Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs: #94 "You Won't See Me"

A standout track when I was exposed to Rubber Soul in early elementary school. If you think about it, among the songwriters who contributed to this album, all of them seemed to have some pronounced lady issues (McCartney here, Lennon on "Run for Your Life," and Harrison on "Think for Yourself"). Rubber Soul indisputably marked a change in direction for the Beatles in more ways than one, all of them good. One of THE greatest pop/rock albums to come out of the 1960s, and I challenge anyone to convince me otherwise.

Funny thing to me that stands out with "You Won’t See Me." Ten years ago, thanks to the one and only time I ever purchased a CD series from Time-Life after some late-night TV-viewing, "Singers and Songwriters," I was exposed to a 1974 version of this song that to this day I think is fantastic. That cover of “You Won’t See Me” was done by none other than Canadian songstress Anne Murray, and it was actually a big hit way back when.

Much more recently, Dar Williams offered a splendid rendition on This Bird Has Flown – A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles' Rubber Soul.

The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs: #95 "Any Time at All"

"Any Time at All" is a nice song, though ultimately not a mover and shaker in Beatles mythology. A leftover song on A Hard Day’s Night, what I did always fancy was the ever-so-slight exchange of lead vocals between John Lennon and Paul McCartney, though it was clearly led by the efforts of the former.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs: #96 “ Within You Without You"

I had to take a few days off from the computer over the weekend due to a long-awaited vacation to New York City (where my wife and I stopped by Central Park during our stay). Fate would have it that the next song in the countdown was one I always remember my brother having a great affinity for, so I let him offer his take on "Within You Without You." Thanks, Kevin!

I do enjoy the song tremendously. I actually only own a couple Beatles albums but Sgt. Pepper has always been a fav. The album rolls through a lot of different phases, love songs, rock songs, ballads and this trippy cut. "Within you Without you" is the most addicting and intriguing song of the album. I always picture being full of hallucinogens when I hear this song. I always wished it was a 10 or 12 minute song. George always seemed the mysterious member of the band and this adds to that notion.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs: #97 “All I've Got to Do"

This song epitomizes a very specific time in my life when I developed a more full appreciation and comprehension of the Beatles catalog. About 20 years ago, while in college, was when I became a full blown CD collector. It was then that owning Beatles music A to Z was a priority, something I never had in a previous format, cassettes or vinyl. Only problem in those days was that it was not cheap to get the band’s CDs, as they were ALWAYS full price, never discounted, and close to impossible to find in a second-hand market. In my last full year at school, I hit the mother lode at a local used CD store and got every Beatles CD I’d yet to own (some for the first time ever), finally getting what was at the time all American versions of the albums from beginning to end.

If there was one CD then that served as a revelation by owning it proper for the first time, it was With the Beatles.
Having always been fascinated with how this one band managed so much versatility within the short confines of a lone decade, I’d previously dismissed this LP as a “Mop Top throwaway,” crammed with the early hits that I could always count on hearing on the oldies radio station.

But thanks to a more mature perspective (with a dash of semi-regular pot and LSD use that prompted me to perceive the nuances in their music I’d neglected for years), I came to accept With the Beatles as my favorite album of the band’s tenure prior to their highly regarded trajectory from Help! to Revolver, and “All I’ve Got to Do” is my top choice from it.

John Lennon back then typically left the heartfelt romantic ballads to Paul McCartney, but it doesn’t mean he lagged in the occasional conceit in that area. I think the vocal work he displays here is some of his best ever with the band, a harbinger of the singing found later in “You’re Going to Lose That Girl,” “Don’t Let Me Down” and “I Want You.” Apparently he was going for a Smokey Robinson vibe with “All I’ve Got to Do,” and I’d say he did the Motown legend and his band, the Miracles, proud.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs: #98 “Long, Long, Long”

Thing that always sticks with me is how for years it took me a good minute into the song to realize that it was even on. The song starts out so flippin' quiet! But all things considered, it's a George Harrison tune, and I'm hard-pressed to find a turkey in all of his Beatles output.

In more recent years, "Long, Long, Long" found a new audience thanks to one of the best mix CDs ever: DJ Danger Mouse's The Grey Album and the opening track "Public Service Announcement."

Did I ever mention how much I love The Grey Album?

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs: #99 “Yes It Is”

Wow. What a hauntingly beautiful song.

“Yes It Is” was definitely a Beatles composition I was a latecomer on, not until well into the band’s CD era of the Eighties and Nineties, thanks in large part to Past Masters Vol. 1.

I have to say that when I think about it now, this somehow became a song that to this day has been mostly ignored by mainstream radio, though lord knows why. Granted it was a B-side that failed to crack the Top 40, and Lennon himself dismissed it as a weak follow-up to “This Boy,” (a song, by the way, that Rolling Stone chose not to recognize), it’s a prime display of the Beatles’ excellence at harmonization. Funny too, I’d give the nod to #99 big time over the more schmaltzy-in-a-barber-shop-quartet-way “This Boy.” Rolling Stone clearly did too. Not that it’s processor sucked, not at all, but this one works simultaneously as sorrowful and hopeful. And George Harrison’s gentle pedal guitar work captured a sound uncharacteristic for the band circa Help! while displaying their talent and versatility.

“Yes It Is” probably stuck with me for good back in 1996 thanks to its inclusion in Anthology 2. The Powers That Be, in their infinite wisdom, chose to fuse an early vocal demo of John Lennon’s with the final version via a nifty transition at the song’s bridge. An ingenious way to display the song’s development from start to finish, in fact it’s one of my favorites from that ’96 outtakes collection.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A new beginning: 100 Days of Beatles

In the spirit of someone else’s project I just read about, I am going to partake in a labor of love that’ll roll well into 2012, and in the process breathe new life into my oft-neglected baby here.

Due to weekends, vacation, things like that, I won’t pretend to pull this off as a once-a-day-every-day endeavor. But I’m going to take a look at every song listed in Rolling Stone: The Beatles 100 Greatest Songs.

I’ll start at the end of the list at #100 and work my way down. By no means do I intend to play music scholar any more than they already do in this RS special edition. Simply, as a fan of the band pretty much since birth, roughly two years after the Fab Four broke up for keeps, I’ll offer my take on the songs themselves. The highs, the lows, perhaps some personal anecdotes on the songs as I experienced them many times over in my lifetime.

Hope you enjoy, let’s get started!

#100: Hello, Goodbye

A fun tune to kick things off. By no means a Paul McCartney masterpiece, it's still a song that grabs me just about every time with it's bounciness. It's often documented that Ringo Starr's one and only drum solo was found in "The End," the Beatles final studio effort with Abbey Road, but his drumming here that accompanied the viola-laden bridge is somewhat quaint yet memorable. It's often that I air-drum it out. Back around second grade, the 1-2 punch of "Strawberry Fields" and "Penny Lane" were all too familiar, but Magical Mystery Tour in its entirety really opened some doors for me as to how much range the Fab Four wielded. One of the band's first full-length LPs that I was exposed to, you can only imagine how much my interest was piqued when I opened up the album's full-color booklet that showed the quartet portraying rabbits and walruses, wizards, and other eccentrics. While "Hello, Goodbye" was originally a single and not an original Magical Mystery Tour composition, it's still one of the highlights of the album for me.