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Bruce Springsteen’s Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ: The Launchpad of a Lyrical Legacy and a Band Unlike Any Other

Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ, released January 5, 1973

Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ, released January 5, 1973

Fun Facts About Bruce Springsteen’s Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ

General Info

Bruce and the E-Street Band (L to R): Danny Frederici, Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez, Gary W. Tallent, Bruce Springsteen, David Sancious, Clarence Clemons

Bruce and the E Street Band (L to R): Danny Frederici, Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez, Gary W. Tallent, Bruce Springsteen, David Sancious, Clarence Clemons

Springsteen and his first manager Mike Appel decided to record the album at the low-priced, out-of-the-way 914 Sound Studios to save as much as possible of the Columbia Records advance and cut the record in a single week. Both “Blinded by the Light” and “Spirit in the Night” were released as singles by Columbia, but neither made a dent in the US charts. Ken Emerson wrote in Rolling Stone magazine, “Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ . . . was like “Subterranean Homesick Blues” played at 78 RPM, a typical five-minute track busting with more words than this review. . .” In 2003, the album was ranked number 379 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. On November 22nd, 2009, Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ was played in its entirety for the first time by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York, to celebrate the last show of the Working on a Dream tour. This marked the E Street Band’s first-ever performance of “The Angel”. Professional wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow used a finisher called Greetings from Asbury Park during his spell in Extreme Championship Wrestling.

Track by Track

E-Street Band pictured on the back cover of the album

E Street Band pictured on the back cover of the album

Blinded by the Light

Manfred Mann’s Earth Band released a version of “Blinded by the Light” on their album The Roaring Silence. The song reached #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 on 19 February 1977 and #1 on the Canadian RPM chart the same day. The song is notable for lead vocalist Chris Thompson’s garbled enunciation, especially of the phrase “revved up like a deuce” which has led many fans to interpret it as “wrapped up like a douche”. The original Springsteen lyric is neither of the above, instead being “cut loose like a deuce”. Springsteen once attributed the popularity of the Manfred Mann version partially to Thompson’s enunciation. The Manfred Mann’s Earth Band recording of “Blinded by the Light” is Springsteen’s only Number 1 single as a songwriter on the Hot 100. In 2002, Danish act Funkstar Deluxe released its disco version of this song. In 2007, several remixes were released by the German DJ Michael Mind as Michael Mind featuring Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, adding electronic beats to the major hit of 1977and rising to number 12 of the German charts. A ska version can be found on Springsteen’s Live in Dublin album, recorded with the Sessions Band. Lil’ Wayne sampled this song on his song “Blinded” from a mixtape released by The Empire Entitled The Drought Is Over (The Reincarnation).

Growin’ Up

Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen

It is a moderately-paced tune, concerning an adolescence as a rebellious New Jersey teen, with lyrics written in the first-person. The lyrics feature a chorus that is progressively modified as the song continues, with the first chorus being “I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd but when they said ‘Sit down,’ I stood up,” while the second chorus switches to “clouded warmth…’come down,’ I threw up” and the third finishes the song with “mother breast…’pull down,’ I pulled up.” The track soon became a live favorite for the Springsteen audiences and Springsteen often told a long history of his problems with his father as an intro to the song. A version of this history can be heard on the live album Live/1975-85. The song has been performed live about 270 times. An acoustic version of the song, part of Springsteen’s 1972 audition for CBS Records, appears on Tracks and 18 Tracks. The song was featured in the 1999 film Big Daddy and the 2007 film Gracie. David Bowie recorded a version of this song in the early stages of the Diamond Dogs sessions with Ronnie Wood on lead guitar. In 1990 this was released as a bonus track on the Rykodisc reissue of his Pin Ups album, and in 2004 it appeared on the bonus disc of the 30th anniversary edition of Diamond Dogs. The song has also been covered by Any Trouble, John Hammond, Jr., Portastic and Alvin Stardust

Mary Queen of Arkansas

Springsteen played “Mary Queen of Arkansas” at his audition for John Hammond at CBS Records, who signed him to his first record contract on May 2, 1972, although Hammond was less impressed with this song than with “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City” or with “Growin’ Up”. The day after signing the contract, Springsteen recorded “Mary Queen of Arkansas” as part of a 12 song demo for Hammond. The demo version of the song was released onTracks in 1998. The song is one of the slower tracks on Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., played on acoustic guitar, and the lyrics of the song may be about a drag queen. The lyrics are dense and pretensious, and appear to be an attempt to imitate Bob Dylan. “Mary Queen Of Arkansas” is a slow, quiet acoustic song with a faint country feel to it. The lyrics contain repeated references to the circus (a theme explored in deeper depth on his The Wild, the Innocent & the E-Street Shuffle) as in “Well I’m just a lonely acrobat, this live wire, she’s my trade” and “The big top is for dreamers, we can take the circus all the way to the border.” It is a love song, devoted to “Mary.” Like most of Springsteen’s songs, particularly the first album, the lyrics are evocative though not detailed. The song appears to be sung in the first person, by a slave in the antebellum American south, to his white mistress, with whom he is having a clandestine affair.

Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?

The earliest known photo of Bruce with the entire Line-up #1 of The E Street Band, snapped in December, 1972, early in the Greetings Tour

The earliest known photo of Bruce with the entire Line-up of The E Street Band, snapped in December, 1972, early in the Greetings Tour

The song was part of the demo that Springsteen recorded for John Hammond of CBS Records in advance of getting his first recording contract. This demo version was released on Tracks in 1998. The song is loosely based on a bus ride Springsteen once took to visit a girlfriend in uptown Manhattan. As a result, the song is basically set in Spanish Harlem, although it contains some anomalous references, such as to actress Joan Fontaine. The characters are more thinly sketched than in other songs on Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., but the song does contain the incongruous rhyming of other Springsteen songs of the period and is full of good humor. Springsteen only rarely plays “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?” in concert, but when he does it is usually enjoyed by the fans. “Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street?” is a beat-style pastiche of a journey through city streets. It is fast-paced and has no chorus. One recognizable theme is a movement towards the sky, as in the lines “drink this and you’ll grow wings on your feet”, “interstellar mongrel nymphs” and “(Mary Lou) rides to heaven on a gyroscope.”

Lost in the Flood

A sparse, piano-driven song, seemingly about a Vietnam War veteran. This is the first of many epic Springsteen songs that elicit strong emotions, usually of despair, grief, and small glimpse of hope. The treatment of veterans in the United States has always been a sore spot for Springsteen. The lyrics tell a loose story, invoking a series of images that appear to somewhat tell a story or perhaps three different stories for each of the three verses The first verse is about “ragamuffin gunner” and has a recurring theme of religion, including references to the “hit-and-run” pleading for “sanctuary” and hiding beneath a “holy stone,” while “breakin’ beams and crosses with a spastic’s reeling perfection” and “nuns run bald through Vatican halls, pregnant, pleading Immaculate Conception.” Finally, “everybody’s wrecked on Main Street from drinking unholy blood.” The second verse is about a “pure American brother”, “Jimmy the Saint”, perhaps the same person as the “ragamuffin gunner” from the first verse. This is the beginning of Springsteen’s use of automobile themes (along with “The Angel”), as the pure American brother “races Sundays in Jersey in a Chevy stock Super Eight” and “leans on the hood telling racing stories.” Eventually, Jimmy the Saint gets into some sort of accident (described as running “headfirst into a hurricane”) and presumably dies since “there was nothing left but some blood where the body fell.” The third verse concerns a series of people on the streets of a city, presumably New York. They include “Eighth Avenue sailors in satin shirts,” “some storefront incarnation of Maria,” “Bronx’s best apostle,” “the cops,” “the whiz-bang gang” and “some kid” who gets shot in the ensuing gun fight and holds “his leg, screaming something in Spanish.”

The Angel

Bruce and "The Big Man" Clarence Clemons

Bruce and "The Big Man" Clarence Clemons

Released as the B-side to Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light” single. The song was part of the demo that Springsteen recorded for John Hammond of CBS Records in advance of getting his first recording contract. At the time Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. was released, Springsteen considered it his most sophisticated song. It has had virtually no live performances. The lyrics describe a man referred to as “the angel” and a woman who is “Madison Avenue’s claim to fame in a trainer bra with eyes like rain.” This song has a fully-developed automobile theme, including some lines such as “The interstate’s choked with nomadic hordes/in Volkswagen vans with full running boards dragging great anchors/Followin’ dead-end signs into the sores/The angel rides by humpin’ his hunk metal whore”. Another notable line is the historic “hubcap heaven.” Bruce took one of his early rare photos in front of this site in Monmouth New Jersey. The referenced “Hubcap Heaven” is now known as “The Hubcap Farm” and is still in business. Bruce once said he would never play this song live, and he went 23 years keeping that promise. In London in 1996, on his acoustic Ghost of Tom Joad Tour, Bruce played the song. Until later 2009, that had been its only live performance. However, on November 22, 2009, in Buffalo, New York, which was the final 2009 show of his scheduled Working On A Dream Tour, he and the E Street Band performed the song, along with the rest of the Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. album. It was the first performance of the song with the E Street Band Richard Davis, upright bass player on “The Angel” also played the bass on Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks.

For You

This song was later included on the compilation album The Essential Bruce Springsteen.

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Advertisement for Greetings

It has also been covered by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and Greg Kihn. Like most of the songs on Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., “For You” was recorded at 914 Sound Studios in Blauvelt, New York between July and September, 1972. Musicians participating in these sessions included future E Street Band members David Sancious, Garry Tallent and Vini Lopez. It is a climactic, percussion-driven song. Unlike many other songs on Springsteen’s debut album, it takes the time to pace and build. The lyrics are about a woman who has attempted suicide. She does not need the singer’s “urgency” even though her life is “one long emergency” as Springsteen sings in the chorus (along with “and your cloud line urges me, and my electric surges free”). The singer is committed to doing anything to save her, and admires her ability to hang on. Once again, the lyrics are evocative of images and not details, and little can be said in description. Like “Blinded By The Light” and “Spirit in the Night” (on The Roaring Silence), this song was covered by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band for their album Chance. As with Manfred Mann Earth Band’s previous Springsteen covers, they used a more forceful, rockier sound for “For You” than Springsteen did. The Earth Band version built from a more temperate beginning to an explosion of sound in the bridge, and incorporates five guitars and an impressive keyboard solo by Manfred Mann 3/4 of the way into the song. The song was also included on the compilation albums The Best of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and Blinded by the Light & Other Hits. However, the single release did not achieve the success of their other Springsteen covers. The song was also covered by Greg Kihn on his 1977 album Greg Kihn Again. Kihn’s cover received favorable comments from Springsteen. It was also included on the compilation album Best of Kihn. This song was also covered by The Format on their “B-Sides and Rarities” album.

Spirit in the Night

The second single released from the album. A cover version performed by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band was released on the album Nightingales and Bombers and as a Top 40 single.It was one of the last songs to be written and recorded for Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. Springsteen had recorded 10 other tracks for the album, but Clive Davis, president of the record label that was releasing the album, was concerned that the recorded tracks did not have enough commercial appeal. As a result, Springsteen quickly wrote and recorded two additional songs: “Spirit in the Night” and “Blinded by the Light”. Because these songs were added so late in the recording process, several of Springsteen’s band members were unavailable to record these two songs. As a result, the recording lineup for “Spirit in the Night” was limited to Vini Lopez on drums, Clarence Clemons on saxophone, and Springsteen himself playing all other instruments. Although “Spirit in the Night” was one of the last songs written for the album, it did grow out of an earlier version of the song that Springsteen had played live prior to receiving his recording contract. Although most of the songs on Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. were packed with lyrics to the extent that sometimes they overwhelm the musical arrangements, “Spirit in the Night” has been described as the one song on the album on which the music and narrative fit together. Clemons’ sax playing and Lopez’ drumming match the freedom and ebullience described in the lyrics. The lyrics themselves describe a group of teenagers — Wild Billy, Hazy Davy, Crazy Janey, Killer Joe, and G-Man — going to a spot called “Greasy Lake” near “Route 88” for a night of freedom, sex, and drinking. But although their escape to the freedom of Greasy Lake is short lived, the emphasis is on the friends’ togetherness. Although the release of the song as a single was unsuccessful in the U.S., “Spirit in the Night” has remained a live favorite in Springsteen concerts. Live versions of the song have appeared on the live CD Live/1975–85 and on both the CD and video versions of Hammersmith Odeon London ’75. Bruce SpringsteenThe studio version of the song was released on the compilation album The Essential Bruce Springsteen.

Although Greasy Lake, where the action takes place, is a mythical place, drummer Vini Lopez has stated that it is actually a composite of two locations that band members used to visit. One was Lake Carasaljo, near the intersection of U.S. Route 9 and New Jersey Route 88 in Lakewood, New Jersey. The other was a swampy lake near Garden State Parkway exit 88.

The Greasy Lake in the song inspired a short story named “Greasy Lake” by T.C. Boyle. Like Springsteen’s characters, Boyle’s characters are restless and looking to party, although they have a more dangerous edge than Springsteen’s.

It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City

A live version is included on the DVD of the Hammersmith Odeon concert that is included in the Born to Run (30th Anniversary Edition) and the Hammersmith Odeon London ’75 CD.

The song has also been covered by David Bowie. John Sayles included this song in a high school lunchroom scene of his movie Baby, It’s You This is the song that impressed producer Mike Appel so much that he quit his job to become Springsteen’s manager, even though Springsteen did not have a record contract yet. This was also the first song Springsteen played at his audition for John Hammond at CBS Records, who eventually signed him to a record contract, on May 2, 1972. The following day, Springsteen recorded “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City” as part of a 12 song demo for Hammond. The demo version of the song was released on Tracks in 1998. The version included on Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. was recorded during the summer of 1972 backed by future E-Street Band members David Sancious on piano, Vini Lopez on drums and Garry Tallent on bass. “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City” is a fast paced song. It is a solid rock ‘n’ roll song when played in concert. Its tone is cocky and arrogant. The first person lyrics contain religious imagery and brag about the singer’s street credentials, in the tradition of Bo Diddley lyrics. The young singer is growing up on the streets of a city, and who is trying to stay “good” and do what he believes is right. Unfortunately, “those gasoline boys sure talk gritty” and he is inexorably dragged into some very unsaintly activities. One of the more quoted lines is “The devil appeared like Jesus through the steam in the street/Showin’ me a hand I knew even the cops couldn’t beat/I felt his hot breath on my neck as I dove into the heat/It’s so hard to be a saint when you’re just a boy out on the street.” VIDEO:  Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – “Growin’ Up” VIDEO:  Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band – “Spirits in the Night” Special thanks to Wikipedia.com, About.com and RollingStone.com

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Bob Dylan: Visionary musician and lyricist; voice of a generation

Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman

Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, 1941

Fun Facts About Bob Dylan

  • Young Bob DylanMost reference books list Robert Allen Zimmerman’s birth date as May 24, 1941. But a passport issued to Robert Dylan in 1974 says his birth date is May 11, 1941.
  • Robert Allen Zimmerman received a D-plus in a music-appreciation class at the University of Minnesota.
  • Bob didn’t care to speak to other musicians, other than talking about stuff related to music and what they were recording or playing at the time. He would speak to people he knew, but wasn’t really interested in becoming “friends” with the musicians he met…apart from a few guys that became close to him like George Harrison.
  • In 1970 Dylan received an honorary doctorate of music from Princeton University.
  • Dylan’s reputation has long been larger than his record sales. His best-selling album is “Greatest Hits” (1967), which has been certified double-platinum, meaning it has sold between 2 million and 3 million copies. Runner-up is “Greatest Hits – Vol. II” (1971), a million-seller; Columbia Records doesn’t release sales figures, but a representative said “Vol. II” is nearing double-platinum. The next bestsellers are “Desire” (’76) and “Blood on the Tracks” (’75), both of which have achieved platinum status.
  • Bob had a rule that he only ever recorded music at night, he would show up to the studio around 9pm and work until the early hours of morning…always. Occasionally his band would record music pieces during the day and try to get Bob to listen to it, Bob would say “I don’t even wanna hear it if it was recorded during the day”
  • None of Dylan’s singles has ever reached No. 1 on Billboard’s pop chart. “Like a Rolling Stone” (1965) peaked at No. 2, as did “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” (’66).
  • Bob DylanThe Byrds flew to No. 1 in ’65 with a version of Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
  • “Blowin’ in the Wind” is the only Dylan tune to hit the Top 10 twice – in 1963 by Peter, Paul & Mary, when it carried to No. 2, and in ’66, when Stevie Wonder took it to No. 9.
  • Under his senior photo in the Hibbing High School yearbook, Zimmerman said he wanted “to join Little Richard.”
  • In the summer of 1959 Zimmerman played piano in Bobby Vee’s band – for two gigs.
  • Dylan’s harmonica is heard on records by Harry Belafonte, George Harrison, Steve Goodman, Roger McGuinn, Booker T. and Priscilla Jones, Doug Sahm, Carolyn Hester, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Sly & Robbie.
  • Among the pseudonyms Dylan has used when appearing on others’ records have been Blind Boy Grunt, Tedham Porterhouse, Robert Milkwood Thomas, Roosevelt Gook and Bob Landy.
  • The Minnesota Historical Society lists 97 Dylan items in its reference library. Included are a 1987 Ph.D. thesis by a Purdue University student, five fanzines, 17 books and articles published in Germany, one children’s book, and Dylan’s original, hand-written lyric sheet for “Temporary Like Achilles,” a 1966 song on “Blonde on Blonde.” The Historical Society bought it from a collector in 1988. The most interesting title in the society’s collection is “Mysteriously Saved: An Astrological Investigation into Bob Dylan’s Conversion to American Fundamentalism” by John Ledbury. Bob Spitz’s 1989 tome, “Dylan,” is the biggest item, at 639 pages.
  • Little Sandy Review, a mimeographed Twin Cities rag about folk music published in the late ’50s and early ’60s, was the first source to reveal that Zimmerman had invented Dylan. Little Sandy editor Paul Nelson later became a key editor at Rolling Stone.
  • Bob Dylan

    Dylan adapted “Blowin’ in the Wind” from a spiritual, “No More Auction Block,” which is also known as “Many Thousands Gone.”

  • Dylan was scheduled to appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show” on May 12, 1963, with Irving Berlin, Al Hirt, Rip Taylor, Teresa Brewer, Myron Cohen and Topo Gigio, the Italian mouse. Dylan was going to sing “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues.” During the dress rehearsal, he was told that “John Birch” was deemed too controversial by network censors, and program producer Bob Precht, whose idea it was to invite Dylan on the show, asked him to sing another song. Dylan declined and did not appear.
  • “Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues” was scheduled to be included on Dylan ‘s second album, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.” Columbia Records got paranoid, recalled the album and removed the song.
  • On June 7, 1969, Dylan sang “I Threw It All Away” and “Living the Blues” on Johnny Cash’s TV program. They sang a duet on “Girl from the North Country.”
  • Bob asked his music engineer to get him a 1966 Harley Davidson Shovelhead. Bobs engineer Mark Howard got him the bike and watched Bob ride away on it, but heard him stall the bike just around the corner and went to see if he needed any help. He found Dylan sitting on the bike staring straight ahead with 3 people hanging around the front of the bike asking for his autograph…Dylan just sat there like he did not even see them, he then proceeded to start the bike again and ride off without acknowledging the 3 fans. Bob liked to ride his bike with no helmet and told Howard that “The police are really friendly around here…they are all waving at me” Howard told him that they were waving at him because he had no helmet on and wanted him to stop!!
  • Dylan’s first major U.S. TV appearance was on “The Steve Allen Show” in early ’64.
  • In August 1969 Dylan made his first paid public performance since July 26, 1966, when he broke his neck in the crash of his Triumph 500 motorcycle. Backed by the Band, he performed in front of 200,000 people at England’s Isle of Wight festival. He was paid $75,000 for a 70-minute performance.
  • Dylan flew his parents, Abe and Beatty Zimmerman, to New York to see him perform at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 12, 1963.
  • Dylan married Sara Lownds in an impromptu private ceremony Nov. 22, 1965, in a judge’s chamber in Mineola, N.Y. Two days later the singer told an interviewer from the Chicago Daily News, “I don’t hope to be like anybody. Getting married, having a bunch of kids, I have no hopes for it.” Dylan’s marriage was not announced until February 1966.
  • Bob DylanSara Dylan received custody of the couple’s four children in their 1977 divorce. A fifth child, Sara’s daughter Maria Dylan, is married to singer-songwriter Peter Himmelman, formerly of St. Louis Park.
  • When Dylan accepted his Grammy for “Lifetime Achievement” in February, he said, “Well, my daddy didn’t leave me too much . . . he was a very simple man.” He shifted anxiously. “But he did say, `Son . . . it’s possible to be so defiled in this world that your own mother and father will abandon you. And if this happens, God will always believe in your own ability to mend your ways.'”
  • Since around 1975 Bob has only ever included 10 or less songs on his albums (not including “best of” or “compilation” albums) regardless of whether or not he had more than 10 songs in the pipeline at the time. On his album “Oh Mercy” the producers tried to get Dylan to include an eleventh song “Series Of Dreams” Bob replied with “Y’know what..I only put 10 songs on my albums” the producers tried again, saying that the song was so great it simply had to go onto the album…Bob replied again “nah nah, I’m only puttin 10 songs on there”…end of story!!
  • Dylan won his first Grammy in 1980 for best rock vocal performance for the religious-oriented “Gotta Serve Somebody.” “Slow Train Coming,” the album on which the song appeared, was named best inspirational album at the Dove Awards, which recognize gospel recordings.
  • While attending the University of Minnesota in 1959 and ’60 Zimmerman lived at the Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity house on University Av. and later above Gray’s Campus Drug in Dinkytown. He performed at the Ten O’Clock Scholar coffeehouse, where the Dinkytown Burger King now stands.
  • Whenever Bob was out and about he almost always wore a hoody, whether for anonymity or not, who knows. One day a drummer that was brought in to play with Bob’s band asked one of the engineers “Where the F**k is Bob Dylan” the engineer proceeded to say “he’s sitting right next to you” Bob just looked up in his hoodie, raised his eyebrows and continued writing lyrics!!
  • Dylan’s quasi-autobiographical 1977 movie, “Renaldo & Clara,” was three hours and 57 minutes long. He portrayed Renaldo, while musician Ronnie Hawkins played a character named Bob Dylan. The film included 47 songs.
  • After taking a shellacking from critics, the movie was edited to about 90 minutes.
  • Bob DylanDylan’s first two movies were documentaries – “Don’t Look Back,” a look at his 1965 British tour, was released in ’67, but did not receive widespread distribution until ’75; “Eat This Document,” which was shot in ’66 for an ABC-TV special, was screened as a movie in ’71.
  • Dylan is the author of two books. “Tarantula,” which was rejected by Macmillan and Co. in 1965, was bootlegged in ’70 and officially published in ’71. “Writing and Drawings by Bob Dylan” was published in ’73; it features 187 song lyrics, 17 drawings, 26 poems and five pages of manuscript.
  • Dylan phoned critic Robert Shelton of the New York Times to invite Shelton to review his performance Sept. 26, 1961, at Gerde’s Folk City, opening for the Greenbriar Boys. It was considered audacious for an artist to ask a critic for a review – especially one from the Times. Dylan hoodwinked Shelton during an interview; among other things, Dylan said that when he was 13, he ran away and joined the circus and that he had recorded with Gene Vincent in Nashville, Tenn. Shelton’s rave review launched Dylan’s career.
  • In 1961, after rave reviews on the New York coffeehouse circuit, Dylan signed a three-year deal with Witmark & Sons to publish his songs. In three years Dylan wrote 237 songs for Witmark, including “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” “Masters of War,” “With God on Our Side,” “It Ain’t Me Babe,” “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” “Only a Pawn in Their Game” and “Mr. Tambourine Man.”
  • Dylan was a contributing editor to “Broadside,” the folk-music magazine.
  • Judson Manning, the Time magazine correspondent belittled in “Ballad of a Thin Man” (“Because something is happening here/But you don’t know what it is/ Do you, Mr. Jones?”), interviewed not only Dylan, but also Adolf Hitler.
  • Bob DylanThree Dylan songs begin with nearly the same line, “Early in the mornin’. . . .” The songs are “Obviously Five Believers,” “Pledging My Time” and “Tangled Up in Blue” (which actually starts “Early one mornin’ . . . “).
  • Although they never received credit on the liner notes (which had already been printed), a handful of Minnesota musicians appeared on a few tunes on “Blood on the Tracks” that were rerecorded at Sound 80 in Minneapolis in December 1974. The players included drummer Bill Berg, bassist Billy Peterson, fiddler-mandolinist Peter Ostroushko, keyboardist Gregg Inhofer and guitarists Kevin Odegard and Chris Weber.
  • Dylan introduced the Beatles to marijuana in August 1964 at the Delmonico Hotel in New York.
  • Columbia Records hired Bob Johnston to produce Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited” sessions in Nashville as a reward for having returned Patti Page, a Columbia stalwart, to the charts with “Hush Hush, Sweet Charlotte.”
  • Louis Kemp, Dylan’s childhood friend, was hired as a staff member on Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue in 1975. He now runs Louis Kemp Seafood Co.
  • In 1967, while recuperating from his motorcycle accident in Woodstock, N.Y., Dylan signed with MGM Records, home of the Righteous Brothers, the Lovin’ Spoonful, Connie Francis and the late Hank Williams. MGM withdrew the contract on a technicality, and Dylan signed with Columbia.
  • When Dylan was wooed to Asylum Records in 1973, Columbia put out “Dylan ” to spite him. The album of outtakes includes versions of Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” and Jerry Jeff Walker’s “Mr. Bojangles.”
  • Bob DylanAfter seeing Tiny Tim perform Dylan’s “Positively Fourth Street” in California, Dylan summoned the fey singer to Woodstock in 1967. For Dylan, Tiny Tim did an impression of Rudy Vallee singing “Like a Rolling Stone” and an impression of Dylan singing Vallee’s “There’s No Time Like Your Time.”
  • Bob always carried around a rolled-up bundle of paper with lyrics that he was working on, it was always written in pencil, and he was totally fanatical about his words. Bob would even be writing down new lyrics during recording sessions…adding, deleting and taking out words. He would have a piece of paper with thousands of lyrics written down, most of which was mainly illegible to other readers, words going upside down, sideways and all over the page. His crew hardly ever seen him eat, but he was always drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and hacking away at his lyrics. Dylan told his pianist he had been working on some of his songs for five or six years, trying to get them the way he wanted them…perfect!!
  • Among the duets Dylan has recorded for other artists’ albums are “Buckets of Rain” with Bette Midler, “Sign Language” with Eric Clapton and “Don’t Go Home with Your Hard-on” with Leonard Cohen.
  • The first time Dylan plugged in and played electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965, he was accompanied by members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. Later that summer, at Forest Hills Stadium, Dylan rocked with, among others, two members of the Band, Robbie Robertson and Levon Helm.
  • The Zimmerman family home at 2524 7th Av. E. in Hibbing was sold in August 1990 for $50,000. It had been on the market for about nine months. Its previous owner, who reportedly bought it from the Zimmerman family, sold many items to a Dylan collector.
  • Imprisoned boxer Ruben (Hurricane) Carter wasn’t the only prizefighter about whom Dylan sang. In 1963 Davey Moore was knocked out by Sugar Ramos and died two days later; 18 days later Dylan began singing “Who Killed Davey Moore?” The tune never appeared on record until this year’s “Bootleg Series.” Meanwhile, “Hurricane,” about the boxer who was jailed on murder charges and later exonerated, was a modest hit in ’76.
  • Bob DylanHundreds of singers have recorded Dylan tunes. Otis Redding recorded “Just Like a Woman,” but decided not to release his version because he couldn’t get past the line, “with her fog, her amphetamine and her pearls.”
  • Dylan and John Lennon once wrote and recorded a song together while Dylan was on tour in England. “I don’t remember what it was, though,” Dylan said. “We played some stuff into a tape recorder, but I don’t know what happened to it. I don’t remember anything about the song.”
  • Bob never ever played the same song exactly the same. Whether he was just jamming, or recording, he would play the song in a different key, using different phrasing, or a different tempo…..this would often totally confuse other musicians in his band. Bob Dylan hated to repeat himself…ever!!
  • Since moving from Minneapolis to New York in 1960, Dylan has performed only five times in the Twin Cities – 1965 (at the Minneapolis Auditorium), ’78 (St. Paul Civic Center), ’86 (Metrodome), ’89 (RiverFest at Harriet Island) and ’90 (Minnesota State Fair).
  • “Bob Dylan,” his first album, was recorded in a few hours at a cost of $402. Initially it sold 5,000 copies. Since then more than 35 million Dylan records have been sold.
  • Dylan was the first big-name rock figure from the ’60s to turn 50 as of May, 1991.
  • There has never been an official video made by Bob Dylan for “Like a Rolling Stone”, although there is currently a contest on YouTube for fans to make one. 

VIDEO:  Bob Dylan – Blowin’ in the Wind

 

VIDEO:  Bob Dylan – Subterranean Homesick Blues

VIDEO:  Bob Dylan – Like a Rolling  Stone

 

Special thanks to www.startribune.com and bite-dose.com

 

 

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Brian Jones: The Founder, the Talent, the Eclectic and the Tragedy of The Rolling Stones

Because Clare asked for it…

Brian Jones, February 28, 1942 - July 03, 1969

Brian Jones, February 28, 1942 - July 03, 1969

Facts About Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones

The Early Years

Brian Jones (birthname: Lewis Brian Hopkins Jones) was born on February 28th, 1942 to Lewis and Louisa Jones in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, some 120 miles out of London

Jones was a rebel who embodied the more flamboyant aspects of the Rolling Stones’ lifestyle even before the Rolling Stones formed.

Lewis Jones, Brian’s father said this about Brian growing up: “Up to a certain point, Brian was a perfectly normal, conventional boy who was well behaved and well liked. He did his studies. He was quite a model school boy. Then came this peculiar change in his early teens. He began to have some resentment of authority. He seemed to have first a mild rebellion which unfortunately became stronger as he grew older.”

As a teenager he got into trouble by fathering illegitimate children; Brian was first a first-time father at the age of 16. Though the ‘facts’ regarding the true lineage of other children have come into question, at least five (5) children are known to exist or have existed.

Despite his high IQ, he shunned academic studies in favor of his passions for playing jazz and blues.

Jones himself was a natural musician who could pick up a new instrument and make music with it in no time.  Emulating his hero, Muddy Waters, Jones taught himself how to play bottleneck guitar, dragging a glass or metal slide over open-tuned strings, which produced the essential and unmistakable blues sound.  It wasn’t long before he had a reputation for being the best slide guitar player in London.

Founding The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones (from left):  Bill Wyman, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards

The Rolling Stones (from left): Bill Wyman, Brian Jones, Charlie Watts, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards

In May 1962, 20-year-old Brian Jones placed an ad in England’s Jazz News, seeking musicians for a new blues band he was putting together.  The blues were Jones’ passion, and he envisioned a Chicago-style blues band modeled on American blues master Muddy Waters’s classic combo, consisting of rhythm and lead guitars, bass guitar, drums, harmonica, keyboards, and a vocalist.

The first person to respond to his ad was a square-jawed Scotsman named Ian Stewart who played boogie-woogie piano.  Other musicians responded to the ad, but Jones was picky.  Anyone who didn’t see eye-to-eye with his vision for the band was soon ejected.

Jones pursued a young singer named Mick Jagger who was getting a lot of attention for his idiosyncratic vocal style and his gyrating stage moves.  Jagger also played harmonica, which made him all the more appealing to Jones, who recognized Jagger’s sex appeal with teenage girls.  Jones instinctively knew that his band, like Elvis Presley before them, would have to tap into the teenage female market if they were going to make it.  Jones met Jagger in a pub one night and invited him to come to a rehearsal.

That same night Jones also invited a skinny 18-year-old guitarist who happened to be tipping a pint at the pub.  Keith Richards was known for being able to imitate the unique guitar playing of American rock’n’roll legend Chuck Berry.  Jones wasn’t sure Richards would fit it—he was leery of hardcore rock’n’rollers in a blues band, but he was willing to give Richards a try.  To his surprise, Jones found that Richards’ rhythm playing complimented his lead, and eventually they developed a style that has become the hallmark of the band—two interweaving guitars that switch parts freely, each one seamlessly going from rhythm to lead and back again.

Jones found a solid rhythm section in drummer Charlie Watts and bass guitarist Bill Wyman.

When it came to naming the group, Jones looked to his idol and adapted the title of the Muddy Waters song, “Rollin’ Stone.”

In early May 1963, the band’s manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, said Stewart should no longer be onstage, that six members were too many for a popular group and that the burly, square-jawed Stewart didn’t fit the image. He said Stewart could stay as road manager and play piano on recordings. Stewart accepted this demotion, left the formal lineup but stayed close to the band and would record and tour with them up through his death in 1985.

Though jobs of the other Stones were generally centralized to one or two roles, Brian’s role was not so simply defined. He was the band’s utility player on piano, guitar, harmonica (harp), drums, or whatever else was needed. At times, though more so in the earliest period, he had a strong hand in influencing the musical direction of the group.

Brian Jones was the most creative member of the band.  As a musician, he was the envy of his peers, and his ability to pick up a new instrument and make it his own was truly remarkable.  His work with the marimba on “Under My Thumb” and the sitar on “Paint It Black” from the Aftermath album are just two examples of his brilliance.

Jones was also the driving force of the band, at least initially, taking the leadership role in business and creative matters until his drug use forced a changing of the guard.

Finding an Identity During the British Invasion

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones with Jones standing (or sitting) apart

In the early ’60s, the Rolling Stones were just one of several dozen English bands, such as Herman’s Hermits, Freddie and the Dreamers, the Honeycombs, and Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, who were struggling to make it big.  But by the mid ‘60s one band, the Beatles, had taken the lead position, leaving the others in the dust.

The Rolling Stones chose to distinguish themselves by going the other way, embracing a darker, more rebellious public posture.  They went out of their way to be seen as the bad boys of rock, the band that parents would despise.

The Beatles wore uniforms when they performed; the Stones wore whatever they wanted.  Jagger and Jones dressed like dandies in ruffled shirts and flowing bell-bottom trousers while Richards cultivated a disheveled, dirty blue jeans, proto-punk look.

The Beatles pumped out a steady stream of catchy tunes that became number one hits.  The Stones proudly showed their down-and-dirty blues roots.

When it came to drug use, the Beatles—at least until the psychedelic period in the late ‘60s—kept their personal habits out of the press.  The Rolling Stones by contrast became synonymous with drug use in England.  But it was one aspect of their bad-boy image that they would have preferred to have kept private because it would eventually claim Jones’ life and nearly destroyed them as a band.

While the Beatles were soaring, playing in sold-out stadiums around the world, the Stones’ progress was hampered by persistent drug busts that dragged Jones, Jagger and Richards into court to the delight of the Fleet Street tabloids.  (Bassist Wyman and drummer Watts, the family men of the band, shied away from drugs.)

Bad publicity affected the Stones’ record sales, and drug charges prevented Jones from going on tour in America with the band.  Jagger and Richards smoked hash and marijuana and experimented with harder drugs, but they were generally able to function and flourish as musicians during this period.  Jones, however, was another story.

Bill Wyman in Stephen Davis’s Old Gods Almost Dead summed up the two sides of Jones’ personality: “He could be the sweetest, softest, and most considerate man in the world and the nastiest piece of work you ever met.”

By all accounts Jones suffered from low self-esteem, deep insecurity and paranoia.  He was always desperate for a woman’s company, but he treated his girlfriends horribly, physically abusing some of them.

He claimed to suffer from asthma and never went anywhere without an inhaler, yet none of his friends could recall ever seeing him have an attack.

Band Friction

Brian Jones in Pinstripe SuitFriction between band members in any rock ‘n’ roll group is almost inevitable, but in many cases personal differences don’t stand in the way of making good music.  The three front men of the Stones existed in a churning swirl of jealousies and shifting alliances.

In 1963 Jones had cut a secret deal with their agent at the time, giving him five pounds more a week than the others because he was the leader of the band.  That same agent had insisted on getting rid of Jagger, saying that he couldn’t sing, and Jones was willing to go along with Jagger’s ouster until their manager, Andrew Loog Oldham, stepped in and pleaded the singer’s case.

Jagger was the voice of the band, but Jones, with his fair-haired, androgynous looks was Jagger’s rival in sex appeal.  Richards had found a guitar soulmate in Jones, but that bond began to dissolve when Richards and Jagger started writing songs together.

Not only did Jagger and Richards’ original material give them the edge in creative control of the band, song royalties put more money in their pockets.  According to singer Marianne Faithfull, who was Jagger’s companion at the time, the building animosity between Jones and Jagger came to a head at a kiss-and-make-up dinner party at Richards’ country house where “Brian pulled a knife on Mick.” As recounted in A.E. Hotchner’s book Blown Away, Jagger got the knife away from Jones, but their scuffle continued.  Jones jumped into the moat that surrounded the house to escape Jagger’s rage and Jagger followed him in.   They tussled and thrashed in the water until they were too exhausted to continue.

By the late ‘60s Jones was unhappy with the Rolling Stones.  The band he had founded was drifting away from his original concept: to interpret American blues and R&B for a white teenage audience. More and more the Jagger-Richards songs were setting the tone for the band, and it wasn’t always to his liking.

When the band had put together the songs for their psychedelic album, Their Satanic Majesties Request, Jones expressed his distaste for the work and predicted that it would bomb because the public would see it for what it was, a pale imitation of the Beatles’ landmark album Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Further Decay on the Road to Morocco

Brian Jones, Anita Pallenberg and Keith Richards in Tangiers, Morocco, 1967

Brian Jones, Anita Pallenberg and Keith Richards in Tangiers, Morocco, 1967

Feeling isolated from the band that he had created, Jones turned to drugs for solace. Jones’ drug use soon became a major liability for the Stones.  Not only was he bringing them bad press, he was useless in the studio, frequently lying down on the floor and passing out with his guitar still strapped to him.

They all agreed that they needed a break to reassess their situation.  Jones and Richards decided to take a vacation in Morocco.   Jones asked his girlfriend at the time, Anita Pallenberg, to go with them.  But what they’d hoped would be a much-needed period of rest and relaxation turned into a holiday in hell.

On the advice of their handlers, the Stones decided to disappear for a while in the hopes of getting off the front pages.  In late February, Mick Jagger flew to Tangier.  Richards, Jones and Jones’ girlfriend, Anita Pallenberg, decided to drive to Morocco in Richards’ Bentley, which was nicknamed the Blue Lena.

Jones, who was reputed to be monumentally self-centered even when sober, was apparently oblivious to the sexual tension building in the Blue Lena between Pallenberg and Keith Richards.

On the second day of the trip, Jones became ill with a respiratory infection and had to be hospitalized in Toulouse, France.  The French doctors insisted that he stay for a few days, so he told his friends to go on and that he would meet them in Tangier as soon as he was well enough to travel.  He spent his birthday alone in the hospital as the Blue Lena continued on.  With Jones gone, Richards and Pallenberg couldn’t contain their feelings for one another.

A few days later a demanding telegram from Jones found its way to Pallenberg.  He wanted her to return to Toulouse and help him get back to London where he could complete his recovery.  Torn between Richards and Jones, Pallenberg sadly boarded a plane in Mirabella, Spain, to attend to her boyfriend.

Less than a week later, Pallenberg, Jones and Marianne Faithfull flew from London to Madrid, intent on meeting up with Jagger and Richards in Tangier.  But Jones’ good mood had vanished, and his paranoia had kicked into high gear, having picked up on Pallenberg’s feelings for Richards.

As the trio made their way toward Gilbraltar, Pallenberg took Faithfull aside whenever Jones was out of earshot to ask what she thought of Jones in comparison to Richards.

They stopped at the Rock of Gibraltar to see the famous monkey colony.  Jones, who was on LSD at the time, played his tape recorder for the monkeys who shrieked and fled in fear.  Jones was so upset by their reaction he started to cry.  Faithfull had a bad feeling about what would happen next.

Back in Morocco at the Hotel Marrakech, in the shadow of the city’s fabled red walls, Jones suffered a meltdown.  In his hotel room, he confronted Pallenberg with her infidelity, shouting that he could see that something was going on between her and Richards.  Fed up with Jones and his turbulent mood swings, Pallenberg admitted to her affair with Richards, throwing it in Jones’ face.  Blinded by hurt and rage, Jones beat her more severely than he had ever beaten her.  She fled from their room outside to the pool where she did nothing to hide her bruised face.

That night, Pallenberg went back to the room and took sleeping pills, hoping to get some rest while Jones was out.  Later that night he burst into the room and woke her from a sound sleep.  He was high on acid and had two Berber prostitutes with him.  He wanted Pallenberg to join them in a foursome.  Pallenberg refused, and Jones had a tantrum, trashing the room.  Pallenberg grabbed her belongings and spent the night with Richards.

For Pallenberg and Richards this was the last straw.  Jones was such a destructive presence they simply had to get away from him.  They decided to go back to London and abandon Jones in Morocco while he was out touring with a friend.

Upon Jones’ arrival back to the hotel that night, he found that everyone had left for London, including Richards and Pallenberg.  Alone and paranoid, Jones got on the phone and tried to get some answers, but no one would tell him where his friends had gone.   But even though he was high, Jones could see the reality of the situation.   Jagger and Richards had taken his band away from him, and now Richards had taken his girlfriend.  Jones broke down into uncontrollable tears and needed a sedative to sleep that night.

On the Outs

Brian JonesWhen Brian Jones had finally made his way back to London, he was an emotional wreck, and it didn’t help to find his apartment half empty.  Anita Pallenberg had moved all her belongings out and taken up residence with Keith Richards.  Jones begged her to come back, but she refused.

The other Rolling Stones were fed up with Jones and wouldn’t speak to him.  They seriously considered firing him, but Mick Jagger objected.  Always the pragmatist, Jagger felt that they still needed Jones, at least for the time being.

The Stones were scheduled to do a European tour, and Jagger felt that their popularity might be jeopardized if Jones, who was still a favorite with the teenage girls, was missing.

Jones didn’t want to go on tour with them.  He was fed up with them as well.  He also claimed to have forgotten how to play the guitar as a result of the psychic damage he’d suffered.  But Pallenberg lured him back, holding out the slight possibility that they could get back together if he took care of himself and got back into shape.  Jones agreed to do the tour and started taking guitar lessons.

He managed to survive the tour, even though none of his bandmates would speak to him.  All along he had hoped for a reconciliation with Pallenberg, but she stayed with Richards.  Caught in a swirl of drugs, alcohol and paranoia, Jones went into a tailspin.  His mood swings became more pronounced, and the band could not count on him to show up for rehearsals or recording sessions.  And when he did show up, he was useless to them, frequently falling asleep on the floor, seldom contributing anything substantial to the music.

By the spring of 1969, the band had to make a decision.  If they were going to survive as a band, they needed to tour, and to tour they needed a reliable lead guitarist.  Mick Jagger took the initiative and offered the position to a young blues virtuoso named Mick Taylor, who would end up staying with the Stones for the next five and a half years.  There was just one little matter to take care of—firing Brian Jones.

On June 9, Jagger and Richards drove to Cotchford Farm, Jones’ home in Sussex (and once owned by A.A. Milne, the author of Winnie the Pooh), to hand him his pink slip.  Mick and Keith weren’t happy being the hatchet men, but they knew it had to be done.  Jones, for his part, had expected something like this, and he took the news placidly, agreeing to let them handle questions from the press whichever way they thought best.  In recognition of his past contributions to the band, Jagger offered Jones 100,000 pounds upon his departure and 20,000 a year for as long as the band stayed together.  After Jagger and Richards left Cotchford Farm, Jones went out into the garden and stood before a statue of Christopher Robin, weeping.

Death

Last known photo of Brian Jones (taken at Cotchford Farm)

Last known photo of Brian Jones (taken at Cotchford Farm)

After being ousted from the band he created, Jones apparently had ambitions to form a band of his own, but on July 3, he drowned in his own swimming pool.

On the night of his death, Jones had been drinking wine and taking downers.  Some suggested that he might have taken his own life, but those closest to him said he had no reason to commit suicide.  Even though he had been officially ejected from the Stones several months earlier, Jones was reportedly getting over it and was planning new musical projects on his own.

At 2 a.m. word of Jones’ death reached the Rolling Stones at Olympic Studios in London where they were recording a Stevie Wonder song, “I Don’t Know Why.”  The band fell into stunned silence, sitting on the floor, some of them lighting up joints.  Drummer Charlie Watts quietly cried.

The Rolling Stones, with Mick Taylor as Jones’ replacement, went ahead with their planned free concert in London’s Hyde Park on July 5, 1969, staging it as a tribute to Jones.

The cloudy circumstances of his death have been the subjects of various theories over the years; some feel that he was murdered, other evidence indicates that it was an accident that might have been brought on by unwise combinations of substances and medications.

According to the coroner’s report, Jones was the victim of “death by misadventure,” an accidental drowning precipitated by drug and alcohol abuse.

Some time after his funeral, rumors gained momentum that Jones had been murdered.  Inconsistencies in the accounts of that evening were gradually uncovered.  A deathbed confession by the alleged killer was squelched by a loyal Stones’ retainer.  More than 30 years later, suspicions persist.

Legacy

Jimi Hendrix of the Experience and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones at the Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967

Jimi Hendrix and Brian Jones at the Monterey Pop Festival in June of 1967

Brian had a close relationship with his fans and, to this day, many have fond memories of him beyond admiration of his musical talent.

Though he may have tried, he failed to overcome his addictions until after he was forced to leave the Rolling Stones in 1969. His last full tour as a member was in 1966, after which he would only make few sporadic appearances, the final being the Rock and Roll Circus in December of 1968. As described by fellow Stones’ members, he had become a ball and chain by 1967. After two years, it was obvious that the band could not afford to drag him around to shows and recording sessions just so he could be too drunk or high to function. His final musical output with the band was released on the 1969 Let it Bleed album.

He gained the respect of many fellow musicians throughout his short career, such as the Beatles whom asked that he play a part in the recording sessions for Sgt. Pepper in 1967. Though “You Know My Name (look up the number)” was not included on Sgt. Pepper, it can be found on the Beatles’ Past Masters Volume Two, and more recently (in complete form) on Anthology 2.

Brian Jones never released a solo music album or single. He did however begin a project (completed posthumously in 1971) bearing his name, though it was not of his own work. Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka was little noticed, but the inclusion of his name in the title did help to have the obscure Moroccan musical form recognized at a broader level. He played no part in the recordings, other than as a co-producer. Many incarnations of these recordings can be found on CD. It has been told that Moroccan artists to this day pay tribute to Brian in song.

Special thanks to www.beatzenith.com, www.trutv.com and www.starpulse.com

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The Beatles’ “Love Me Do”: The Single That Announced The Fab Four to the World

Early Beatles circa 1962

Early Beatles circa 1962

Fun Facts About the Beatles’ “Love Me Do”

Beatles Love Me DoWritten by: Paul McCartney (credited as Lennon-McCartney)

Recorded: September 4th and 11th, 1962 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)

Length: 2:17

Takes: 33

Musicians: Paul McCartney: lead vocal, bass guitar (1961 Hofner 500/1)
John Lennon: harmonica, rhythm guitar, backing vocals (Gibson J160E)
George Harrison: acoustic guitar, backing vocals
Ringo Starr: drums (version 1), tambourine (version 2)
Alan White: drums (version 2)

First released: October 5th, 1962 (UK: Parlophone 45-R 4949) version 1; April 27th, 1964 (US: Tollie 9008) version 2

Available on: Past Masters, Volume 1, (Parlophone CDP 90043-2)version 1 Please Please Me, (UK: Parlophone CDP7 46435-2; US: Capitol CLJ 46435) version 2

Highest chart position: 17 (UK: December 27, 1962), 1 (1 week) (US: May 30, 1964)

Live versions: February 20, 1963, for BBC radio’s Parade Of The Pops.

BBC versions: Eight (for the BBC radio programs Here We GoTalent SpotSaturday ClubSide By SidePop Go The Beatles, and Easy Beat. 

Beatles Love Me DoHistory: 

  • An attempt at a straight blues that dates all the way back to the Quarrymen days of 1958.
  • Originally, the song was sung as a Everly Brothers-style duet, with John taking the solo “Love Me Do” at the end of each verse. However, John decided to add harmonica to the song at some point, having been directly inspired by Bruce Channel’s recent hit “Hey Baby.” Since he couldn’t play the harmonica riff and sing the last line of verse at the time, producer George Martin ordered Paul to do it instead, on the spot. You can hear the nervousness in his shaky spotlight.
  • There are two versions of this song. Version 1 features Ringo on drums and was recorded first. When the Beatles reconvened to cut the song again on September 11, 1962, however, producer George Martin, still unsure of the new kid Ringo’s ability, substituted session drummer Alan White. This “version 2,” on which Ringo merely plays a tambourine, remains the best-known (and, frankly, better quality) version: it was released as a single in the US, as opposed to the original single in the UK, which was taken from version 1 (although subsequent UK pressings used version 2). Version 2 was also kept off the Please Please Me album in favor of 1, although Martin claims this was probably not done on purpose.
  • Although this was never a favorite among most Beatles fans, John and Paul have both stood by the song in interviews.

Beatles Love Me DoTrivia:

  • This song was actually recorded first on June 6, 1962 during the group’s first audition with EMI. At that time, Pete Best was still the drummer. This version, thought lost for years, turned up in George Martin’s home and can no be found on the CDAnthology 1 (Apple 34445).
  • George Martin originally wanted the band’s first single to be an outside composition called “How Do You Do It,” but although the band recorded it, they eventually won the right to release this instead. Gerry and the Pacemakers later had a hit with a cover of “How Do You Do It” modeled very closely after the Beatles’ version.
  • Rumor has been spread for years that this, the Beatles’ first UK single, only made it onto the charts because manager Brian Epstein personally purchased 10,000 copies of it. No evidence of this has ever been found, however, and John Lennon, for one, has publicly branded the rumor as false.
  • This song was reissued as a single in the UK in 1984, and this time climbed to #4.
Special thanks to www.about.com

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“Rock Around the Clock”: Bill Haley and his Comets Usher in the Era of Rock ‘n Roll

Bill Haley and his Comets

Bill Haley and his Comets

Fun Facts About “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and his Comets

  • Written by songwriter Max Freedman, this song was intended for Haley, but industry politics kept him from recording the song. The original version was most likely recorded in October, 1953 by Sonny Dae and His Nights. It sank without a trace, but Haley finally recorded it on April 12, 1954 and the song became a massive hit.
  • Most people didn’t know what Rock And Roll was when this was released, so the record company had a hard time describing the song. The label on the single called it a “Novelty Foxtrot.”
  • This was the original opening theme song for the TV show Happy Days. The song was re-released in 1974 to capitalize on its new popularity, and charted at #39 in the US. In 1976 theme was changed to “Happy Days.”
  • The term “Rock ‘n’ Roll” was a relatively new way of describing music when this came out. A lot of early “Rock” was based on The Blues, and was far too racy for most white listeners. This was tame by Blues standards, but still caused a stir. It took Elvis to really shake things up.
  • This was one of the first hits of the Rock era. Billboard had been keeping a Top 40 chart for only a few months when this came out. It stayed at #1 for 8 weeks.
  • The group released this in 1954 as the B-side of a novelty song called “Thirteen Women,” which was about an atomic blast that leaves only 1 man and 13 women alive. It wasn’t until a year later that it was re-released and became a hit.
  • This was used in the 1955 movie Blackboard Jungle, which gave it a great deal of exposure and helped send it up the charts.
  • In the UK, this was the biggest-selling single of the ’50s.
  • Elton John took a swipe at this in his song “Crocodile Rock.” Elton thought this was kind of overrated, so he put a line in about how they were doing the Crocodile Rock while the other kids were “Rocking ’round the clock.”
  • Haley had several hits before recording this song, including “Shake, Rattle And Roll” and “Mambo Rock.”
  • He was never able to duplicate the massive success of “Rock Around The Clock,” but he did have a few more hits in the ’50s, including “See You Later, Alligator” and “The Saints Rock ‘N Roll.”
  • Haley is a key figure in the evolution of Rock music, helping transform the sound out of Country music.
  • Bill Haley and His Comets were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1987.
  • According to Rolling Stone in their “100 Greatest Guitar Songs” issue, Comets guitarist Danny Cedrone was paid $21 for his work on this track, which became a classic Rock solo. Unfortunately, he died in a fall just months after he recorded it.
  • There is a different snare drum pattern on each verse.

VIDEO:  Bill Haley and his Comets performing “Rock Around the Clock”

Special thanks to www.songfacts.com

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