Beatles – Rocky Raccoon

This coming weekend I’m going to attempt a Beatles album ranking post which I’ve never done… so I’ve been listening to the White Album. Rocky Raccoon is a  great way to start out the week

I bought the White Album in the winter of 1981 right after John Lennon was murdered. It has remained my favorite album ever by far. You have such a variety on this album and it gives you different glances at the Beatles without many studio tricks and sounds.

This song starts with a strumming guitar and then comes Paul talking/singing in his best western voice. Now somewhere in the Black Mountain Hills of Dakota
There lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon. 

The main character was originally called Rocky Sassoon but McCartney changed it to Raccoon, as he thought the name was more cowboyish.

The original title of the album was going to be “A Doll’s House“… but the band  Family used the title Music from a Doll’s House for its debut album, so The Beatles scrapped the idea. The album’s real name ended up being “The Beatles” but the plain white cover nickname soon took over. From some accounts here is the original cover.

A Doll's House

In 1968, McCartney got the idea for it when he was playing guitar with John Lennon and Donovan Leitch at the Maharishi’s camp in India. Rocky in the song is a cowboy in the old west and challenges Dan when Dan ran off with Rocky’s girl. In the gunfight, Dan is too quick and shoots Rocky wounding him. When the song was recorded… Beatles producer George Martin played the piano in an old-west saloon style.

Rocky in this song is not a raccoon but a boy whose girl runs off with his rival, Dan. The song is set in the Old West, so Rocky does what any self-respecting cowboy would do: he challenges Dan to a gunfight. Unfortunately for Rocky, he Dan is quick on the draw and shoots him first, wounding Rocky and proving himself worthy of the girl.

The album peaked at #1 in the US, Canada, UK, and just about everywhere in 1968.

Paul McCartney: “Rocky was me writing (speaks-sings in a baccy-chewing old prospector voice), ‘It was way back in the hills of Dakota-or Arkansas-in the mining days. And it was tough, picking shovels, and we were underground 24 hours a day…’ I could have taken this serious route, researched it – ‘Take This Hammer’ (a prison work song recorded by British skiffle star Lonnie Donegan in 1959), stuff I’d been brought up on. But at that point I was a little tongue-in cheek. So I crossed it with a (British singer and banjo player popular in the 1940s) George Formby sensibility, where John and I would go (sings a bit of doggerel in a choppy rhythm) – Stanley Holloway, Albert in The Lion’s Den (the comic poem The Lion and Albert, written by Holloway’s creative partner Marriott Edgar in 1932). We were very versed in all that stuff (sings opening lines of Rocky Raccoon in the same choppy way). The scanning of the poetical stanza always interested me. Somehow this little story unfolded itself.

I was basically spoofing ‘the folk-singer.’ And it included Gideon’s Bible, which I’ve seen in every hotel I’ve ever been in. You open the drawer and there it is! Who’s this guy Gideon! I still don’t know to this day who the heck he is. I’m sure he’s a very well-meaning guy. Rocky Raccoon was a freewheeling thing, the fun of mixing a folky ramble with Albert In The Lion’s Den with its ”orse’s ‘ead ‘andle,’ ha ha.”

Many cover versions have been recorded. Some of the artists are Richie Havens, Ramsey Lewis, Jack Johnson, Andrew Gold, James Blunt, Phish, Jimmy Buffett, Maureen McGovern, Kingston Wall, Charlie Parr, and Andy Fairweather Low.

Rocky Raccoon

Now somewhere in the Black Mountain Hills of Dakota
There lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon
And one day his woman ran off with another guy
Hit young Rocky in the eye
Rocky didn’t like that
He said, “I’m gonna get that boy”
So one day he walked into town
Booked himself a room in the local saloon

Rocky Raccoon checked into his room
Only to find Gideon’s Bible
Rocky had come, equipped with a gun
To shoot off the legs of his rival
His rival it seems, had broken his dreams
By stealing the girl of his fancy
Her name was Magill, and she called herself Lil
But everyone knew her as Nancy
Now she and her man, who called himself Dan
Were in the next room at the hoe down
Rocky burst in, and grinning a grin
He said, “Danny boy, this is a showdown”
But Daniel was hot, he drew first and shot
And Rocky collapsed in the corner

Now the doctor came in, stinking of gin
And proceeded to lie on the table
He said, “Rocky, you met your match”
And Rocky said, “Doc, it’s only a scratch
And I’ll be better, I’ll be better, Doc, as soon as I am able”

Now Rocky Raccoon, he fell back in his room
Only to find Gideon’s Bible
Gideon checked out, and he left it, no doubt
To help with good Rocky’s revival

Robert Johnson – Come On In My Kitchen

This is an old Robert Johnson song that I’ve always liked. I learned about this song from a bootleg of Leon Russell, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and Eric Clapton many years ago. Eric wasn’t in the best of shape when this was recorded during the Bangladesh rehearsals. George takes the solo in this blues song and makes it fit really well. I added this version along with Johnson at the bottom of the post.

Robert Johnson recorded it on November 23, 1936, at the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas and it was produced by Don Law. Johnson only recorded 29 songs in total with 13 surviving outtakes.  In one hotel room, Johnson performed and in a second adjoining room, the recording equipment was housed.

In 1990 the compilation album The Complete Recordings was released and peaked at #80 in the Billboard Album Charts. It also won a Grammy Award in 1991 for “Best Historical Album. This song has had over 100 known cover versions by other artists.

Robert Johnson was a huge influence on guitarists such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Page, Peter Green, Brian Jones, and many more. He sounded different than his peers at the time which could have contributed to him not being better known in the 1930s. His style was ahead of his time and it took til the 1960s for him to catch on. In 1961, King of the Delta Blues Singers was released with 16 of his songs on the album…a generation of musicians was influenced.

Johnson died in 1938 at the age of 27. Some say Johnson had been flirting with a married woman at a dance, and she gave him a bottle of whiskey poisoned by her husband…he died two days after drinking it. That is not known for sure but we will probably never know.

Eric Clapton – His music is like my oldest friend, always in the back of my head and on the horizon. It’s the finest music I’ve ever heard.  I’ve always trusted its purity. And I always will.’ I don’t know what more you could say….”

Bob Dylan: If I hadn’t heard the Robert Johnson record when I did, there probably would have been hundreds of lines of mine that would have been shut down—that I wouldn’t have felt free enough or upraised enough to write.

Come On In My Kitchen

You better come on in my kitchenWell, it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoorsAh, the woman I love, took from my best friendSome joker got lucky, stole her back againYou better come on in my kitchenIt’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoors

Oh, she’s gone, I know she won’t come backI’ve taken the last nickel out of her nation sackYou better come on in my kitchenIt’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoorsOh, can’t you hear that wind howl?Oh, can’t you hear that wind would howl?You better come on in my kitchenWell, it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoors

When a woman gets in trouble, everybody throws her down

Lookin’ for her good friend, none can be foundYou better come on in my kitchen

Babe, it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoorsWintertime’s comin’, it’s gon’ be slowYou can’t make the winter, babe, that’s dry, long, soYou better come on in my kitchen, ’cause it’s goin’ to be rainin’ outdoors

Carl Perkins – Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby

I learned about Carl Perkins through George Harrison and The Beatles. On their first tour, they all adopted “stage names” and George’s was George Perkins. A wonderful title for this song.

This gets kind of confusing. It was written by Carl Perkins, but it’s also very similar to another song by the same title by Alabama country singer Rex Griffon in 1936. Carl modernized it by the same sound he was getting out of Blue Suede Shoes.” Meanwhile, the melody was also borrowed from the Hank Williams song “Move It On Over” and “Mind Your Own Business.” Rock Around The Clock also borrowed from this.  Anyway…it is credited to Carl Perkins.

Carl Perkins was on the rise fast in 1956. He just had 3 top-10 hits in that year. On March 22, 1956, Perkins was severely injured when the car he was riding in crashed on Route 13 between Dover and Woodside, Delaware. Perkins and his band were headed to New York City for a Mar. 24, 1956, appearance on NBC-TV’s Perry Como Show after playing a show in Norfolk, Virginia, on Mar. 21, 1956. Perkins had sustained three fractured vertebrae in his neck, a severe concussion, a broken collar bone, and lacerations all over his body. Perkins remained unconscious for an entire day.

Worse than that…his brother Jay Perkins had a fractured neck and severe internal injuries. Later he developed a malignant brain tumor and died in 1958.  It had been planned on the Como show to present Carl with a gold record for Blue Suede shoes. When the wreck happened the song had peaked at #1 on the Country Charts and #2 on the Hot 100. Perkin’s career was never the same after that.

After 1956 he had 6 more top 40 hits in the country charts but never a top 10 hit again. One of those songs peaked at #31 in 1986 called “Birth of Rock and Roll.” Throughout the rockabilly revival of the 80s Perkins worked with Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and many more.

Carl Perkins continued to achieve many successes throughout his career, such as writing the 1968 number one country hit “Daddy Sang Bass” as recorded by Johnny Cash as well as Glen Campbell and The Statler Brothers. He played for about ten years with Johnny Cash, playing lead guitar on Cash’s number one country hit “A Boy Named Sue.” He even appeared on the Johnny Cash Show playing “Matchbox” with Derek And The Dominoes.

Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby was recorded in March of 1956 in Sun Studios with no other than Sam Phillips producing.

The Beatle’s version was recorded their version on October 18, 1964. They did it in one take not counting Ringo overdubbing a tambourine and George doubling his voice. It was released on the Album Beatles for Sale released in December of 1964. It was not their best album by any stretch. They were worn out and the album included a lot of covers. The album was not available in the United States and Canada until 1987. The song appeared on their US-only album Beatles 65.

George Harrison sang lead because he was a huge fan of Perkins. It was his showcase song on early tours.

Everybody Is Trying To Be My Baby

Well they took some honey from a tree
Dressed it up and they called it me

Everybody’s trying to be my baby
Everybody’s trying to be my baby
Everybody’s trying to be my baby, now

Woke up last night, half past four
Fifty women knocking on my door

Everybody’s trying to be my baby
Everybody’s trying to be my baby
Everybody’s trying to be my baby, now

Went out last night, I didn’t stay late
‘Fore I got home I had nineteen dates

Everybody’s trying to be my baby
Everybody’s trying to be my baby
Everybody’s trying to be my baby, now

Went out last night, I didn’t stay late
‘Fore I got home I had nineteen dates

Everybody’s trying to be my baby
Everybody’s trying to be my baby
Everybody’s trying to be my baby, now

Well they took some honey from a tree
Dressed it up and they called it me

Everybody’s trying to be my baby
Everybody’s trying to be my baby
Everybody’s trying to be my baby, now

Miss O’Dell: Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton… by Chris O’Dell and Katherine Ketcham

I enjoyed this book immensely. It’s almost like a fantasy book. You are a fan and suddenly you get thrown into the world with The Beatles as friends and co-workers. You move from the Beatles to the Stones, CSNY, Bob Dylan and the list kept growing. 

I will say this… as a Beatle fan, this book gave me insight that I never had before. Chris O’Dell happened to meet Derek Taylor (press officer of the Beatles) in Los Angeles in 1968…she worked for him for a few weeks in LA as a PA. He told her she should come over to London to check out the new company that The Beatles were starting called Apple. He didn’t promise her a job but she took a chance and sold her records and borrowed from her parents to go to London. She was like Alice down the rabbit hole, O’Dell stumbled upon a life even she could not have dreamed of.

She took a chance and went over and that started her career working at The Beatles record company Apple. It took her a few months to get hired full time but after the Beatle’s inner circle knew she could be trusted she was there. She met Paul on her very first day. She said all of them were extremely nice and made her feel welcome. She spent the first few months showing up at the office and making herself useful and securing her place. She was especially close to George as a friend and later Ringo as a little more. 

Chris O'Dell George

After all was said and done…she had 3 songs written about her. Two by Leon Russell called Hummingbird, Pieces Apple Lady, and George Harrison’s Miss O’Dell. She was also the “Mystery Woman” on the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street cover. She was in the Joni Mitchell song “Coyote” with the line He’s got another woman down the hall…the song about Sam Shepard who Chris O’Dell and Joni Mitchell were seeing. She ended up singing on the Hey Jude recording in the final Na Na chorus.

She was one of the first if not the first female tour manager in rock. The tours she worked on were The Rolling Stones, CSNY, Santana, Bob Dylan, Earth Wind and Fire, Jennifer Warnes, Fleetwood Mac, Linda Ronstadt, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Led Zeppelin, Phil Collins, Echo and the Bunnymen, ELO, and more.

We also get a glimpse into the personalities of Bob Dylan, Jagger and Richards, CSNY (and the disfunction), Eric Clapton, and more. 

Chris O'Dell's Rockstar Life Revealed

Like all of us through life…she made some cringe-worthy decisions. I’m not trying to play it down but most of the time everything worked out in the end. She was in the right place at the right time and took advantage of that. She remains close friends with Pattie Harrison, Ringo Starr (her son’s Godfather), and many of her old famous acquaintances.

This is not a kiss-and-tell book and she doesn’t trash people which made me happy. The only person to come out of this book bad at all is Eric Clapton who was admittedly jealous of Pattie and Chris’s friendship. After the Stones tour, she got into drugs really bad but managed to quit them only to start up again. She, later on, became a drug counselor and helped people. 

This book is for more than just Beatle fans…it gives you what life was like on the road in the 1970s. Some of the highlights in the book for me were: 

  • How the Apple Office worked including the Hell’s Angels visitors
  • How even the biggest stars had deep insecurities
  • Bob Dylan forgot his harmonicas before the Isle of Wight concert and Chris O’Dell arrived by helicopter to give them to him.
  • Keith Richards sending her to pick up a “package” in LA in the middle of a tour
  • Reading about David Crosby’s complaints of no “cross ventilation in his hotel room”
  • When Roger Taylor of Queen realized that she was Miss O’Dell from George’s song.
  • Insight into Pattie Boyd and Maureen Starkey who is hardly covered in Beatles books
  • Reading about how Bangledesh started and how George got his musician friends to participate. 
  • Being on the roof during Get Back brief concert

Chris O’Dell: I think being a Beatle became very difficult for them. They had a different set of problems than the Stones and CSN&Y.  They didn’t tour that much, they couldn’t go out of their hotel rooms, and they lived in a bubble. I think breaking up for them, and I can only guess, was a relief and very difficult at the same time.

Chris O’Dell:  It was like being let go in Disneyland. That’s what it felt like. It’s like here are the keys to Disneyland, go and enjoy yourself. And I was constantly aware that I was watching history in the making and that was exciting. So every day had some, or certainly every week, had something, a twist to it that made it really exciting

Chris O’Dell now: I am happily remarried to a wonderful man who supports me and accepts me as I am. My twenty-three-year-old son is amazing and gives me some credibility as a parent! I have a private practice in Tucson, specializing in addiction and mental health counseling.  My two dogs are happy and life is just better than I would have expected. 

Excerpt from the book: On being in a room with Mick and Keith before the 72 tour. 

“Listen to this fucking article in Rolling Stone about Harrison’s Bangladesh concert,” Keith said. He started reading from the article.
“The Concert for Bangladesh is rock reaching for its manhood.” Keith raised an eyebrow. “Under the leadership of George Harrison, a group of rock musicians recognized, in a deliberate, self-conscious, and professional way, that they have responsibilities, and went about dealing with them seriously.”
Keith looked at Mick and then at me. “Do you believe this shit? But wait, it gets better. Harrison is “a man with a sense of his own worth, his own role in the place of things… with a few parallels among his peers.”
“Bollocks.” Keith laughed, tossing the magazine on the coffee table. “What a fucking load of shit.”
I knew that Keith wasn’t really amused. He could be terribly insecure.
What a paradox Keith was- a sweet sensitive soul who wrote songs about needing love to be happy and yet he lived his life as if he couldn’t give a shit about anything.
But at that moment I wasn’t too interested in Keith’s feelings. I sat at the far end of the sofa, my legs and arms crossed, smoking a cigarette and drinking my Scotch and Coke as if it were straight Coke. I was pissed. Sure, I knew they were just being competitive, but I couldn’t stand listening to them make fun of George. I wanted to jump into the conversation and tell them to leave him alone. But what could I do? I worked for the Stones now, not the Beatles. This is weird, I know, and particularly strange in the context of the Stone’s remarkable longevity, but at that moment I had a sinking feeling that I was beginning my climb down the ladder. I’d started at the very top with the Beatles and now I was on the rung below. I found myself thinking at that moment that the Stones were sometimes a little too raw, too raunchy, too negative. I liked their music, and I liked each of them individually, but if I had to choose, the Beatles would win.
“You know,” I said, trying to smile but having a hard time of it,
“George is my friend.”
Mick looked over at me as if he had forgotten I was there. “Oh yeah, Chris, you’re a Beatle person, aren’t you? Sorry about that”
We let it go, then, but after I dropped Mick at his house and headed home through the dark canyons, I felt a sudden, intense longing to see Pattie and George. Mick was right. When it came right down to it, I was a Beatle person.”

Miss O’Dell

I’m the only one down here
Who’s got nothing to say
About the war
Or the rice
That keeps going astray on its way to Bombay.
That smog that keeps polluting up our shores
Is boring me to tears.
Why don’t you call me, Miss O’Dell?

I’m the only one down here
Who’s got nothing to fear
From the waves
Or the rice
That keeps rolling on right up to my front porch.
The record player’s broken on the floor,
And Ben, he can’t restore it.
Miss O’Dell.

I can tell you
Nothing new
Has happened since I last saw you.

I’m the only one down here
Who’s got nothing to say
About the hip
Or the dope
Or the cat with most hope to fill the Fillmore.
That pushing, shoving, ringing on my bell
Is not for me tonight.
Why don’t you call me, Miss O’Dell?

Why don’t you call me, Miss O’Dell?

George Harrison – Wreck Of The Hesperus

I bought George Harrison’s Cloud Nine when it was released in 1987. I took it and recorded it on cassette to play in my car (sorry George). I always liked this breezy song.

I played it constantly. I started to notice a change was happening…classic rock was coming back old and new.  In the 2 years that followed a great string of albums was released. The Traveling Wilburys, Keith Richards Talk Is Cheap, Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever, Jeff Lynne’s Armchair Theatre, Roy Orbison’s Mystery Girl,  and then another Traveling Wilburys. The older guys were back in the game again.

There is not a bad song on Cloud Nine. The one I played the less was ironically the biggest hit on the album…Got My Mind Set On You. Personally, I thought this album was his best since All Things Must Pass. The reviews at the time agree with that.

This song is about what I talked about in the first paragraph. George was poking fun at himself as a dinosaur rocker although he was only 45…that’s young in today’s world. The first verse says it all…

I’m not the wreck of the HesperusFeel more like the Wall of ChinaGetting old as MethuselahFeel tall as the Eiffel TowerI’m not a power of attorneyBut I can rock as good as GibraltarAin’t no more no spring chickenBeen plucked but I’m still kickingBut it’s alright, it’s alright

The title came from an 1842 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem of the same name that combined fact with fiction. Procol Harum also had a song on their 1969 Salty Dog album called The Wreck of the Hesperus but no relation to this one.

The Cloud Nine album peaked at #8 on the Billboard Album Charts, #6 in Canada, and #10 in the UK in 1987. This song was not released as a single. The best-known songs off of the album were Got My Mind Set On You and When We Was Fab. The album was produced by Jeff Lynne with guest appearances by Eric Clapton and Ringo Starr to name a few.

When I would buy albums I would explore every song good or bad. Many times I found songs I liked more than the singles that were pulled from it. This song did make me hunt down Bill Big Broonzy in the 80s…which wasn’t that easy but I did get my hands on some of his music and liked it…great blues player.

It’s funny how when you first hear something and what you think the lyrics are. I’ve been hearing them wrong since 1987.

What I thought I heard…

I slipped on the pavement “with no ice there” and Met a snake “carrying lanterns”

No on both accounts…

I slipped on a pavement oysterMet a snake climbing ladders

George Harrison: The song, it just came to me with this lyric. I don’t know. Maybe I was thinking from the point of view that people tend to think of you as somebody who’s passe, been and done. And it was just a sort of tongue-in-cheek kind of thing that… This was an old poem, but I was brought up [in] that period they sang, you know, the little catch thing they always said, you know, ‘you look like the wreck of the Hesperus.’ I never really knew what it was, I suppose, but it sounded good, kinda like some awful wreck. It was a shipwreck and a poem, an old Victorian poem. Anyway, that line just came to me and I just continued the lyric from there. [It’s] sort of [a] strange lyric. [Eiffel Tower] and rock as good as Gibralter, you know, it just gets silly. By end of it, I’m saying I’m not the wreck of the Hesperus, more like Big Bill Broonzy. You know, I don’t know. That to me is… I mean, as far back as I can remember [there was] Big Bill Broonzy with this big ol’ guitar playing. It was pretty groovy. I suppose now, it’s like that really. All of us are turning into– like Eric Clapton and such– I keep telling my boy, when you get older, he’s gonna be like, ‘that was Big Bill Broonzy, man, hanging around at our house!’ We’re all getting old as my mother.

George Harrison: “I’ve been friends with Eric for years. And I think I always will be. He’s a lovely fella and I love him very dearly. And he, [sic] and I called him up again and you know I’m doing an album, Eric could you come and play. Sure, he came over and played great stuff. Devil’s Radio, Cloud Nine [sic], he does a nice little solo on the end of That’s What It Takes and also the other one the second side The Wreck Of The Hesperus

The Wreck of the Hesperus

I’m not the wreck of the HesperusFeel more like the Wall of ChinaGetting old as MethuselahFeel tall as the Eiffel TowerI’m not a power of attorneyBut I can rock as good as GibraltarAin’t no more no spring chickenBeen plucked but I’m still kickingBut it’s alright, it’s alright

Poison penmen sneak, have no nerve to speakMake up lies then they leak ‘m outBehind a pseudonym, the rottenness in themReaching out trying to touch me

Met some Oscars and TonysI slipped on a pavement oysterMet a snake climbing laddersGot out of the line of fire(But it’s alright)

Brainless writers gossip nonsensesTo others heads as dense as they isIt’s the same old maladyWhat they see is faulty

I’m not the wreck of the HesperusFeel more like Big Bill BroonzyGetting old as my motherBut I tell you I got some company(But it’s alright)

But it’s alright, it’s alrightBut it’s alright, it’s alrightIt’s alright, alrightIt’s alright

Leon Russell – Pisces Apple Lady

I love Leon’s soulful playing and that voice. I’m reading a book now about a lady named Chris O’Dell who worked for the Beatles at Apple records. She dated Leon Russell for around 4 months before she went back to London to finish working for Apple. I’ll be reviewing the book in a few weeks…after the Beatles, she worked for Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and The Rolling Stones.

O’Dell was Peter Asher’s personal Assistant and she booked studio time for the Beatles and other artists. George Harrison was working on a Jackie Lomax session and needed a piano player. George wanted Nicky Hopkins but he was in America so O’Dell mentioned Leon Russell who visited Apple earlier that day. George was ecstatic and later on, Ringo and George played on Leon’s sessions at Trident studio. After work, she walked into the studio and they were recording this song. She began to figure out it was about her (she is a Pisces) and that was Leon’s way of saying he fell in love with her.

This is not the only song inspired by Miss O’Dell. George Harrison wrote a song called Miss O’Dell and Leon wrote another song about her called Hummingbird. Both Pisces Apple Lady and Hummingbird were on his debut album released in 1970 along with his song about Rita Coolidge that Joe Cocker covered… Delta Lady.

Leon was able to get Ringo, George, Charlie Watts, Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, Bonnie and Delaney, Steve Winwood, Jim Gordon, B.J. Wilson, Mick Jagger, Joe Cocker, and more…on this album.

The album Leon Russell peaked at #60 on the Billboard Album Charts in 1970.

Leon Russell: “I met her when she was working at Apple Records. We had a little thing for a minute. She wrote an autobiography, and she sent me an advance copy. I’m sorry to say, as a young man, I was capable of some actions I’m not proud of. So I was afraid to read the advance copy, I gave it to Jackie [his bass player Jackie Wessel] and I said, ‘Will you read this and see if there’s any untoward activity in it?’ He read it and said, ‘It’s a beautiful little show-business autobiography. There’s no untowardness in it.’ So I was happy.”

Pisces Apple Lady

Get off your bottleGo down and see a friendHe’ll know what to do, lordyWhen you tell him how bad it’s beenHe said you oughta get awayTo the English countrysideThis cryin’ won’t help you now boyWhy don’t you look how many tears you’ve cried

When I got down to ChelseaI had no expectationsOh, But to get away from the delta girlAnd the painful situationBut I hardly had the timeOh, to laugh and look aroundAnd I found my heart was a-goin’ againLike a-English leaps and bounds (yeah)

And she’s a Pisces apple ladyWhen she speaks softlyShe screams,(She really got herself together) whoa-whoa (oh-oh)And she’s a Pisces apple ladyTook me by surpriseAnd I fell into a hundred piecesI said a-right before her eyes

Now were togetherAll the way to L.A.I know she that loves me‘Cause she can brighten up a smoggy dayIf I believed in marriageOh, I’d take her for my wifeAnd move on down into high gear babyFor the rest of my natural life

And she’s a Pisces apple ladyWhen she speaks softlyShe screams,(She really got herself together) yes she does (oh-oh)And she’s a Pisces apple ladyTook me by surpriseAnd I fell into a hundred piecesI said a-right before her eyes

Beatles – I’m Only Sleeping

I’ve always loved this song and I just read in the news that The Beatles released a new video to this song. This song was on what many consider their best album…Revolver.

If you lived in America at the time…you didn’t have this song if you bought Revolver. Capital Records left it off the American version. You would have to buy the album Yesterday and Today to get it

There were a lot of rumors about this song’s origin. Some rumors said it was John’s attack on straight society. It was much more simple than that.  Lennon wrote this as a tribute to staying in bed, which he liked to do even when he wasn’t sleeping. He would later write a song titled “I’m So Tired” which resided on the White Album.

Maureen Cleave, the journalist,  wrote of John Lennon: “He can sleep almost indefinitely, is probably the laziest person in England.” She went on to clarify that she meant physically lazy, not intellectually lazy.”

The Beatles were experimenting with this album with sound effects and backward guitar and other effects. The yawning effect is a guitar recorded backward. A few seconds before the yawn comes in, you can hear John Lennon say, “Yawn Paul.”

It was conceived by George Harrison in a late-night session, inspired when a studio engineer accidentally flipped a tape…Harrison was amazed at the effect and decided to do it for real. So he wrote down a solo and then played it twice, once forwards and once backward, with fuzz effects on one track.

George Harrison:  “We turned the tape over and put it on backwards, and then played some guitar notes to it, just playing little bits, guessing, hoping it fitted in…We were excited to hear what it sounded like, and it was magic.”

Revolver broke recording boundaries and developed processes that are still used today. The bass was one thing to be boosted as in the singles around this time. Paperback Writer and Rain the bass came through like never before.

They toured on this album and it would be their last tour. It was full of tension because of Lennon’s Jesus remarks and they were tired of not being heard. The touring equipment still wasn’t up to where people could hear over the screaming. Our band would play in 200-capacity clubs and we had more powerful equipment than the Beatles did playing in big arenas and sports facilities.

They were well into the beginnings of the studio experimental phase of their career. Therefore, I’m Only Sleeping, along with all of the other material from Revolver, was never performed live, nor could it have been because the technology just wasn’t there at that time to play these songs accurately.

Revolver peaked at #1 in the US, Canada, and the UK in 1966.

Ringo Starr: “I believe we taught George Martin how to keep the tape rolling,” he lost that old attitude that you only press the button when you are going to do the take. We began to have the tape rolling all of the time.”

I’m Only Sleeping

When I wake up early in the morning
Lift my head, I’m still yawning
When I’m in the middle of a dream
Stay in bed, float up stream (float up stream)

Please, don’t wake me
No, don’t shake me
Leave me where I am
I’m only sleeping

Everybody seems to think I’m lazy
I don’t mind, I think they’re crazy
Runnin’ everywhere at such a speed
‘Til they find there’s no need (there’s no need)

Please, don’t spoil my day
I’m miles away
And after all
I’m only sleeping

Keepin’ an eye on the world going by my window
Takin’ my time

Lyin’ there and staring at the ceiling
Waiting for a sleepy feeling

Please, don’t spoil my day
I’m miles away
And after all
I’m only sleeping

Keepin’ an eye on the world going by my window
Takin’ my time

When I wake up early in the morning
Lift my head, I’m still yawning
When I’m in the middle of a dream
Stay in bed, float up stream (float up stream)

Please, don’t wake me
No, don’t shake me
Leave me where I am
I’m only sleeping

Beatles – Think For Yourself

A very good George Harrison song. While I was searching for the song on youtube…I came across a 19-minute studio outtake with the Beatles when they were working on this song. George had a time reeling in John and Paul but…I will say this…Lennon could be hilarious. Actually, all of them could be. When you have 19 minutes to kill…listen to that outtake I will post above the song. It gives an insight into them. One comment was, “they sound like drunk teenagers, ” which is correct. They were young and their sense of humor was flowing.

Lennon and McCartney’s songwriting was improving by leaps and bounds at this time. They had started to write years before and George had only been writing a couple of years. He did have one thing they didn’t have…he witnessed firsthand Lennon and McCartney’s writing and was influenced by them. This was only George’s fifth published song, the lyrical depth, and structure of  Think For Yourself proved that George Harrison was going to improve and catch his bandmates in quality if not quantity.

The music to this one is really cool. Paul plays his bass through a fuzz box to give the song a different sound. The song was on the 1965 album  Rubber Soul. This album was a game changer that started with Help! and would lead up to Sgt Pepper in 1967.

Rubber Soul showed the Beatles growing artistically and venturing out to different styles of music. Since With The Beatles they were trying new things with every album. By this time they were breaking out of the Beatlemania image and started touching on every genre to a more mature sound.  The Beatles were breaking/making the rules as they were going along. Not only in writing superb songs but pushing the limits of the studio as well as doing things that pop stars just didn’t do before them…

Producer George Martin was also developing artistically, experimenting with an eye toward making the album sound good in either stereo or mono.

Rubber Soul peaked at #1 in America, Canada, and The UK in 1965.

George Harrison: “When Phil Spector was making ‘Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah’ (by Bob B. Soxx And The Blue Jeans), the engineer who’d set up the track overloaded the microphone on the guitar player and it became very distorted. Phil Spector said, ‘Leave it like that, it’s great.’ Some years later everyone started to try to copy that sound and so they invented the fuzz box. We had one and tried the bass through it and it sounded really good.”

Think For Yourself

I’ve got a word or two
To say about the things that you do
You’re telling all those lies
About the good things that we can have
If we close our eyes

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
‘Cause I won’t be there with you

I left you far behind
The ruins of the life that you had in mind
And though you still can’t see
I know your mind’s made up
You’re gonna cause more misery

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
‘Cause I won’t be there with you

Although your mind’s opaque
Try thinking more if just for your own sake
The future still looks good
And you’ve got time to rectify
All the things that you should

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
‘Cause I won’t be there with you

Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
‘Cause I won’t be there with you
Think for yourself
‘Cause I won’t be there with you

Why The Beatles Are Still Relevant… and my 5th Year Anniversary.

This is my 5th-year anniversary on WP. Thank you all for still reading and commenting. 

This was part of Dave’s at A Sound Day “Turntable Talk” series…hope you like it. It’s also a more in-depth re-working of my first post on September 18, 2017. I never dreamed I would be accepted in such a large community of like-minded people. It’s not easy to meet Big Star fans in real life…here in this community, they come to you. My mission was…if I could get one person to at least give Badfinger, Big Star, or the Raspberries a listen…my job was done…but it’s been so much more than that because I’ve learned more than I’ve given. Yes, I love the Beatles but they don’t need my cheerleading.

I usually write shorter posts than this…but it was a lot to say on this subject.

So why are The Beatles still popular with older and younger generations? Their influence seems never-ending. It’s as though they have never left. There are other bands that left a legacy but nothing like the footprint of the Beatles.

The Beatles shaped culture instead of following it. Society changed after that appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. They cast such a large net in music compared to everyone else. They influenced everything from rock, folk-rock, power pop, psychedelia, progressive rock, and heavy metal. They practically invented the thought or image of a rock band. They moved passed that and have become a huge part of the culture they helped create.

The Beatle’s breakup was announced in 1970. Many rumors flew that they might regroup through the years but that ended on December 8, 1980, in New York with the assassination of John Lennon.

Through the seventies, the Beatles were still quite popular with the Red and Blue greatest-hits albums released in the early seventies. The greatest hits album Rock and Roll Music (terrible silver cover) was released in 1976. Capitol released Got To Get You In My Life as a single off of the album and it peaked at #1 in Canada and #7 in the Billboard 100 in 1976. This was 10 years after it was released as an album track on Revolver.

I bought my first Beatle album (Hey Jude Again) in 1975 when I was 8 and then bought the Rock and Roll Music album. So, I was a 2nd generation Beatles fan and there were many of us. The solo Beatles dominated the charts to the mid-seventies. After 1975 they had hits but not as many as before. Beatles’ popularity waned in the mid to late 70s when the “newer/ younger” generations considered the Beatles as belonging to their parents. Many youngsters believed Led Zeppelin, Queen, and all newer bands would replace the Beatles in scope and success.

Everything changed when Lennon was murdered. A newer generation heard the music. Their popularity would go up and down but with the first Beatle CDs released in 1987…again another generation heard the Beatles. Sgt Pepper was re-released 20 years after the original and it went to number one.

What really cemented them in the public’s mind happened on November 20, 1995. The Beatles Anthology CDs were released, and the documentary was viewed during prime time on ABC. Since then, they have never left. On November 13, 2000, they released the compilation album “1” which was the best-selling album of the decade worldwide. The Beatles were also the largest selling band between 2000-2010. In 2009 The Beatles Rock Band game came out and…yet another generation found their music. One was my son who was born in 2000.

Between 2010-2020 they remixed and reissued many of their classic albums with 50th-anniversary editions. The Get Back film by Peter Jackson is the latest project that has thrust them in the spotlight again…but really, they have never left.

The bottom line for their staying power is their music. The songwriting was outstanding. Even the early music was something new. They used minor chords, and different rhythms, along with harmonizing over the top. I’m not going to go into musical theory, but they never repeated themselves. Every album stands on its own.  John Lennon’s rhythm guitar was quirky and inventive, George Harrison brought in a Chet Atkins style along with jazz chords, Paul brought bass playing to a new level, and Ringo was a left-hander that played right-handed with an open high hat. The main thing was the songwriting, quality, and quantity that is rarely if ever seen.

Bob Dylan: “Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous, and their harmonies made it all valid.”

They rarely included their singles on albums. Most bands used singles to sell albums, but The Beatles treated both formats as different entities. Songs that weren’t released as singles include Norwegian Wood, You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, With A Little Help From My Friends, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, All My Loving, A Day In The Life, Back In The USSR, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Helter Skelter, Michele, The Night Before, and one of the most popular Beatles song Here Comes The Sun, and many more. Any other band would have released these songs as singles but with the Beatles…they were just album cuts. That is how deep their songwriting was at the time, and from 1966 onward George was contributing to the quality as well. George developed into a great songwriter in the impossible situation of being with two of the best in history.

They had more variety than many others. They were rockers in Hamburg and The Cavern. They were pop stars in the Beatlemania years. They were rock-folk-pop in the middle period of Rubber Soul and Revolver. They were Psychedelic rockers during the Sgt Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour era. Then they went back to their roots and were rockers again with the White Album and Let It Be. Abbey Road saw them perfecting their craft in all genres. They knew when to make an exit…while still on top.

They broke up because they outgrew each other and were together constantly, much like brothers. John, Paul, and George grew up together in Liverpool and they knew Ringo well early on. They were never made to stay together like the Stones. The Stones developed a business/brand attitude, but the Beatles were more of a family and things were more personal.

They were not this clean polite band that Brian Epstein and the press created. In fact, the Stones and Beatles’ images should have been reversed… but to make it…they had to clean up to get through the international door. After they did, the door was open for all others. They did however speak of whatever was on their mind. They said things stars just didn’t say, even in the early days. There was something honest about them that is still there to this day.

They were symmetrical… John brought in Paul, Paul brought in George, and George brought in Ringo.

Their story adds depth to their legacy. The odds of them finding Brian Epstein, George Martin, Stuart Sutcliffe, and everyone on the way was nearly zero. If one key person would have would have gone the other way…the story would not be the same or might not have happened.

In a hundred years…the question will still be asked… why are the Beatles still relevant?

Beatles – In My Life

What other band in the world would not release this song as a single? That alone shows that they had quality as well as quantity. It was on Rubber Soul released in 1965. I always considered Revolver and Rubber Soul sister and brother albums. Rubber Soul was released first and Revolver could have been the continuation of Rubber Soul or the wilder older brother/sister.

This song is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. We have a short journey through John Lennon’s life up to that point. This song is as close to perfection as you can get.

Lennon said that a reporter asked him ” why don’t you put some of the way you write in the book in the songs?’ or ‘Why don’t you put something about your childhood into the songs?” and that spurred him on to write this personal song.

Pete Pete Shotton, who was a close childhood friend of John, has related how John once told him that the lyric about the friends who were “dead” and “living” was about Stuart Sutcliffe, a close friend and former Beatle who died of a brain tumor in April of 1962, and Pete himself as the “living” friend.

John was picky with Beatle songs. There were some he claimed not to like but this one was one of the songs he was most proud of.

Before his death, Lennon gave an extensive interview with Playboy magazine and the interviewer went down a list of Lennon and McCartney songs. Lennon gave his feelings about each song and who wrote what. McCartney, later on, agreed with most of all John’s memories on who wrote what…except on a couple of songs. John and Paul seem to disagree on two songs in particular: “Eleanor Rigby” and this song.

John claims he wrote everything except the middle eight, which he attributed to Paul. Paul has said that he wrote most of the melody and helped with the lyrics. I tend to believe Paul on this but I’m amazed that they both seemed to agree on most of the other songs. John could write some beautiful melodies but this one sounds like Paul had a lot to do with it.

In the studio, something seemed to be missing so George Martin slowed down the tape and recorded an Elizabethan piano solo. Not that Ringo Starr needs any defending…but people seem to downgrade him because he wasn’t like Keith Moon or John Bonham. No Ringo played for the song…this song is a great example. If he would have been busy it would have ruined it. Ringo played this one perfectly as he did with most other Beatles songs.

This was voted the best song of all time by a panel of songwriters in a 2000 Mojo magazine poll.

Paul McCartney on writing the song: “So I recall writing the whole melody. And it actually does sound very like me, if you analyze it. I was obviously working to (John’s) lyrics. The melody’s structure is very me. So my recollection is saying to John, ‘Just go and have a cup of tea or something. Let me be with this for ten minutes on my own and I’ll do it.’ And with the inspiration of Smokey and The Miracles, I tried to keep it melodic but a bit bluesy, with the minors and little harmonies, and then my recollection is going back up into the room and saying, ‘Got it, great! Good tune, I think. What d’you think?’ John said, ‘Nice,’ and we continued working with it from then, using that melody and filling out the rest of the verses. As usual, for these co-written things, he often just had the first verse, which was always enough: it was the direction, it was the signpost and it was the inspiration for the whole song. I hate the word but it was the template.”

“We wrote it, and in my memory we tagged on the introduction, which I think I thought up. I was imaging the intro of a Miracles record, and to my mind the phrases on guitar are very much Smokey and The Miracles. So it was John’s original inspiration, I think my melody, I think my guitar riff. I don’t want to be categorical about this. But that’s my recollection. We then finished it off and it was a fine song which John sang.”

John Lennon: “’In My Life’ was, I think, my first real, major piece of work. Up until then it had all been glib and throw-away. I had one mind that wrote books and another that churned out things about ‘I love you’ and ‘you love me,’ because that’s how Paul and I did it…It was the first song that I wrote that was really, consciously, about my life…a remembrance of friends and lovers of the past.”

John Lennon:  “I wrote that in Kenwood (his home at the time). I used to write upstairs where I had about ten Brunell tape recorders all linked up, I still have them, I’d mastered them over the period of a year or two – I could never make a rock and roll record but I could make some far out stuff on it. I wrote it upstairs, that was one where I wrote the lyrics first and then sang it.” He added that was usually the case with songs such as this one and “Across the Universe” and “some of the ones that stand out a bit.”

In My Life

There are places I’ll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain

All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

In my life I love you more

Beatles – Savoy Truffle

I love the horns in this song. It wasn’t George Harrison’s best on the album…that would be While My Guitar Gently Weeps but this one is fun.

George was good friends with Eric Clapton and was watching his friend with toothaches and getting dental work. Clapton’s weakness was candy and he would eat all of it until it was gone.

Harrison got the lyrics for this from the inside lid of a box of chocolates. Montelimar, Ginger Sling, Cream Tangerine, and Coffee Dessert were names of candies in the Mackintosh “Good News” assortment. The names “Cherry Creme” and “Coconut Fudge” were invented by George, however, to round out the verses.

Press agent Derek Taylor came up with the line  ‘You know that what you eat you are‘.

Derek Taylor: “George said, ‘We need a bit here, da da, da da da da, da da,’ and I thought again of my good friend, Alan Pariser. He had done a film called ‘You Are What You Eat,’ which was a very pippy thing; ‘Don’t eat meat, man, or you’ll be filled with the adrenaline of frightened animals.’ So I said to George, ‘You know that what you eat you are.’

good-news-chocolates

The MacIntosh’s Good News box where George got some of the lyrics.

Harrison wrote the line “We all know Obla-Di-Bla-Da” as an in-joke with the band. McCartney had pushed Obla-Di-Bla-Da so much that the band played endless versions of it and were not happy about it.

The White Album was released in 1968 and peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Chart, #1 in Canada, #1 in the UK, and #1 about everywhere else…and it would be #1 as well on my list.

The White Album is as diverse as you can get… Pop, Rock, Country, Folk, Reggae, Avant-Garde, Blues, Hard Rock, and some 20’s British Music Hall thrown in the mix. It has plenty of songs that you have heard of and many that the masses have not heard. The Beatles more than many bands could bend to a style of music and play that style well.

Some critics said they should have taken the best of the two albums and slimmed it down to one. I understand that argument but as a Beatle fan…Nahhhhh. It’s the Beatles White Album!

George Harrison: “At that time he had a lot of cavities in his teeth and needed dental work. He always had a toothache but he ate a lot of chocolates – he couldn’t resist them, and once he saw a box he had to eat them all. He was over at my house, and I had a box of ‘Good News’ chocolates on the table and wrote the song from the names inside the lid: ‘Creme Tangerine, Montelimart’…” 

“He’d got this real sweet tooth and he had just had his mouth worked on. His dentist said he was through with candy. So, as a tribute, I wrote ‘You’ll have to have them all pulled out, after the Savoy Truffle.’ The truffle was some kind of sweet, just like all the rest, ‘crème tangerine,’ ‘ginger sling,’ just candy, to tease Eric.” 

Savoy Truffle

Creme tangerine and montelimar
A ginger sling with a pineapple heart
A coffee dessert, yes you know it’s good news
But you’ll have to have them all pulled out
After the Savoy truffle

Cool cherry cream, a nice apple tart
I feel your taste all the time we’re apart
Coconut fudge, really blows down those blues
But you’ll have to have them all pulled out
After the Savoy truffle

You might not feel it now
But when the pain cuts through
You’re going to know, and how
The sweat is going to fill your head
When it becomes too much
You shout aloud

You’ll have to have them all pulled out
After the Savoy truffle

You know that what you eat you are,
But what is sweet now, turns so sour
We all know Obla-Di-Bla-Da
But can you show me, where you are?

Creme tangerine and montelimar
A ginger sling with a pineapple heart
A coffee dessert, yes you know it’s good news
But you’ll have to have them all pulled out
After the Savoy truffle
Yes you’ll have to have them all pulled out
After the Savoy truffle

Gene Vincent – Bluejean Bop

His sound, voice, and echo draws me in and keeps me there. The slow intro and then music kicks in. His voice goes with that slapback echo better than any other singer. His influence can be heard through the decades including Springsteen in Glory Days.

This was released in 1956  from their debut album of the same name. Like many of the songs on the record, it only came in at around two and a half minutes long… but those two and a half recordings rocked. This gem was written by Gene Vincent and  Hal Levy. The song peaked at #16 in the UK in 1956.

Vincent was injured in a car accident on April 16, 1960…with Eddie Cochran in a taxi which killed Cochran. Vincent whose leg was weak due to a wound incurred in combat in Korea…was injured. He walked with a noticeable limp for the rest of his life. In 1962 he was in Hamburg and played on the same bill as the Beatles. The Beatles got close to him.

George Harrison told a story about going with a drunk Vincent to his hotel room. Vincent thought his girlfriend was cheating on him so he shoved a gun in Harrison’s hand. George was shocked and didn’t want any part of that.

The Beatles played at least 14 of Gene Vincent’s songs in their sets before they made it. A song like Somewhere Over The Rainbow that the Beatles would never think of covering until Gene Vincent covered it and gave the song his ok.

Paul McCartney:  “I remember hearing Blue Jean Bop on an album that I think John had; going to a place near Penny Lane for the afternoon, having a ciggy, and just listening to records. Blue Jean Bop was always one of my favorites. The first record I ever bought was Be Bop-A-Lula. We loved Gene.”

Bluejean Bop

Bluejean baby, with your big blue eyes
Don’t want you looking at other guys
Got to make you give me, one more chance
I can’t keep still, so baby let’s dance

Well the bluejean bop is the bop for me
It’s the bop that’s done in a dungaree
You flip your hip, free your knee
Squeal on your heel baby, one to three
Well the bluejean bop, bluejean bop
Oh baby, bluejean bop, bluejean bop
Oh baby, bluejean bop, baby won’t you bop with Gene (bop Blue Caps, bop)

Well bluejean baby when I bop with you
Well my heart starts hoppin’ like a kangaroo
My feet do things they never done before
Well bluejean baby, give me more more more
Well the bluejean bop, bluejean bop
Oh baby, bluejean bop, bluejean bop
Oh baby, bluejean bop, baby won’t you bop with Gene (rock again Blue Caps, go)

Well the bluejean bop, bluejean bop
Oh baby, bluejean bop, bluejean bop
Oh baby, bluejean bop, baby won’t you bop with Gene (Blue Caps, bop with Gene now, let’s go)

Well it’s, bluejean bop, bluejean bop
Bluejean, bluejean bop
Oh baby, bluejean, bluejean bop
Bluejean, bluejean bop
Bluejean, oh baby, won’t you bop with Gene

Beatles – You Can’t Do That

I love B-sides and this is a good one. I liked You Can’t Do That much better than the A-side Can’t Buy Me Love.

John Lennon never liked his voice. He always wanted George Martin to add echo or anything else to cover it up. I never understood that…for me John was one of the best rock and roll singers out there. His thin nasal voice cut through the music and cuts into you.

I first heard this song on a 1976 compilation album Rock and Roll Music. That was my second ever Beatles album. Capital put together one of the worse covers ever for that album.

Beatles Rock and Roll Music front and backBeatles Rock and Roll Music Gatefold

The cover made the Beatles look like they were from the 50s. A very few of the songs on the album were covers of 50s songs. Ringo Starr said: “It made us look cheap and we never were cheap. All that Coca-Cola and cars with big fins was the Fifties!” John Lennon told Capitol that the cover looked like a Monkees reject. He offered to design the cover but was declined. That doesn’t mean the album didn’t contain great music…a double album full of some great songs.

You Can’t Do That helped popularized the two-measure guitar riff…. a guitar riff that opens a song and continues through it. It laid the foundation for modern rock… with artists such as The Stones to Nirvana. The Beatles would use this frequently in songs such as I Feel Fine, Ticket To Ride, Day Tripper, If I Needed Someone, Paperback Writer and I Want To Tell You. The Stones made a career of it.

The song originally appeared on the UK soundtrack of A Hard Days Night. They recorded this in nine takes on George Harrison’s 21st birthday (February 25, 1964). The song was the B side to Can’t Buy Me Love but managed to peak at #48 in the Billboard 100 and #33 in Canada in 1964. Harry Nilsson covered it in 1967 and that version peaked at #10 in Canada.

This was the first Beatles song on which George Harrison played a 12-string guitar… John played the lead. Lennon said that Wilson Pickett was an influence on this song.

You Can’t Do That

I got something to say that might ’cause you pain
If I catch you talking to that boy again
I’m gonna let you down
And leave you flat
Because I told you before, oh
You can’t do that

Well, it’s the second time I’ve caught you talking to him
Do I have to tell you one more time, I think it’s a sin
I think I’ll let you down (let you down)
And leave you flat
(Gonna let you down and leave you flat)
Because I’ve told you before, oh
You can’t do that

Everybody’s green
‘Cause I’m the one, who won your love
But if they’d seen
You’re talking that way they’d laugh in my face

So please listen to me, if you wanna stay mine
I can’t help my feelings, I’ll go out of my mind
I’m gonna let you down (let you down)
And leave you flat
(Gonna let you down and leave you flat)
Because I’ve told you before, oh, you can’t do that

You can’t do that
You can’t do that
You can’t do that
You can’t do that
You can’t do that

Everybody’s green
‘Cause I’m the one who won your love
But if they’d seen
You’re talking that way they’d laugh in my face

So please listen to me, if you wanna stay mine
I can’t help my feelings, I’ll go out of my mind
I’m gonna let you down (let you down)
And leave you flat
(Gonna let you down and leave you flat)
Because I’ve told you before, oh
You can’t do that

Beatles – I Want To Tell You

This is a good George Harrison song off of Revolver. This song held the distinction of the first Beatles song where the bass was overdubbed after recording. it’s a great opening riff…a very underrated riff.

The first time I heard the song…what jumped out at me was the alarming flat-ninth notes played by Paul on the piano. It jars you but not in a bad way. The song has a strange structure and The Beatles had some trouble recording it. The timing was hard to nail down. Even artists that covered it later…one being Ted Nugent had a lot of trouble recording it because he kept jumping the time up.

Paul McCartney: “This track proved very difficult for us to learn,  I kept on getting it wrong, because it was written in a very odd way. It wasn’t 4/4 or waltz time or anything. Then I realized that it was regularly irregular, and, after that, we soon worked it out.”

Three Harrison compositions on a single Beatles album was unheard of at that time. George’s quality started to rise during this period.

With the sessions for the Revolver album winding down, The Beatles only needing four more songs to complete the album, George offered up his third composition for recording. He actually offered 4…his other song Isn’t It A Pity was rejected. I’m sure though that the song wasn’t the seven-minute opus we know today at that time.

I always thought with a little more work on this song…it could have been a single. It has the element of edgy power pop. Revolver had everything you could ask for from a band. Revolver peaked at #1 in the US, Canada, and the UK in 1966.

George Harrison: “The mind is the thing that hops about telling us to do this and do that. What we need is to lose the mind.” 

George Harrison:  “About the avalancheof thoughts that are so hard to write down or say or transmit.”

George Harrison: “All I needed to do was keep on writing and maybe eventually I would write something good,” George Harrison once stated. “It’s relativity. It did, however, provide me with an occupation.”

George Martin: “I think the trouble with George was that he was never treated on the same level as having the same quality of songwriting, by anyone – by John, by Paul or by me, I’m as guilty in that respect. I was the guy who used to say: ‘If he’s got a song, we’ll let him have it on the album’ – very condescendingly. I know he must have felt really bad about that…George was a loner and I’m afraid that was made the worse by the three of us. I’m sorry about that now.”

I Want To Tell You

I want to tell you
My head is filled with things to say
When you’re here
All those words they seem to slip away

When I get near you
The games begin to drag me down
It’s all right
I’ll make you maybe next time around

But if I seem to act unkind
It’s only me, it’s not my mind
That is confusing things
I want to tell you
I feel hung up and I don’t know why
I don’t mind
I could wait forever, I’ve got time

Sometimes I wish I knew you well
Then I could speak my mind and tell
Maybe you’d understand

I want to tell you
I feel hung up and I don’t know why
I don’t mind
I could wait forever, I’ve got time
I’ve got time
I’ve got time

Beatles – Across The Universe

When I became a Beatles fan way back when I was 8 years old…and up to my teenage years I hardly ever heard this one mentioned by people. I’ve seen its popularity grow through the years. My biggest problem with it is they should have spent more time on it. Lennon accused McCartney of subconsciously trying to destroy it. You could see Paul let out a big yawn while rehearsing in the Let It Be film but that probably had more to do with him being tired after hours of playing in a studio…but maybe Lennon had a point.

One of the reasons John got upset with Paul was because instead of getting professional backup singers or a choir…Paul went out the Abbey Road door and grabbed two “Apple Scruffs” to sing backup on the song. That version did not go on the Let It Be album, however. That version was on a charity album.

This first appeared on No One’s Gonna Change Our World, a 1969 charity album for the World Wildlife Fund. Bird noises were dubbed into this version to create a nature theme. It didn’t sound too bad.

No One's Gonna Change Our World (1969, Vinyl) - Discogs

When I bought the Let It Be album it took a few listens but soon this one intrigued me. The lyrics alone are enthralling because of the imagery. Since I first heard it, the song has taken on huge popularity.

It even had a movie that was made around its title and worked around Beatle lyrics in 2007. That alone boosted its popularity.

I always wondered about the Jai guru deva om phrase. “Jai guru deva, om” translates to “hail to the Heavenly Teacher” or “I give thanks to Guru Dev.” That was a mantra was invented by the Indian guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – the late protégé of Guru Dev.

On February 4, 2008 “Across The Universe” became the first track to be beamed directly into space. It was transmitted through NASA’s antenna in the DSN’s Madrid Deep Space Communication Complex, towards the North Star, Polaris, 431 light-years from Earth. The broadcasting of the Beatles song was done to mark both NASA’s 50th birthday and the 40th anniversary of Across The Universe. Paul McCartney described the transmission as an “amazing feat” adding, “Well done, NASA. Send my love to the aliens!”

David Bowie also did a good version of this song. Liam Gallagher has cited this song as a huge influence on him starting to write songs.

John Lennon: “I was lying next to me first wife in bed, and I was irritated. She must have been going on and on about something and she’d gone to sleep and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream. I went downstairs and it turned into sort of a cosmic song rather than an irritated song… it drove me out of bed. I didn’t want to write it, but I was slightly irritable and I went downstairs and I couldn’t get to sleep until I’d put it on paper.”

John Lennon: “It’s one of the best lyrics I’ve written. In fact, it could be the best.” He added: “It’s good poetry, or whatever you call it, without chewin’ it. See, the ones I like are the ones that stand as words, without melody. They don’t have to have any melody, like a poem, you can read them.”

John Lennon: “The Beatles didn’t make a good record of it. I think subconsciously sometimes we – I say ‘we’ although I think Paul did it more than the rest of us – Paul would, sort of subconsciously, try and destroy a great song… meaning we’d play experimental games with my great pieces, like ‘Strawberry Fields,’ which I always thought was badly recorded.”

The World Wildlife Fund

Across The Universe

Words are flowing out
Like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
Are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me

Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Images of broken light
Which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a
Restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe

Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Sounds of laughter, shades of life
Are ringing through my opened ears
Inciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love
Which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe

Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva