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Posts Tagged ‘1960s’

At number 4 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Yesterday”. This Paul McCartney ballad, recorded in 1965, has gone on to become the most recorded song in history, with thousands of versions in existence. “Yesterday” was never released as a single in the Disunited Kingdom during the time that The Beatles were together (it was later released in the mid-1970s). It features on their album Help as the penultimate track on the second side (in the DUK release of the album). In the USA, “Yesterday” was released as a single in September 1965 and got to number 1 in the US singles charts.

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At number 4 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Yesterday”

The story of the composition of “Yesterday” is, by now, well documented. Apparently McCartney woke up one morning with this tune in his head, and when he played it to the other band members he felt sure that they would recognise it, feeling that it was not an original tune but rather a tune which was in his head from hearing it somewhere. It turned out that it was an original tune, which had somehow come to him during his sleep.

For quite a while, McCartney used the words “scrambled eggs” to stand in for the lyrics that he would eventually write, as he doodled, developed and played around with the song. Some of this was during the period that The Beatles were filming Help!, with Dick Lester directing the movie. Apparently, at one point Lester got so annoyed at hearing McCartney doodling on the piano at the back of the sound stage and humming the words “scrambled eggs” that he said to him “If you play that song any bloody longer I’ll have the piano taken off stage. Either finish it or give it up!”

When “Yesterday” was recorded, none of the other Beatles was present in the recording studio, just McCartney and a string quartet. When The Beatles played “Yesterday” in concerts, the other band members would usually leave the stage and leave McCartney to perform it on his own on his acoustic guitar. It was the closest thing to a solo McCartney song that The Beatles ever did.

Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away.
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Suddenly I’m not half the man I used to be.
There’s a shadow hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Why she had to go, I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play.
Now I need a place to hide away.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Why she had to go, I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday love was such an easy game to play.
Now I need a place to hide away.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Mm mm mm mm mm mm mm

There has been considerable discussion as to whether McCartney is referring to his mother, who died when he was 14, in the line “Why she had to go, I don’t know, she wouldn’t say”, even McCartney himself has said that it may have unconsciously been about her. The song is sufficiently vague that it has universal appeal; there is not one of us who does not long, at some point, to go back to a simpler time for some reason or another.

Here is  video of this most recorded song. I have no idea how long this link will stay active, so if it stops working my apologies. Enjoy!

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At number 5 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “In My Life”. This 1965 John Lennon composed song is one of my favourite Beatles songs of any period. It is the 4th track on the second side of their 1965 album Rubber Soul. It reflects a departure for Lennon, in that the song is more personal and introspective in an obvious and direct way than his previous songs. For me the song is simply perfect, Lennon at his best. In addition to being number 5 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs, “In My Life” is also ranked by them at number 23 in the 500 greatest songs (by anyone) of all time.

“In My Life” was recorded in October 1965 and was never released as a single, so came out with the release of Rubber Soul in December 1965. As I have commented before (but in case there are new readers of this blog), The Beatles rarely released album tracks as singles, and they tended to not include their already released on their albums. None of the tracks on Rubber Soul was released as a single in the Disunited Kingdom, although some were in other countries.

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At number 5 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “In My Life”

One of the beautiful features of “In My Life” is, for me, the exquisite ‘harpsichord’ sounding solo. In fact, it is a piano solo, sped up. George Martin, The Beatles’ producer, wrote a piece  of music for this song with Bach influences, but found that he could not get it to match the tempo of the song. So, he played it on a piano, then sped it up to match the song’s tempo, the resulting sped-up piano sounding more like a harpsichord. It adds to the majestic feel of this wonderful song.

There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

In my life I love you more

Here is a video of this beautiful song. Apologies if the link stops working, Beatles songs on YouTube are often removed for copyright reasons, but as of my writing this the link works.

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At number 6 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Something”. This is one of George Harrison’s best known songs, and was the first (and last) time that one of his songs was released as a Beatles’ single, along with “Come Together” (which I blogged about here). As I said in that blogpost, “Something/Come Together” only got to number 4 in the Disunited Kingdom, but in the USA “Something” got to number 1, the first George Harrison composed song to top the US charts.

“Something” was highly praised by Harrison’s more illustrious songwriting band members, John Lennon said it was the best track on the Abbey Road album, and Paul McCartney said it was the best song that Harrison has ever written.

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At number 6 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Something”

The official video for “Something” was shot in August 1969, during the Beatles’ last photo shoot at Lennon’s Titenhursr Park estate. By this time, they could barely bear to be in each other’s company. The video shows each band member with their wives, but not with each other. It illustrates how they had become separated as band members, Lennon had already told the others that he wanted out, but McCartney had persuaded him to not go public about it. Within a few months their official split would be announced by McCartney. The photo below, one of those taken during this last photo shoot, again shows the distance which had grown between them.

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Taken during the Beatles’ last ever photo shoot, in August 1969 at John Lennon’s Tittenhurst Park estate.

Something in the way she moves
Attracts me like no other lover
Something in the way she woos me
I don’t want to leave her now
You know I believe and how

Somewhere in her smile she knows
That I don’t need no other lover
Something in her style that shows me
I don’t want to leave her now
You know I believe and how

You’re asking me will my love grow
I don’t know, I don’t know
You stick around and it may show
I don’t know, I don’t know

Something in the way she knows
And all I have to do is think of her
Something in the things she shows me
I don’t want to leave her now
You know I believe and how

Unfortunately I cannot find The Beatles’ version of “Something” on YouTube, but here is a version of George Harrison performing it live in Japan with Eric Clapton.

Which is your favourite George Harrison song?

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At number 7 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Hey Jude”, another of Paul McCartney’s great ballads. “Hey Jude” was recorded in late July and early August 1968, and released as a single later that month. It got to number 1 in the Disunited Kingdom, the USA, and many other countries. At over 7 minutes long, when it was released it was the longest single to top the US charts and, with a 9-week run in the top spot, it also equalled the all-time record for the most number of weeks at number 1.

“Hey Jude” was written by McCartney for John Lennon’s song Julian. The song started as “Hey Jules”, and was meant to act as words of comfort to the young Julian as his father and mother Cynthia were going through their divorce. Later, McCartney decided to change “Jules” to “Jude”, to make it less obvious that it was about Julian.

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At number 7 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Hey Jude”. The photograph shows McCartney with Julian Lennon, John’s son.


“Hey Jude” was also the first Beatles disk to be released on their new Apple label. Disks by other artists were also released on the new label on the same day, such as “Those Were the Days” by Mary Hopkin and “Sour Milk Sea” by Jackie Lomax. 

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

Hey Jude, don’t be afraid
You were made to go out and get her
The minute you let her under your skin
Then you begin to make it better

And anytime you feel the pain, hey Jude, refrain
Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders
For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool
By making his world a little colder
Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah

Hey Jude, don’t let me down
She have found you, now go and get her
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better

So let it out and let it in, hey Jude, begin
You’re waiting for someone to perform with
And don’t you know that it’s just you, hey Jude, you’ll do
The movement you need is on your shoulder
Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah yeah

Hey Jude, don’t make it bad
Take a sad song and make it better
Remember to let her under your skin
Then you’ll begin to make it better
Better, better, better, better… Oh!

Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude (Jude)
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude (Yeah yeah yeah)
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude (Don’t make it bad, Jude)
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude (Take a sad song and make it better)
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude (Oh Jude)
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude (Jude, hey Jude, waaaah)
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude (Oooh)
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude
Nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah, hey Jude [fade out]

Here is a live version of The Beatles performing “Hey Jude” on the David Frost show in 1968. The song is preceded by some messing around and banter between Frost and the group, so even if you know this song it is well worth watching. It is from The Beatles’ vevo channel, and so thankfully this video is unlikely to be taken down.

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At number 8 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Let it Be”. This Paul McCartney ballad is possibly one of the band’s best known songs, and is also the title of the last album which they released (although the songs were recorded before Abbey Road). The song’s lyrics were inspired by McCartney’s mother Mary, who died of cancer when he was 14 years old. The lines “When I find myself in times of trouble / mother Mary comes to me” speak of his longing for her, and of her coming to him in his dreams.

The Beatles released two versions of “Let it Be”, the single version was released in March of 1970, just before Paul McCartney announced that he had left the band. The album version, released in May of the same year, is slightly different. The album version has an additional guitar solo (played by George Harrison), some differences in the lyrics, and some additional orchestrations added by Phil Spector. The album version runs about 10 seconds longer than the single version. Surprisingly, the single only reached number 2 in the Disunited Kingdom, but in the USA and many other countries it reached number 1. “Let it Be” entered the US charts at number 6, which at the time was the highest chart-entry position for any song.

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At number 8 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Let It Be”

McCartney chose “Let it Be” as his contribution to the 1985 Live Aid concert for famine relief in Ethiopia. He was the closing act of the London concert (the USA one, in Philadelphia, started and finished later because of the time difference). I was lucky enough to be at the London concert, but unfortunately his microphone did not work for about the first half of the song. A few years later I saw McCartney perform in Birmingham, but I do not recall that he performed “Let it Be” on that occasion.

The B-side of the “Let it Be” single release was “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” which, if you haven’t heard it, is well worth a listen. It is possibly the strangest and most humorous song recorded by The Beatles, and pretty much unlike anything else you are likely to have heard by them.

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken-hearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted
There is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be

Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Yeah, there will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be
Ah, let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music,
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be
Let it be, yeah, let it be
Oh, there will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Here is a YouTube video of “Let it Be”, although I suspect that it will be removed fairly soon as Apple seems to be exercising an aggressive policy in getting Beatles songs removed from YouTube.

If/when this video is taken down, you can listen to “Let it Be” via one of the streaming services, for example here is a link to Let it Be  on Spotify. Or, you can listen to Paul McCartney singing it live in concert in New York city.

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At number 9 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Come Together”. This John Lennon song is the opening track on The Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road, and is one of the funkiest tracks that the band recorded. It was also released as a double A-sided single along with George Harrison’s “Something”, which we will come to in this list in a few weeks’ time.

“Come Together” got to number 1 in the USA, but in the Disunited Kingdom it only got to number 4. This is possibly because the song was banned by the BBC, apparently because they felt that the line “He shoot Coca-Cola” could be interpreted as product placement. The song started its life as a campaign song for Timothy Leary’s bid to become Governor of California, but after giving Leary a demo version, Lennon went on to develop the song into something quite different. It was recorded in July 1969.

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At number 9 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs is “Come Together”

The driving rhythm guitar, played by Lennon himself, is one of the song’s stand-out features. Lennon also played electric piano on the song. The fantastic bass line is played by Paul McCartney, who also sings backing vocals. The lyrics are non-sensical, with the opening line lifted from a Chuck Berry song “You Can’t Catch Me”. This led to a lawsuit, but the dispute was settled out of court.

Here come old flattop, he come grooving up slowly
He got joo-joo eyeball, he one holy roller
He got hair down to his knee
Got to be a joker he just do what he please

He wear no shoeshine, he got toe-jam football
He got monkey finger, he shoot Coca-Cola
He say, “I know you, you know me.”
One thing I can tell you is you got to be free

Come together right now over me

He bag production, he got walrus gumboot
He got Ono sideboard, he one spinal cracker
He got feet down below his knee
Hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease

Come together right now over me

(Right!
Come, oh, come, come, come.)

He roller-coaster, he got early warning
He got muddy water, he one mojo filter
He say, “One and one, and one is three.”
Got to be good-looking ’cause he’s so hard to see

Come together right now over me

Oh
Come together
Yeah, come together
Yeah, come together
Yeah, come together
Yeah, come together
Yeah, come together
Yeah, come together
Yeah, oh
Come together
Yeah, come together

“Come Together” has been covered by a huge number of artists, including The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, The Arctic Monkeys and Aerosmith. It remains one of The Beatles’ most popular rock songs (as opposed to ballads or other genres from their huge variety of work).

I cannot find the original Beatles’ version of “Come Together” on YouTube, but here is a live version which John Lennon performed in New York City in 1972. It is pretty close to the original version. Enjoy!

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Today I thought I would share this great song “Ring of Fire”, sung by Johnny Cash. The song was written by his later-wife June Carter (Cash) and Merle Kilgore. Johnny Cash recorded it in March 1963, and it was released as a single the following month. However, Cash was not the first person to record the song, June Carter’s sister Anita Carter originally recorded it in 1962. Johnny Cash apparently dreamt of Anita’s recording, but with Mexican horns added, and told June Carter that he wanted to record his own version.

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Johnny Cash recorded “Ring of Fire” in March 1963 and it was released as a single the following month. The song was written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore

The song’s lyrics apparently talk of June Carter’s feelings at the time in 1962, as she felt herself falling in love with Johnny Cash. At the time, June was married to Edwin Nix, and Cash was married to his first wife Vivian Liberto. Cash and Carter had known each other for years, and were both infatuated with each other. Both divorced their respective spouses in 1966 and married in 1968.

“Ring of Fire” is listed at number 87 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. It got to number 17 on the US charts, and to number 1 on the Billboard Country Music charts.

Love is a burning thing
And it makes a fiery ring.
Bound by wild desire
I fell into a ring of fire.

[2x]
I fell into a burning ring of fire,
I went down, down, down and the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns,
The ring of fire, the ring of fire.

The taste of love is sweet
When hearts like ours meet.
I fell for you like a child,
Oh, but the fire went wild.

I fell into a burning ring of fire,
I went down, down, down and the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns,
The ring of fire, the ring of fire.

I fell into a burning ring of fire,
I went down, down, down as the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns,
The ring of fire, the ring of fire.

And it burns, burns, burns,
The ring of fire, the ring of fire,
The ring of fire, the ring of fire.

Here is a video of this great song. Enjoy!

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