Some time ago I posted about a discussion between my brother and myself about who was the greatest American songwriter. (Part 1 of that discussion is here, and part 2 here). To sum it up we decided on Paul Simon. Actually, my brother told me it was Paul Simon, I was holding out for Bob Dylan. But we both agreed that John Lennon was the greatest songwriter of our era.
While I was out driving today, I was listening to Peter Asher’s From Me To You show on The Beatles channel (#18 on SiriusXM). I do enjoy this show for two reasons. Not only did Mr. Asher have a great music career as both a member of Peter and Gordon but also as a Grammy winning producer. Not to mention that his sister Jane was a longtime girlfriend of Paul McCartney (before he was Sir Paul). This gives him inside knowledge about almost all things Beatles.
One of the cool things about his show is that he always starts off with a Peter and Gordon song that sets the theme for that particular episode. Today’s opening song was “Nobody I Know”, which was written by Sir Paul, but credited to Lennon and McCartney.
One of The Beatles songs featured today was “I Want to Hold your Hand”. A monster hit in the UK.
With advance orders exceeding one million copies in the United Kingdom, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” would have gone straight to the top of the British record charts on its day of release (29 November 1963) had it not been blocked by the group’s first million-seller “She Loves You“, their previous UK single, which was having a resurgence of popularity following intense media coverage of the group. Taking two weeks to dislodge its predecessor, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” stayed at number one for five weeks and remained in the UK top 50 for 21 weeks in total.
It was also the group’s first American number-one hit, entering the Billboard Hot 100 chart on 18 January 1964 at number 45 and starting the British Invasion of the American music industry. By 1 February it topped the Hot 100, and stayed there for seven weeks before being replaced by “She Loves You”. It remained on the Billboard chart for 15 weeks. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” became the Beatles’ best-selling single worldwide selling more than 12 million copies. In 2018, Billboard magazine named it the 48th biggest hit of all time on the Billboard Hot 100. In the UK, it was the second highest selling single of the 1960s, behind “She Loves You”.
OK. It’s not quite that classic Beatles song. But! You have the correct band.
On 12 October 1969 the Rock and Roll world went crazy. Why? Because Paul was dead. Yes, it all began at a Detroit radio station WKNR and DJ Russ Gibb. All it took was a phone call from a listener.
Fifty years ago, a Detroit DJ accidentally started the biggest hoax in rock & roll history: the “Paul is dead” craze. It blew up on October 12, 1969, when Russ Gibb was hosting his show on WKNR. A mysterious caller told him to put on the Beatles’ White Album and spin the “number nine, number nine” intro from “Revolution 9” backwards. When Gibb tried it on the air, he heard the words, “Turn me on, dead man.” The clues kept coming. At the end of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” John says, “I buried Paul.” What could it all mean?
The link above has the story, I’m just going to post the videos that go along with it. But I would suggest going to the original article so you can listen to the audio as the story progresses. I won’t just copy and paste the entire article here. That little thing called plagiarism you know.
I can remember my sister showing me all the hints on the Beatles albums. They were some very serious discussions we had. Many theories were discussed. Then I had to pass them on to all my friends. And still do today! This may have been the beginning of my intense study of music and musicians. No, lets not call it study, but obsession is too heavy. Maybe immersion. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
It was a lot of fun looking at the album covers and talking about them. A rough estimate is 4 stylists or needles on my turntables that I destroyed listening to backwards music.
This one got stuck yesterday morning. They played a demo version on SiriusXM’s Deep Tracks channel. I had never heard this version, and it was beautiful. I cannot find any media to play here of that demo.
This track is usually viewed as George’s statement of the breakup of The Beatles;
The subject matter deals with the transient nature of human existence, and in Harrison’s All Things Must Pass reading, words and music combine to reflect impressions of optimism against fatalism. On release, together with Barry Feinstein‘s album cover image, commentators viewed the song as a statement on the Beatles’ break-up. Widely regarded as one of Harrison’s finest compositions, its rejection by his former band has provoked comment from biographers and reviewers. Music critic Ian MacDonald described “All Things Must Pass” as “the wisest song never recorded by The Beatles”, while author Simon Leng considers it “perhaps the greatest solo Beatle composition”. The recording was co-produced by Phil Spector in London; it features an orchestral arrangement by John Barham and contributions from musicians such as Ringo Starr, Pete Drake, Bobby Whitlock, Eric Clapton and Klaus Voormann.
The main reason I truly love this song is the lyrics. The words combined with the beautiful musical arrangement show a view of optimism over fatalism. It’s not an overly religious song, although George was the most spiritual of the Beatles. But when taken along with all the songs on this three-album set you can see where George “finds hope and meaning only in God, who does not pass away”.
Normally I don’t like videos with lyrics, but I’m using one this time so that you can read the poem at the heart of this song. But George’s vocal is clear enough that you don’t really need to read, just listen. And enjoy!