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At number 11 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “A Hard Day’s Night”. This song was recorded in April 1964 and released in July. It was The Beatles’ 7th singles release in the Disunited Kingdom, and got to number 1 on both sides of the Atlantic. It is also the title of The Beatles’ 3rd album, and the title of their first movie.

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At number 11 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “A Hard Day’s Night”

The title of the song apparently comes from a phrase that Ringo Starr would often say, with John Lennon being the main composer and singer. The opening chord is considered one of the most recognisable in rock ‘n’ roll. The single and album were both at number 1 simultaneously in both the DUK and the USA in August of 1964, something which had never been achieved before by any recording artist.

It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’ve been working like a dog
It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log
But when I get home to you I find the things that you do
Will make me feel alright

You know I work all day to get you money to buy you things
And it’s worth it just to hear you say you’re going to give me everything
So why on earth should I moan, ’cause when I get you alone
You know I feel OK

When I’m home everything seems to be right
When I’m home feeling you holding me tight, tight

It’s been a hard day’s night, and I been working like a dog
It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log
But when I get home to you I find the things that you do
Will make me feel alright, oww

So why on earth should I moan, ’cause when I get you alone
You know I feel OK

When I’m home everything seems to be right
When I’m home feeling you holding me tight, tight

It’s been a hard day’s night, and I been working like a dog
It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log
But when I get home to you I find the things that you do
Will make me feel alright
You know I feel alright
You know I feel alright

Here is a video of this wonderful song from the album Live at the BBC. Enjoy!

This story in New Scientist Magazine caught my attention several weeks ago – “Hunting for Mars-like life a kilometre below Earth’s surface”.  Here is a link to the original story. Scientists are using the extreme environment of Boulby mine, a working salt mine in north-east England to look for extremophiles, the kinds of organisms which are able to live (and even flourish) in environments which we human beings would simply find impossible.

Scientists believe that the environment found in Boulby mine could be similar to environments found on Mars, so studying the extremophiles found deep underground in Boulby mine should help us in our quest to find evidence for life on other planets. This work will help NASA’s various rovers (both present and future ones) look in the most promising places for alien-life on the red planet.

At number 12 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”. This is one of my favourite Beatles songs, not just of 1965 but of any period. I simply adore this song. It is, in  my opinion, pure perfection. Instrumentally, if features the first use of a sitar on a Beatles’ song (and probably on any western pop music song). Lyrically, it is both profound and light; leaving the listener wondering at the end of the song – what happens next?

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At number 12 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”

As the screen capture above to the Rolling Stone blurb says, “Norwegian Wood” was John Lennon writing about an affair, but in a way to try and hide it from his wife. The song is only ten lines long, but it is ten lines of perfection. It is a mainly Lennon composition, with Paul McCartney claiming that he contributed the two lines “She told me…..”, and the title. But, in an interview just before his death, Lennon claimed it was his song entirely, with no contribution from McCartney.

I suspect McCartney’s version of events is more true; even when a song was nearly entirely a creation of one of them, the other would often suggest ideas or word changes in the studio, as they were recording the song. This went on even right up until the end, when they were barely speaking to each other outside of the studio. So, with this song, I suspect that McCartney did indeed suggest a line or two and a word here and there.

I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me…
She showed me her room, isn’t it good, norwegian wood?

She asked me to stay and she told me to sit anywhere,
So I looked around and I noticed there wasn’t a chair.

I sat on a rug, biding my time, drinking her wine
We talked until two and then she said, “It’s time for bed”

She told me she worked in the morning and started to laugh.
I told her I didn’t and crawled off to sleep in the bath

And when I awoke, I was alone, this bird had flown
So I lit a fire, isn’t it good, norwegian wood.

Here is a video of this mesmerising song. Enjoy!

I recently went to Douala, the Cameroon. On my way here my flight took me via Casablanca, and with the timings of my arrival in Casablanca and the departure for Douala I had about 20 hours. So, I booked myself into a hotel for (part of) the night, and in a very tired state the following morning tried to explore a bit of this magical city.

I had been to Morocco before, to Marrakesh. I have to say though, I found Marrakesh a bit of a disappointment, I don’t really know why but I did. What little I saw of Casablanca during the 4-5 hours I had led me to conclude that it is a more interesting city than Marrakesh, and being close to the sea is always a bonus in my opinion.

The first thing I decided to walk to see was the Hassan II mosque, and I was not disappointed. This spectacular mosque is in a spectacular location, it sits on a promontory overlooking the Atlantic ocean. Here is a map of (the central part of) Casablanca showing where it is.

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The Hassan II mosque is on the Atlantic shore of Casablanca.

This next photograph shows essentially the first view that I got of the mosque as I approached it from the East. It was about 10:30am but already over 30C, so lots of children were jumping into the se off the rocks around the mosque.

The mosque was only completed in 1993, so is pretty modern. It is the largest mosque in Morocco, and has the tallest minaret, at 210 metres, of any mosque in the world. The designs on the facades of the building are exquisite, it really is a beautiful building, and its location near the sea only adds to its beauty in my opinion. I only wish my schedule had been there to take photographs near sunset, it would look spectacular as the late afternoon sun lit up its marble walls.

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The Hassan II mosque is on the seashore of Casablanca. It was completed in 1993 and is the largest mosque in Morocco.

If you are ever in Casablanca I would definitely include this near the top of your sight-seeing list. It is well worth it. Just try to go on a cooler day than I did!

 

This story caught my attention in the last few weeks. It is from the Universe Today website, and here is the link to the story. The two exoplanets in the story, TRAPPIST-1b and TRAPPIST-1c, are only 40 light-years away, which by cosmic standards is very close. They have been studied in near-infrared light using the Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), which was put onto Hubble during a last servicing mission in May 2009.

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This story appeared recently on the Universe Today website.

By studying the planets in near-infrared light we can look at how sunlight is absorbed by different gases in a planet’s atmosphere. This method was pioneered by Gerard Kuiper working in the 1940s. This article mentions that the atmospheres of these two exoplanets have been shown to be “compact” like the Earth and Venus, rather than “puffy” like the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn.

How can we determine this from near-infrared studies done here? Rather than looking at reflected light from the parent star, instead these studies used the passing of the two planets in front of a background star (not the host star). By looking at the absorption lines produced by the two planets’ atmospheres, not only can the gases in them be determined, but by looking at the details of the absorption lines one can determine the temperature and pressure of the gas. This is an example of how powerful a technique spectroscopy is in determining the physical nature of gases.

To find two planets so nearby which could potentially harbour life is quite exciting. I am surprised this has not been a bigger story in the press.

 

 

 

 

Today I thought I would share this pretty famous song by The Mamas & the Papas – “California Dreaming'”. This is a hippy dippy song, released in December 1965. Actually, before I looked up when it was released, I would have guessed it was 1967, as it seems to fit perfectly with that year/summer of love. But not, it was the end of 1965, so ahead of its time in many ways.

The Mamas & the Papas were made up of John Phillips and Michelle Phillips (husband and wife), and Denny Doherty and Cass Elliot. “California Dreaming'” was written in 1963 by the husband and wife songwriting team when they were living in New York. “California Dreamin'” was only a moderate hit when it was released;  reaching number 4 in the USA but only number 27 in the UK. However, it has since gone on to become one of the best known songs of the mid-1960s.

All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day
I’d be safe and warm if I was in L.A.
California dreaming on such a winter’s day

Stepped into a church I passed along the way
Well, I got down on my knees and I pretend to pray
You know the preacher, like the cold, he knows I’m gonna stay
California dreaming on such a winter’s day

All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey
I’ve been for a walk on a winter’s day
If I didn’t tell her I could leave today
California dreaming on such a winter’s day
On such a winter’s day, on such a winter’s day

The song is number 89 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs. Here is a video of this great song. Enjoy!

At number 13 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Revolution”. This is a great John Lennon rock ‘n’ roll song, but one with a message. In fact, for those of you who are not that familiar with The Beatles, there are two versions of “Revolution”. There is the rock ‘n’ roll version which was released as the B-side to the single “Hey Jude”, but there is also a slow, bluesy version on The Beatles’ White Album. In fact, the slow version was recorded before the fast version. They sound very different, so if you have not heard both I suggest you try to find the album version.

“Revolution” was inspired by current events. 1968 is often thought of as one of the years which has seen the most uprising and unrest of any year in the second half of the 20th Century. With the Vietnam War spiralling out of control, riots on the streets of Paris, unrest in Prague, the murder of Martin Luther King in April, and other world events, Lennon decided to write about them in “Revolution”. He had been political for a number of years, but was always prevented from saying what was on his mind by their manager Brian Epstein. With Epstein’s death in August 1967, Lennon felt the liberty to vent his views.

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At number 13 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Revolution”

Here are the lyrics to this fantastic song.

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world

But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out

Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright
Alright, alright

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re all doing what we can

But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait

Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright
Alright, alright, al…

You say you’ll change the constitution
Well, you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it’s the institution
Well, you know
You’d better free your mind instead

But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow

Don’t you know know it’s gonna be alright
Alright, alright

Alright, alright
Alright, alright
Alright, alright
Alright, alright

This is a live studio performance of the fast version, from The Beatles’ VEVO channel, so hopefully it will not disappear. Enjoy!

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