HAPPY (belated) BIRTHDAY GEORGE HARRISON!!!

Happy birthday, Georgie!

Happy birthday, Georgie!

[PLEASE NOTE: I did start writing this post on the 25th, and I meant to publish it then. But I had a Science assignment to finish. Sorry George. But I managed to finish and get the post up today!]

The 25th was a great day for all Beatles fans, for it would have been the 72nd birthday of the great George Harrison! I listened to All Things Must Pass to celebrate, and I might even get around to listening to some of my George vinyl, too! Happy birthday, Georgie!

As most Beatles fans know, there is considerable doubt over whether George’s birthday is on the 24th or 25th of February. George himself supposedly found out in later life – after being told that he was born on the 25th – that his “real” birthday was on the 24th. But his birth certificate says that it is the 25th. (And apparently George’s mother rang a friend almost immediately after George was born.) So I think the jury’s still out on which day he was actually born, but anyway…

I said a lot about George on the 29th of November, but I still have heaps to say about the “Dark Horse” – so here goes!

I cannot emphasise how much I think George is underrated when it comes to songwriting. Though virtually everyone who knows a little about The Beatles knows that George wrote ‘Something’ and ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, a whole chunk of people forget that he wrote so many other great songs, too! It’s such a pity (not to mention totally unfair) that John and Paul and George Martin underestimated — and undermined — George so much, as well. Especially since people such as Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton (who had been working with George during the break between the White Album and Get Back/Let It Be) had nothing but the utmost respect for him. (Though it did make for one of the greatest albums of all time – All Things Must Pass…)

(‘Think For Yourself’) This gem off Rubber Soul was one of the very first Beatles songs I heard, and it made such an imprint on me. I thought it was a Lennon/McCartney song for ages. It was only a number of months later that — spurred to look it up on Wikipedia — that I discovered that George wrote it! George said that he probably wrote it about the government. Still so relevant today…

(‘What Is Life’) This was my favourite George song for ages and ages. It is still one of my favourites (though not my top favourite). It just brings such a giant grin to my face, whenever I hear it, and I can’t help but dance to that rockin’ guitar riff and sing along at the top of my lungs. Oh, and the single of this song was the first solo Beatles vinyl I bought.

(‘Long Long Long’) I know I talk about this song all the time, but it is definitely one of my top four (if not less) songs on the ‘White Album’. And definitely, definitely one of my favourite songs written by George. It is so underrated, and it is so gorgeous — everything about it is perfect from George’s gently weeping strummed acoustic guitar, to his equally gentle and beautiful vocals, to the mad ending.

(‘Wah Wah’) Now — THIS is my all-time favourite George Harrison song! (Though I will admit I haven’t listened to all of his solo albums…) All Things Must Pass is such an amazing album, full stop! I just love the vocals, the brass, the guitars, just everything! George quitting The Beatles for that short period during the Get Back sessions sure made for a very good song…

(‘Don’t Bother Me’) This was the first song that George ever wrote (excluding ‘Cry For A Shadow’), and though he always hated it, I think it’s wonderful! Very danceable — like most of the early Beatles’ music — and very, very fun! It’s also one of the very first Beatles songs to go a bit experimental when it came to instruments…

(‘Isn’t It A Pity’) One of the most beautiful songs ever written. Ever. The lyrics are just so touching and exquisite, George sings it wonderfully and those slide licks are the sweet icing on top of a gorgeous cake. I love both versions, but Version 1 is the one above.

(‘Savoy Truffle’) Plenty of people love to hate this song. But I love it so much! Those groovy keyboards, the saxes, not to even mention that Clapton-esque guitar… This time last year, I used to YouTube The White Album just so I could listen to this song.

(‘Awaiting On You All’) This song makes me smile so much! It’s wonderful! I love how it is used so much in George Harrison: Living In The Material World, ‘cos it sure deserves it!

And George was also a really, really good musician. That crazy bassline in ‘Old Brown Shoe’ is probably my favourite bass line ever. And let me tell you now, it is not Paul is playing it.

 

And though many of my favourite George lead guitar lines stem from his slide work from his solo career, the solo — and licks — on the album version of ‘Let It Be’ (by far my favourite version, by the way) are amazing! People always say that The Beatles never had a rock god moment in their career. They should listen to this.

 

And that’s not even mentioning his sitar work! The first in rock music, I might add… I love all his sitar-y songs, but I’ll embed ‘Love You To’ ‘cos it was my favourite for ages…

 

George always seemed like such a lovely guy, too. There are so many stories of him being really, really nice to fans (he was the Beatle that wrote ‘Apple Scruffs’!), and of course there is that story about George mortgaging Friar Park to fund Monty Python’s Life of Brian! I really love listening to George speak about various things, too. I was lucky enough to get a box-set of the Anthology documentaries for Christmas, and George’s insights are definitely the most interesting. He also had some really interesting (and realistic) things to say, as well. A very interesting — and intriguing — man.

George also had a wonderful sense of humour! What would A Hard Day’s Night be like without the ‘grotty shirts’ scene? (George was the first to use the word ‘grotty’, by the way…) And that clip of George launching into ‘My Sweet Lord’ turn ‘The Lumberjack  Pirate Song’ (and doing other related skits) with Eric Idle on Rutland Weekend Television is just about the funniest thing ever!

 

But to finish, happy birthday Georgie! Though John may be my favourite Beatle, you are a close second and you are a great inspiration to me. You were a great musician, and a great person. We will never forget you. tangerinetrees99 🙂

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Nine Underrated Beatles Songs

The sun is up, the sky is blue... (It looks a little cold, though!)

The sun is up, the sky is blue… (It looks a little cold, though!)

Today I thought I’d do a bit of an essential post for a Beatles blog; my list of what I think are the most underrated Beatles songs! Many people who know me (either in real life or online) will know that my favourite Beatles songs are the slightly less known ones. (And yes, I do realise that’s a very hipster-ish thing to say. I don’t mean it that way.) And I chose the number nine ‘cos, well… And as with the post I did on my favourite Beatles songs nearly seven months ago, this is only a small selection of my opinion. And it’s only my opinion. But alas, here is the list, in no particular order!

‘I Call Your Name’ (Long Tall Sally/Past Masters — 1964)

This song was only released on a now relatively obscure EP, which saddens me. (Apparently it was kept from A Hard Day’s Night because it sounded too similar to ‘You Can’t Do That’. Which I also love.) It’s such a rockin’ little groover that’s too often not recognised. I especially love the rhythm guitar (it’s almost a kind of ska beat! John really was a genius…), that riff that kicks off the song and John’s vocals. I feel it kind of shows the direction in which The Beatles were headed (i.e. slightly harder rock than, say, the poppy Merseybeat of ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’), and I find it a really good song to rock out to. Ahh, the joys of being a Beatles fanatic…you get to know really awesome songs like this! (The Mamas and Papas also did a fine cover of this song, which I really like.)

‘Yes It Is’ (B-side to ‘Ticket To Ride’/Past Masters — 1965)

Gosh, those harmonies! As much as I love the ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ B-side ‘This Boy’ which is somewhat similar (John claimed in 1980 that the former was meant to be a rewrite of the latter), I prefer ‘Yes It Is’. (And ‘This Boy’ isn’t actually all that underrated compared to other Beatles songs, which defeats the point of this list.) There are some quite interesting chord progressions (especially near the end), and I also especially love that volume pedal that George is using on his guitar — ‘Yes It Is’ (and ‘I Need You’, from Help!) were two of the first examples of pedal usage, in fact! But those gorgeous John/Paul/George harmonies always take the cake, for me — those three could sing like angels!

‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ (The Beatles — a.k.a. The White Album — 1968)

 

Okay, so I admit this song is far from underrated within the Beatlemaniac community, but the general public are somewhat deprived of this masterpiece. As someone online once pointed out, it’s a cult classic. So we shall refer to it as that. But anyway, this song is an utter masterpiece. To quote some YouTube comment contributor, the structure covers the history of rock’n’roll, to an extent. John’s vocal range is on full show, here, with him reaching from a G2 to a C5. And we all know about my great love of the guitar solo at 0:44! The time signatures are absolutely incredible, also — especially for someone with no formal musical training. I got Hunter Davies’ new book for Christmas, and the manuscript of this song has the times written next to the appropriate lyrics; I found this particularly interesting. Something that makes this song even more interesting, though, is the rumour that Jim Morrison supposedly met John at Abbey Road during the recording of this song, and sang on the ‘Mother Superior jumped the gun…’ bit. I’m not sure as to whether there is any truth to this rumour, but it would be very cool if there was…

‘Long, Long, Long’ (see above)

Buried deep in The White Album — just after the cacophonic, proto-metal ‘Helter Skelter’ and ending Side 3, if you’re listening on vinyl — ‘Long, Long, Long’ isn’t all that well-known. I think it’s beautiful. From the gentle strum of the guitar to the slightly weird (in a very, very good way!) ending, I declare it one of my fave White Album tunes. I reckon George is one of the most underrated songwriters of all time.

‘Old Brown Shoe’ (B-side to ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’/Past Masters — 1969)

As with ‘I Call Your Name’, it almost seems that nearly nobody knows this song. Many fanatic Beatlemaniacs know it, but you really can’t have been a casual fan to have heard it. Or is that so? Whilst I was still being introduced to The Beatles via a friend way before I even owned an album, she discovered this song on The Blue Album, so I suspect it might have been one of the first Fab songs I heard. But then, I only listened to it properly in July and had basically no recollection of it, so… But anyway, this is another George composition. A flat out rocker. That bassline must be one of the best in rock history (George played it, believe it or not), and that solo is stellar. The lyrics are quite interesting as well.

‘For You Blue’ (Let It Be — 1969/1970)

A groovy twelve-bar originating from the ill-fated Get Back Sessions, and yes, it’s written by George. The lyrics aren’t mind blowing but George sings them really well (the switching between normal singing and falsetto!). And I really, really love that slide solo done by John. A fun one to strum out to on guitar (and to jam over, as well).

‘The Night Before’ (Help! — 1965)

I still remember the first time I heard this. November 2013, the night after receiving the Help! DVD my mum had ordered. I remember dancing rather madly to it whilst trying to watch the screen. (Help! is my favourite Beatles film, by the way.) A week or so later, we had a fair at my school with a karaoke station. Guess what song I did? And that night, we bought my first collection of vinyls — The Beatles Box. I listened to Disc 3, Side 2 as soon as we got home, just so I could hear this song. One of Paul’s fine compositions, I think. I especially love John’s rockin’ electric piano (which I can play!) and the vocals — from all parties. Not to mention that I love the Salisbury Plains scene in the film mentioned above…

‘She’s A Woman’ (B-side to ‘I Feel Fine’/Past Masters — 1964)

Another B-side. Another amazing song. Okay, the lyrics are rubbish, but check out that rhythm guitar! It’s almost overdriven…and that rhythm (x2x4) is seriously cool. Not to mention Paul’s “Little Richard” vocals…!

‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ (Abbey Road)

As with ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’, ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ is a cult classic in that it is not completely unknown but it’s popularity pales in comparison to that of, say, ‘Hey Jude’ or ‘Let It Be’. (I will safely assume that this song would have been much like those mega-hit Beatles tunes if it had been released as a single.) ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’ is could also be called Paul’s ‘Happiness Is…’ whilst referring to the fact that it, too, is made up of different sections (the almost-classical piano “concerto”, the boogie-woogie doo-wop, the heavier guitar solo/’one sweet dream’ and the ending guitar motif/’One, two, three, four, five, six, seven’). My favourite of these is definitely the guitar solo at 2:10, plus the ‘One sweet dream’ part it leads into. This song marks the beginning of the ‘Abbey Road Medley’ quite fittingly, as the song itself is almost a medley within itself.

And that’s my post for tonight! What do you think are The Beatles’ most underrated tunes? Feel free to drop me a line in the comments. Oh, and today is the last day of 2014 for me, so I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy new year and all the best for 2015. Good day sunshine for now! 🙂

My Twelve Favourite Beatles Lead Guitar Parts (and some other stuff)

The band in question with the instrument in question...

The band in question with the instrument in question…

 

Oh, and you know you're a guitar-playing Beatlemaniac when you own one of these! I actually do...

Oh, and you know you’re a guitar-playing Beatlemaniac when you own one of these! I actually do…

 

I play guitar. (Well, you probably already knew that, but anyway.) And despite what a few 70’s insert-rock-god-of-your-choice fans like to believe, The Beatles were incredibly good guitarists. And so I decided to make a list of their best lead guitar moments! This won’t include rhythm/finger-picked parts, ‘cos they will get their own post at some point, along with bass and drums. And by the way, Eric Clapton on ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ doesn’t count.

As I said above, The Beatles were much better at their craft than they are given credit for. Some of the most famous riffs have come from the Casinos/Rickenbackers/Gretschs at Studio Two (or Studio One…or Studio Three), Abbey Road Studios (or Trident Studios…or Twickenham), and there are actually a few soaring rock-god moments in the catalogue. Whether it be their incredible use of overdrive, or the clever use of slides and pulloffs and hammerons, there is something special about The Beatles’ playing that no-one else can re-create. (Yeah, I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true.) So here’s my list – too small to fit in all my favourite moments, but just big enough for this lovely blog! Oh, and if you’re not a guitarist (or not familiar with some of the terminology), you might like to skim over the guitar dictionary below, which’ll give you an idea of what things such as ‘pulloffs’ and ‘hammerons’ are (if you don’t already know): http://www.guitarscholar.co.uk/dictionary/. And the number in brackets (if required) refers to when the part in question begins, so you can skip to that point to hear what I’m talking about if you want. And now let the list begin!

12. ‘Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey’ (particularly the double-stops at the beginning, but also the fills in between the “c’mon, c’mon” bit)

This song has a few records set around it. It’s the longest Beatles song title. It contains John’s highest note (a C6, or two Cs above middle C – in other words, incredibly high!). It also probably has The Beatles’ largest use of cowbell. But finally, in my opinion, it’s one of their rockiest songs. I have a small obsession with the double-stops at the beginning – a lick that I must learn! But today, I also noticed the actual lead guitar bit once the song (and the cowbell!) has kicked in – and they are damn impressive! George’s fingers must have been very nimble…

11. ‘Let It Be’ – album version (1:57)

What a pity this isn’t the single version/the version that everyone knows – I’d choose the above over it any day! The solo in this is something else – unlike the slightly sappy solo on the single, this one is gutsy and overdriven and crunchy and very, very groovy! I particularly love the slide/bends in it. And for those of you who think The Beatles can’t do a soaring rock-god thing, listen to this – you’re wrong! Oh, and I dig the organ…

10. ‘Old Brown Shoe’ (1:37)

Wikipedia describes George’s solo in this unfairly-underrated blues-rocker as “highly [Eric] Claptonesque”, and rightly so! The lead guitar in this is just stunning – rocky and cool in every way! Slightly reminiscent of ‘Savoy Truffle’ and ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, in my opinion… People say The Beatles didn’t do the blues well, but I beg to differ – George (if you think about it) was actually a very bluesy guitarist in the late-’60s, his skills in such genres on full show in songs such as the above and ‘For You Blue’ (which he wrote – John played the slide lead). And I don’t want to imagine life without ‘Yer Blues’!

9. ‘Taxman’ (1:12)

Paul plays the wonderfully acidic solo here, despite the fact George wrote the song in protest of the amount of money he and his bandmates lost to taxes (you tell them, George!)! Even those of you who aren’t guitarists probably can hear how intricate it is. The entire solo (plus the fills in other bits of the song) are comprised of a number of excruciatingly-difficult pulloffs and position-changes, so Paul was clearly damn good at the guitar to be able to pull this off (pun may or may not be intended)! I love this song in general – the accented rhythm guitar, the whimsical harmonies, and (of course) the political message it carries! And a fun-fact for you – a different take of this solo was reversed and used in the psychedelic tape-looped masterpiece ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’.

8. ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ (1:32)

One word: backmasking. This is, in fact, the second or third (depends whether you go on the track-listing of Revolver or on the recording dates) song ever to use it. EVER. No satanic messages involved.

In fact, this song is just amazing. I was listening to my Revolver vinyl the other day, and felt some kind of intense euphoric wash of love about halfway through this song. It completely and utterly blew my mind. But more on that strange experience and The Beatles’ effect on me another day…

7. ‘Nowhere Man’ (0:48)

Rubber Soul is a beautiful album. My second favourite, to be exact – only behind Revolver. And this is possibly one of the top three most beautiful songs on the album! John and George played the solo on matching “sonic blue” Fender Strats, and god, it sounds good! I don’t know what I like so much about it, but I just do, and that is all. And by the way, you have to watch the clip above – it is just the cutest thing ever! And a bit sad too – but then, so is the song…

6. ‘Octopus’s Garden’ (the beginning + 1:33)

This was the first Beatles song I ever heard. Must have been about four – I certainly remember asking my godfather (hello!) to put it on a compilation CD when I was about six. But now I’m over double that age, I still love this song. And I love it – apart from sentimental reasons – especially for the lead guitar (and the harmonies, but that’s a different story). I believe George played it through a Leslie speaker, and then had it multi-tracked (like ‘Old Brown Shoe’, and so many other Beatles songs of the time). People dismiss this song ‘cos it’s Ringo’s, but it’s beautiful, incredibly complex, and it turned so many people (myself included) onto that magic world that is The Beatles.

5. ‘Hey Bulldog’ (1:42)

Back to the 1968 overdrive that I appear to be so obsessed with! I reckon 1968 was The Beatles best year for their lead guitar… There has been some debate as to whether John or George plays the solo, but it has generally been said that George played it on his black-and-red Gibson SG (as can be seen in the music clip above). But then there’s that riff. Possibly my favourite riff ever. So I guess it’s here for both of it’s lead guitar parts.

4. ‘Get Back’ (0:43 + 2:00)

If you seriously thought this list wouldn’t contain any John solos, you clearly haven’t been reading this blog! Despite popular opinion, John was a stellar guitarist – and I’m not just saying that. Listen to the rhythm part in ‘All My Loving’, or the Esher demo of ‘Revolution’ – only a stellar guitarist could play that! But this isn’t about rhythm, it’s about lead. And John had a number of groovy lead moments, but this is my favourite. The crunchy bending and intricate picking of this song were played on John’s famed Epiphone Casino, and it’s far more complicated than it sounds! Trust me – I tried it, and probably shouldn’t have… And sorry about the subtitles – it was the only clip I could find that uses the original Let It Be footage.

3. ‘Not Guilty’ – Beatles version (entire song, but the solo is at 1:33)

Yeah, yeah, yeah – I do know this is on Anthology 3, but it deserves to be on here. In fact, in that case ‘Watching Rainbows’ (an obscure Get Back bootleg THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN RELEASED) should be on here, too, but that’s a different story. I have never heard George’s solo rendition of this, but I have heard it is acoustic – I personally love it as a prime example of acid rock, as displayed above. Like a few of the songs on here, I don’t know why I love the lead so much on this – maybe the overdrive (as you will have gathered, it is my favourite effect), the volume pedal (I think), just the fact it is so hard-rocking? But who cares – it’s groovy, so it deserves a spot on here! Oh, and I dig the harpsichord…

2. ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ (0:44)

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve really badly sung this riff whilst miming air guitar in front of my mirror. Lost count. Someone on a Beatles forum described it as ‘[Led] Zeppelin-esque, yet heavier’, and I agree. I’d go so far to say that it is proto-metal. I don’t think there is much I can say about this one, so I’ll let it (and my love for it) speak for itself. And finally…

1. ‘Dear Prudence’ (1:50)

This, my friends, is possibly the best Beatles lead guitar part, and definitely the most underrated. BUT IT’S LOST IN THE MIX!! WHY?! (Sorry…) And that’s why I put the isolated guitar above. But anyway, I. Love. This. Part. The bending, the crunch, the bluesy bits– oh, just everything! Listen to it yourself, and you’ll see what I mean. I’m trying to play it on my own guitar at the moment, and it’s almost impossible! I officially proclaim George a guitar genius.

So there you go! My favourite Beatles lead guitar parts, with bass/rhythm guitar/percussion/insert other random instrument a Beatle played more than once on more than one Beatle record editions coming soon!

 

And it was birthday on Thursday! Thank you to all those who helped me celebrate. I was serenaded with ‘Here Comes The Sun’ by my class (who supposedly ‘hate’ The Beatles!), and had a lovely tea with my parents (and later with my grandfather and godparents respectively!)! I got lots of beautiful Beatles stuff, including my own copy of LIFE’s collection of Robert Whitaker’s photographs of The Beatles (I’ve wanted that book since December!), a rare World Record Club pressing of Magical Mystery Tour and Other Splendid Hits (Australian pressing), some first-edition Beatles 7″ singles/EPs, a beautiful hardback copy of John’s books In His Own Write and A Spaniard In The Works and a ticket to John Waters’ infamous John Lennon tribute ‘Looking Through A Glass Onion’ (which you’ll – undoubtedly – be getting a post on)! Here’s a picture:

Once again, thank you! I've been well and truly spoilt... :-)

Once again, thank you! I’ve been well and truly spoilt… 🙂

Oh, and Big W in Australia (I don’t know if they exist elsewhere) are selling official Beatles shirts for $13AUD, in two styles (Abbey Road and a 1963 photo-shoot)! I’ve already got my two (thanks to a lovely friend who told me about them), so make sure you go and check your local store out!

Good day sunshine 🙂