Category Archives: john lennon
ON THIS DATE (47 YEARS AGO)
June 4, 1965 – The Beatles: Beatles For Sale No. 2 [EP] is released in the UK.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 5/5
# Allmusic 4/5 stars
Beatles for Sale (No 2) is an EP released by The Beatles on 4 June 1965. The EP was only released in mono. Its catalogue number is Parlophone GEP 8938. It was also released in Australia.
Bruce Eder, allmusic
More highlights off the Beatles for Sale LP, another repackaging of existing material, but also highlighting their exquisite Buddy Holly cover “Words of Love,” plus “Baby’s in Black,” which became part of their concert set, and Paul McCartney’s exquisite “I’ll Follow the Sun,” probably his most succinct and beautiful ballad, note for note and second for second.
Songs Lennon/McCartney except noted.
“I’ll Follow the Sun”
“Baby’s in Black”
“Words of Love” (Buddy Holly)
“I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party”
ON THIS DATE (43 YEARS AGO)
May 30, 1969 – The Beatles: “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” b/w “Old Brown Show” (Apple R 5786) 45 single is released in the UK (June 4, 1969 in the US).
“The Ballad of John and Yoko” is a song written by John Lennon, attributed to Lennon–McCartney as was the custom, and released by The Beatles as a single on this date in May 1969. The song, chronicling the events surrounding Lennon’s marriage to Yoko Ono, was the Beatles’ 17th and final UK number one single.
The song is a ballad in the traditional sense of a narrative poem in a song, not in the sense used in modern pop music where the term usually refers to a slow, sentimental love song. Authored by Lennon while on his honeymoon in Paris, it tells the events of his marriage (in March 1969) to Ono and their publicly-held honeymoon activities, including their ‘Bed-In’ at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel and their demonstration of ‘bagism’.
Lennon brought the song to McCartney’s home on 14 April 1969, before recording it that evening. The song was recorded without George Harrison (who was on holiday) and Ringo Starr (who was filming The Magic Christian). In his biography, McCartney recalls that Lennon had had a sudden inspiration for the song and had suggested that the two of them should record it immediately, without waiting for the other Beatles to return. Reflecting this somewhat unusual situation, the session recordings include the following exchange:
Lennon (on guitar): “Go a bit faster, Ringo!”
McCartney (on drums): “OK, George!”
This session also marked the return of Geoff Emerick as recording engineer of a Beatle session after he quit working with the group during the tense White Album sessions nine months earlier.
ON THIS DATE (46 YEARS AGO)
May 30, 1966 – The Beatles: “Paperback Writer” b/w “Rain” (Capitol 5651) 45 single is released in the US.
“Paperback Writer” is a 1966 song by The Beatles. Written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney, the song was released as the A-side of their eleventh single. The single went to the number one spot in the United States, United Kingdom, West Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Norway. On the US Billboard Hot 100, the song was at number one for two non-consecutive weeks, being interrupted by Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night”. “Paperback Writer” was the last new song by the Beatles to be featured on their final tour in 1966, and was the group’s only U.S. number one released that year.
According to disc jockey Jimmy Savile, McCartney wrote the song in response to a request from an aunt who asked if he could “write a single that wasn’t about love.” Savile said, “With that thought obviously still in his mind, he walked around the room and noticed that Ringo was reading a book. He took one look and announced that he would write a song about a book.” In a 2007 interview, McCartney recalled that he wrote the song after reading in the Daily Mail about an aspiring author, possibly Martin Amis. The Daily Mail was Lennon’s regular newspaper and copies were in Lennon’s Weybridge home when Lennon and McCartney were writing songs.
The song’s lyrics are in the form of a letter from an aspiring author addressed to a publisher. The author badly needs a job and has written a paperback version of a book by a “man named Lear.” This is a reference to the Victorian painter Edward Lear, who wrote nonsense poems and songs of which Lennon was very fond (though Lear never wrote novels).
“Rain” is a song by the The Beatles, written by John Lennon but credited to Lennon–McCartney. It was first released in June 1966 as the B-side of the “Paperback Writer” single. Both songs were recorded during the sessions for Revolver but neither appears on that album. “Rain” has been called The Beatles’ finest B-side, especially notable for its heavy sonic presence and backwards vocals, both of which were a hint of things to come on Revolver, released two months later.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg directed four promotional films for the song shot on 19 and 20 May 1966. On the first day they recorded a colour performance at Abbey Road, for The Ed Sullivan Show, which was shown on 5 June, and two black and white performance clips for British television. These were shown on Ready Steady Go! and Thank Your Lucky Stars on 3 June and 25 June, respectively.
On 20 May, another colour film was made at Chiswick House in west London. The Beatles mimed to the song, and they were shown in and around the conservatory in the grounds of the house. The clip was first broadcast in black and white on BBC-TV’s Top of the Pops on 2 June. The Beatles made their only live appearance on Top of the Pops to mime to “Paperback Writer” and “Rain”. They were introduced by DJ Pete Murray. This session is famous for being wiped by the BBC when they were cleaning tapes for re-use. The session showed how difficult it was for the Beatles to even mime to their later material – they had difficulty in taking their performance seriously.
ON THIS DATE (37 YEARS AGO)
May 27, 1975 – Paul McCartney/Wings: Venus and Mars is released in the US.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4.5/5
# Allmusic 3/5 stars
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
Venus and Mars is the fourth album by Wings, released on this date in May 1975 in the US (May 30 in the UK).
Preceded by the single “Listen to What the Man Said” in May, Venus and Mars appeared two weeks later to decent reviews and brisk sales. The album reached #1 in the United States, the United Kingdom and worldwide (as did “Listen to What the Man Said” in the US) and sold several million copies during the 1970s, with sales now pitched at over 10 million, even if the reaction was less than what had greeted Band on the Run a year earlier. Two additional singles, “Letting Go” and “Venus and Mars/Rock Show” were released, though to less success. Although the latter almost reached the US Top 10, it didn’t chart at all in the UK.
After recording Band on the Run as a three-piece with wife Linda and guitarist Denny Laine, McCartney added Jimmy McCulloch on lead guitar and Geoff Britton on drums to the Wings line-up in 1974. Having written several new songs for the next album, McCartney decided upon New Orleans, Louisiana as the recording venue, and Wings headed there in January 1975.
As soon as the sessions began, the personality clash that had been evident between McCulloch and Britton during Wings’ 1974 sessions in Nashville became more pronounced, and Britton — after a mere six month stay — quit Wings, having only played on three of the new songs. A replacement, American Joe English, was quickly auditioned and hired to finish the album.
The sessions themselves proved to be very productive, not only finishing the entire album, but also several additional songs including two future McCartney B-sides: “Lunch Box/Odd Sox” and “My Carnival”. McCartney also decided to link the songs together much like The Beatles had on Abbey Road to give the album a more continuous feel.
John Lennon, often in a nostalgic mood while in Los Angeles, had told May Pang (his then girlfriend) that he planned to visit the McCartneys during the recording sessions for Venus and Mars, but this was not to be. Lennon’s planned visit would be permanently postponed due to his reunion with Yoko Ono.
Venus & Mars is an interesting mix of musical styles, punctuated by Paul McCartney’s unerring sense of melody and hooky songs. Along with founding members Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney & Denny Laine, recent additions Jimmy McCulloch (ex-Thunderclap Newman) Joe English rounded out the band on guitar and drums respectively. Guests for these sessions (partially recorded at New Orleans’ famed Sea Saint Studios) included N’awlins pianist Allen Toussaint, saxophonist Tom Scott and guitarist Dave Mason.
The highlights include the hard-rocking anthem “Rock Show” (later used to great effect in the Rock For Kampuchea benefit concert five years later) and the gently nostalgic “You Gave Me The Answer,” Macca’s tribute to the sounds of vaudeville introduced to him by his late father. Elsewhere, the mysticism of the French Quarter is embedded within “Spirits Of Ancient Egypt” while New Orleans’ rich R&B tradition is all over the horn-laden “Call Me Back Again.” The bouncy number one single “Listen To What The Man Said” also contrasts nicely with the melancholic title track.
ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW
As time goes by, John Lennon’s importance to the Beatles becomes more and more self-evident. The same old story we’ve been hearing for years—that Lennon’s wit and abrasive probing were needed to balance Paul McCartney’s melodic charm and sweetness—is obvious but true; Lennon’s career has certainly had fewer ups and downs (the first Plastic Ono Band LP being his only real success), but his strivings, if at times embarrassing, have never seemed to be the product of assembly-line manufacture. None of the ex-Beatles has survived the first half of the Seventies heroically—George Harrison has become a musical Kahlil Gibran, Ringo Starr, a likably mediocre Everyman, Lennon, the confused method actor unsure of what role to play, and McCartney, a latter-day Burt Bacharach trying to invent his Angie Dickinson—but, of the four, only Lennon’s plight still reaches the rock & roll part of the heart.
Lennon probably had nothing whatsoever to do with Venus and Mars, the new Wings album, but somehow the ghost of his sincerity not only haunts but also accentuates the cool calculation of the McCartney project, and a jarring primal scream or two might make me feel less enraged by Paul and Linda’s chic, unconvincing and blatant bid to be enshrined as pop music’s Romeo and Juliet. One can point out that John and Yoko were no better, perhaps even worse, in their similar public insistence—or Bob Dylan on Planet Waves, for that matter—but what makes such a comparison appalling is that John and Yoko and Dylan believed what they were saying, or at least desperately tried to, while the McCartneys serve it all up with the offhand air of two uncaring jet-setters presenting us with the very latest in prefabricated TV dinners.
Venus and Mars begins with Paul and Linda’s casual and false assumption that the whole world is tremendously interested in the state of their union (whereas John and Yoko and Dylan were driven, I think, more by individual inner needs to say what they did), so they concoct a slick, Broadway / Hollywood exterior romance that is an insult to the very “lovers everywhere” to whom they dedicate the LP. For all I know, the McCartneys may love each other passionately, but it is self-aggrandizement, not private ardor, that shines through the computerized smoothness of their insubstantial songs; no blood on the tracks here, and no connection with reality either. Perhaps this is too harsh; perhaps Paul and Linda’s image of themselves as rock & roll’s mythical couple is real in their minds but, as this album proves, an extended trip across that arid area is apt to make even the night thoughts of Johnny Carson appear positively Dostoevskian.
“Venus and Mars are all right tonight,” the lovers keep telling us, persistently answering a by-and-large unasked question with a press-release concept, generally uninspired melodies and some of the dumbest lyrics on record. As a card-carrying romantic, I bow to no one caught in the occasionally moony state of yearning, but I can’t imagine ever telling anyone I liked, let alone loved, something like, “My, you’re so fine/When love is mine/I can’t go wrong”; or, “Ah, she looks like snow/I want to put her in a Broadway show” or, “You’re my baby and I love you/You can take a pound of love/And cook it in the stew….” The last song on the LP carries the galactic couple all the way to the old people’s home, where we are asked to pity the doddering old McCartneys because “nobody asked [them] to play.” “Here we sit,” they cry, “Two lonely old people/Eking our lives away.” Pretty damned unlikely. If the musical career doesn’t pan out, guys, you can always get a job writing soap operas or the verses for Hallmark cards.
So much for the banal ballads — “Venus and Mars,” “Love in Song,” “You Gave Me the Answer” (done Rudy Vallee style), “Letting Go,” “Spirits of Ancient Egypt,” “Treat Her Gently — Lonely Old People”—all treacle so far from the mainstream of amorousness that, if one were to make a joke, only a drip or two could sneak through. Unfortunately, some of the nonlove songs (“Magneto and Titanium Man” especially) on Venus and Mars are more galling and impudently silly than that pun, or just rather ordinary (“Rock Show,” “Medicine Jar”). The only two real exceptions are the well-sung, urban-blues-and-Sixties-soul-influenced “Call Me Back Again” and the LP’s certain hit single, the deliciously catchy and creamily produced “Listen to What the Man Said,” the latter as fine an example of slick, professional entertainment and carefully crafted “product” as has ever hit the airwaves.
Although I have always had doubts about McCartney, before this album was released I would have offered an opening argument that he, not Lennon, was the only one of the ex-Beatles whose career seemed to be going somewhere. Band on the Run wasn’t great, but it was good and did suggest that its creator wasn’t all vacuum-packed smugness and unmatched ego. Now, I don’t know. Were his talent behind him, McCartney’s current disaster wouldn’t matter much, but what is really worrisome here is the almost gleeful enthusiasm with which he makes trivial anything meaningful. It is symbolic that Venus and Mars comes with more extraneous junk (not all of it in the grooves) than it can sustain: two posters, two gummed decals, a flashy inner cover, etc. Perhaps this is the ephemera of fame, but it’s really not as cosmic as Paul and Linda think it is; indeed, it seems more an inadvertent definition of artistic emptiness. These are two geese who have laid a golden egg in a land where Michelangelo Antonioni and Norman Rockwell have somehow become soulmates, and all of us are going to be expected to pay the price. (RS 192)
~ PAUL NELSON (July 31, 1975)
All songs written and composed by Paul & Linda McCartney (listed as “McCartney”) except as noted.
1 Venus and Mars – 1:20
2 Rock Show – 5:31
3 Love in Song – 3:04
4 You Gave Me the Answer – 2:15
5 Magneto and Titanium Man – 3:16
6 Letting Go – 4:33
1 Venus and Mars [Reprise] – 2:05
2 Spirits of Ancient Egypt – 3:04
3 Medicine Jar – 3:37
4 Call Me Back Again – 4:58
5 Listen to What the Man Said – 4:01
6 Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People – 4:21
7 Crossroads Theme (Tony Hatch) – 1:00
All songs written and composed by Paul & Linda McCartney.
Bonus Tracks for 1987 CD edition & 1993 The Paul McCartney Collection edition
14 Zoo Gang [Theme from the UK TV series The Zoo Gang] -2:01
15 Lunch Box/Odd Sox [Previously released as B-side of a single “Coming Up” in 1980] – 3:50
16 My Carnival [Previously released as B-side of “Spies Like Us” in 1985] -3:57
ON THIS DATE (47 YEARS AGO)
May 26, 1965 – The Beatles record their final musical appearance at the BBC.
Just over three years since their first appearance on BBC radio, The Beatles recorded their final musical appearance on this day at Number 1 Studio, Piccadilly Theatre, London. 2:30-6:00pm.
It was their 52nd radio appearance for the corporation, and was broadcast on the BBC Light Programme on 7 June 1965 under the name The Beatles (Invite You To Take A Ticket To Ride) – a change from the usual From Us To You at the group’s insistence, as they felt the old title no longer did justice to their maturing image.
The session took place at the BBC’s Piccadilly Studios in London between 2.30pm and 6pm, including time spent rehearsing. The Beatles recorded seven songs: Ticket To Ride, Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby, I’m A Loser, The Night Before, Honey Don’t, Dizzy Miss Lizzy and She’s A Woman.
The Beatles were also interviewed by the host, Denny Piercy, and there were a number of guests also appearing on the show.
Ticket To Ride
Ticket To Ride
Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby
I’m A Loser
The Night Before
Dizzy Miss Lizzy
She’s A Woman
ON THIS DATE (43 YEARS AGO)
May 24, 1968 – The Rolling Stones: Jumpin’ Jack Flash” b/w “Child of the Moon (Decca F 12782) 45 single is released in the UK. (June 1 in the US)
“Jumpin’ Jack Flash” is a song by English rock and roll band, The Rolling Stones, released as a single in 1968. Called “supernatural Delta blues by way of Swinging London” by Rolling Stone, the song was perceived by some as the band’s return to their blues roots after the psychedelia of their preceding albums Between the Buttons and Their Satanic Majesties Request. One of the group’s most popular and recognizable songs, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” has been featured in many films and on the Rolling Stones compilation albums Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2), Hot Rocks, Singles Collection and Forty Licks.
Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, recording on “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” began during the Beggars Banquet sessions of 1968 (although it was not released on that album). Regarding the song’s distinctive sound, guitarist Richards has said:
“I used a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic tuned to open D, six string. Open D or open E, which is the same thing – same intervals – but it would be slackened down some for D. Then there was a capo on it, to get that really tight sound. And there was another guitar over the top of that, but tuned to Nashville tuning. I learned that from somebody in George Jones’ band in San Antonio in 1964. The high-strung guitar was an acoustic, too. Both acoustics were put through a Philips cassette recorder. Just jam the mic right in the guitar and play it back through an extension speaker.”
Richards has stated that he and Jagger wrote the lyrics while staying at Richards’ country house, where they were awoken one morning by the sound of gardener Jack Dyer walking past the window. When Jagger asked what the noise was, Richards responded: “Oh, that’s Jack – that’s jumpin’ Jack.” The rest of the lyrics evolved from there. Humanities scholar Camille Paglia speculated that the song’s lyrics might have been partly inspired by William Blake’s poem “The Mental Traveller”: “She binds iron thorns around his head, / And pierces both his hands and feet, / And cuts his heart out of his side / To make it feel both cold & heat.”
Jagger said in a 1995 interview with Rolling Stone that the song arose “…out of all the acid of Satanic Majesties… It’s about having a hard time and getting out. Just a metaphor for getting out of all the acid things.”In his autobiography, Stone Alone, Bill Wyman has claimed that he came up with the song’s distinctive main guitar riff on an organ without being credited for it.”
On the studio version of the number, Jagger provided the lead vocals and maracas, Richards played acoustic guitars, electric bass guitar and the floor tom, Brian Jones played electric guitar, Charlie Watts was on drums and Bill Wyman was on organ. Either Nicky Hopkins or Ian Stewart contributed piano, and producer Jimmy Miller joined in on the backing vocals.
Released on 24 May 1968, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (backed with “Child of the Moon”) reached the top of the UK charts and peaked at number three in the United States. Some early London Records US pressings of the single had a technical flaw in them: about halfway through the song’s instrumental bridge, the speed of the master tape slows down for a moment, then comes back to speed. The first Rolling Stones album on which the song appeared was their 1969 compilation album, Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2), one year after the single was released.
The Rolling Stones have played “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” during every tour since its release; it ranks as the number the band has played in concert most frequently, and has appeared on the concert albums Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!, Love You Live, Flashpoint, The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus (featuring the only released live performance of the song with Brian Jones). Jones is heard clearly, mixing with Richards’ lead throughout the song. Two promotional videos were made in May 1968: one featuring a live performance, another showcasing the band lip-syncing, with Jones, Jagger, and Watts donning makeup. The intro is not usually played in concert; instead the song begins with the main riff. The open E or open D tuning of the rhythm guitar on the studio recording has also not been replicated in concert (with the possible exception of the 1968 NME awards show, no recording of which has ever surfaced). In the performance filmed for The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus in December 1968, Richards used standard tuning; and ever since the band’s appearance at Hyde Park on 5 July 1969, he has played it in open G tuning with a capo on the fourth fret.
In March 2005, Q magazine placed “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” at number 2 in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. In 2004, Rolling Stone rated the song 124th on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. VH1 placed it at 65 on its show 100 Greatest Rock Songs.
DO YOU REMEMBER?
Billboard #1 HOT 100 (This Week in 1965)
The Beatles: Ticket to Ride