George Harrison – What Is Life

A good rocker by George. He recorded this song when he was making his album All Things Must Pass in 1970. Eric Clapton, Jim Gordon, Bobby Keyes, and Badfinger are among the musicians on this recording.

The song peaked at #10 in the Billboard 100 and #3 in Canada in 1971. Originally, Harrison wrote this for Billy Preston with sort of a gospel feel. After it ended up being a fast rocker, he decided to record it himself.

In 2014 there was a contest to come up with a video to this song. The winner is at the bottom of the post. This is the announcement.

Congratulations to Brandon Moore from the United States whose video was chosen by Olivia & Dhani Harrison as the overall winner of the Genero.tv ‘What is Life’ Competition!

From Songfacts

Preston was one the early artists on the Beatles’ Apple label (he released two albums), and he was present at the sessions that yielded “Get Back.”

Harrison was writing many religious songs at the time, but this wasn’t one of them. The lyrics are directed to a person, not God.

The original song had piccolo, trumpet, and oboe parts that weren’t used because Harrison didn’t like the feel. They can be heard on the 2000 reissue of the album, where the original backing track is included as an extra song.

Phil Spector produced the album. Bobby Whitlock, who played keyboards at the sessions, had this to say about him in his Songfacts interview: “The real show in that whole place was Phil Spector – what a funny guy. He’s not too funny now, but then, what he was doing in there and the way he was carrying on, I thought, they’ve got all these mics out here catching us jamming, where they need a mic is on the inside. He was a pretty colorful character to say the least. That was one of the highlights of it – listening to him and watching him and watching how he operated. I learned a lot just from being around him. He’s just eccentric, he’s real creative. I agree with his work ethic. I concur with him 100% when it comes to being creative in the studio – put 6 guitars on it if you need it. If it wasn’t for Phil Spector, forget about The Righteous Brothers. There probably wouldn’t be a lot of us here from ‘You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin” – you know how many babies were made to that?”

On the album, the “O’Hara-Smith” singers are credited as background vocalists. Whitlock explains: “That’s Eric Clapton and me. If you listen, you can hear Eric and me wailing away.” (For more on these sessions, check out our Bobby Whitlock interview)

This has been covered by Olivia Newton-John and the surf band The Ventures. A version by Shawn Mullins appeared on the Big Daddy soundtrack.

In the UK, this was released as the B-side to “My Sweet Lord.” In the US, it was released as its own single, with “Apple Scruffs” as the B-side.

What Is Life

What I feel, I can’t say
But my love is there for you anytime of day
But if it’s not love that you need
Then I’ll try my best to make everything succeed

Tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side

What I know, I can do
If I give my love now to everyone like you
But if it’s not love that you need
Then I’ll try my best to make everything succeed

Tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side
Tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side

What I feel, I can’t say
But my love is there for you any time of day
But if it’s not love that you need
Then I’ll try my best to make everything succeed

Tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side
Oh tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side

What is my life without your love
Tell me, who am I without you, by my side

Oh tell me, what is my life without your love
Tell me who am I without you by my side

My Favorite Guitarists

Here are some of my favorite guitarists. Being fast is not something I care about… I’ve always liked guitarists who play with feel more than finger tapping.

 

Roger McGuinn, Byrds – He will not rip off lightning licks but he plays the Rickenbacker 12 string like no one else. I like the tone and his understated style.

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Neil Young – This may seem like an odd choice but when Neil plays the electric guitar…anything that can happen will. He plays by feel and feedback and God bless him for that.

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Brian May, Queen– You can hum his solos. One of the most melodic lead guitar players I’ve ever heard.

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Pete Townsend, Who – The king of the power chord. Pete does not have blinding speed but every note he plays is for a purpose.

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Keith Richards, Stones – The Human Riff… When Keith found G tuning the Stones sound changed forever and it may have been the key to their longevity.

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George Harrison, Beatles – After the Beatles, he reinvented himself into a great slide guitar player. Guitar players are still trying to find that tone. He had a great touch and taste in whatever he played.

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Buddy Guy – For electric blues and the tone he gets Buddy Guy is the man. Below is a picture of Buddy at the Festival Express playing a great version of Money.

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Jimi Hendrix – Like Keith Moon…many musicians have tried to copy him but none have. It is controlled chaos but I like it.

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Chuck Berry – Rock and roll owes a lot to him…he has been copied more than anyone.

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Scotty Moore, Elvis – The guitar player backing Elvis on his great 50s hits. Keith Richards said of Moore… Everyone else wanted to be Elvis, I wanted to be Scotty.

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Also

Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Peter Green, Lindsey Buckingham, BB King, Joe Walsh, Jimmy Page

 

 

 

 

 

Jimmie Nicol – The Fill-In Beatle

You would think this would be a dream come true…but having sudden fame thrown on you without acclimating could be a bad thing.

In June of 1964, Ringo Starr collapsed with tonsillitis with a tour coming up. Ringo had to go to the hospital. The Beatles wanted to cancel the tour rather than go out without their drummer. Brian Epstein and George Martin did not want the momentum they help create to stop and disappoint all of the fans.

George Harrison said it would not be the Beatles without Ringo. As Brian and George Martin tried to reason with them all, George Harrison said that they would have to find two replacements because he would not go without Ringo.

Epstein and Martin pleaded with them and told them about all the fans they would disappoint. It would only be until Ringo was well again.

Someone actually brought up Pete Best’s name. John Lennon said no because that would be bad for him because he would think he was back in the band. George Martin looked up drummers and finally found Jimmie Nicol. He was the drummer for an unknown group called The Shubdubs and also did some studio work. Martin thought he was a good fit so they rang him up.

Jimmie came over to Abbeyroad for the rehearsal. He had played Beatle songs before so he knew the arrangements. The Beatles were welcoming to Jimmie knowing he was in a tough spot. A little over 20 hours later he as playing his first concert with them in Copenhagen. Denmark. He was given the Beatle haircut and he even wore Ringo’s suit. He as reportedly paid 2500 a show…which was a huge amount in 1964.

Sudden fame can be a hard thing to handle. Jimmie said that before he played with the Beatles no girls were interested in him but while he was with them that girls were everywhere. Supposedly Jimmie and John spent a night in a brothel.

Jimmie played eight shows altogether with The Beatles and thirteen days altogether with them… before arriving in Melbourne. Austrailia where Ringo was well enough to play again. During his time with The Beatles, he did help inspire a song 3 years later. Every time John and Paul asked him how he was doing he would always answer “Getting Better.” Paul thought of this in 1967 while walking his dog and ended up with John writing “Getting Better” for Sgt Pepper.

After it was over he declared bankruptcy in 1965 but he eventually joined a band that had some success called The Spotnicks and they did two world tours. He eventually moved to Mexico and then got out of music. Here are a couple of his quotes.

“The day before I was a Beatle, not one girl would look me over. The day after … they were dying just to get a touch of me. Strange and scary all at once. It’s hard to describe the feeling but I can tell you it can go to your head. I see why so many famous people kill themselves.” 

The last quote is telling of his character.

“After the money ran low, I thought of cashing-in in some way or other. But the timing wasn’t right. And I didn’t want to step on The Beatles’ toes. They had been damn good for me and to me.”

The Beatles with Jimmie

 

Two sites where I got info

https://www.beatlesbible.com/people/jimmie-nicol/2/

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/entertainment/meet-jimmy-nicol-the-forgotten-beatle-standin-drummer-for-ringo/news-story/0f79dd8eda8adc579d3c35c6bfb32f1f

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I had to add this quote…

 “I thought I could drink and lay women with the best of them until I caught up with these guys.”

Beatles at the Star-Club 1962

These are the punk Beatles. Raw and relentless playing fast and furious. The Beatles before the world was paying attention to them. This was recorded on an old reel to reel recorder on the slowest speed to conserve tape. It was not meant to be an album or anything commercial. A friend named Ted “King Sized” Taylor the leader of a band called the Dominoes, put a microphone near the stage to record them. The quality is poor, to say the least.

It was released in 1977 and the record company sunk 100,000 dollars just to make the audio listenable.

The Beatles were playing to an audience of sailors, prostitutes, drunks and gangsters. They would rip through songs at such a speed that only 2 songs on this double album are over 3 minutes long.

They are a great band here. You catch them with their guard down and acting completely natural.

The Beatles were in their last club dates at Hamburg. They had already recorded Love Me Do and it was on the charts. They did not want to be back in Hamburg but they honored a previous agreement and was there. They didn’t mail the performances in but they were loose and relaxed.

It contains mostly cover songs with very few originals. The track listing is at the bottom of the post. This is close to what Brian Epstein heard when he first saw them, this is why they took over Liverpool and this is why they got signed.

Casual fans will not want this album but serious Beatles fans will love it. This is more than a low fidelity album…it is history. John Lennon always said that the world didn’t hear the best of the Beatles live…I agree.

After they became THE Beatles…they could not hear themselves play because of the long constant jet taking off screaming. On this album you hear them as they were before the screams.

I was 11 when I bought this and I didn’t get the importance to a few years later.

This is out of the book Tune In… Without a doubt the best book out on the Beatles. It’s the first of three volumes.

Their playing is adept and hyper-energetic, and the microphone catches many important moments. The tape’s value has been downplayed on the basis that the Beatles are musically sloppy and perhaps even lazy, knowing they’ve one foot out of the door, but this is to ignore its virtues. The Beatles did hate being in Hamburg this last time … but the recording shows them still cutting the mustard on stage. They’re sloppy because, here, they can be, but they’re not lazy, and they’re not playing with extra care because they’re being recorded: this is an authentic eavesdrop on their club act, not something fizzed-up for the tape machine.
At least three sets were recorded, and because the Beatles rarely repeated themselves in Hamburg, there are only five duplicates among the thirty-seven songs. The repertoire is a real surprise. The only self-written pieces are “Ask Me Why” and “I Saw Her Standing There” (twice), so there’s no “Love Me Do,” “PS I Love You,” “Please Please Me,” “One After 909” or any of several other possibilities, and there are few of the songs from the spine of their all-conquering 1962 stage sets—no “Some Other Guy,” “Soldier of Love,” “Please Mr. Postman,” “Don’t Ever Change,” “A Shot of Rhythm and Blues,” “Devil in Her Heart,” “Baby It’s You,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody,” “Hey! Baby, A Picture of You,” and so on. What’s here is an idiosyncratic selection of old rock numbers all played at breakneck speed—Prellies pace. The nights of half-hour “What’d I Say” marathons are past: everything is high velocity, only three numbers tipping into three minutes.

 

 

 

Side one
  1. Introduction/”I Saw Her Standing There” (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) – 0:34/2:22
  2. “Roll Over Beethoven” (Chuck Berry) – 2:15
  3. “Hippy Hippy Shake” (Chan Romero) – 1:42
  4. “Sweet Little Sixteen” (Berry) – 2:45
  5. “Lend Me Your Comb” (Kay Twomey, Fred Wise, Ben Weisman) – 1:44
  6. “Your Feet’s Too Big” (Ada Benson, Fred Fisher) – 2:18
Side two
  1. “Twist and Shout” (Phil Medley, Bert Russell) – 2:03
  2. “Mr. Moonlight” (Roy Lee Johnson) – 2:06
  3. “A Taste of Honey” (Bobby Scott, Ric Marlow) – 1:45
  4. “Bésame Mucho” (Consuelo Velázquez, Sunny Skylar) – 2:36
  5. “Reminiscing” (King Curtis) – 1:41
  6. “Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey” (Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Richard Penniman) – 2:09
Side three
  1. “Nothin’ Shakin’ (But the Leaves on the Trees)” (Eddie Fontaine, Cirino Colacrai, Diane Lampert, John Gluck) – 1:15
  2. “To Know Her Is to Love Her” (Phil Spector) – 3:02
  3. “Little Queenie” (Berry) – 3:51
  4. “Falling in Love Again (Can’t Help It)” (Frederick Hollander, Sammy Lerner) – 1:57
  5. “Ask Me Why” (Lennon, McCartney) – 2:26
  6. “Be-Bop-A-Lula” (Gene Vincent, Bill Davis) – 2:29
    • Guest lead vocal by Fred Fascher, Star-Club waiter
  7. “Hallelujah I Love Her So” (Ray Charles) – 2:10
    • Guest lead vocal by Horst Fascher, Star-Club manager
Side four
  1. “Red Sails in the Sunset” (Jimmy Kennedy, Hugh Williams) – 2:00
  2. “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby” (Carl Perkins) – 2:25
  3. “Matchbox” (Carl Perkins) – 2:35
  4. “I’m Talking About You” (Berry) – 1:48
  5. “Shimmy Like Kate” (Armand Piron, Fred Smith, Cliff Goldsmith) – 2:17
    • Based on The Olympics’ arrangement of “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate”;[32] sometimes misidentified as “Shimmy Shimmy” or “Shimmy Shake”
  6. “Long Tall Sally” (Enotris Johnson, Robert Blackwell, Penniman) – 1:45
  7. “I Remember You” (Johnny Mercer, Victor Schertzinger) – 1:54

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live!_at_the_Star-Club_in_Hamburg,_Germany;_1962

 

Cream – Badge

One of my favorite Cream songs. Badge was written by Eric Clapton and George Harrison. In Georges handwritten lyrics he wrote the word “Bridge” as in bridge of a song and Clapton that it was “Badge” so they named the song that. In 1969 Badge peaked at #60 on the Billboard 100 Charts, #18 on the UK Charts and #49 in Canada.

It appeared on Cream’s final album “Goodbye.”… Ringo Star threw in a line also.

George Harrison on writing Badge with Clapton

I helped Eric write “Badge” you know. Each of them had to come up with a song for that GoodbyeCream album and Eric didn’t have his written. We were working across from each other and I was writing the lyrics down and we came to the middle part so I wrote ‘Bridge.’ Eric read it upside down and cracked up laughing – ‘What’s BADGE?’ he said. After that, Ringo [Starr] walked in drunk and gave us that line about the swans living in the park

Badge

Thinkin’ ’bout the times you drove in my car.
Thinkin’ that I might have drove you too far.
And I’m thinkin’ ’bout the love that you laid on my table.

I told you not to wander ’round in the dark.
I told you ’bout the swans, that they live in the park.
Then I told you ’bout our kid: now he’s married to Mabel.

Yes, I told you that the light goes up and down.
Don’t you notice how the wheel goes ’round?
And you better pick yourself up from the ground
Before they bring the curtain down.
Yes, before they bring the curtain down.

Ah Ah Ah, yeh yeh yeh
Ah Ah Ah, yeh yeh yeh

Talkin’ ’bout a girl that looks quite like you.
She didn’t have the time to wait in the queue.
She cried away her life since she fell off the cradle.

The Beatles at Shea Stadium 1965

On August 15, 1965 The Beatles played to the largest audience to that point of any rock band. 55,600 fans were in Shea Stadium ready to be entertained by the Beatles.

Looking at the equipment they had…it had to be hard to hear anything. They used 100 Watt Vox amps. They are great amps but they used the house PA in a baseball stadium. I’ve played much smaller outside events with more powerful equipment and most importantly a better PA…but it didn’t matter at the time though as Ringo said:

“We always used to use the house PA,” added Starr. “That was good enough for us, even at Shea Stadium. I never felt people came to hear our show — I felt they came to see us. From the count-in on the first number, the volume of screams drowned everything else out.”

The fans turned Beatle concerts…and especially this one into an event more than a concert. The Beatles were very aware of the magnitude of this concert. ABC filmed the concert and it became a documentary. The looks on the Beatles faces were “Can you believe this?” and they seem to really enjoy this concert. The screams come through when you watch the documentary. They drown out everything. Luckily they plugged the recording equipment into the soundboard so at least you can hear them.

During the closing song, “I’m Down” John was playing the organ and you can tell he was having a great time. He was playing this his arms and cracking up George as well. John once told Sid Berstein who promoted the concert “You know, Sid, that concert in 1965 at Shea Stadium … I saw the top of the mountain on that unforgettable night.'”

The Shea Stadium total was an attendance record that lasted until Led Zeppelin played to 56,800 in Tampa in 1973. That record was soon broken by The Who. The difference being by then the rock crowd had grown up and so had the equipment.

The 12 song Beatles setlist that lasted a whole 30 minutes.

  1. Twist and Shout
  2. She’s a Woman
  3. I Feel Fine
  4. Dizzy Miss Lizzy
  5. Ticket to Ride
  6. Everybody’s Tryin’ to Be My Baby
  7. Can’t Buy Me Love
  8. Baby’s in Black
  9. Act Naturally
  10. A Hard Day’s Night
  11. Help!
  12. I’m Down

Like so many of The Beatles achievements…They were pioneers.

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George Harrison – Any Road

This song was on George’s last album “Brainwashed” in 2003. George wrote the song in 1988 while working on a video for “Cloud Nine.” The song peaked at #37 in the UK chart in 2003.

George played this song on a VH1 show that ended up being his last performance before he died in 2001. George did not completely finish the album before he died so his son Dhani and Jeff Lynn helped finish it.

I thought this song was a good song for George to leave us with…It has his trademark slide and some ukelele in it.

This is from songfacts about the song.

George’s son Dhani said that while he and his father were in Hawaii, they walked by a beach and saw a sign that read, “If the wind blows, you can always adjust your sails, but, if you don’t know where you’re going, then any road will take you there.” The sign was the inspiration for the song.

“Any Road”

(Give me that plenty of that guitar.)

But I’ve been traveling on a boat and a plane
In a car on a bike with a bus and a train
Traveling there, traveling here
Everywhere in every gear

But oh Lord we pay the price
With the spin of the wheel with the roll of the dice
Ah yeah you pay your fare
And if you don’t know where you’re going
Any road will take you there

And I’ve been traveling through the dirt and the grime
From the past to the future through the space and the time
Traveling deep beneath the waves
In watery grottoes and mountainous caves

But oh Lord we’ve got to fight
With the thoughts in the head with the dark and the light
No use to stop and stare
And if you don’t know where you’re going
Any road will take you there

You may not know where you came from
May not know who you are
May not have even wondered
How you got this far

I’ve been traveling on a wing and a prayer
By the skin of my teeth, by the breadth of a hair
Traveling where the four winds blow
With the sun on my face, in the ice and the snow

But oooeeee it’s a game
Sometimes you’re cool, sometimes you’re lame
Ah yeah it’s somewhere
And if you don’t know where you’re going
Any road will take you there

But oh Lord we pay the price
With the spin of the wheel with the roll of the dice
Ah yeah you pay your fare
And if you don’t know where you’re going
Any road will take you there

I keep traveling around the bend
There was no beginning, there is no end
It wasn’t born and never dies
There are no edges, there is no sides

Oh yeah you just don’t win
It’s so far out, the way out is in
Bow to God and call him Sir
But if you don’t know where you’re going
Any road will take you there
And if you don’t know where you’re going
Any road will take you there
If you don’t know where you’re going
Any road will take you there

(Yeah hey! Ah ee ah! Ah he ah!)