“Come with me now, to that secret place, where the eyes of man have never set foot…” The “Magical Mystery Tour,” represents an odd moment in Beatle history as both a film and an album. As a record, its unintentionally brilliant. The original British EP just consisted of songs from the hour long movie such as “Fool on the Hill,” “Blue Jay Way,” “I am the Walrus,” and the cool trippy instrumental “Flying.” That now rare EP has long since been replaced by the full length American issued record. The LP, not only includes the songs from the movie but also includes all the humungous Beatle singles from 1967 such as “All You Need is Love,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” and “Penny Lane.” It makes for a colossal psychedelic album, littered with Beatle masterpieces. The film, while containing much of this fantastic music, is a different story all together. Conceived mainly by Paul McCartney as a solution to give the Beatles exposure without the hell of playing to insane live audiences, the film ended up being the Beatles first real commercial and critical disappointment. So let’s not kid ourselves, the movie sucks. The plot makes no sense, its poorly edited, (save the musical numbers) includes a ridiculously pointless strip tease, and ends suddenly with little to no explanation. That being said, the film is a total joy and wonder. I know, I just massively contradicted myself, but come on, you get to see some of the greatest musical geniuses the world has ever known, running around like mad as a collective unit, at a time when they were at their creative peak. It’s a priceless document of the lads in the era right after the death of their manager Brian Epstein, (the first real death knell of the group according to John Lennon), and just before their incredible spiritual journey to India. The making of the film became a source of tension for John and George, as Paul basically created and directed most of it. John and George were becoming increasingly disgruntled with Paul’s emerging group dominance, and resentment grew mightily. As for the Mystery Tour itself, that too ended up being a disaster as fans found the bus on the road, tailed it, and caused traffic jams. John angrily tore the “Mystery Tour” graphics off the bus’s side so they could proceed filming on schedule and with more anonymity. With all the unhappiness present amongst the Beatles, glimmers of joy and goofiness do pierce the film’s dreck. Ringo is simply a fantastic actor with a lot of heart and humor. John, decked out in psychedelic lederhosen, has some nice moments with a cute little kid, and George is deliciously weird as fuck throughout the entire film. Paul, who is blamed for a majority of the film’s crappiness as director, does get a stunning spotlight for his “Fool on the Hill” sequence as he dances around the cliffs of France. Anyway, I got the full film, remastered in stunning sound and glorious color, so roll on up for the Mystery Tour, just click play!
Archive for Strawberry Fields Forever
The best discoveries are the ones you make by accident. Just yesterday, my roommate keyed me into letmewatchthis.ch, one of those movie streaming websites of dubious legality. It’s a pretty cool site with a lot of variety of stuff, but new and old. On a lark, I typed in “Beatles” in the search box, and I found something I’ve NEVER seen before. It was a BBC documentary on the making of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band produced in 1992, on the 25th anniversary of its historic 1967 release. This documentary, presented below in 6 parts, excited the hell out of me because it featured insights and interviews, I’ve NEVER seen before, and as an obsessive Beatle fan, I’ve seen nearly EVERYTHING. You’ll see incredible interviews with Paul, George, Ringo, George Martin, and even Brian Wilson, which is interesting because this was the record that caused him to have a mental break down. This is fantastic, and well, worth diving into on your July 4th holiday. Enjoy.
Part 1 – The Beatles had conquered the world, said they were bigger than Jesus, and quit playing live. You get to see the shameful Beatle record burnings, the riot in the Philippines, and the murky underside of Beatlemania. Fun fact I NEVER knew, when George went to India after the Beatles quit touring, Paul actually went to Kenya! Not too many African influences on Sgt. Pepper though…Oh, you also learn how Paul forced the other Beatles to go to work on the new record which gave the other guys a lot of anxiety.
Part 2 – George Martin breaks down the complex insanely awesome production it took to make Strawberry Fields Forever. Plus you get to see the proper Englishman who played the French Horn solo on Penny Lane! Also, Paul gives insight into how he was burned by John when he suggested calling their songwriting team McCartney/Lennon. Hah!
Part 3 – The album concept emerges, the making of the Sgt. Pepper song, and the making of Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. This documentary is awesome because its punctuated with George Martin and Paul McCartney in the studio playing keyboards and breaking down the music theory behind the songs. Genius stuff. Oh, and John accidentally takes LSD in the studio and nearly jumps off the roof of Abbey Road studios.
Part 4 – We get insight in the fierce yet productive songwriting competition between John and Paul. George Martin incorrectly gives Paul all the credit for “With A Little Help From My Friends,” while Ringo saves himself from getting pelted by tomatoes. Lastly, you get immortally indispensable insight into the creation of “Within You Without You.”
Part 5 – Paul McCartney admits that Pet Sounds is the biggest influence on Sgt. Pepper. Plus we see poor Brian Wilson admit to how Sgt. Pepper blew him away so much that it made him insane. Phil Collins stops by and talks about another room. Also, we get to see the mythic Cork Flakes commercial that inspired John Lennon’s “Good Morning.”
Part 6- We meet Peter Blake, the designer of the cover, we learn how “A Day in the Life” was constructed, and we see George Martin nearly break down observing its gorgeousness. Ringo attributes his great drumming to be surrounded by 3 frustrated drummers who could only play one style really well. Paul gets the last word talking about how critics predicted the demise of the Beatles, secretly knowing that he was sitting on the masterpiece that was Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
NEW UPDATE: Andrew and I tweaked the song. He redid his solo to make it more tuneful, and I redid the chorus to achieve a similar effect. I’d love for everyone to hear it!
I woke up at 5 am on Saturday Morning and made this, my newest song, Memory Lane. Well, to be honest, I had written most of the song last fall, but it wasn’t till this past weekend when I figured out how to record it. Conceptually, I was very much inspired by the Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields single. But unlike those songs, this one is more universal, and less personal. The version I present to you is mostly finished. I might tweak the drums or add a little more guitar color in a future version, but its basically done. I hope you enjoy it. Its also available to stream on MySpace site (link on the side of the page.)
Memory Lane featuring Andrew Lee on lead guitar.
Oh, here are the lyrics if you wish to sing along.
In part 46 of my youtube countdown, we travel back to the past again, my past. When I was 17 years old, “Strawberry Fields Forever” was my favorite song in the world. I don’t know why exactly, but this song just seemed like the greatest work of music I’d ever heard. I loved the loping mellotron introduction. I loved the way John’s voice stretched over the distorted string quartet, as if it were being pulled like taffy. I loved Ringo’s manic jungle like drumming. In fact, this is the most psychedelic drumming Ringo achieved with the Beatles, a massive achievement in a string of drumming highlights for Ringo in this period, (A Day in the Life being Ringo’s true drumming masterpiece.) I remember as a teenager writing the words, “Living is easy with eyes closed,” everywhere; in my notebooks, on desks, on my locker, on walls. I remember finding an old newspaper in my attic that my dad had from 1969 with the original “Paul is Dead” article, highlighting all the clues, with one claiming that John is chanting “I buried Paul” in the outro. The reality of course being him saying “Cranberry Sauce;” (an equally delicious phrase in a song full of gorgeous imagery.) Speaking of gorgeous imagery, the video I present here is the most perfect, stunning capture of the Beatles legendary video for “Strawberry Fields.” The video presents the Beatles at their most weird. They are reveling in their artistry and merry prankster like shenanigans. What is the theme of this video? As far as I can tell, the Beatles are gathering in a field, and are constructing some sort of magical piano by tying the strings to a tree. Then of course they paint it with beautiful psychedelic colors. So, here you go, unabashed strawberry love from me to you.