August 6th is celebrated throughout the known universe as the birthday of Dana Bonn. Artist! Photographer! Adventurer! Diner aficionado! And, of course, the intrepid co-host of The Best Three Hours Of Radio On The Whole Friggin’ Planet, This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl. Since Dana’s one of the biggest Beatles fans I know, we’ll observe his annual flipping of the calendar (and flipping off of the calendar) by turning today’s way fab Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do) over to John, Paul, George, and Richard. Happy Birthday to The Curmudgeonly One!
The Beatles are my favorite band, too. My interest is mainly in the pre-Sgt. Pepper stuff, but I also love the group’s late ’60s recordings. Still, the records The Beatles did from, say, late ’63 through ’66 remain my favorite musical body of work by anyone at any time. I don’t have much to add to what I’ve already written about The Beatles on this blog (particularly here and here, plus that time Dana and I drove up to Rama, Ontario for Ringo’s press conference in 2003). So we’ll just spend the rest of today’s blog with my random thoughts and memories of the act you’ve known for all these years.
FIRST BEATLES RECORD I EVER HEARD:
“I Want To Hold Your Hand.” The “Duh!” is strongly implied.
MY FIRST BEATLES CD:
Past Masters, Volume 2
MY FIRST BEATLES LP (AND SECOND, AND THIRD….):
Oooh–tough one. Growing up, the family album collection included Beatles ’65, Beatles VI, Revolver, and the United Artists soundtrack for A Hard Day’s Night; possession of all of those LPs reverted to whichever sibling owned ’em to begin with. In high school, I borrowed my brother Rob’s copy of Rubber Soul and my cousin Maryann’s copies of Meet The Beatles, The Beatles’ Second Album, Something New, The Beatles’ Story, and the UK import Beatles For Sale; I also borrowed Rob’s Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother & the Holding Company, Mamas & Papas, Lovin’ Spoonful, and Bob Dylan albums, and Maryann’s Dave Clark Five, Searchers, and Beach Boys records.
The first Beatles LP I could call my own was almost certainly a flea market purchase, and it was probably Rubber Soul. Other flea market and second-hand Beatles scores were my own copies of Meet The Beatles, The Beatles’ Second Album, Something New, Beatles ’65, and Revolver. I won a copy of Help! from WOLF-AM for being the first caller to correctly identify George Harrison’s eye color as brown (a fact I knew by quickly going to my room, looking at my Beatles posters, and then racing to the telephone).
I received Introducing The Beatles, Let It Be, The Beatles Featuring Tony Sheridan, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and 1967-1970 as Christmas or birthday gifts. I think I bought “Yesterday” And Today and Abbey Road new (probably at Gerber Music), and I know I bought The Beatles At The Hollywood Bowl at Gerber. I received a copy of The White Album as a high school graduation gift from my friends Faith Berkheimer, Linda McLaren, and Joan Davies. A little later on, I purchased a Japanese import copy of Beatles VI from Tommy Allen of The Flashcubes, also at Gerber, and my last-ever Beatles LP purchase to date was a used copy of Rarities at Main Street Records in Brockport. My lovely girlfriend Brenda owned a copy of 1962-1966, so I added that in the matrimonial merger.
I have never owned vinyl copies of A Hard Day’s Night, The Beatles’ Story, Magical Mystery Tour, Yellow Submarine, or The Beatles Again (aka Hey Jude), nor have I ever owned any of the other Beatles LP compilations (Rock And Roll Music or Love Songs).
Most of my Beatles 45s were hand-me-downs; only one I specifically remember buying was a British reissue of “Help!”/”I’m Down” in 1977, because I thought “I’m Down” was The Greatest Record Ever Made. I also purchased a British reissue of The Beatles’ Hits EP. Never had a Beatles 8-track; the only 8-tracks I ever owned were by Paul Revere & the Raiders and The Bay City Rollers (the latter a gift from Birthday Boy Bonn). My Beatles cassette collection consisted of Beatles For Sale and Help! My first Beatles VHS was the Ready, Steady, Go tape, and first Beatles DVD was A Hard Day’s Night. I do not yet own any Beatles Blu-ray discs.
MY FIRST BEATLES BOOTLEG:
The Deccagone Sessions. My second was called Youngblood, and I later got a copy of Sessions, and The Beatles’ Christmas Album.
MY FIRST SOLO BEATLES ALBUM:
Either McCartney or Plastic Ono Band, purchased used at Record Revolution in Cleveland Heights. I may have bought them both at the same time.
WHERE I SAW THE BEATLES’ FILMS:
The only one I saw in its original release was A Hard Day’s Night at The North Drive-In in Cicero; I saw it again on TV in 1968, on election night (on a double bill with Jerry Lewis in Cinderfella). I didn’t see the others until the ’70s: Help! on Syracuse Channel 3’s afternoon movie matinee, Yellow Submarine on CBS, and Magical Mystery Tour and Let It Be on a double bill at The Hollywood Theater in Mattydale. I also saw The Beatles’ 1966 Tokyo concert in the Spring of ’77 during a program called Rock Of The ’60s at Syracuse University. Rock Of The ’60s was an evening of ’60s rock ‘n’ roll clips–the only way I was gonna see these things in the pre-YouTube days–and it opened with a Dave Clark Five newsreel; from there, it careened its way through a selection of TV clips by The Kinks, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Turtles, The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Yardbirds, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and The Hollies, culminating in The Beatles’ “Revolution” clip and the Tokyo show. My friend Lissa DeAngelo accompanied me to Rock Of The ’60s, and she made it very clear that it was not a date.
MY FAVORITE BEATLES SONG:
There ain’t no such. Candidates could include “Rain,””Please Please Me,””Help!,””A Hard Day’s Night,””Thank You, Girl,””No Reply,” and several others.
MY FAVORITE POST-1966 BEATLES SONG:
“The Ballad Of John And Yoko”
BEATLES SONG I’M MOST SICK OF HEARING:
“All You Need Is Love”
A SONG THE BEATLES COVERED THAT’S BETTER THAN THE ORIGINAL:
The Beatles’ versions of Chuck Berry‘s”Rock And Roll Music,” Buddy Holly‘s “Words Of Love,” and The Marvellettes‘ “Please Mr. Postman” are transcendent and definitive; “Twist And Shout” is a draw between The Beatles and The Isley Brothers, but the lads’ able covers of Little Richard tunes can’t quite match the fervor of the Reverend Richard Penniman.
A COVER OF A BEATLES SONG THAT SURPASSES THE ORIGINAL:
I often (if not quite always) prefer Wilson Pickett‘s “Hey Jude” to the familiar Beatles version. That’s probably about it. Otis Redding did a terrific cover of “Day Tripper,” but I still like The Beatles’ record better. Would The Rolling Stones‘ “I Wanna Be Your Man” count? It’s a Lennon-McCartney song, but the Stones recorded it before The Beatles did, and the Stones’ version just kicks.
FAVORITE SONG THE BEATLES GAVE AWAY:
“I’ll Be On My Way.” I used to sing it to my daughter when she was a baby.
Get a hold of yourself, man.
MY FAVORITE SOLO BEATLES TRACKS:
“Instant Karma!,””Maybe I’m Amazed,””What Is Life,””It Don’t Come Easy.” Oh, and “I’ll Try Anyway” by The Pete Best Combo.
20 FAVORITE BEATLES TRACKS NOT ISSUED AS A U.S. SINGLE:
“The Night Before”
“She Said She Said”
“Every Little Thing”
“Words Of Love”
“What You’re Doing”
“Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”
“If I Needed Someone”
“Tomorrow Never Knows”
“You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”
“You’re Gonna Lose That Girl”
“For No One”
“It Won’t Be Long”
“Cry Baby Cry”
“I’ve Just Seen A Face”
“Tell Me What You See”
MY 21st FAVORITE BEATLES TRACK NOT ISSUED AS A U.S. SINGLE:
“And Your Bird Can Sing”
Aw, man! I forgot “Things We Said Today” and “In My Life,” dammit!
FAVORITE BEATLES DOUBLE-A:
“We Can Work It Out”/”Day Tripper” But it’s a close one.
PROOF THAT A PARTIAL COLLECTION OF THE BEATLES’ B-SIDES WOULD MAKE AN ALBUM BETTER THAN MOST ARTISTS’ GREATEST-HITS SETS:
We’ll stick with pre-Sgt. Pepper Capitol sides, just for continuity:
“I Saw Her Standing There”
“You Can’t Do That”
“I Should Have Known Better”
“I’m Happy Just To Dance With You”
“If I Fell”
“She’s A Woman”
“I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party”
“Yes It Is”
MY OPINION OF “YESTERDAY”:
An underrated track, its popularity and ubiquity notwithstanding. The arrangement resists any temptation to go overboard, and remains elegant and understated. The lyrics are heartbreaking, devastating (and a sad partner to “For No One”). If you’ve ever sat, beer in hand, and listened to this song while thinking about the shadow hanging over you as love leaves you behind, then you appreciate how “Yesterday” can mirror the depth of your own sorrow and regret. Or, um…so I’ve heard.
FAVORITE DRUMMER IN THE BEATLES:
Ringo. I don’t mean that as a slap against Pete Best, just a repudiation of the oft-cited [fake] quote from John Lennon, with Lennon supposedly saying that not only wasn’t Ringo the best drummer in the world, he wasn’t even the best drummer in The Beatles. Worth repeating here for extry-emphasis: JOHN LENNON NEVER SAID THAT! Ringo remains one of the most underrated performers in rock ‘n’ roll history.
FAVORITE BEATLES IMITATION:
“Lies” by The Knickerbockers; honorable mentions to The Rutles and the transcendent pop of The Spongetones.
FAVORITE EXAMPLE OF THE BEATLES IMITATING:
I insist that “Tell Me Why” was a conscious effort by Lennon and McCartney to write a song in the Tottenham Sound of then-rivals The Dave Clark Five. “Tell Me Why” sounds more like a DC5 song than it sounds like anything else The Beatles ever did.
FAVORITE WRITING ABOUT THE BEATLES:
Paperback Writer, Mark Shipper‘s wiseass fictional history of The Beatles, is hilarious, and it’s my favorite rock ‘n’ roll novel. The introduction to The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz is one of the greatest, most exciting pieces of non-fiction rock writing I’ve ever seen.
Did I watch and enjoy Ron Howard’s Beatles’ documentary Eight Days A Week?
Was I blown away by Peter Jackson’s relevatory and awe-inspiring three-part masterpiece Get Back?
Do I still regard The Beatles as the Toppermost Of The Poppermost?