HBD, ATMP!

Ok, so November 27th is the *actual* birthday of All Things Must Pass, but the 50th anniversary reissue just came out this past week, so like most Beatlefans, I’m celebrating now. It’s taken me til the weekend to truly listen to most of the album + extras and man, it’s a lot to unpack. (Can we also address the Uber Deluxe Edition, which includes—in addition to 8 LPs, 5 CDs, 4 gnomes, 3 books, Rudraksha beads, and a Klaus Voormann illustration—a wooden bookmark made from a felled oak tree in George’s Friar Park garden?? It’s almost enough to distract me from the $1,000 price tag.)

I have yet to listen to the whole thing in one sitting, but some initial favorites:

“Behind That Locked Door” – This has always been one of my top songs on the album. I’m a sucker for pedal steel guitar, and combined with Billy Preston on the Hammond and Klaus Voorman on bass? *chef’s kiss* A real treat. I usually feel like I don’t have the ear to comment on production, but the 2020 mix really gives those vocals life, wow!

Om Hare Om (Gopala Krishna)” – This feels like one of those songs Phil Spector told George couldn’t be on the album because it’s a little too devotional—or maybe because it doesn’t lend itself as much to the ol’ Wall of Sound. I love it, though. George’s vocal line in the verse would make a lovely lehra (the melodic line accompanying a tabla solo), which could very well have been his intention. Can’t get this one out of my head.

“Run of the Mill – Day 2 Demo, Take 1” – The album version is nice, but I think this acoustic demo version evokes a lot more feels, especially knowing that this song was a reflection of the Beatles’ pre-breakup rift.

“Art of Dying – Day 2 Demo, Take 1” – Similarly, I love this stripped down version, sans Clapton’s in-your-face wailing. I just recently read this song dates back to 1966 (when Geo was a mere 23-year-old bebe). Can you imagine if this was on Revolver? It’s too good for the Beatles, honestly. 😬 The version on Disc 5 is a jam too.

“Wedding Bells (Are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine)” – DELIGHTFUL. More pedal steel please!!

“Get Back” – It’s George singing Get Back accompanied by horns, what’s not to like!

I’ll leave you with the luscious “Isn’t It A Pity” (Take 27) and its equally luscious video. Coincidentally (and unfathomably), George was 27 years old when ATMP was released. I always forget this fact, because he definitely gives off Wise Old Philosopher vibes throughout the album and in all the pictures from that era. But nope, he is the same age in those pictures as Justin Bieber is now. What is life?!

Those good good Beatles harmonies

Last week, after a particularly long bus ride in which I listened to “Yes It Is” (a severely underrated song, IMO) no less than five times in a row, I was inspired to compile the perfect playlist of Beatles harmonies. Or at least, perfect to me.

This is by no means comprehensive…just a few of my favorites, arranged (mostly) chronologically because I always think it’s so interesting to hear how the Beatles’ songwriting/recording techniques evolved over time. You can hear them getting more comfortable singing together with each song, until finally you get to “Because” which 100% always blows me away with those goosebump-inducing vocals.

(If you don’t have Spotify, I’m sorry. It’s impossible to make a Beatles playlist on YouTube.)

I had to include “The End,” because 1) the other Abbey Road songs kinda leave you hanging, and 2) they do sneak some great harmonies in there.

Also, yesterday was George’s birthday! Happy birthday, dear George.

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The Natch’l Blues

Interesting/relevant thing of the day: “natch” as a slang word has been around since at least the 40s (apparently if I read more comics I would know this). All this time I’ve been associating it with annoying modern abbreviations like “obvi” and “hilar”…I guess on some level that means there’s not much difference between awful internet slang and Harlem jive talk.

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Anyway, here’s a supremely cool record I bought this past week: Taj Mahal’s 1968 album The Natch’l Blues.

(Actually, I got it for my dad’s birthday, but in between the purchase and the gift-exchange, I happened to get really attached to it. Oops.)

In fact, this album is so cool I decided to revive my short-lived ‘Album of the Week’ tag, because I’ve definitely been listening to it nonstop since Sunday.

The album cover is what first caught my eye, Taj’s moonish mask of a face staring back at me from the records section at Green Apple Books. It looks like it was meant to be framed (unlike the CD version, which scraps the border in favor of a darker cover, probably because the original layout didn’t look as good in a 5×5 inch plastic case). In any case, it’s super intriguing. As soon as I saw it, I immediately snatched it up…although I don’t think many people come to Green Apple with the intention of scouring the bottom-row blues music stack. Even if my dad already had this one, I would totally buy it for myself based on the album art alone.

I came home and put it on the record player to make sure it played ok, and proceeded to melt into a puddle of sweet, sweet blues. If you only listen to one (ok, make that two) songs from this album, let them be “Corinna” and the closing number “Ain’t That a Lot of Love.” While definitely rooted in blues, I love that the songs are infused with a healthy dose of soul and 60s pop, too. A lot of Taj Mahal’s stuff crosses over into various other genres (see Kulanjan), and this album is proof that he was doing it from the start.

Anyway, after listening to the whole thing, I was secretly kind of hoping my dad already had the album so I could keep it. Turns out he didn’t (shucks), and actually he’d been looking for it for a long time! So now he has one of his faves, and I have another record to keep an eye out for.

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In other news, Happy George Day! Here’s a collection of photos from when George had a perm, because why not??

Here are some people I like

So many words lately…..so I’ll just casually drop this picture here:

George, Jeff, Tom, Roy, Bob

Ladies and gentlemen, the Traveling Wilburys. “We’re the only band in the world with five rhythm guitar players.”

Also, shout out to my favorite Tumblr and the source of this gem, harrisonstories.tumblr.com. It’s basically a compilation of lovely personal anecdotes/quotes about George Harrison, most of which give me the warm fuzzies…some of which make me cry and curse the world for taking George away from us. Some of my recent faves: George helping Ringo write Octopus’s Garden, talking about gardening with an unsuspecting gallery worker, and being a cool dad (part two). My favorite Beatle and Wilbury. <3

George Harrison Week is my favorite week

A hearty salute to Conan for introducing George Harrison Week to the people (how wasn’t this a thing before?). It’s basically been a whole week of musical tributes to George, in celebration of the new Apple Years box set. I can’t believe that this is one of the few times I’ve had access to cable and I didn’t watch any of these shows live. I’m awful. But…good thing for the Internet! Last night I enjoyed watching Dhani & Friends playing “Let It Down” (side note: a song originally produced by Phil Spector who is looking horrifying these days).

Watching Dhani play is like watching a modern day George
Watching Dhani play is like watching/hearing a modern day George!

Also, Paul Simon performed a lovely version of “Here Comes the Sun“, although I’ll always prefer the version he and George did together (how can you not love that 70s glow?). I’m not exaggerating when I say these are my two FAVORITE musicians singing what could quite possibly be my favorite song of all time. Epic.

As for the newly released box set, I’ll have to get back to you on that. One of the big selling points for the set was that George’s lesser-known albums after All Things Must Pass are finally being remastered and released, but lucky for me, I already have them on vinyl! So I might not be dropping $100 on the new box set anytime soon. But I am appreciative for the tracks I’ve discovered/rediscovered in the process of listening through these albums again (in fact, here’s a Top 5):

Top 5 George Harrison Tracks, 1968-1975:
1. Instrumental take of “The Inner Light
2. “Miss O’Dell” – George’s LAUGH!
3. “Be Here Now
4. “If Not For You” – sorry Bob, I like George’s version better :\
5. “What Is Life” – one of the very first solo George songs I heard and fell in love with

A rambling homage to George Harrison

Not trying to be overly sappy or anything, but I can honestly say that George Harrison changed my life.

In 8th grade, I had been taking piano lessons for 6 years and played clarinet in middle school band, but music wasn’t really that big a part of my life. It was more of an extracurricular “on the side” sort of thing, and I never devoted that much time to it. But then one day my mom brought home the movie A Hard Day’s Night…and that changed everything. I fell absolutely IN LOVE with the Beatles. The Beatles made me want to learn music: I sat on my bed every night learning various riffs and chords (on a guitar that was very generously gifted to me), saved up and bought CDs until I had the entire Beatles discography, and even more nerdy: bought records that I gleefully listened to out in the garage on my dad’s dusty turntable, finally understanding what it was like to love music.

From the beginning, George was my favorite. He was definitely the one I could relate to most (shout out to quiet awkward people!), and his curiosity for new kinds of music and cultures is what got me so into ethnomusicology. It’s because of him that, 6 years later, I made the impulsive decision to walk into sitar class one morning at UCLA (instead of getting intimidated and turning around, which I almost did). And as a result I fell headfirst into Hindustani music, engulfed by that same sense of obsession that 8th Grade Nikki experienced with the Beatles, spending hours sitting with my teacher, trying to understand this whole new world of music. That’s how I got into tabla, that’s how I met Alex, and that’s how I ended up in Taiwan and India getting to perform with some of the most renowned musicians in modern Indian music. I feel incredibly lucky to have gone down the path I did, and it’s largely thanks to the influence of this guy:

 

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There are so many quirks that I love about George: his penchant for taking pictures, his obsession with ukuleles, the fact that he loved gardening. He was a pretty unconventional rockstar, and I love that about him.

I’ll round off my George ramble with, appropriately, some music. I only recently discovered this song, and I can’t stop listening to it:

Happy 70th birthday, George. Thanks for being amazing.
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The end of the line

I’m sorry, but can we just take a second to recognize how awesome of a band the Traveling Wilburys were?

The band is comprised of the following people:

[Note my nifty YouTube-playlist-embedding skills]
[Also, why are there like 0 videos of Bob Dylan on YouTube? His people must have some crazy copyrights set up.]

That’s right: George Harrison, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne thought it’d be cool to just kick it and record some songs together. How awesome would it be to witness them all fooling around on guitars and hanging out like this?

Moral of this post: go listen to the Traveling Wilburys (I’d suggest starting here). And then go listen to each member’s solo stuff because they were all equally awesome. And then go buy tickets to Tom Petty’s next US show (whenever it may be) and invite me along, because I WANT TO SEE HIM SO BAD IT HURTS.

BEATLES LOVE

Watched the Living in the Material World documentary over the past two nights and just reaffirmed my love for the Beatles and George. I foresee a lot of Fab Four-related posts in the near future…..

For now, here are links to two of my new favorite tumblrs:

And an awkward/awesome picture to sum it up:

 
Not only is Paul holding a kangaroo in this photo, he is also wearing two watches. SO AWKWARD.

Happy autumn!

[Random note: Loving the new blogger look! Super chic and easy to use :)]

Anyway. With the start of autumn, I thought I’d revive this blog a little (I’ve missed you, blog!). And what better way to celebrate the new season than curled up on a big comfy chair with a new book? Here are the latest books on my to-read list:

Sunnyside. Glen David Gold.
I have an obsession with 1920s Los Angeles (plus, Charlie Chaplin!). Just started this one – so far it’s really interesting.

 

Just Kids. Patti Smith.
I love autobiographies/memoirs. I love music. I love books that take place in New York. Hence, this.
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And last but not least, on my URGENT!!!!!MUST BUY/READ!!!!! list:

by Olivia Harrison
I looked through it at B&N today and pretty much squee’d through the entire thing.
So. many. beautiful. pictures.

You’ll see the sun come shining through

I feel like I’ve mentioned this song so many times, but what can I say, I love it and so many of my favorite artists have covered it. I was (very) pleasantly surprised to find a version of the Chaplin song “Smile” performed by the Brazilian bloco afro Olodum, complete with tight beats and cheesy synth strings! Check it:

I’ve really been hyping the Brazilian stuff lately. It’s just so fun to play, and listen to. And I love when two of my favorite things are combined. :)

A couple of other things:
-One of the many upcoming things that I cannot wait for: a George Harrison documentary produced by Martin Scorsese? Win.

-I just found out that Dennis Hopper has passed away. :( So long to one of the 60s’ greatest icons…