Paul McCartney’s Egypt Station: a review

The number one record in the United States this week was from a 76-year old man. This would be a shock in our otherwise-youth-oriented culture until we learn the man is Paul McCartney and his album is Egypt Station. It is his first #1 album in 36 years.

eight_col_McCThe album has grown on me in its two weeks since release. The first taster, “I Don’t Know” disappointed me the first few times it aired, despite its genuinely lovely piano intro. Paul’s voice sounds flinty and … old. The mix (and the too-loud and simplistic drumming), that was made more for a youthful audience, only enhanced the weakening vocals of this musical legend.

The second song released for listenership, “Fuh You” that Paul describes as “a raunchy love song”, certainly got a lot of free publicity due to its title. But the style and mix seems meant for someone born when Usher was making hits, not Glenn Miller.

And the controversy had any Beatle-fan rolling their eyes. It’s been done (google “King of Fuh”).

The album is produced by Greg Kurstin, who also produced Adele and Beck. This explains the album’s penchant for modern-style recording techniques (murky overdubs and autotuning); my first reaction was Paul was emulating the current sounds and artists he enjoys – Kanye West, Katy Perry, etc.  I found this to be a mismatch … at first.

It reminded me of a critique of 1979’s Back to the Egg with Chris Thomas as producer, who did albums for Roxy Music and the Pretenders – cutting edge hipness at that time especially for a former Beatle.  The criticism went something like “a state-of-the-art hypodermic needle does not necessarily improve the medicine being taken…”.  I felt the same here.

BUT, multiple listening (and they play Paul’s new songs on Sirius every hour) has revealed the album’s charms.

In fact, it is safe to say this is his best album of this century. I would have to go back to 1989’s Flowers in the Dirt for a comparably solid, all-around-well-done album.  Ignore comparisons to 2007’s Flaming Pie – one of his best of course; but to be fair, Paul plucked 35 years of unused material to pepper the selections on that album.  Also ignore comparisons to 2008’s Electric Arguments. That album was a force of nature and belongs on any list of Paul McCartney’s All-Time Top One Albums.

With someone of Paul McCartney’s industrial stature, comparisons to his legendary catalogue is inevitable and, ultimately, disappointing. “It’s not as good as Band on the Run!” Well, what is?

How is Egypt Station standing alone on its merits?

Pretty good. Very good. In fact, the two tasters above are the weakest links of the album.

“Dominoes”, “Back in Brazil”, “Caesar Rock” are all fun and (more importantly) memorable songs. “People Want Peace” harkens back to the Beatles’ ultimate message of peace and love. The title comes from another of Paul’s father’s wise sayings. Paul should dip into his dad’s insights more often – “Put It There” from Flowers in the Dirt is another Jim-ism and one of Paul’s best songs.

“Come on to Me” is an average rocker with a superb middle music break that redeems the song. Otherwise it seems like a Wings B-side (see? I told you comparisons to his legacy are unavoidable).

“Happy With You” is gentle and sweet – one of the best on the album.

“Hunt You Down” is the final song on the album and a rocker worthy of being on Electric Arguments. There can be no greater compliment for a Paul McCartney song.

The modern-influenced production will attract the young ‘uns and there is enough “Paul-ness” to keep we geezer-fans happy. As its position in the charts shows, it will gain more than a “generally favorable” response as did his prior albums New and Memory Almost Full. Good albums, yes, but when was the last time those were on your playlist?

Egypt Station will likely stay there for a while. You go, grandpa…

***

About the blogger:

Michael Curry is a life-long Beatles fan and has written the short story “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles”, available here on Amazon Kindle.

Copyright 2018 Michael G Curry

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John Lennon on US commemorative stamp

by STEPHEN R. GROVES

https://apnews.com/568c687641f147deaff0d9f1c18bfb9e

Sep. 07, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) — John Lennon’s iconic round glasses and shaggy 1970s mane will now adorn a U.S. stamp.

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Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and their son, Sean Lennon, were in New York City’s Central Park Friday to celebrate the U.S. Postal Service’s release of a stamp honoring the late Beatle. Hundreds of Beatles fans gathered for the event.

“I know that my father would have been really thrilled to be accepted, officially in this way, on a stamp,” said Sean Lennon. “About as official as it gets, I think.”

The commemorative stamp features a photo of Lennon taken in 1974 on the roof of his Manhattan apartment building by photographer Bob Gruen, who also spoke at the event. The stamp is designed to look like a 45-rpm record sleeve.

“Everybody loves to listen to John’s songs and I’m very proud of it, but also the fact that this day, Imagine and you guys are here. It’s incredible,” Yoko Ono said.

She also joked about the blame she gets for breaking up the Beatles.

“If John just went with me and then he began, ‘La La La, Da Da Da’ or something like that, people say, ’Well, that’s Yoko’s fault,’” she said. “Well, it’s always my fault.”

The crowd received her warmly though, giving her a standing ovation.

“I always knew how much he loved her,” said Donna Gallucci who came from Pennsylvania for the event. “A lot of people didn’t understand that.”

After the event, people lined up to buy the stamps and enjoy one more day of Beatlemania in New York City.

Gallucci said, “He was so much a part of the city, so much a part of the park.”

***

I got mine!

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Thanks for allowing me to share the story!

About the blogger:

Michael Curry is a life-long Beatles fan and has written the short story “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles”, available here on Amazon Kindle.

Ringo Starr coming to St. Louis!

The 2018 All Starr Band includes Colin Hay (of Man at Work – “Who Can It be Now”, “Land Down Under”), Steve Lukather (Toto – “Africa”, “Hold The Line”, “Roseanna”), Gregg Rolie (of Santanna and Journey – “Black Magic Woman”, “Evil Ways”) and new member Graham Gouldman (of 10cc – “I’m Not In Love”, “Things We Do For Love”).  On percussion and sax is Warren Ham (toured with Kansas and Toto) and on drums Gregg Bissonette (who played with Santanna and David Lee Roth).

Sir Ringo is scheduled for the Fabulous Fox Theater on September 7, 2018 at 8:00 PM.

I saw Ringo and his All-Stars twice. Once in the original run in Chicago (with Billy Preston, Dr. John, Joe Walsh, Clarence Clemons and Rick Danko and Levon Helm (of the Band) and in St. Louis at the VP Faire (with Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals, Randy Bachmann, Mark Farner (of Grand Funk Railroad), John Entwistle of the Who, etc.

Ringo always puts in a fun show – peppered with his hits and a few newer tunes. He plays drums while the other All-Stars go through their hits. I can almost guarantee the songs listed above will be performed. The All-Stars usually do two or three of “their” hits. A splendid time is … (STOP!) okay okay…

Two highlights I remember – Dr. John taking a verse during “The Weight” and watching a little boy sitting on his father’s shoulders singing “Yellow Submarine” while under the St. Louis Arch.

I would like to see Ringo again, but as of now (April) with family and work commitments I may not have the time.

Perhaps someone else going can convince me. It won’t take much …

See you there?

***

About the blogger:

Michael Curry is the author of “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles; a story of alternate history” as well as other fiction and non-fiction books.

What if the Beatles played at the White House before John and Jackie Kennedy in 1965? How would it have happened? And why? Written for an historical (fictitious) magazine in 2016, “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles” examines the political and diplomatic reasons for the concert and postulates why both sides agreed to this historic meeting of two icons from the 1960s. John F Kennedy never met the Beatles, but this story asks … what if they did? This short story tells us what might have been.

You can view the book for purchase here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HQQ7F8K

 

 

Got to get WHO into my Life! Doctor Who and the Beatles

(Yes the title is stupid, but in over 300 songs performed, the Beatles had NO song title with the word Who in it!)

abbey-road

Were the Beatles fans of “Doctor Who”?

meet-the-doctors

The internet says yes. And remember what Abraham Lincoln said, “If it is on the internet, then must be true.”

yellow-tardis

I found no leanings yea or nay in the various bios I read in over 40+ years. They were fans of comic books, yes, but nothing on Doctor Who.

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Nor do the websites saying the Fabs were fans of the show have sources backing them up.  Various Beatle bios (as a group or individuals) are silent.

The interweb says there were plans on the Fabs appearing live in the episode called “The Chase”, but their manager Brian Epstein vetoed it. The git…

***

“Doctor Who” first aired on November 23, 1963. The Beatles second album, With the Beatles, was released the day before. By this time the Fabs performed in the Royal Variety Performance (November 4th) and will, on the 29th, release their single “I Want to Hold Your Hand”. They had finished a tour of England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They actually had a day off from performing. Whether they tuned into the debut of a children’s science fiction show is unknown … but unlikely.

***

That’s not to say they didn’t watch the show in the years afterward. “Doctor Who” was immensely popular and, as is the case today with popular shows, the Fabs may have HEARD of it. They may have even watched it to see what all the hubbub was about …

***

On the other hand, “Doctor Who” definitely knew about the Beatles:

As mentioned, the unverified story is that the band was to appear in the 1965 episode “The Chase” as old men. But instead the show’s characters watched a recording of the Beatles performing Ticket to Ride – itself a clip from the program “Top of the Pops”. Ironically, in this early era most BBC television shows were taped over after broadcast. Episodes – even entire series – were forever lost. This is why some early Doctor Who episodes are missing – a few recovered only when a rare copy pops up in a TV executive’s attic in Australian or Canada. “The Chase” is one that survived, and thus so did the only known clip of the Beatles on “Top of the Pops”.

In the 1967 episode “Evil of the Daleks”, Paperback Writer was playing in the background of a café.

These two examples tend to point toward the Fabs being fans of the show. They (or at least Brian Epstein) would not have allowed their songs to be played otherwise, yes?

In the 1987 episode “Remembrance of the Daleks” (but set in 1963) Ace walked into a bar where Elvis Presley music was playing, and promptly switched it to the Beatles’ “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” Later in the episode, “A Taste of Honey” played.

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***

Other Beatle references:

The Second Doctor, the Third Doctor, and Jo Grant all quoted the song I am the Walrus in the 1973 anniversary episode “The Three Doctors”.

In the 1985 episode “Revelation of the Daleks”, the DJ had posters of the Beatles in his studio.

In the 1989 episode “Ghost Light”, the Seventh Doctor told Ace “It’s been a hard day’s night.”

***

That was the TV show, as for the Doctors themselves …

Christopher Eccleston, born in Lancashire, played the Ninth Doctor. He told the producers that he could not do a standard BBC accent, so his thick northern accent was given a one-off line that I still love: (I paraphrase): “If you are from outer space, why do you speak with a northern accent?” “Well, every planet has a north, doesn’t it?”

He has performed as John Lennon twice.

“Lennon Naked”, a 2010 made-for-television biopic covers the years 1967 (after a brief intro in 1964) to 1971 (with some flashbacks). Among the highlights, the film recreates the photographing of the cover of “Two Virgins”.  This means we get full-frontal. Oh joy, we get to see Doctor Who’s shlong. Frankly? He has nothing to be ashamed of.

Milton Berle would be jealous.

He next performs as Lennon in the audio CD of 2013’s The John Lennon Letters. He reads John’s letters in character and it is a wonderful listening experience. Look for it if your library system has audio CDs.

***

Another “Doctor Who” connection is the made-for-TV biopic “John & Yoko, a Love Story” from 1985. It covered the couple’s entire relationship from 1966 to 1980. I was one of the twenty-three people who saw the movie on TV instead of Monday Night Football, where the Miami Dolphins handed the Chicago Bears their only defeat that season (the Bears eventually won the Superbowl against the Patriots).

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Mark McGann played John. Mark is the brother of Paul McGann, the Eighth Doctor.

 

Peter Capaldi (the Twelfth Doctor) played George Harrison.

***

I am Who as you are Who as Who are you and we are all together …

Nah, I like the other title better …

***

Original Material Copyright 2016 Michael Curry

Michael Curry is a life-long Beatles fan and has written the short story “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles”, available here on Amazon Kindle.

Paul McCartney the Life, a review, part two

Paul McCartney, the Life

By Phillip Norman

A review, part two

Read part one here

 

Some time is spent on Paul (and the other Beatles’) reaction to John Lennon’s murder. Paul’s reaction (“it’s a drag”) has haunted Paul to this day, but Norman goes into detail explaining why Paul said it. He was obviously shell-shocked and it was the only way NOT to lower the careful shield with which Paul surrounds himself.

At this point the book spends less time reviewing his albums and their tracks – focusing on only a few select tracks that have more meaning to Paul’s life at the time (“Get It” was called a weak track for what would be a starring vehicle for Carl Perkins; “Little Willow” written for Ringo’s children after the death of their mother.

Finally, a complaint about the book: pages were spent on the album Off the Ground while the superior prior album Flowers in the Dirt was only given a brief mention and then only connected to his return to touring. There was no analysis of Paul’s writing with Elvis Costello (only his third credited writing partner after Linda and you-know-who). The album contained the song “Put It There” with the lyric “Put it there if it weighs a ton…” one of his father’s favorite phrases repeated throughout the first half of the book. I find that omission strange.

The last quarter of the book focuses on Paul’s interest in the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts and his entry into the classical music oeuvre (a word used, if not frequently, then more than usual in a biography).

The Beatles Anthology, his later albums, his on-and-off relations with George Harrison and Yoko Ono, and Linda’s cookbook and line of commercial vegetarian dishes were also given their due.

Paul’s (and Linda’s) vegetarianism were detailed many times through the book.

 

The last quarter also focuses on death; on the end of things.

The chapters on Linda’s fight with cancer were moving. Her concern over her children was similar to that of Paul’s mother for him and his brother. The author made a point of showing that echo. Paul’s statement on her last moments brings tears.

Paul’s childhood friend, Ivan Vaughn (who shared a birthday with Paul) was almost more so. The author reprints a poem Paul wrote that also brings a tear.

And then George Harrison died.

Odd that Paul’s father’s death in the mid-1970s did not bring on such emotion from Paul or the author. So much of Jim McCartney’s life filled the book – his remarriage, his adopted step-daughter (who provided a lot of commentary through the book), the racehorse Paul bought for him, his various homes, etc. This may be intentional and not an implication of coldness on Paul’s part.

His marriage and divorce from Heather Mills is treated fairly – the author quotes directly from the court documents. Being a book on Paul – and by now the reader can tell where the author’s sympathies lie – Heather comes out of these Chapters as the villain of the story. Here we see a more “tell-all” style than anywhere else in the book by the author including Mills’ quotes about Paul and his children and their retorts.

Paul’s flings and affairs are spoken of frequently during the Beatle years. But after marrying Linda, though, there is no infidelity! None. Not even Heather Mills accuses him of fooling around with other women. For Paul to so strongly adhere to his marriage vows is very much in his character.

Here we read about Macca – the nickname the author uses to describe Paul in his darker moments: his few bouts with public intoxication, his row with a photographer and a fan, his firing employees that were with him for over a decade.

The book ends with Paul’s happier third marriage to Nancy Shevell, a friend of his and Linda’s for many years.

 

In the last chapters Norman gushes over Paul’s children. The reader is unsure if the concern for Heather and James is Paul’s or the author’s. Regardless, we are relieved to learn of their success.

By the way, James’ album Me is good stuff!

Likewise, the readers are also left unsure if the proud boasting of Mary’s and, especially, Stella’s successful careers outside of their famous parents’ shadows are Paul’s or the author’s. (Heather and James also have successful careers, but the author intimates their success came with more struggles).

That’s what good writing does.

Beatrice is not ignored, but is barely mentioned, but that is because she (and the grandchildren) is not yet an adult and is none of our business.

 

The book shows us Paul’s generosity as a lovable public figure and his coldness as a businessman.  He becomes the most irate when something opens a crack in his carefully and sternly-controlled public image or when his equally-protected family privacy is revealed even slightly (the very public divorce with Heather Mills certainly revealed cracks he would rather we not see).

 

An excellent book. After the introduction, I feared the book would be a simple recitation of Paul’s deeds and accomplishments.

Although not a reference book, it DOES list in detail the events in Paul’s life with an eye to the man who lost his mother at 14 while striving to find and maintain his lost family while living in the glass bubble of Beatlemania and its subsequent fame, from the the Ashers to the Eastmans.

 

I listened to the audio CD performed by Johnathan Keeble. It was an excellent series of CDs. The narrator performed the voices instead of doing a strict read-through, but it enhanced the story rather than distracted (as such performances can do). His imitation of Paul was quite good (the other Beatles not so much). Keeble does a wonderful northern/scouse accent. As is usual with narrators that perform a book rather than just READ it, his female impersonations can be distracting with two exceptions. His near-whisper of speaking as Linda captured her shyness and likeability. His Heather Mills was crass and pointed.

 

Paul McCartney the Life is a long read but worth it. Put it on your shelf with the best of the Beatle-related books. It’s a keeper. One hopes that when … the end … finally comes Norman will be around to give a final update.

Many years from now.

***

Paul McCartney the Life by Philip Norman, 978016327961, 818 pages by Little, Brown & Company, published May 3, 2016.

 

Original material copyright 2016 Michael Curry

 

Michael Curry is a life-long Beatles fan and has written the short story “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles”, available here on Amazon Kindle.

 

 

Paul McCartney the life, a review (part one)

Paul McCartney, the Life

By Phillip Norman

A review, part one

The author’s name should be familiar to hardcore Beatle fans or Beatle historians.

He is the author of Shout, still a definitive biography of the group. It went to press shortly before John Lennon’s murder in 1980 and was published soon thereafter. The book was a smash hit – it would have sold well despite the timing of its release; it was a good book – and was timely bolstered by the author’s seeming assertion that the group was John Lennon plus three session men. McCartney bristled.

The Lennon lovefest continued with the author’s John Lennon, the Life; again relegating McCartney to that of a lucky hanger-on.

When the author was hired to write Paul McCartney, the Life, the author expected no cooperation from the Macca machine. But to his surprise, he received, if not Paul’s blessing, at least an affirmative nod. The author was given permission to speak to family, current and former employees and fellow musicians.

(Note I left out the word “friends”. Although the author neither says not intimates the fact, after reading the book it seems Paul has no friends other than his very tight-knit family spanning four generations. There’s nothing wrong with keeping yourself to yourself, but it is telling to his personality that there is no Eric Clapton to his George Harrison or no Harry Nilsson to his John Lennon. He had Linda, his kids, his brother, and his dad, aunts, uncles and Ringo – who counts as a brother. That’s all he needs.)

Anyone who called Paul (or his office) to verify Norman’s claim was told, “It’s up to you, but Paul doesn’t mind if you speak to him.”

There are only archival (by that I mean previously published) interviews with Paul, his children, his wives and Ringo. Otherwise the author interviewed nearly everyone else!

Norman explains this in the long introduction; along with his first meeting with Paul when he (Norman) was a reporter in the 1960s. He got to hold Paul’s Hoffner violin bass (Paul tossed it to him – the author describes his mortal fear of dropping it). The author admitted his bias toward Lennon and promised to write a fair book on Paul.

He succeeds.

Paul does not have many demons (unlike Lennon), but he does have his warts. These are shown in the book, but not in a tabloid way. They are explained and in the end the reader is left feeling sympathetic.

 

Paul comes off as a workaholic musician who autocratically keeps a tight rein on his music and image. The only other part of his life that matters is family – where he is a doting husband, father, grandfather, son, brother and nephew.

Paul McCartney the Life is as thick as a cinder block and could stop a bullet. Very little of Paul’s life is left out. Being able to surprise hard-core Beatles fans is a good trick in these later years – but you’ll find SOMETHING you did not know within its covers.

Norman explains how Paul’s love of family was rooted from the beginning with his kind father and mother. His mother’s death was a touching early moment and referred to throughout the rest of the book/the rest of Paul’s life. It weighed on his soul as much as the death of Julia Lennon did to John’s, but not as publicly.

The author also details whence Paul’s love of music came. Not just rock and roll, but varying genres thanks to his father, Jim, who played in his own jazz band.

 

The Beatle years were given their respectful due and comprised the second quarter of the book. The only tabloid-y part of the book came from Paul’s love affairs during the years before Linda.

Much is made of Paul’s non-Beatle interests during the 1960s and emphasizes that he was the first to experiment with things usually attributed to John: Paul was the first to tinker with avant-garde music and film, collect art (he drew and painted, too). He was interested in the latest fashion trends and was the first of the Fabs to grow a moustache (but, always being image-conscious, until the Beatles were finished he NEVER had his hair in anything but variations of the Beatle-cut).

The author describes Paul’s lawsuit to break up the corporate stranglehold of the Business Beatles in grisly detail as well as his public feud with Lennon. The author postulates that if Paul’s kind song “Dear Friend” had appeared on the album “Ram” rather than “Wild Life” it would have saved both sides a lot of hard feelings. I agree.

He began the 1970s with songs and albums that gave the people what they wanted – Beatle-like pop. After a few mis-starts, he formed Wings, a group that were what he wanted the Beatles to become – a performing band.

Here the author begins going into material that most Beatle biographies only gloss over – the story of Wings. He details their gigs. Band members get brief biographies. The making and charting of albums and singles are detailed and reviewed.

He also details the rapprochement with his “estranged fiancé” John.

Paul’s time in a Japanese jail for possession of marijuana is detailed (Norman should be complimented for writing of Paul’s copious history with the weed. His – and Linda and other – drug use is detailed but told in complete neutrality and with no judgment).

The Japan arrest marked the end of Wings (the other band members were forced to leave the country and Paul, at the time, saw that as a betrayal), the end of touring for many years, the end of arena-rocker Paul of the 1970s. Later that year came another ending.

 

My review continues next time.

 

Paul McCartney the Life by Philip Norman, 978016327961, 818 pages by Little, Brown & Company, published May 3, 2016.

 

Original material copyright 2016 Michael Curry

Michael Curry is the author of the short story “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles” available here on Amazon Kindle.

Beatlemania at its most … high!

A review of Eight Days a Week; the Touring Years

A film by Ron Howard

Part Three: 1965 – Beatlemania at its most … high!

 

Read Part one here.

Read Part two here

 

A film chronologically showing the Beatles touring and recording during the years of Beatlemania.

52 minutes (and three years) into the film we have an interlude focusing on George Martin. With Martin’s brief bio (Goon Show producer, he explains how he “produces” a Beatle song) we see a longer segment of the Fabs working in the studio than anywhere else in the movie except at the ending.

But who is complaining? We get to hear the evolution of the song Eight Days a Week – from which the movie gets its title – beginning as a demo to rehearsing the “Oooo”s to the final song. Wonderful!

This segment has my favorite line. Ringo: “On the early records, George Martin was a god.”

“Later ones, too,” I shouted from my couch in the living room! Good for you, Ringo!

For the Mania Years (as opposed to the Studio Years), 1965 was the band’s highlight. The Beatles were the first band to do a stadium tour, including the now-legendary Shea stadium performance in front of 56,000 people (bootlegs of the show on DVD and VHS can still be found – the picture and sound quality are wonderful but WARNING: the music MAY have been reproduced by the Fabs sometime later and dubbed in).

The Fabs, in current interviews as well as old ones, discuss how awful their performances were becoming. They could not hear themselves on their monitors. Ringo said he had to watch John or Paul to see when a song ended.  Baseball stadiums used their own sound systems in which it was hard enough to hear at-bat announcements let alone rock music. The film gave an example of what the Beatles’ concert must have sounded like through that kind of system. An AM signal going through a tunnel was clearer…

But I disagree. I have always disagreed with that. The few legitimately-recorded concerts (where the producers strived for quality) – such as the Shea stadium (although some of it may have been overdubbed by the Fabs themselves), the Hollywood Bowl (the only – to date – legitimate Mania-era live performance released as an album) and 1966’s Budokan shows were excellent! Not superb, but they were great and exciting live shows!

***

The movie, as are most Beatle documentaries, is sprinkled with modern interviews as well as archived interviews, press conferences and newsreels.

Along with Paul and Ringo, we meet writers, historians, musicians and celebrities telling us their Beatle stories: why they are fans and the impact on themselves personally and professionally: Richard Curtis, Eddie Izzard, Whoopie Goldberg, Elvis Costello, Malcolm Gladwell, Dr. Kitty Oliver (who tells us about sitting in a desegregated audience for the first time during a Beatle concert), Howard Goodall (I gasped when I saw him. And of course he discussed the Fabs’ musical writing style and impact, comparing them to Shubert and Mozart – his being a Beatle fan should not have been surprising…), Jon Savage, and Sigourney Weaver.

Sigourney Weaver’s story of attending the Hollywood Bowl show is a highlight. Being a descendent of media royalty (her father, Pat Weaver, was president of NBC in the 1950s and the creator of “Today” and “the Tonight Show”), she was filmed at the concert. We hear her in 2016 telling the story and watch her as a teenager shouting for John. And she hasn’t aged a day.

Whoopie Goldberg’s comments were the most moving. “You like that white group?” She would be asked. To me, she explained, the Beatles were neither black nor white. They were just the Beatles. And it didn’t matter if you were black, white, rich, poor … everyone loved the Beatles and they helped her learn she could be however she wanted to be and it was okay – you were still a Beatle fan!

Especially moving was the story of her mother, somehow, affording two tickets to the Shea stadium show. You’ll swallow back a tear just like she did.

Throughout the movie, especially during the 1964 US tour, was the commentary of Larry Kane, a reporter who toured with the Fabs. The movie replayed his 1964 reports along with his current thoughts, opinions and reminiscences.

He was a witness to these events. At first he was cynical (he was warned by his father to not do it) but quickly became a fan and friends with the Beatles. To hear him describe being mobbed by up to 7,000 screaming teenagers is at once thrilling and terrifying…

… and touching. When his mother died in1964, for example, John and Paul were especially sympathetic. Paul then tells us of him and John losing their mothers as well. It was the only time the movie harkened back to pre-Beatle days (a clip of George Martin and the Goon Show aside).

Kane is to this movie what Shelby Foote was to Ken Burns’ “Civil War”.

***

As with 1964, there was a segment on the filming of that year’s movie, “Help”. Here is where some of the cracks begin to show.

Surprisingly, Paul admits that the band was stoned during the filming. George and John had admitted this long ago, but for Paul to say so means only one of two things: 1) either HE was stoned during the interview, or 2) the band was REALLY stoned during the filming of “Help”.

The Beatles being awarded the MBE at the end of 1965 was a strange addition – the film ignores any event that had nothing to do with the music (including, up until now, their drug use).

But the MBE segment allowed the Fabs to talk about their dissatisfaction with touring and the constant pressure of being a Beatle. They found the studio more and more liberating. Lyrics such as “was she told when she was young that pain would lead to pleasure” would hardly be heard let along understood through baseball stadium PA systems and 50,000 screaming teens (paraphrasing Elvis Costello).

As a live group, the normally unbendable Beatles bent. In 1966, they would break.

***

Part Four the last is next …

Corporate shill department: I published a fictional account of John F Kennedy meeting the Beatles, titled, appropriately enough, “The Day John F Kennedy met the Beatles”, available here on Kindle. I hope you enjoy it!

 

Original Material copyright 2016 Michael Curry