Tag Archives: Beatles

Time Marches On. Or Does It Dance?

The remaining Beatles and the Stones—which could also be described as “remaining,” although for some reason that doesn’t seem to apply to that band, when arguably it should—together making music.

That is what Variety reports could have happened, given that the Stones are finishing a new album, Hackney Diamonds, in Los Angeles and Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr happened to participate in recording sessions with them within the past few weeks.

Once, this would have been the stuff of wide-eyed amazement. Those two bands essentially dominated the 1960s and defined music for years to come. It was a battle of the bands that the two were in, although this was in terms of the fan base, which picked one over the other.

Yes, there was the participation of Lennon and McCartney on the Stones’ “We Love You,” from 1967. There was Lennon performing with “Yer Blues” with Keef as part of 1968’s “Rock and Roll Circus.”

Those were but moments.

But now it is, I think, rather sad.

Continue reading Time Marches On. Or Does It Dance?

On Age

Paul McCartney just turned 81. Which means he was born in 1942. He was born into what undoubtedly seemed to his parents as a world at war. And war wasn’t something that was happening elsewhere: the Nazis had bombed London and other cities from September 1940 to May 1941. Liverpool was one of the most heavily bombed cities.

1942 was a non-trivial year in terms of births of musicians: Brian Jones*, John Cale, Arthur Brown, Ian Dury, Spencer Davis, Andy Summers. And recording engineer Glyn Johns was also born in 1942; he was to work with The Beatles on the Let It Be recording and was the person who suggested that the band perform on the roof of the Apple Studio building.

Assuming that when one is around 16 the music that one listens to probably has a bigger effect overall than music heard at any other time in one’s life (i.e., childhood is behind and the edge of adulthood is sharply there), it is interesting to note some of the biggest songs in the U.K. in 1958:

  • “Jailhouse Rock” by Elvis was the first record to debut at #1 on the UK Singles Chart
  • “Wake Up Little Susie” by The Everly Brothers spent two months in the top 10
  • “Chicago” by Frank Sinatra sold big for three months

And while expected musicians including Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly and The Crickets, and Little Richard had hits in the UK in 1958, it is worth knowing that Paul Anka, Harry Belafonte, Pat Boone, and Perry Como did, as well.

Quite an array of musical influences.

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New Beatles video: I’m Only Sleeping

Video: The Beatles – “I’m Only Sleeping” (2022 mix)

Directed by Em Cooper. From the Special Edition of Revolver, out now on UMG.

Look at this! British director and animator Em Cooper painted every frame of this video individually in oil, 1,300 hand-painted oil paintings. Which is a lot of work! But who cares how much work something takes if the end result is lame? Fortunately, this is not. It’s appropriately dreamy and strippy.

Cooper says, “It was a project that I felt an immediate spark for right from the word go, and somehow that momentum carried me right through to the en. I love The Beatles. We used to listen to this song on a tape in the car when I was a child, and the song itself evokes such a mesmerising, languid, dreamy state. In a way, my job was only to follow its lead with a paintbrush in my hand.”

The new Giles Martin remix sounds good. The bass is more prominent than in the original stereo mix, but it’s certainly not obnoxious. Paul’s yawn is as adorable as ever (If you listen really closely, you can hear John say, “Yawn, Paul” shortly before it.)

The Beatles: web, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Permanence & Change

The Rijksmuseum on Museum Square in Amsterdam South is considered the national museum of the Netherlands. It is the museum that is probably best known for having Rembrandt’s The Night Watch in its collection. The Night Watch underwent a conservation and restoration project that started in July 2019 and ran for two-and-a-half years. As the painting was executed in 1642, it was deemed necessary to provide restoration and because the people of the Netherlands want it to exist for several hundred more years, conservation work was required. As part of the undertaking the researchers and curators used a macro-XRF scanner to capture information millimeter by millimeter (the canvas measures 379.5 cm x 454.5 cm); it took 56 scans, each lasting 24 hours, to capture that information. In addition to which, some 12,500 high-resolution (0.001 mil) photographs were taken.

In June 2021 the museum announced:

Visitors to the Rijksmuseum can now enjoy The Night Watch in its original form, for the first time in 300 years. Several sections were cut from the painting in the past. The Operation Night Watch team has successfully recreated these missing pieces, which have now been mounted around Rembrandt’s world-famous work. This reconstruction based on the 17th-century copy attributed to Gerrit Lundens was made with the help of artificial intelligence.

The “Operation Night Watch” team noted that there were “a number of differences” between what viewers have seen over the past few hundred years and what has been reconstructed. There are three figures on a bridge that hadn’t been there. The painting’s main figures had been seen in the middle of the canvas when they were supposed to be right of center. And there are other changes.

The Giles Martin remix and expansion of The Beatles’ Revolver, like The Night Watch, deployed artificial intelligence. The album, released in 1966 (324 years after the Rembrandt), had been originally mixed to mono and two-channel stereo, but the multitrack master recordings were not saved. Martin made use of a technique known as “demixing” that had been notably used on Peter Jackson’s Get Back documentary; it separates all of the instruments and vocals and applies machine learning to fill in information, information that we hear as sound.

Giles Martin told the BBC, for example, “It [the AI] has to learn what the sound of John Lennon’s guitar is. . .and the more information you can give it, the better it becomes.”

Which begs the question of whether he is referring to the capabilities of the machine learning or of the sound of John Lennon’s guitar.

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Girl with The Twelfth Album

Johannes Vermeer lived in the Netherlands in the 17th century. The painter died at age 43 in 1675. What is arguably his most famous work—and not just because of Scarlett Johansson—is Girl with a Pearl Earring. (It almost seems as though it is one in the “Girl” series, as among his other works are Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window, Girl Interrupted at Her Music, and Girl with the Red Hat.) Vermeer painted Girl with a Pearl Earring in 1665. Quite a talent at 33.

While it is a painting that is certainly wonderfully executed and valued as one of the world’s masterpieces (it is sometime referred to as the “Mona Lisa of the North”), the painting was lost for 200 years. In 1881 a collector, Arnoldus Andries des Tombe, bought a painting that was in not particularly good condition for not a whole lot of money. When cleaned it was discovered to be what is now considered to be one of Vermeer’s masterpieces.

There are approximately 35 Vermeer oils in existence. There were thought, until recently, to be approximately 36.

In 1942 the U.S. National Gallery of Art received a collection of paintings known as the Widener Collection. The recent provenance of the painting had it discovered in 1906 by Abraham Bredius, director of the Mauritshuis in the Hague; the Mauritshuis happens to be the museum that des Tombe had donated Girl with a Pearl Earring to in 1902. Arguably Bredius was familiar with Vermeer’s work. Girl with a Flute was purchased by Joseph Widener in 1923. René Gimpel, an influential Parisian art dealer, wrote of the sale in his diary, “It’s truly one of the master’s most beautiful works.”

The name of the painting may be familiar to you because earlier this month the National Gallery came to the conclusion that it isn’t by Vermeer. As the museum’s Marjorie E. Wieseman wrote of Girl with a Flute, “With present knowledge, we cannot be sure whether it was created in honest emulation or with the deliberate intent to fool a discerning 17th-century Dutch art market, as it fooled connoisseurs in the early 20th century.”

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When you’re in an anechoic chamber—a room full of pyramid-shaped, foot-long absorbers located on the walls, ceiling and floor (there is typically a large screen providing the footing) that keep sound waves from bouncing around—the silence isn’t, as they say, deafening, but it causes a sensation that makes it seem as though the atmosphere is somehow thicker in there. The sound goes away. You move through the space (I’ve had the opportunity to be in chambers capable of accommodating cars and instrumentation, so these chambers are sometimes like large rooms that you could even dance in) and because the nearly silent audible cues that you don’t even pay any attention to in normal activities—sounds like the fabric of your clothes brushing as you walk—are absent, it is a bit eerie. Or a lot eerie. You can hear your blood pumping, though the sound has more consistency than a rhythmic beat. It is not a place you want to be in for too long.

It makes you appreciate, well, sound.


John Cage’s 4’33” (In Proportional Notation) was first performed by pianist David Tudor on August 29,1952 in Woodstock, New York. There are three movements to the composition. The movements, unlike those in other musical works, consisted of Tudor opening and closing the lid of the keyboard to mark each section.

Cage recalled, according to the Museum of Modern Art, “You could hear the wind stirring outside during the first movement. During the second, raindrops began pattering the roof, and during the third people themselves made all kinds of interesting sounds as they talked or walked out.”

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50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong–or Can They?

While the numbers are not laser etched in diamond*, Michael Jackson has sold some 258.9-million albums. This puts him behind the Beatles (289.5 million) but ahead of his first, former father-in-law (well, he would have been had he not been dead for 17 years): 230.6 million. All of these are/were (how do you count when the Beatles no longer exist, nor do either of the two Kings?) pikers compared to Rihanna, who has sold an estimated 334.7 million albums and the 34-year-old billionaire has, presumably, a long career ahead of her.

But back to Jackson. According to Spotify, he has 30,531,780 monthly listeners.

“Billie Jean” has had 1,149,441,023 streams. Consider: the population of China is 1.4-billion people, so it is as though most all of them know that “She’s just a girl who claims I am the one.”

Given these numbers it is safer than houses to claim that there have been a lot of people who have listened to Michael Jackson, either then or right now.

Continue reading 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong–or Can They?

“Hey, hey, we’re the. . .”

This is odd. To get to the Beatles, my subject, I have to go through the Monkees. This is because as I start this I learn that Mike Nesmith died December 10. He was 78. According to an obit in The Washington Post, “Nesmith just performed less than a month ago, concluding a Monkees farewell tour in Los Angeles with singer and drummer Micky Dolenz, who is now the band’s sole surviving member.” No, he’s the sole surviving member of what was once the band.

Davy Jones died in 2012. Peter Tork in 2019. Wouldn’t that “farewell tour” have really occurred in 2011?

Harrison Smith notes in the WaPo obit, “for a time, the ‘Prefab Four were said to have outsold the Beatles.”

And here we go.

The Beatles were referred to as the “Fab Four.” In this case, “Fab” was short for “Fabulous.”

The Monkees “Prefab Four” moniker doesn’t mean “Prefabulous” but “Prefabricated.” The combination of the four was a result of a casting call, as two TV producers in 1965 had the idea for a situation comedy about a band. This resulted in a TV series, The Monkees, which ran on NBC from September 1966 to March 1968, 58 episodes. The storylines were based on the concept of a band in LA trying to make it.

Nesmith showed up at the audition having seen an ad in a trade mag. Tork was recommended by Stephen Stills. Davy Jones was a musical stage performer (who was in the cast of Oliver! that did a performance on The Ed Sullivan Show the night the Beatles performed on the show). Micky Dolenz was a TV actor, having performed as the star of Circus Boy, where he was the orphan of trapeze artists who was adopted by a clown and his extended family and had a baby elephant as a pet—and people think that some of the bits in The Monkees were surreal.

Continue reading “Hey, hey, we’re the. . .”

In Advance of a Broken Band

There was one scene in the massive filmic edifice that is Get Back, the film of the Beatles nearing the end, the likes of which was only exceeded by the magnitude of Napoleon’s 1812 retreat from Moscow, that made me shake myself from my stupor during which time I was wondering how it was possible for Paul McCartney to be chewing on his fingernails so frequently and yet have the ability to play bass, piano, drums and probably a multitude of other instruments had they been in Twickenham Studios or Savile Row or inside his car or randomly on his route to work.

This was after George Harrison decided that he could continue to be a member of the band and Billy Preston, who happened to be in town, was dragooned, willingly, into the band.

During an exchange between McCartney and Lennon it was pointed out that the Beatles were four, then three, then four, then five. That is, John/Paul/George/Ringo, John/Paul/George/Ringo, John/Paul/George/Ringo, John/Paul/George/Ringo/Billy. It was even suggested that they might ask a multitude of others to join the group, equaling, perhaps, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The issue, of course, is the still somewhat alive horse that I’ve flogged over the years, which is: When does a band stop being a band? Or when is it a band in name only?

As is well known there is a tendency for acts to continue on with the name of a band although there are people missing from the lineup that made the band what it was.

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Beatles Studies

Ringo gave an interview to BBC Radio recently in which he said, among other things, “if Paul hadn’t been in the band, we’d probably have made two albums because we were lazy buggers.”

So that would have been Please Please Me and With the Beatles, which were introduced in the U.K. in 1963 eight months apart (March and November).

As for the first, it is actually quite an impressive outing, including: “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Misery,” “Anna (Go to Him),” “Chains,” “Boys,” “Ask Me Why,” “Please Please Me,” “Love Me Do,” “P.S. I Love You,” “Baby It’s You,” “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” “A Taste of Honey,” “There’s a Place,” and “Twist and Shout.”

A solid 32:16 of music.

With the Beatles contains “It Won’t Be Long,” “All I’ve Got to Do,” “All My Loving,” “Don’t Bother Me,” “Little Child,” “Till there Was You,” “Please Mr. Postman,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “Hold Me Tight,” “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “I Wanna Be Your Man,” “Devil in Her Heart,” “Not a Second Time,” and “Money (That’s What I Want).”

That comes in at 33:02.

One of the remarkable things about these two albums is that the band was able to include songs from a wide variety of genres. Consider only With the Beatles. “Till There Was You” was written by Meredith Wilson, the composer of The Music Man. “Roll Over Beethoven” came from Chuck Berry. “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” was written by Smokey Robinson. And “Money” also came out of Hitsville U.S.A., having been written by Motown founder Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford.

Ringo continued, “But Paul’s a workaholic. John and I would be sitting in the garden taking in the color green from the tree, and the phone would ring, and we would know, ‘Hey lads, you want to come in? Let’s go in the studio!’

“So I’ve told Paul this, he knows this story, we made three times more music than we ever would without him because he’s the workaholic and he loves to get going. Once we got there, we loved it, of course, but, ‘Oh no, not again!’”

The world would have certainly been a different place had Paul not been the pain in the ass that he must have been in order to get those guys out of the garden.

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