Tag Archives: George Harrison

A week in the life

The big news around here this week was that Paul McCartney will be playing a show at Lambeau Field on June 8. That’s a little over 2 miles from our house. Macca himself, practically in our neighborhood. But we’re not going.

We’re seeing him two nights earlier at the Kohl Center in Madison. That show was announced first, at the end of August. We were fortunate enough to get tickets. We’re good with that.

All of this got me to thinking about seeing the Beatles live. Some day, we’ll look back and say we did the best we could, given that we came along too late.

Day One: Friday, Aug. 12, 1966. I was 9 when the Beatles toured America for the last time. We lived a mere 150 miles away when that tour opened at the International Amphitheatre in Chicago that Friday. But, again, I was 9. The Beatles weren’t on my radar except as Saturday morning cartoon characters.

Day Two: Wednesday, Aug. 30, 1972. John Lennon never toured America. I was 15, soon to be a sophomore in high school, when John played his last full-length show at Madison Square Garden in New York. It’s laughable to think it might have been publicized in any way in our corner of Wisconsin. That show might as well have been on the moon.

Day Three: Saturday, Nov. 30, 1974. I was 17, a senior in high school, when George Harrison went on his only tour of America in November and December 1974. Maybe they mentioned on the radio that George and Ravi Shankar were playing two shows at Chicago Stadium. Had I known about the shows, and had I somehow scraped together the money for a ticket, I suppose I could have driven the 280 miles to Chicago that Saturday. But realistically, none of that was a possibility. We probably had a basketball game or a party, or both, that night.

Day Four: Tuesday, July 16, 2013. We saw Paul McCartney at Miller Park in Milwaukee. We had seats in left field, on the field, stage left. It’s not every day you see one of the Beatles up close. Paul did not disappoint. Tremendous, wonderful, almost surreal.

Day Five: Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. We saw Ringo Starr at the BMO Harris Pavilion at the lakefront in Milwaukee. Ringo did not disappoint. Still irreverent, still cracking wise. We heard, and sang along to, “Yellow Submarine.” Peace and love, everyone, peace and love.

Never saw the Beatles. Never saw John. Never saw George. Saw Paul and Ringo. But there’s still some unfinished business.

Day Six: June 6, 2019. We’ll be in the same room with Paul McCartney.

Day Seven: TBD. I hope to walk across the Abbey Road crossing someday.

Maybe that’ll be in 2021, when I’m sixty-four.

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Filed under December 2018, Sounds

With a little help from his friends

Let’s say a new record came out today. All four Beatles are on that record. That would be a big deal, wouldn’t it?

Let’s say some of their pals are on that new record. You might have heard of them. Klaus Voormann and Billy Preston and Harry Nilsson and Marc Bolin and Nicky Hopkins. The Band, too. That would be quite a big deal, wouldn’t it?

But when that new record came out 40 years ago this month, some lamented it for what it was not, rather than celebrating for what it was.

What it was not, was a new Beatles record. As 1973 came to a close, fans clung to the hope that such a thing might still be possible.

What it was, was this.

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“Ringo,” the third solo LP by Beatles drummer Ringo Starr with a little help from his friends, holds up quite nicely all these years later.

It rose to No. 2 on the Billboard album chart, driven by three hit singles: “Photograph,” which Ringo wrote with George Harrison; “Oh My My,” a Ringo original; and “You’re Sixteen,” Ringo’s cover of the old Johnny Burnette song.

Yet the deep cuts had something for everyone seeking that next Beatles record.

“I’m The Greatest,” a whimsical look at fame written by John Lennon. It’s basically a Beatles track with all parties except Paul McCartney.

“Six O’Clock.” There’s Paul (and Linda), with a regret-filled love song written by them. It channels the Beatles and points the way toward Wings.

“Sunshine Life For Me (Sail Away Raymond),” written by George. It’s basically Ringo and George fronting The Band with David Bromberg. It sounds like an Irish folk song. Listen closer, consider The Band’s involvement, and you hear another nod to a Beatle’s American influences.

Back then, I had “You’re Sixteen” on a 45. I loved it. I was 16. Some symmetry there. When you flipped it over, you heard this on the B side.

“Devil Woman,” Ringo Starr, from “Ringo,” 1973. Also available digitally, of course.

On which Ringo, working without the rest of the Beatles, rocks out on a song he wrote with Vini Poncia. Which, as 1973 turned into 1974, was not necessarily what everyone wanted to hear. But I dug it then, and I dig it now.

Please visit our companion blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under November 2013, Sounds

In search of George Harrison

We don’t have HBO, so I didn’t have an opportunity to see the Martin Scorsese documentary on George Harrison when it aired last October. I’d heard good things about it, but knew I’d have to see it another day, another way.

About a month ago, a most unexpected second chance came along.

A publicist, a most rare cat who understands what goes on here at AM, Then FM — “I recall what you cover and what you do not” — offered a review copy of “George Harrison: Living In The Material World.”

So over the course of a couple of nights — the film is spread over two DVDs and runs 3 hours, 47 minutes — I sat down to watch and listen. Some thoughts:

« Having grown up in the time of the Beatles and having come of age in the time after the Beatles, this is a familiar story. There weren’t many revelations, at least for me. A younger person will see it differently. Regardless, the film is exceptionally well done, thorough and thoughtful.

« The first disc, which runs 1 hour, 34 minutes, stands alone nicely as a history of the Beatles filtered through the prism of Harrison’s experience. It ends, appropriately, with the story behind “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

« It’s interesting to be reminded of how Harrison got into movies, footing the bill to make the Monty Python troupe’s “Life of Brian” in the late ’70s. Less interesting, almost immediately, is a digression into the controversy over the film, which was seen by some as blasphemous.

« Harrison’s spiritual quest is a fascinating thread woven throughout the film. His widow Olivia, who co-produced the film, provides an astonishing account of the scene at his passing in November 2001.

« The music in the film — and there is plenty of it — brought a bittersweet realization. My knowledge of George Harrison’s music is wide but shallow.

I know all of the hits, from the Beatles to his solo years to the Traveling Wilburys. But some of the songs in this film, no doubt familiar to many of you, were new to me. I somehow have missed out. I need to go out and buy some more George Harrison records. Your recommendations are welcome.

The film’s companion CD is a start, and for that I am grateful. It features seven demos and three early takes of Harrison’s songs, all never before released. This is one, a demo prominently featured in the film for obvious reasons.

“All Things Must Pass,” George Harrison, from “George Harrison: Early Takes, Volume 1,” 2012. This was recorded in June 1970.

At 4:40, this demo version is almost a minute longer than the finished version on the LP of the same name.

Full disclosure: I received copies of the film “George Harrison: Living In The Material World” and the music CD “George Harrison: Early Takes, Volume I.” for review purposes. I promised only to watch and listen. I did not promise, nor was I asked, to say nice things.

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Filed under May 2012, Sounds

Soundtracks, anyone?

Today was not my day at the used record store.

I fingered a couple thousand records, looking for something interesting. I found nothing.

The closest thing to interesting was a huge soundtrack collection that had come into the store since the last time I was there.

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I saw, and thought about, the soundtrack to “Light of Day,” with Joan Jett and Michael J. Fox as sibling rockers, from 1987. I like Jett, and there’s a Dave Edmunds cut on the album, but I’ve never seen the film. Would anyone recommend this one?

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I also saw in that soundtrack collection, and thought about, this album of Disney movie covers by Louis Armstrong from 1968. But most of it wasn’t the Disney music I dig.

So I decided to save my money for our big local record show (coming up in three weeks!) and head home to a stack of albums that’s already plenty big.

In that stack is the soundtrack to “Porky’s Revenge,” the final film in that legendary trilogy. It’s chock full of great ’50s- and ’60s-sounding tunes and covers lovingly produced by Dave Edmunds.

We’ll save Dave’s stuff for another day. Until then, enjoy …

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“Sleep Walk” by Jeff Beck and “I Don’t Want to Do It” by George Harrison, both from the “Porky’s Revenge” soundtrack, 1985.

Beck covers the instrumental that was a No. 1 hit for Santo and Johnny in 1959. It also appears on “Beckology,” his 1991 box set, which is out of print.

Harrison, who at the time wasn’t recording anything, covered a Bob Dylan tune for his pal Edmunds. (That’s Jimmie Vaughan on guitar.) It was a hint of things to come. Just three years later, Harrison and Dylan teamed up in the Wilbury Brothers.

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Filed under March 2008, Sounds