I like this picture because the kitty on Lennon’s shoulder is a dead ringer for my cat Johnny. Don’t know who that lady standing next to him is, but she kind of gives me the creeps.
After reading a piece on Dangerous Minds the other day where they posted the various individual tracks of “Helter Skelter” (thanks to Lady E for pointing that out), I was inspired to create my own mix in GarageBand. I’m reasonably pleased with the results; it ended up sounding very 90s somehow, with touches of early Nirvana grind, Pixies loud/quiet/loud dynamics, and Sonic Youth dissonance. See what you think:
Oh, I almost forgot: Play it loud.
P.S.: It was only after posting this that I found out today is the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death, and now I feel a little guilty for putting so much focus on a Paul song. Although you can hear John playing very raw and aggressive bass on “Helter Skelter” – which is, let’s be honest, Paul writing in a consciously Lennonesque vein. I can just picture him stamping his little feet and wailing, “I can rock out too, y’know, it’s not joost John who can do that.”
P.P.S.: Then he probably would have said something about the fridge-a-dilly.
P.P.P.S: For some thoughts about the Lennon shooting, read here.
Today’s writing is dedicated to George Clinton, the Benjamin Franklin of funk, who turns 70 today. For those of you keeping score at home, that means he was born exactly 15 days after Ringo Starr in July 1940. Ringo and George (Clinton) share one essential quality, which is that it’s hard to think of them without feeling just a little bit happier. “With a Little Help from My Friends,” The Mothership Connection, “It Don’t Come Easy,” Maggot Brain…we’re glad these things exist, aren’t we? And its nice to know their creators are still walking the Earth. Love on ya, boys.
And what does this have to do with the Tour de France? Well, you’re reading about them in the same place, aren’t you? So they must have something to do with each other.
Stage 17 was the big showdown on the Col du Tourmalet, and it was a cold, rainy, foggy day. The images on the TV were dreamlike and impressionistic, with the raindrops on the camera lens giving everything a sort of Monet quality. And then, out of the fog, there are two figures, one in white and one in yellow: Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador, having left everyone else behind and shooting to the top of the mountain.
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June 25, 1967:
Knox of Pixels at an Exhibition fame (an excellent site devoted to iPhone photography—check it out sometime) recently pointed me to the blog Dangerous Minds, which in turn pointed me to a couple of recent news items involving the Beatles.
One concerned Ringo’s response to the Vatican’s recent decision that the Beatles were OK after all:
The Vatican offered its latest peace offering to The Beatles in its recent issue of L’Osservatore Romano, its official newspaper, on Monday.
“It’s true they took drugs, lived life to excess because of their success, even said they were bigger than Jesus and put out mysterious messages that were possibly even satanic,” the newspaper said.
But, “what would pop music have been like without The Beatles?” it reasoned, describing the band’s music as “beautiful.”
I was at the Red Cross today, feeling a little lightheaded as the blood ran out of my right arm, when I read the following passage in Kurt Vonnegut’s Happy Birthday, Wanda June:
HAROLD: America’s days of greatness are over. It has drunk the blue soup.
PENELOPE: Blue soup?
HAROLD: An Indian narcotic we were forced to drink. It put us in a haze — a honey-colored haze which was lavender around the edge. We laughed, we sang, we snoozed. When a bird called, we answered back. Every living thing was our brother or sister, we thought. Looseleaf stepped on a cockroach six inches long, and we cried. We had a funeral that went on for five days — for the cockroach. I sang “Oh Promise Me.” Can you imagine? Where the hell did I ever learn the words to “Oh Promise Me”? Looseleaf delivered a lecture on maintenance procedures for the hydraulic system of a B-36. All the time we were drinking more blue soup, more blue soup! Never stopped drinking blue soup. Blue soup all the time. We’d go out after food in that honey-colored haze, and everything that was edible had a penumbra of lavender.
PENELOPE: Sounds quite beautiful.
HAROLD: [Angered] Beautiful, you say? It wasn’t life, it wasn’t death, it wasn’t anything! Beautiful? Seven years gone — like that, like that! Seven years of silliness and random dreams! Seven years of nothingness, when there could have been so much!
And because one corner of my brain is devoted to the Beatles 24-7 these days, I thought immediately of Mr. Lennon:
Everybody seems to think I’m lazy
I don’t mind, I think they’re crazy
Running everywhere at such a speed
Till they find, there’s no need
Please don’t spoil my day
I’m miles away
And after all
I’m only sleeping
Yes, yes, the eternal question…drink the blue soup or face reality head-on. Lennon was a blue soup guy; Vonnegut’s character Harold Ryan is not, though it must be noted that he is more or less the villain of the piece. It’s a question most of us face every day, save those courageous few who have sworn off the stuff for good. The blue soup, mind you, isn’t necessarily a substance; it could be a comforting delusion or an unquestioned ideology. To see with clarity and deal with the consequences, this is no easy thing. In the future, I’d like to do more of it; at the moment, however, dreamland beckons.
Today’s treat is a music mix I’m calling “Mind Bender,” which is what you’ll hear John Lennon say in the sample from the Beatles Anthology at the beginning. The playlist is after the jump, but here’s a hint: every other song is by the Beatles.
Posting stuff off YouTube is the lazy blogger’s way out, I know. But lazy is my natural state, and anyway, it’s Labor Day—it would be against the spirit of the day to try too hard.
In the course of my research I came across this mashup-tastic version of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which combines the Beatles’ original with William Shatner’s cover, which is of course the definitive version. The results can only be described as essential. Thank you, “indastrol,” whoever you are.
Really enjoyed seeing the below clip on the VH1 Beatles hypefest (hosted by original MTVer Mark Goodman…what, Martha Quinn wasn’t available?). I had heard this song so little that it was almost like discovering a new Beatles track, which is a rare experience anymore. It’s a rockin’ little tune, and I really dig the footage, especially the way the editing makes it appear that several sets of Beatles are playing in the studio at the same time.
An important, if tragic, milestone in Beatles history—the last day of the existence of all four Beatles on planet Earth—came on December 8, 1980, when John Lennon was gunned down by a wackjob named Mark David Chapman. There are a lot of things about that day that don’t make sense, but one in particular stands out in my mind: Chapman walks up behind John and Yoko with a gun. He has the drop on them, the element of surprise is on his side. And he chooses to shoot John?
Had he chosen differently, Chapman today could be a folk hero instead of the least popular man in Attica State Prison. The penalty for taking out Yoko would have been a slap on the wrist, at worst, and he would have gained the adulation of Beatles fans the world over. John would have been out from under Yoko’s evil spell, free to reunite with the Beatles, start a new band, or do whatever the hell he wanted to.
Mark David Chapman, you did a bad thing.