Monday, June 29, 2009

That'll Be the Day

Hey, everyone! I'm back from camping, and, after coming home and dropping off our stuff and going immediately across the street to our favorite Belgian beer and food establishment, I'm feeling really freaking lazy (to say nothing of smelly), so forgive the brevity here. In the last few hours of the day, I'm going to have a listen to "That'll Be the Day," which, awesomely, is the first recording that the band-that-would-be-the-Beatles did, ever.

Just this past week we listened to "Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues," another Buddy Holly cover that the Beatles attempted during the depressing Get Back sessions. And that cover was one of the more depressing tracks from those sessions, just maudlin as all get out. To compare the band's first recording to one of their last is pretty mind-blowing, because they're clearly so different in feel. Mostly, of course, on "That'll Be the Day" you can hear how much the band (they weren't even really called the Beatles back in 1958 when this was recorded at a random guy's house in Liverpool) is actually enjoying playing with each other. Which is kind of nice.

The band was called the Quarrymen, and at this point the personnel consisted of John, Paul, George, Colin Hanton on drums, and Duff Lowe on piano-- you can hear his piano clanking along nicely on the instrumental break here. John is singing in a fairly straight Buddy-Holly-impression kind of way, which makes sense considering he probably hadn't really developed the confidence in his vocals that would make his work in the years down the line so unforgettable. I also want to single out George, because his solo is pretty darned solid considering he was like 15 playing on this. All round, "That'll Be the Day" sounds like a song that this band played a lot-- even through the piss-poor sound quality (the result of playing into one mic in somebody's house), you can hear that they really, really know and love this song. I can, at least. Although it's all fairly ragged, there's a tightness to it that's admirable. Does it hint at the greatness that's to come? Eh, I don't know. But it's neat to listen to even so.

So back in 1958, the Quarrymen recorded "That'll Be the Day" as well as a little McCartney-penned song called "In Spite of All the Danger," and got back a two-sided 78 rpm disc, which circulated among them for a while. Paul is said to have purchased the original disc from Duff Lowe (who for some reason had it stashed in a sock drawer for decades) for an astronomical but no doubt fair (considering the circumstances) sum. That's how these two tracks ended up on Anthology 1. Ultimately, these things are probably more of a curiosity than anything else, but I don't mind at all-- I'll tune into John doing Buddy Holly any day. And speaking of the master, there's probably not even a need to provide a video for an original song this well known, but why not? This video rules. Buddy Holly rules too. The kids who would turn into the Beatles knew it, and so does anyone with an ear or two.

And with that, bedtime! Thanks for your patience-- something more normal from me to come tomorrow.

"That'll Be the Day," released in the U.K. and the U.S. disc 1 track 3 of Anthology 1, November 20, 1995.


  1. Even then, Paul was mixing himself loud.

    Just kidding!

    Hey Meg, you're dead on about his solo stuff. I'm really enjoying a lot of the tunes he's played live the last two years off the albums I never heard before. I don't know that I'll buy the tracks (I'm listening on lala), but I'll look forward to hearing them live, that's for sure.

  2. Just in case you're doing something from Help! today ...

  3. Oh, glad you're digging Paul! I swear a lot of it is quite good. Have you heard much of Flaming Pie at all? I like a lot of that album too... that one came out when I was in high school, I think.

  4. Well Jeez, Megan, thanks a lot, because I didn't already know I was old.

    From Flaming Pie, I've heard Flaming Pie and Calico Skies. I've been playing the little guy only the stuff Paul's played live the last two years, which I will list here, because this blog previously has been almost perfect, but let's face it, what it's really been missing is a list of what some random old guy who doesn't actually write for the blog is listening to:

    Only Mama Knows
    Flaming Pie
    Honey Hush
    Here Today
    Dance Tonight
    Calico Skies
    C Moon
    Too Many People
    My Love (just so my kid would recognize it; I already told him we're going for drinks when Paul plays this)
    Live and Let Die
    Band on the Run
    Sing the Changes
    Let 'Em In
    Fine Line
    Baby Face (Little Richard did it, so that explains Paul playing it once)

    See? Not even Baby I'm Amazed right now; we're focused. I like Sing the Changes a lot, and think if I were going to have bought one solo Paul disc besides Fireman, it should have been either Memory Almost Full or Flaming Pie, instead of Chaos and Creation in the Back Yard, which I bought because my personal musical hero, Jason Falkner, played on it.

  5. Nice list. I was just singing C Moon to myself while making dinner last night, and wasn't even sure why-- I would not exactly call it a favorite of mine, but it's so damned catchy. (This is a problem with much of the McCartney catalog-- even the worst songs have this way of sticking in my head for years.) I like Chaos and Creation in the Backyard ok, but I do prefer those other two-- Flaming Pie is good but LONG (and there are weaker moments), while Memory Almost Full is tighter even if its best songs don't move me as much. On the latter, I quite like Feet in the Clouds and That Was Me.

    And man, these accusations of whippersnappery follow me everywhere. Probably because I hang out with Beatles fans. (And also people who are into classical choral music, and poets, and so forth.) But you're hardly old enough to feel very old compared to me!