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Posted by on Mar 20, 2013 in Blog, Music and Concert Reviews | 12 comments

Ten Underrated Beatles Songs

 

let-it-be

 

No band or artist in modern music history has influenced more people on earth than The Beatles.

It’s astonishing to think that four common men from Liverpool, England created the sum total of 275 original songs that were all essentially written and recorded within only a six-year period — between 1963 and 1969.  Six years!  That basically means The Beatles pumped out a new song about once a week.  Some of them even sold a few copies.  Imagine that.

To put this into perspective, think back just six years ago, from 2007 to the present.  Now, try and think of any musician who’s posted 20 number one hits and composed several dozen classic songs.  Within a six-year time frame.  Moreover, give me any artist who revolutionized modern music more profoundly — the way songs and albums are composed, packaged, marketed, and performed.  In short, there was before The Beatles and there is after The Beatles.  What took place during the last half of the 1960’s at Abbey Road Studios in North London was nothing short of a seismic global shift in music and culture.

Unfortunately, greatness sometimes begets saturation.  And ultimately boredom.  Most of us have heard every song they recorded — hundreds if not thousands of times.  Nothing seems fresh anymore.  In fact, some of the music that once had teenage girls fainting in the aisles may be considered stale in the same way many people may now doze off while listening to Mozart.  The comparison fits.  Indeed, during his day Mozart was what The Beatles were to their time.  Now, his greatest compositions have been reduced to background music played in the waiting rooms of doctors’ offices.  No doubt, the same sad fate awaits The Beatles and all other masters.

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Posted by on Feb 6, 2013 in Blog, Music and Concert Reviews | 0 comments

Happy 51st Birthday, Axl Rose!

Axl Rose in Concert

 

The great Axl Rose and I have many things in common.

Consider the following:  We both turn 51 today.

Image that.

Fifty-one years old — which means we’ve each been alive for more than half a century.

On the bright side, I’m just “8” in dog years.

I’ve never meet Axl.  However, I’ve seen him in concert a few times.  He’s best known as the legendary voice of Guns N’ Roses.

Come to think of it, Axl and I share far more than just having the same day and year of birth.  Is it possible that we were separated at birth?

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Posted by on Jan 31, 2013 in Blog, Music and Concert Reviews | 33 comments

The Ten Greatest National Anthem Performances of All Time

 

Jose Feliciano, 1968

 

The Star Spangled Banner deserves to be sung, not faked.

Lip syncing the National Anthem is grossly disrespectful.  It’s fraudulent.  It’s a mockery.  Any performer who refuses to actually sing the anthem live should be debunked and the invitation should be withdrawn.

Unfortunately, lip syncing has become increasingly common at big events.  Even more baffling, some people even find faking the anthem to be acceptable.

I strongly disagree.

Our National Anthem deserves better.

At the very least, The Star Spangled Banner deserves to be honored with authenticity.

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Posted by on Dec 14, 2012 in Blog, Music and Concert Reviews | 2 comments

A Song for All Seasons, An Anthem for the Ages

Why “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon and Yoko Ono is the Greatest Christmas Song Written and Recorded in the Modern Era

 

War is Over by John Lennon and Yoko Ono

 

John Lennon once said he always wanted to write a popular Christmas song.

Hard to believe, but as accomplished and prolific as The Beatles were for nearly a decade, they never recorded a holiday tune.

So, less than a year after the legendary rock icons dissolved as a group, John and wife Yoko Ono fled London for a new start in New York City. That’s where they would remain for the duration of Lennon’s life. In fact, the controversial duo never returned to England again, not even to visit.

During their earliest months in Manhattan, Lennon wrote a number of songs that would later become one his few commercial flops as an artist, ultimately released as the “Sometime in New York City” album. This creative period largely fueled by intense political activism and protest included an unusual Christmas song that was inexplicably omitted from the 1972 album.  And yet, it would ultimately become a powerful anthem for world peace as well as a timeless melody of hope for all humanity.

Like many great works of creative alchemy, the song wasn’t particularly well-received when released, either by critics or the public. The single wasn’t a hit when initially released in 1971 in the United States. A year later, the single was released in the U.K., where it enjoyed modest success, charting as high as fourth. But by the mid-1970’s the song was mostly forgotten.

The song did later appear on a relatively obscure John Lennon composition album called “Shaved Fish.” But following a stellar track record of commercial and critical successes — both with The Beatles and Plastic Ono Band — no one was quite sure what to make of the odd tune. It certainly wasn’t a mainstream Christmas song in the traditional sense. But it wasn’t quite a political song either, not in the mold of other Lennon classics like “Give Peace a Chance” or “Imagine.” Older people who fancied traditional Christmas music weren’t about to purchase new single by one of counterculture’s most outspoken leaders. And younger fans weren’t all too enthusiastic at the notion of listening to what amounted to a simple Christmas song. The title too was controversial, opting to omit “Christ” from Christ-mas.

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Posted by on Oct 8, 2012 in Blog, Music and Concert Reviews | 0 comments

Searching for Sugarman: Rodriguez on ’60 Minutes’

rodriguez-photo

 

There are rare few moments of great television.

Last night offered us such a moment.

On CBS’ “60 Minutes,” the long lost hermit singer-songwriter Rodriguez was featured in the third segement.  This was one of the most heartwarming and inspiring stories I’ve ever seen on a program that has given us many extraordinary memories over the years.

The segment told the remarkable story of a long-forgotten folk singer from Detroit, simply named Rodriguez.  Forty years ago, he made two albums, both of which bombed commercially in the United States.  So, Rodriguez essentially quit the music business entirely and spent the next three decades working as a day laborer.  He stayed poor, living in a run-down shack outside of Detroit.

Meanwhile 15,000 miles away on the other side of the world, his records somewhow caught on in the nation of South Africa.  During the fall of Apartheid, he unknowingly became a huge star, although he never received a dime in royalties nor knew of his fame in that faraway land.  South Africans who knew every song and rang Rodriguez’s lyrics presumed he was dead.

But Rodriguez was very much alive.

This remarkable segment tells Rodriguez’s life story, which eventualy led to a movie which is out now called “Searching for Sugarman.”  The tale of how the movie, which debuted this year at the Sundance Film Festival, came to be is just as moving emotionally — shot largely on an iPhone by a one-man production team with no budget led by a broke Swede, who heard about this amazing Cinderella tale and decided to make a film which has now changed both of their lives.

If you cherish the notion that art is not a commodity but a state of consciousness, or if you simply want to sit back and enjoy a great story, I urge you to watch this clip:

WATCH FULL “60 MINUTES” EPISODE on RODRIGUEZ HERE

 

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