, despite being a lefty, only adds to his style and makes him even cooler! He made The Beatles drive. To quote Dave Grohl:

Ringo’s swing and backbeat carry so many of The Beatles’ songs. Back then, the recording depended on the feel of the song. There was no digital manipulation of drum tracks, so it was up to the drummer to dictate that feel. And Ringo had his own sound. Pull all the instruments out and you’d still know it was a Beatles song. And that’s the sound of a signature drummer. It’s the kind of thing drummers strive for all career, but not all of them make it.

Here are a few of my favourite Ringo drumming moments:

Ringo’s drumming turned from ‘good’ to ‘mind-blowing’ in 1966, in my opinion. His skill is on full show in ‘Rain’. His beat is peppered with these magnificent fills! The booming embellishments mimic thunder, his triplets complimenting the psychedelic guitars. Quote Ringo: “I feel as though that was someone else playing – I was possessed!”

I was listening to ‘Paperback Writer’ the other day, and the drums caught my attention. In particular, the cymbal fills in the verses, which sound a bit like someone writing on paper, in my opinion. And of course, like everything else Ringo did in 1966, the other fills are amazing, too!

Ringo’s drums on ‘Come Together’ contributes to the laid-back feel of the song. Perhaps one of the most iconic drum lines in history, his bassy pounding is instantly recognisable. I love it!

(‘Helter Skelter’) Ringo had blisters on his fingers for good reason! Ringo bangs out his drumline, playing like a heavy metal musician. He pushes the boundaries, drumming wonderfully heavy-handedly. His drums make the song drive.

‘What You’re Doing’ is possibly my favourite early-Beatles drum performance. The loud beat that begins the song is perhaps what sticks in the listener’s head. In fact, that booming drum intro is what makes it one of my very favourite early Beatles songs, full stop!

And whilst Ringo wasn’t a super great singer, so many kids are introduced to The Beatles by songs he sang. The first Beatles song I heard as a small child was ‘Octopus’s Garden’. Ringo actually wrote ‘Octopus’s Garden’, with a little help from his friend George. (Pun intended.) To this day, I love the song; for the memories, that slide guitar and the drums!

And though I’ve said before that I’m not very familiar with Ringo’s solo career, there’s one of his songs that I love; ‘I’m The Greatest’.  A hilarious, satirical take on The Beatles written by John, I can’t help but smile when I listen to this song! And both John + George play on it, too, so…

And Ringo seems like a really down-to-Earth and nice guy. I mean, there’s certainly good reason behind why he’s The Beatle that everyone likes. I especially enjoyed his contributions to the Anthology documentaries, for his humour and his honesty. He’s probably the most unaffected Beatle, too – this especially shows through in the fact that he runs his own social media, something I find very cool. (His Twitter account is hilarious, by the way!) I loved reading Rolling Stone’s interview with him, earlier this year. I’m glad that he’s now been inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, and getting the recognition he deserves!

So happy birthday Ringo! Peace and love! 🙂

Beatles Song of the Post (and a few other tidbits)

I don't know if I've posted this image before (I think it's one of my headers), but I love these pictures so much! Reminds me of the album they are used to promote, '1' -- the first Fabs album I ever bought, and my key to the wonderful world of The Beatles...

I don’t know if I’ve posted this image before (I think it’s one of my headers), but I love these pictures so much! Reminds me of the album they are used to promote, ‘1’ — the first Fabs album I ever bought, and my key to the wonderful world of The Beatles…

Well, the final school term of 2014 has begun, and 7 weeks left of this school year! Yay! I have a really big History assignment impending, so I apologise if I don’t get to post as much as I’d like. I also have my Grade 3 violin exam coming in two weeks. These next couple of months are going to be very busy. But The Beatles (and this blog) will not be neglected! I also have another exciting event coming up in a couple of weeks, too, which I’ll write more about at the bottom of this post. The weather is really, really hot here in Adelaide today, but it’ll get to a good 15 or so degrees above this in January, so I guess I’d better get used to it. But to sum up this paragraph, everything finally seems peaceful and round in my mind, and to quote The Beatles, “It’s getting better all the time!” For once, my pessimistic nature seems to be taking a back seat… 😉

So today, I was going to do a relatively detailed post, but I’ve got some other stuff to write about too so I decided just to write about a featured Beatles song. And because it’s so hot today, I’ve decided to feature (drum roll please, Ringo)…’Rain’! (Yeah, I know — it is obviously not raining here, but there are lines in this song that refer to the sun…)

‘Rain’ isn’t even remotely well known, yet it’s still one of the most influential songs ever released (IMO). Only The Beatles could do that! It was, in fact, the B-side to ‘Paperback Writer’ (both gorgeous songs), though some say it was actually a double-A-sided single. It was (slightly obviously) written by John (HE’S SINGING IT), and he, er, rather obviously, is singing it. I read somewhere that he sang much of the backing vocals as well, though according to Wikipedia Paul and George also sang a track each. Apparently (again according to Wikipedia), it has been often hailed “The Beatles’ finest B-side”. Well, The Beatles’ B-sides are actually a lot of their best songs (‘This Boy’ is, in my opinion, a far superior song to ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’. I considerably prefer ‘You Can’t Do That’ to ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’. ‘Yes It Is’ is a B-side, and whilst I love ‘Ticket To Ride’ about equally to it, it is still absolutely exquisite. Not to even mention ‘I Am The Walrus’, ‘Revolution’, ‘Old Brown Shoe’….), so I really do not know how one could choose a finest B-side. So let’s just say its one of their finest…

Some claim that the song was about LSD, and others claim it is about the horrible weather that John saw when he was touring Australia. I — being Australian — obviously think it would be cool if one of my favourite songs is written about my country, but I honestly don’t care if it’s about acid or not. I guess we’ll never know what is the right story, as John never commented on what the song was about. But anyway… The song is notable for being the first exhibition of BACKMASKING! And I guarantee you that no satanic messages were involved 😉 … Both John and George Martin have claimed that they created it. John claims to have accidentally discovered it whilst listening to a tape of the song whilst he was “stoned out of his mind”, and George Martin also claims that he discovered it whilst playing around with the tapes and thinking it would be fun to do something with John’s voice. Geoff Emerick backs up John, but who knows? John played his 1965 Gretsch Nashville (rhythm) guitar, Paul used his Rickenbacker bass for the first time, George used his Gibson SG and Ringo played, well, his Ludwig drums. Talking of Ringo’s drumming, ‘Rain’ often cited as Ringo’s best drumming performance (including Ringo himself). Quote Ringo: “I think it’s the best out of all the records I’ve ever made. ‘Rain’ blows me away…I know me and I know my playing…and then there’s ‘Rain'” The song just has an amazing rhythm track, full stop. Be sure to listen to it with good-quality speakers and/or headphones!

This song was also one of the earliest examples of the music clip. As you may or may not remember from my earlier post Six Ways The Beatles Changed The World, The Beatles basically invented the music clip, and were using promo films as early as late 1965, but at that point were really just miming their stuff in black-and-white. Though you could technically say that ‘Penny Lane’/’Strawberry Fields Forever’ were the first true music videos (they are truly amazing — look them up), ‘Rain’ and ‘Paperback Writer’ were the first songs that had proper music clips. The Beatles are filmed wandering around the grounds of a British mansion called Chiswick House IN COLOUR, and yeah, they mime, but there you have it! To quote George, “So I suppose, in a way, we invented MTV.”

So there you have it — a profile of one of The Beatles’ finest songs, from my favourite Beatles era. (The music from that era is — excuse cliche — too completely and utterly beautiful for words.) Hope you learnt something!

And my news… I’M GOING TO SEE RODRIGUEZ LIVE IN TWO WEEKS! Some of you may have heard of a guy called Rodriguez (or Sixto Rodriguez) and/or a documentary called Searching For Sugarman. Story cut short, Rodriguez was an American folk singer (slightly Dylanesque) who sold about six records in the US, but was “bigger than Elvis” in South Africa. (He also sold quite well here.) He was actually thought dead by most of his fans until he was found by some South African fans in the ’90s. And next month he is touring Australia! We only managed to finally get tickets a couple of days ago, as most of them had been bought by stupid scalpers. But anyway, I’m really excited, and you’ll be sure to get a post on the gig! I’ll leave you with my favourite Rodriguez song now, so good day sunshine until next week! 🙂

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RINGO STARR!!!

 

The birthday boy performing at Shea Stadium in 1965

The birthday boy performing at Shea Stadium in 1965

 

As most Beatles fans know, today is the 74th birthday of Richard Starkey – or as the world knows him, Ringo Starr, the ring-sporting drummer of The Beatles! Happy birthday, Ringo – I hope you have a fabulous day! I am currently wearing my Yellow Submarine t-shirt (as I said I would) and listening to the iTunes-exclusive Beatles compilation album Tomorrow Never Knows to celebrate.

One thing that amazes me about Ringo is that he is left-handed, yet he played a right-handed drum kit – incredibly well, too! People may tease drummers, but – trust me – they are really hard to play, with lots of coordination needed and all that. But the fact that Ringo could play a kit not set up to suit the hand he preferred shows how good he is! Oh, and not that this is related to anything, but his rings are cool – ever since I watched a certain film about a certain ring that Ringo was sent by a ‘fan’ that landed The Beatles into a lot of strife (you know what I mean), I always laugh to myself when I see a ring with a giant red gem perched on top…

Unlike the other Beatles’ solo careers, I am ashamed to say I only know two of Ringo’s songs – ‘You’re Sixteen’ and ‘Photograph’ (actually, I heard ‘It Don’t Come Easy’ played at a George Harrison tribute I went to in March, but that doesn’t really count, considering I don’t know his version). Sorry, Ringo! So for his birthday, I will post the three above songs (‘cos I’ve just decided I’ll pause ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’ and YouTube ‘It Don’t Come Easy’…), plus my four favourite examples of his drum-work within The Fab Four. Enjoy!

 

‘It Don’t Come Easy’ – wow, I can’t believe that I didn’t listen to this earlier! I reckon that is my favourite Ringo song (though I only know three, so you be the judge of whether I can really make that statement…)! Anyway, I officially love this song. It’s also quite obvious that George helped to write it – it almost sounds like it could come straight off All Things Must Pass (which I just YoutTubed, and am finally listening to it in full – sure Ringo won’t mind!)

 

‘Photograph’ – another Harrison/Starkey composition! I don’t like it as much as the above, but it’s still a nice song, so give it a listen.

 

I’ve only heard Ringo’s cover of ‘You’re Sixteen’ once (on the radio), but my recollections of it are very positive – must give it some ear-time after ATMP has finished!

 

‘Tell Me Why’ – I love this song! John’s voice in it is absolutely gorgeous (never is it not, though 🙂 ), but I’m not here today to gush over my favourite Beatle – another reason I love this song (other than John) is that Ringo’s drumming is really, really, really fabulous! Just check out those fills – they prove just how musically accomplished the Fabs were (even in their early years), and how good Ringo was/is a drummer. This song (like a lot of The Beatles’ catalogue) is criminally underrated – if only more people knew it… Oh, and that clip is from the concert scene at the end of A Hard Day’s Night.

 

‘What You’re Doing’ – boom, b-boom, boom, b-boom… wow – those drums at the beginning of this song make for a killer intro! This is one of my favourite Paul songs (that I forgot to put on his birthday post…), but (as with ‘Tell Me Why’) I love it just as much for its rolling drum line. This is one of the few Beatles songs with a drummed introduction – and does Ringo do it well!

 

‘A Day In The Life’ – yeah, yeah, yeah (pun intended) – I hear you saying, “Oh, tangerinetrees99 – ‘A Day In The Life’ is such in obvious choice!” But there’s a reason behind why so many people love Ringo’s drum-manship (just made up that word – calling on the Oxford Dictionary!) in this masterpiece only fit for the finale spot on the most influential rock album of all time (you know what sergeant and his lonely-hearts club band I’m talking about…). At the moment (over the top of ‘Isn’t It A Pity’, which I should also mention is  a gorgeous tune), I can hear John’s acoustic guitar, heightened by those booming bass drums that Ringo plays in John’s sections of the song. Ringo really is a great drummer – I don’t think The Beatles would be quite as accomplished if Pete Best had been kept as the drummer (no offence, Pete)…

 

‘The End’ – you didn’t really think I’d leave the sort-of-finale of Abbey Road (‘Her Majesty’ is a hidden track, that was almost never on the album – and Paul never wanted it on there, anyway) off this list, did you 🙂 ? Two words – DRUM SOLO! In fact, this is the only Beatles song to involve such a thing – apparently, Ringo absolutely hated them, but John, Paul and George convinced him into adding one to this tune.  I love the guitar solos in ‘The End’, too – I often play a little game with myself whenever I listen to it, in which one has to work out who’s playing what (clue: John plays the gutsy, overdrived bits, which are – you guessed it – my favourites), and I’m quite good at it (if I say so myself!). It’s quite fitting, really – this was the last song The Beatles ever recorded together as a foursome ( 😦 ), so it quite literally is ‘the end’. I’ve got the Anthology 3 version on my iPad (it came on Tomorrow Never Knows), which has an elongated E piano chord at the end, a lot like the infamous ending of ‘A Day In The Life’ – looks like I’m on an ‘A Day In The Life’ theme, here…

 

So, there you go – some Ringo-solo songs, and my favourite examples of his drumming! Ringo in a kind of nutshell, if you like…

Lastly, I’d like to wish Ringo a happy birthday, again, so happy birthday, Ringo! Us Beatlemaniacs have been thinking of you all day 🙂 !

I’ll leave you with another picture of Ringo, but after that, I’m going to finish listening to All Things Must Pass, so good day sunshine! 🙂

 

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