Pink Floyd, Cymbaline

Posted in Pink Floyd, Youtube Favs on November 20th, 2011 by Willie

So, despite their love for the man, Syd was barred from entering Abbey Road studios when Pink Floyd was recording.  Syd went on to do a few slapped together solo records, with Roger and Dave actually helping with the production, and then Syd entered oblivion, thus propelling his cult like status to mythic proportions.  In 1969, Pink Floyd was Britain’s top rising psychedelic band, but they were no where near the megastars they became by 1973.  Still, they carried enough swagger to be offered the chance to provide a soundtrack for “More,” an avantgarde film about heroin.  The song below, “Cymbaline,” is a gorgeous psychedelic folk ballad that feels more like Simon and Garfunkel than it does “Interstellar Overdrive.”  I think at their heart, Pink Floyd were more folk rockers than anything else.  Their best songs, no matter how steeped they are in special effects, crushing guitar solos, and wailing experimentation, are folk ballads.  “Cymbaline,” a twisted song about a nightmare, was a progressive step forward the band, and would point to the future dramatic heights they would aim for.  By the way, this video performance, is a fantastic moody and cinematic slice of footage of the band in its most natural setting, a church.  Enjoy.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd, Jugband Blues

Posted in Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett, Youtube Favs on November 19th, 2011 by Willie

Welcome to the unassuming beginning of Pink Floyd Week here at  My good friend Andrew Lee turned me on to this fantastic early Pink Floyd video of Syd Barrett’s last major contribution to the bands creative identity, “Jugband Blues,” from 1968’s A Saucerful of Secrets.  It makes sense that Barrett, now driving head first down the road of dementia and insanity, would only be able to contribute one song to the last album he would appear on, but its amazing that they took the time to record a promo video with Barrett starring in it.  I mean, at that point, Syd was losing his mind, forced out of the group he essentially founded, was marginalized creatively, yet somehow they all got together to make this thing.  And what a thing it is.  It’s just an awesome example of strait ahead British psychedelia, featuring lyrics that are both deeply personal, and deeply bizarre, and mashing together rock and roll, folk, and marching band orchestration.  It has 3 different keys and 3 different time signatures.  It’s the definition of fractured genius, closing out with the brilliant lines, “and the sea isn’t green, and I love the Queen, and what exactly is a dream, and what exactly is a joke.”  It’s haunting and masterful, and even though Syd was soaked with acid laced insanity, and the other band members were forcing him out, he was still giving Pink Floyd its direction and inspiring its other members to carry on what he started.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

John Lennon, India, India

Posted in John Lennon, The Beatles, Youtube Favs on September 27th, 2011 by Willie

Sorry for the disturbing lack of updates, but I was busy packing up my Brooklyn apartment and heading north for Maine.  I’ve got three weeks in beautiful Portland before I head across the world to South Korea and Australia.  I’m happy to be out of the city and hear crickets out my window, as four and a half years in New York really drains the nature out of you.  I couldn’t be more excited for my trip across the Pacific, and I’m reminded of four other guys who had to get away from it all, the fab four.  The rare song you are about to hear was NOT recorded by the Beatles, but rather its a solo John number from 1980 that he made reflecting on the journey he took just 12 years prior.  John was beginning to feel sentimental about his life, emotions reflected strongly in his last record Double Fantasy.  “India, India” didn’t survive the cutting room floor of that record, but luckily it survives the cutting room floor of history.  It’s a pretty psychedelic folk ballad with a wistful haunting melody.  Enjoy.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Beatles, Long, Long, Long

Posted in George Harrison, The Beatles, Youtube Favs on September 5th, 2011 by Willie

To paraphrase George Harrison, “the “you” in the song, is God.”  Gaining this insight gives the song even more creepy mysticism.  “Long, Long, Long,” from the “White Album,” is officially one of my favorite Beatles songs.  Like many people growing up with the Beatles, I wasn’t a fan of the song until I got much older.  When I was a little kid, it was too quiet (probably the quietest Beatles song in the catalog) and too boring for me to really feel.  As I grew older,  I realized it was a master class of songwriting and personal expression, and it began to affect me greatly.  It’s simply a fantastic gorgeous ode to love and God, expressed in the most ambiguous way imaginable.  I also love the little high pitched organ part, which reminds me of an ice queen ballerina dancing alone in the snow.  What’s that mysterious rattle at the end of the song you ask?  It’s a bottle of wine vibrating to the frequency of a peculiar Hammond organ note being played by Paul McCartney.  Pretty cool no?  You know what else is cool, you only have 4 more days to vote me as CBS’s Best Local NYC Blogger, by clicking here!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Beatles, Rain

Posted in The Beatles, Youtube Favs on July 31st, 2011 by Willie

No, I’m not talking about the horrible Beatles cover band Broadway show thing, I’m talking about the 1966 B single of “Paperback Writer.”  I’m posting “Rain” because I’ve met 4 people in the last two months that had NEVER heard of the song before, which to obsessed Beatle lunatics like myself, is just unfathomable.  Perhaps it makes sense.  “Rain” is rarely included on the best of Beatle compilations out there, and it was never on any of the main albums.  Of course, it did show up on Past Masters Volume 2, the second part of their epic singles release record.  Being a B-Side, “Rain” wasn’t played as much as “Paperback Writer,” a #1, and only got as high as 23 on the US charts.  It’s a shame, because its just as good and more revolutionary then “Paperback Writer.” “Rain” features one of Paul’s most intricate bass lines, Ringo’s first real psychedelic drumming, and just stunningly gorgeous harmonies from John, Paul, and George.  Also, its the first pop song ever to have backwards vocals, tacked on the end.  It’s the song that paved the way for the glorious psychedelic pop that was to come on Revolver, remarkable in that the Beatles were so good they didn’t need to include their masterpiece singles to pad out their albums, utterly unprecedented in music history.  So, for everyone who hasn’t sapped in the luxurious beauty that is “Rain,” enjoy.  PS- This was also one of the first music videos ever…so put that in your pipes and smoke it too!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Beatles, Nowhere Man

Posted in The Beatles, Youtube Favs on June 25th, 2011 by Willie

We are just one tick away to glorious #100 of my youtube countdown.  Until then, you’ll have to make due with part 99 which is of course the Beatles with “Nowhere Man” from 1965’s Rubber Soul. Nowhere Man was the first Beatle song that exclusively had no references to love, girls, or romance.  Stepping out of his lyrical comfort zone, John Lennon decided that if he was going to take a commercial leap of faith with his music, he should make it one of the greatest songs of all times, you know, just to be safe.  Of course he succeeds.  The song features a deceptively simple folk rock melody, gorgeous psychedelic harmonies, a chiming diamond of a guitar solo by George, and pulsating revolutionary bass by Paul.  This song, like many Beatles songs, is absolutely timeless because it still sounds cool to this day.  It’s like the guys had this knack for transcending time and space by writing music that would always sound cutting edge, a fact that became more clear as time went by.  On a personal note, this was the song that made me an absolute Beatle maniac and changed my life forever.  I always loved the Beatles as a little boy, but my interest naturally waned because it was something I didn’t understand or appreciate fully.  When I was 12 years old and my school had an assembly about God knows what, and the song was blasted in surround sound in my school’s large theater room, just swallowing me whole.  I ran home, dug out all my sister’s Beatle records, and my obsession began.  The video is an ultra rare LIVE performance of the song in Munich, Germany in 1966.  This song was one of the reasons the Beatles had to stop playing live as their arrangements and ideas grew so complex, that they couldn’t be replicated live.  While they are a bit shaky in sections, they do an admirable job in pulling this one off, and it’s extremely unique in giving you a small glimpse into what the Beatles might have sounded like had they carried on live during their psychedelic era.  So, that’s that.  Just one more to go folks!  See you soon!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Mama Cass, Joni Mitchell, Mary Travers, I Shall Be Released

Posted in Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Mama Cass, Youtube Favs on May 17th, 2011 by Willie

I have a special super group performance for part 65 of my youtube countdown.  It’s Mama Cass Elliot of the Mama’s and Papa’s fame, Mary Travers of Peter Paul and Mary fame, and Joni Mitchell of, uhh, Joni Mitchell fame, all together on some TV show singing the Bob Dylan penned “I Shall Be Released” in beautiful note for note harmonic perfection.  The ladies are dressed in full psychedelic folk glam, singing beautifully, especially Mama Cass who starts the song off for us.  The backing arrangement is a bit hokey, what with its horns and flutes creating a bit of an adult contemporary effect, but the ladies’ souls really carry the spirit of the song to spiritual heights.  The song is one of Bob’s greatest.  It’s a poem about a wrongly imprisoned man waiting for his rightful release.  It’s a gorgeous song with just a fantastic underlying theme of the desire for pure human freedom, subject matter Bob excelled at.  So, enjoy this gem, I know you will.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,