Paul McCartney, Monkberry Moon Delight

Posted in Paul McCartney on May 19th, 2012 by Willie

If you glance over the music trade papers (or internets) as I do on occasion, you might have noticed on the periphery that Paul McCartney is planning a re-release of his incredibly great solo album Ram.  Now Ram is quite simply one of my favorite albums of all time.  It’s easily my favorite solo McCartney album by a mile, and rotates in and out of the #1 spot for my own personal best solo Beatle album list.  At the time of its release,  Ram was unjustly criticized by rock critics for a bunch of complicated reasons.  One of them was that many of the tunes are credited to both Paul and Linda McCartney, a fact many cynical rock people had trouble swallowing.  John Lennon himself took offense to the album as two songs on there, “Too Many People,” and “Dear Boy,” had biting little obscure inside jokes, or digs at John and Yoko.  I’ll cover those songs and their natures later this week though.  Anyway, the point is, everybody was caught up in the bullshit of Ram, and not the music.  Now, objectively, the music on Ram is basically as good as anything you’d find on the “White Album.”  If you loved what McCartney was doing in 1968, you’ll love what he was doing in 1971.  It’s the only way I can describe it, Ram is Paul McCartney’s “White Album” songwriting stylizations part II.  Its Paul at his psychedelic best.  Just take a listen to “Monkberry Moon Delight,” in many ways Paul’s response to “I am the Walrus.”  It’s a frenzied piano stomping masterpiece of jibberish.  You can almost see Paul frothing at the mouth, mashing the keys the so hard that it detunes the piano.  It’s a cult classic, and if you never heard it, you’re in for quite the treat, so check out the song below, and watch the fantastic assortment of Paul and Linda home movies that go along with it.  Ram on….

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John Lennon, Mother, Live

Posted in John Lennon, Youtube Favs on September 9th, 2011 by Willie

I’m not ready to leave John’s 1972 concert just yet.  Yesterday I posted about “Come Together,” and in the past I posted the live performance of “Cold Turkey.”   Despite the fact that Yoko only released the inferior afternoon version of the show, as opposed to the superior evening version, there are still incredible worthwhile performances to be had, and John’s performance of “Mother” is one of them.  “Mother” is the unofficial sequel to John’s Beatle song “Julia” from the White Album.  Julia Lennon was struck down by an  drunk driving off duty police officer when he was 17.  Her death was already the 3rd or 4th tragic moment in a young life that was quickly piling up memorable scenes of wretched heartbreak.  By that point, young John already had to deal with the sorted split up between his parents which included an aborted kidnapping, the death of his uncle George, the strict surrogate parenting of his aunt Mimi, the discovery that his mother had another family whom all lived down the road without his knowledge, and the complete abandonment of his father who provided no support and lived in New Zealand.  The death of his mother, who he had just begun a reconciliation with, pushed John over the edge personality wise and hardened his soul.  The song “Mother” is the result of a bunch of soul searching and therapy, and is subsequently a triumph of someone who refused to be swallowed up by sadness, bitterness, and rage.  It’s one of John’s best songs, and one of my favorites too.  BTW, today is the last day to vote me in as CBS’s Best Local NYC Blogger, so, cast me one last vote for all time’s sake!  Thanks.

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Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Gotta Serve Somebody vs. Serve Yourself

Posted in Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Youtube Favs on August 4th, 2011 by Willie

John Lennon was really offended by Bob Dylan’s latest single, “Gotta Serve Somebody.” Dylan recorded the song for his 1979 album Slow Train Coming.  The album and the song was part of Bob’s short lived conversion to Christianity.  In his diary, John wrote, “The backing was mediocre by Jerry Wexler, the singing was really pathetic, and the words were just embarrassing.”  The Grammy people didn’t think so, they gave Dylan a huge spotlight at the 1980 awards, and let him take home the trophy for “Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Male.”  In a snide retort, John wrote/improvised a funny little rant called “Serve Yourself,” a track which never got an official release.  Well, the Grammys are a joke, and always have been, and I fully understand John’s sense of embarrassment and betrayal by Dylan, but I kinda love “Gotta Serve Somebody.”  I think the message is clever enough that it extends beyond the religious into the philosophical, and it sets up an interesting battle of ideas between the two rock gods.  I always suspected that “Gotta Serve Somebody” was Dylan’s response to Lennon’s line from ten years earlier when John proclaimed, “I don’t believe in Zimmerman [Dylan’s real name for the uninitiated],…I just believe in me” from “God” (Plastic Ono Band.)  It’s Dylan rejecting Lennon’s idea of discarding all figures of worship and idolatry and claiming that in the end, whether you like it or not, you are serving something, whether it be a God, a devil, or just a concept.  Lennon disagrees, and he makes no bones about making it known, or he would have had he lived.  Anyway, here are both tracks, in all their glory.  Who do you think wins?  Dylan, Lennon, God, or the devil?  Let me know.

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John Lennon, Instant Karma

Posted in John Lennon, Youtube Favs on May 24th, 2011 by Willie

Part 71 of my youtube countdown begins in a flash with John Lennon’s 1970 release “Instant Karma.”  “Instant Karma” is one of the fastest released songs in rock history.  John wrote it in the morning, recorded it in the afternoon, and released it ten days later.  The urgency of its release convinced karmic minded George Harrison to throw on his electric guitar.  Other Plastic Ono’s include Yoko on backing vocals, Alan White of YES fame on drums, Klaus (Revolver cover designer) Voorman on bass, and Billy Preston on grand piano.  The message of the song is awesome.  John is pleading for people just to achieve a modicum of self awareness regarding their cosmic role in the universe, and how in light of that, they should drop their petty prejudices, quibbles, and fears, and thus embrace a more meaningful existence.  It’s a beautiful message, and it rings true and instantly every time you play it.

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John Lennon, Cold Turkey

Posted in John Lennon, Youtube Favs on March 2nd, 2011 by Willie

Part 13 of my youtube favorites countdown continues with the hard-blues psyche fest, John Lennon’s Cold Turkey.  Just around the time the Beatles broke up, John Lennon set loose a blistering array of personal/emotional/political singles; Instant Karma, Give Peace a Chance, and this immortal classic, Cold Turkey.  John wrote the song about his experience in conquering heroin with his wife Yoko Ono in late 1969.  He offered it to the Beatles, but Paul said no, so John said fuck it, and recorded and released it with the Plastic Ono Band.  The lineup is legendary.  Ringo on drums, Eric Clapton on lead guitar, and his old German pal Klaus Voormann (designer of the Revolver cover) on bass.  The song features one of John’s hardest riffs and possibly his most bone chilling vocal delivery.  The song was not that big of a hit, prompting John to return his MBE (Member of the British Empire badge) in protest writing, “I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts. With love, John Lennon of Bag.”


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The Beatles, Don’t Let Me Down

Posted in The Beatles, Youtube Favs on February 24th, 2011 by Willie

Part 8 of my favorite youtube video series continues with my favorite Beatles song, “Don’t Let Me Down.”  Now, for most people who love the Beatles, its not easy maintaining a favorite song, or album, or group member.  They change with age, the seasons, and experience.  But I can say, that at least for the past five years, “Don’t Let Me Down” has never left my top 3 of favorite Beatle tunes, and lately has been perched untouched as #1.  Why?  Because its pure unadulterated naked soul from Mr. Lennon at a time when he was just beginning to open up his heart and vulnerability in a way he had never allowed before.  It was made a year before the Beatles split, and a year, before John released his seminal solo debut, the gut wrenchingly introspective Plastic Ono Band.  The song is presumably a plea to Yoko Ono, one in which he exclaims his undying love for her.  At the same time, he is having a dialog with himself in which he expresses how the possibility of losing his new and total love is causing him fear and anxiety.  Its just a beautiful real message with no easy answers sung with the utmost level of soul and passion.  When the Beatles started, they exclusively wrote love songs, but slowly branched out to more introspective material.  As they got older, they developed a mastery of combining all of these elements, and wrote the greatest love songs ever.  This is one of them.  Enjoy.

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