Category Archives: John Lennon

George Harrison PART TWO

[George Harrison PART TWO

English: George Harrison in the Oval Office du...

English: George Harrison in the Oval Office during the Ford administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

]In 1968 Harrison’s interest in Indian music …

extended into a yearning to learn more about eastern spiritual practices. In 1968, he led the Beatles on a journey to northern India to study transcendental meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. [Biography.com]

That year the group’s White Album came out. Harrison penned “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Piggies,” “Long, Long, Long” and “Savoy Truffle.” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” is ranked as #7 Greatest Guitar Song of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine.

On Yellow Submarine he  penned “Only A Northern Song” and “It’s All Too Much” both of which — like the rest of the album — were self indulgent and over produced.

He bounced back with Abbey Road which has two of Harrison’s best songs, “Something” and  “Here Comes The Sun”

Let It Be had “I Me Mine Mine” and “For You Blue.” While recording Let It Be Harrison grew frustrated with the poor working conditions of the film studio as well as with the Lennon-McCartney lock on creative input on songs. He walked way from the recording sessions on January 10th, 1969. The other Beatles convinced him to return 12 days later but the writing was on the wall. The end was near for the super group.

When Beatles broke up in April of 1970 Harrison had a back log of music written and ready to produce. His first post-Beatles album was a triple disk, All Things Must Pass. The album yielded two hits “My Sweet Lord” and “What Is Life”

In 1971  he organized a charity concert at Madison Square Garden to raise money and awareness for the refugees in Bangladesh. The Concert for Bangladesh (and the concert film) was a fore runner to other multi-band high-profile charity concerts to come a decade later like Live Aid.

His next Album, Living in the Material World went Gold  with in a week of its release. The single from the album, “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)” became an international  best seller.

But then things began to flatten out musically–sales wise at least. Harrison continued to write and experiment musically.

He “started his own film production company, Handmade Films. The outfit underwrote Monty Python’s Life of Brian and would go on to put out 26 other movies before Harrison sold his interest in the company in 1994.” [Biography.com]

In 1987 released Cloud Nine and began to work with a collection of rockers who formed the group the Traveling Wilburys.

The Traveling Wilburys, 1988. L–R: Roy Orbison...

The Traveling Wilburys, 1988. L–R: Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and Tom Petty. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“In 1998, Harrison, a longtime smoker, reportedly was successfully treated for throat cancer.” [Ibid] Two years later the cancer returned, this time it had spread to his brain. He died in Los Angeles in November of 2001.

 

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Oy! Yesterday was full of frustration WordPress wise. I could NOT get a YouTube song/vid to successfully link.(And believe me I had TONS of great George clips to share.) So I’m trying again to day… with fresh optimism. … Here Comes the Sun…

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George Harrison PART ONE 2.25.13

“I think people who can truly live a life in music are telling the world, “You can have my love, you can have my smiles. Forget the bad parts, you don’t need them. Just take the music, the goodness, because it’s the very best, and it’s the part I give”– George Harrison

[Image courtesy: IMDb]

[Image courtesy: IMDb]

George Harrison was born on this day in Liverpool, England in 1943. today is the 70th anniversary of his birth.

Harrison was the youngest of four children born to Harold, a school bus driver, and Louise as shop assistant and stay a home mother. He went to school at Dovedale Primary School until he was 11 when he transferred to the prestigious Liverpool Institute.

By his own admission, Harrison was not much of a student and what little interest he did have for his studies washed away with his discovery of the electric guitar and American rock ‘n roll. [Biography.com]

He was riding his bike through the streets of Liverpool one day when he heard Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel coming through a window. Harrison said it was an epiphany. His father bought him an acoustic guitar and he taught himself how to play.  He formed a pop, jazz, blues, folk, roots band with his older brother Peter and their friend Arthur Kelly called the Rebels.

Harrison knew Paul McCartney from school and in 1958 he auditioned for McCartney and John Lennon’s band The Quarrymen. Lennon was reluctant to bring on the 14-year-old Harrison, but after a second audition — this on the upper deck of a bus — he was sufficiently wowed by Harrison’s rock and roll guitar that the younger guitarist began to fill in with the group.

By 16 Harrison had left school and was working as an apprentice electrician as well as a musician both for the Quarrymen and for the Les Stewart Quartet.

By 1960 Harrison’s music career was in full swing. Lennon had renamed the band the Beatles and the young group began cutting their rock teeth in the small clubs and bars around Liverpool and Hamburg, Germany. Within two years, the group had a new drummer, Ringo Starr, and a manager, Brian Epstein,… Before the end of 1962, Harrison and the Beatles recorded a top 20 U.K. hit, Love Me Do. [Biography.com]

They followed that with Please, Please me and produced an album (also called Please, Please Me.) Harrison sang lead on two songs, Chains, a cover of  the Little Eva hit by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and Do You Want to Know a Secret by Lennon and McCartney. The album (literally) rocked the UK charts

Given that the UK album chart in those days tended to be dominated by more ‘adult’ tastes such as film soundtracks and easy listening vocalists, it was a surprise when Please Please Me hit the top of the chart in May 1963 and remained there for thirty weeks before being replaced by With The Beatles. [TheBeatles.com]

The 1963 UK release of With The Beatles, hosted the first Harrison penned song to make it to vinyl;  Don’t Bother Me.

It wasn’t until Help! that another Harrison song made it onto a Beatles album. He contributed “I Need You” and “You Like Me Too Much” to Help!

Harrison’s influence grew in the band with the release of Rubber Soul. Again he has two songs on the album, Think For Yourself and If I Needed Some One. He brought both a folk rock flavor to the group and an interest in classical Indian music.

Harrison soon developed a deep interest in Indian music.He taught himself the sitar, introducing the instrument to many western ears on John Lennon’s song, “Norwegian Wood.”” [Biography.com]

By bringing sitar player Ravi Shankar to the attention of the Western World Harrison introduced the instrument to other rock groups (like the Rolling Stones.) And his willingness to stray from the traditional western rock instruments (guitar, bass, drums, piano) helped “pave the way for such groundbreaking Beatles albums as Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” [Ibid]

He scored with three singles on Revolver, “Taxman,” “Love You To” and “I Want to Tell You.” You can really hear the Eastern influence on “Love You To”

He only contributed one song to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “Within You Without You.”  He’s the only Beatle to play on the song.

[Continued in PART TWO]


Pride and Prejudice characters: Charlotte and Mr. Collins

Charlotte & Collins

For a woman who came from a family of clergymen — her father, two brothers and four cousins wore a collar — Jane Austen certainly enjoys poking fun at them in her novels. And Pride and Prejudice’s  Mr. Collins is her most ridiculous clerical caricature. How on earth does sensible Charlotte wind up with such a buffoon?

A clergyman was a professional, just like a lawyer or doctor. He made his living in the pulpit, not at the bar or in the examining room, but he still needed to be a well educated man. Add to that a vicar needed have a high moral standard, be a good speaker and have compassion for the poor and needy.

David Bamber is Mr. Collins  in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

David Bamber is Mr. Collins in the 1995 series [Image courtesy BBC Home.]

Instead we get conceited, pompous, narrow-minded, silly, self important Mr. Collins. He is a mixture of pride and obsequiousness, a social climber with a very good opinion of himself and his patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

He comes to Meryton to visit the Bennets. As closest male relative he is set to inherit the Longbourn estate on Mr. Bennet’s death. That is something, to his credit, that he feels some guilt over. So he decides to marry one of the five Bennet sisters. Jane is all but engaged to Mr. Bingley so he sets his sites on Lizzie.

Tom Hollander as Mr. Collin in the 2005 movie

Tom Hollander as Mr. Collin in the 2005 movie

Poor Lizzie receives two of the worst proposals  of marriage in literature. The first is from Mr. Collins. He wants to get married because:

  1.  as a clergyman it would set a good example to the parish.
  2.  it will add to his happiness.
  3.  it is “the particular advice “ of Lady Catherine.
  4.  he has a violent affection for Elizabeth

Of course he doesn’t expect a rejected. For one thing he’s SUCH a catch, and for another he’s chosen well. The girls are desperate and he has them in a corner.

He literally can not believe that she declines his offer. Neither can her mother. And for a while Longbourn is long born with strife.

Queue Charlotte.

Charlotte Lucas is plain, pragmatic, good-tempered, funny, sensible, intelligent and unromantic.  She is 27 years old and Lizzie’s intimate friend. She’s such a good friend, in fact, that she comes to the rescue when Lizzie refuses Mr. Collins. She keeps him in good humor by listening to him and, one assumes, diverts him, making sure he’s out of ear shot of the shouting Mrs. Bennet and the giggling Lydia and Kitty.

Lucy Scott in the 1995 series

Lucy Scott in the 1995 series

Lizzie thanks her friend,  but “Charlotte’s kindness extended farther than Elizabeth had any conception of; — its object was nothing less than to secure her from any return of Mr. Collins’s addresses, by engaging them towards herself.” With a little encouragement on her part Mr. Collins transfers his ‘violent affections’ form one lady to the next and…

”In as short a time as Mr. Collins’s long speeches would allow, every thing was settled between them to the satisfaction of both… he earnestly entreated her to name the day that was to make him the happiest of men… and Miss Lucas, who accepted him solely from the pure and disinterested desire of an establishment, cared not how soon that establishment were gained.”

Lizzie is surprised that Mr. Collins could so quickly change his mind  and settle on another life partner. But she is astonished that Charlotte could accept his proposal.  Charlotte reminds her however that she is…

”not romantic, you know. I never was. I ask only a comfortable home; and considering Mr. Collins’s character, connections, and situation in life, I am convinced that my chance of happiness with him is as fair as most people can boast on entering the marriage state.”

In some ways Charlotte winds up in same situation as Mr. Bennet in the marriage department. Neither of them respect or love their partners. And both do what they can in daily life to avoid interacting with their spouses Mr. Bennet shuts the door to his library, while Charlotte sits in her parlor and encourages Mr. Collins to work with his bees or visit Lady Catherine.

Claudie Blakley in the 2005 movie

Claudie Blakley in the 2005 movie

At the end of the novel Mr. Bennet writes to Mr. Collins informing him that — despite warning to the contrary by both Collins and Lady Catherine — Lizzie and Darcy are soon to marry. Mr. Bennet advises Mr. Collins to  “Console Lady Catherine as well as you can. But, if I were you, I would stand by the nephew. He has more to give.” If Mr. Collins heeds this wise advice he’d shift his alliance to Darcy who would never put up with the vicar’s toady behavior. That, combined with Charlotte’s even handed temper–which (hopefully) would rub off on Collins–MIGHT make him a more tolerable fool.

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Here’s a clip of the wonderful Julia Cho and Maxwell Glick in a scene from The Lizzie Bennet Diaries…


Thought of the Day John Lennon

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Switching up the formula a little today as it is NOT John Lennon’s Birthday — that was October 9th — but I was away that day, so I thought I’d retroactively give John the birthday nod.
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“If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliché that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that’s his problem. Love and peace are eternal.”
— John Lennon

John Winston Lennon was born on October 9th, 1940 in Liverpool, England. He would be 72 years old this year.

John was born during World War II, indeed he was born during an air raid, to Julia and Alfred Lennon. His father worked as a merchant seaman and was often away from home. By the time John was four-years-old his parents were divorced and he went to live with his Aunt Mimi Smith. Although Alfred was largely out of the picture, Julia remained close, she visited John regularly.

She taught John how to play the banjo and the piano and purchased his first guitar. [biography.com]

Julia Lennon died when John was 18, she was stuck by a car.

He did not do well in school, and preferred to be the class clown rather than study. He did love art and music though. John drew unique (almost grotesque) line drawings that quickly and simply captured the image.

John started a ‘skiffle band’ (a band that used the instruments they had at hand) called the Quarry Men when he was 16. The Quarry Men take their name from John’s high school, Quarry Bank High School in Liverpool. The next year he asked Paul McCartney to join the group.  George Harrison and Lennon’s art school mate Stu Sutcliffe also joined the band and they later added Pete Best on drums.

John at the Cavern Club [Image courtesy: Join the Cavern Club]

The group changed their name to the Beatles and played clubs in Hamburg, Germany and the Cavern Club in Liverpool. Brian Epstein came on board in 1961 as manager, and they got a recording contract with EMI records.

1962 saw huge changes for both Lennon and  the group.  In April of 1962 Sutcliffe died tragically of a brain aneurysm. In August John married Cynthia Powell, the couple had a son, Julian in April the next year. The band replaced drummer Pete Best with Ringo Starr. The realigned group recorded  at EMI with George Martin as their producer, and released Love Me Do in October. The single reached #17 on the British Charts. Please, Please Me the follow-up single, topped the charts. And the Beatles were off.

Beatlemania invaded the US in 1964. They appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and played sold out concerts.

Still from Hard Day’s Night. [Image courtesy: Cinematical]

Back in the UK they made the movie A Hard Day’s Night.  The movie is a delightfully fun, pop romp of a mockumentary. It featured songs from the album of the same name, notably: A Hard Days Night, If I Fell, I’m Happy Just to Dance with You, Tell Me Why, Any Time At All and Can’t Buy Me Love. The popularity of the movie helped keep the album at #1 for 14 weeks on the Billboard chart. The budget was limited so it was shot in black and white, and everything was kept simple. Not so with their second film HELP! which still manages to be charming but not as charming as  Hard Day’s Night. It is overproduced and over done. Lennon said that the Beatles felt like extras in their own movie with HELP! and it shows.  Still the music was pretty awesome: Help!, You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away, You’re Going to Lose That Girl! Ticket to Ride, It’s Only Love, I’ve Just Seen a Face, and Yesterday. The Album held the top spot on Billboard for 9 weeks.

Musically the lads from Liverpool were in top form, releasing the breakthrough album, Rubber Soul in 1965. Their song writing had transformed from the harder R&B influenced Hold My Hand kind of song to lyrical, mature songs like Norwegian Wood, Nowhere Man, Michelle, Girl, In My Life, and If I Needed Someone. It was another #1 Billboard album (6 weeks).   [I’m guessing that if you are still reading this blog you are a Beatles fan and already have most of their albums, but if you don’t… I’d put Rubber Soul at the top of the list. For my money Rubber Soul and Revolver are two of the best albums every made.]

Rubber Soul [Image courtesy: Amazon.com]

Revolver [Image courtesy: Amazon.com]

Yesterday…and Today came out in 1966. Stand out songs include: Drive My Car, Nowhere Man, Yesterday, If I Needed Someone, We Can Work It Out and Day Tripper. The album reached #1 for 5 weeks. Revolver also came out in 1966.  Taxman, Eleanor Rigby, Here, There and Everywhere, Yellow Submarine, Good Day Sunshine, And Your Bird Can Sing, and Got to Get You Into My Life are some of the hits off the album, which spent 6 weeks at the #1 spot on Billboard’s chart. By 1966 the strain of constant touring, recording, and the hounding fans was weighing on the band. Lennon got in trouble for his “We’re more popular than Jesus now” remark. They played their last concert in Candlestick Park stadium, San Francisco in August.

The following year the Beatles put out their eighth LP, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. An eclectic mix of pop, rock n roll, and Indian influenced tracks.  It won Album of the Year and was #1 on the Billboard charts for a whopping 15 weeks. Hits from the album include: With a Little Help from My Friends, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Getting Better, –the amazing — A Day in the Life, and of course, Lovely Rita.  But as good as Pepper was, and it was very good, it was also over produced. All those horns and whistles and animal sounds didn’t quite get in the way enough to ruin the songs, but were they really necessary? Listening back on them now… well, I prefer a simpler production. [It worked somehow in A Day in the Life; not so much in Lovely Rita, but still, the later has such a great title.]

Speaking of over produced…there’s Magical Mystery Tour — a movie that makes absolutely no sense.  The LP had some lovely songs though. And even if it was becoming painfully clear that Lennon was writing  the “Lennon” songs– which were leaning toward sarcasm — and McCartney was writing the “McCarntney” songs — which were tending to  get more nostalgic and saccharine — both came up with some good ones here, like: The Fool on the Hill, Strawberry Fields Forever, Penny Lane, and All You Need Is Love.

1968 brought the animated (and equally bizarre) film Yellow Submarine. In November they release a new album called The Beatles aka The White Album. It was at the top of the charts for 9 weeks.   This double album seems almost schizophrenic with some great songs like the hard rock and roll Back in the USSR, Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? Helter Skelter, and  Revolution; others that are lovely and lyrical; While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Blackbird, Julia, Long, Long, Long, Good Night; And others that I’m not going to waste my time talking about.

On the personal side John divorced Cynthia Lennon in November of 1968. He and Yoko Ono, who he had been seeing since 1966, and living with since the summer of ’68, put out a collaborative album Two Virgins.  The album showed the couple nude on the cover and was banned in most record stores. On March 20, 1969 John and Yoko married in Gibraltar.

The following week, the two master media manipulators used their celebrity for good, hosting a honeymoon “bed-in” for peace in room 902, the presidential suite of the Amsterdam Hilton. The… pajama-clad newlyweds spoke out about world peace. It was the honeymoon as performance art, interlaced with a protest against the Vietnam War. [About.com]

They repeated the “performance” in Montreal  the following week and with a bedroom full of musicians, artist, writers and other 1960’s counter-culture dignitaries, they recorded  Give Peace a Chance.

Abbey Road [Image courtesy: Amazon.com]

Abbey Road was released  in 1969. It is actually the last album the Beatles recorded, but it was released before Let It Be.
Notable songs include: Come Together, Something, Here Comes the Sun, and I Want You. Abbey Road stayed at #1 for 11 weeks.

Recorded largely in January in 1969,  Let it Be wasn’t released until 1970 and was #1 for 4 weeks. Lennon had already left the group (September of 1969.) A film of the same name came out the same year. The film was supposed to be a documentary that went behind the scenes to show the world’s most famous rock band making an album. Instead it showed the world’s most famous rock band dissolving.  The film culminated in a rooftop concert on January 30th. Songs from the album include: Don’t Let Me Down, Get Back, Two of Us, Let It Be, and The Long and Winding Road.

After the Beatles John released Plastic Ono Band.

The raw, confessional nature of Plastic Ono Band reflected the primal-scream therapy that Lennon and Ono had been undergoing with psychologist Arthur Janov. He dealt with such fundamental issues as “God” and “Mother” and the class system (“Working Class Hero”) on an album as full of naked candor as any in rock has ever been. [Rock & Roll Hall of Fame]

1971 brought Imagine. Rolling Stone Magazine called the title track the third all-time best song ever written.

English: John Lennon and Yoko Ono

English: John Lennon and Yoko Ono (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John and Yoko followed Imagine with an anti-war release Happy Xmas (War is Over). The Nixon administration was not amused.  It decided to begin deportation proceeding against Lennon.  The stress took its toll on Lennon’s marriage with Ono and the two separated. For 18 months he lived in Los Angeles with another woman, May Pang. It is a period he calls his “Lost weekend” of drinking a partying. He fished Mind Games, and recorded Walls and Bridges. Whatever Gets You Thru the Night, a single off the later album became a number one hit. He co-wrote Fame with David Bowie.

He and Ono were reunited in 1975 shortly before the release of Rock n Roll. The couple celebrated the birth of their son Sean in October of 1975. And, after releasing Shaved Fish, John became a stay at home dad for five years.

In 1980 he came out of retirement and released Double Fantasy with the single Just Like Starting Over.

On December 8, 1980 the music died. As Lennon and Ono were returning home from recording tracks for the following up album,  Milk and Honey  he was assassinated in front of his New York apartment building, the Dakota.


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