HAPPY (slightly belated) BIRTHDAY PAUL McCARTNEY!

One of my favourite pictures of Paul, as taken by the Lovely Linda... (Image credit: iwasdreamingofthepast.blogspot.com

One of my favourite pictures of Paul, as taken by the Lovely Linda…
(Image credit: iwasdreamingofthepast.blogspot.com)

As you probably know, Sir James Paul McCartney turned 73 a couple of days ago, on June 18th! Happy birthday, Paul! I did mean to post on the day, but I’ve been quite busy with end-of-term assessments, so sorry ’bout that. I haven’t really written all that much about Paul, so today is my chance to muse on all things McCartney…

I’m not much of a Paul person. John has always been my favourite Beatle, and George a close second. And everyone likes Ringo. When it comes to songs, I’ve always found the songs that John and George wrote more appealing to my ears than Paul’s. I’ve always found a majority of his songs to be a little too much on the poppy side for me.

But regardless of the fact that I’m more of a John-and-George gal, I think that Paul is an extremely talented guy! There is no doubt that he is one of the best songwriters ever. Not only is he one half of Lennon/McCartney,  a number of his post-Beatles songs are also certified-classics for very good reason.

Most of my favourite McCartney-penned compositions stem from The Beatles era. Especially from Rubber Soul onwards, Paul was an amazing songwriter. Penning everything from screaming proto-metal rockers to the softest of folky ballads, he was something of a songwriting genius! He definitely deserves the many accolades he receives for his work.

(‘Helter Skelter’) ‘Helter Skelter’ is recognised by most music fans to be one of the first heavy metal songs ever. And whilst I’m not really a fan of the genre in its modern state, I absolutely love this song! The song incorporates Ringo’s thrashing drums, completely awesome guitar performances from Paul and George, a rockin’ bass from John and a screaming vocal performance from Paul! There has been more than a few interpretations of the song over the years; John claimed it was about a, well, helter skelter (an essential part of English fairgrounds), Paul said the helter skelter symbolised “the fall”, and we all know what Charles Manson thought… The song has since become a pioneer of all things hard rock, and is also one of my very favourite Beatles songs!

(‘Blackbird’) And now to the complete opposite… In my opinion, ‘Blackbird’ is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Paul’s solo voice accompanying his fingerpicked guitar and his tapping foot (and later, some blackbird sounds) is perfection, in my opinion. Paul’s lyrics in this song are some of his best, I think; they are supposedly about the Civil Rights Movement in America. My favourite bit about this song, though, is the guitar. It’s gorgeous. And even after months of trying to play it, I still can’t play it properly… 😉

(‘I’m Looking Through You’) Paul’s songs on Rubber Soul are all super-cool, and this is one of my favourites. Ever since I first listened to the album, ‘I’m Looking Through You’ has always stood out. Whether it be Paul’s great vocal performance, John’s rhythm guitar part, George’s lead guitar part or Ringo’s organ (!) or the folk-rock feel, this song is just all-round great. I particularly like the mono version of this song, as the outro is a little longer, and I especially love the outro…

(‘Here, There and Everywhere’) For me, it’s easy to see why this song was one of both John’s and Paul’s favourite Beatles songs – for it’s one of my favourite Beatles songs, too! This song is simply beautiful. Paul’s vocals are sung gorgeously, and the backing vocals are simply hypnotic! I also love Ringo’s bass-y drums, and the rhythm guitar is great. An all-round perfect song…

(The Abbey Road Medley) This is what I like to refer to as Paul’s masterpiece. Taking up most of Side 2 of Abbey Road, the Abbey Road Medley is nothing short of a masterpiece. Beginning with the epic 4-part ‘You Never Give Me Your Money’, and ending with the philosophical musings of ‘The End’ or brief ‘Her Majesty’ (depending on who you ask), you’ll hear about everything from a few rpgue “Apple Scruffs” climbing through Paul’s bathroom window to a grouchy old guy who sleeps in a hole in the road. Each song is carefully merged into each other by Paul and George Martin, and stylistically, it ranges from raw rock’n’roll to delicate orchestral pop. A perfect final note that will be remembered as one of the most innovative things ever released.

And now for Paul post-Beatles… I’m not a huge fan of Paul’s solo career. However, I’ve since found that there are a whole heap of great songs that Paul wrote after the breakup of The Fab Four, too! Last post, I mentioned my penchant for both ‘Call Me Back Again’ and ‘Dear Friend’. And I think I’ve mentioned my like of ‘Another Day’ and ‘Mrs Vandebilt’ before, too. So here are a couple of songs from Paul’s solo career that I particularly enjoy…

(‘Too Many People’) Despite the fact that the whole song basically denounces John and Yoko, this is one of my favourite Paul songs. Musically. I particularly dig that killer lead guitar, and Paul’s vocals are also great! The acoustic guitar is also awesome. In fact, this is an all-round awesome song, apart from the lyrics.

(‘Band On The Run’) And I’ve always loved this song! I love how it has three parts, and each of them are contrast each other so much. My favourite is the middle part — the rockiest part. I also really love the guitar riff that runs through parts 1 + 2, and it’s one of my favourite things to play. I was pleasantly surprised to hear this pop up in the middle of 2014 film Boyhood, which is my favourite movie at the moment.

(‘Maybe I’m Amazed’) This song is amazing. Pun intended. Paul’s vocals are raw and emotional and just wonderful! And I’ve always been a fan of his piano work in this song. It’s one of Paul’s best known songs, and for very good reason.

And of course, Paul is an amazing musician. It’s a well-known fact that he is one of the best bassists ever. Many Beatles songs featured extremely inventive bass lines due to his genius. My favourites include ‘Dear Prudence‘, ‘The Word‘, ‘Hey Bulldog‘, and ‘Drive My Car‘. Paul is my favourite bassist, along with John Entwistle of The Who.

Other examples of Paul’s musical prowess can be found within some of his lead guitar lines. The solo in ‘Taxman‘ is one of the best examples, and as a guitarist, I find it truly amazing! Paul also played some great breaks on ‘Another Girl‘, ‘The Night Before‘ and (along with John and George) ‘The End’. Paul was also the first Beatle to play an Epiphone Casino guitar, and as the proud player of such a model, I’m very thankful for that. I also very much like Paul’s piano skills, which can be heard on songs such as ‘Let It Be‘, ‘Hey Jude’ and parts of ‘A Day In The Life‘.

And so, happy birthday Paul! As a musician, I find your musical skills absolutely amazing. Thanks for all the wonderful songs! tangerinetrees99 🙂

And now for one more tune…

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 🙂

Looking Through A Glass Onion

The promo picture for the John tribute I went to last night...

The promo picture for the John tribute I went to last night…

...and me before the show.

…and me before the show.

Well, it’s a lovely day today! It’s meant to get to nearly 30 degrees (Celsius) here in Adelaide, which isn’t so nice (there are northerly winds), but the sun is warm in a good way if you soak it up from the safety of your house. We’ve also been painting our house lately, and my room is next! Yay – no more disgusting salmon and baby-pink walls (yes, there is a mix. The house was renovated in the ’80s last)! Oh, and I listened to Sgt. Pepper earlier today – I forget how hypnotic that album is. It may not possess the same magic as I feel Revolver does, but I still am completely and utterly mind-blown by it. I am actually not listening to The Fab Four right now – I’m listening to Tame Impala’s debut EP. ‘ Half Full Glass of Wine’ is the song currently playing, to be exact. I’ve been really digging Tame Impala lately – for those of you who don’t know, Tame Impala are an Aussie modern-day psych rock band, and I think their lead singer sounds a bit like John. But anyway…

Last night – thanks to my godparents buying me a ticket for my birthday a couple of weeks ago – my mum, godparents and I went to see ‘Looking Through A Glass Onion’! ‘Looking Through A Glass Onion’ is a John tribute performed by actor/performer John Waters, with a guy called Stewart D’Arrietta on piano. And yes, for those of you who are too Offspring nuts (like me), it was the same John Waters who played Darcy, Nina’s dad-then-not-dad. (And for those of you who have no clue whatsoever as to what the hell I’m talking about, Offspring is a quirky, popular Australian drama that documents the life of Nina Proudman and her slightly-eccentric family. In fact, I think my mum is watching Offspring re-runs right now.) Yes, yes – now I’ll get on with it, and tell you all about the show! Apologies for the lack of pictures, as — quote — “use of cameras and recording devices is [was] strictly prohibited.” We were lucky enough to be sitting in the second row, though, which was fab!

(And now I’m listening to a playlist of the Black Keys’ new album Turn Blue! I have also been digging the Black Keys lately.)

So, we (obviously) arrived at the Dunstan Playhouse – where it was being held – and bought programs/CDs (thank you to my godparents for buying me the CD!) and stood ’round for a bit whilst the doors were not open. And soon enough, we were in our seats, and the lights were dimmed. D’Arrietta walked on stage and started tinkering out a tune called ‘Scouser’s Lament’. And then finally, John [Waters] appears on stage, and starts talking – in the most accurate John impersonation I’ve ever heard! It was almost as if the magical man was in the room (I wish!)… We soon find out that Waters is acting as John [Lennon] — without the dress-ups, though — and that the monologue is set on the night of December 8th, 1980, when comments such as, “That fan’s been waiting there for five hours,” and, “Ooh, he’s got a book – wonder what it is? Looks like the Catcher In The Rye,” are made.  I think we all know what happened later that night. If you don’t, Google it. I don’t really feel like writing about what happened. But the show soon became less sad, when ‘A Day In The Life’ began (just John’s bit, obviously).

The show was basically “John” recounting his life in a sort of monologue manner, with some of his most famous songs inserted when needed. There were two acts (despite the fact there was no interval – not that I care 🙂 ), presumably split up by the Beatle years and the solo years. The monologue (much of which was comprised of actual John quotes) touched on everything from his friendship with Paul to losing his mother, the groupies to being a star from Liverpool, and the songs played ranged from ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’ (after talking about Dylan’s influence on him) to ‘Nowhere Man’ (before discussing the racial discrimination Yoko was subject to in the British press), ‘Norwegian Wood’ (groupies) to a medley of ‘Julia’ and ‘Mother’ (well, the loss of his mother), Come Together (the break-up) to ‘How Do You Sleep’ (his friendship with Paul), and ‘Beautiful Boy’ (Sean) to ‘Jealous Guy’ (the Lost Weekend). Seriously impressive lighting was used throughout the show, ranging from a green background during the ‘cellophane flowers of yellow and green’ of ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ to a pinkish-red background during ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and shadowing in ‘Working Class Hero’.

Soon enough, ‘Isolation’ from John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (the second-to-last number) was played – with the most impressive lighting of the show (i.e. blacking out the entire stage except for one horizontal strip show Waters’ head – it was amazingly effective). And after that, we returned to the subject of that night. John notes that the fan is still there, and makes a comment about him looking upset at John. John then talks about how he’s probably lived in the man’s living room half his life, but that doesn’t mean he knows him or anything. Then the final chilling speech is made – John hopes that the man won’t do anything bad, ‘cos “dogs can bite, y’know.” And then the room went black. Stewart D’Arrietta tapped out gunshots on his stompbox. And it was obvious what had happened. I must admit I got a little misty-eyed.

But despite the tragedy, there was still one number left. Waters sung the obligatory ‘Imagine’ with minimal lighting, perhaps indicating that John is safe now. I don’t know – that’s how I interpreted it, though. Waters and D’Arrietta then took a bow, and then made their way outside for an artist signing! I got my CD, ticket and program signed, which I’ll show below.

To conclude, I really enjoyed ‘Looking Through A Glass Onion’. Really. Enjoyed. It. As with the others, it can’t be compared with the WAC or the Beatle Boys (‘cos they’re all so different), but I loved it equally. It was fab to be surrounded by a group of fellow Lennonites (or maybe even people who’ve just discovered the kind of magic that is John Lennon), and both Waters and D’Arrietta were very talented. Once again, thank you to my godparents for buying me tickets!

Here is my signed program, CD and ticket!

Here is my signed program, CD and ticket!

(And just a couple of other things…)

I have a new song on SoundCloud! Well, in reality, I recorded it last Monday and Tuesday and uploaded it on the net on the Wednesday, but I haven’t put it on here ’till now! Please like/comment on/repost it, follow me and/or share it with your friends. If you’re on SoundCloud, feel free to drop me a PM – I’d love to hear from you! The track is a cover of The Beatles ‘The Word’ (Rubber Soul), and I recorded all the instruments myself on GarageBand (and no, I did NOT use the Smart Instruments – I played actual guitars/actually sang myself). Here it is, and enjoy!

Oh, and I finally finished my own song! I’ve finally got a complete set of chords, melody AND lyrics! Yay! As soon as it’s finished (the recording, rather) and up on SoundCloud, I will upload it here.

That’s all for now, but I’ll post again on either Tuesday or Wednesday, ‘cos it’s now holidays! Woo-hoo! Good day sunshine 🙂