Friday, December 18, 2009
The WogBlog will take a holiday break, and hopefully we'll be back before the New Year. Meanwhile, I'm going to London to see Paul McCartney wind up his short tour. I'll leave you with this clip of Paul and his band playing his Christmas hit "Wonderful Christmastime", here from a performance in Cologne, Germany.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The new song by Paul McCartney, currently featured on his Good Evening Europe Tour, "(I Want To) Come Home" has been released as a download from online music stores. It is also available as a single-song CD-R with the above cover photo, which you may order from stores like Mix'n'burn (handy for those of us who feels there's a void in our CD collection when all we have is a downloaded mp3 file). Today, the music video for the song was also released officially by Paul.
McCartney, who has written only a handful of songs specifically for films, decided to contribute the emotional ballad (I Want To) Come Home for the story about a widower's (Robert DeNiro) relationship with his grown children. The director of "Everybody's Fine" was Kirk Jones, who decided to give McCartney a hand with the songwriting.
When Jones had some editing suggestions, the former Beatle listened. He added an instrumental intro to the song and switched the first and third verses. Then Jones suggested a change in the lyrics.
"I remember going over in the cab (to meet McCartney) and saying the only way I could do justice to him and the film was to be honest," Jones said.
With McCartney, he settled for two out of three.
"I don't want to be above the process," McCartney said. "I don't want to be one of those people who says, 'How dare you play with my music! My music is sacred!'
"I wrote for a movie. I might as well hear what the director has to say. But when he did go a comment too far, I did shut the door."
Jones had almost lost McCartney earlier. As McCartney sat in the screening room and the movie reached the emotional climax where he knew that any song he wrote would appear, he heard the place holder that Jones had also considered: Aretha Franklin singing McCartney's Beatles classic Let It Be.
"I go, 'I can't do this!' " McCartney said. " 'Are you kidding me? I can't do that.' My immediate reaction was, 'No way, dude.' "
But after seeing the movie, an idea came to him the next night.
"I thought, I like the film so much, I'll see if it works," he recalled. "Gradually, from there, I tried to use (Let It Be) as an inspiration for a new, different kind of song, but hopefully in the same emotional ballpark."
Jones said he loves how the new song works for the movie.
"I think it was sung with heart and passion and with honesty."
Over the last couple of days. the song has gotten nominated for "Best song from a film", both at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards and the Golden Globe Awards. We're still awaiting the announcements for the most prestigious one, the Academy Awards. Meanwhile, you can vote for the song over at the Critics' Choice Movie Awards, just click here!
There's a three track promo single out in USA (Catalogue Number: BVPR002552), with the same song )and the same version) three times.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
From the Pathe Newsreels Archives, labeled "Unissued / Unused material - London Airport".
Here's the description of this clip:
The Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison - Jimmy Nicol stands in for Ringo Starr on this trip for he is ill.) get out of coach at London Airport and wave to the fans on airport roof. LS Fans lining the roof of the airport building. LS BOAC Boeing taxiing VS The Beatles arriving at the aircraft and they pose on steps with the air stewardess, they wave and clown about and before entering the aircraft and they welcome fellow passengers aboard. LS Boeing 707 lifting off and disappearing into sky taking the Beatles on their Australian tour.
(Orig.Neg.) Old record suggests material dates from around 07/06/1964.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Nowhere Boy, the new biopic about the young John Lennon is due out on general release at cinemas across the UK on Boxing Day, December 26th. It has already been previewed for the press down at Abbey Road Studios, and London Beatles tour guide Richard Porter had the chance to attend the screening. He came to the screening with mixed feelings, because of early reports about "white washing" the story, but he left with a positive view of the film. In fact, he called it "by far the best Beatles-related biopic I’ve seen" and awarded it 4 stars out of 5.
The thing is, "Nowhere Boy" was supposed to be based upon Julia Baird's book Imagine This: Growing Up with My Brother John Lennon but she pulled out of the project when the director refused to use the new facts about John's Aunt Mimi and her affair with one of the students who rented a room in her house. The point of the book, Julia Baird told me a couple of years ago, before her book was published, was to reveal Aunt Mimi's hypocracy. On one hand, she managed to persuade the local authorities to take five year old John away from his mother Julia and place him with her sister Mimi and Mimi's husband George Smith on the grounds that Julia was living in an unmarried relationship with John Dykins (Julia Baird and her sister Jackie's father). On the other hand, after George Smith died, Mimi herself started an affair with student Michael Fishwick, who was a lodger at Mendips. Julia Baird did some groundbreaking detective work for the Beatles history when she not only discovered this fact, but also tracked down Fishwick and confronted him with her findings.
Furthermore, as John was growing up, Mimi never told him that his real mother Julia was living within a short distance by bus from Mendips, so the two lost touch. It took another sister of Mimi and Julia, Elizabeth (known as Mater) to bring mother and son back together again. Elizabeth lived in Scotland, but had to send her own son, Stanley Parkes down to Liverpool, instructing him to pick up John at Mendips and take him to Blomfield Road in the Penny Lane area to be reunited with his mother. Once reunited, mother and son picked up their relationship, and as John's school was in walking distance from Julia's home, he often made visits to his mother from then on and until she was killed in a traffic accidence. This dark side of Aunt Mimi is not present in the film, and Julia Baird then distanced herself from it.
Julia Baird and your humble WogBlog editor
It now appears that the reason for this glossing over of Aunt Mimi's persona was perhaps due to the interference of none other than Sir Paul McCartney!
In an interview with The Times from December 5th, McCartney has this to say:
The Beatles' very early days are topical again, not so much McCartney's childhood as Lennon's, thanks to Sam Taylor-Wood's Nowhere Boy, a new film examining Lennon's relationship with his Aunt Mimi and mother, Julia. Has he seen it? "I haven't. Sam asked me to but I've been very busy lately. She showed me some little bits of it and I said to her, 'cos I know Sam, she's a great girl, I said, 'Sam, this isn't true'. She sent me a synopsis and it said, 'Aunt Mimi is a cruel woman', and I said, 'Sam, do me one favour: Aunt Mimi was not cruel. She was mock strict, very proper. But she was a good heart who loved John madly and she knew she had to bring up what was potentially a wayward boy'. I always could read that."
Taylor-Wood had the character rewritten. "She showed me some stuff and I said, 'Well, the Mimi character's good now, I like that, but that bit, we never did that, and John never did that, and he certainly didn't do that'. So we had a discussion about 'Yeah, well, it's a film' - 'This is not a pipe', as Magritte would have said, 'it's a painting'. It captures the essence, but not for me. Because I was there. I hear it's a good film. But it's my life."
So, despite McCartney's insistence on the sugar coated version of Aunt Mimi, Richard Porter thought that it was a good film, and I guess it's because of the music, the actors and the authenticity in recreating the post war Liverpool that makes this possible. As a long time aficionado of several subjects, I have a long time ago found that you need to take every fact presented by the popular media with a lot more than a pinch of salt. Artistic license is one thing, but more annoying is the fact that every myth gets repeated ad nauseam until the public at large gets a very twisted version of the actual historic events and personas.
But let's not dwell on facts. Let's just go and see the movie, and try to enjoy what's good about it. In my blog post about the soundtrack album, I gave you the breakdown of the tracks on the 2 disc release. Now here are the linear notes, where Ian Neil (Music Supervisor), Sam Taylor-Wood (the film’s director) and Matt Greenhalgh (screenplay writer) gives their comments on the songs:
Track 1: Wild One
Artist: Jerry Lee Lewis
Ian - We had to have Jerry on the film, he was a Don. Originally meant for another scene but ended up opening the film. Iconic tune and perfect for seeing young John for first time.
Track 2: Mr Sandman
Artist: Dickie Valentine
Matt - This came out of wanting something for the opening, that set up the swing band music that was hip at the time. A time before rock'n'roll. It also gave us a foreboding dreamy quality. John wishing for someone. You can imagine Dickie singing this about Julia.
Sam - This was the perfect 'everything in the world is wonderful' kind of track; all 50's and full of sweetness that we thought perfect for this seminal moment in John’s life.
Track 3: Rocket 88
Artist: Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats
Matt - Generally regarded as the first rock'n'roll record so it seemed apt that it should be the one we, and John, first hear on his musical journey with Julia.
Track 4: I Put A Spell On You
Artist: Screaming Jay Hawkins
Sam - When Ian put forward Screaming Jay in the mix I yelped with delight and excitement as I'd always loved this track and thought the raw sexiness would work perfectly with this complex scene.
Ian - She did yelp with excitement it's true.
Track 5: Shake, Rattle And Roll
Artist: Elvis Presley
Ian - We always knew we would use an Elvis recording in the film, it made sense to have an early one and not such an obvious one. As John once said; “If there hadn't been an Elvis there wouldn't have been a Beatles!”
Track 6: Hard Headed Woman
Artist: Wanda Jackson
Sam - I love the gravel voice of Wanda Jackson and really thought she shouldn't be left out of our rock n roll punch. I thought she'd be a good accompaniment to Elvis and Ian says she dated him once too. Elvis that is!
Track 7: Maggie May
Artist: The Nowhere Boys
Matt - A song that's deeply rooted in Liverpool folklore. It just seemed to have the right amount of cheekiness, as well as an undercurrent of bitterness if sung by John, considering Maggie May was a whore!
Track 8: That'll Be The Day
Artist: The Nowhere Boys
Matt - B side of: “In Spite of All The Danger”, The Beatles first record. Paul's favourite artist was Buddy Holly and it meant John could wear his glasses and look cool for the first time.
A limited edition single of That'll Be The Day from the soundtrack albumTrack 9: Rockin' Daddy
Artist: Eddie Bond & The Stompers
Ian - We needed a little ditty when John goes to buy his first guitar. So many to choose from but this one hit the spot.
Track 10: Twenty Flight Rock
Artist: Eddie Cochran
Matt - Perfectly documented by Paul in the 'Anthology' - where he describes the first time he met John - and then actually performs the song on his acoustic - and you can see how he would have blown The Quarrymen, especially John, away. Just brilliant.
Track 11: That’s Alright Mama
Artist: The Nowhere Boys
Sam - A great Elvis track sung and performed with zest by the guys. There was a great energy amongst the group when they played this one out.
Ian - Originally scripted as "Searchin" but we had to change the song. We looked at various options but Elvis songs are hard to beat and of course historically The Quarrymen did cover it, so it ticked that box.
Track 12: Movin’ and Groovin’
Artist: The Nowhere Boys
Ian - Originally going to be Guitar Boogie by Chuck Berry. Ended up our music producer pitched me this Duane Eddy gem and did the job equally well.
Track 13: Raunchy
Artist: The Nowhere Boys
Matt - Has gone down in history as the tune George played for John on the back of a midnight bus as an impromptu audition for the band at the behest of Paul who knew that George was the best thing he'd heard!!
Track 14: Hound Dog
Artist: Big Mama Thornton
Sam - My brother sent me this track, it's so perfect. The film is about two amazing women in John’s life and I feel to have Wanda and Big Mama Thornton brings two powerful women's voices to the film. It’s great to hear a different version to the Elvis one we are familiar with.
Track 15: Be-Bop-A-Lula
Artist: Gene Vincent And The Blue Caps
Ian - Gene was another Don and this was such a big tune from the period and one of my favourite rock n roll tracks of all time.
Track 16: Hello Little Girl
Artist: Aaron Johnson
Matt - John's first track, ever written. Imagine being in that room when he played it to Paul for the first time? There's that re-occurring undercurrent of longing and neediness which is fascinating.
Track 17: In Spite Of All The Danger
Artist: The Nowhere Boys
Matt - The first Beatles record, although under a different name. These vinyl recordings were so flimsy that John was paranoid about it being smashed as soon as they left the studio. He wouldn't let anyone else hold it.
Track 18: Mother
Artist: John Lennon
Matt - It couldn't end anywhere else. He was never reconciled with Julia, he was only just getting to know her. I think this song was his way of moving on from her, and in life - as he does in the film. You can also turn it on its head and attribute it to his 'other mother', Mimi, and it still resonates. It gets you every time.
Sam - When I read this on the last page of Matt's script I was decimated. We had to, in my mind, get the rights the song as I couldn't envisage the film without it. It’s the most intense recording, and hearing John Lennon's voice at the end reminds you that the film is about the legend himself and leaves you slightly haunted.
The album is a stylishly packaged deluxe 2CD set which features the soundtrack to the film on disc one, plus a collection of vintage rock’n’roll classics that inspired John Lennon as a second disc. Interestingly, the first disc includes original tracks recorded especially for the film by the band that portray ‘The Quarrymen’ characters (credited on the soundtrack as The Nowhere Boys). The album features unique takes on these songs, as well as original recordings from Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and many more.
If you're in or around Nottingham, England, you can catch this film tonight already, as it is being shown from December 11th to December 17th on the Broadway Cinema. The rest of us will just have to wait.
Official movie site (UK)
Sunday, December 13, 2009
This morning, McCartney was interviewed on the CBS Sunday Morning show (see above) and tonight he appeared live at the final of the UK programme The X-factor, performing Drive My Car and Live and Let Die.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Another of those wicked Entertainment Memorabilia auctions is taking place at Bonham's of Knightsbridge next week, Wednesday the 16th of December 2009. The above photo, taken by Liverpool photo studio Peter Kaye of the fab four aboard "The Salvor" down by the Liverpool docks in 1962 is one lot at the auction. It's priced at £3,800 - 4,200, but the front of the photo doesn't warrant this estimated price. The back, however, does.
The back of the "Salvor" photo, fully autographed.Among the memorabilia lots on offer, there's about 30+ Beatles related items, including full, or nearly full runs of the Beatles Monthly Book publications. There are also many more signed items by the fabs available, including one where Paul signed for John and vice versa!
Other items of interest: A Chris Montez/Tommy Roe programme (ABC Northampton 27/3/63) signed by George and Paul in blue ballpoint (together with the pen used), several Beatles Programmes from their UK tours, scrap books with newspaper cuttings and concert tickets, an extremely rare US Decca pressing of the single 'My Bonnie'/'The Saints' by Tony Sheridan And The Beat Brothers, 1962, Beatles trading cards, a unique script for 'A Talent For Loving' autographed by the Beatles and Brian Epstein, a pair of John Lennon's Kef hi-fi speakers, used at Tittenhurst Park, and a Grundig TK20 reel-to-reel tape recorder used by The Quarrymen! That last item was used by Paul McCartney to record his band with, and one of the tapes comprised some seventeen Quarrymen recordings, a compilation made, according to Paul, around Easter 1960. This tape was sold privately to Paul in 1995 for an undisclosed sum, and is unfortunately thus not part of the lot.
The photo of 11 year old schoolboy Paul is also on offer, it was last seen at the Liverpool Convention auction back in August.
Something that could turn up to be interesting, is an acetate from the Beatles performance at the Ed Sullivan show in 1965.
The show is available on DVD, but what's special about the acetate is that it's supposedly in stereo. The description "six discernible tracks" may perhaps be a warning about the quality of the sound on the acetate.
See more items and scrutinize them with Bonham's flash player at the official auction site. Happy bidding (or window watching)!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
The latest issue of the Norwegian music magazine Tunes has a great Beatles cover, and an article about Norwegian Beatles fans who have met The Beatles or members of the group. The article has been written by Nils V. Gjerstad. One of the more interesting stories is accompanied by a photo of Paul McCartney with an accordion.
The fan photo was snapped on the 13th of August 1968 by a 18 year old Beatles fan Egil Gjerde, and speculation is that this might be the accordion from "Rocky Raccoon" on The Beatles (White Album). The song was recorded August 15th. The accordion player on Roccy Raccoon has never been documented, maybe this is the one!
A closer look at the instrument
Here's Henry Doktorski's description of Rocky Raccoon (taken from his article on The Beatles and the Free-Reed Instruments:
The harmonica and accordion appeared in the song Rocky Raccoon from the double white album titled The Beatles (Apple: November 22, 1968) and helped give the song it's cowboy flavor: it is set in the American wild west of the 19th century. Other factors which contribute to its bawdy saloon atmosphere are 1) Paul McCartney's half-spoken sprechgesang introduction in a mock cowboy dialect and 2) an extensive honky-tonk piano solo.
The song tells the story about a young boy -- Rocky Raccoon -- who loses his girlfriend to another suitor who called himself Dan. Rocky decides to get back at his rival and shoot him. However, as Daniel was the better marksman, he drew first and wounded Rocky who collapsed in a corner.
The harmonica appeared in this song briefly at the end of the first verse and more extensively during the third verse:
Now she and her man who called himself Dan
Were in the next room at the hoe down
Rocky burst in and grinning a grin
He said Danny boy this is a showdown.
The accordion (with a distinctive musette sound) appeared during the verse:
Now the doctor came in, stinking of gin
And proceeded to lie on the table
He said "Rocky, you met your match."
And Rocky said, "Doc, it's only a scratch
And I'll be better. I'll be better doc as soon as I am able."
The accordion sounds like a 12-bass instrument and it is played badly, as if the performer was as drunk as the doctor stinking of gin. (Actually, the Beatles made it a point NEVER to perform while under the influence as the music suffered, but once John Lennon accidentally ingested some LSD before a Sgt. Pepper's recording session and consequently had to stop for the rest of the night.) Endnote 14
Considering the high quality of all the other performances on the album -- and the sloppiness of the accordion part -- it is possible that Paul McCartney (the actual composer of Rocky Raccoon), intended the accordion to represent the drunk doctor and therefore deliberately had the instrument played badly. However, I doubt if this "word painting" was intentionally planned. I suspect that Paul or John simply had difficulty controlling the bellows and coordinating the right and left hands.
John borrowed the accordion to run through some parts of "All You Need Is Love" with some of the players in the studio during a recording session. It was recorded on June 14th 1967.
Monday, December 7, 2009
The British press has forever had one big grudge against Paul McCartney: We All Stand Together, with Paul McCartney and the Frog Chorus. Time after time, that's a song that is brought forward as an example of how bad a songwriter McCartney was in the eighties. We fans are sick and tired of the British cocaine-snorting journalists dragging this one song down in the mud, because they're out of examples. Here's a quote from today's The Times: "It’s possible that the most successful songwriter in pop history is on the verge of finally being forgiven for the Frog Chorus."
Let me tell you a couple of facts about the song.
- It's a children's song, i.e. it was specifically made for kids.
- The home video of Rupert and the Frog song was the #1 top-selling video in the UK the year it was released.
- We fans love it!
- Did we tell you it was a children's song? And a highly successfull one, at that?
- Versatility in an artist is not a drawback, but a plus.
And people who grew up with the song and it's video has great affection for it. Just take a look at this link.
Now let's just be grateful that the British press still haven't heard the bootleg soundtrack to the aborted full length feature of Rupert The Bear that Paul always wanted to make.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Never played live by the Beatles, first time live performance by Paul McCartney.
I Want To Come Home
From the new film "Everybody's Fine" starring Robert DeNiro. Unreleased and never played live before.
And I Love Her
Not played by Paul since 1993, and never played in the original Beatles arrangement before.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Just a quick report from the opening of the Good Evening Europe Tour. There were a few changes in the set list since the US tour, and Paul was in fine voice.
Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da went over well with the Germans with it's unmistakable rhythm. I was disappointed that the set list changes had squeezed out "I'm Down", after it only had been played a few times. There are many stalwarts which could have been retired in favour of the new songs. Paul did a fine rendition of "And I Love Her", in it's original Beatles arrangement, as opposed to the more duet-like arrangement that was used for the Unplugged tour of 1991, it's only earlier live appearance.
Here's the full set list:
1. Magical Mystery Tour
2. Drive My Car
4. Only Mama Knows
5. Flaming Pie
6. Got To Get You Into My life
7. Let Me roll it/Foxy Lady ending
9. The Long And Winding Road
10. I Want To Come Home (from the new film with DeNiro, making it's live premiere)
11. My Love
13. Here Today
14. Dance Tonight (shouts of "Ram On" was ignored)
15. And I Love Her (not played live since 1991)
16. Mrs Vanderbilt
17. Eleanor Rigby
18. Band On The Run
19. Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da (never played live before!)
20. Sing The Changes
21. Back In The USSR
23. I've Got A Feeling / jam ending
24. Paperback Writer / jam ending
25. A Day In The Life / Give Peace A Chance
26. Let It Be
27. Live And Let Die
28. Hey Jude
First encore :
29. Day Tripper
30. Lady Madonna
31. Get Back
Second encore :
33. Helter Skelter
34. Sgt Pepper's Reprise / The End
Songs from the US tour that were not meant for European ears: Calico Skies, I Saw Her Standing There, I'm Down (that last one has NEVER been performed anywhere but in the USA ever! What's the deal, Paul?)
Tour merchandise had been produced and were for sale at the venue. Paul had even gone to the trouble of translating the Tour Programme to German, so it was available as "Good Evening Germany" at 15 Euros.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
In 1995, it may have looked like the invention of the CD-ROM would give us a new way to interact with our favourite artists. Hot on the heels of Bob Dylan's release of "Highway 61 Interactive", Yoko Ono made arrangements to release an interactive CD-ROM featuring John Lennon.
Yoko Ono wanted to bring an interactive Lennon/Beatles-experience to the starving Beatles-fans/computer-users.
According to the hype, there were several "rooms" to explore, including:
* the Beatles-room
* the John & Yoko-room
* and more...
A promotional clip for the CD-ROM was made, and it was distributed with several "free with this magazine" type CD-ROM's. As far as we know, the John Lennon Interactive CD-ROM never made it to the production stage before the idea was dropped, but here's the promotional clip for it.