Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Another Post about the Beatles

Had an interesting conversation with Tootsie today. We were watching a show on BBC America that had Sir Cliff Richard on it. He is the reigning king of British pop, with a career that started when he was 17, in 1960 or so. He and his band, the Shadows, were playing the big theaters in London when the Beatles were still a local act playing the Cavern Club in far off Liverpool. I mentioned to her that the Beatles had actually written a song about Cliff Richard, called Cry For a Shadow, which of course she had never heard. It's an interesting song; it has a number of interesting trivia bits about it. For example it's one of only two instrumental songs the Beatles ever did, the other being Flying, off of the Magical Mystery Tour album. It's also the only song they ever did that represents a songwriting compilation between John and George. Considering it was performed in 1960, it's pretty rocking song. YouTube "cry for a shadow" and you will be able to hear it. For Beatles fans it's worth the 2 1/2 min. investment of time.

Anyway, that got me thinking about Beatles trivia, and I thought I would lay a little on you, hopefully stuff that you have never heard before. Some people, of course, hate it when I pontificate about the Fab Four, but I don't care:

One of the Beatles' first photo shoots, ca. 1959 or so.
The guy you don't recognize is Pete Best, their first drummer

* In April of 1964, the Beatles managed a feat that had never been done before and has yet to be done since: they occupied the top five spots on the top 40 charts. The songs were Can't Buy Me Love, Twist and Shout, She Loves You, I Want to Hold Your Hand, and Please Please Me. In addition, they had seven other songs in the top 100 for a total of 12 altogether – and that too has never been accomplished since.

*The musical innovation that the Beatles demonstrated was staggering. I've written on this forum before about how the song She Loves You was the first pop song to be written from the perspective of an outside observer: she loves you. Yes, song lyrics have advanced since then, but for the time it was an innovation.

* The song From Me to You was the first pop song in a major key but with the middle eight in a minor key; the verses are in the key of C and the middle eight bit ("I've got arms that long to hold you…") Is in G minor.

* The Beatles sold their 150 millionth album on August 3, 1966. They had yet to produce Sgt. Pepper, Magical Mystery Tour, the White Album, Yellow Submarine, or Abbey Road.

* Speaking of the White Album (official name: the Beatles), it was John's idea to release an album with an all white cover, but it was Paul's idea to have each album stamped with a serial number in its first pressing. Low numbers are prized by collectors; a few years back the copy of the White album stamped 0000009, given by John to his chauffeur, sold on eBay for $18,000. Sometime later, album number 0000005, considered the holy Grail of White Albums because the Beatles themselves took copies one through four, fetched $27,000, making it one of the most valuable albums ever. If you're curious, by the way, the top three most valuable albums ever sold are all Beatles albums, the most valuable of which was an acetate pressing of John Paul and George singing a song called In Spite Of All the Danger, in 1958 in Paul's dad's living room. John was 18, Paul was 16, and George was only 15. Its value: about $200,000.

* This post is already overlong so I'll close it with a personal observation: whenever I think of John Lennon, and his desperate need to tell the truth through his songwriting, however painful it was, I always think of one line from a song of his: Julia, his beautiful song about his mother, whom he lost when he was only 15. The line so perfectly encapsulates John that sometimes it still brings a lump to my throat, 30 years after I heard it for the first time: "When I cannot sing my heart, I can only speak my mind."

I guess that's enough for now. If you're one of those people that don't like the Beatles, FUCK YOU. You have shitty taste in music. The Beatles are the best that ever were, and ever will be. Not opinion, just fact.

A pic from the last Beatles photo session.
"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."


  1. (interesting conversation + bbc america)+ beatles trivia = *yawn*

  2. Gary - great Beatles vignettes. I'm 55 and the Beatles were a very important part of my growing up which I think explains why I still love them. However, you look much younger than me in your photo. How is it you came to be such an emphatic fan?

  3. Great, interesting post.

    Love the new look of your blog. Rock on, my friend!