Across the Universe

Allow me to ignore life’s problems and politics for a minute for something more fun:  My latest anthology (co-edited with Randee Dawn).

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It’s a great anthology of “Alternate Beatles” stories with some of the top writers in the field of science fiction and fantasy! (In order of appearance): Spider Robinson, Charles Barouch, Gordon Linzner, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Allen Steele, Sally Wiener Grotta, Ken Schneyer, David Gerrold, Cat Rambo, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Bev Vincent, Patrick Barb, Carol Gyzander, Pat Cadigan, Gail Z. Martin, Barbara Clough, Eric Avedissian, Alan Goldsher, R. Jean Mathieu, Beth W. Patterson, Christian Smith, Gregory Frost, Matthew Amati, and Gregory Benford.

It’s available in hard cover or paperback!

We’ve already received some great reviews!

“This collection is a Magical Mystery Tour through alternate universes where the familiar narrative of the Beatles is turned on its head. Or ear. Or ass. It’s fun, irreverent, sexy, and twisted–just like the Fab Four themselves.” — Vicki Peterson, The Bangles

“I must have read a thousand Beatles books. But not one of them mentioned that the Beatles were attacked by aliens at the Hollywood Bowl. Or talked about their encounter with the Mersey Monster. Or discussed how they became zombies. I had to learn all of this from the thoroughly entertaining anthology Across the Universe. Each of its 25 stories of speculative fiction re-imagine The Beatles in alternative universes, allowing us to laugh at and with John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Highly recommended!” — Scott Freiman, creator of Deconstructing the Beatles

Across the Universe is way too much fun! It’s the Beatles in the Twilight Zone of infinite possibilities! Highly recommended!” — Jonathan MaberryNew York Times bestselling author of V-Wars and Rage

Across the Universe is a fantastic, freewheeling, and imaginative romp of a collection. The authors transported me not only across the universe, but to what might have been in many and various alternate universes, all populated by the Beatles and their peculiar possible transmutations. Totally engrossing.” — Paul Marshall, Strawberry Alarm Clock

 “The Fab Four are reimagined as wizards, robots, hockey players, zombies, the Marx Brothers, and more in this anthology from Ventrella (Big Stick) and Dawn (Home for the Holidays). An introduction by “Wicked” series coauthor Nancy Holder sets the stage. Standouts include the clever time-travel, short-short “The Perfect Bridge” by Charles Barouch; “Meet the Beatles” by Pat Cadigan, a delightful exercise in nostalgia; and two stories based on the “Paul is dead” hoax: “Paul Is Dead” by Lawrence Watt-Evans, in which an alternate universe Paul replaces the original, and “When I’m #64” by Patrick Barb, in which Paul constantly dies and comes back to life. The absolute standout is “Through a Glass Onion” by Christian H. Smith, a poignant, inspirational tale about a failed musician named John Lennon from another universe who is given a vision of the success he had in ours. VERDICT: This anthology will be mostly of interest to Beatles fans, but even non-fans will find stories here that will move and surprise them.” — Library Journal

“Ranging from trippy fantasy to hard science fiction and zombie apocalypse mash-up, the stories in this anthology send the members of the Beatles on wild adventures through alternate timelines and universes. In Allen M. Steele’s “Come Together,” artificial intelligences named for each of the Fab Four identify so strongly with their namesakes that they jeopardize their space probe’s mission when they begin to fall out with one another, mimicking the breakup of the band. An idealistic George Harrison tries to teach transcendental meditation to Richard Nixon with disastrous geopolitical results in Sally Wiener Grotta’s “The Truth Within.” Gregory Frost’s “A Hard Day’s Night at the Opera” plugs the band members into the plot of a Marx brothers movie to hilarious effect. It’s clear that each of the 25 contributors are true fans, filling their tales with references to Beatles history and, in the case of David M. Gerrold’s “The Fabtastic Four,” so many song lyrics that readers will be tempted to sing along. Beatles aficionados and fantasy fans will enjoy this affectionate, speculative homage.” — Publishers Weekly

Ringo Starr’s Best Songs

With Ringo finally getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I thought it might be nice to look at his solo work and share my favorites.

Ringo’s voice is … well, let’s use the word “unique.” It’s certainly distinctive. Whenever there was a group sing-a-long, Ringo’s voice always seemed to come to the forefront (listen to “Bungalow Bill” or “Carry that Weight” — it’s almost like the other three, whose voices blended so well, were his backup singers!).

But Ringo knew how to surround himself with good people, and his best solo work owes much to the musicians he recruited. See for yourself…

In chronological order:

It Don’t Come Easy.  Ringo wrote this simple song but George’s production made it special. It has that Phil Spector-ish production that George learned while working on the “All Things Must Pass” album, and the George’s guitar hook at the beginning makes the song special.

I’m The Greatest. John wrote this for Ringo, in which he happily sings “Yes, my name is Billy Shears, Yes it has been for so many years…”  John’s backup singing is perfect.

Photograph. This was Ringo’s first #1 song … and he reached #1 before John did! I wonder how that went over. This is co-written by George, who played guitar.

Snookeroo.  Elton John was at the height of his career when he wrote this one for Ringo. That’s Elton on piano, too. It sounds exactly like an Elton John song sung by Ringo.

Goodnight Vienna. Another John-penned song and you can hear him counting off and screaming “all right” at the start. That’s him playing piano. Billy Preston is there as well. Although Paul has written songs for Ringo and played on the albums as well (that’s Paul playing kazoo on “You’re Sixteen”) it seems that Paul didn’t give Ringo any really great material.

Vertical Man. Now we zoom all the way from the 70s to the late 90s, when Ringo hooked up with Mark Hudson (of the “Hudson Brothers” – remember them?). Mark Hudson is a huge Beatles fan who loves going to Beatles conventions (where I met him!).  His own songwriting shows the Beatles influence so, not surprisingly, many of my favorite Ringo songs are from the albums he did with Mark doing much of the writing and producing. This particular song is just plain fun. (And that’s Ozzy Osbourne singing backup, believe it or not.)

La De Da. This is a catchy one, although the video here is from the short single version. Typical Ringo lyrics. “I’ve lived my life / It’s only right ’cause I can’t live your life for you.”

Never Without You. This is the song Ringo wrote after George’s death. A sad tribute, with lead guitar from George’s old friend Eric Clapton (but Eric isn’t in the video).

Fading In Fading Out. This is another song co-written with Mark Hudson that is just one of those happy pop songs that you can’t help but like.

Don’t Hang Up. This is a nice piece where Ringo shares vocals with Chrissie Hynde. Always makes me smile!

Liverpool 8. Ringo has a lot of songs about his life with the Beatles. I mean, how can you top that? This is one of the best, with production by Dave Stewart.

Since I only listed my ten favorites, I had to leave out many songs featuring other musicians and singers like Marc Bolan, David Gilmour, Levon Helm, Nicky Hopkins, Dr. John, Jim Keltner, Al Kooper, Jeff Lynne, Bette Midler, Alanis Morrisette, Harry Nilsson, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty, Stephen Stills, Steven Tyler, Luther Vandross, Klaus Voorman, Joe Walsh, Don Was, Edgar Winter, Ronnie Woods, Gary Wright …

Listening to Ringo is sometimes like having a reunion with old friend.

And, if you’re more interested in seeing his Top Ten Greatest Hits (as opposed to my personal ten favorites), here’s a list based on chart success.  (The number in parenthesis shows how high on the charts the song reached.)

  1. Photograph (1)
  2. You’re Sixteen (1)
  3. No No Song (3)
  4. It Don’t Come Easy (4)
  5. Oh My My (5)
  6. Only You (6)
  7. Back Off Bugaloo (9)
  8. A Dose of Rock and Roll (26)
  9. Goodnight Vienna (31)
  10. Wrack My Brain (38)

Top 100 Beatles Solo Songs

In the seven years the Beatles recorded together, they created amazing music.  I’ve previously listed the Top 100 Beatles songs and a few weeks ago listed all the Beatles solo singles.  Today I present my Top 100 Beatles solo songs.

This is not a list of their “greatest hits” – I paid no attention to whether a song was a hit single.  Just because “Ebony and Ivory” may be one of Paul’s biggest hits doesn’t mean it’s one of his best songs. Beatles70

Since Paul has been making music continuously for the past 45 years or so, most of these are his.  John, after all, only had a few years to produce music, George also died too soon, and Ringo is, well, Ringo.  (His best stuff was when he was with producer and writer Mark Hudson.)

The list is organized chronologically by Beatle.

This is my opinion only.  Your mileage may vary.  However, if you are looking to expand your post-Beatles library of songs, might I suggest the following?

JOHN

  1. Instant Karma (We All Shine On)
  2. God
  3. Hold On
  4. Imagine
  5. Jealous Guy
  6. Gimme Some Truth
  7. Woman is the Nigger of the World
  8. Mind Games
  9. Out the Blue
  10. I Know (I Know)
  11. Intuition
  12. #9 Dream
  13. Whatever Gets You Through The Night
  14. Nobody Loves You When You’re Down and Out
  15. (Just Like) Starting Over
  16. Nobody Told Me

PAUL

  1. Maybe I’m Amazed
  2. Junk
  3. Every Night
  4. Teddy Boy
  5. Another Day
  6. Too Many People
  7. Dear Boy
  8. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
  9. Heart of the Country
  10. Monkberry Moon Delight
  11. The Back Seat of My Car
  12. Give Ireland Back to the Irish
  13. Tomorrow
  14. Hi Hi Hi
  15. Big Barn Bed
  16. Single Pigeon
  17. I Lie Around
  18. Live and Let Die
  19. Helen Wheels
  20. Band on the Run
  21. Jet
  22. Mrs. Vandebilt
  23. Junior’s Farm
  24. Venus and Mars/Rock Show
  25. Magneto and Titanium Man
  26. Girl’s School
  27. Getting Closer
  28. Spin It On
  29. Temporary Secretary
  30. Take it Away
  31. Press
  32. Back on My Feet
  33. My Brave Face
  34. You Want Her Too
  35. This One
  36. Mistress and Maid
  37. Calico Skies
  38. Young Boy
  39. Beautiful Night
  40. Jenny Wren
  41. Fine Line
  42. English Tea
  43. Ever Present Past
  44. The End of the End
  45. Nod Your Head
  46. Save Us
  47. Queeny Eye

GEORGE

  1. My Sweet Lord
  2. What is Life
  3. All Things Must Pass
  4. Apple Scruffs
  5. Beware of Darkness
  6. Isn’t it a Pity
  7. Living in the Material World
  8. Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)
  9. Don’t Let Me Wait Too Long
  10. Dark Horse
  11. Crackerbox Palace
  12. It’s What You Value
  13. Woman Don’t You Cry For Me
  14. This Song
  15. Deep Blue
  16. Dream Away
  17. All Those Years Ago
  18. Got My Mind Set on You
  19. Devil’s Radio
  20. When We Was Fab
  21. P2 Vatican Blues (Last Saturday Night)
  22. Any Road

RINGO

  1. It Don’t Come Easy
  2. Back Off Boogaloo
  3. I’m The Greatest
  4. Photograph
  5. Goodnight Vienna
  6. Weight of the World
  7. One
  8. Vertical Man
  9. La De Da
  10. Elizabeth Reigns
  11. Never Without You
  12. Missouri Loves Company
  13. Fading In Fading Out
  14. Some People
  15. Don’t Hang Up

Beatles Solo Charting Singles

Once the Beatles split up, we had four times the music being produced, often at 25% of the original quality.

This is a list of all of the Beatles solo singles that made the Billboard charts in order of their release date, because I didn’t see a similar list anywhere else (although it’s probably out there somewhere.)Beatles70

This is not a list of their best songs.  Just because something was released as a single doesn’t mean it was any good, and there are plenty of album tracks that are far superior to some of these.

I did not include the Traveling Wilburys in this chart, because while George was a major participant it wasn’t really a George solo project.

This was fun for me to compile, because I first got into the Beatles after they split (I’m not that old!) and I remember going to my local record store and being excited whenever a new album or single came out … especially late 1973 – early 1974, when I was 15, and all four produced some of their best albums and singles.

Song (John, Paul, George or Ringo) Release date (Highest chart position)

Give Peace a Chance (J) 7/7/69 (14)

Cold Turkey (J) 10/20/69 (30)

Instant Karma (J) 2/20/70 (3)

My Sweet Lord (G) 11/1/70 (1)

Mother (J) 12/28/70 (43)

What is Life (G) 2/2/71 (10)

Another Day (P) 2/19/71 (5)

Power to the People (J) 3/12/71 (11)

It Don’t Come Easy (R) 4/4/71 (4) george

Bangla Desh (G) 7/1/71 (23)

Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (P) 8/2/71 (1)

Imagine (J) 9/11/71 (3)

Give Ireland Back to the Irish (P) 2/25/72 (21)

Back Off Boogaloo (R) 3/12/72 (9)

Woman is the Nigger of the World (J) 4/24/72 (57)

Mary Had a Little Lamb (P) 5/12/72 (28)

Hi Hi Hi (P) 12/1/72 (10)

My Love (P) 3/23/73 (1)

Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth) (G) 5/5/73 (1)

Live and Let Die (P) 6/1/73 (2)johnny

Photograph (R) 9/24/73 (1)

Helen Wheels (P) 10/26/73 (10)

Mind Games (J) 10/29/73 (18)

You’re Sixteen (R) 12/3/73 (1)

Jet (P) 2/15/74 (7)

Oh My My (R) 2/18/74 (5)

Band on the Run (P) 6/28/74 (1)

Whatever Gets You Through the Night (J) 9/23/74 (1)

Junior’s Farm (P) 10/25/74 (3)

Only You (R) 11/11/74 (6)

Dark Horse (G) 11/18/74 (15)

#9 Dream (J) 12/16/74 (9)

Ding Dong Ding Dong (G) 12/23/74 (36)

No No Song (R) 1/27/75 (3)

Stand By Me (J) 3/10/75 (20)

Listen to What the Man Said (P) 5/16/75 (1)

(It’s all Down to) Goodnight Vienna (R) 6/2/75  (31)

Letting Go (P) 9/5/75 (39) ringo1

You (G) 10/3/75 (20)

Venus and Mars/Rock Show (P) 11/28/75 (12)

Silly Love Songs (P) 4/1/76 (1)

Let ‘Em In (P) 6/28/76 (3)

A Dose of Rock and Roll (R) 9/20/76 (26)

This Song (G) 11/15/76 (25)

Hey Baby (R) 11/22/76 (74)

Crackerbox Palace (G) 1/24/77 (19)

Maybe I’m Amazed (live version) (P) 2/4/77 (10)

Girl’s School (P) 11/11/77 (33)

With a Little Luck (P) 3/23/78 (1)

I’ve Had Enough (P) 6/16/78 (25)

London Town (P) 8/26/78 (39)

Blow Away (G) 2/23/79 (16)

Goodnight Tonight (P) 3/23/79 (5)

Getting Closer (P) 6/20/79 (20)

Arrow Through Me (P) 8/3/79 (29) paul

Coming Up (P) 4/11/80 (1)

(Just Like) Starting Over (J) 10/27/80 (1)

Woman (J) 1/12/81 (2)

Watching the Wheels (J) 3/13/81 (10)

All Those Years Ago (G) 6/5/81 (2)

Wrack My Brain (R) 10/27/81 (38)

Ebony and Ivory (P) 3/29/82 (1)

Take It Away (P) 6/21/82 (10)

Tug of War (P) 9/20/82 (53)

Say Say Say (P) 10/3/83 (1)

So Bad (P) 12/5/83 (23)

Wake Up My Love (G) 11/5/82 (53)

Nobody Told Me (J) 1/5/84 (5)

No More Lonely Nights (P) 9/24/84 (6)

I’m Stepping Out (J) 3/15/84 (55)

Spies Like Us (P) 11/18/85 (7)

Press (P) 7/14/86 (21)

Stranglehold (P) 11/12/86 (81)

Got My Mind Set on You (G) 11/3/87 (1)

When We Was Fab (G) 1/22/88 (23)

My Brave Face (P) 5/8/89 (25)

This One (P) 7/17/89 (94)

Figure of Eight (P) 11/13/89 (92)

Hope of Deliverance (P) 12/28/92 (83)

The World Tonight (P) 7/7/97 (64)

Freedom (P) 11/5/01 (97)

Dance Tonight (P) 6/18/07 (69)

Number Ones:

Paul (9)
George (3)
John (2)
Ringo (2)

Remembering John Lennon

On December 8, 1980, my fellow disc jockeys and I were gathered up in the WVCW studio. Exams started soon, so we college kids were having our radio station Christmas party early. I was the Program Director and proud of our station — we were the only station in Richmond playing that “new wave” music (Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, Ramones, Clash) but even then, you would still find plenty of Beatles in rotation. lennon “You can’t go wrong with the Beatles” was a phrase I’d say to my DJs.

Suddenly, one of the DJs came rushing in. “Lennon’s been killed!” There was a shocked pause. I ran into the control room and turned to the news feed.  It was true.  We switched over to the news feed so our listeners would know.

I was in a daze that night.  The party had crashed.  Why would someone want John Lennon dead?

As Heidi and I silently walked back to our apartment, we saw our friend Craig Evans heading the other way, hands in his pockets, looking dejected. Craig is a musician who now leads the band The Taters. He and I had jammed together a bunch of times and I knew how much of a Beatles fan he was.

“Craig!”  Heidi yelled. “Lennon’s dead!”

All my frustration exploded at that point and I screamed at Heidi. “That’s not how you break bad news!” I was irate, and wrongly took my anger at Lennon’s death out on my girlfriend (now my wife).

I slept on the couch that night and dreamed that my father had died.

The next day, I prepared a list of Beatles songs that John had written so the DJs wouldn’t say “Here’s another song to tribute John Lennon” and then stick on “Yesterday.” I also told them which songs not to play because they referenced death (“Yer Blues”; “She Said She Said”; “Happiness is a Warm Gun”;  etc.) I had no classes that day so some of the DJs let me take over their shows. I played Lennon and Beatles all day.

Lennon’s death affected me like no other celebrity death (until Jim Henson’s), not just because I am such a fan of his but also because of its suddenness and senselessness. When George Harrison died many years later, it did not affect me the same, because it was expected; he had been fighting cancer for years.

Even today, I get a bit choked up about it.

My favorite interviews with musicians

I have another blog where I interview writers.  I concentrate mostly on fantasy and science fiction writers, since that’s what I mostly read (and write), but every once in a while I get the opportunity to interview musicians who have written books (or writers who have written books about music).

My favorite so far has been with Howard Kaylan.  Howard was the founder of The Turtles and then later went on to sing for Frank Zappa (as well as Flo and Eddie). kaylan2 He wanted to be interviewed by phone and we had a great conversation.  He is just as funny to talk to in person as his music and book was.  He appreciated the fact that I knew his work and we probably could have talked for another hour but I had to leave.

Another phone interview was with Tommy James.  You remember him!  Crimson and Clover, I Think We’re Alone Now, Draggin’ the Line, Hanky Panky, Mony Mony — his songs topped the charts over and over in the 60s.  He was very friendly and his book is good, too!

May Pang only wanted to be interviewed by email, and ignored some of the questions I had asked her about her relationship with John Lennon, but if you’re a Beatles fan, you’ll want to read this one.

I also interviewed Alan Goldsher by phone.  He’s a session musician whose latest book is the autobiography of George Benson.   He wrote a hilarious book called “Paul is Undead” about the Beatles as zombies and we had a great talk about writing, Beatles, and music in general.

Music has been very important to me in life, and so I’ve been honored to interview these people.  Have a look!

The Beatles remixed and remastered

I was thrilled when Apple released the remastered Beatles albums a few years ago.  The songs sounded so clean and crisp.  It was immediately noticeable on songs like “Dear Prudence” and the early work (wow, you can actually hear the bass now!).  They even fixed the mistake on “Day Tripper”!beatles_12a

However, it was not all that I had hoped for.

While the songs were remastered, they were not remixed.   The Beatles worked in mono up until “Abbey Road”, and the stereo mixes were an afterthought.  The earlier albums have all the instruments on one side and all the vocals on the other, which is very jarring and not pleasing.  Later albums are almost as bad.

When Apple released the “Yellow Submarine Songtrack” they remixed and remastered the songs, and the results are wonderful.  Compare “Nowhere Man” to the original version on “Rubber Soul” and you can hear the difference.  The multi-tracked vocals surround you.  I can imagine that if the Beatles had the technology back in 1966, this is how they would have wanted it to sound.  And then on the “Love” album, we finally got “I Am The Walrus” in true stereo, something I had waited 40 years to hear.

So my dream is that Apple is doing this for all of the albums.  I mean, why wouldn’t they?  People like me will rush out to buy the whole set, and they’ll make another vault full of money.

I also would love for them to get rid of the “Past Masters” albums and add those extra songs onto the CDs, where there is plenty of room.  I’d also include songs that were completed but never released (until the Anthology albums.)  Here’s where the extra songs would go:

PLEASE PLEASE ME

  • Love Me Do (single version)
  • From Me To You
  • Thank You Girl
  • How Do You Do It

WITH THE BEATLES

  • She Loves You
  • I’ll Get You
  • I Want To Hold Your Hand
  • This Boy
  • Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand
  • Sie Liebt Dich

A HARD DAY’S NIGHT

  • Long Tall Sally
  • I Call Your Name
  • Slow Down
  • Matchbox

BEATLES FOR SALE

  • I Feel Fine
  • Leave My Kitten Alone
  • She’s a Woman
  • Bad Boy

HELP!

  • I’m Down
  • Yes It Is
  • If You’ve Got Troubles

RUBBER SOUL

  • Day Tripper
  • We Can Work It Out

REVOLVER

  • Paperback Writer
  • Rain

SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND

  • Only a Northern Song

MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR

  • Hey Bulldog
  • All Together Now
  • It’s All Too Much

THE BEATLES (WHITE ALBUM)

  • Not Guilty
  • Across the Universe (original version)
  • Lady Madonna
  • The Inner Light
  • Revolution
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps (“Love” version)
  • Hey Jude

LET IT BE

  • Don’t Let Me Down
  • The Ballad of John and Yoko
  • Old Brown Shoe
  • You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)
  • Get Back (single version)
  • Let it Be (single version)

ABBEY ROAD

  • Real Love
  • Free as a Bird

 

Top 5 Underrated Beatles Songs

So today, on the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan show — at the time, the largest TV audience ever — I’ll share my view on the top five underrated Beatles songs.beatles_12a

By “underrated” I mean they should be considered along with the more famous classics, and I think if any of these had been released as singles, they would be.

I didn’t count any song that had been on a Greatest Hits collection, although two of these songs were featured in the background of other songs on the Love album remix.

Final disclaimer:  Like all art, music is subjective.  One person’s masterpiece is another person’s trash.   Your mileage may vary.

In no particular order:

HEY BULLDOG

This was recorded around the same time as “Lady Madonna” and I think is far superior.   John threw this together in the studio and everyone pitched in ideas as a video crew filmed.  It was one of the last true group efforts, and George does one of his best solos and Paul’s bass really pushes the song forward.   After it was done, they gave it to the Yellow Submarine filmmakers who put it into the movie and then the song was cut for the American release of the film.  The only way you would have known this song existed is if you bought the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album, which few people did since it only had four new songs on it.  (The scene has been restored to the latest DVD releases of the film!)

AND YOUR BIRD CAN SING

This is another one of John’s and was on the excellent Revolver album, which has no bad songs whatsoever.    Engineer Geoff Emerick had developed their distinctive guitar style by that album (copied many times since by other bands) and it really shines on this classic.  Imagine how much John and George had to practice to get those parts done!

YOU NEVER GIVE ME YOUR MONEY

Paul, apparently inspired by John’s work on “Happiness is a Warm Gun”, decided to write his own song like that, with many different parts that all flow together into one.  I mean, you don’t really realize it while you’re listening, but the first bit (“you never give me your money”) is never repeated after two consecutive runs-through.  And we go right along, because it all fits so well.  Paul, of course, felt that he really should do another verse of “you never give me your money” so he stuck it in “Carry that Weight” near the end of the album instead.  Cheeky lad.  (Note that he continued to do these kinds of songs in his solo career, notably with “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey.”)

SEXY SADIE

This began as John’s comments on the Maharishi and that is what it was originally called.  He then  just replaced “Maharishi” with “Sexy Sadie.”  I love the feel of this song, from the spooky piano to the fade out with the solo that goes on and on, which is perfect.  (Not too short, not too long.)

TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS

Try to imagine what it was like in the music world in 1966 before the Beatles released “Revolver” with this song as the closer.  The top songs that week included “Wild Thing” by the Troggs; “Li’l Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs;  “Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful; and “Hanky Panky” by Tommy James and the Shondells.  And then this comes over the loudspeakers.

The Beatles were once more pushing every envelope possible, experimenting in the studio in the way no one had done before, and, with this song, pretty handily creating what is still today known as “psychedelic music.” And more importantly, underneath of that is a really catchy tune. John wasn’t about to give up hooks for his experimentation. (Well, not until “Revolution 9” a few years later, anyway.)

So happy 50th anniversary, everyone. Now to go watch Paul and Ringo perform at the Ed Sullivan theater again…

Paul McCartney’s Greatest Hits

I just am not feeling political today, so let’s talk about music instead.

Way back when, I gave the Beatles challenge, wherein I listed 100 songs the Beatles had written in the period of about seven years and challenged anyone to come up with any other group or composer who had written so many memorable songs in such a short period of time.Paul_McCartney_live_in_Dublin

So today I decided do the same with Paul McCartney’s solo work.

Of course the comparison is not valid;  Paul has had 43 years to come up with this list, not seven.  But you have to admit he’s written some pretty good songs.

There are some really bad ones, too.  If I never hear “Ebony and Ivory” again, all the better. Paul’s biggest problem tends to be lyrics, even today.  He needs a John Lennon challenging him to be his best and not settle for the first lyrics that come into his head.  (Some of his best post-Beatles lyrics came when he worked with Elvis Costello, one of the best lyricists of our day.)

As I worked on this list, I included all of the singles (even if I didn’t like them) plus album songs I really liked.  And then I surprised myself by only coming up with about 75 songs instead of 100. Just goes to show you that even Paul freakin’ McCartney couldn’t beat the Beatles even when given six times as much time.

Still, if you were making a CD of Paul’s 75 greatest hits, it would probably look like this. They’re listed in order of release date, and the number in parenthesis is the highest they reached on the Billboard chart if released as a single:

  1. Maybe I’m Amazed (10)
  2. Every Night
  3. Junk
  4. Teddy Boy
  5. Another Day (5)
  6. Too Many People
  7. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey (1)
  8. Dear Boy
  9. Heart of the Country
  10. Monkberry Moon Delight
  11. Back Seat of My Car
  12. Tomorrow
  13. Give Ireland Back to the Irish (21)
  14. Mary Had a Little Lamb (28)
  15. Hi Hi Hi (10)
  16. Big Barn Bed
  17. My Love (1)
  18. Live and Let Die (2)
  19. Helen Wheels (10)
  20. Jet (7)
  21. Band on the Run (1)
  22. Mrs. Vandebilt
  23. Bluebird
  24. Junior’s Farm (3)
  25. Listen to What the Man Said (1)
  26. Letting Go (39)
  27. Venus and Mars / Rock Show (12)
  28. Magneto and Titanium Man
  29. Silly Love Songs (1)
  30. Let ‘Em In (3)
  31. Mull of Kintyre
  32. Girl’s School (33)
  33. With a Little Luck (1)
  34. I’ve Had Enough (25)
  35. London Town (39)
  36. Goodnight Tonight (5)
  37. Getting Closer (20)
  38. Arrow Through Me (29)
  39. Coming Up (1)
  40. Waterfalls
  41. Ebony and Ivory (1)
  42. Take It Away (10)
  43. Here Today
  44. Tug of War (53)
  45. Say Say Say (1)
  46. So Bad (23)
  47. Pipes of Peace
  48. No More Lonely Nights (6)
  49. Spies Like Us (7)
  50. Press (21)
  51. Stranglehold (81)
  52. Once Upon a Long Ago
  53. Back on My Feet
  54. My Brave Face (25)
  55. You Want Her Too
  56. This One (94)
  57. Figure of Eight (92)
  58. Hope of Deliverance (83)
  59. C’Mon People
  60. Off the Ground
  61. Mistress and Maid
  62. Young Boy
  63. The World Tonight (64)
  64. Beautiful Night
  65. From a Lover to a Friend
  66. Fine Line
  67. English Tea
  68. Jenny Wren
  69. Dance Tonight (69)
  70. Ever Present Past
  71. Mr. Bellamy
  72. The End of the End
  73. New
  74. Save Us
  75. Queenie Eye

What do you think?

The Beatles Challenge

It’s been 50 years since the first Beatles album was released. So let’s have a look back for a minute, and consider this.

Below are 100 songs written by the Beatles between late 1962 and late 1969. That’s right — the Beatles recorded their entire collection within seven years, in the time most bands these days produce 2 or maybe 3 albums.beatles_12a Moreover, they went from “She loves you, yeah yeah yeah” to “I read the news today, oh boy” in a period of a little over three years, dragging the rest of pop music behind.

So here’s the challenge: Can you name any other group that comes anywhere close to this record? Here, look at this list of their 100 best-known songs. See how many of these songs you know.

1962
Love Me Do

1963
Please Please Me
I Saw Her Standing There
Do You Want to Know a Secret?
From Me To You
She Loves You
It Won’t Be Long
All My Loving
I Want To Hold Your Hand
This Boy

1964
Can’t Buy Me Love
You Can’t Do That
A Hard Day’s Night
I Should Have Known Better
If I Fell
And I Love Her
I’ll Cry Instead
Any Time at All
Things We Said Today
I Feel Fine
She’s a Woman
Eight Days a Week
I’ll Follow the Sun
No Reply
Baby’s in Black

1965
Ticket to Ride
Help!
Yes It Is
You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away
I’ve Just Seen a Face
Yesterday
Drive My Car
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
You Won’t See Me
Nowhere Man
Michelle
Girl
In My Life
Day Tripper
We Can Work It Out

1966
Paperback Writer
Rain
Taxman
Eleanor Rigby
Here, There, and Everywhere
Yellow Submarine
She Said She Said
Good Day Sunshine
And Your Bird Can Sing
Got to Get You Into My Life
Tomorrow Never Knows
Penny Lane
Strawberry Fields Forever

1967
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
With a Little Help From My Friends
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
Getting Better
When I’m Sixty Four
Lovely Rita
A Day in the Life
All You Need is Love
Baby You’re a Rich Man
Hello Goodbye
I Am The Walrus
Magical Mystery Tour
The Fool on the Hill

1968
Lady Madonna
Across the Universe
All Together Now
Hey Bulldog
Hey Jude
Revolution
Back in the USSR
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Happiness is a Warm Gun
Martha My Dear
Blackbird
Rocky Raccoon
Birthday
Mother Nature’s Son
Helter Skelter

1969
Get Back
Don’t Let Me Down
Two of Us
Let It Be
I’ve Got a Feeling
The Long and Winding Road
The Ballad of John and Yoko
Old Brown Shoe
Come Together
Something
Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
Oh! Darling
Octopus’ Garden
Here Comes the Sun
She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
Golden Slumbers
Carry That Weight
The End