Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It Was 50 Years Ago Today ...

Are you Beatle'd out yet?
With the big anniversary now behind us, I think things will start to settle down a little bit.  (Of course here in Forgotten Hits we'll continue to look back at the onslaught of The British Invasion on a weekly basis ... but The Fab Four's appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was the biggie that captured the entire country again.)  Now that CBS has aired "The Night That Changed America" to apparently mixed reviews, most of the world is ready to move on.
We received a few critiques ... not as many as I had expected ... and they're all over the board.  What one reader described as a low point from his perspective, another reader called one of the highlights of the show ... and so it goes.  When you receive THOSE kind of reviews ... everybody liking a little bit of something ... it kind of all adds up to a pretty solid show overall.
National critics (the pros!) all seem to agree that the highlight of the evening was Paul and Ringo ... performing both separately and together ... and it's hard to imagine this not being the case ... both are seasoned professionals who (apparently) reluctantly agreed to, in Paul's words, pay tribute themselves. 
The most-praised performance I've seen has been the reunion of The Eurythmics, performing "The Fool On The Hill", which I personally thought was the weakest performance of the night ... the build-up and excitement of seeing Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox performing again was a thrill, to be sure ... I just didn't feel it was all that solid of a reciting.
In fact, there really wasn't ANY one single performance that stood out for me ... don't get me wrong ... I think they were all good, solid performances ... but there wasn't one "stand out" clip that I'd tell a friend, "You've just GOT to see THIS one!!!"  
Based on the mail, phone calls and conversations I received, a lot of people just didn't see the point of watching other artists perform The Beatles' songs.  One said he didn't bother to watch the show at all once he'd heard that the key performers were going to be today's contemporary artists ... "If they were showing The Beatles themselves performing on The Ed Sullivan Show, I'd watch that ... I'd love to see that again.  But why do I want to see Maroon Five or Katy Perry sing a Beatles song?"
The actual vintage clips were sparser than I imagined ... The Beatles made FOUR appearances on The Sullivan Show ... yet all of the clips were from that first landmark performance only.  (And did they really need to show bits and pieces of "I Saw Her Standing There" four times?  Especially if Sir Paul was going to sing it live on the program anyway???)
Wouldn't it have been MUCH cooler to show Paul's original performance of "Yesterday" ... either ahead of his GREAT "are you nervous?" story ... or cutting into Katy Perry's rather understated performance?  Or, better still, into a performance of him doing the song today.
Several critics didn't like the way they cut between the original Beatles performance into the new, live performance, citing Maroon Five's "All My Lovin'" and Keith Urban's and John Mayer's performance of "Don't Let Me Down" in particular ... but I, for one, thought those were GREAT edits.
A program like this makes you wonder "what if" a lot.  IF John and George were still with us, do you think they would have participated in this celebration?  But then you have to backtrack and wonder if "Anthology" ever would have been released ... and, if it had, would the Fab Four have reunited THEN to cut a couple of new tracks, just to prove that they could still do it.
For decades now there's been talk about a "Beatles Kids" reunion ... and, quite honestly, if there were EVER a more perfect opportunity and showcase to do something along these lines, this would have been it.  (In fact, I missed Julian Lennon not being there.  There were plenty of shots of Yoko and Sean in the audience, a couple of which even showed Sean NOT looking bored to death by the whole shebang!)  Wouldn't it have been cool to have Julian and Sean perform one of their father's classic songs together?  Both look (and sound) SO much like John, I think it would have been eerily magical to see.  Dhani Harrison (who looks just like George) got to perform with Jeff Lynne and Joe Walsh on "Something" ... why not a full blown Beatles Kid performance by James McCartney, Zak Starkey (the guy drummed for The Who for God's sake!), Julian, Sean and Dhani.  Now THAT would have been something to see!  And then these guys could have performed those first big two hits "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You" that everybody seemed to have missed so much.  (I can't help but think back to when John Lennon, early on in The Beatles' career, was asked the obligatory question "How long do you think it'll last?  And "What are you going to do when the bubble bursts" to which John replied "Well, I don't want to be singing 'She Loves You' when I'm thirty."  True to his word, The Beatles split up in 1970 ... the year John Lennon turned thirty.  (While he later turned that statement around to reflect that he didn't really see himself as being a Beatle at thirty ... rather than specifically singling out their all-time biggest British hit ... it was a powerful prophecy either way!)  C'mon ... seriously ... wouldn't THAT have been amazing to see ... kinda like The Muppet Babies with guitars!!!
Paul and Ringo put on strong performances ... and nothing was more moving that seeing them perform ... for the first time EVER ... the medley of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" into "With A Little Help From My Friends" live.  They've worked together several times over the past 40 years since the break-up ... but no one moment was more magical than this one.
Here's what some of YOU guys had to say:
I should have been working on my taxes this evening, but I chose to watch the Beatles tribute instead. Hopefully the IRS director is a music fan and will understand why my taxes are late. Besides, the only way I can justify deducting my cable bill is to say that I must be able to watch music programs, so as to be informed as to who some of these people are. If I didn't have cable, I would not be able pick up any TV stations. I live in a dead zone.
The first thing that struck me about tonite's show is that the performers stayed fairly true to the originals. Only Alicia Keys, who can leave cookie crumbs in my bed any day, and Keith Urban got close to going over the top. Stevie Wonder can sing We Can Work It Out the way he did, as he recorded the song that way. I'd love to see Stevie record a blues album using his harmonica. If they let Stevie sing We Can Work it Out, why not let Peter Frampton do While My Guitar Gently Weeps? After all, he's recorded that song! The worst thing that ever happened to him was selling a bazillion copies of his live album.
Is there any doubt that Dave Grohl could be one of the finest musicians today? Radio programmers take note of Dave's little girl. That's your future listenership and she's singing words to songs made popular before her daddy was born (1969). Moreover we saw plenty of shots of the audience members, besides Yoko, who had to have been born after the Beatles broke up, and they knew the words. It looked like everyone was having fun, and isn't that what rock and roll was supposed to be about?  What was the name of the guy who did In My Life? Too many years of listening to the devil's music, has destroyed my hearing. Very good cover. I was really afraid of everyone trying to put their own spin on it. I'm glad they didn't. Perhaps the only thing annoying to me was the Circus De Soleil. I found it distracting. Given a choice between the evening's special and the Olympics, I'd choose tonite's tribute again. Lastly, as I was watching the program, I was reminded that although I was 14, 50 years ago today, Mrs. Rock and Roll Never Forgets (my wife), wasn't even born. 
Jack Levin
Rock And Roll Never Forgets
The guy singing "In My Life" was Ed Sheeran, a pretty powerful undertaking for a guy with nothing more than his own guitar to back him up!  Mixed reviews on that one ... seems folks either loved it or hated it. 
(I liked watching Paul's and Ringo's reactions ... they really showed you which performances THEY thought were the strongest!)  Actually, "In My Life" was the first song I thought of as being the PERFECT track for Sean and Julian Lennon to perform together.  (Someone told me Julian's reason for not attending ... besides some personal conflict with Yoko Ono ... was simple:  "Why do I want to go and see somebody else sing my father's songs?" ... apparently a sentiment shared by many Beatles fans who didn't bother to tune in Sunday night.)
Stevie Wonder's version of "We Can Work It Out" has ALWAYS been my favorite Beatles cover of all-time ... he just totally rocks on this one. (Ironically, earlier in the day PBS had rerun ... along with "Magical Mystery Tour" ... the Gershwin Award Program at The White House honoring Paul McCartney ... where several artists performed his music for him with Sir Paul in the audience.  Stevie did a killer version of "We Can Work It Out" that night, too!)
I think "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" was one of the stronger performances of the night ... and was glad to see so much George-music included in the program ... WAY more than he'd typically get on a Beatles album!  Besides "Guitar", they also performed "Something" and "Here Comes The Sun" ... all solid, timeless tracks.  And I, too, was fascinated watching the audience sing along with every single word ... regardless of age ... they knew them all ... this music has become such a HUGE part of our DNA ... it's a universal language that we can all share and enjoy together.  (kk)
OK, I just watched the tribute show and I can say I was VERY entertained by the second half.  My big disappointment is that they did not do "She Loves You" or "I Want to Hold Your Hand."  The only song from the Sullivan show performed live was "I Saw Her Standing There."  I thought Paul and Ringo did great on their songs and wish they'd done more and MUCH less of Katy Perry ... and Ed Sheeran (??) doing "In My Life" was dismal, IMO.  "Revolution" was done fair, but not THAT type of song fer sure.  Stevie Wonder was GREAT with his amazing 1970 version of "We Can Work it Out" BUT the keyboard was way down in the mix almost ruining the performance. 
Yoko was doing her artsy thing with the Walrus's son.  I wonder if Julian wasn't there due to "Hey Jude" being played and the cameras would all have to be on him.  I loved Tom Hanks having fun.  Tom should have hosted this.  Eric Idle was GREAT in reprising his role of Rutles announcer again.  Letterman was worthless.  They should have just had Ringo and Paul tell stories in the studio.  The Ed Sullivan show people were interesting.  The audience members of 1964 were fun to see and hear, too.
Jeff Lynne and Joe Walsh with Dhani Harrison did a GREAT job on "Something."  Has Billy Preston died?  I am thinking maybe he has, but cannot remember.  He would have been good to have playing if still around.

"Sgt. Pepper" and "A Little Help" were done well as well as "Hey Jude."  Ringo's "Matchbox" was a total surprise!  He did it well and "Boys" made me remember how he bashed those drums to it on "Shindig" in 65.  Even "Yellow Sub" came out pretty well with the singalong.  Joe Walsh did his best vocalizing on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" but it's just not good enough for this song.
There were few songs from each album, it seemed.  I think the "White Album" had two and "Sgt Pepper" only two also.  It was a very nice event and even tho it came off well, I wanted more Fab two's.  I wanted "She Loves You", too!  For me, that was the song that tooled the beginnings.  It was the "Whoo" head shaking and the "Yeah, yeah, yeah's" that were NOT in "I Want to Hold Your Hand."
Clark Besch
Sadly Billy Preston died a few years ago ... but you're right ... he would have made an EXCELLENT addition to the all-star line-up on hand. 
As for "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You", I feel that at the very least they should have run full-length performance clips of these two monster hits. 
I think David Letterman did a credible job of interviewing Paul and Ringo ... very casual, very relaxed.  Let's face it, BOTH of these guys have been back to The Ed Sullivan Theater several times over the past 50 years ... Paul even performed live on the rooftop a year or two ago ... this was just their first trip back together.  And I loved hearing their reminisces.  February 9th, 1964, was one of the biggest moments in THEIR lives, too!
I also liked seeing audience members all these years later ... and hearing the technical stories about the headphones and such.  I've know the story of George's stand-in for the final rehearsal run-through for 50 years ... but don't think I've ever seen or heard from the man that did it ... so I thought that was pretty cool, too.  A lot of work went into this ... and it made for a more solid show.
I felt "Matchbox" could have easily (and more affectively) been replaced with "Act Naturally", a song Ringo actually sang on The Ed Sullivan Show ... in fact THAT one ... with Paul singing the harmony just like he did on the record ... would have been a real treat ... and probably a concert highlight.  But Ringo can definitely still sing and play with the best of them ... his upcoming All Starr Band tour should sell out nicely after this!  (kk)
Hi Kent,
First of all, thank you for your info on the Beatles best selling albums!
As for the Beatle Anniversary show, it was FABULOUS!!!
I enjoyed all the interviews, how they met, all the music ... especially Paul and Ringo together.
My only disappointment was the group Imagine Dragons and their arrangement of "Revolution". I thought it would have been better if they had a more "rocker" arrangement and have Sean and Julian Lennon as part of the singing group like Danhi Harrison was with the group singing his Dad's "Something".
All in all it was amazing. Long live Paul and Ringo.
P.S.  Fun seeing Yoko dancing in the aisle.
While there's always been discussion about Ringo and Paul uniting, and it was great to see them together, Paul actually worked with Ringo in 2010 for Starr's self-produced album Y Not. McCartney joins Ringo on Y Not’s opening single, "Walk With You," a moving song about the power of friendship.
Paul and Ringo have worked on several projects together over the years ... perhaps most famously in Paul's film 'Give My Regards To Broadstreet", which also featured their wives Linda and Barbara Bach.  That's Paul playing "comb" on Ringo's #1 Hit "You're Sixteen" back in 1973 ... and Ringo's drums are all over Paul's album "Tug Of War", which George Martin also had a hand in producing.  (You'll find Ringo in several of Paul's music videos, too.)  The two have stayed tight throughout all the turmoil that at times consumed The Beatles in the aftermath of their success.  But you've never seen them perform like this together before ... so that truly was a treat.  (kk)
Loved the show, but glad I passed on the $300 tickets (cheap seats on Stub Hub) when I was there.  The place was huge to be in the back.
I loved seeing Jeff Lynne rocking again with Walsh and Harrison.  Eric Idle was great, too.  I thought Frampton was good as was Annie Lennox.  I wish they had introduced everyone at the end, but I guess there was too much and time was better spent singing.  I think it wouldn't have killed it to use some footer graphics ... after all, it's been almost two weeks since it was filmed!
I watched "A Hard Days Night" this afternoon in honor of the day.  Can't Buy Me Love would've been the song I wanted to hear.  I suspect they stayed away from some of Lennon's songs.  I really liked Boys the best ... it could be a hit today.  I'm not a big fan of Birthday, but I guess it was appropriate.  I'm glad Elton didn't come to sing "Lucy".  
The Liverpool segments were very interesting and the fan interviews and production staff from Sullivan were good.  I liked the part about the cameramen not being able to hear the director and the idea for the arrows on the set.  
I was just more than four years old, but I can remember the excitement of the Sullivan shows at the Besch house as we crowded around the TV.  I think I crushed one of the bubbleheads during one of the shows by accident.  I don't think I let Dad give me another crew cut after that and I've still got my long hair, too! Clark played the heck out of She Loves You on that Black and Silver Swan label.  Speaking of which, I liked the records hanging with the label backgrounds matching the 60s, but no writing on them for the company was a bummer.  
It was good to Get Back!  
Bill Besch
The 50th tribute to the Beatles on Sullivan was an amazing show.  Normally I am sleeping in the chair on Sunday nights ... however, this show kept me awake!  After the Hey Jude encore, it was difficult to go to sleep.  All of the artists  sang well.  Peter Frampton and Joe Walsh were amazing in their roles.  I laughed, cried, danced like Yoko, and the 2 1/2 hours went by very fast.  I wish Ringo would have sung the old Buck Owens classic Act Naturally with Paul singing harmony ... however,  there were 100 songs they could have sung.
Phil - WRCO
I longed for "Act Naturally", too ... I think it would have been a GREAT addition to the show ... much stronger than "Matchbox".  The guitar work was phenomenal throughout the entire program.  Even the unlikely pairing of John Mayer and Keith Urban showcased just how good these guys are on their instruments.  A fun night.  (kk)
Hi Kent,
How are all the FH fans weighing in on the best Beatles covers from Sunday's show? I'm kinda partial to the Joe Walsh piece myself. Is it just me, or do other people notice how the guys who actually experienced this music seem to really feel it more than those who weren't alive in '64? 
David Lewis
I think it just shows how the music of The Beatles has touched SO many lives in the years since it was first created.  Like I said before, it truly has become part of our DNA ... there isn't ANYBODY out there who doesn't know and love this music!  (kk)
I thought it was a great show.  I recorded it and will watch again sometime in the next couple weeks.
It was a really good mix of artists and I had no idea that Dave Grohl is a drummer -- a POWERFUL drummer.  I think the family members there had to be pretty choked up -- so many memories and a lot of bad blood over the years along with the good.  I would have liked to see / hear a little more of John.  Time heals and I think we saw some of that.  It's usually about people getting over themselves.
One think about Paul and Ringo is that they are always touring and recording.  They just haven't stopped.  I have seen Paul's band -- the ones who finished the show -- several times on Palladium concerts over the past few years.  They are so tight because they play constantly.  Ringo has run his All-Starr bands on tours for many years -- saw them once four years ago -- so he can do the things he did last night (I saw them when he had Billy Squire, Edgar Winter and Sheila E in the Band) in his sleep, as can Paul. 
A round of kudos to all those involved in the presentation of last night's Beatles 50th Anniversary Celebration show on CBS.  That was one of the best produced specials I have seen in a long time.  The show moved right along, and proved that the music of the Fab 4 can still run circles around what is considered "music" today. 
It is still cool to write your own lyrics to tell stories, and have to play actual instruments using your own original God-given voice to provide the vocals.
Now I wonder how many commercial classic rock and oldies stations across the country even put in any real creative efforts to commemorate the Beatles golden anniversary???  Adding an extra Beatles tune per hour and / or going beyond your station's current playlist-year boundaries to play a 1964 or 1965 Beatles hit and calling that your "Beatles Weekend" is deplorable, but then again, were any of these bean-counting corporate suits around when the Beatles were together, or when the Ed Sullivan Show was still on TV?
Now these same corporate suits are trying to figure out how and where to reschedule that extra spin or two of "Brown Eyed Girl" or "Jack & Diane" that was pre-empted because of this whole Beatles inconvenience.
Tim Kubat 

I thought it was a great show, too ... much better than the regular Grammys for sure.  Ringo is in very good shape, doing jumping jacks at 70+ ... I hope I can still do that at his age — I’m working on that! I would have liked more songs by Ringo and Paul but like Paul said — it is a tribute to them. They need to do a concert or tour together, that would be awesome! Brings back lots of memories for me ... it was a very great time in history for sure.
Both Paul and Ringo look to be in pretty good shape for guys that are now well into their 70's.  I used to joke about how when The Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, Paul was twice as old as me ... in January of 1964, I was ten ... and he was 21.  But now, as time has passed, I've caught up to him somehow.  Now he's only eleven years older than me ... and it just doesn't seem fair somehow!  (kk)