Monday, April 27, 2015

It Don't Come Easy

It's kind of been a Ringo couple of weeks for me. Got tickets to see Ringo and his All-Starr Band October 2nd in Paso Robles with VIP seating, oh boy living the high life! With that, I received in the mail a Ringo t-shirt that I'm wearing as I write this and also a Ringo canvas bag and poster that I have on my office wall. I was never in the The Beatles Fan Club or saw them live, but now, I finally get to see a Beatle!

So what's been playing in my head all week, It Don't Come Easy written and produced by George with Ringo assisting in 1970. George was so kind to his dear friend that he gave the song and all writing credits to Ringo. It got me thinking, these guys had been through so much together as struggling to famous musicians that their friendship could never be shaken . As the Beatles were now broken as a group in 1970, George and Ringo would just continue to be the great friends they were, bonded forever. It Don't Come Easy was released as a Ringo single in 1971 by Apple Records and went to #4 in the UK and US single charts. The song gave Ringo an identity outside The Beatles and kick-started his solo career. And George, just giving and being the great friend he was to Ringo.

Most of us have developed an extended circle of friends over the years. But if you are so lucky, you may also have a much smaller group of friends who you grew up or went to school with, and they still mean the world to you. As you grow older, you start to realize that getting new friends in your inner circle, don't come easy.

Deep friendship is a powerful gift. The trust between two great friends is understood and unshaken even if you don't see or talk that much together on a regular basis. Once you are in the presence of a great friend, it's like you both never skipped a beat, you are talking and interacting just like you did years ago, well maybe with a bit more maturity. Great friends are simply timeless and so is this song!

Concert for Bangla Desh, It Don't Come Easy - YouTube

Monday, April 20, 2015

What would you think if I sang out of tune...

Ringo StarrWith a Little Help from My Friends from the first verse and song written by John and Paul for their buddy Ringo, it's often the ongoing impression many have of Richard Starkey. Part self-made fool and Beatles manufactured court jester, Ringo is still to this day often maligned as the weak link in the best band in the world.  I just heard someone on TV the other day say something about every group or family having a "Ringo." This is just old crap and time to lay to rest the tired bit about Ringo as the lovable but inferior one. To me, Ringo is such an inspiration for overcoming sickness and adversity in childhood to becoming the definitive rock and roll drummer of all time, and yes, still very lovable.

What I admire most about Ringo is his sustainability. As most rock stars fade, Ringo endures through hard work and taking care of his body and mind. At 74, he shows us to keep doing the thing that makes us happy and brings joy to ourselves and everyone around us. Ringo is that social person who gets his strength from and with, his friends.  And Ringo is on a roll. He has a new album out, Postcards from Paradise, he's continually on tour with his All-Starr Band, and on Saturday he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Now this last part goes back to the rub described above. Why did it take the rock and roll establishment until 2015 to bring Ringo into the Hall of Fame as a solo artist? But from the man himself, no worries and complaining about his respect, he only needs it from the people around him! You have to love this guy for his sheer tenacity and willingness to just be a good person to everybody. I love this line by Paul about Ringo in the Rolling Stone article, Being Ringo: A Beatle's All-Starr LifeHe remembers the first show the Beatles did with Ringo, in 1962, at the Cavern in Liverpool, was when they became a real band. "The first few minutes that Ringo is playing, I look to the left at George and to the right to John, and we didn't say a word, but I remember thinking, 'Shit, this is amazing.' "

As George would say, "Ringo's got the best back beat I've every heard and can play 24 hours a day." Well I can't wait to hear that beat on October 2nd at the Vina Robles Ampitheater in Paso Robles, second row middle seats baby. Ringo simply rocks and yes, can carry a tune!

Enjoy the video below of the 2015 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and will be on HBO, Saturday, May 30th at 8pm.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Viva Lost Wages

Writing Sunday morning at 5:45 am in the Las Vegas Airport. My head is remarkably clear but my stomach is now saying, "dude, what in the hell have you been putting in me for the past 4 days!" I'm not eating anything on this plane ride back to San Diego that's for sure. Anyway, I'm popping Altoids to settle things down so let's talk Vegas, history and music as I'm hearing country pop piped in from the ceiling.

For me, Las Vegas is always a fish out of water experience as I land here and start my little venture with wall to wall people from all over the world, coming to have a little fun in sin city. This trip included my sister Stephanie, her husband Roger and my lovely wife Mary Kit. My daughter Shawna
Beatles Play a Slot Machinerecommended that we see the Mob Museum located in the historic federal courthouse and U.S Post Office building. It was fantastic! You've got to do this on your next visit here as it will not disappoint. By the way if you're ever in Memphis, you must also see the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel (site of Martin Luther King's assassination). For Boomers, both museums let you travel through our parents and our own generation's history either directly experienced or connected through conversation, books, news, television and the movies. You get little mental flashbacks of yes I remember that and lots of new info too. I didn't realize for example that the Beatles were scheduled to play at the Sahara Hotel on their 1964 tour, but with the overwhelming response the two shows had to be moved to the Las Vegas Convention Center to hold at least 8,000 screaming fans. The mafia ruled the town back then with a lot of other interesting people who made this place America's playground. It got me thinking about being born in the 1950's. We landed right in the middle of the 20th century and I think it gives many of us an unique perspective on life. For example, we know a lot of things about The Great Depression and World War II even though we weren't there. We know who Moms Mably was and are interested in Frank Sinatra (see new HBO documentary) and the Rat Pack  all the while streaming new digital music to our smartphones. We experienced the middle and end of the industrial age, created the digital age and will carry that probably to some middle stage before we check out. I just hope this perspective can be valued a little more as we get older because we have something to share to young people about our times here. We were good listeners.

Well now, back to Vegas 2015. The low cost hotel rates and meal days are long gone here and you're just going to have to shell out some cash from your savings if fun is on your agenda. The only thing that's the same and eerily nostalgic about Las Vegas is the deja vu levels of second hand smoke you experienced as a child. You literally get that thick-head smoke high once you enter the casinos, combined with the recycled AC, your body is changing and you haven't even started drinking beer, cocktails and eating rich food yet. Oh did I mention that other thing, the part about giving your hard earned money away to shiny machines or to a person sitting around a table with strangers?

But oh, the musical entertainment in this town is the reason many of us come here in the first place and Las Vegas doesn't disappoint. First off, we got to see The Beatles Love at the Mirage for the second time (Mary Kit her third). It's becoming a religious pilgrimage for us and we converted Stephanie and Roger too. I don't think you can ever see this very special Cirque du Soleil show too many times.

Fleetwood Mac TicketsSecond up, we got to see Fleetwood Mac at the MGM Grand. A simply fabulous show by the same people who formed the 1975 - present lineup of the band: Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and the wonderful Christine McVie. (Mary Kit, pal Mark Hunter and I saw the band way back in 1975 at the old Balboa Stadium in San Diego with Heart, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Rod Stewart on the same bill.) Anyway, Christine is back touring with the band after a 16 year absence and makes them complete. Mary Kit and I just saw them in December in San Diego (40 years later) when they started their tour and they even seemed more energized this time while doing this long tour together. Stevie said this was their 78th show of the tour and they just had the place rockin', lots of smiling from the band and the crowd was in a very singalong groove. With that I leave you some YouTube videos from the recent April shows, and as the band says, "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow." Or as Frank would say, "Vegas baby." So get online, check out who's playing when and where and start planning that Vegas trip soon!

Monday, April 06, 2015

#WeLoveYouJoni (Updated)

Last week, I like many people had to stop for a moment when hearing the news that Joni Mitchell was found unconscious in her home and taken to the hospital. Joni means so much to so many people and is one of a small group of artist's that transcend her time of popularity in the 1970's. Her lyrics and music speak to young and old and we all carry her songs with us, all the time. Her friends have created a hashtag, #WeLoveYouJoni and if you can, give her a message using the hashtag through your Facebook or Twitter account. Here is the site where of all these messages can be viewed by her and you too.

This week, I have put together a variety of Joni Mitchell songs into an (updated YouTube) playlist, enjoy and (continue to) send some positive waves in your thoughts her way.