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Best Beatles cover versions? Golden Slumbers by George Benson

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There have several thousand covers of Beatles songs but a short list of those which work well. Twist my arm and I’d go for George Benson’s interpretation of Golden Slumbers   from his extraordinary The Other Side of Abbey Road (1971) Benson was a young jazz guitar prodigy at a time when the form appeared to have hit the buffers. To purists, his attempt to take on The Beatles was the first in long series of contemptible sellouts. His musical peers saw it differently, with Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard, and Sonny Fortune all contributing to what was essentially a new take on the a tradition pioneered by the Ella Fitzgerald Songbooks. Golden Slumbers is a highlight that draws on the unusual genesis of the original. This was famously inspired by  Paul McCartney coming across his step-sister's sheet music for a piece called Cradle Music left on the piano at his father's house in Liverpool. Intrigued, but unable to read the 'black dots on the page' Paul invented a melody an

How did John meet Paul?

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On Saturday the 6th July, 1957 St Peter's Church held it a annual summer fete in the Liverpool suburb of Woolton. After the usual stalls and games for children in the afternoon, a new skiffle group played in the church hall in the evening. They were named The Quarrymen, after the school the band-leader attended. His name was John Lennon. John with the Quarrymen a few hours before meeting Paul Paul McCartney was only just fifteen, eighteen months younger than Lennon. He lived a bus ride away and went to a different school. But he and Lennon shared a mutual friend, Ivan Vaughan. Vaughan invited McCartney to the fete, promising that there would be girls there. “You can meet my mate John, too,” he added. “He plays guitar like you…” Read full piece free on on Medium    3 min read with video The Beatles Teaching Pack  free download during pandemic BBC Witness (audio): The Band That Made The Beatles

What was George Harrison's first guitar?

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When he was thirteen, George was admitted to hospital with what turned out to be a minor kidney problem. As with Ringo, a spell on the children’s ward proved to be the catalyst for obtaining his first musical instrument.  To cheer up his sick son, his father agreed to buy an old classmate’s Dutch Egmond flat-top acoustic guitar. Dutch Egmond Acoustic — George Harrison’s first guitar What George would later describe as a ‘cheapo, a horrible little guitar’ had a selling price of £3 ($4). This was a large sum for a poorly paid bus driver, though it would prove an inspired long-term investment. In 2003 it was sold for $800,000 at auction. Progression This Egmond proved very difficult to master. His mother, Louise, observed his painful struggle with it. George tried to teach himself [the guitar]. But he wasn’t making much headway. ‘I’ll never learn this,’ he used to say. I said, ‘You will, son, you will. Just keep at it.’ Early progress was also hampered by an ill advised experiment. Curiou

How did Yesterday change the way The Beatles wrote and recorded songs?

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The melody for YESTERDAY came to Paul McCartney in a dream but in other respects it was the most complex Beatles project until that point.  McCartney worked on  the  song for 18 months. He was still writing the song during the filming of Help!. This irritated director, Richard Lester so much that he banned him from playing the then Scrambled Eggs on the set.. George Harrison was similarly unimpressed, remarking ‘Who does he think he is? Beethoven?’  The Arrangement When George Martin suggested adding strings, McCartney was uneasy (‘No vibrato, George. I don’t want to sound like Mantovani!’). Realsiing this would be unnatural for a modern string player, Martin followed McCartney's instructions when writing the part but then asked him to help supervise the arrangement, knowing that this would demonstrate the issue. ‘As a result of which,{McCartney} added the cello phrase in bar 4 of the middle eight (1.25–27) and the first violin’s held high  A in the final verse.’ Macdonald. The Rec

Why was the sound quality so poor at Beatles concerts?

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In February 1962 The Beatles played at a youth club in Liverpool, using the church hall. The venue was modest but fit for purpose. With its low ceiling and wooden floors it provided excellent acoustics for the local fans who managed to squeeze in. Two years later they travelled to Washington DC in the immediate wake of their triumph on the Ed Sullivan Show. A concert was hastily arranged in a venue used for basketball and boxing, It set the template for all the live shows that were to come: An 8000-voice choir performed last night at Washington Coliseum in the premiere of what is likely to become an American classic. Call it in B for want of a better name. The choir was accompanied, incidentally, by four young British artists who call themselves the Beatles. Their part was almost completely obscured by the larger choral group, The 'thin voices' of the visiting group could not compete with the thousands of screaming teenagers.  This problem would plague The Beatles for their rem

Where did the title Tomorrow Never Knows come from?

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Tomorrow Never Knows took The Beatles into previously unexplored musical territory. Its use of tape loops, a mellotron, Tibetan chants and various Musique Concrete techniques were startling innovations for a mainstream pop record.  The title, however,  was inspired by a more homely source: I took one of Ringo's malapropisms as the title, to sort of take the edge off the heavy philosophical lyrics. Where did this  'heavy' philosophy come from? The Tibetan Book of the Dead via  The Psychedelic Experience by Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (1964). Leary notoriously promoted the use of LSD as the key to what Huxley had termed the Doors of Perception.  Lennon discovered the  The Psychedelic Experience when browsing the shelves at the Indica Bookshop in London:  John began to scan the shelves. His eyes soon alighted upon a copy of The Psychedelic Experience, Dr Timothy Leary's psychedelic version of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.  John was delighted and settled down

When did George Harrison stop taking LSD? Why?

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The Beatles famously brought LSD to public attention. Less well known is that George Harrison became rapidly disillusioned about the effects of the drug on young people exposed to it. On 7 August 1967, George Harrison flew with his then wife Patti, Neil Aspinall and Derek Taylor to San Francisco.   They were there to visit George's sister, Jenny but also wanted to visit the  increasingly famous 'Hippy Heaven' area of Haight Ashbury.   Not so many flowers Are you going to  San Francisco/Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair Scott McKenzie released his single in May 1967. A huge hit, it acted as a siren call to those attracted by the ideas of the counter culture.  Young runaways began arriving in large numbers. Drug dealing petty criminals moved in to exploit them.  By August the situation in Haight Ashbury was spiralling out of control.  The atmosphere was especially tense during the weekend of their arrival. Four days earlier two dealers had been murdered in horrific

Which Beatles song was directly influenced by Bach?

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During their early musical education, The Beatles steered clear of classical music. Paul tells how his father 'a jazzer' would pointedly turn off the radio when a classical piece was broadcast. His son metaphorically followed suit, as did his bandmates. It was not for them. Bach - but not as he wrote it George had, however, learned one classical 'party-piece' at an early age. He did not know the title but had the vague idea that it was by Bach. George then taught this partial, inaccurate version of  BourrĂ©e from the E Minor Lute Suite, to Paul. Here it is played according to original score: In 1968 McCartney used the BourrĂ©e as a starting point for what would become one of his most admired compositions. Would Bach have been due a Chiffons-style copyright infringement payday if he had had hung around for another 240 years? It seems very unlikely. McCartney acknowledges that Bach provided the 'original inspiration' for Blackbird - but argues that musically he took

Why did John Lennon stop driving in 1969?

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  He was a terrible driver…with bad eyesight’. John Lennon's cousin, Stan. John Lennon's Austin Maxi, the last car he ever drove Unlike most of his rockstar peers, Lennon had little interest cars. He learned to drive comparatively late, only passing his test in 1965, when he was twenty-four.  Even when he got his licence, he showed little enthusiasm for getting behind the wheel, rarely doing so for the next four years. In 1969, however, he decided 'on the spur of the moment' to drive his family to the Scottish Highlands. It did not go well. Full Story here  (five minute read)

Which Beatle had the most difficult childhood?

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Aunt Mimi’s house — Copyright Pernille Eriksen — reprinted here with permission —  prints available John Lennon's childhood traumas are documented in series of songs he wrote in the late 60s and early 70s: Julia, Mother, Working Class Hero. In fact the whole of his first solo album is an extended therapy session aimed at healing his troubled psyche. Yet in the early days of their friendship what struck Paul was not John's emotional  pain. It was his posh house. Paul For Paul,  Mendips  was a different social world - one in which an auntie was an aunt and the shelves were filled with books and artwork. Until this point all he had known were council houses.  In his own home their had been a fairly recent tragedy - his adored mother had died from a cancer that consumed her with brutal rapidity. In an age before grief counselling Paul and his brother were encouraged not to dwell on this misfortune The McCartney home — Copyright Pernille Eriksen — reprinted here with permiss