The ignoble and unhappy regime

 

Evocative phrase from Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “War” (34:05 above) keeps popping into my mind.

The lyrics are a near-exact repetition of a speech in the UN by the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie. However, the two simple guitar chords and the semi-improvised, spirited melody put to Selassie’s words is unmistakably Marley’s.


Wicked Game

A friend tells a story about a guy who had a cassette that was just this song over and over, they once listened to it all night while playing cards.

If you drove from LA to Portland just listening to this song on repeat would you go insane?  Become a genius?


Bob Marley in Boston

Because people were talking about Baby Driver, I started singing it in my head to the tune of Bob Marley’s Slave Driver.

What a song.  So then I went looking for Slave Driver on Spotify. I found a recording of Bob Marley and The Wailers, Live At The Music Hall, Boston, 1978.  “Easy Skanking In Boston ’78” is the title, which I don’t love saying.  “Bob Marley and The Wailers Live At The Music Hall – Boston – 1978” seems like it gives you what you need?

The Music Hall is now the Wang Theatre. Photo from Wikipedia by Tim Pierce.

Somehow shocking that Boston would be the scene of a legendary Marley concert.  Who was in the crowd?!

Steve Morse wrote about this recording for The Boston Globe when the album was released in 2015:

My one meeting with Bob Marley was memorable. I was sent by the Globe to interview him at the Essex Hotel in New York before his show at Boston’s Music Hall in 1978. I walked in to Marley’s room, which looked out over Central Park, at 11 a.m. It was a chaotic scene. Four or five members of his entourage were kicking a soccer ball that banged off the picture windows. Two king-size joints were being passed around. Bob sat on a couch, reading aloud from the Book of Revelation.

Realizing I was in over my head, I waited a while before daring to ask Marley about his music. He agreed to talk, shut the Bible, quelled the soccer noise, and stated his worldview: “Everything is going to be united now. Everything is going to be cool. Forget the past and unite.”

Marley’s response to a country politically divided and stricken with gun violence was notably cooler and more Christian than the NRA’s response.

Two months later he’d be in Boston.

(Minute 34-38 or so a good sample)

June 8, 1978 was a Thursday, a hot night,  89 degrees.  The Red Sox had an off day, but that weekend they’d start a ten game win streak on the road in the West Coast.

The Sox would win 99 games that year, but lose a one game playoff to the Yankees at home in Fenway Park.

Ned Martin would call the game for WITS radio.

Years later he’d die of a heart attack in a shuttle bus at the Raleigh airport on his way home from Ted Williams’ memorial.


Wanted to listen to the original record of Sgt. Pepper’s

 

I knew my man Jeff was the guy to talk to.  Pictured: Jeff’s stereo.


Genius

Is that so Genius?

Far as I can tell this appeared on my Spotify without my inquiring “hey what’s this song about?”


Dreaming The Beatles / The Love You Make

Devoured this book after reading Tyler Cowen’s endorsement.  Here are two samples:

And:

How freaking interesting are the Beatles?!  Even their names.  John and Paul.

If you had a Catholic boyhood like I did and Paul did how can it not have some meaning that these guys are named John and Paul?!

from this Globalnews.ca article about a John Lennon letter

The world these guys came out of!

Postwar England.  source: the Daily Mail

Mentioned reading Dreaming The Beatles to my buddy, who looked at me like I was an adorable if foolish schoolchild and suggested I get serious and read The Love You Make, written by Peter Brown, who was Brian Epstein’s assistant.

My God, this book!  Incredible tale!  Brian Epstein:

from wiki:
Koch, Eric / Anefo – [1] Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANeFo), 1945-1989

This pained, tragic, wonderful man!  Born in to a Jewish family that owned department stores, frequently beaten and hurt after soliciting rough gay sex in public restrooms, one day walks into the Cavern Club and essentially falls in love with the Beatles, who perceived him as somehow fancy and posh, they could not have become what they did without him, his devotion was unquestioned and yet his naivety and inexperience cost them millions.

Both books talk about how phenomenon of being the Beatles almost overwhelmed the Beatles, and everyone around them.  At its best it felt something like living in a yellow submarine with all your friends aboard, suggests Sheffield.

At its worst it seems so oppressive and scary it nearly / did kill them.  At least once the Beatles were almost crushed to death in their car from the pressure of fans.

Started listening on Spotify to all the Beatles albums, in order.

I would say the biggest leap that hits me is when you get to the third song on this one.  You’re listening to like two hours of very solid pop music, and then you get to You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away.

Then, you get to this:


from Wiki:
This is the cover art for the album Rubber Soul by the artist The Beatles. The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the label, Parlophone/EMI, or the graphic artist(s), Robert Freeman/David Julian Beard. Resampled from digital copy included on The Beatles USB Box Set

and we’re on another planet.

On their first album the Beatles covered this:

Hard to find some Beatles songs on YouTube.  The hash that was made of the Beatles’ finances and rights is a whole interesting story on its own.  Epstein meant the best for the Beatles, can he be blamed for not realizing that lunchbox and doll rights would be worth millions?

The predators that descended on the Beatles later are a dark parade.  When Allen Klein heard on the radio that Brian Epstein had died at 32 of a drug overdose, his reaction was to snap his fingers and say “I got em!”

The Beatles were taxed at something like 94%.  Various tax avoidance schemes like investing in “related businesses” were somewhat doomed by John’s, especially, disgust at the idea of becoming anything like a businessman.

A publicly traded company, Northern Songs, owned the Lennon-McCartney songs for awhile:

During 1965 it was decided to make Northern Songs a public company to save on capital gains tax. 1,250,000 shares were traded on the London Stock Exchange, which were worth 17 pence each ($0.28), but were offered at 66 pence ($1.09) each. Although the trade was scoffed at by various financial institutions, it was expected that the application lists would not remain open for more than 60 seconds, which is exactly what happened, as the lists were oversubscribed. After the offer was closed, Lennon and McCartney owned 15% each, worth £195,200 ($320,000), NEMS a 7.5% interest, and James and Silver (who served as Northern Songs’ chairmen), controlling 37.5%, with Harrison and Starr sharing 1.6%. The remaining shares were owned by various financial institutions.

At some point Paul bought up more shares without telling John, a bit of sneakiness which Peter Brown treats very harshly.  Peter Brown is, in my opinion, a little too brutal on Paul, but then again he was there and I wasn’t.  It does seem like all the Beatles could be rather heartless to Brian Epstein, who meant a lot to Peter Brown.

To me, a degree of forgiveness comes in when you think that everything we think of as The Beatles happened to these guys by age thirty.  When they were recording the White Album, George Harrison was twenty five.  How would you be at twenty-five if you’d been world famous since you were eighteen?

I find this photo at the Telegraph, credited to Rex

None of them were from stable homes.  Ringo’s childhood, in particular, was like some cruel Roald Dahl story.  (OK fine it was Dickensian).  At age six he’d regularly be left at home all night alone while his mom was at work.  Says Brown:

At the age of six, only a year after starting St. Silas’s Junior School, Ritchie developed what was thought to be a simple stomachache.  But when the pain lasted through the night he was finally taken to the hospital in an ambulance.  It was too late; his appendix had already burst and periontis had set in.  He remained in a coma for ten weeks, and with various complications including falling out of his hospital bed on his seventh birthday, he spent a solid year in the hospital.  By the time he was back in school he was so far behind the other children he couldn’t read or write, and what little he learned from that point on was taught to him by a sympathetic neighborhood girl.

Later:

One rainy morning a big black car came to fetch him in the Dingle and took him away to the Heswall Children’s Hospital, a huge, gray children’s sanitorium in the Wirral.  There he was put to bed, where he remained for the next two years.

Ringo is underappreciated, in my view.  I’m not qualified to speak to his drumming, which was believed by Paul at least as well as some producers to be not too great.  Ringo was treated rather cruelly by the other Beatles but without his good-natured willingness to play diplomat and either forgive or ignore slights and insults it seems clear the Beatles probably would’ve collapsed.

Now it’s time to declare what I consider to be the single most beautiful Beatles song and I declare it to be:

I may be projecting but I believe in the runup to the White Album you can feel a competition of insane excellence between John and Paul.  With Blackbird the competition is over.  In my opinion some subsequent tension between Paul and John had to do with John’s belief that it was semi-criminal a guy who could write Blackbird would also write some of the stuff Paul McCartney later put out.  Thus what was best and greatest about Paul was, to John, tangled up with what was most frustrating about him, as can so often happen with lovers and friends.


Railroading was a talent

 

Reading about Casey Jones:

Railroading was a talent, and Jones was recognized by his peers as one of the best engineers in the business.