Beatle Paisan

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Keeping Your Head Together

In these trying economic times, listening to The Beatles can be a very soothing tonic. If you're one who's having a rough go of it these days, you owe it to yourself to devote at least a half-hour to an hour of listening to The Beatles- together or solo. 'Cause if you're a lifelong Beatle Fan - love just about everything that came from those four guys, and can't live completely without having Beatle music in your life - then your DNA has been mutated in the most wonderful way possible. Your body craves Beatle Music.
It sounds a bit screwed up to put it that way. But even a "Lay Beatle Fan" can admit that The Beatles were a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. The music (and how they played and sang it), the approach, the attitude, and their overall message - very friendly, very healthy, very meditative music to keep your head together with.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A "Yellow Submarine" Remake???? Oy Vay...

So, I hear-tell that there is a remake of Yellow Submarine in the works... As you might imagine, I'm not pleased. It just speaks to the fact that Hollywood is lost when it comes to generating new ideas for movies. So, why not just bastardize a classic Beatles movie, right? 'Cause we all know just how excellent Robert Stigwood's "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was, right?

It's a phenomenon I've never understood ("Hey, I've got an idea! Let's remake a movie that was never meant to be remade! Let's embarrass the hell out of the actors involved! Let's insult the original screenwriter! And, lest we forget, let's waste people's money, time and patience!"

More later...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Aerovons' Tom Hartman

Do you remember a band called The Aerovons? Chances are most people do not. However, The Aerovons are more than a minor footnote in Abbey Road History. The Aerovons hailed from Missouri circa 1966. Like so many groups at the time, The Beatles were an ENORMOUS influence on the group. So much so that despite offers from Capital Records - a record company in the USA - they sought to get signed by EMI in the UK, and record at Abbey Road. And you know what? It happened. AND they met The Beatles (they even sat in to watch The Beatles record a few tracks for The White Album. How unbelievably COOL is that???)
Anyway, without giving the store away, I will be speaking with the main Aerovon, Tom Hartman, over the next couple of days. The results of that chat will be on a future edition of "Just Four Guys" (probably within the next few weeks).

Just a little FYI about The Aerovons - Had they progressed with their career, Badfinger might've never been heard from.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Beatles Rock Band

I've had a change of heart. If you asked me two weeks ago what I thought of all the "Guitar Hero" & "Rock Band" games, I'd be a total purist jerk and say it was all designed to numb the minds and sensitivities of our youth. For the most part, I still believe that. But then I witnessed Beatles Rock Band.

When my daughter & I went to see Paul McCartney at Fenway Park back on August 5th, we happened upon a kiosk that was demonstrating Beatles Rock Band (considering the company that helped design it - Harmonix - is based in Cambridge, no big shocker that it was there). And the fact that all the principal players in The Beatles' family have all endorsed Beatles Rock Band, again, not surprising that the demonstration was set at a Paul McCartney show.

As we made our way over to the sounds of familiar - actual - Beatle music coming from the stage, we were immediately struck by the graphics. Granted, they're not exactly spot-on likenesses of John, Paul, George & Ringo, but they were close enough. But more important than that, the care and research that went into the backgrounds of each "Beatle Era". That impressed the hell out of me (The Ed Sullivan Theatre, Shea Stadium, The Cavern, etc...).

Once I got past the atrocious singing of the various volunteers that went up there to "Play Beatle", I found myself actually enjoying myself. And once Tess (my daughter) got up there and "BROUGHT IT" - a Harmonix employee's critique of her singing "Octopus' Garden" - I was completely sold...and I finally got it: This is just this generation's version of a transistor radio, a 45 Single, or an album - in either LP, 8-Track, Cassette or CD form. A new, more interactive way to appreciate The Beatles. Paul McCartney is behind it 100%. So is John Lennon's second wife, Olivia & Dhani Harrison, and the luckiest man in show business - Ringo. And the fact that George Martin's son, Giles, is overseeing the music production & presentation, what's not to say YES to?

BUT, I still think it should be a requirement for anyone who plays Beatles Rock Band to actually learn how to play an actual instrument...actually.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Paul McCartney at Fenway (August 5th, 2009) - A 45 Year Journey and it's impact.

I can't remember the exact year or grade it was when I brought The Beatles' 45 RPM "We Can Work It Out" to school for Show & Tell (I'm thinking it was 1970. I was seven years old). Being a hopeless Beatle Fan, I just had to share one of my favorite Beatle Songs with my class (being a chubby, large-nosed little guy, I wasn't exactly "Johnny Popularity"). Not that bringing in a five year-old song would heighten - create - my "cool factor" or anything. I just wanted to share my favorite music with kids I hoped would hear what I heard - Perfection. So I get to school, and my big moment arrives. I'm gonna slap that 45 on the classroom record player and play The Beatles! But when I reach into my bag to retrieve the record, it's not there. Immediately I begin to freak out on the inside. WHERE in God's name did my favorite 45 go? Needless to say, I wasn't "Showing or Telling" anything that day.

Fast-Forward to the end of the school day when I arrived at my bus stop. Just as the doors of the bus opened to let me out, I saw what I was hoping I wouldn't: a shattered 45 RPM of "We Can Work It Out" (with "I Don't Want to Spoil the Party" on the flip side). Immediately, I began to sob (not a cool thing for a seven year-old boy to do in front of others). I felt like that record - shattered. Even at that early age, I felt a kinship with The Beatles. I had a loyalty to all four of them. Not being the most popular kid, I found solace and peace in The Beatles. I could listen to their music and be immediately elevated. There is an intangible magic to the way they wrote and recorded their music, played their instruments, the tonality and blending of their voices, George Martin's production, Norman "Hurricane" Smith's & Geoff Emerick's engineering...Everything. Like no other artists before or since, The Beatles were ordained by a higher power to change the way we listen to music, and the way we view the world in general.

Which leads me to an event of monumental proportions. Wednesday Night, August 5th, 2009, Paul McCartney took the stage at Fenway Park in Boston...and I was there.

I'd always wanted to see Paul in concert (the "Wings Over America" tour was something I REALLY wanted to witness. But being only 13 or 14 years old - and no one willing to take me - sigh....). I now know why it's taken me until I'm 46 years-old to see Paul McCartney: I wasn't meant to see him live without my daughter, Tess. She's been raised on Beatle music. She's my "Beatle Buddy". She can put most Beatle fans to shame when it comes to Beatle Trivia and musical nuances. WHO BETTER TO SEE PAUL McCARTNEY WITH THAN HER???

I fully expected to go bit off the deep-end at this show, but didn't. I suspect it was because I was seeing a "de facto" long, lost big brother" whom I've idolized for 45 years. Sounds off the wall, doesn't it? I never met the man (or any of The Beatles, for that matter). Yet, I feel more connected to them than my actual blood relatives (my daughter being the sole exception). What does that say about me?
Is it that I have so little to inspire me in my life that I look to a pop group that ceased to exist almost 40 years ago? No. I have a beautiful wife who feeds my soul in every way, and a child I'm absolutely crazy for.

Is it that I feel I might have wasted the musical talent I've possessed all my life? Possibly. I look at those "four guys" as being the ultimate capitalizers on their own God-Given Gifts. Were they the GREATEST musicians to walk the planet? No. But they sure as hell knew how to play their kind of music. Christ - they taught us all that there is always a new way to listen to something (let alone CREATE something)!

Is it that I looked upon those "four guys" as the ultimate friends? Definitely. The only two true, blue friends I've ever had in my entire life is my wife & daughter, and I say that with complete clarity and without remorse. The Beatles music, personalities. mindset, and overall mission has been a driving force in my life since 1965. They've never given me any grief, psychodrama, or upset. Sounds like the "Ultimate Friendship in absentia".

So what does all this psycho-babble bullshit have to do with the Paul McCartney show at Fenway? Well, I reckon it relates to the impact Paul (and John & George) had on my life. I've been an unapologetic Beatle Fan my whole life. That will never change.
Their music makes me happy. It makes my daughter, Tess, happy. My wife, Laurel, has really grown to seriously appreciate The Beatles (all it took was her to marry a complete Beatle-Idiot).

Some people thrive on religion. Others are Political Junkies. Others are rock fiends. Me? I'm a family man with a musical edge who loves The Beatles. Seeing Paul McCartney on Wednesday, August 5th, at Fenway Park was the culmination of 45 years of listening, learning, imagining, pondering & hoping. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.
My Daughter, Paul McCartney, a historic baseball park, an almost full moon on a beautiful Summer evening...

What's not to Love?