George Harrison – When We Was Fab

I loved this song when I heard it. To hear George sing about his time with The Beatles surprised me. Of all the Beatles George seemed to have the most resentment and some of it was understandable. A few years after this he would join the remaining Beatles and start on The Beatles Anthology.

George co-wrote the song with Jeff Lynne, who also co-produced the album that shortly pre-dates the two of them forming The Traveling Wilburys. ‘When We Was Fab’ is a musical nod to the psychedelic sound that the Beatles had made their own. George used a sitar, string quartet, and backward tape effects.

This one peaked at #23 in the Billboard 100, #20 in Canada, and #25 in the UK.

He also got some help from Ringo. Starr played drums on this track and a few others on the album. Harrison says that when he started writing the song, he had Ringo’s drumming in mind for the intro and the overall tempo.

The album was Cloud Nine…it peaked at #8 in the Billboard Album Charts, #5 in Canada, #10 in the UK, and #27 in New Zealand.

 

From Songfacts

Harrison wrote this after the Beatles had split up. It’s about the days of Beatlemania, when the group was known as “The Fab 4.” It sounds very much like a Beatles song. 

Jeff Lynne, George’s bandmate from the superstar band The Traveling Wilburys and leader of The Electric Light Orchestra, produced this song and as well as the rest of this album. A huge Beatles fan, Jeff also appears briefly in the video for this song (look for the big afro). 

Harrison states in this song: “income tax was all we had.” Excessive taxation was a scourge for him – he wrote the Beatles song “Taxman” on the subject.

Gary Wright, who had a big hit with “Dream Weaver,” played piano on this track.

 

When We Was Fab

One! Two!
Back then long time ago when grass was green
Woke up in a daze
Arrived like strangers in the night
(Fab! Doot, doot, doot doo)
Long time ago when we was fab (Fab!)
Back when income tax was all we had
Caressers fleeced you in the morning light
Casualties at dawn
And we did it all
(Fab! Doot, doot, doot doo)
Long time ago when we was fab (Fab)
In my world you are my only love

And while you’re in this world
The fuzz gonna come and claim you
But you mo better wise
When the buzz gonna come and take you away
Take you away. Take you away

The microscopes that magnified the tears
Studied warts and all
Still the life flowed on and on
(Fab! Doot, doot, doot, Gear!)
Long time ago when we was fab (Fab)

But it’s all over now, baby blue
(Oo! doot, doot doot. Fab!)
Long time ago when we was fab
(Fab!) Like this pullover you sent me
(Fab! Doot, doot, doot. Gear!)
And you really got a hold on me
(Fab! Doot, doot, doot, Gear!)

Astrid Kirchherr (1938-2020)

I read about Astrid when I was in 8th grade in the Hunter Davies book…how she took the best pictures of the Beatles before they were THE BEATLES. She became a fan and then influenced them in many ways. She brought her art friends with her to see them in Germany. From there… their hair, clothes, and style changed. It can honestly be said that without her and her friends the Beatles as we know them might not have existed.

Astrid passed away at the age of 81.

Historian Mark Lewisohn Tweeted about Astrid: “intelligent, inspirational, innovative, daring, artistic, awake, aware, beautiful, smart, loving and uplifting.” 

 

#RingoStarr
@ringostarrmusic
God bless Astrid a beautiful human being And she took great photos peace and love

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George Harrison
@GeorgeHarrison
Astrid is and was the sweetest woman, so thoughtful and kind and talented, with an eye to capture a soul. Our family loved her and none more than George. I am truly saddened but honoured to have known her. Olivia
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Astrid Kirchherr, Beatles photographer and collaborator, dead at ...
Genesis Publications - The Beatles - Photos by Astrid Kirchherr ...
Legendary Beatles Photographer Astrid Kirchherr Has Passed Away ...

 

Beatles – Day Tripper

One of the greatest rock guitar riffs…this was credited to Lennon – McCartney and they both worked on it.

This was released as a double-A-sided single with “We Can Work It Out.” It peaked at #1 in the UK and #5 in the Billboard 100.

“We Can Work It Out” got more airplay in the US. In America, the single was released on the same day as the Rubber Soul album, although neither song was on that album. The Beatles were popular enough to support the output…they thought of releasing singles and albums as two different things. What other bands would not place both of these songs on their new album?

A great rock song that still sounds good today.

Paul McCartney: “That was a co-written effort; we were both there making it all up but I would give John the main credit. Probably the idea came from John because he sang the lead, but it was a close thing. We both put a lot of work in on it.”

John Lennon: “Day Trippers are people who go on a day trip, right? Usually on a ferryboat or something. But the song was kind of – you’re just a weekend hippie. Get it?”

 

From Songfacts

John Lennon’s lyrics were his first overt reference to LSD in a Beatles song. The song can be seen as Lennon teasing Paul McCartney about not taking acid.

In 2004, Paul McCartney did an interview with the Daily Mirror newspaper where he explained that drugs influenced many of The Beatles’ songs. He singled this one out as being about acid (LSD), but also said that people often overestimate the influence of drugs on their music.

The Beatles had some fun with the line, “She’s a big teaser,” which they jokingly worked up as “she’s a prick teaser.” In context with the next line, “She took me half the way there,” it’s pretty clear what’s going on. The group managed to slip in subtle sexual innuendo in a few of their songs, including “I’m Down” and “Please Please Me.”

A short promotional film of The Beatles lip-synching to this song was made for the TV special The Music Of Lennon and McCartney, which first aired December 17, 1965 in the UK. It was one of the first music videos. 

Jimi Hendrix sometimes covered this at his concerts.

James Taylor did a cover version on his album Flag

With a packed schedule and feverish demand for TV appearances, The Beatles made music videos for five on their songs, including this one, at a one-day shoot at Twickenham Film Studios in London on November 23, 1965. They did three different versions of “Day Tripper,” lip-synching the song while having fun with the set pieces.

Day Tripper

Got a good reason
For taking the easy way out
Got a good reason
For taking the easy way out now
She was a day tripper
One way ticket, yeah
It took me so long to find out
And I found out

She’s a big teaser
She took me half the way there
She’s a big teaser
She took me half the way there, now
She was a day tripper
One way ticket, yeah
It took me so long to find out
And I found out
Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah, ah

Tried to please her
She only played one night stand
Tried to please her
She only played one night stand, now
She was a day tripper
Sunday driver, yeah
It took me so long to find out
And I found out

Day tripper, day tripper, yeah
Day tripper, day tripper, yeah
Day tripper, day tripper, yeah

Muhammad Ali and reuniting the Beatles

Just think of the photographs snapped of Muhammad Ali and the Beatles. Put together they would reach the moon and back. Muhammad Ali was probably the most famous person in the world in the 20th century. Kids on remote islands in the middle of nowhere knew about Ali. The two were truly the greatest in their fields.

Muhammad Ali played with the idea of reuniting the Beatles in the 1970s.

The two culture icons would meet on February 18, 1964 right after the Beatles broke through America. The Beatles wanted to meet Sonny Liston because he was favored 7-1 to win the match between him and Ali but Sonny declined to meet them.

By all accounts, Ali had no idea who The Beatles were. But he welcomed the opportunity for some extra publicity with them. Although The Beatles fumed because the soon-to-be-new champ was late and kept them waiting, when he arrived he quickly broke the ice with his opening line, which has since been reported as either: “Hey, Beatles, let’s go make some money!”; or the equally memorable: “Hello there, Beatles! We oughta do some roadshows together. We’ll get rich!”

At one point, Ali used one of his favorite lines at the time, telling the Beatles: “You ain’t as dumb as you look!”

Lennon… but of course… shot back: “No. But you are!”

After a nervous silence…everyone started to laugh. Ali made up one of his rhymes.  “When Liston reads about The Beatles visiting me / He’ll get so mad, I’ll knock him out in three!” It actually took 6 rounds for Ali to win on February 25, 1964…Sonny wouldn’t return for the 7th.

Joel Sacher was attending the inauguration gala for President Jimmy Carter. He was there as a personal guest of Muhammad Ali, maybe the most recognizable man on the planet at the time. Ali and Sacher were meeting with one of the few men who was almost as recognizable Ali. They were talking to John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono, and while the conversation included plenty of nostalgia about meeting the Beatles in Miami long ago.

Ali was armed with a proposal, one that was the brainchild of Sacher and a business associate that had the potential to stun the world. They wanted to reunite The Beatles.

In 1976 inventor Alan Amron and businessman Joel Sacher partnered with Ali to promote The International Committee to Reunite the Beatles. They asked fans worldwide to contribute a dollar each. Ali said the idea was to use the proceeds to establish an international agency to help poor children. “This is money to help people all over the world”, he said. He added, “I love the music. I used to train to their music.” He said a reunion of the Beatles “would make a lot of people happy.”  The  Beatles were indifferent to the plan. No reunion happened.

Here is a PDF of a newspaper article describing Ali’s plan. It was a nice gesture. Ali and the Beatles.pdf

The International Committee to Reunite the Beatles released a single called “Get Back Beatles” and it was released by singer-songwriter Gerald Kenny.

The Beatles turned down big-time money in the seventies and didn’t reunite. Personally, I’m happy they didn’t…no way could they have lived up to people’s expectations.

The forgotten story of how Muhammad Ali and a Jersey guy tried to ...

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After Muhammad Ali died

 

Paul McCartney:

 “I loved that man. He was great from the first day we met him in Miami, and on the numerous occasions when I ran into him over the years. Besides being the greatest boxer, he was a beautiful, gentle man with a great sense of humor who would often pull a pack of cards out of his pocket, no matter how posh the occasion, and do a card trick for you.

Ringo Starr:

“I taught (Ali) everything he knew!” Starr said, before growing more – and less – serious. “That was a thrill, of course, and I was putting my money on Liston, so I really knew what was happening!”

Beatles – Something

This was released as a double A-side single with “Come Together.” It was the only song written by George Harrison released as a single by The Beatles. They had used some of his songs as B-sides, including “The Inner Light” and “Old Brown Shoe.”

The song was written about his then-wife Pattie Boyd. This song moved his songwriting abilities up… in the eyes of his bandmates Lennon and McCartney. George had written some very good songs before like Taxman, If I Needed Someone, and While My Guitar Gently Weeps but this one…this one placed him in another league. George had two of the highlights on the album wth Something and Here Comes The Sun.

Harrison wrote this during a break while they were working on The White Album. It was not recorded in time for the album, so Harrison gave this to Joe Cocker, but Cocker didn’t release it until after The Beatles did.

When I  saw Paul McCartney in 2014 he played this as a tribute to George Harrison. He played a version of this using a ukulele George had given him…and it made it really special.

Frank Sinatra called this “”the greatest love song of the past 50 years”.” He often performed it in the ’70s, at one point wrongly attributing it to Lennon and McCartney rather than Harrison.

With at least 200 cover versions on record, this is the second-most-covered Beatles song; only “Yesterday” has been covered more.

Harrison chastised McCartney for being too active with his bass lines in this song. In the past, Paul had sometimes been critical of George’s guitar playing on his songs. I have to say though…Paul did a great job on this song…his bass playing compliments the song.

From Songfacts

Pattie did inspire “Layla” when Eric Clapton realized he loved her a few years later. She and Clapton were married from 1979-1988 (he also wrote “Wonderful Tonight” for her).

In her 2007 book Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me, Pattie Boyd wrote: “George wrote a song called ‘Something.’ He told me in a matter-of-fact way that he had written it for me. I thought it was beautiful and it turned out to be the most successful song he ever wrote, with more than 150 cover versions. George’s favorite version was the one by James Brown. Mine was the one by George Harrison, which he played to me in our kitchen. But, in fact, by then our relationship was in trouble. Since a trip to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in India in 1968, George had become obsessive about meditation. He was also sometimes withdrawn and depressed.”

Harrison came up with the title and the first line after listening to a James Taylor song called “Something In The Way She Moves.” Taylor was signed to Apple Records (The Beatles’ label) at the time.

This is the only song on the Beatles 1 album that was not a #1 hit on its own in the US or UK. “Something” and “Come Together” spent one week at #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart when the compilers of the chart changed its ranking method and stopped giving separate rankings for the two sides of a single. It was also gave Harrison representation among the 27 tracks. 

Harrison had the first line, “Something in the way she moves,” but had trouble coming up with the second. He considered “attracts me like a pomegranate,” before coming up with “attracts me like no other lover.”

This was used in a commercial for Chrysler cars in 1987.

John Lennon said that this was his favorite song on Abbey Road.

Harrison wrote this on a piano. The Beatles often composed and recorded separately at this time.

Harrison pictured Ray Charles on vocals when he wrote this. Charles did eventually cover it.

With 21 string players used in overdubs, this ended up being one of the most orchestral Beatles songs. This sound made it a staple of light rock radio and, in bowdlerized instrumental form, Muzak.

Before this was edited down, it contained a long instrumental tag at the end. 

Dave Grohl, a former member of Nirvana and leader of The Foo Fighters, recorded a tribute song to Harrison on the Foo’s first album called “Oh, George” based on the guitar lead to this. Harrison was Grohl’s favorite Beatle, and this was one of the first leads he learned to play on guitar.

Jeff Lynne, Joe Walsh and Dhani Harrison performed this song on the CBS special The Beatles: The Night That Changed America. The show featured Grammy-winning performers covering Beatles songs; it aired on February 9, 2014 – the 50th anniversary of the group’s first Ed Sullivan Show appearance.

Something

Something in the way she moves
Attracts me like no other lover
Something in the way she woos me
I don’t want to leave her now
You know I believe and how

Somewhere in her smile she knows
That I don’t need no other lover
Something in her style that shows me
I don’t want to leave her now
You know I believe and how

You’re asking me will my love grow
I don’t know, I don’t know
You stick around and it may show
I don’t know, I don’t know

Something in the way she knows
And all I have to do is think of her
Something in the things she shows me
I don’t want to leave her now
You know I believe and how

 

John Lennon – Cold Turkey

Not the most pleasant song available from John but it does get your attention. I do like the guitar sound that John and Eric Clapton get in this song.

This song is about drug withdrawal. Quitting “Cold Turkey” means abruptly stopping drug use and the effect it has on your body and mind. John Lennon quit cold turkey because he wanted to get off drugs and start a family with Yoko.

John wanted to record this with the Beatles but they rejected it so he went off and recorded it on his own.

Eric Clapton and John played guitar on this, Ringo drummed, and Klaus Voormann played the bass, It was released as a single in 1969 as The Plastic Ono Band. The song peaked at #30 in the Billboard 100, #14 in the UK, and #30 in Canada.

This was Lennon’s second single away from The Beatles. “Give Peace A Chance” was released a few months earlier. This was also the first song John took complete credit for as he dropped the McCartney from Lennon and McCartney.

Its first public performance on September 13, 1969, was recorded and released on the Live Peace in Toronto 1969 album by the Plastic Ono Band.

John Lennon: “Cold Turkey was banned. They thought it was a pro-drugs song. But I’ve always expressed what I’ve been feeling or thinking at the time. So I was just writing the experience I’d had of withdrawing from heroin. To some it was a rock ‘n’ roll version of The Man With The Golden Arm because it showed Frank Sinatra suffering from drug withdrawal.”

From Songfacts

Lennon performed this on September 13, 1969 at The Toronto Rock and Revival Show, where he introduced his Plastic Ono Band (at least the configuration of it for this show). Eric Clapton was on guitar, Klaus Voorman on bass, and Alan White on drums. Yoko Ono was also part of the act, and she made an impact during “Cold Turkey.” As the song played, she emerged from a bag on stage, stepped up to a microphone, and made turkey-sounding noises (not out of character). The set was released as a live album called Live Peace In Toronto 1969.

Eric Clapton played some of the guitar on this. Lennon asked Clapton to join The Plastic Ono Band, but Eric declined.

Lennon wrote and recorded this song before attending Arthur Janov’s Primal Scream therapy workshop, which played a part in his song “Mother.” The screams he used in “Cold Turkey,” he was actually emulating Yoko singing.

When John Lennon decided to return his MBE (Member of the British Empire) award on November 25, 1969, he sent it to Queen Elizabeth II with a note explaining, “I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down the charts.”

Cold Turkey

Temperature’s rising
Fever is high
Can’t see no future
Can’t see no sky

My feet are so heavy
So is my head
I wish I was a baby
I wish I was dead

Cold turkey has got me on the run
My body is aching
Goose-pimple bone
Can’t see no body
Leave me alone

My eyes are wide open
Can’t get to sleep
One thing I’m sure of
I’m at the deep freeze

Cold turkey has got me on the run
Cold turkey has got me on the run

Thirty-six hours
Rolling in pain
Praying to someone
Free me again

Oh I’ll be a good boy
Please make me well
I promise you anything
Get me out of this hell

Cold turkey has got me on the run

Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows

Turn off your mind relax and float down stream… 

Like “A Hard Day’s Night,” the title came from an expression Ringo Starr used. Ringo’s turn of the phrase took the edge off the heavy philosophical lyrics. Working titles for the song before Ringo gave them inspiration were “Mark I” and “The Void.”

It was on what perhaps is the greatest Beatle album…Revolver.

The inspiration for the song came from a book entitled “The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based On The Tibetan Book Of The Dead.” This book was published in August of 1964 by Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Richard Alpert

The Beatles made “tape loops”…short tapes of grandfather clocks, sitars, seagulls, laughter, and other things. They brought them to the studio and put them together at different speeds, played forward, and backward. That is what you hear at the beginning.

John wanted his voice to…sound like the Dalai Lama chanting from a mountaintop, miles away or like a group of Tibetan monks chanting on a mountain top. Well, that was impractical so John suggested they suspend him from a rope in the middle of the studio ceiling, put a mike in the middle of the floor, give him a push and he’d sing as he went around and around. They didn’t do that either but they ended up putting Lennon’s voice through a Leslie Speaker Cabinet (a rotating speaker cabinet) and that made John happy.

Tomorrow Never Knows was a great innovation. It opened the door to Sgt Pepper and was one of the great psychedelic rock songs.

John Lennon on LSD: “Leary was the one going round saying, ‘take it, take it, take it,’” Lennon remembered in 1980, “and we followed his instructions in his ‘how to take a trip’ book. I did it just like he said in the book, and then I wrote ‘Tomorrow Never Knows,’ which was almost the first acid song: ‘Lay down all thought, surrender to the void,’ and all that sh*t which Leary had pinched from ‘The Book Of The Dead.’”

From Songfacts

John Lennon wrote this, and described it as “my first psychedelic song.”

The book is a reinterpretation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead and a guide to understanding it through psychedelic drugs. Lennon would read it while tripping on LSD, and according to his biographer Albert Goldman, he recorded himself reading from the book, played it back while tripping on LSD, and wrote the song.

The most overt reference to the book is the line:

Turn off your mind
Relax and float downstream
It is not dying

The book states: “Whenever in doubt, turn off your mind, relax, float downstream.”

To accompany the psychedelic imagery in Lennon’s lyric, each Beatle created strange sounds which were mixed in throughout the recording, often backward and in different speeds. Their producer, George Martin, was older and more experienced, but he allowed the group to experiment in the studio as much as they pleased.

The night before they recorded this song, Paul McCartney created 16 tape loops of guitar sounds and odd vocals that he brought in to the studio to create some of the effects. Several people remember standing around the room holding pencils for the tape to loop around and back into the recording machine as the various sound effects and instrumentation were faded in and out.

John Lennon used only one chord in this whole song, which creates a hypnotic feeling. For his vocals, he asked producer George Martin to make him sound like the Dali Lama.

Drugs influenced the creation of this song, but the Beatles recorded sober. “We would have the experiences and then bring that into the music later,” Ringo Starr explained.

George Harrison played a droning Indian instrument called a tambura on this track, which added an ethereal feel to the soundscape.

The musical break that comes in about a minute into this song consists mostly of guitars that were heavily processed. This wild passage makes use of just about every studio trick at their disposal, including passing from one channel to the other. Those listening in mono (often in cars) didn’t get the full experience.

This was the first track recorded for the Revolver album, but the last one on the tracklist.

On May 6, 2012, this song was featured in an episode of the popular American TV series Mad Men. The episode was set in 1966, and part of the plot was the ad agency in the show helping a client capitalize on Beatlemania. This was a big deal, since Beatles songs are very rarely licensed for TV shows – at least in their original versions. Cover versions and performances (think American Idol) show up from time to time, since those just have to be approved by Sony/ATV, which owns the publishing rights. Getting permission to use an actual Beatles recording requires permission from Apple Corp, which is controlled by The Beatles and their heirs.

The Wall Street Journal reported the payment for the song at $250,000, and that Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner had to reveal to Apple exactly how the song would be used, which was a big deal since he is very secretive about scripts. In the episode, the main character Don Draper has trouble adapting to changing musical times. He plays this song to see what all the fuss is about, and after a character-developing montage while the song is playing, he switches it off. The song then comes back to play over the closing credits.

Phil Collins covered this on his debut solo album, Face Value, in 1981, using synthesizers to create many of the unusual sounds. Like The Beatles did on Revolver, Collins used it to close the album. 

Our Lady Peace remade this song for the soundtrack to the movie The Craft. It’s played during the opening credits. 

Oasis pays tribute to this song in “Morning Glory” with the line:

Walking to the sound of my favorite tune
Tomorrow never knows what it doesn’t know too soon

The Beatles were a huge influence on Oasis.

This song is featured on the 2006 Beatles album Love (a soundtrack to the Cirque du Soleil show based on their music) remixed with “Within You Without You.” 

Tomorrow Never Knows

Turn off your mind relax and float down stream
It is not dying, it is not dying

Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void
It is shining, it is shining

Yet you may see the meaning of within
It is being, it is being

Love is all and love is everyone
It is knowing, it is knowing

And ignorance and hate mourn the dead
It is believing, it is believing

But listen to the colour of your dreams
It is not leaving, it is not leaving

So play the game “Existence” to the end
Of the beginning, of the beginning