Beatles – Bad Boy

Well, this rock and roll has got to stop
Junior’s head is hard as rock
Now junior, behave yourself

This song was written and originally recorded by Larry Williams, a black rock singer admired by John Lennon. The song is about a rebellious kid who loves rock and roll. The Beatles chose cover songs that fit them very well.

I really like Larry’s version of this also. His version is rooted in the fifties with rhythm and blues… With Lennon’s voice, the Beatles version makes it sound like an early garage rock/punk record.

This Larry Williams song didn’t get much traction in the charts when it was released in 1959 but the British bands were listening and covering this song. The Beatles covered three of his songs on albums… Slow Down, Bad Boy, and Dizzy Miss Lizzy.

One of the very good covers The Beatles did early on. Nice guitar and Lennon’s voice comes right at you. The song was included on the American Beatles album The Beatles VI. In the UK it wasn’t on an album until the release of A Collection of Beatles Oldies in 1966. It was released in December just as the Beatles were starting on Sgt Peppers. Having an Oldies album released only 4 years after you start recording is odd but it was perfect timing because they would never sound the same again.

 

Bad Boy

A bad little kid moved into my neighborhood
He won’t do nothing right just sitting down and look so good
He don’t want to go to school and learn to read and write
Just sits around the house and plays the rock and roll music all night
Well, he put some tacks on teachers chair
Puts chewing gum in little girl’s hair
Man, junior, behave yourself

Buy every rock and roll book on the magazine stand
Every dime that he get is lost to the jukebox man
Well, he worries his teacher till at night she’s ready to poop
From rocking and a-rolling spinning in a hula hoop
Well, this rock and roll has got to stop
Junior’s head is hard as rock
Now junior, behave yourself

Going tell your mama you better do what she said
Get to the barber shop and get that hair cut off your head
He took your canary and he fed it to the neighbors cat
He gave the cocker spaniel a bath in mother’s laundromat
Well, mama’s head has got to stop
Junior’s head is hard as rock
Now junior, behave yourself

 

 

Beatles – You Never Give Me Your Money—- Songs That Reference Money

This was part of the famous Abbey Road medley that featured parts of songs by the Beatles.

John Lennon usually wrote about what he knew best…himself and and his personal views. Paul would many times write about fantasy…he would write about his significant other at any given time also but this is one of the few songs that he was living through. Unlike John he usually would mask things more.

Allen Klein’s time as manager built-up tensions within the band. Paul wanted Lee Eastman his in-law at the helm but John, George, and Ringo wanted the notrious Allen Klein. Klein managed the Stones for years and at the end Mick and company found out that they inadvertently signed away their songs up until 1969 to him. Paul was right in this case…they should have never gone with Klein but Paul should have picked someone else but his in-laws as a choice. No way were the others going to go with that decision.

The song was about Klein and his attitude. Always telling them how much they were worth but never handing over cash…just money figures on “funny paper.”

This song was the first song in the medley. It is actually 3 short songs into one. “You Never Give Me Your Money, ” “Out of College section,” and the “One Sweet Dream section”

I’ve been asked, what’s so special about the Beatles? The medley on side 2 of Abbey Road is just one of many things.

Paul McCartney: “This was me directly lambasting Allen Klein’s attitude to us,” “no money, just funny paper, all promises and it never works out. It’s basically a song about no faith in the person, that found its way into the medley on ‘Abbey Road.’ John saw the humor in it.”

George Harrison: “We get bits of paper, saying how much is earned and what this and that is, but we never actually get it in pounds, shillings and pence. We’ve all got a big house and a car and an office, but to actually get the money we’ve earned seems impossible.”

 

From Songfacts

This song is about The Beatles’ business problems. When their manager Brian Epstein died in 1967, they were burdened with handling their own finances, which became a source of tension in the band.

This is the first of a medley of songs on Abbey Road, which goes another 15 minutes to “The End.”

By 1969, members of The Beatles had a lot of unfinished song ideas, which they sometimes combined. This contains fragments of four songs put into one.

Regarding the lines, “You never give me your money, you only give me your funny paper,” “Funny Paper” is how The Beatles felt they were paid. They got frustrated when their accountants would tell them how much they were worth “on paper,” without actually telling them how much money they had.

Paul McCartney played this combined with “Carry That Weight” on his 2002 “Back In The US” tour.

You Never Give Me Your Money

You never give me your money
You only give me your funny paper
And in the middle of negotiations
You break down

I never give you my number
I only give you my situation
And in the middle of investigation
I break down

Out of college, money spent
See no future, pay no rent
All the money’s gone, nowhere to go
Any jobber got the sack
Monday morning, turning back
Yellow lorry slow, nowhere to go
But oh, that magic feeling, nowhere to go
Oh, that magic feeling
Nowhere to go, nowhere to go

One sweet dream
Pick up the bags and get in the limousine
Soon we’ll be away from here
Step on the gas and wipe that tear away
One sweet dream came true today
Came true today
Came true today (yes, it did)

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven
All good children go to Heaven

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven
All good children go to Heaven

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven
All good children go to Heaven

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven
All good children go to Heaven

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven
All good children go to Heaven

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven
All good children go to Heaven

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven
All good children go to Heaven

 

 

Beatles – Yer Blues

Great hard bluesy song on one of my favorite Beatle albums…The White Album. This is one reason I like the White Album so much. The variety it gives you is off the charts…but there is no mistaking who the band is in every song. The Beatles kept their style through the lush soft songs to the hard ones.

What I like about it is the rawness. This song and Helter Skelter have enough to spare.

The room they recorded this in was called Room 2A, which was next to the control room of EMI Studio Two and was a mere 8 ft. by 15.5 ft. The room had been used for storing four-track machines before it was emptied. It was very tight quarters for The Beatles once they set everything up. That added to the sound. They jammed together from 7pm to 5am and after 14 takes produced this song.

John Lennon wrote this in India while The Beatles were on a retreat learning meditation with the Maharishi.

Lennon was self-conscious about singing the blues.

John Lennon: “There was a self-consciousness about suddenly singing blues,” John continues. “Like everybody else, we were all listening to Sleepy John Estes and all that in art school (in the late ’50’s).  But to sing it, was something else. I was self-conscious about doing it.”

Ringo Starr: “We were just in an 8 foot room, with no separation, just doing what we do best: playing.”

A 9 minute version with Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell was performed on the Rolling Stones’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus. They called themselves the Dirty Mac.

Yer Blues

Yes, I’m lonely
Want to die
Yes, I’m lonely
Want to die
If I ain’t dead already
Oh, girl, you know the reason why

In the morning
Want to die
In the evening
Want to die
If I ain’t dead already
Oh, girl, you know the reason why

My mother was of the sky
My father was of the earth
But I am of the universe
And you know what it’s worth

I’m lonely
Want to die
If I ain’t dead already
Oh, girl, you know the reason why

The eagle picks my eye
The worm he licks my bone
I feel so suicidal
Just like Dylan’s Mr. Jones

Lonely
Want to die
If I ain’t dead already
Oh, girl, you know the reason why

Black cloud crossed my mind
Blue mist round my soul
Feel so suicidal
Even hate my rock and roll

Want to die
Yeah, want to die
If I ain’t dead already
Oh, girl, you know the reason why

 

Beatles – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

My favorite psychedelic song and it was on Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. The “Lucy” who inspired this song was Lucy O’Donnell (later Lucy Vodden), who was a classmate of John’s son Julian Lennon when he was enrolled at the private Heath House School, in Weybridge, Surrey. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds — Lupus Trust UK

It was in a 1975 interview that Lennon said, “Julian came in one day with a picture about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”

Many thought Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds was about LSD because of the initials but John denied it all of his life. I believe John because he was honest about much worse than this…John went to great lengths to deny any drug connotations involved in this song.

John did say he was inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland. He wrote the song with help from Paul. One of the highlights of this song is Paul’s bass playing. His walking bass line builds suspense through the song and then kicks in with the chorus.

This was banned by the BBC for what they thought were drug references. A Day In The Life was also banned off of the same album.

John Lennon: “I didn’t even see it on the label. I didn’t look at the initials. I don’t look – I mean I never play things backwards. I listened to it as I made it. It’s like there will be things on this one, if you fiddle about with it. I don’t know what they are. Every time after that though I would look at the titles to see what it said, and usually they never said anything.”

From Songfacts

The identity of the real Lucy was confirmed by Julian in 2009 when she died of complications from Lupus. Lennon re-connected with her after she appeared on a BBC broadcast where she stated: “I remember Julian and I both doing pictures on a double-sided easel, throwing paint at each other, much to the horror of the classroom attendant… Julian had painted a picture and on that particular day his father turned up with the chauffeur to pick him up from school.”

Confusion over who was the real Lucy was fueled by a June 15, 2005 Daily Mail article that claimed the “Lucy” was Lucy Richardson, who grew up to become a successful movie art director on films such as 2000’s Chocolat and 2004’s The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers. Richardson died in June 2005 at the age of 47 of breast cancer.

Lennon affirmed this on the Dick Cavett Show, telling the host, “My son came home with a drawing of a strange-looking woman flying around. He said, ‘It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds.’ I thought, ‘That’s beautiful.’ I immediately wrote the song about it.”

It’s not just fans that didn’t believe him: Paul McCartney said it was “pretty obvious” that this song was inspired by LSD.

In our interview with Donovan, who was good friends with John Lennon and joined The Beatles on their 1968 retreat to India, he made the point that Lennon often thought in terms of artwork, and like Donovan did on this song “Wear Your Love Like Heaven,” Lennon painted images in his head that became the lyrics for this song. “When we put the painter’s brush down and we picked up the guitar, a lot of the songwriters started ‘painting’ songs,” he said. “You’d just have to think of John’s ‘Picture yourself on a boat on a river’ – you’re actually in a movie or you’re in a painting. ‘Tangerine trees and marmalade skies’ – he’s painting.

The images Lennon used in the song were inspired by the imagery in Through The Looking-Glass, the sequel to the book Alice In Wonderland. “It was Alice in the boat,” Lennon explained in a Playboy interview. “She is buying an egg and it turns into Humpty Dumpty. The woman serving in the shop turns into a sheep and the next minute they are rowing in a rowing boat somewhere and I was visualizing that.”

George Harrison played a tambura on this track. It’s an Indian instrument similar to a sitar that makes a droning noise. He had been studying with Indian musician Ravi Shankar, who is the father of Norah Jones.

Elton John released a cover version of this song in 1974 that hit #1 in the US the first week of 1975. Elton is the only artist to top the tally with a Beatles cover, although Peter & Gordon took “A World Without Love,” which was written by Lennon and McCartney, to #1 in 1964.

John Lennon sang and played guitar on Elton’s “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” but reportedly forgot some of the chords and needed Davey Johnston, Elton John’s guitarist, to help him out. Lennon made a surprise appearance in Elton’s Thanksgiving concert in New York and performed three songs, which proved to be his last public performance.

Actor William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk on Star Trek, covered this in his dramatic, spoken-word style. In at least one poll, this version was voted the worst Beatles cover of all time.

In 1974, Johanson and Gray named the 3 million-year-old Australopithecus fossil skeleton they discovered (the oldest ever found) Lucy, after this song because it was playing on the radio when Johanson and his team were celebrating the discovery back at camp. >>

Lennon said “The girl with kaleidoscope eyes” turned out to be Yoko: “There was also the image of the female who would someday come save me… a ‘girl with kaleidoscope eyes’ who would come out of the sky. It turned out to be Yoko, though I hadn’t met Yoko yet. So maybe it should be ‘Yoko in the Sky with Diamonds.'”

During the media controversy over this song in June of 1967, Paul McCartney admitted to a reporter that the band did experiment with LSD. 

In 2004, McCartney addressed the issue of drugs in an interview with the Daily Mirror newspaper: “‘Day Tripper,’ that’s one about acid. ‘Lucy In The Sky,’ that’s pretty obvious. There are others that make subtle hints about drugs, but it’s easy to overestimate the influence of drugs on The Beatles’ music. Just about everyone was doing drugs in one form or another, and we were no different, but the writing was too important for us to mess it up by getting off our heads all the time.”

A group called John Fred and his Playboy Band had a #1 hit in 1968 with “Judy In Disguise (with Glasses),” a song that is a parody of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.”

In the Anthology one of the Beatles referred to being on LSD as like seeing through a kaleidoscope. Although Lennon denied this is about drugs, it does refer to “The girl with kaleidoscope eyes.” 

This song is very distinctive musically: It’s in three different keys and uses two different beats. 

Lennon admitted to British journalist Ray Connolly in an interview around the time of the break-up of the Beatles that he didn’t think he sang this song very well. “I was so nervous I couldn’t sing,” he said, “but I like the lyrics.”

In 2004 the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced the discovery of the universe’s largest known diamond, white dwarf star BPM 37093. Astronomers gave the star the catchier name of “Lucy” from this song.

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
Towering over your head
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes
And she’s gone

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Ah

Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain
Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers
That grow so incredibly high

Newspaper taxis appear on the shore
Waiting to take you away
Climb in the back with your head in the clouds
And you’re gone

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Ah

Picture yourself on a train in a station
With plasticine porters with looking glass ties
Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile
The girl with the kaleidoscope eyes

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Ah
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Ah
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds

Beatles – Blackbird

The acoustic guitar part that Paul wrote to this song is iconic now. The first few bars and you know what it is without hearing anything else. This song added to the texture of The White Album. On the same album you had the bone-crunching Helter Skelter, the rock and roll of Back in the USSR, the great pop of Sexy Sadie, the hard blues of Yer Blues, and then you have this song. It was credited to Lennon and McCartney but Paul wrote this one alone. The White Album was released in 1968 and it peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, #1 in the UK, and #1 in Canada.

Paul McCartney wrote this about the civil rights struggle for African Americans after reading about race riots in the US. He penned it in his kitchen in Scotland after he heard about an incident in Little Rock when the federal courts forced the racial desegregation of the Arkansas capital’s school system.

Paul McCartney met two of the women who inspired the song in 2016.

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/paul-mccartney-meets-women-who-inspired-beatles-blackbird-57076/

Paul McCartney: “I was sitting around with my acoustic guitar and I’d heard about the civil rights troubles that were happening in the ’60s in Alabama, Mississippi, Little Rock in particular,” “I just thought it would be really good if I could write something that if it ever reached any of the people going through those problems, it might give them a little bit of hope. So, I wrote ‘Blackbird.'”

Dave Grohl: “It’s such a beautiful piece of music, perfect in composition and performance, and in its lyrics and in the range of his voice. Just learning that song made me a better guitar player and gave me a better appreciation of songwriting. To me it’s just musical bliss.”

 

From Songfacts

Only three sounds were recorded: Paul’s voice, his Martin D-28 acoustic guitar, and a tapping that keeps time on the left channel.

This tapping sound is a bit of a mystery, although in the Beatles Anthology video McCartney appears to be making the sound with his foot. Some sources have claimed it is a metronome.

The birds were dubbed in later using sound effects from the collection at Abbey Road, where the song was recorded.

McCartney did not have ornithological intentions when he wrote this song. In England, “bird” is a term meaning “girl,” so the song is a message to a black girl, telling her it’s her time to fly:

All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

The guitar accompaniment for this song was inspired by Bach’s Bourrée in E minor for lute. This is often played on classical guitar, an instrument Paul McCartney and George Harrison had tried to learn when they were kids. McCartney told Mojo magazine October 2008: “We had the first four bars (of the Bourrée in E minor) and that was as far as my imagination went. I think George had it down for a few more bars and then he crapped out. So I made up the next few bars, and (sings his four-note variation Bach’s theme) it became the basis of ‘Blackbird.'”

This is one of the songs novice guitar players often try to learn, as it’s one of the most famous finger-style tunes. The singer Donovan claims some credit for teaching The Beatles a technique similar to the one McCartney used here when they were on a retreat to India in early 1968.

The word “bird” had been floating around Paul McCartney’s musical lexicon since 1958 when the Everly Brothers had a hit with “Bird Dog,” a song about a guy trying to steal another dude’s girl. McCartney was a huge fan of the Everly Brothers.

There have been hundreds of covers of this song. Perhaps the most enduring is Brad Mehldau’s instrumental jazz version, released in 1997. The only charting version of the song was by the Cast of Glee, which took it to #37 in 2011. Other notable covers include renditions by José Feliciano, Billy Preston, Sarah Vaughan, Jaco Pastorius, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bobby McFerrin and Dwight Twilley. The Doves did a cover in 2002 for the soundtrack to the TV series Roswell.

The singer-guitarist Kenny Rankin recorded it for his 1974 album Silver Morning. McCartney was a big fan of Rankin’s rendition: when the Songwriters Hall of Fame induced Lennon and McCartney in 1987, McCartney skipped the ceremony but had Rankin accept the award on his behalf and perform “Blackbird.”

The “broken wings” concept had been fluttering about for a while, notably in Kahlil Gibran’s 1912 story The Broken Wings. (The Beatles song “Julia” uses lines from one of Gibran’s poems, but McCartney has never cited him as an influence on “Blackbird.”) In 1985, the American group Mr. Mister released their #1 hit “Broken Wings,” which was directly inspired by The Broken Wings and like “Blackbird,” used the line, “Take these broken wings and learn to fly.”

At the Academy Awards ceremony in 2016, Dave Grohl performed this song to accompany the “in memoriam” segment, recognizing those in the movie industry who died the previous year.

Blackbird Singing is the title of a book of poems McCartney wrote.

This is one of about 12 Beatles songs that McCartney often played in his live shows throughout his career. It lends itself to live performance because it is rather compact (it runs just 2:18) and can be played with just a guitar.

Blackbird

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of a dark black night

Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of a dark black night

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise
You were only waiting for this moment to arise

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

Image

 

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
ImageImage
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 ...

Search Images (1 image) - Patrick McMullan

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

 

Beatles – Come Together

The opening track to The Beatle’s last album Abbey Road.

This song was part of one of their best double A-sided singles…Come Together was sided with Something and the single peaked at #1 in 1969.

In 1969, Timothy Leary decided to run for Governor of California and asked John Lennon to write a song for him. “Come Together, Join The Party” was Leary’s campaign slogan a reference to the drug culture he supported and was the original title of the song. Leary never had much of a campaign, but the slogan gave Lennon the idea for this song.

Leary wasn’t happy with it when he heard it and said: “I was a bit miffed that Lennon had passed me over this way…When I sent a mild protest to John, he replied with typical Lennon charm and wit that he was a tailor and I was a customer who had ordered a suit and never returned. So he sold it to someone else.”

In the song, Lennonwrot the opening line o “Here come old flat-top / he come grooving up slowly,” which is very similar lyrically and in meter to a line in Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me,” “Here come a flat-top / he was moving up with me.

This similarity caught the notice of the song’s publisher Morris Levy who, shortly after the Beatles song was released, filed a lawsuit against John for plagiarism. Timothy Leary may have walked away quietly, but Morris Levy was to do nothing of the sort.

A settlement was reached in 1973 which stipulated that Lennon would record three songs owned by Big Seven Music Corp., which was owned by Levy. Lennon picked Ya Ya, You Can’t Catch Me, and Angel Baby. He recorded the first two but the last one, Angel Baby he never did. Levy sued Lennon again and was eventually awarded a total of $6,795 in damages.

Aerosmith covered this song and did a good job…

John Lennon: “Though it’s nothing like the Chuck Berry song,”  “they took me to court because I admitted this once years ago. I left in one line, which is not just Berry’s: ‘Here come old flat top.’ I could have changed it to ‘Here comes old iron face.’

Paul McCartney: “here come old flat-top, “That was a lyric John could NOT let go of. And he couldn’t better it, so he just used it. And I said, ‘Well, it’s a bit of a nick, isn’t it?’ He said, ‘No, it’s a quote.’ I said, ‘OK, fair enough.”

 

From Songfacts

Timothy Leary was a psychologist who became famous for experimenting with LSD as a way to promote social interaction and raise consciousness. Leary did many experiments on volunteers and himself and felt the drug had many positive qualities if taken correctly. When the government cracked down on LSD, Leary’s experiments were stopped and he was arrested on drug charges.

After Timothy Leary decided against using this song for his political campaign Lennon added some nonsense lyrics and brought it to the Abbey Road sessions. Paul McCartney recalled in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs: “I said, ‘Let’s slow it down with a swampy bass-and-drums vibe.’ I came up with a bass line, and it all flowed from there.”

John Lennon was sued for stealing the guitar riff and the line “Here comes old flat-top” from Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me.” The lawsuit did not come from Berry, but from Morris Levy, one of the music industry’s most infamous characters (see our interview with Tommy James for more on Levy). He owned the song along with thousands of other early rock songs that he obtained from many poor, black, and unrepresented artists. Levy sued the Beatles, or more accurately, John Lennon, over the song around the time the Beatles broke up.

For years, Lennon delayed the trial while he and the Beatles tried to sort out all the legal and business problems that plagued Apple Records. Finally, in an attempt to avoid the court room as much as he could (Lennon felt like he was appearing in court more often than not), he settled with Levy. Lennon agreed to record his Rock N Roll album, which was just a series of cover songs, including three songs Levy owned (including “You Can’t Catch Me”) on the tracklist.

The deal made sense: Lennon always wanted to make a covers album, and Levy wanted the value of his songs to increase (when a Beatle re-records a song, that is just what happens). To make a long long long story short, Lennon recorded the album over the Lost Weekend, a year-or-two period when he was separated from Yoko Ono and lived in Los Angeles. During that time he was often drunk or high, and was rather sloppy and useless. Levy was getting frustrated with the lack of progress. Phil Spector was the producer, but in a fit of madness (which was not too unusual for Spector) he ran away and stole the recording session tapes. Levy invited Lennon to his upstate New York recording studio, and that is where he finally recorded the album, which ended up with only two Levy songs: “You Can’t Catch Me” and “Ya Ya.” >>

The whispered lyric that sounds like “shoot” is actually Lennon saying “shoot me” followed by a handclap. The bass line drowns out the “me.”

The Beatles recorded this on July 21, 1969 and it was the first session John Lennon actively participated in following his and Yoko’s car accident 3 weeks earlier. John was so insistent on Yoko being in the studio with him that he had a hospital bed set up in the studio for her right after the accident, since she was more seriously injured than he was. >>

The line “Ono sideboard” refers to Yoko.

The British Broadcasting Company (The BBC) banned this because of the reference to Coca Cola, which they considered advertising.

This has one of the most commonly misheard lyrics in the history of popular music: “Hold you in his -armchair- you can feel his disease.” It’s actually “Hold you in his arms, yeah, you can feel his disease.” All published sheet music had the “armchair” lyric, including the inner sleeve of the 1967-1970 compilation, which contained lots of other errors too, notably on “Strawberry Fields Forever.” After John heard that his lyric was incorrect in the sheet music and other folios, he decided he liked “armchair” better and kept it. >>

The Beatles released this as a “double A side” single with “Something.”

In 1969, this won a Grammy for best engineered recording.

When rumors were spreading that Paul McCartney was dead, some fans thought the line “One and one and one is three” meant that only George, John and Ringo were left. The line “Got to be good lookin’ cuz he’s so hard to see” was supposed to be Paul’s spirit. >>

A rotary phone was used to make the sound heard before each verse and after the chorus. The sound was accompanied by the bass Paul played. Kids, ask your parents or grandparents what a rotary phone was. >>

Aerosmith recorded this song with Beatles producer George Martin for the 1978 movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which turned out to be one of the worst films ever made. Aerosmith appeared in the film performing this song (as the Future Villain Band), agreeing to the role only because they couldn’t resist the chance to record a Beatles song with George Martin. They weren’t the only big names in the film – Peter Frampton and The Bee Gees were also in it.

The Aerosmith version of “Come Together” made #23 in the US when it was released as a single. When we asked their guitarist Brad Whitford why some folks prefer the Aerosmith version, he replied, “I’ve actually never heard anybody say that.” Whitford added, “But you know, it’s funny, I hear our version more on the radio than I do The Beatles’ version.”

In 2001, Beck, Moby, Marc Anthony, and Nelly Furtado were scheduled to put on a tribute concert in Radio City Music Hall called “Come Together: A Night For John Lennon.” Due to the terrorist attacks on America, it was postponed and dedicated to the people of New York City, with proceeds benefiting victims of the attacks.

Nortel used this in commercials, as did Macy’s.

On an early demo version of “My Monkey” by Marilyn Manson (whose vocals were sped up to sound like “a demonic toddler”), Manson sang the second verse as an opener. It appeared on Demos in Lunchbox by Manson’s former band, The Spooky Kids.

This has been covered by Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Meat Loaf, Guns N’ Roses, Soundgarden, Marilyn Manson, Nazareth, and Oasis. 

Though Ringo is best known for playing on Oyster Black Pearl Ludwig drum kit, he used for this his Ludwig “Hollywood” maple-finish equipment, with a 22″ kick. Starr produced his distinctive late ’60s drum muffling sound on tracks like this by wrapping tea towels (dishtowels) around his snares and toms.

On October 7, 2016, The Rolling Stones covered this song during their headline set at the Desert Trip festival in Indio, California. Before launching into the tune, Mick Jagger told the crowd: “We’re gonna do a cover song of a sort of unknown beat group. I think you might remember [them], we’re gonna try a cover of one of their tunes.”

Come Together

Here come old flat top
He come groovin’ up slowly
He got joo joo eyeballs
He one holy roller
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker
He just do what he please

He wear no shoeshine
He got toe jam football
He got monkey finger
He shoot Coca-Cola
He say I know you, you know me
One thing I can tell you is
You got to be free
Come together, right now
Over me

He bad production
He got walrus gumboot
He got Ono sideboard
He one spinal cracker
He got feet down below his knee
Hold you in his armchair
You can feel his disease
Come together, right now
Over me

He roller coaster
He got early warning
He got muddy water
He one Mojo filter
He say one and one and one is three
Got to be good looking
‘Cause he’s so hard to see
Come together right now
Over me

Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah
Come together, yeah

 

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

Beatles – Within You Without You

As Van Morrison would say…Into The Mystic… this song off of Sgt Pepper was a George Harrison song…and he was the only Beatle on it… This is about as sixties as you can get with the sitar and philosophical lyrics.

This was a brilliant addition to Sgt Pepper to show yet another side to the Beatles.

It’s hard to overestimate how profound of an effect that the introduction to Eastern religion had on George Harrison. Under the name of Sam Wells, George, along with his wife Pattie, vacationed in Bombay, India for six weeks, beginning on September 20th, 1966. At the suggestion of Ravi Shankar, from whom he was going to take sitar lessons while there, he grew a mustache as a subtle disguise so as to ward off any Indian “Beatlemaniacs” that may have been around in the area.

The book Autobiography Of A Yogi really changed his life and mind. It influenced his writing of songs like Within You Without You’ and many others. George started to write this song on a pedal harmonium at friend Klaus Voormann’s home.

During the recording, George was there with Indian musicians and they had a carpet on the floor and there was incense burning.

At George Harrison’s request, they added a small bit of laughter at the end of the song as it faded out to lighten the mood a bit.

John Lennon: “I think that is one of George’s best songs, one of my favorites of his. I like the arrangement, the sound and the words. He is clear on that song. You can hear his mind is clear and his music is clear. It’s his innate talent that comes through on that song, that brought that song together. George is responsible for Indian music getting over here. That song is a good example.”

 

From Songfacts

Although this song is billed as being recorded by the Beatles, George Harrison was the only Beatle to play on the track. There is no guitar or bass, but there are some hand-drums.

Harrison spent weeks looking for musicians to play the Indian instruments used on this. It was especially difficult because Indian musicians could not read Western music.

This is based on a piece by Indian musician Ravi Shankar, who helped teach Harrison the sitar. Harrison wrote his own lyrics and shortened it considerably.

Harrison wrote this as a 30-minute piece. He trimmed it down into a mini-version for the album.

This was the only song Harrison wrote that made it onto the album. He also contributed “Only A Northern Song” (recorded in February of 1967 as verified by the Anthology 2 album), but it was left off the album at the last minute. It was initially intended to go on the first side of Sgt. Pepper between “She’s Leaving Home” and “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.” >>

This was one of Harrison’s first songs to explore Eastern religion, which would become a lifelong quest. He believed in reincarnation, which helped him accept death in 2001, when he lost his life to cancer.

Oasis covered this for the BBC to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

This is the second Indian classical-influenced song that George Harrison wrote for the Beatles, the first being “Love You To.”

“Now “Within You/Without You” was not a commercial song by any means. But it was very interesting. [George Harrison] had a way of communicating music by the Indian system of kind of a separate language… the rhythms decided by the tabla player.” –Sir George Martin, from the documentary The Material World.

Within You Without You

We were talking
About the space between us all
And the people
Who hide themselves behind a wall of illusion
Never glimpse the truth
Then it’s far too late when they pass away

We were talking
About the love we all could share
When we find it
To try our best to hold it there, with our love, with our love
We could save the world, if they only knew

Try to realize it’s all within yourself, no-one else can make you change
And to see you’re really only very small
And life flows on within you and without you

We were talking
About the love that’s gone so cold
And the people
Who gain the world and lose their soul
They don’t know, they can’t see
Are you one of them?

When you’ve seen beyond yourself then you may find peace of mind is waiting there
And the time will come when you see we’re all one
And life flows on within you and without you

 

 

Beatles – Don’t Bother Me

In 1975 my friends and cousin had a clubhouse that was an old horse barn. We had a record player, a lantern, and a one-armed bandit. My cousin played the Meet The Beatles album and me… being a Monkee fan soaked it up and it started a lifelong love for The Beatles.

My first favorite Beatle song was It Won’t Be Long…then this one came in second at the time. George wrote this when he was down with the flu in a hotel room in the Northeast of England. It was the first song he wrote……technically he did have partial credit on the instrumental Cry For A Shadow.

Is it George’s best song? Of course not but it fits in well with the early Beatles and it gets overlooked. If you think about it…”Don’t Bother me” is so George and his attitude at times. I always really liked it…the overall feel of it is cool. It was a very good attempt at his first song.

George Harrison: “I don’t think it’s a particularly good song… It mightn’t even be a song at all, but at least it showed me that all I needed to do was keep on writing, and then maybe eventually I would write something good.”

Tom Petty: “I thought it was just the coolest song, like nothing I’d heard in rock,” Petty said in 2014 “I’d say, ‘Well, I like it. A lot. If you did that today, I’d say it was really good.’ And he’d go, ‘Well, you’d be wrong.'”

The Smithereens did a great job covering this song.

From Songfacts

This was George Harrison’s first recorded song. It was his response to critics who claimed he was not an important member of the group because he did not write songs.

A Harrison-penned song would not appear again until the 1965 album Help!. That would be “You Know What To Do.”

This song has a darker, more pessimistic mood that was uncommon of The Beatles main sound, but would come to be Harrison’s trademark stamp. This is actually part of what made the Beatles’ formula work: McCartney was the chirpy, positive one, and Harrison was the melancholic counterpart.

Years later these were sold off at one of the London auction houses. This song in it’s very earliest stages is available on bootleg and features George working the music and lyrics out as he goes along. George stated, “I wrote the song as an exercise to see if I could write a song. I was sick in bed. Maybe that’s why it turned out to be ‘Don’t Bother Me.'” 

For your information, the photography technique for the cover of With The Beatles, in which the Fab Four’s headshots hover in a half-moon, light-and-shadow effect, is called “chiaroscuro.” It’s an Italian word to describe the Renaissance technique of dramatically contrasted lighting effects in oil paintings.

This was the first song on Side 2 of Meet The Beatles, their first album released in the US. With The Beatles was their second UK release.

Don’t Bother Me

Since she’s been gone I want no one to talk to me
It’s not the same but I’m to blame, it’s plain to see

So go away, leave me alone, don’t bother me
I can’t believe that she would leave me on my own
It’s just not right when every night I’m all alone

I’ve got no time for you right now, don’t bother me
I know I’ll never be the same if I don’t get her back again
Because I know she’ll always be the only girl for me

But ’til she’s here please don’t come near, just stay away
I’ll let you know when she’s come home
Until that day
Don’t come around, leave me alone, don’t bother me

I’ve got no time for you right now, don’t bother me
I know I’ll never be the same if I don’t get her back again
Because I know she’ll always be the only girl for me

But ’til she’s here please don’t come near, just stay away
I’ll let you know when she’s come home
Until that day

Don’t come around, leave me alone, don’t bother me
Don’t bother me
Don’t bother me
Don’t bother me
Don’t bother me

Beatles – Getting Better

One thing that strikes me about this song is the constant guitar. The song was on perhaps the most famous rock album…or album ever released. Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was released on May 26, 1967. No singles were pull off of this album when it was released.

Paul McCartney: “It’s an optimistic song,” “I often try and get on to optimistic subjects in an effort to cheer myself up and also, realizing that other people are going to hear this, to cheer them up too. And this was one of those. The ‘angry young man’ and all that was John and I filling in the verses about schoolteachers. We shared a lot of feelings against teachers who had punished you too much or who hadn’t understood you or who had just been bastards generally. So there are references to them.”

John Lennon had a bad acid trip during the recording. While doing the overdubs, John began to get very sick. He said, “I suddenly got so scared on the mike. I thought I felt ill and I thought I was going to crack. I said I must get some air.” George Martin took him up on the roof of the studios for air and John started walking towards the edge. Martin panicked, thinking that John would fall or leap off and that would be it. On the roof, when John saw Martin looking at him “funny,” he realized he was on acid. John decided he couldn’t do anymore that night, so he sat in the booth and watched the others record. Paul eventually took him home and stayed to keep him company, and he decided to drop some acid with John. It was Paul’s first LSD experience.

John Lennon: “I thought I was taking some uppers and I was not in the state of handling it. I took it and I suddenly got so scared on the mike. I said, ‘What is it? I feel ill.’ I thought I felt ill and I thought I was going cracked. I said I must go and get some air. They all took me upstairs on the roof, and George Martin was looking at me funny, and then it dawned on me that I must have taken some acid. I said, ‘Well, I can’t go on. You’ll have to do it and I’ll just stay and watch.’ I got very nervous just watching them all, and I kept saying, ‘Is this all right?’ They had all been very kind and they said, ‘Yes, it’s all right.’ I said, ‘Are you sure it’s all right?’ They carried on making the record.”

A special thanks to Roger of Musical Musings of a Mangled Mind for suggesting the last three selections!

 

 

 

From Songfacts

The idea of “Getting Better” came to Paul McCartney while he was walking his dog, Martha. The sun started to rise on the walk and he thought “it’s getting better.” It also reminded him of something that Jimmy Nichol used to say quite often during the short period when he was The Beatles drummer. This song was a true collaborative effort for Lennon and McCartney, with Lennon adding that legendary part about being bad to his woman. He later admitted to being a “hitter” when it came to women. He said “I was a hitter. I couldn’t express myself, and I hit.”

George Harrison played the tamboura, a large Indian string instrument. It is the droning noise about 2/3rds of the way through.

The string sound at the end was Beatles producer George Martin hitting the strings inside a piano.

Lennon contributed the pessimistic viewpoint, coming up with the line, “It can’t get no worse.” McCartney usually wrote much happier lyrics than Lennon.
Lennon revisited this song when he used the lyrics, “Every day, in every way, it’s getting better and better” for his 1980 track “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy).” This time, instead of taking the cynical side, he was affirming that life does just get keep getting better and better. 

This was used in commercials for Phillips television sets in 1999. The living Beatles resent the use of their songs in advertisements, but cannot prevent it because they do not own the publishing rights; Michael Jackson does.

The Beatles had stopped touring by the time this was released. The first time McCartney played it live was on his 2002 “Back In The US” tour. That tour was made into a CD and a 2-hour concert film that aired on ABC and was released on DVD.

This was used in the 2003 movie The Cat in the Hat starring Mike Myers. 

Getting Better

It’s getting better all the time
I used to get mad at my school
The teacher’s that taught me weren’t cool
You’re holding me down
Filling me up with your rules

I’ve got to admit it’s getting better
A little better all the time
I have to admit it’s getting better
It’s getting better since you’ve been mine

Me used to be angry young man
Me hiding me head in the sand
You gave me the word
I finally heard
I’m doing the best that I can
I’ve got to admit it’s getting better

I used to be cruel to my woman
I beat her and kept apart from the things that she loved
Man I was mean but I’m changing my scene
And I’m doing the best that I can

I admit it’s getting better
A little better all the time
Yes I admit it’s getting better
It’s getting better since you’ve been mine…