Friday, July 19, 2013

"...Well, Of Course, Some Of Their Work Was Crap....And They Managed To Pull It Off With Only Eight Tracks!..."

Found a fun article, courtesy of a Facebook friend.

Thought you might enjoy having a bash. (If you don't know, don't bother reading any further).


There is much about the Beatles that’s easy to love. The ornate pop, the long-haired peaceability, the arguments over which one’s your favorite. Still, lend them your ear and you’ll discover a few duds.
Even a group as talented, and successful, as the Fab Four couldn’t help but round out a handful of albums with what could only charitably be called filler. Heck, they even had a few charttoppers that might qualify. (Yes, we’re looking at you “Hello, Goodbye.”)

In compiling our list of the worst offenders, we tried to stay away from easy targets. So, none of their earliest stuff. No Ringo Starr, either. We also left off experimental verite-rock tracks like “Revolution No. 9,” “You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)” and “What’s The New Mary Jane,” which weren’t really songs per se.
What remains is the stuff that didn’t quite make their hall-of-fame resume — the ones where they took a bad song … and made it worse. Our S. Victor Aaron and Nick DeRiso investigated:
No. 5

Beatles songs themed on the word “long” are bad karma — but more on that in a minute. This syrupy ballad was a favorite for senior proms at least into the 1980s, sending everyone hurtling into morbidly depressive states — and thus permanently halting generations of young men at first base. (Damn you, DJ!) Even at three-and-a-half minutes, it seemed to be overly long and, yes, winding. (Heck, the Beatles damned near fell asleep playing it. Don’t believe us? Just look at the video.) Producer Phil Spector, in a move that McCartney said precipitated the breakup of the Fabs, later came in and added 18 violins, four violas, four cellos, three trumpets, three trombones, two guitars and a choir of 14 women to the song.

Nick DeRiso: McCartney’s showy complaints about the Spector-ization of this track are funny even now, considering how many of his later songs had armies of violins, trumpets, girls, and so on.
S. Victor Aaron: Spector should have gone to jail much sooner for the heavy-handed way he polished this turd of a song. Paul wanted to kick his ass for that, but it’s his own fault for laying this turd in the first place.
Nick DeRiso: Loved Phil’s comeback to this harrumphing: “Paul had no problem picking up the Academy Award for the Let It Be movie soundtrack, nor did he have any problem in using my arrangement of the string and horn and choir parts when he performed it during 25 years of touring on his own. If Paul wants to get into a pissing contest about it, he’s got me mixed up with someone who gives a shit.”
No. 4

Composed for the first globally televised live event via satellite, “All You Need Is Love” has the wafer-thin depth and tinny feel of, well, a TV theme song. It’s perhaps of little surprise to learn that the Beatles didn’t sit down to work on the song until a scant 11 days before the broadcast. Falling back on his penchant for sloganeering, Lennon — who once said “I like slogans. I like advertising. I love the telly” — simply threw out a series of sayings, then gussied it up with effects, including snippets of the French national anthem and their early hit “She Loves You.”

S. Victor Aaron: Everyone tends to give songs from ’67 a pass for the hippy-trippy lyrics but we have to draw a line somewhere and John crossed it: “There’s nothing you can do that can’t be done/Nothing you can sing that can’t be sung. Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game/It’s easy.” Yes, it’s easy indeed … to write trite prose. He credited his then-four-year-old-son Julian for inspiring “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” but it wouldn’t have surprised me if young Jules also wrote the words for “All You Need Is Love,” too.
Nick DeRiso: This arrived amid a startlingly uneven period for Lennon, who was just as capable of kaleidoscope brilliance (“A Day In the Life,” “Strawberry Fields Forever”), as he was a number of under-cooked, cliche-riddled throwaways like “Good Morning, Good Morning,” “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” and this overplayed snoozer. Backed up against the wall by a deadline, Lennon followed more than he led — echoing the themes of that summer rather than coming up with something original.
S. Victor Aaron: And then as the song drifted off into lala land, who was being the ass clown mocking their earlier hits? Yeah, that’s right, Paul.
No. 3

Inspired musically by “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands,” the final track on Bob Dylan’s celebrated Blonde On Blonde album, this one actually had potential — but the muddled production (was George Martin on a smoke break?) sunk the song. First, Ringo’s too-up-front fills disrupt what little flow the song has, then there’s Harrison’s faint, echoing vocal, and finally a rattling bottle of Blue Nun wine on top of a Leslie speaker cabinet to end things. Maybe this sounded more interesting while baked. It must have.

Nick DeRiso: A wet blanket of a record, it’s as if you’re trapped in a some place dark with a guy who won’t get to the point. Is he in love with some girl? Has he found God? Can he speak the hell up? Everything about it seems claustrophobic, save for Ringo’s smashingly out-of-place fills.
S. Victor Aaron: The tune goes straight to the bottom in the last 30 seconds as George gets freaky and emits “ahhhhhhhh” as the song comes to messy end. But I can relate to him. Every time I hear this song, I want to cover up my ears and yell “ahhhhh” so I can tune it out.
Nick DeRiso: When ever I think I’m completely sick of this song, I think about the interminable sessions. The odd waltz time here forced the self-taught Beatles to go through an astonishing 67 takes to complete the rhythm track. (Talk about long … long … LONG!) That’s about 60 more times than I’ve listened to this song.
No. 2

Nothing like a jaunty little tune about a homicidal maniac to spark up an album, eh? Convinced somehow that this could be a hit anyway, McCartney, and a rotating group of his hapless bandmates, somehow spent three days — three days! — recording this track. “He did everything to make it into a single,” Lennon said years later, “and it never was — and it never could have been.” Bang bang!

S. Victor Aaron: Paul can get awfully damned silly at times but never more than he did here. The original meaning of the term “hammer time” was a story about … ah screw it, it’s not even worth getting into.
Nick DeRiso: When Paul sings the line “writing 50 times, ‘I must not be so-oh-oh-oh,’” he can be heard cracking up — reportedly, because Lennon had mooned him during the previous verse, which ends “so he waits behind.” All of that is funnier than anything that actually happens here. A pothole on the otherwise superlative Abbey Road.
S. Victor Aaron: Give it to Paul, though: This was the first recorded instance that a synthesizer was used in a cringe-inducing song. Awful prog rock owes a huge debt to Macca.
No. 1

Another Harrison clusterfuck. Written while George was bored stiff waiting for his publicist to arrive at a house he was renting on Blue Jay Way in Los Angeles — and it shows. Befitting the times, the tune employs all manner of effects — copious flanging, vocal processing, backwards playbacks fading in and out. None of it distracts from the essential ennui of this deeply uninteresting jetlagged dirge.

S. Victor Aaron: The song is creepy and trippy but not at all in the right ways. George’s voice sounds like it was run through a Leslie speaker by way of a Hammond B-3 and the droning “please don’t be very long” is grating enough. But, no, this had to supplemented by a second droning voice repeating that insipid phrase out of tune.
Nick DeRiso: What bitter irony, the way George keeps repeating the phrase please … don’t … be … long. Too late. This song is the Energizer bunny of bad Beatles songs: It just keeps going and going and going. And going. You feel sorry for those poor bastards playing the cello.
S. Victor Aaron: Psychedelic music, like psychedelic drugs, had good trips and bad trips. This was a trip to musical hell.

Okay, let's skip the predictable apologist and/or advocate approach of defending any or all of these songs.

And let's not debate unnecessarily, agreeing to agree that any kind of list automatically falls into the category of "one man's treasure is another man's trash".

And let me simply offer this.

It's a fun read, if you're a Beatle fan with even a speck of a sense of humor, it's a validating read if you're not a Beatle fan and, in either case, I'd offer you that, if only unintentionally, misses the point of what The Beatles were all about.

Simply put, in the day, they could do no wrong.

Whether or not they should have, rightly or wrongly, been called on it.

When, in hindsight, I think anyone can see/hear their fallibility.

Put another way...

Let's all get back together in forty five years and have a bash at Taylor Swift. (If you don't know, don't bother showing up.)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

"The Hero Isn't So Much Unsung, Here, As Unrecognized..."

Old saying.

It's the thought that counts.

More on that in a moment.

I came across this article on written by LZ Granderson.

A young, black, gay man.

And I mention that not to sneak in one last, gasping Paula Deen reference (although, I guess that's exactly what I've done), but, rather, to give you a perspective on the cultural background of the fellow sharing his thoughts.

These thoughts.

LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and was a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary.

(CNN) -- Of all the parts that make up my somewhat quirky life, there are few things that raise a stranger's eyebrows faster than discovering I love country music.

Not a "I like that one song by Lady Antebellum" kind of love for country music either. Mine is a "Barack I would love to join you and Michelle for dinner next Saturday, but you see I have tickets to see Eric Church so ..." kind of love.
When did this love affair begin? January 24, 1988. The night I met Randy Travis.
Back then, it wasn't uncommon for families to gather around the television, and mine had done so that night to watch the American Music Awards. Michael Jackson was receiving a special honor, and Whitney Houston was scheduled to perform. At the time, those two were the most popular singers on the planet but for me, the night belonged to Travis.
I had never heard of him or his mid-tempo ballad "Forever and Ever, Amen" before the show.
Everyone knew who Kenny Rogers was, but usually the only country music you heard in my house was the theme song to the "The Dukes of Hazzard."
But something about the purity of Travis' voice captured me.
And even at the relatively immature age of 16, I found his portrayal of never-ending love so beautifully constructed by the lyrics of "Forever" that to this day, it eclipses almost every other love song I have heard.

In fact, when I put together a brief video asking my better half to marry me, "Forever" was the only song I put on the soundtrack.
That's why I was so sad to hear Travis was in critical condition in a Texas hospital. He was an unlikely voice of my youth. About as unlikely as you could be.
Instead of listening to the latest from L.L. Cool J or Public Enemy, I would go to the record store and play his song "Diggin' Up Bones" over and over again. My friends would snicker and mock the twang in his voice. What they couldn't understand was that the various inflections in Travis' voice were the commas in the stories that he spun. Stories so universal that a white adult man from a small town in North Carolina could touch a skinny black kid in Detroit without ever meeting.
When I'm in the car singing "Forever and Ever, Amen," I imagine someone 1,000 miles away is cranking that song up in the car and for three minutes and 31 seconds, we're connected.
"They say that time can play tricks on a memory,
make people forget things they once knew.
Well, it's easy to see
It's happening to me
I've already forgotten every woman but you..."
Complete strangers can stand silent next to each other in an elevator and not even look each other in the eye. But at a concert, those same strangers could find themselves dancing and singing together like best friends. That's the power of music. And when you've experienced this magical bond with strangers, there is even a greater connection to the artists that provided the vehicle for that bond.
That's why it's hard for to see Travis this way.
We've all watched once-beloved music icons such as Jackson and Houston fall from grace in similar fashion -- ensnared by drug abuse, publicly humiliated, fighting for and sometimes losing their lives.
As Travis lies critically ill in a hospital bed, those of us who count ourselves his fans, pray his story doesn't end in the same way.
But we've watched the declining grip he's had on his life for a handful of years now.
The bitter divorce.
The uncontrollable drinking, the arrests.
And now this. It's just sad.
Because of Travis, I learned Waylon Jennings was the man who sang "The Dukes of Hazzard" theme song.
Because of Travis, I have developed lifelong friendships with some amazing people who work in and perform country music.
Before Travis, I used to think "soul music" had one certain sound.
Because of Travis, I learned that wasn't true.
It's a pretty safe bet that every country music fan appreciates both the personal sentiments expressed on Randy's behalf, as well as the positive things this young fellow has say about country music as a genre'.
Rightly so.
And if there's any nit to be picked with his sharing, it is, admittedly, not a large one.
But, in my humble o, still worthy of said pick.
The impact that Randy's singing had/has on LZ is obvious.
And since LZ is a "civilian", music business wise, it's understandable that he would overlook something that has been, traditionally and unfortunately, eminently overlookable.

In the world of acting, it's expressed like this.

"If it ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage".

Simply put, if nobody writes, there is nothing to perform.

Laurence Olivier was once lauded as one of the great actors of his generation.


Without the words written by William Shakespeare, however, Olivier's star might have shined just a little less.

The Nashville Song Writers Association, a respected advocacy group looking out for the interests of those who aim to make a living creating catchy tunes and catchy lyrics has a pretty catchy slogan of its own.

"It all begins with a song".

Well, okay, not all that catchy.

But, "if it ain't on the page..." was already taken, so one does what one must.

The point, almost tediously obvious by now, is actors have nothing to act if writers don't write.

And singers have nothing to sing if songwriters don't write.

But, quick, pop quiz.

Who was the star of, say, Raiders of The Lost Ark?


Now, who wrote the script?



Who are Don Schlitz and Paul Overstreet?

Uh, nice try.

But, no, they didn't write the script of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

They wrote a lot of hit songs in Nashville.

One, in fact, titled "Forever and Ever, Amen".

Sung, as it turns out, by a guy who turned LZ Granderson into a country music fan.

Good job, Randy.

And Don.

And Paul.