George Harrison, Ravi Shankar, Sitar Lesson and Within You Without You

Posted in George Harrison, Ravi Shankar, The Beatles, Youtube Favs on December 12th, 2012 by Willie

EDIT: Ravi Shankar died yesterday, Tuesday, December 12, 2012, at the age of 92 in Southern California. RIP you beautiful man; legend of music, Beatle guru, sitar master.

Orignally Published May 5, 2011- Part 56 is a double dose adventure of Indian/English fun.  First we have an awesome rare clip of George Harrison in India taking a sitar lesson with legendary sitar master Ravi Shankar in 1966.  After the Beatles quit touring the mad, mad, world in early 1966, they all took long vacations.  George decided to take his wife, Patti Boyd, to India, where he met Ravi, and insisted on becoming his apprentice.  The first video shows Ravi instructing George on some scales near a beautiful lake and mountain, while Ravi narrates the experience, expressing total shock and bewilderment at why a pop musician of George’s stature would be interested in classical Indian music.  Of course, George’s interest in sitar music caused an international explosion in the instrument and genre, and made Ravi Shankar an international star.  Video two shows the results of all of these efforts, “Within You Without You,” the second best song off Sgt. Pepper, (“A Day in the Life” being the best.)  This song is so incredible.  It’s a total masterpiece of artistic expression.  John Lennon said it best about the song, saying that George was “so clear” on this track, and that it was one of his favorite songs.  The lyrics are some of the most brilliant in the entire Beatles catalog, and sonically, its just perfect, a psychedelic joyride through George’s Indian soaked mind.  I also think its a stunningly original song coming from a man who adopted gurus to learn from his whole life, (Perkins, Lennon, McCartney, Dylan.)  This song has nothing to do with any of those guys, its just pure George, and its brave of him to stick his head out, in the Beatles of all groups, with a song like this.  And its undeniably fantastic!

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The Unparelled Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Posted in Sister Rosetta Tharpe on September 23rd, 2012 by Willie

For those who have never heard of, or seen Sister Rosetta Tharpe, welcome to your baptism by fire. Sister Rosetta Tharpe is the first superstar of gospel, known as “the original soul sister,” and ever since her life was tragically cut short at the too young age of 58, her feats and persona have never been topped, let alone repeated. Rosetta was a landmark figure in the history of gospel, blues, and popular music, as she was the first person to dare and combine secular music styles of rhythm and blues with gospel music and lyrics. She was a mean guitar player too, one of the most overlooked pioneers of rock guitar, peeling off dozens of incredible Chuck Berry like licks before there was a Chuck Berry. Her influence was powerful, extending to legends like Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard. For Little Richard, who is often referred to as the Father of Rock and Roll, Sister Rosetta was a childhood favorite. He saw her perform at the Macon City Auditorium in 1945, and the 15 year old Little Richard was lucky enough to be invited on stage to sing with her. According to legend, she paid him after the show. Johnny Cash also identified Rosetta as his favorite singer, and made a point of mentioning her as a childhood favorite in his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction speech. For all her acclaim an notoriety, she died in obscurity, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Northwood Cemetery in Philadelphia. Her lost reputation was later rectified by people who never forgot her thunderous ability and unforgettable stage presence. Below I have a video of Rosetta performing “Didn’t it Rain,” and “Joshua.” I first heard “Didn’t it Rain” off the Bob Dylan radio show. The recorded version is a spectacular thing featuring dueling Rosetta vocal takes harmonizing and flying all over the place and just incredible guitar overdubs. The live version is understandably more raw, but just as good. I’ll let you judge for yourself.

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Bob Dylan, Sara

Posted in Bob Dylan on May 17th, 2012 by Willie

“Sara,” is Bob Dylan’s most honest song.  Its probably the only personal song he addresses to a real person directly, his wife Sara.  The lyrics are incredibly intimate and, apparently, true to life.  ‘Sara’ a gorgeously pained ballad of desperation, fittingly included as the closer to an album he named Desire.  That record came out in 1976, and it should come as no surprise that Sara divorced him a year later.  Their marriage was on the rocks, evidenced by all the songs found on Blood on the Tracks.  I love this songs melody, at once both graceful and earthy.  The lyrics, which I also love, are mix of passionate pleadings and cosmic reverence for this woman, a brave and true piece of work, but hey, what else would you expect from Mr. Bob Dylan?  The video itself, is an incredible document of washed out 70s home movies and live performances capturing the desolate mood of the song perfectly. So, in the end, there is nothing else for us to do but press play a few times and let this sink in our souls.

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Battle of the Bands, Part 5, Stones Surrender to the Beatles in Cleveland, perform "I Saw Her Standing There," as Pennance

Posted in Battle of the Bands, Bruce Springsteen, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones on March 29th, 2012 by Willie

As the battle raged for decades, with both bands suffering unspeakable tragedy (Brian Jones, John Lennon), the bloodshed just HAD to end.  And end it did with Mick Jagger’s historic concession in Cleveland, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Mick, clearly disgusted at being forced to admit bitter defeat, inducted the Beatles, minus Paul McCartney (who apparently was too busy to witness  Mick’s humiliation), in a ceremony of drunken revelry, and cheeky good humor.  Watch this hilarious clip below…

My favorite part is seeing Mick’s unabashed, yet good-natured jealousy as he recounts the Beatles story.  That’s actually not something to be underrated, as that jealousy fueled Mick Jagger to heights he probably never dreamed of attaining.  It’s brilliant that Mick agreed to induct the Beatles into the Rock Hall, as he hung out with the Beatles a lot in the 60s.  He was there in the early London club days, the early drug taking days, the Maharishi lectures, the “Day in the Life” recording party, and the “All You Need is Love” performance.  He was an intimate eye-witness to a lot of the behind the scene Beatle madness, and you can tell by this great speech.  He inducts the Beatles, but the only ones to show are George and Ringo.  John, being dead at the time, had Yoko, Sean, and Julian represent his presence, while Paul is mysteriously absent.  George, Ringo, and Yoko, all make subtle bitter jokes about Paul’s lack of being there, and its all actually quite hilarious, especially George.  Sean also has a brilliant line as well…watch!

That was great, and yes, Paul’s presence was missed sorely, but so was John’s…After all, the Beatles would never really ever exist anymore without the four of them, so who cares.  Imagine if he lived though?  I guarantee they would have all come to this ceremony, and rocked the shit out of this joint.  Instead we get Billy Joel, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, and Bruce Springsteen taking a shot at “I Saw Her Standing There.”  Even with all that star power, it doesn’t come close to the power the original Beatles could have generated with just the four of them.  Ah well, its still a fun and rollicking performance, with George again being the main cut up, giving the patented Beatle head shaking “wooo!” a move he probably hadn’t pulled in 25 years.  It’s amazing, a perfect end to a glorious war, with the Beatles and the Stones coming together to agree that yes, we are all super gods enshrined in a museum of rock.

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Bob Dylan, Series of Dreams

Posted in Bob Dylan, Youtube Favs on March 13th, 2012 by Willie

The thing about being a prolific artist with a 40+ year career is that its likely you might release some random epic masterpieces when people are done paying attention to you.  Bob Dylan is such an artist.  His song, “Series of Dreams,” a bootleg from the Oh Mercy sessions, is a fantastic piece of abstract pop.  Given a thunderous production by Daniel Lanois that recalls the late 80s/early 90s peculiar air of serious grandiosity, “Series of Dreams,” is one of Bob Dylan’s best later period songs.  Unlike other songs about his dreamscapes, this one is rather straightforward; a meditation on the elusive nature of dreams that may be meaningless, or may not.  It’s also a sly comment on how people, and even himself, perhaps look too much into his dreams and the lyrics and music they inspire.  It’s also serves as a manly sort of reflection of an everyman looking back at his life and all the dreams he’s dreamt…reminds me as the sort of the song that Clint Eastwood might appreciate.  The video is a beautiful hodgepodge of classic Dylan clips given that universal circle of life 90s editing style, you know, the sort of style that tries to capture and summarize a lifetime worth of moments with a new age touch.  It’s at once both dated and beautiful, and one of my favorite Dylan clips available on YouTube.  Check it out.

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The Who, The Seeker

Posted in The Who, Youtube Favs on January 23rd, 2012 by Willie

I was examining the dusty halls of my website, and I realized my section on the Who is seriously lacking.  It’s not for lack of love, merely an oversight soon to be corrected.  “The Seeker” is one of my favorite Who songs.  It’s a hard driving philosophical rock fest that is half serious/half parody.  When I was 17, I was more interested in the serious side; Pete Townshend’s search for the meaning of life and death expressed through Roger Daltry’s howling lungs, Keith Moon’s insane bashing, and John Entwistle’s flute like bass playing.  As a 27 year old, I’m more interested in the parody side.  The song almost seems to be the story of your average rock and roll fan, searching for enlightenment and meaning through the dominant pop culture icons of the age; the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Timothy Leary.  Pete himself must have come across tons of these people asking him for guidance seeing him as another rock and roll prophet.  The whole concept is brilliant, and the raucous music matches the abstract flair.  The music video itself below is also an awesome example of pop art perfection with dramatic closeups of the members and stylized lyrics splashing the screen.  Enjoy.


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John Lennon and Bob Dylan, Together in a Cab

Posted in Bob Dylan, John Lennon, The Beatles, Youtube Favs on January 10th, 2012 by Willie

There are a lot of great moments in rock and roll history that go unrecorded.  The first meeting between Bob Dylan and the Beatles is one of them.  Not only was it the occasion when the Beatles met one of their musical heroes, but its also the first time the Beatles seriously smoke marijuana.  Apparently they had a ball, and obviously the experience influenced them to no end, both musically and personally.  On that personal level, imagine how fantastic if the first time you smoked pot, 1964 era Bob Dylan was the one initiating you.  It’s a total dream time scenario.  Anyway, it’s actually a good thing that the meeting wasn’t caught on tape because in the one instance when John Lennon and Bob Dylan were filmed, it was beyond awkward.  You would think that two icons of ultra cool all time hipsterdom would be savvy and super interesting under the lights, but clearly they are uptight and nervous.  The film from which this video is culled, Eat the Document, was a documentary of Bob’s 1966 tour of the UK.  The scene with John was a deleted bootleg.  John had this to say about it, “both in shades, and both on fucking junk, and all these freaks around us… I was nervous as shit. I was on his territory, that’s why I was so nervous.”  John said that in Rolling Stone magazine, obviously paranoid about what was going to be shown, as he had not yet seen the movie.  The reality is, Bob looked way more whacked out and nervous then John, high on something very strong, with John trying to calm Dylan down in a funny way saying, “Do you suffer from sore eyes, groovy forehead, or curly hair? Take Zimdawn!…Come, come, boy, it’s only a film. Pull yourself together.”  Despite the disjointed conversation, and otherwise unrevealing dialog, the film is just amazing for being what it is.  If anything, both guys probably realize the phoniness of the situation as the film clicks away, and that in itself is very enlightening.  So, check out this precious moment in rock history, and let me know if you can decode any secret messages I might have missed.

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Bob Dylan and Donovan, It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

Posted in Bob Dylan, Donovan, Youtube Favs on November 30th, 2011 by Willie

Who was “baby blue?”  Was it Joan Baez, Dylan’s folk loving audience, Bob Dylan himself?  No one knows, maybe not even Bob.  “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” is one of the greatest pieces of symbolist poetry ever, one of the greatest folk songs ever, and one of Bob’s best.  Released in 1965 0n the incredible album, Bringing it All Back Home, the song was some kind of farewell ode to love, society, success, or failure.  Maybe it was a portent of a coming apocalypse, or a grim nihilistic expression of desolation.  Whatever it was about, it was beautiful, and British folkie Donovan knew it.  The video clip below is from the 1967 documentary, “Don’t Look Back,” which focused on Dylan’s 64-65 tour of England.  In the clip, we see Donovan play a lovely little tune, which is really great, but then request Bob play one of his favorites, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”  I was always struck by what the lead singer of Franz Ferdinand Alex Kapranos had to say on the encounter.

“That guy was so self-assured. It’s breathtaking to watch him at the pinnacle of his cruel glory in this film. The most intense scene is when Donovan meets his mentor. The lovely wee guy plays an optimistic Dylanesque tune on his guitar. Dylan then plays “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and sniggers at Donovan’s amateurism through the acid of his delivery. Watch the muscles flinch in Donovan’s jaw.”

I’m not sure if Dylan was sniggering at Donovan’s song, and if Donovan’s jaw was flinching, it was out of awe and respect, not jealousy.  Still, Alex, captures the essence of the effect Dylan’s music must have been having on his rabid and possessive folk audience that Bob was now ditching. “Don’t Look Back,” captures the Dylan fan rebellion as they openly boo Bob when he plugs in electric guitars and starts to rock.  It’s one of the more stunning moments in rock and roll history, and an example of how different culture was back then; one that held hard onto icons, status qu0, and familiarity.  The clip, the song, and the moment is one of the greatest in rock history so buckle up your brain before you press play.

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The Byrds, Turn, Turn, Turn

Posted in The Byrds, Youtube Favs on October 22nd, 2011 by Willie

It’s one of those famous songs where nobody can remember the full title.  Officially its, “Turn, Turn, Turn (to Everything There is a Season.)”  Written by Pete Seeger in the 50s, and cribbed  almost entirely from a Bible verse, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” was one of the Byrds earlier hits coming out in 1965 along with their electric version of “Mr. Tamborine Man.”  What made the Byrds so cool was that up until they hit the scene, aspiring rock bands did covers of 50s rock and other professional standards.  The Byrds were busy covering the likes of Seeger and Dylan, acoustic based folk, but electrified it to help launch the budding psychedelic revolution.  Musically, the Byrds were heavily influenced by the Beatles, and vice versa, especially when the Beatles came to LA to drop acid with them and swap guitar tones.  The best thing about “Turn, Turn, Turn” besides its nostolgic feel and beautiful haromoies, is that subtle and lilting opening guitar line, which just taps into a spirit of peaceful energy that is at once completly memorable and iconic of the 60s.  I don’t know, this song is very cliched and overplayed, but sometimes even the most repeated songs come back to you and startle you at moments, reminding you of their power and beauty.  Enjoy.

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Neutral Milk Hotel, In The Aeroplane Over the Sea, King of Carrot Flowers Parts 1-3

Posted in Neutral Milk Hotel, Youtube Favs on September 21st, 2011 by Willie

Jeff Mangum’s “Neutral Milk Hotel” was the third founding wing in the Elephant 6 Collective.  If the Apples in Stereo represented the happy side of the Beatles, and Olivia Tremor Control were the, ahh, trippier side of the Beatles, then Neutral Milk Hotel was Elephant 6’s approximation of Blonde on Blonde’s Bob Dylan.  Mangum’s breakthrough record, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, was produced by founding Apple Robert Schneider, who matched Mangum’s intensely personal songs about childhood, sex, and death, with a New Orleans marching band on acid.  The album also is said to contain a loose concept concerning Anne Frank, World War II, and the holocaust.  While the lyrics are very abstract and practically impenetrable, Mangum sings them with such clarity and emotion, that somehow, these themes are evoked.  When the album was released in 1998, it was a smash hit in the indie world, and Mangum was in high demand.  Having sold over 200,000 copies of the LP, and offered an opening slot for fellow Athens natives R.E.M., Mangum decided to go into recluse mode, effectively breaking up the band, and only making sporadic live appearances in the last 13 years.  It is rumored that he is on the verge of releasing some new material through this website,, where you can stream the song “Little Birds (Unfinished Version 2),” a haunting psych ballad.  Besides that track, you can also listen to two of the strongest tracks from his now legendary album below.  The first song is the title track of the LP, is a swirling emotional journey through the sky, and the second, “King of Carrot Flowers Parts 1-3,” is just as adventurous and bizarre.  A lot of people either love or hate this band, but I fall somewhere in the middle.  I’m intrigued by Mangum’s obvious talent and singing style, but have always wanted more songs to get a more complete picture of the guy.  As it is, there exists only two records, some scattered songs, and not much else, which creates a scattered portrait of man only really known by his close friends. I actually think that’s a pretty cool feet for a musicians like Mangum.  Stay tuned tomorrow as we begin to explore the E6’s auxiliary members!

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