Lucy, Pablo & Tara: Behind Lennon’s Sgt. Pepper Songs
Some say that John Lennon was the reporter-on-duty for the Beatles. For the most part, his songs do have that matter-of-fact quality, often commenting on the news of the day. Or of his life, for that matter, and always taking a lot of artistic liberties, of course. Three songs from the 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album have exquisite stories behind them: Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, and A Day in the Life. One family-generated, other on vaudeville history, and another about a crash that may have shaken London society and pretty much no one else, but that did send John ‘into a dream.’
We’re not getting into the slippery slope of ancient rock music critique, for most of these stories have been percolating around for over 40 years. They’re part of the lore and mystique about the Beatles and, we promise, that’s the last word ending in ‘QUE’ we’ll be using on this post. But before we forget, of course, these are outstanding songs, and the passage of time has had no effect on them.
As such, they always had room to inspire apocryphal tales about them, which are sometimes so colorful and detailed that only Apple would care enough to periodically deny them any currency. Reality trumps delusion in the case of these three, however, and their true (more) _______ Read Also: * John & Poe * Dear John * Dr. Winston O’Boogie Continue reading →
They Asked Us, Please, Please Me & We Were All So Pleased to Oblige
It was half a century ago – Sgt. Pepper still a cultural revolution away – when The Beatles released their first album. Despite how fast it was recorded, and the band almost total anonymity outside the U.K., it became a landmark of pop and rock music like no other. Please Please Me, an almost live recording of their Cavern Club act in Liverpool, had already the combination of originals, classic American rock, and songs by composers outside their immediate realm of influence, that marked their early output. And, of course, those vocals. By then, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison had already honed their performing skills, and the late addition of Ringo Starr seemed to have only helped usher their meteoric rise. The album shot up to #1 in both sides of the Atlantic, and within three years, they were indeed more popular than you-know-who.
At this stage, they were still better as a cover band than at writing their own material, as most of the songwriters they’ve used, including Carole King and Burt Bacharach, were already established household names in the U.S. That was not to last, as we all know how it turned out.
However, Lennon and McCartney’s I Saw Her Standing There, the title song (released earlier as a single), and Love Me Do owed nothing to the Continue reading →
Brazil’s Signature Song Hits Milestone (& the Girl From Ipanema Is Fine Too)
This summer marks the 50th anniversary of Garota de Ipanema, the Brazilian song that Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes wrote with a certain beachgoer in mind, for a musical that was never staged. In 1964, its English version, The Girl From Ipanema, introduced the world to Bossa Nova, a jazzy musical style, and to a fresh culture from south of the Equator. The song went on to become Brazil’s most recognizable art expression, and along with The Beatles’ Yesterday, one of the most recorded in history, its breezy rhythm now an integral part of the vocabulary of popular music. Just like the song, Helô Pinheiro, the young muse who inspired Tom and Vinicius, and had her 69th birthday a month ago today, has hardly aged at all.
Although the song was recorded first by Pery Ribeiro, himself the son of two members of Brazil’s popular music royalty, singer Dalva de Oliveira and songwriter Herivelto Martins, it was the recording of its English adaptation what marks a turning point for the musicians involved, the Bossa Nova beat in particular, and the world of popular music in general.
When Jobim, his frequent interpreter João Gilberto and wife Astrud, plus the Ukrainian-American Stan Getz gathered to record The Girl From Ipanema, Bossa Nova was still a Continue reading →