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Saturday, July 7, 2007

Forty years ago today...

... they released this trivial little song:

Comments (16)

I never got over the gum. Here it was the first worldwide simulcast in history, and Lennon and McCartney wouldn't spit out the gum for the lip-sync.

Maybe the gum chewing was their way to make clear it was lip-synched? There's a certain arrogance to it all...except for George, who never seemed arrogant.

"According to Lewisohn (Sessions, p. 120):

George Martin greatly decreased the chance of an on-air foul-up by having
the Beatles play to their own pre-recorded rhythm track of take 10. Only
the vocals, bass guitar, the lead guitar solo in the middle eight, drums
and the orchestra were actually live.

The above implies that all the vocals were live, but there were already
some vocals recorded, so it is very possible that Paul's backing part was
on the tape."

I think John's lead vocal is live because of the way he says the first "It's easy." I think he would have done it again in a studio. It answers the question, "Can the Beatles sing and chew gum at the same time?" They certainly looked loose and confident enough to do it.
Personally, I always admired the way the verses have a 7/4 beat for two measures, followed by 2 4/4's, then back to one 7/4 before the chorus. It's tough to make beautiful sense when something is that complicated, and it speaks to Lennon-McCartney's ranking on the list of great composers.

I like the Beatles but never cared much for "All You Need is Love." The sentiment behind the song is patronizing coming from four incredibly rich musicians and it's one that supposedly got John Lennon killed. It's a "let them eat cake" statement for the Baby Boomer generation.

It was 1967 and young people were being drafted and sent to Vietnam to die. The Beatles were specifically commissioned to write a song that would be addressed to the entire world. This is what they produced. It's stunning for its choice of message, and for the directness of the message. Unlike many of their songs, it can't be read any other way than how it was intended.

If you examine the lyrics, you will find that they do not purport to distance the Beatles from materialism, but rather caution against struggling too hard for personal achievement.

As for the generational aspect, clearly no one working in music today will ever produce anything even close to this. The nasal whining of "profound" millennial artists like Coldplay is as vapid as the sound of a metronome compared to "All You Need is Love."

I think John's lead vocal is live because of the way he says the first "It's easy." I think he would have done it again in a studio.

Maybe it is a live lead vocal in the video. It was apparent even when we first saw this on black-and-white TV, though, that at least some of the audio was canned. Ringo's drums do not appear to be live.

From what I have read, I gather that after the TV event, Lennon re-recorded his vocals because he didn't like them well enough, and the re-dub was what went out on the record.

Well, at least we can agree on the subject of Coldplay. Their music is tailor-made for shopping mall bathrooms and DMVs. As for equaling the sentiments and pomposity of "All You Need is Love," not too many artists these days are in that racket anymore or would attempt something so, dare I say it, banal.

Yeah, once you're rich you should be disqualified from saying anything about anything except how rich you are.

It's one of the greatest moments in the history of music, my son.

The Beatles may have meant well but the song has always rubbed me the wrong way. It comes across as too literal. "Forget about the future, forget about financial security, just love, man, love." Didn't a lot of people get burned by these ethos in the late '60s?

And was it really better than "What's Goin' On?"

Yeah, kind of like, "Imagine no possessions." How stupid. What a hypocrite.

The generational aspect is so classic. My father would play Ella Fitzgerald and just know in his heart that the Beatles couldn't touch her. Now we're saying this generation can't touch the Beatles. It's how it goes. I heard Louis Armstrong and Ella doing "A Fine Romance" on the radio one morning and there's no way anything could be better than that.
Yet, the Beatles will always be my favorites. It's a generational thing.
After my Dad died I went through his record collection. I think he had 26 albums by Ella Fitzgerald.
Another thing to marvel at as far as the taped tracks combined with live, is how well it is mixed, but then you have to remember this is how the Beatles worked. They did things with a 4-track that came out perfectly as if they were mixed afterwards. George Martin was a beast of an engineer.
The other reason I know this is live vocals is the the third "Love" in is out of tune - slightly - just the way singers sometimes take a second to get into it.
The output of the Beatles is stunning. I have the book that lists their hour by hour accomplishments in the studio and they would often bang out 2 or 3 classics in a day. And of course the first Beatles album was made in a day with outstanding harmonies throughout. They were combat ready musicians from so many years in the clubs.

And was it really better than "What's Goin' On?"

that whooshing sound you heard was the point missing you, by a wide margin.

The Our World global broadcast aired on June 25, 1967. The whole idea of the show was that it would be live. So even if some background mixes were used, the lead vocal is live. Lennon was 26 years old, and understandably a little nervous about the historic nature of performing live for a global audience. The gum thing was something he did to wet his whistle and maybe even to keep time -- you can see it in many other films of him performing, in front of audiences as well as in the recording studio.

As for "Imagine," one of the greatest songs ever written, Lennon was not a moralizer, a preacher, or a saint. He was an artist of his time, and a visionary. Let's judge him on the music, shall we?

Let's judge him on the music, shall we?

or, not judge him at all.

I think it's perfectly acceptable for a person who has found riches to preach its evils. It's like saying a person who drives a car can't claim to be environmentally-conscious. It's a perspective just as necessary and valid as poor person's.

As for today's music, I'm afraid most people are being told what should pass as contemporary 'superbands'. People rely on the Grammys and what manufactured crap radio stations are pushing. As a result, most people don't realize how many really good stuff is out there. In every genre.

Coldplay is a joke to anyone of any age who really knows music. Before corporate advertisers decided to crown them the rock band of the new millennium, they were derided for being another warmed-over Radiohead knockoff.

I'm 31. I love the Beatles (they ARE classic), the Stones, Zep, Ella, Miles, Marvin Gaye and all the greats that you Boomers worship. But damn folks, music didn't die in 1978. Turn off that stuff for awhile and walk into a real record store sometime. Stay away from the Target or Fred Meyer cd bins. Start reading music blogs or mags. In many respects, we're in a musical renaissance, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the narrow scope of our media.

Listen to My Morning Jacket's "Z" and tell me there isn't hope for rock.

It's funny you mentioned this because I'm always asking for information on today's great bands.
Throw some names at me and I'll try to remember them. I usually go home and read their lyrics and check out some samples on YouTube. I did this recently with bands called the Shins, and Wilco.
This isn't about generational snobbery. I'm really hoping to experience the rush again of finding someone who is the next monster talent. I saw "A Hard Day's Night" when it came out, but I was right there the first week of "Purple Rain."
Now that's ancient history. Who's the next musical monsters?
One great new soul singer I heard recently was Ryan Shaw. Check out Ryan Shaw.

Yeah, really, all you need is love. Imagine.
Too bad cable TV came in its fascist ways, ('hey, don't criticize establishment consensus, or your channel will get booted from the bundled nationwide package'), wired directly into the Head of Household of HUT, (Homes Using Television); and it blocked performance Art -- no more 'independent' recordings and songwriters in local air play, (Little Richard, rock'n'roll, 'Louie, Louie,' Woodstock); and it channeled all the cable TV subscription fees into televangelist 'touch-screen prayer' politics; and it sucked the senses dry of two generations (those born 1970-84, 1984-98) and more, before and after -- KNOW WONDER no one now whistles a happy tune, meets the neighbors, can hit a curveball at the sandlot, bakes dinner from scratch and eats at home, or understands that civics happens outside your door.

Art education is prerequisite to adulthood. Too bad schools were stripped bare and locked down, so their costly 'social services' tax money could be instead dumped in piles on military industry against an enemy that didn't exist. (Because, simply, cable TV said so and every HUT was buying the koolade in nationalistic unison; 'hey, let's invent terrorists' - 2001, cable TV said so.)

You lose two weak linked generations in the chain of custody of folk and lore, and your heritage is lost -- no anchor, no fathom, asea amid pirates. No wonder no young pilots-in-training can now stand at the helm and navigate the ship of state in the world ... uh, what's a tall ship and a star to steer her by?

Doomed is being artless when love's what makes the world go 'round. All you need is love. Imagine.

The Hippies Were Right!, By Mark Morford, May 2, 2007.
There is but one conclusion you can draw from the ... sea change now happening in the culture and (reluctantly, nervously) in the halls of power in D.C.

... if you're really bitter and shortsighted, you could say ... the reactionary simpleton's view. It blithely ignores history, perspective, the evolution of culture as a whole. You know, just like America.

... the hoary old hippie mantras about expanding the mind and touching God through drugs were onto something after all (yes, duh). ... It was never about the long hair and the folk music and Woodstock and taking so much acid you see Jesus and Shiva and Buddha tongue kissing in a hammock on the Dog Star, nimrods.

It was, always and forever, about connectedness. It was about how we are all in this together. It was about resisting the status quo and fighting tyrannical corporate/political power and it was about opening your consciousness and seeing new possibilities of how we can all live with something resembling actual respect for the planet, for alternative cultures, for each other.

All you need is love. Love. Always and forever.

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