Showing posts with label John Lennon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Lennon. Show all posts

Monday, January 10, 2022

Gimme Some Truth

The January 6th insurrection anniversary got me thinking, how would protest songs of the 1960's and 70's relate to these times? I thought about John Lennon and his song Gimme Some Truth

I'm sick and tired of hearing things
From uptight, short-sighted, narrow-minded hypocritics 
All I want is the truth 
Just gimme some truth

I've had enough of reading things
By neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians
All I want is the truth 
Just gimme some truth

The lyrics fit well into these times because it's easy to switch out the parallel characteristics of Richard Nixon with Donald Trump.

With Nixon we had the Vietnam War, the Government and the white establishment working to maintain their power and self interests. 

With Trump you can just switch out the Vietnam War and cultural wars of the 60's with the current cultural war he sparked in 2015, and the real threat his movement aims to accomplish – torching fair vote elections and democracy as we know it. 

In the 1960's and 70's, liberals were going up against the Government, FBI, and white establishment for civil rights, social change and to protest the Vietnam War. "Hey hippies, love it or leave it!"

In the 21st century, Trump's conservatives are going up against the Government, FBI, and a more diverse establishment to roll the clock back to the 1950's. "Hey red hats, love it or leave it!"

Trump's BIG LIE that the 2020 Presidential Election was stolen continues to stick with millions of Americans who have completely lost their grip on reality. 

Truth has been taken hostage. It started with the far-right side of the political spectrum, which much like the far-left, are both places where bird-brained conspiracy theories nest. But now, that thinking has spread to the core center of the Republican Party where currently 65% of Republicans believe Joe Biden was NOT legitimately elected President.

If 65% of Republicans believe that Joe Biden stole the 2020 election, a sucker is indeed born every minute, and it would appear lives in the fantasyland known as the Republican Party. How smart was Hitler, Mussolini? Is Trump in their league? It's amazing, but I don't think a NATO country of citizens have been manipulated into this level of propaganda since the rise of fascism in the 1930's in Germany and Italy. Trump's dangerous game is brilliantly simple – just continually repeat a double-down lie that is 180 degrees opposite of a basic truth or cultural understanding, goose-step forward and make that bullshit stick to his follower's souls. Then, call the actual truth, "fake news."

The protest song has been around since people formed languages and put words with rhythm. A protest song's purpose is to spear a lie and roast it on an open fire. The great 1960's folk singer Phil Ochs said, "A protest song is a song that's so specific that you cannot mistake it for BS." Wikipedia

From Gimme Some Truth, I then thought of several other protest or socially conscious songs from back in the day that still ring that bell of truth for today's cultural wars, social justice, and a woman's perspective. 

So in making the playlist this week, I designed a club sandwich. The bread being John Lennon songs in their time as the beginning, middle, and end. Then adding other 20th century songwriter's mindful songs, with several performed by artists in let's say, "their graying years." And then, a few newer mindful songs and even a little parody thrown in. Let's call this sandwich from the democracy deli, "Gimme Some Truth" on rye, and as Biden would say, "hold the malarkey."

Monday, September 20, 2021

Fifty Years of Music • September, 1971

When a big album like John Lennon's Imagine hits the fifty-year mark, there's a fair amount of press to celebrate the occasion. I've decided to just include it here in the fraternity of September, 1971 albums that take us back to a great year in rock 'n' roll. 

The song, Imagine was John's biggest single as a solo artist reaching #3 on the Billboard charts. It also took off again after his death in 1980, and for me, made my list of Great Songs Ruined By Radio in its continual overplay as one's mind rebels to the satiation. How can something once so lovely slowly torture the listener to sadly change the dial, or today hit the 'Skip' button .

Last year, JOHN LENNON. GIMME SOME TRUTH. THE ULTIMATE MIXES was released. This past week, I watched the Imagine, Ultimate Mix (2020) video of John and Yoko filmed at their Tittenhurst Park English country estate. It struck me that the verse-

Imagine, Ultimate Mix (2020) image capture
Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can 
No need for greed or hunger - a brotherhood of man 
Imagine all the people sharing all the world...

was just a tad over the top when juxtaposed with the video of the loving couple's walk up to Tittenhurst's spacious white mansion. Okay my cynicism aside, what got my attention about the video was John singing directly into the camera, communicating his message to all of us. It's like only 26 seconds of the video, but it was stunningly fabulous! During the video shoot, someone should have suggested, "a little more John at the piano?"

In the Imagine, Ultimate Mix (2020) liner notes description, I do like John's later words giving credit to Yoko for their collaboration on the song.

John: ‘Imagine’ was inspired by Yoko’s Grapefruit [Book]. There’s a lot of pieces in it saying like ‘Imagine this’ or ‘Imagine that’. If you get a copy of Grapefruit and look through, you’ll see where I was influenced by her. ‘Imagine’ could never have been written without her. And I know she helped on a lot of the lyrics but I wasn’t man enough to let her have credit for it. So that song was actually written by John & Yoko, but I was still selfish enough and unaware enough to take her contribution without acknowledging it. The song itself expresses what I’d learned through being with Yoko and my own feelings on it. It should really have said ‘Lennon/Ono’ on that song, because she contributed a lot of that song.

In the playlist this week, I end with the beginning in the sense that the people doing John's archives found the 'original demo' tape of Imagine and it was released in 2018. I especially love Beatle demo's because they are just as brilliant in their raw form. Here's the video liner notes on the demo.

While sifting through boxes upon boxes of the original tapes for Yoko Ono, engineer Rob Stevens discovered something truly remarkable that had gone unnoticed all these years. “Early 2016, during the gestation period of this project, I'm in the Lennon archives with my people going through tape boxes that have labeling that's unclear, misleading, or missing entirely”, says Stevens. “There's a one-inch eight-track that says nothing more on the 'Ascot Sound' label than John Lennon, the date, and the engineer (Phil McDonald), with DEMO on the spine. No indication of what material was on the tape. One delicate transfer to digital later, the “Imagine” demo, subsequently enhanced superbly by Paul Hicks, appears within this comprehensive set. It was true serendipity.”

I love this original demo and the video with just the animated clouds, and hey this version is not played on the radio. Also, check out the 2018 Documentary, John & Yoko: Above Us Only Sky on Netflix. 

Another big album in 1971 was John Prine's debut album,
John Prine. It actually wasn't so big when released but over time like the man himself became a classic for all time. Rolling Stone magazine had it ranked last year in their 500 Greatest Albums of All Time at 149. Prine himself has always been uncomfortable about the recording of John Prine as he said, "I was terrified. I went straight from playing by myself, still learning how to sing, to playing with Elvis Presley's rhythm section." (Wikipedia). I do sense a little tenseness in his voice in this first recording as later recorded versions bring out John's comfort and joy in performing his folksy masterpieces. He also shared his displeasure in an interview with the hokey country photo shoot.

"I had never seen a bale of hay in my life! I tried to explain that to Jim Marshall when he took the picture in his studio in San Francisco. We were making small talk when a pickup truck arrives with three bales of hay. He said, “I’m gonna do a head shot of you and the straw will make an interesting background.” Next thing I know it’s about five days before the album comes out and I’m at the record company in New York and I saw the cover photo, and there I am sitting on a bale of hay. And I pipe up that while I like country music, this looks like “Hee-Haw.” But it was too late to change it, and I’ve been making up for it ever since. (

Bob Dylan's quote at John Prine's passing in 2020 has always stuck with me and seems a good time to bring it out on the 50th anniversary of just a remarkable album of songwriting. "Prine's stuff is pure Proustian existentialism. Midwestern mindtrips to the nth degree."

The writer, Patrick Doyle has stated, "John Prine is the Mark Twain of songwriting." 

For me, John Prine the album is just a variation of the great American novel. Here's some selected lyrics I have picked from each song on the album, a masterpiece of Americana songwriting. 

Illegal Smile
When I woke up this morning, things were lookin' bad
Seem like total silence was the only friend I had
Bowl of oatmeal tried to stare me down, and won
And it was twelve o'clock before I realized
I was havin' no fun

Spanish Pipe dream
She was a level-headed dancer
On the road to alcohol
And I was just a soldier on my way to Montreal

Hello in There
Me and Loretta, we don't talk much more
She sits and stares through the back door screen
And all the news just repeats itself
Like some forgotten dream that we've both seen
Someday I'll go and call up Rudy
We worked together at the factory
But what could I say if he asks "What's new?"
"Nothing, what's with you? Nothing much to do"

You know that old trees just grow stronger
And old rivers grow wilder every day
Old people just grow lonesome
Waiting for someone to say, "Hello in there, hello"

So if you're walking down the street sometime
And spot some hollow ancient eyes
Please don't just pass 'em by and stare
As if you didn't care, say, "Hello in there, hello"

Sam Stone
Sam Stone came home
To his wife and family
After serving in the conflict overseas
And the time that he served
Had shattered all his nerves
And left a little shrapnel in his knees
But the morphine eased the pain
And the grass grew round his brain
And gave him all the confidence he lacked
With a purple heart and a monkey on his back

There's a hole in daddy's arm where all the money goes
Jesus Christ died for nothin' I suppose
Little pitchers have big ears
Don't stop to count the years
Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios

Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.

And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away

Pretty Good
I heard Allah and Buddha were singing at the Savior's feast
And up in the sky an Arabian rabbi
Fed Quaker Oats to a priest
Pretty good, not bad, they can't complain
'Cause actually all them gods are just about the same

Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore
While digesting Reader's Digest
In the back of a dirty book store,
A plastic flag, with gum on the back,
Fell out on the floor.
Well, I picked it up and I ran outside
Slapped it on my window shield,
And if I could see old Betsy Ross
I'd tell her how good I feel.

But your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.
They're already overcrowded
From your dirty little war.
Now Jesus don't like killin'
No matter what the reason's for,
And your flag decal won't get you
Into Heaven any more.

Far From Me
Well, I started the engine
And I gave it some gas
And Cathy was closing her purse
Well, we hadn't gone far in my beat old car
And I was prepared for the worst.
"Will you still see me tomorrow?"
"No, I got too much to do"
Well, a question ain't really a question
If you know the answer too

Angel From Montgomery 
I am an old woman
Named after my mother
My old man is another
Child who's grown old

If dreams were lightning
And thunder were desire
This old house would've burned down
A long time ago

Make me an angel
That flies from Montgomery
Make me a poster
Of an old rodeo
Just give me one thing
That I can hold on to
To believe in this livin'
Is just a hard way to go

Quiet Man
Last Monday night I saw a fight
Between Wednesday and Thursday over Saturday night
Tuesday asked me what was going on, I said
"Sunday's in the meadow and Friday's in the corn"

Donald and Lydia
Small town, bright lights, Saturday night,
Pinballs and pool halls flashing their lights.
Making change behind the counter in a penny arcade
Sat the fat girl daughter of Virginia and Ray

Lydia hid her thoughts like a cat
Behind her small eyes sunk deep in her fat.
She read romance magazines up in her room
And felt just like Sunday on Saturday afternoon.

But dreaming just comes natural
Like the first breath from a baby,
Like sunshine feeding daisies,
Like the love hidden deep in your heart.

Bunk beds, shaved heads, Saturday night,
A warehouse of strangers with sixty watt lights.
Staring through the ceiling, just wanting to be
Lay one of too many, a young PFC:
There were spaces between Donald and whatever he said.
Strangers had forced him to live in his head.
He envisioned the details of romantic scenes
After midnight in the stillness of the barracks latrine.
Hot love, cold love, no love at all.
A portrait of guilt is hung on the wall.
Nothing is wrong, nothing is right.
Donald and Lydia made love that night.

The made love in the mountains, they made love in the streams,
They made love in the valleys, they made love in their dreams.
But when they were finished there was nothing to say,
'cause mostly they made love from ten miles away.

Six O'Clock News
Wanda had a baby in 1951
The father was stranger and a stranger was the son
Call that child James Lewis, call these rooms a home
Changing all them diapers, polish all that chrome

Flashback Blues
While window shopping through the past
I ran across a looking glass
Reflecting moments remaining in a burned out light
Tragic magic prayers of passion
Stay the same through changing fashions
They freeze my mind like water on a winter's night

Spent most of my youth
Out hobo cruising
And all I got for proof
Is rocks in my pockets and dirt in my shoes
So goodbye nonbeliever
Don't you know that I hate to leave here
So long babe, I got the flashback blues.


Albums Featured in the September, 1971 Playlist

  1. Imagine, John Lennon
  2. John Prine, John Prine
  3. Cahoots, The Band
  4. Electric Warrior, T. Rex
  5. Welcome to the Canteen (Live), Traffic
  6. From The Inside, Poco
  7. Future Games, Fleetwood Mac
  8. Santana III, Santana
  9. Aereo-Plain, John Hartford
  10. Bark, Jefferson Airplane

Monday, December 14, 2020

My Favorite Songs of 1970

1970 was an incredible year in rock 'n' roll history. Some of my favorite songs of all-time are contained in the albums above. The playlist this week is a treasure of jewels for me, some discovered in 1970, and some discovered much later.

The year was full of great music and news.

The biggest news of 1970 was the biggest band break-up that ever was as The Beatles go their separate ways and start making their own albums. Their fans never stop hoping that they will get back together.

The Beatles also released their last album, Let It Be recorded before Abbey Road and released after. 

Simon and Garfunkel also made their last album together, Bridge Over Trouble Water. The album wins 6 Grammy's and wins The Song, Record, and Album of the Year. Their fans never stop hoping that they get back together.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young make a masterpiece, Déjà Vu  and then promptly break-up for the first time, as their fans never stop hoping that they will get back together again, and again, and again...

Drugs and death also intersect in 1970, as both Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin both die of overdoses just three weeks apart at the tender age of 27. Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones had died the year prior in 1969 at 27, and in the following year of 1971, Jim Morrison would also die of an overdose at 27 and fuel the rock culture phenomenon of Club 27.  

Speaking of phenomenon, the singer-songwriters to emerge as stars in 1970 is literally on the charts. James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Carole King, Kris Kristofferson, Stephen Stills, Leon Russell, Cat Stevens, Van Morrison, and Elton John all breakout with solo albums that will put them on the map and on the road for years to come. In 1970, Stevens, Morrison, John, and Badfinger each release two albums during the same year as fans cannot get enough. 

I was hooked by all these talented people and I start buying their albums whenever I could scrap up the money. My friends are doing the same, and we are all listening to each other's albums. Getting into rock concerts was going to be the next big step.

At fifteen, I'm becoming aware that two of my new heroes- James Taylor and Neil Young, are a bit like me, painfully shy to the point that it wasn't helping me move forward in life. By listening to their songs by myself in my bedroom, I began to get a sensibility for their music and what they were communicating to the world. I began to internalize their music, like millions of other kids. I start to examine who I am- my self-worth, what will I do? James and Neil didn't magically answer these questions, but they did give me a feeling, a new sense that I wasn't alone. James has this beautiful voice and yet he's always hunched over (like me), walking and talking without a lot of confidence. Neil's as quirky as hell and has this unique shaky voice and distant stare. But yet, both are opening up on a big stage in the spotlight, and becoming massively successful, folk-rock stars no less. Could I actually make something of myself? 

1970 was a new decade but still part of the 1960's, and I wanted in, to be a long-hair. Music was becoming a part of my identity and it was a cornerstone of the counter-culture. I wanted to be part of something bigger, something completely different from my parents and my conservative upbringing.

This year in the blog, I started the reoccurring monthly post of 50 Years of Music. As I reflect back over the entirety of 1970, the blog often serves as a retro-journal to myself. This year, I also caught myself playing an old game, the 'shoulda-woulda-coulda' mind game. I wished I had joined the cross-country team, I wished I had started playing tennis with my dear friend Bill DeVoe as he would eventually go on to become the number one player on the high school varsity team. I wished I hadn't quit piano lessons, and I wished that I had starting writing a journal when I was young. In retrospect, all these wishes where not a lack of opportunities presented to me, but a basic lack of self-confidence on my part. 

I would go through most of the 1970's with that general lack of confidence that slowly melted away as I began my professional career as a K-12 teacher with a variety of job assignments and experiences. Over the years, I discovered that confidence is often revealed in a couple basic ways. One, you see the overt confidence, often coupled with words over action. Second, and the confidence I tried to model from the good people around me was the purposeful actions that followed their words.

On this day, I'm thankful for my core group of friends who helped me believe in myself, and I'm thankful for the music we shared together as kids and continue to share today with old and new songs.

The playlist(s) this week are 220 songs as it is contains some of the best music I ever heard when first released 50 years ago that has endured the test of time. To quote John Lennon on the roof of Abbey Road Studios in the Let It Be film, "I would like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we've passed the audition." Yes John, your band certainly passed the audition- giving all the people you inspired to pick up musical instruments and make rock 'n' roll. Those musicians and the listening fans from all over the world are forever indebted and eternally grateful for the music of 

(Note- I just discovered this morning in publishing the blog that an embedded YouTube playlist will only display 200 videos, damnit-all. So, I have taken the last 20 videos and created a Part II Playlist and embedded below the first playlist. There's some great songs in the last group of 20, including the last song which has a lot of meaning to me.)

Merry Everything! Stay well my friends and mask-up. 

So let's now get back to where we once belonged.



Monday, September 21, 2020

My Social Dilemma

This past week I watched the Netflix documentary, /the social dilemma_ that I recommend you watch. If you are a parent with children at home, I'll add that I highly recommend you watch this documentary.

Here's the trailer that explains the purpose of the film.

This documentary catches me at an interesting time because as a music blogger I completely depend on social media to write and promote this blog. Now a blog by definition expresses a perspective, opinion, or bias by a writer of any post that is published on the Internet. My blog is no exception, you basically come here to read and listen to my personal taste in music.

From the middle 1990's through 2010, I was an educational technology resource teacher in San Diego Unified School District. My colleagues and I had the overarching goal to integrate educational technologies into the K-12 curriculum for students and teachers. This integration was based in our practice that technology was an essential tool for both learning and teaching. In 2006, our personal and professional world changed with the development of cloud computing. Along with colleagues Mary Lange and Mary Vieira, we started teaching teachers how to use Google Docs, a free web-based sharing word processor. As teachers, we felt the possibilities were endless for teachers and students. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this, but in the early 2000's I believed that free cloud-based applications would actually help the world connect together and digitally realize John Lennon's dream in his song, Imagine. I laugh at that thought today, and boy was that a stretch of my utopian view of technology back then. 

In 2006, several important free cloud-based apps received public access including, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. In 2007, I began using Blogger, and in 2015 I chose Blogger as my tool to write this blog simply for the fact that it was owned by Google and maybe from a search standpoint, clicks and hits could magically come my way.

By 2015 and leading to the presidential election in 2016, my thoughts on technology have completely swung from utopian to an imbalance toward a dystopian use of social media technology. The thought of 'technology as tools' has been overshadowed by social media companies competing for our attention through their social media apps. My colleagues and I used to champion 'content creation tools' for students to create and express themselves. In my opinion, these tools have now been run over by social 'content consumption apps' designed to keep you looking at your digital screen to generate advertising dollars for these companies, and taking the definition of consumer to a completely different level.

Skinner Box, Source - Simply Psychology
It's like Psychology 101 and B.F Skinner with his positive reinforcement experiments with rats in his 'Skinner Box.' In the 21st century, I'll say the new Skinner Box is the smartphone, where Notifications are the signal lights and speaker designed for you to push/touch the lever/screen to get your positive food pellet/information reward that keeps your attention on the money-ticking screen.

The trouble with today's food pellet of information is that it is often programmed through artificial intelligence (AI) to give one a steady diet of chocolate and candy, rather than a balanced diet of literate nourishment found in books, magazines, newspapers, TV, radio and the Internet.

Remember when MySpace was king around 2006 as the most visited website in the United States. I loved the name 'MySpace' because it told consumers here is what you are getting- a space in the cloud you can call your own.

Facebook overtook MySpace in 2008 with Twitter not far behind. Facebook and Twitter were terrible names but actually perfect, one could look at picture books of people for hours in a day, or twitter their day away reading or texting quick short-term memory messages. YouTube, purchased by Google again in the transformative year of 2006, covered the area of video and now we could watch searchable free videos as the new and improved 'boob tube.'

My Dilemma
Now if you can feel my angst in 2020, you know our political climate since 2015 and leading up to the election this November. The ongoing "hands off policy" by the social media giants to monitor fake news and hate speak sums up their total lack of responsibility and accountability. It is so evident that their social conscience has been trumped by their ever expanding profit margins. These companies run big businesses but yet demonstrate their inability to monitor their vast social networks  and are clearly way in over their heads.

Here, I'm going to focus on the two fat cats I use to promote this blog: Facebook which I and many now call, "Fakebook" and Twitter, which I'm sure I'm not the first, but a leading practitioner in now calling it, "Spitter." Both Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook and Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter have both lost control of their social media babies as they have grown into two-faced teenage werewolves.

As the reader you might be saying to yourself, "Well if Doug feels so strongly about these horrible social media apps, why doesn't he stand on his principles and DELETE his Facebook and Twitter accounts?" I'm the first one to say that I would agree with this assessment.

Now wait for it... here comes the BUT- Facebook and Twitter combine to bring in 95% of my readers to this blog. In the past couple of months, I've grown my audience by now averaging about 130 hits a week as 'The little music blog that could.' Without Facebook and Twitter to promote the weekly blog (often twice daily), I would probably get about 15-20 hits a week which is basically my family and friends.

So the dilemma, to write a blog for myself and handful of faithful readers, or try to promote it using Fakebook and Spitter to increase my readership slowly over time? Call me a hypocrite, but right now I'm going to continue to use my social media accounts to increase my readership.

Back in the day around the Ed Tech staff table, we used to talk about technology as the 'two-edged sword' for 'good uses' and 'bad behavior.' Remember the 'Arab Spring' in the early 2010s where citizens in several Arab countries rose in protest against their repressive regimes. In the news, social media has been heralded as the driving force behind the swift spread of revolution throughout the world, as new protests appear in response to success stories shared from those taking place in other countries. Wikipedia

Arab Spring was an example of how technology could help the human condition around the world and mobilize people against authoritarianism and ruling monarchies toward democracy. That shining example is now well sullied with the daily shit show in social media 'bubble politics' from a barrage of domestic and foreign citizens and organized groups.

YouTube is the app I use to find and create my weekly playlists. YouTube is owned by Google and is no saint either as I'm sure you can easily find hate speech and other offensive things in seconds. For the time being, I'll give them a slightly better nod here as offensive stuff seems to quickly come down by Google itself, rather than pressure from the outside in, as Facebook and Twitter seem to defensively react before acting. Don't you just want to throw your flip flops at the TV when Zuckerberg appears before congress?

For the most part, I use YouTube exclusively for music because it is such a huge music machine. Their AI algorithms never sleep as I now call them, "SuggestTube." Why? Because when you search for a video the right linear part of your screen is literally AI SCREAMING, "Come on watch me too!"

In the past couple of years, YouTube's AI algorithms are getting so much better in getting to know my musical tastes and it's a little creepy how the Americana genre music suggestions keep coming up on my right as I watch a music video. In fact, my #NewMusicMonday playlists are increasingly getting easier to make as Google's suggestion engines are hard at work to feed me stuff I may like, while they feed themselves on the advertising dollars based on my next clicks.

So my point in all this? I just need to remind myself that my attention is being manipulated by social media on a daily basis and my addiction to it just needs to be constantly brought to my conscious brain's attention.

I'll end this with a YouTube event with my grandson this past weekend. I asked him a question about LEGO Star Wars spaceship models and he quickly got out an iPad and started to show me the many varieties of LEGO sets. He suddenly gets distracted by a video that pops up on his right linear screen and immediately clicks on it to watch it. I had to repeat my original question and steer him back to the Star War LEGO models video. This got me thinking, how many times have I done the same thing myself watching music videos? Squirrel!

Last night my daughter Katie told me she recently deleted her Facebook account as she just got tired of having to deal with all the BS that it brought to her. Maybe someday, I have that resolve to do the same.

Again, I recommend the Netflix documentary, /the social dilemma_ to help keep you on your toes, and as the film points out, technology companies and drug dealers are the only two that call their clients, "users."

 Okay, let's finish this with John Lennon's utopian vision of peace and unity through Imagine. 

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Oh, and how about some Gimme Some Truth.

(Note- Starting this week, I have now turned off the Comments section at the bottom of each post. Why? Because I'm tired of people often using broken English to misuse the comments section by praising the post while they embed a link to advertise their commercial web site, causing me to have to go back and manually delete the advertisement.)

Monday, April 06, 2020

Peter and Gordon, Chad and Jeremy, and now Peter and Jeremy

Photo of James Taylor & Peter Asher at the
Sweet Baby James photo shoot by Henry Diltz
Several weeks ago, I wrote a blog called,  Sweet Baby James and 50 Years Down the Road

While writing that blog, I had also began to read a book by James Taylor's original manager and the producer of Sweet Baby James, Peter Asher.

Thanks to Paul Hobbs 
for the book loan

The book is titled, The Beatles from A to Zed and is simply a wonderful journey through the alphabet with everything Beatles, plus more interesting sidebar stories including: Peter's direct experiences with the Beatles, his days in Peter and Gordon, and life in the music business. If you're a Beatle fan, this is a must and a very fun read indeed. The book got me interested in Peter Asher and I began to look into his life and professional career as a musician and record producer.

Some early facts about Peter Asher and his one degree of separation-
  • Peter's father was a doctor and his mother was a professional musician and Oboe teacher, who once taught a young lad named, George Martin (the future producer of The Beatles).
  • Peter went to the prestigious Westminster School in London where he met his future band mate, Gordon Waller whose father was also a doctor.
  • Peter was a child actor along with sister Jane Asher, a life-long actress. 
  • At seventeen, Jane had an opportunity to interview the Beatles in April, 1963 at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and began a five-year relationship with Paul McCartney. In December 1963, McCartney took up residence at Asher's family Wimpole Street town house and stayed there until the couple moved into McCartney's own home located in St John's Wood in 1966. McCartney wrote several Beatles songs inspired by her, including "And I Love Her", "You Won't See Me", "I'm Looking Through You", "We Can Work It Out", and "Here, There and Everywhere." Wikipedia
  • At the Asher's Wimpole St. home, John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote "I Want to Hold Your Hand" in the front basement room, while McCartney wrote the tune to "Yesterday" in a box room at the top of the house. Wikipedia
  • Paul McCartney and Jane Asher
  • For two years, Peter's and Paul's bedrooms were right next to each other at the top of the house, and Peter as a young musician himself had constant direct access to one of the greatest singer-songwriter's of all-time. I guess I could go on about Jane's and Paul's access... what were her parents thinking?
Anyway, John and Paul were constantly writing new songs and always revisiting and even workshopping older songs they wrote before the Beatles formed in 1960. One such song, A World Without Love was written by Paul when he was sixteen but John could never get past the first line, Please lock me away without cracking up with laughter.

Peter Asher and Gordon Waller
As John rejected A World Without Love as a Beatles song, an astute Peter Asher asked Paul if he could have the "orphan" song for his newly signed band, Peter and Gordon. Peter even persisted Paul to write the bridge of the still uncompleted song. Paul finished the song and gave it to Peter and Gordon who took it to their first recording sessions for EMI Records. Least to say, the rest is history as the song went all the way to #1 on the UK and American Billboard Charts in 1964 and launched Peter and Gordon as a worldwide duo.

This past week, I thought the A World Without Love lyrics quite appropriate for our #StayatHome times even though they were written by a young Paul McCartney about waiting for a true love to finally show herself.

Please lock me away
And don't allow the day
Here inside where I hide
With my loneliness

I don't care what they say I won't stay
In a world without love

Now another thing that struck me when viewing the color video of A World Without Love is that Peter Asher is the spitting image model of Mike Myers' Austin Powers character. I am of course not the first to make this observation, but I want you to play the song here and pay attention as the camera zooms in on Peter at the 0:27 - 0:37 mark. You'll see exactly what I'm talking about- Peter's expression with mop top, Buddy Holly glasses and teeth... Yeah Baby!

Peter's close relationship with Paul McCartney proved invaluable as Peter and Gordon recorded several songs written by McCartney but credited to Lennon–McCartney. Those hits included "A World Without Love" (US & UK #1), "Nobody I Know" (US #12; UK #10), "I Don't Want To See You Again" (US #16, but not a hit in the UK), and "Woman." With "Woman", McCartney used the pseudonym Bernard Webb to see whether he could have a hit song without his name attached. First pressings of the US Capitol single listed the composer as "A. Smith". The song reached #14 in the US and #28 on the UK Singles Chart in 1966. Wikipedia

Phil and Don Everly
As duo groups in the 1960's started popping up such as Simon and Garfunkel, Peter and Gordon, Chad and Jeremy, not to mention such bands as The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Hollies, and Bee Gees- all getting their harmonic inspiration from the well of The Everly Brothers. For Peter and Gordon, it's very interesting to hear two very different singing voices come together to make their harmony work so well. Needless to say, without the Everly Brothers, the evolution of harmony in the early to mid-sixties for singing duo's and bands just wouldn't have been the same.

Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde
Chad and Jeremy is another interesting duo from England as they too rode the British Invasion to America with a number of hits from 1962 - 1968.

The duo had a string of hits in the US, including "Willow Weep for Me", "Before and After", and their biggest hit, "A Summer Song". Wikipedia

For Peter and Gordon and Chad and Jeremy, the 60's wave ended as both groups disbanded in 1968. For Peter Asher, his life changed in 1968 as he briefly worked as the A&R (Artists & Repertoire) Director for Apple Records where he signed James Taylor to his first record contract and then moved to the United States to manage and produce James and later, Linda Ronstadt. Peter went on to produce many acts, and in 1995-2002 was Senior Vice-President for Sony Music Entertainment.

Peter and Gordon, 2005
But what attracted me to write this article and playlist this week was Peter Asher's reunion with Gordon Waller in 2005, first playing benefits, Beatlefest, and then doing clubs together. Sadly, this ended in 2009 when Gordon Waller died of a heart attack at 64 years old.
Chad and Jeremy, 2005

As for Chad and Jeremy, Chad Stuart continued to work in the music industry while Jeremy Clyde became a film and stage actor. In the early 1980s, the duo reunited to record a new album and perform concerts, including a multi-band British Invasion nostalgia tour. After another long period of separation, in the early 2000s Chad & Jeremy began performing again and developed a semi-regular schedule of touring for many years. Wikipedia

Peter and Jeremy, 2020
Incidentally, both Peter and Gordon and Chad and Jeremy often played venues together as all were life-long friends.

In 2018, Chad Stuart retired from performing and low and behold, Peter Asher and Jeremy Clyde started performing together as, Peter and Jeremy. That kind of takes us full circle as I would like to present a mix playlist of Peter and Gordon, Chad and Jeremy, and Peter and Jeremy this week in both older and more recent videos. Make sure to watch the last two videos with a bit of fun commentary by Peter and Jeremy. Enjoy my friends!

Note- I also want to give a big shoutout to jarichards99youtube (subscribe here) who does a fantastic job of taking old music videos and creating a Digitally ReProcessed ReCut Video and STEREO ReMix.HiQ Hybrid = Live Video Performance PLUS Studio Quality Sound.