Tag Archives: The Beatles

A stumble across Abbey Road

I’ve always been puzzled by the esteem so many people have for Abbey Road, the Beatles’ swan song, which marks its fortieth anniversary this month. Aside from George Harrison’s two classics, the songs don’t exactly stick in one’s mind. John Lennon’s most memorable tune, “Come Together,” leans so heavily on Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me” that it got him into legal hot water with professional barracuda Morris Levy, who owned the rights. Paul McCartney’s contributions are uniformly weak, Ringo Starr’s kiddie ditty drowns in the wake of “Yellow Submarine,” and the “suite” of song fragments on side two — that’s the vinyl edition for you sprouts — is less than the sum of its parts.

For me, the Beatles worked best when Lennon dominated the proceedings, and declined when McCartney took the reins. That’s why I think of the white album as their last great one: it’s Lennon’s record, with a disc’s worth of additions from the bandmates. And that famous cover shot of the Fabs crossing the street looks like four men playing catch-up — chasing the inspiration that had already crossed the street years earlier.

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Peter, Laurence, and Richard (and Bill)

It’s a Richard III weekend here! This clip is from a 1965 Granada television special, The Music of Lennon and McCartney, which featured Peter Sellers reciting the lyrics of  “A Hard Day’s Night” in the manner of Laurence Olivier’s Richard III. The Beatles had been fans of Sellers since his Goon Show days, and at their request he had presented them with their Grammy Award earlier that year. Sellers’ recitation was released as a single and actually sold pretty well.

In case you need a refresher, here’s Olivier’s version of the “Now is the winter of our discontent” speech that opens Richard III.

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Friday finds

If you haven’t got anything nice to say, go sit next to James Wolcott and listen to him talk about Philip Roth’s latest novel, Indignation:

The penalty meted out to Marcus Messner for not heeding his elders and committing the sin of intellectual pride is so swift and stark that it’s as if the sole purpose of the Korean conflict was to punish a guy for getting blown and skipping chapel. The butt of everybody’s boring counsel, Marcus learns the hard way the wisdom of such valuable lessons as: Don’t believe everything you see in college brochures; Listen to your father, even if he is crazy; Listen to your mother, she only wants what’s best; Beware of strange shiksas bearing blowjobs; Never leave your socks lying around where someone might jerk off into them; Follow the rules, no matter how antiquated and arbitrary, or end up as shish kebab; Try not to vomit in the dean’s office–it leaves a bad impression.

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Doc Mooney says goodbye to Shea Stadium with a little help from his friends. He also dabbles in one of my favorite hobbies: trimming the “White Album” down to a single vinyl disc (the secret is to treat it as John Lennon’s album, and select songs accordingly).  Meanwhile, Bill Vogt invites you to hear the best kept secret in Texas

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Icelandic sagas and the credit crisis. (It’s a Kaupthing — y’all wouldn’t understand.) Icelandic landscape seen from above. Icelandic criminals need to steepen that learning curve.

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How did one family produce three of the most successful women chess players in the history of the game? Which reminds me — I have to re-read my favorite novel from one of America’s most unjustly overlooked writers.

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“The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest” — illustrated!

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The fall issue of The Adirondack Review is up.

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Richard Thompson discourses on Scottish literature, pectin and Bush vs. Bush. Donald Fagen explains what got him so angry at Bard College that he dissed it in the classic Steely Dan song “My Old School.” 

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