Ziggy played guitar…

EDIT – 14/1/2016: This post will forever be rendered horribly ironic, for just over a week after its publication, David Bowie was dead. I thought a lot about what I’d do with it – whether I’d delete it, change the tense – but I’ve decided I’ll leave it as is, to show how much I loved his work before this tragedy. Rest in the greatest of peaces, Starman – I have always admired and loved your art like little else, and I always will, too.

(credit: Brian Duffy)

(credit: Brian Duffy)

Between last August and October, I visited the ‘David Bowie Is…’ exhibition (recently in Melbourne) twice. Curated with unlimited access to Bowie’s archives, the exhibition was truly amazing. Featuring everything from handwritten lyric drafts, to a huge number of his famous costumes, to the guitar he recorded ‘Space Oddity’ on, the exhibition renewed my love for a near-original protagonist in my fixation with rock music.

Bowie first entered my consciousness nearly three years ago. At the beginning of 2013, a friend introduced me to The Beatles, a discovery that changed almost every aspect of my life. However, as my love of their music grew into an deep passion that is still strong, she began to get tired and moved onto other artists who she also introduced me to. One of these was David Bowie. In the September of 2013, we briefly formed a duo together, and she had started to learn ‘Space Oddity’ on ukulele. She taught me the lyrics, and told me of him. But at the time, I felt that by listening to other artists, I would be betraying my love of The Beatles. He soon faded from my interest.

Bowie reappeared in my life at the end of 2013. One night, a recent documentary named David Bowie: Five Years in the Making of an Icon was screened on TV, and my parents encouraged me to watch it with them. It was through this that I learnt of the worlds of Ziggy Stardust, Major Tom and the Thin White Duke; of Hunky Dory and “Heroes”. I was especially pleased to hear about John Lennon’s songwriting credit on ‘Fame’, though it would be a year before I listened to the song. It wouldn’t be until I began using iTunes Radio in September 2014, however, that I truly became a Bowie fan. Songs such as ‘Suffragette City’, ‘Life on Mars’, ‘The Jean Genie’ and ‘Ashes to Ashes’ would frequently play, and I soon grew to love them. It’s been that way ever since.

There is something fascinating about Bowie. Something that allows his work to remain almost as radical and dangerously thrilling as when it was first released. Something that allows him to be an omnipresent component of pop culture, yet remain an icon of the underground. Something that allows him to be among the few “classic rock” artists that makes even the current-day listener feel rebellious and ‘different’, in a time where rock’n’roll has been largely accepted by the establishment. Something which makes his mastery of ‘sound and vision’ among the greatest rock legends of all time. This “something” – his genius – is what I aim to explore today.


Part 1: Vision.

Unlike many musicians, Bowie’s work is not solely musical. Among the great things about it is that he understood the importance of visual mediums, too – like film, fashion and photography. It is this that makes consuming his work a fascinating, multi-faceted experience, and is part of what establishes him as a true artist.

Oh! You Pretty Things

tassels 73 ziggy(1)ziggy

Asides from the music, Bowie’s image was integral in making me a fan of his work. Even more than 40 years after the “death” of Ziggy Stardust, there is still little that looks as transfixing or as outlandishly unique as Bowie did in the early ’70s. Dressing in flamboyant bodysuits and shining platform shoes, cutting his newly-bright-red hair into the famous “Ziggy” cut and applying eye-catching make-up (normally synonymous with femininity), the brand of fearlessly-decadent androgyny that Bowie created with the costumes from the Ziggy & Aladdin Sane periods is so unconventional that it cannot be defined by “male” or “female”, or even by the regular expectations of humans in general. There isn’t much in pop culture today that is as unafraid to push gender (and general) expectations – or looks as plain weird – as Bowie during that time, ensuring that his then-image remains almost as shocking and revolutionary now.

mod david bowiespace oddity hunky dory sesh

Of course, Bowie’s glam costumes are far from his only iconic fashion statement. Almost each era of his career can be associated with various outfits – his mod fashions of the mid-’60s; his hippy-inspired look – accompanied with permed hair – of Space Oddity; the long hair and dresses (and, later, frilly shirts and high-waisted trousers) of The Man Who Sold The World and Hunky Dory; the stylish, minimalist suits of the Thin White Duke and The Man Who Fell To Earth‘s Thomas Jerome Newton; the leather jackets and coiffured hair of the Berlin Triptych; the silvery Pierrot costume of Scary Monsters…and Super Creeps; the distressed frock coats of Earthling. Working closely with talented designers (Kansai Yamamoto, Alexander McQueen), Bowie merged sound with vision (pun intended!), using fashion and makeup to complement and enhance whatever themes, personas and styles he had been toying with at the time. It is his relationship with style that adds a new level to his work, helping give it its glamorous and idiosyncratic edge.

Thin-White-Duke-1975pierrotearthling

Hooked to the silver screen

Another visual medium that Bowie has also made great use of is film; this is appropriate, as he has really always been an actor. He studied mime in the earliest days of his career, and of course, his music (though often autobiographical, as well) is played from the perspective of whichever of his myriad of personas he is portraying at the time. So it is unsurprising that Bowie lends himself well to silver-screen acting, too.

the man who fell to earth 1

I’ve only seen a few Bowie films, so I’ll focus on my current favourite: The Man Who Fell To Earth. Following the story of Thomas Jerome Newton (an alien who has come to Earth, attempting to collect water for his dying planet), the film follows his painful downfall; over the film, Newton becomes increasingly corrupted by human vices and is jailed by the government whom he wrongly trusted, ending with him – spoiler alert – eternally stuck in the world he has been forced to accustom to, depressed and an alcoholic. Bowie’s feature-film debut, the film is bleak and heartbreakingly sad throughout, and almost confusingly ambiguous in parts, leading to its divisive status. However, I happen to love it.

The-Man-Who-Fell-to-Earth1

In my opinion, TMWFTE is a spine-chillingly beautiful film, and this is partly due to Bowie’s incredible performance: the Newton he portrays is always on edge of “human-ness”, though never progresses past this point; too fascinated by human phenomena, too aloof, too strange to entirely conform. Newton feels astonishingly real throughout, and perhaps this is because he is a character that Bowie had, for all intents and purposes, played before; much like Newton, Ziggy Stardust falls to Earth with a mission, and winds up failing, his story also ending in symbolic death. “Otherness” is seemingly a recurring theme of Bowie’s personas. (However, they differ and change often enough to ensure that he remains one of the most mysterious musicians around – the enigmatic and unpredictable nature of his work adding to the experience that is consuming his art. I doubt he would be held in the esteem he is if he was still strutting around a stage in multi-coloured leotards singing glam songs, for one…)

It should also be mentioned that the film owes much of its beauty to its visuals, too – I would write about this, but I feel these stills do a much better job than words.

man who fell to earth final scene

TMTWFTE is thematically as relevant today as it was in ’76. The wall of TV screens that Newton becomes addicted to foretell the arrival of the Internet & smart-devices, and the societal reactions that followed; perhaps Newton is really a human, whose differences have ostracised him from society, making the film powerful commentary on the way we treat what we don’t understand; it provokes questions about what we’d do if we ever discover alien life. It is a beautiful film, and I highly recommend seeing it if you haven’t already.

Like the video films we saw

However, Bowie’s acting talents are just as evident within his music clips and concert footage. He acts whatever part – a persona, himself? – he may be playing at the time with charisma, beauty and the same feeling of “otherness” that recurs throughout his work, making the visuals almost as affecting as the music they support. It is with these clips that his merging of sound and vision is at its peak.


Part 2: Sound.

It is no secret that David Bowie’s music is special. But as I listened to his albums while writing this post, I thought a lot about just how special it is. While his visuals are incredible and groundbreaking in their own right, his music is probably his greatest art. There is little in this world that is as magical and exciting as his best records.

Words of truthful vengeance

ziggy lyrics

I’ve felt – for a very long time – that Bowie is an incredibly underrated lyricist. Take, for example, this verse from ‘Quicksand’:

I’m the twisted name on Garbo’s eyes /
Living proof of Churchill’s lies /
I’m destiny /
I’m torn between the light and dark /
Where others see their targets.
Divine symmetry /
Should I kiss the viper’s fang /
Or herald loud the death of Man?
I’m sinking in the quicksand of my thought /
And I ain’t got the power anymore.

Or these lines from ‘We Are The Dead’:

But now we’re today’s scrambled creatures, locked in tomorrow’s double feature /
Heaven’s on the pillow, its silence competes with hell /
It’s a twenty-four hour service, guaranteed to make you tell.

Or ‘”Heroes”‘, simple yet beautiful:

I can remember /
Standing, by the wall.
And the guns shot above our heads /
And we kissed /
As though nothing could fall.
And the shame was on the other side /
Oh, we can beat them, for ever and ever /
Then we could be heroes /
Just for one day.

These lines from ‘Changes’ (or any from Hunky Dory, really):

I watch the ripples change their size /
But never leave the stream of warm impermanence.
And so the days float through my eyes /
But still the days seem the same.
And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds /
Are immune to your consultations /
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.

The final verse of ‘Ziggy Stardust’, illustrating the consequences of fame and arrogance:

Making love with his ego, Ziggy sucked up into his mind /
Like a leper messiah.
When the kids had killed the man /
I had to break up the band.

Ziggy played guitar.

Bowie’s lyrics are a huge part of what makes his songs great. Often, they are pure poetry. He writes with a rarely-found intelligence and eloquence; of fascinatingly thought-provoking subjects. His words are abstract, yet full of meaning; intellectual and metaphorical, yet concise; bleakly realist, yet weirdly uplifting; and for a man notoriously ‘non-political’ in public, the social and governmental commentary he writes is bitingly accurate. His lyrics are surprisingly relatable, too; while rockstars from Mars don’t exactly exist in real life, the themes – love, rebellion, our changing society, general commentary on humanity – that he alludes to are ones that most listeners will easily identify with. There are few artists that write as well as he does, and it’s a pity that he doesn’t receive the accolades he deserves.

I heard telephones, opera house, favourite melodies…

I could discuss the technical merits of the music that Bowie and his bands created. But why? Intervals and chord progressions aren’t usually the reason that a fan falls in love with an artist’s music. Take ‘”Heroes”‘; technically, it’s a simple song, consisting of only a few chords and a basic melody – but when layers of intricate instrumentation and its incredible passion and emotion is added, the song becomes among the most moving and poignant ever written.

It was four songs that drew me to Bowie’s work; ‘Space Oddity’, ‘Life on Mars?’, ‘Starman’ and (the aforementioned) ‘”Heroes”‘. Though, in hindsight, all of these songs are actually quite bleak, there is a beauty to them that makes them so irresistible. They are filled with a catchy, passionate ecstasy that forces you – the listener – to smile and laugh and sing along at the top of your lungs, yet are filled with an intense emotion that has the ability to draw you to tears. They are filled with an infectious, affecting excitement that draws you in and rarely lets go. It’s magical.

This ‘magic’ is found throughout most of Bowie’s work, and this was something I quickly discovered as I devoured his albums and songs. ‘The Width of a Circle’ is hypnotic in its heaviness and relent; ‘Oh! You Pretty Things’ is catchy and fun on first inspection, yet darkly thought-provoking on second; ‘Suffragette City’ is edgy and thrilling, enough to make you want to dye your hair Ziggy-red and invest in a sparkly jumpsuit; ‘Rock’N’Roll Suicide’ is overflowing with emotion and sadness, yet its inclusiveness (“You’re not alone!”; “Gimme your hands!”) makes you feel as if you are a member of the coolest club in the universe; ‘Lady Grinning Soul’ is lush and theatrical, yet always glamorous – never camp; even his cover of The Stones’ ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ is filled with a tightly-wound fieriness, making it as good as the original.

Once I’d listened to his early albums, I progressed to his later work, which was easily as affecting and overwhelming as its predecessors. The tense, apocalyptic build up of Diamond Dogs medley ‘Sweet Thing/Candidate/Sweet Thing (reprise)’ is spine-chilling in its menacing impressiveness; ‘Fame’ is irresistibly funky, making it impossible to keep your feet still (plus, John Lennon!); ‘Station to Station’ is freaky and erratic, its next move unpredictable, exploring countless styles within its 10 minutes; tracks like ‘Sound and Vision’ and ‘Ashes to Ashes’ are spellbinding in their synthy beauty, distracting you from their bleakness; and his latest work – The Next Day and the Blackstar singles – is still experimental, well-crafted and fresh, easily a match for the current music it is now compared against.

Bowie’s music is undeniably amazing – still as innovative, irresistible and weird as when it was first released. He sings and plays with incredible passion and emotion, making it feel more meaningful, beautiful and real than it could’ve been without – because in the end, it is passion that makes great rock’n’roll; it’s arty and intellectual, yet not painfully pretentious; it’s thrilling, fascinating, radical and stunning; it’s art. It is great enough that it still sends shivers down my spine, even after dozens of listens. The greatness of his music has affected so many people so much. And that is a beyond-incredible legacy to own.


More than 50 years after the release of his debut single, Bowie remains as relevant and active as ever. His newest album, Blackstar, is set for release in a week (on his 69th birthday), and has been hailed by critics as among his greatest work yet; his musical, Lazarus, is being shown to consistently sold-out audiences in New York; he continues to serve as an icon for many current teenagers. He remains as mysterious as ever, too; it is now almost impossible to predict what will come next, and the few media announcements he gives are never quite certain. Nothing is ever quite sure in his world, except for maybe one thing. He is among pop culture’s greatest heroes. (And not just for one day, either.)

blackstar

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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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9 Reasons Why I Love The Beatles

To say it’s no secret that I love The Beatles would be a gross understatement. But in the the year that I’ve been writing this blog, I don’t think I’ve ever named the reasons why I love them so much. So today, that’s what I thought I’d do! Of course, I have way more than nine reasons as to why they’re my favourite band, but anyway… So in no particular order:

1. Their music.

Obviously! I’ve enjoyed The Beatles’ music since I was a kid. At that point, I very much enjoyed their simpler, more melodic songs. Nowadays, I prefer their more experimental work. Though I love most of their songs.

There is something for everyone within The Beatles’ catalogue. Whether you’re into folk, or psychedelia, or hard rock, or vaudeville, or avant-garde, or rock’n’roll, or Mowtown, or even simple pop, there’s going to be at least one song for you. The Beatles were one of (if not the) most diverse bands of all time. Their music spans so many genres. No wonder they have so many fans!

2. Their lyrics.

Some gorgeous lyrics-inspired art by artist Justin Helton. (Image credit: 411posters.com)

Some gorgeous lyrics-inspired art by artist Justin Helton.
(Image credit: 411posters.com)

As I wrote in some other posts, I consider The Beatles to be one of the greatest lyrical bands of all time. John, in particular, had such a special way with words. From as early as A Hard Day’s Night, the influence of Bob Dylan prompted John, Paul and George to think more about the lyrics. And this resulted in some of the greatest words of all time! Their lyrics touch on nearly everything; from love, to spirituality, to complete nonsense, to made-up characters, to politics, to… We certainly ended up with some beautiful lines!

3. They broke the rules.

If The Beatles were outlaws... (Image credit: flickr.com)

If The Beatles were outlaws…
(Image credit: Flickr)

The Beatles broke so many of the expectations made by the establishment. A lot of the bands that went before had a bassist at the back, a drummer playing almost jazzy and a rhythm guitarist playing simple chords to the side. The Beatles turned this analogy on its head. And at a time when a Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons song topped the Billboard Hot 100, they released the stark, simple rock of ‘Love Me Do’. They famously had “long” hair when such a concept was unacceptable for men. When it was the norm for popular musicians to have their songs written for them, The Beatles came along and wrote a majority of their tunes themselves. They became the most popular artist in America at the time, a place where it was unheard of for British bands to be successful. And when Beatlemania (an innovation in itself) got to be beyond The Beatles’ patience? They simply gave up touring. Not to even mention the “more popular than Jesus” controversy, or their many musical innovations, or their voicings against the Vietnam War, or…

4. They celebrated individuality.

The Beatles in 'A Hard Day's Night'. (Image credit: thebeatles.com)

The Beatles in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’.
(Image credit: thebeatles.com)

And they celebrated it in so many ways, too! From the beginning, each Beatle was marketed with contrasting personalities, showing them as individuals within their band. And they were very individual in real life, too. This is also shown in their songs. The Beatles expressed themselves and who they were in their songwriting, as songwriters do. A fan can easily tell a John song apart from a Paul song, and a George song, and a Ringo song because of this. They even wrote songs about being an individual in a conforming society; take the lyrics to ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, or ‘Fool on the Hill’, for example!

The Beatles and their brand of individuality have helped so many young people find their identity, over the years. Myself included.

5. Their musical influence.

The Beatles recording 'Revolver'. (Image credit: benjerocks.wordpress.com)

The Beatles recording ‘Revolver’.
(Image credit: benjerocks.wordpress.com)

The Beatles’ influence begins with some of the other big names of the era. The Beatles wrote The Stones’ first hit. Apparently Ray Davies of The Kinks first thought about being in a band after hearing ‘Love Me Do’. And Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend’s first band, The Detours, played Beatles covers at first.

And since then, pretty much rock or pop artist since 1964 has been influenced by the band, one way or another. Whether they play music which sounds “Beatlesque”, or they’re indirectly affected, there’s no denying it. The Beatles are probably the most influential band of all time.

The Beatles also influenced rock music in general. Ringo is often credited as one of the forefathers of modern rock drumming — same goes for John, Paul and George. Artificial double tracking was also invented in a Beatles session. And they were the first band to use a Mellotron, and one of the first to use a Moog. And…

6. Their influence on popular culture.

Gasp! Long hair! (Image credit: biography.com)

Gasp! Long hair!
(Image credit: biography.com)

The Beatles didn’t just didn’t just influence music. They revolutionised pop culture, too. Though many older people were shocked at first, they made it socially acceptable for men to have longer hair. They invented the music clip with the song sequences from their early films, and the “promotional clips” that were made for their songs from 1965 onwards. They set fashion trends, ranging from their earliest collarless suits and Beatle boots to their psychedelia of the mid ’60s to their casuals of the latter part of the decade. Not to mention the countless mentions of them in TV, film, video games and other music.

Just like their musical influence, The Beatles influence on pop culture is practically immeasurable. Just another reason to love them so much… 🙂

7. Their movies.

Ah, I love Photoshop...

Ah, I love Photoshop…

Sure. They’re not really cinematic masterpieces. But there is a special charm to The Beatles’ five films. And I love them!

Currently, Rotten Tomatoes ranks A Hard Day’s Night as the 5th best film of all time, which is a pretty amazing feat. It’s often credited with inventing the mockumentary. And the music clip. And various types of camera shots. And with being the first great rock film. That makes it a pretty influential flick, and arguably the best of the five Beatles movies made. Of course, the music is great, too. And the wonderfully witty humour!

Help! is slightly less clever and influential than AHDN. But the music for it is simply wonderful, boasting cuts like ‘The Night Before’, ‘You’re Gonna Lose That Girl’, ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ and, oh, ‘Help!’. According to the special features disc on the DVD, there are plenty of influential camera techniques in it, as well. Like the colouring of the camera during the ‘Another Girl’ scene.

Yellow Submarine is a classic. Filled with beautifully surreal animation, again influential image techniques and some of The Beatles’ most psychedelic songs, it’s probably my favourite Beatles film. And contrary to popular belief, Let It Be is fascinating too. There’s not many bands who have a fly-on-the-wall documentary showing such a huge part of the history. Though at the moment, the only way to see it is on *cough*bootleg*cough*.

Magical Mystery Tour, though… Hmm… No comment.

8. They’re still relevant today.

(Image credit: huffingtonpost.com)

(Image credit: huffingtonpost.com)

There are still a huge number of young people who love The Beatles, today. Like myself. Their message of love and peace still resonates with those of us who don’t believe in the fighting our governments are so set on. So many of their lyrics connect with us, our lives and our ideals. Their beautiful tunes transcend time.

I think The Beatles will last forever. ‘Cos when it comes to really good music, I don’t think it matters at all how old the band is!

9. And the fact that they packed it all into eight years!

Does it need a caption? (Image credit: laughingsquid.com)

Does it need a caption?
(Image credit: laughingsquid.com)

No band before and no band since has performed perhaps the most impressive Beatley feat. They fitted 12 albums, 13 unique singles and 2 unique EPs into less than 8 years. Most bands, these days, release an album once every 2 or 3 years. You do the maths…

Why do you like The Beatles? Be sure to tell me in the comments!

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 🙂

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

image

george with a border collie

george with a tambourine on his head

beautiful picture

‘Let It Be’/Imagine The Art Of John Lennon

I believe I've posted this before, but I just had to post it again 'cause it's so cute! Taken in the Austrian whilst filming 'Help!'...

I believe I’ve posted this before, but I just had to post it again ’cause it’s so cute! Taken in the Austrian whilst filming ‘Help!’…

I wasn’t too sure what to post today, but I have a couple of Beatle-y/Lennon-y happenings to write about, so here goes! Excuse me if this post is a little mish-mashy (not a word, tangerinetrees99 – not a word), but hope you can follow along!

MY BRAND-NEW LET IT BE DVD

As I’m sure I said in my last post, I ordered a Let It Be DVD, and (of course) the day after I posted, it arrived in the mail! It only had to come from Pasadena (a suburb of Adelaide), after all… I should probably note that the disc is a bootleg – as are all DVDs of Let It Be – so tangerinetrees99 was a very naughty girl 🙂 !! As you can see – as it is far from the official Apple Corps-released (well, not in the case of A Hard Day’s Night) reissues of the other Beatles films – it does not come in a fancy glossy-cardboard gatefold, a slip-cover and a booklet. It is only packaged in a very simple plastic case, with a cover which I assume is an amateur’s Photoshop job. It does have its own charm, though! I’ll post some pictures of it below, and then I’ll write about the film itself, which I watched yesterday.

The front cover

The front cover

The side

The side

The back - with a completely-unrelated picture (not that I care!), a list of all the scenes and some incorrect (both grammatically and historically) information on the film

The back – with a completely-unrelated picture (not that I care!), a list of all the scenes and some slightly incorrect (both grammatically and historically) information on the film

The disc

The disc

And as for the film, I actually really enjoyed it! Despite popular belief, The Beatles are not fighting all the time (there is the famous George-and-Paul argument, after which George leaves the band for a few weeks – the latter is obviously not shown, though…), and they do smile at various points in the film. It was amazing to hear them coming up with songs such as ‘Two Of Us’ (I especially dig that electric version), ‘Octopus’s Garden’ (George was very sweet in that scene!) and ‘Across The Universe’ (again, it sounds groovy on John’s slightly-overdrive Epiphone Casino!). Heather McCartney seemed like a very cute little girl, too. And hearing Paul discuss wanting to begin touring again was interesting – John’s reaction to such mentions, too (sure, he was high on heroin at the time, so probably not a fair judgement – but still…). And of course, the Rooftop Concert! I have seen it in full once before (Mum and I YouTubed it back in January for its – *pauses to do maths sum* – forty-fifth anniversary), but last night was the first time I saw it properly, without trying to read lyrics, or wondering what song was which (that afternoon eight months ago was the first time I heard ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, ‘The One After 909’ and ‘Dig A Pony’). I actually heard Paul’s joking end to ‘Get Back’, for example (good one, Paul!)… So to end off, I really liked the film, and whilst probably no-one but hardcore Beatlemaniacs would find it enjoyable (they might enjoy it more than, erm, Magical Mystery Tour), I would certainly recommend it! This household is in order for another Beatles Movie Marathon, I think… 🙂

 

‘IMAGINE THE ART OF JOHN LENNON’ EXHIBITION

Also yesterday, I – along with my parents and my godfather – went to see the John Lennon art exhibit I also talked about last post! It was held at Hanrahan Studios – the former home/studio of prominent Australian artist Barbra Hanrahan, and Summer-house of her widowed partner, Jo Steele (a racing-car driver and sculptor) – which was a very nice venue, I must say. John’s works (or authorised prints of them) were displayed out in the large two-story studio, and there was a rather steady stream of people (whom I would assume are fellow Lennon Lovers) going through the exhibit. And my gosh, was John a talented artist! Most of the exhibition was made up of his gorgeous drawings – some very funny puns (his ‘Owls Hooting’ one, for example), some simple ink drawings of him and Yoko, some completely random yet still beautiful – however some were prints of his handwritten lyrics to certain Beatles/solo songs (i.e. ‘Drive My Car’ – found this interesting, as ‘DMC’ is a Paul song -, ‘Day Tripper’, ‘In My Life’, ‘Gimme Some Truth’, ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’, ‘Real Love’ and – of course – ‘Imagine’). Oh, and how could I forget – there was a genuinely-signed Beatles picture, too (for $25, 000, mind you)! As you can probably guess, the prints were very expensive, and most of which were somewhat over $1000. However, there were a few unframed prints of his handwritten lyrics to some Milk and Honey songs sitting on the floor, so we brought home a gorgeous print of the lyrics to ‘I’m Stepping Out’! Here is a picture of it below, and here is their website (which I think I posted before) on which you can look at some of the pictures (it won’t let me save images off it, so I can’t put them directly on here).

Here is our print - it will be going in our living room, once the house has been painted. Too expensive to sit on the floor of my bedroom!

Here is our print – it will be going in our living room, once the house has been painted. Too expensive to sit on the floor of my bedroom!

 

So there we go – my post for the week (I will post more in school holidays, I promise)! I ‘spose I should pause ‘I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party’ (I’m listening to Beatles For Sale), and publish this. Have a fab day, and good day sunshine! 🙂

 

My Favourite Beatles Songs (Kind Of)

This made me smile :-)

This made me smile 🙂

 

Hey all,

Now that all the Beatles in Australia festivities are (sadly) over, I’m going to start posting less Australianised posts, and make this blog more generally Beatle-ish. I’m sitting in our study-type-room, listening to Anthology 3 on YouTube (‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ was just on – that version proves how beautiful John’s voice was!), and I thought I’d begin one of the most definitive posts a Beatlemaniac can put on their Beatles-related blog – their favourite Beatles songs! As I said on my ‘Welcome’ post, there is no such thing as my favourite Beatles song, or even a countdown of my ten favourites, so instead, I’m going to list one of my favourite songs off each album, so please enjoy! Also, this is only my opinion (and a very small quota of it, at that), so don’t be offended if your favourite Beatle number is not mentioned – it’s likely that it’d still make my favourites!

Real Love (Anthology 2)

Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know this technically doesn’t count as a proper Beatles song, but it’s so darn beautiful! I heard this for the first time the other week (when I listened to my newest Beatles CD from Melbourne), and I have to admit I got a little emotional. I just watched the official music clip – same effect. John, you really were something special – we miss you!

Please Please Me (Please Please Me)

Favourite song off The Beatles’ first album – it’s boppy, the harmonica riff is fab, and I love basically everything about it!

It Won’t Be Long (With The Beatles)

I love this one, too – the tune is sophisticated, the lyrics are slightly dark, and the chords are gorgeously outrageous and obscure (trust me – I’m a guitarist). Listening to this song makes me want to dance/sing/let my hair down; I challenge you to sit through this song without dancing or singing. I’m fairly sure that any such feat is impossible!

If I Fell (A Hard Day’s Night)

Okay – no explanation needed for this one. ‘If I Fell’ is one of the most exquisite songs ever written – END OF STORY! This is the clip from A Hard Day’s Night, by the way.

Baby’s In Black (Beatles For Sale)

I find it hard to find a favourite song on Beatles For Sale, probably because it’s my equal-second favourite album. But ‘Baby’s In Black’ is an utterly fabulous stand-out; everything from the waltz time, to George’s lead guitar line, to the John/Paul two-part harmonies… God, I love this song!

You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away (Help!)

Ever since I knew who The Beatles were (or maybe even before – I must have been about seven when I first heard this song), I have pertained a passionate love for this song. It played a major part in my becoming-a-Beatlemaniac; it was one of the first Beatles songs I ever heard! But anyway (sentimental values or not), this song is so gorgeous, that even if you aren’t a fan, this song will win you over! This clip is from Help!, in case you’re wondering.

Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) (Rubber Soul)

This was one of the first-ever songs I played on guitar. Listen to it, and you will understand why – the acoustic guitar line is just exquisite, and same goes for the vocals (I love that John/Paul harmony on the chorus)! And how can I write about ‘Norwegian Wood’ without talking about that little thing that made this song so revolutionary – it was the first-ever rock song to involve a sitar, something that only a certain George Harold Harrison could do. Thanks, George – your gorgeous sitar line adds to the extreme amount of beauty that John had already cast over this composition!

She Said She Said (Revolver)

Revolver is my favourite album, and I find it very, very difficult to find just one favourite song from it, but (to put it bluntly) I LOVE THIS SONG! If I was forced to choose a favourite Beatle song, it would probably be this one. Yeah, yeah, yeah – I know it is about John’s experience on an LSD trip, but forget that. Just listen to the lead guitar (I dig that overdrive), the fact that John and George are harmonising ( 🙂 )- oh, I give up. I love every single thing about this song!

She’s Leaving Home (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)

Tough choice. Very tough choice between ‘Lucy In The Sky’, ‘Lovely Rita’, the title track and the above. The song is incredibly complex, the balance between lead and back-up vocals is gorgeous, and the lyrics are beautifully poignant – that is all.

I Am The Walrus (Magical Mystery Tour)

I lose it when I listen to this song – who doesn’t? It is really funny, and the tune is really cool – but I mainly love this song ’cause of John’s hysteric-inducing lyrics! This is the clip from that mad TV film that only Beatlemaniacs actually like (you know what I mean) – that is why the video is so trippy.

Long, Long, Long (The Beatles/White Album)

I just realised that I hadn’t put any George songs on this list, which is a crime – sorry, Georgie! I just love the drums, George’s vocals- I give up! Why am I spending so much time trying to explain why I love these songs, when most of the people who read this blog I would assume are Beatlemaniacs, and would just get it??

Hey Bulldog (Yellow Submarine)

That riff. And John and Paul at the end. That is all I have to say.

Because (Abbey Road)

I think the harmonies, the guitar and the synths speak for themselves, here – ‘Because’ is (cliché) too beautiful for words! There is another song on Abbey Road that deserves a special mention, though – ‘Octopus’s Garden’. It was the first song by The Fabs that I ever heard (at about age four), and it introduced me to a certain kind of magic that is The Beatles.

I Me Mine (Let It Be)

Just like every other song on the list (almost), I cannot explain why I love this song. I just do, and I’m sure that at least the Harrison Heads reading this will agree. I apologise for not putting more Harrison-penned songs on this list – a lot of his compositions make my favourites list, but John’s songs generally end up being my favourite songs off each album.

Yes It Is (single/Past Masters Vol. 1)

Here comes Johnny with his beautiful three-part harmonies, again – isn’t it interesting how he wrote all the three-part songs? But anyway, since I heard this song (the B-side to ‘Ticket To Ride’) about six months ago for the first time, I have had a large obsession with it, mainly for the volume pedal-ed guitar, the 6/8 time-signatures, it’s incredible musical complexities and (you guessed it!) the John/Paul/George harmonies! I know that John didn’t like this song, much – in 1980 (two days before that man with a gun (who does not deserve to be named) interfered with John’s life – or death… ) he described it as “an attempt to rewrite ‘This Boy’ that didn’t quite work” – but John was often quite critical of his Beatle work. Despite this, though, most Beatles fans I know/have read about (the latter being the majority of this crowd!) love this song, and I could not agree with them more! Oh, and the Anthology 2 version of this song is unbearably exquisite – listen to it below, and you’ll see why…

Day Tripper (single/Past Masters Vol. 2)

Da, da da da da da, da, da, da da da… (and those lovely vocals, and the percussion line, and that music clip above, despite the fact I think there should be more close-ups of John, and every other darned thing about this song)… END OF STORY! Isn’t that riff alone a valid enough reason to love this song?!

Well, there we go – a list of my very, very favourite Beatle tunes! I might do a Part 2 of this post at some point, but until then, enjoy having Beatles listening marathons!

(And as for some other Beatle-y things…)

The cover for the UK 50th anniversary A Hard Day’s Night has been changed, which is a very good thing! If you’ve seen the first edition (be glad if you haven’t), you’ll know that it was absolutely ATROCIOUS (repeat, ATROCIOUS). I also discovered that it is now being released here in Australia on BluRay/DVD, so my UK edition that I pre-ordered a couple of months ago will be extra special! Follow the links if you want to pre-order too (my old UK BluRay link I posted before now does not work).

For a UK edition (will also work in Australia, as we are the same BluRay region code):

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hard-Days-Night-Anniversary-Restoration/dp/B00KATQF2S/ref=sr_1_12?m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1403598274&sr=1-12

For an Australian edition (don’t ask me why it’s rated M here, but PG elsewhere – I did think that its former G rating was pushing the boundaries a little, but M is overdoing things):

http://www.jbhifionline.com.au/music/pop-rock/a-hard-day-s-night-50th-anniversary-edition-blu-ray/703311

For an American edition (you lucky-ducks get to see it on the big screen, at your local cinema – guess who’s envious??):

http://thebeatles.shop.bravadousa.com/Product.aspx?cp=61569_65516&pc=BGAMB5679

 

And the most popular Beatle/s according to the readers/writer of this blog is (drum roll please, Ringo)… a draw between John and George, who are – coincidentally – my favourite and my second-favourite (yay for Johnny and Georgie)! Good day sunshine, for now (before I go too Beatle-mad, though I’m fairly sure I already fall under that category…) 🙂