Thursday, December 31, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
So far, I haven't had time in the bustle of this time of year to listen to the box set. And everyone I've suggested a game of Trivial Pursuit to has turned me down. Boo.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Oh, plus there's the song called "Please Don't Bring Your Banjo Back."
Feeling Christmasy yet? I am, slightly, and it's not just the Beatles getting me there-- tonight I fly off to Norfolk (Virginia), where I guess I mostly grew up, to do the holidays with my folks. It's several hours before I leave, but according to the airline's website, my flight's already quite a bit delayed. Hurray! Looks like I'll be listening to a lot of Beatles on the iPod in the airport to keep myself reasonably cheerful. These Christmas messages are pretty good for cheer, though.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
And yet before the Beatles stumbled through their disappointing solo Christmas crap, they did actually release seven Christmas fan club messages, sent as flexidiscs to club members each year from 1963 to 1969. I like the idea of this, just because it's so dated and adorable, and it's almost more adorable that they continued to do it even when the band was so totally falling apart and the whole idea must have seemed silly and weird. There's not really any music other than the incidental kind in these, and they frequently don't have much to do with Christmas-- in fact, they are largely a load of nonsense, but they're sort of essential nonsense for fans.
I'm going to post videos of the Christmas messages (assuming they're all findable on YouTube) each day until Christmas itself, and I'm going to count down from 1969, the last one, which is the most depressing simply because the Beatles couldn't be bothered to even be in the same room to record it. (And because Ringo uses most of his piece to shamelessly plug his then-new film The Magic Christian, which is notoriously the movie my husband detests more than any other in the world.) But listen for yourself. As we listen this next week, the Beatles will get younger and younger and more and more childlike and innocent, which seems to be in keeping with the Christmas spirit in some way.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Yeah, I know. This is supposed to be a blog about the Beatles' music, not this kind of frivolous crap. So I'll start by saying that the most obvious and excellent gifts for the Beatles fans you know and love this holiday season are either the stereo or mono box set, or Beatles Rock Band, all of which are products with total musical integrity. But I think I've nattered on about those rather a lot already. If you've already acquired all those delicious music-based gifts, you've still only scratched the surface of the amazing merchandise available.
For people who like shiny objects: the Yellow Submarine Jeweled Box.
For anyone who's always felt that Beatles fandom would be way more fun if there were more bling involved, this Swarovski crystal - encrusted Yellow Submarine is the perfect gift. Only 700 were made, which I'm sure makes the nearly $100 suggested retail price completely understandable.
For heavy drinkers: Sgt. Pepper pint glasses.
When the lads were teenagers swigging pints back at the Grapes, they probably never dreamed that their own faces would adorn bright neon pint glasses in the year 2009, never mind that they'd be for sale on something called the "internet." Or, I don't know, maybe that's exactly what they dreamed of. Either way, life is weird. Drink up.
For people who want to get all snuggly with some adorable moptops: the With the Beatles throw blanket.
This is the only way I know of to wake up looking into the eyes of a 23-year-old John Lennon. Without doing something sketchy in Mme. Tussaud's, that is.
For your favorite trust fund hippie: the Love drum money clip.
Also a great gift for the fans of irony on your list.
For the very youngest fans: Beatles onesies.
On December 3, my sister-in-law gave birth to very small preemie twin boys, which has been exciting (they're doing well, but they're still very very small, of course). Once they're big enough, you can bet I am going to send them and their no-doubt-appreciative parents two adorable Magical Mystery Tour onesies. Because indoctrinating the youth is what Crazy Aunt Meg is all about! Besides, I prefer to only be seen with fashionably dressed babies.
For people who are fans of Shea Stadium in two senses: Yellow Submarine baseballs.
Now even jocks can show off their Beatle fandom with, um, baseballs. Chuck 'em at the heads of all the Blue Meanies you see, that's what I say.
For your favorite Beatles blogger: Beatles Trivial Pursuit.
Seriously. I want this. I need to, just once in my life, NOT have my ass kicked by my husband at Trivial Pursuit, and this edition represents my only chance of doing so. Pretty please?
For anyone whom you want to flaunt both your money and your stupidity to: the White Album fountain pen. The 2008 holiday season was rocked by a small kerfuffle on the Beatley internets when Apple Corps claimed that they would release the White Album in a digitally remastered 40th anniversary edition, but then released a colossally expensive 40th anniversary fountain pen instead. There is, you see, a big difference. Fans collectively gagged. If you want to spend $528.95 (yes, really) on a white pen, then go for it. And why don't you make your first act with that pen to write me a generous check, while you're at it? Because, I mean, it's clear that you have too much money.
For those who spend the holidays in warm climates: the Yellow Submarine ice tray.
See, cause it's a submarine, right? So you submerge it in liquid? Get it? Of course, eventually it melts, which is kind of grisly if you imagine little travelers in your frozen submarines. By the way, how you get these ice pieces to actually come out yellow is up to you. (I suggest trying to freeze some Mountain Dew.)
There are, of course, lots and lots and LOTS more Beatles gifts available. These are just what I, with complete wide-eyed sincerity, recommend. My personal favorite site for all Beatles shopping is the website of The Fest for Beatles Fans. It's not just a site for the Fest itself (which has New Jersey and Chicago locations each year)-- it's also probably the largest Beatles store on the web. The selection of Beatles books alone is worth a look. Plus, you can wrap it all with Beatles wrapping paper! (Which I actually do totally, totally love.)
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
13. I'll Be Back
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Harmonix has already put up Abbey Road for sale to the Rock Banders of the world, and wisely so-- how could anyone who had already laid out the cash for the game resist it? They're pricing the albums at about the same cost as a CD, which sounds pretty okay until you realize that you're only really buying, like, half the album's songs, since a bunch of the album's tracks already came with the game. But it's NOT a CD-- it's a new product, really, for which Harmonix designed lovely dreamscapes and scored all the instruments, so in the end I've decided it's a fine deal to just buy these things. Abbey Road was a good one to start with, too, because it turns out that playing the entire B-side medley as one complete track (which the game allows you to do) is THE MOST FUN THING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. Like, seriously. It rules so hard. It makes me want to cry.
Have you guys checked out Beatles Rock Band yet? It's kind of taken over my life. I'm doing productive things like reading books/cooking nourishing meals/blogging much less frequently than I'd like, because when I come home from work I just want to sit down and try to get 5 stars on "Dig a Pony," which is the ONE song in the Story Mode that I can't seem to master the guitar part on. (I don't even know why. I've managed "Back in the U.S.S.R.," which is much harder, but "Dig a Pony" keeps messing with my mind.) Or else I just want to kick ass on the guitar solo of "The End" one more time (which is the BEST guitar solo in the game, because you get to pretend you're three different Beatles at once).
If you haven't checked the game out yet, I need to urge you to do so. Whether or not you enjoy the previous Rock Band iterations (I do), the new game is such an affectionate homage to Beatles-geekdom that Beatles geeks everywhere owe themselves a look, no matter how much it sets them back. You might have already read about the crazy attention to detail in the sets-- well, it's ALL TRUE. If you're like me, you've seen a lot of photos taken when the Beatles played the Cavern, Shea Stadium, the Apple rooftop, and so on, and the designers of the game have literally captured even random people in the audience that you'll recognize. (My favorite is the guy with the glasses who checks his watch at the Cavern. Just like he does in that one photo. Awesome.) And in the "dreamscapes," which is the way they animate later songs that weren't performed live, they clearly reference pre-existing video interpretations of songs ("Yellow Submarine," "I Am the Walrus," and so on) while still doing new fun things with the visuals. The attention to detail is SO awesome that I tend to forgive the forays into revisionist, idealized Beatles history-- such as the fact that Eric Clapton does not play the guitar solo on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," Ringo drums on "Back in the U.S.S.R.," and Yoko is nowhere to be seen at the rooftop concert.
My little secret is that, since Harmonix is based near me in Cambridge, MA, I actually got to be a playtester on Beatles Rock Band. I played three separate times, and I got to sing AND drum my way through every single song in the game (except for the new albums they're putting out for sale this fall) months before it was out. I had to sign paperwork giving the MTV/Viacom people permission to, like, draw and quarter me if I told anyone anything about this at the time, so I had to hush up here on the blog. But the point is, I tried to offer this kind of constructive criticism to the playtest people ("Why not put Yoko and Maureen right there on the rooftop? What about how in "Dig a Pony," there's a guy holding up a legal pad to John so he can read his lyrics? You guys should put that in!!"), who politely pretended to take notes and then politely bade me adieu at the end of the night, no doubt shaking their heads at the crazy playtester girl.
Anyway, I've been thinking about Sgt. Pepper and how hard it might be adapt for Rock Band. How on earth would you play the orchestral crescendo on "A Day in the Life," which itself is only the very first potential difficulty that pops into my head? I'm looking forward to seeing how they manage it, though. Because I know where my ass will be on November 17th. My couch. As I play the entire Sgt. Pepper album. And that is way cooler than what the rest of the world will be doing on a random Tuesday.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
There are a lot of issues, you know, in rewriting a Beatles album. It's not necessarily going to work if it's just your favorite songs. You have to achieve a John-Paul parity, or else you'd have been in trouble with at least one of them. And you need at least two cuts from George if you're going to be fair too. Ideally, Ringo will get a vocal. I'm basically holding myself to the standard Beatles 14-track album size, though I'm allowing myself to go as high as 15 if I end up including some of the really short tracks that pepper this album. This should work as a playlist, so I'm filing it away as one. Oh, and I'm going to futz with the order to better accomodate the new direction a one-disc White Album would have.
1. Back in the U.S.S.R.
2. Dear Prudence
3. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
4. I Will
5. Sexy Sadie
6. Martha My Dear
2. Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
3. Long, Long, Long
4. Don't Pass Me By
5. I'm So Tired
6. Helter Skelter
7. Happiness Is a Warm Gun
8. Why Don't We Do It in the Road?
Do you see how problematic this is?
What my version gets right is parity-- John and Paul get 6 songs each, George gets 2 songs, and we leave in Ringo's contribution out of kindness, which we can do because we've selected two songs that are only about a minute and a half long each. I think there's also a good variety of moods here, with John and Paul and George each getting a straight-up ballad-- well, Paul gets two, but that's Paul. But there's lots of rocking stuff here too.
In fact, the songs that I wanted to include but had to leave out were mostly left out to make room for the various moods I wanted this to include. I want "Savoy Truffle" to be in here somewhere, but "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" seems somehow indispensable, and then I want George's second song to be very different-- so it's "Long, Long, Long." (Besides, I love that song more than is probably healthy.) I have similar problems with "Yer Blues" and "Birthday." And then I find myself leaving out "Revolution 1" just because, you know, at least there's the "Revolution" single... And then, of course, I just want to put in some songs because I heart them, like "Bungalow Bill" and "Cry Baby Cry." You'll note that I also left out songs that might be considered big ones (ahem, "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da") but which I have always considered inferior. One can't help but bring one's own prejudices into this thing.
So maybe this whole game is flawed. But still, have I done anything right here? Is this what you guys think about while you're supposed to be working? Or am I just mildly mentally ill?
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
MOJO had the story on its website yesterday. And, you know, I like records a lot. But even I might be too exhausted at this point to lay out more money. I swear, though, if they package Let It Be with a reprint of the original photobook, I might yet relent....