Archive for the ‘2006’ Category

Memorial Day, 2009

June 28, 2013

Originally posted May 25, 2009

It’s another Memorial Day, another day to reflect. We’ve been told that some of our soldiers will this year begin to come home. Let’s hope that’s true. We’ve also been told that more of our soldiers are required to fight elsewhere. Let’s hope that’s for a brief time. These are the same songs as last year and the year before; if that’s a disappointment, I’m sorry. These are the songs that remind me of those whom we are supposed to remember today.

“Requiem for the Masses” by the Association, Warner Bros. single 7074 [1967]

“I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore” by Phil Ochs from Rehearsals For Retirement [1969]

“War” by Edwin Starr, Gordy single 7101 [1970]

“Where Have All The Flowers Gone” by Peter, Paul & Mary from Peter, Paul & Mary [1962]

“One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack)” by Coven, Warner Bros. single 7509 [1971]

“Universal Soldier” by Buffy Sainte-Marie from It’s My Way! [1964]

“Masters of War” by Bob Dylan from Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan [1962]

“Give Peace A Chance” by the Plastic Ono Band (John Lennon), Apple single 1809 [1969]

“2+2=?” by the Bob Seger System from Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man [1968]

“Handsome Johnny” by Richie Havens from Mixed Bag [1967]

“Bring The Boys Home” by Freda Payne, Invictus single 909 [1971]

“All The Young Women” by the Cuff Links from Tracy [1970]

“Bring ’Em Home” by Bruce Springsteen from We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (American Land Edition) [live, most likely in Detroit, 2006]

As I’ve noted the past two years, times have changed enough since Freda Payne, the Cuff Links and Peter, Paul & Mary recorded their songs that we now need to also bring the girls home, and we need to grieve as well with all the young men who have lost loved ones.

‘We’re Only Ordinary Men . . .’

June 20, 2012

Originally posted May 5, 2009

I’ve written in passing at various times about what I call “time and place” songs, songs that are so interlaced in memory that just hearing a few notes pulls me back elsewhere and elsewhen.

I think anyone who loves music has a number of songs that do that. Some of the moments my songs take me to are significant. Others are not, and I think one of the joys of time and place songs is that they remind me of the little bits of everyday life, things that would otherwise go unmarked. One that comes to mind as I write is from 1966: Rick and I were locking our bikes to the rack outside a long-gone St. Cloud discount store called Tempo when we heard the strains of the Seeker’s “Georgy Girl” coming from somewhere. For better or worse, whenever I’ve heard the song for many years, I’m back on St. Germain in the west end of downtown going to Tempo for some reason.*

Probably the most potent time and place song for me is Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them,” from Dark Side of the Moon. As soon as I hear the first notes of the long slow introduction, I’m gone. And as the introduction flows into Dick Parry’s sweet and sad saxophone solo, I’m standing in a doorway between the small lobby and the lounge at the youth hostel in Fredericia, Denmark, so many years ago. A few feet away stands the kiosk where three of our college gals earn a little spending money, selling the rest of us soda, beer, cigarettes and some snacks.

In the other direction, in the lounge, some of the kids are sitting in low-slung chairs near the fireplace, which is never used. They’re studying or reading letters from home or maybe writing their own letters back. Over by the window, a bunch of the guys are playing poker for matchsticks, and right near them, a couple more are hanging around the pinball machine. Just a normal evening in an extraordinary time.

And as the song moves on, I have the choice of digging further into the memories or pulling back and listening in the here and now. The memories are sweet, but my here and now is good, too. Either way, “Us and Them” always has that little tug, whenever I hear it. And I imagine that’s why it’s one of my favorite songs.

All-Music Guide lists just more than a hundred CDs that contain a version of “Us and Them.” Not all of those listings are of the song written by Roger Waters and Richard Wright. I’d estimate that about ninety percent are, though. And of those listings, twenty-two are recordings by Pink Floyd itself.

So that leaves about seventy listings of covers of “Us and Them,” including versions done by Between the Buried and Me, the East Star All-Stars, Ron Jones, David Ari Leon, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, German singer Nena, Out of Phase, Sarah Slean, Jeff Scott Soto, the Squirrels, Supermayor, Switch, Walt Wagner, John Wetton and Holly Wilson.

Two names intrigue me in that list: Nena and Holly Wilson. Nena, because her recording of “Us and Them” is the closer to a double album of covers, one CD of German songs and one CD in English of some of the more interesting songs of the rock era. Along with “Us and Them,” Nena tackled “Blowin’ In The Wind,” “Big Yellow Taxi,” “After the Goldrush,” “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” and a few more. I’m not sure I’d listen often to the German songs, but I might like the second CD of the set pretty well.

Then, there’s Holly Wilson. I know pretty much nothing about her, just that she’s a singer who likes to record songs in bossa nova style. For some reason, I’ve recently been digging into albums released during the bossa nova craze of the early 1960s, trying to decide which of the classic albums I want to add to my CD collection. In doing so, I’ve come across some interesting performers and performances. Wilson has recorded four themed albums of covers in bossa nova style in recent years, including Genesis en Bossa Nova in 2005, Queen en Bossa Nova in 2006 and Frank Sinatra en Bossa Nova in 2007. And there was the album I found, Pink Floyd en Bossa Nova, also from 2006.

The CD seems, oddly, to hold up pretty well, though at first there is a little bit of cognitive dissonance in hearing, say, the gloom of “Brain Damage” performed as a sprightly dance tune.

Seven of the ten tracks on Wilson’s Pink Floyd CD are pulled from Dark Side of the Moon, and Wilson’s interpretations of them and of the other three tracks – “Another Brick In The Wall,” Goodbye Blue Sky” and “Wish You Were Here” – make for interesting listening. One of the reasons I think the album works is that Wilson and her producers – whoever they were – made good use of electronic sounds as well as standard instrumentation. And Wilson sings them well, though she might overuse the breathy half-spoken approach a little too much.

I don’t post much that’s been released after 1999, but this was too interesting a cover to let it go.

“Us and Them” by Holly Wilson from Pink Floyd en Bossa Nova (2006)

Tuesday Extra
As the Texas Gal and I wandered through some garage sales Saturday, I kept my eyes open for LPs. And at one sale on the south side of the city, I found a crate full. Lots of country, some Christmas albums, a little bit of rock and pop (things I already have) and one interesting find in near mint condition.

It’s a 1982 album of covers by a group that had eight Top 40 hits between 1958 and 1962. The covers range from “Leader of the Pack” to “Take A Chance On Me” and beyond, with the most surprising being the track I’m sharing today. I’m not going to tell you the name of the group. You’ll have to download the track to find that out. And I’m using Boxnet for this particular mp3 so you can listen to it right away.

“Whip It” (by the Chipmunks)

*I’ve since recalled that Rick and I were having a conversation about “Georgy Girl” as we locked our bikes that long-ago morning. Even with that small correction, the point remains: I hear “Georgy Girl,” and I am back in 1966, on the sidewalk outside the long-gone Tempo store. Note added June 20, 2012.

John & George, Big Head Todd & Freddy

June 1, 2012

Originally posted April 16, 2009

Adventures at YouTube:

Looking for a version of George Harrison’s “Taxman,” I clicked a few links and found a fascinating 1971 video of John Lennon and Harrison working on Lennon’s song “Oh My Love,” which wound up on Lennon’s Imagine. The original video-poster noted that the session was at Ascott studio in June 1971, adding that Klaus Voorman was on bass and Nicky Hopkins was on second piano. Viewers will also see a bit of Phil Spector, the little man in sunglasses with dark hair, and, of course, a bit of Yoko Ono. (In the piece, Lennon and Ono evidently take part in an interview with a young woman; does anyone know who that was?)

Note: The original video with the identification of the location and of Klaus Voorman and Nicky Hopkins had been deleted by the time I placed this post in these archives, but I found another posting of the same video. Note added June 1, 2012.

I found a pretty good performance of “Bittersweet” by Big Head Todd and the Monsters. It took place September 10, 2005, at Redhook Brewery, evidently in Seattle, Washington.

Here’s the Freddy Jones Band doing an acoustic version of “In A Daydream” during a promotional appearance at the Star 102.5 radio station in Des Moines, Iowa, in 2006.

Lastly, I found an arresting – and frankly unsettling – video that October Project released in 1994 to accompany the single release of “Bury My Lovely.” I’ve always thought the song was just a little off-kilter; this does nothing more than comfirm that, and in fact makes the song more off-kilter than ever. But it is fascinating. I can’t embed the video, but you can see it here.

Note: At the time of the original post, I was unable to embed October Project’s video for “Bury My Lovely,” but embedding was allowed when I placed the post in these archives. So here it is. Note added June 1, 2012.

Bob Kuban, Knickerbockers & Blues

February 1, 2012

Originally posted February 26, 2009

Well, what do we find in videoworld this morning?

First, here’s a longish piece by Anne-Marie Berger of St. Louis television station KETC, a look at the life and times of Bob Kuban – of Bob Kuban and the In-Men and “The Cheater” – for the station’s Living St. Louis feature. The piece originally aired April 10, 2006, and it’s pretty well done:

Here’s a grainy video of the Knickerbockers surrounding by dancing teens as they lip-synch their way through “Lies.” The YouTube information dates this one in November 1965, just before “Lies” entered the Billboard Hot 100 in the first week of December. One of the guys even fake-plays a saxophone, though I don’t think I’ve ever heard sax in the mix. Maybe that was the group’s way of pointing out to viewers that they weren’t really playing their instruments?

Then, here’s a live performance of Robert Johnson’s “Sweet Home Chicago” by the late Robert Lockwood, Jr. The 2004 performance took place at the Palace Theatre in Grapevine, Texas. Others on the bill that evening included Pinetop Perkins, Henry James Townsend and David “Honeyboy” Edwards. A CD of the night’s performances, Last of the Great Mississippi Delta Bluesmen: Live in Dallas, went on to win a 2007 Grammy Award for best traditional blues album.

Tomorrow, I think I’ll find one reason or another to take a look at what we were listening to as February turned into March in 1976 and I walked across a stage to receive my college diploma.

Long John, The Mamas & The Papas & Bruce

November 30, 2011

Originally posted January 22, 2009

It’s Video Thursday!

Here’s an appearance by Long John Baldry on Britain’s Top of the Pops on November 23, 1967, with “Let The Heartaches Begin.” References say that other performers that evening were the Dave Clark Five and Traffic, with something called “repeat” performances – video from earlier shows, perhaps? – coming from Des O’Connor, Gene Pitney and the Who. The show also included promo videos from the Beatles of “Hello Goodbye” and from Donovan of “There Is A Mountain.”

After not having listened much to it before – and I’ve only had forty-some years to do so, you know – I’ve run through the Mamas & the Papas’ “Dancing Bear” a few times since yesterday and I’m finding it more and more charming – though no less quirky – with every listen. Here’s a September 17, 1966, clip from the The Hollywood Palace, a variety show that ran on ABC television from 1964 into 1970. The Mamas & the Papas lip-synch to “Dancing Bear” and then about halfway through “Dancing In The Streets” before being cut off by applause. As the clip ends, look at the audience: The politely applauding folks in those chairs look pretty well set in middle age or more, which explains why the host was Bing Crosby (or vice-versa). The Mamas & the Papas were a pretty safe choice for an establishment crowd, visually and musically: The guys’ hair wasn’t all that long, and the gals wore hip – but not at all daring – clothes. And the music fell somewhere in a safe part of the continuum between rock, pop rock and folk rock.

And then, here’s a gorgeous performance of “We Shall Overcome” by Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band. It took place in May 2006 at – if I translated and Googled correctly – at LSO St. Luke’s in London. (LSO St. Luke’s – a restored eighteenth-century church previously called St. Luke Old Street – is the home of the London Symphony Orchestra’s community and educational programs as well as a rehearsal and performance venue.)

As I wrote here about a week ago, before events both minor and major rearranged my plans, I’m hoping to present Grab Bag No. 3 – three records pulled randomly from my stash of old and often odd 45s – for tomorrow’s post.

We’ve Done Much But Still Have Much To Do

November 30, 2011

Originally posted January 19, 2009

The two events on consecutive days are an opinion writer’s dream.

I’m talking, of course, about the unique juxtaposition of today’s national holiday commemorating the life and contributions of the Rev. Martin Luther King with tomorrow’s inauguration of Barack Obama as the nation’s first African-American president. Some editorial writers and columnist may tell that we have achieved our goal and left division behind. Others will tell us we have made a good start. I lean toward the latter view. Still, there is no doubt that there is much to celebrate. After Mr. Obama takes the oath of office, we can all rejoice that we as a nation are so much closer than we were to keeping the promises made in our founding documents.

There is here a reluctance to write much about race relations in the United States (or anywhere, for that matter). Why? Because I stand on the wrong side of the divide to truly know what the state of those relations is and has been. I can read, I can listen, I can guess. But I can never know. What I have observed in my lifetime makes me hopeful, but when I try to write about the topic, I find myself stumbling around like a blindfolded man in a dark house: I have no assurance that I know what I am doing or where I am headed.

(I recall the tale of another man who stood on the same side of that divide as I do. In 1959, writer John Howard Griffin, who was white, darkened his skin with the help of a doctor and spent six weeks traveling as an African American man through Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. For anyone, but especially for those who see the 1950s and 1960s as distant history, if I could suggest one book that might provide a glimpse of what life was like in the segregated southern states in the U.S., it would be Black Like Me.)

As we celebrate and remember today and tomorrow, one of the things that I hope that we all keep in mind is that we have just begun to keep our promises. And those promises were sworn not only to those with darker skin colors but also to those with colder homes, emptier plates, fewer opportunities and far more challenges than most of us in this nation have to deal with. The racial divide still exists, of course, and those on both sides need to continue to keep faith. But the deeper divide, I think, is economic, and that divide – aggravated, no doubt, by the dismal economic news of recent months – leaves far too many of us in want. And I doubt whether those shackled by economic need are truly free.

This is certainly a darker piece than I intended to write. I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I do not celebrate the vast progress we have made in the U.S. nor the remarkable achievement of this nation in electing Barack Obama as its president. I am pleased and encouraged both historically and in the moment. There is much yet to be done, and we need to remember that in the days, months and years to come. But we have come a long way, and that is worth celebrating.

Here’s some music to mark these moments:

“Chimes of Freedom” by the Byrds from Mr. Tambourine Man, 1965

“A Ray of Hope” by the Rascals from Freedom Suite, 1969

“We Shall Overcome” by Bruce Springsteen & the Seeger Sessions Band from We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions-American Land Edition, 2006

“I Want My Freedom” by Marie Queenie Lyons from Soul Forever, 1970

“Freedom Blues” by Little Richard, Reprise 0907, 1970

“We Shall Be Free” by Maria Muldaur, Odetta, Joan Baez & Holly Near from Yes We Can, 2008

Some of these are well known and obvious. Little Richard certainly isn’t among the lesser-known here, but his 1970s releases are. “Freedom Blues” was pulled from The Rill Thing, one of several albums Little Richard recorded for Reprise in the early 1970s. (A few years ago, Rhino Handmade produced a limited CD reissue of those albums; copies currently run at about $150.)

I don’t know much about Marie Queenie Lyons. Soul Forever is the only album of hers listed at All-Music Guide. The recording comes from a post at My Blog Too. There’s some information about her and her connection to James Brown at Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Heaven.*

Of the albums listed, my favorite is the final one, Yes We Can, on which Maria Muldaur draws together a bunch of friends and a great bunch of politically charged songs that serve as calls to action. One need not agree with the performers’ politics to enjoy the music.

*My Blog Too has been deleted since this piece was posted. Note added November 30, 2011.

Recalling A Drive Home

November 9, 2011

Originally posted December 24, 2008

I was living in Columbia, Missouri, in late December 1990, teaching at a women’s college. Finals were over, I’d turned in the grades for my three courses, and I was preparing a drive the next day back to Minnesota, to spend the holidays with my family.

I was slowly pulling things together for that Wednesday drive: a box of gifts, a suitcase or two, a box of supplies for the trip. At noon on that Tuesday, I turned the radio on at lunchtime. As I ate a sandwich, I heard a report from Kansas City – one hundred and twenty miles west of Columbia – that the temperature had fallen into the mid-twenties and a freezing rain was coating the streets and highways. The system, said the weatherman, was moving east at a good clip.

I glanced outside: sunshine and an unseasonably warm temperature in the mid-sixties.

A little concerned, I pulled out the phone book and looked up the number for the Missouri State Patrol’s travel information line.

“Hi,” I said to the man who answered. “I’m leaving Columbia for Minnesota tomorrow morning –”

“No, you’re not,” he said.


“You won’t be leaving Columbia for anywhere tomorrow morning,” he said. “There’s a nasty patch of freezing rain coming through in about three to four hours. You can leave this afternoon, or you can maybe get out of town Thursday, but I can guarantee you that if you don’t leave Columbia very soon today, you’re not going anywhere tomorrow.”

Startled, I asked what he recommended.

“If you can, leave town in the next couple of hours, and – lemme look at the map – yeah, drive north of Des Moines, Iowa. North of there, the precipitation should be snow, and you can drive in it. South of there, it’s freezing rain, and you don’t wanna be on the road in that.”

I thanked him and hung up. And I accelerated my rate of preparations. Luckily, I’d made lists of what I needed to take (an act of organization quite out of character for me). I pulled those things together, called the fellow who lived in an upstairs apartment to tell him he’d need to begin caring for my cats a day earlier than planned, and I loaded the car. I headed north out of Columbia about an hour after my conversation with the state patrol.

The rain coming in from the west met me about three hours later, while I was still a ways south of Des Moines. I carefully drove on for another two hours, until I was well north of the snow line, then stopped for the night at a small-town motel. In the morning, I cleared five or so inches of snow from the car and headed on, making my way further north. Between the falling snow, the snow already packed down on the freeway and the clog of Twin Cities traffic, it was a long and tense day of driving until I got into St. Cloud late that afternoon. But I was home.

Now, eighteen years since I headed out of town early, the Texas Gal and I are home, too, where we belong, and we’ll share a quiet evening tonight and a happy day together tomorrow. I hope that – wherever it might be – that’s where you all are this Christmas Eve: Home.

An original and a cover version
I wrote earlier in the week that there are only two holiday songs I continue to enjoy. I posted “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” last Saturday. Today, I’ll post two versions of the other holiday song I still enjoy: a 2006 cover by Sarah McLachlan of John Lennon’s “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” and the original version from 1970, credited to John & Yoko and the Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir.

Sarah McLachlan – “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” [2006, from Wintersong]

John & Yoko et. al – “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” [Apple 1842, 1971]

Saturday Singles Nos. 83 & 84

July 25, 2011

Originally posted August 2, 2008

This will be brief, as other obligations sing for my attention this morning.

The Texas Gal and I have only four weeks to get everything ready for the move, and although we have done a great deal of packing, much remains to be done. So I will spend a good portion of the day wrestling LPs into boxes. A sore back is one of the risks there, but the greater risk is that I stop every five minutes to examine a record jacket, murmuring, “I forgot I had this one. I need to see what shape it’s in before I pack it.” I will have to be strong, tell myself that the record – Hoppkorv by Hot Tuna, maybe, or perhaps Alvin Lee’s In Flight – will emerge from the box at the other end of the move and that will be soon enough.

I also will be brief today as our newest catboy, Henri Matisse, has an appointment with Dr. Tess this morning for his second round of shots. We got Henri from one of the Texas Gal’s co-workers, who said he just showed up at her mother’s house one day, and the little guy does have some of the traits that strays pick up. But he’s a cute and affectionate kitten, and in only a few weeks has become part of the family (despite some grumbling from Clarence, eldest of the cats).

So, to music: Having spent Thursday evening at St. Cloud’s Paramount Theatre listening to the Wailin’ Jennys for the second time in a little more than a year, it was pretty easy to decide what to share this morning. The Jennys – soprano Ruth Moody, mezzo Nicky Mehta and alto Heather Masse – gave a jaw-dropping performance again. Much of the set-list was the same as last year’s show, with a few new songs dropped in. Even the familiar material was thrilling, though, given the vocal and instrumental musicianship of the three women (and of Jeremy Penner, their male violinist, whom they affectionately call Wailin’ Jeremy).

So for a summer Saturday morning, here are the Wailin’ Jennys with their version of Neil Young’s “Old Man,” from their 2004 CD, 40 Days, and with Mehta’s “Avila,” from the 2006 CD Firecracker.

Wailin’ Jennys – “Old Man” [2004]

Wailin’ Jennys – “Avila” [2006]

Daed Saw Luap Dias Seulc Eht

July 13, 2011

Originally posted June 11, 2008

One of the greatest bits of silliness to arise during the rock era was the rumor that Paul McCartney was dead, followed by the ransacking of the Beatles’ music, album covers, lyrics and photos in search of clues that supported the rumor.

The rumors arose in the autumn of 1969, beginning at a radio station in Dearborn, Michigan, near Detroit, according to Wikipedia, and in a rather short time, folks all over the world were examining album covers, lyrics and photos and spinning records backwards on their turntables to hear hidden messages.

Supposedly, McCartney died in an auto accident in 1966, and the winner of a Paul McCartney look-alike contest whose name was William (Billy) Shears or something similar then took McCartney’s place in the group. Clues, the conspiracy theorists said, were all over the place.

The clues I recall most clearly were:

  • The words “Number Nine” in “Revolution 9,” John Lennon’s sound collage on The Beatles (The White Album), sound like “Turn me on, dead man” when played backwards.
  • In “Glass Onion” on The Beatles, Lennon sings, “Here’s another clue for you all: The walrus was Paul.” In Greek, Viking or Inuit (Eskimo) lore, supposedly, the walrus was a symbol of death.
  • In the collage of sound at the end of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” John is heard saying, “I buried Paul.”
  • On the cover of Abbey Road, the Beatles are walking in a symbolic funeral procession: Lennon, all in white, is the preacher; Ringo Starr, in a black suit, is the undertaker; McCartney, barefoot and out of step with the other three, is the deceased; and George Harrison, in jeans and a work shirt, is a grave-digger.
  • The license plate on the Volkswagen parked on Abbey Road just beyond the walking Beatles is LMW 28IF, which has been interpreted to mean: “Linda McCartney weeps. Paul would have been 28 if he had lived.”

Rick and I, like millions of others, read clues in the newspapers and heard DJs discussing them on the radio, and we huddled with our friends to hear the latest bit of supposition they’d heard. We spun The Beatles backwards on the stereo in the rec room at my house. “Number Nine” backwards did sound vaguely like “Turn me on, dead man,” with the last two words clipped and hurried so they sounded like one word: “deadman.”

There were many other so-called clues, of course. The ones I listed above are just those that came to mind most rapidly and seem to be the center of the urban myth. Folks found messages in the use of photos and on the covers of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour. They found messages in snippets of lyrics. Eventually, after the Beatles released Let It Be and broke up, the brouhaha faded away.

But one can still find those who believe that McCartney died in 1966: There are some web pages devoted to the idea, some of which compare photos of Paul before 1966 and after, saying that analysis of facial bone structure shows two different people. (One such site I came across has a similar analysis of photos of French singer Sylvie Vartan and concludes there were two Sylvies as well, intimating that the original Sylvie knew too much and had to be eliminated and then replaced by a look-alike.)

As to the clues I listed above, the ones I most clearly remember, here are some explanations:

  • Lennon said that the “Number Nine” snippets came from tapes at EMI Studios at Abbey Road, taken from a recording engineer’s announcement that the recording about to start was take Number Nine.
  • When the hunt for clues began, Lennon said that when he wrote “Glass Onion,” he’d had no idea that the walrus was the symbol for death anywhere. According to Wikipedia, it’s not. At any rate, when the Beatles donned animal costumes during the TV film Magical Mystery Tour, it appears that Lennon, not McCartney, was the walrus.
  • At the end of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” Lennon actually says “Cranberry sauce.”
  • The clothing and the order of march on Abbey Road were evidently coincidental.
  • As to the license plate, Paul was not 28 at the time the photo was shot, but 27. And his supposed death in 1966 would have occured before he ever met Linda Eastman, so there would have been no Linda McCartney to be weeping.

Well, anyway. One can get lost in the so-called clues and signs, and for a time in late 1969, many of us did, at least a little. I don’t think either Rick or I thought for a moment that Paul McCartney was dead, but we did wonder if the Beatles had been in the process of staging an enormous joke for years.

Wikipedia has two pages about “Paul Is Dead,” the first a page detailing the history of the urban legend itself, the second a page listing and debunking the so-called clues.

I’d been thinking about writing about “Paul Is Dead” since I began this blog in February 2007, but I was never sure what music I could share that would be distinctive. And then this January, I came across an interesting post at It’s Psych, a forum devoted mostly to psychedelic and related music. The forum post linked to a post at Obscure Pop Culture Reference, a blog I’d never visited. In May of 2006, the owner of the blog – he goes by the name of Adam Infanticide – did something that I was surprised had not been done much earlier: He offered readers a collection of Beatles recordings played backwards.*

I immediately grabbed the collection and am offering it here today. My contribution is that I edited the tags, changing “Long Long Long” to “Gnol Gnol Gnol,” for example.

Obviously, this is a curio, a novelty, more than anything substantial. It is kind of fun to listen to “Niar,” however, and hear the last portion – mistakenly edited in backwards by John Lennon – come out in clear English. Otherwise, to English-hearing ears, the songs do have the sound of mad Russians running amok in a recording studio. But one track at a time, it’s kind of fun.

Nug Mraw A Si Ssenippah
Etik Rm Fo Tifeneb Eht Rof Gnieb
Ybgir Ronaele
Surlaw eht Ma I
Ynop A Gid I
Llih Eht No Loof Eht
Enif Leef I
Reverof Sdleif Yrrebwarts
Rehtegot Emoc
Yrc Ybab Yrc
Swonk Reven Worromot
Sdnomaid Htiw Yks Eht Ni Ycul
Gnol Gnol Gnol
Nos s’erutan Rehtom
Nus eht Semoc Ereh
Efil eht Ni Yad A
Esrevinu eht Ssorca
9 Noitulover
Gnipeels Ylno M’I

Seltaeb – Sdrawkcab! No. 1 (2006)
Seltaeb – Sdrawkcab! No. 2 (2006)

* It seems, sadly, that Obscure Pop Culture Reference is no longer an active blog, although the last post, dated August 25, 2010, does promise  “more to come.” Note added July 13, 2011.

Eddie & The Boss & His Friends

June 29, 2011

Originally posted May 29, 2008

Digging at YouTube into Monday’s Baker’s Dozen:

Not withstanding the numerous times I’ve heard Bob Dylan perform it, the most gripping version I’ve ever heard of “Masters of War” came from Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. Filmed during the Bob Dylan 30th anniversary celebration in 1992, Vedder – accompanied by Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready as well as G.E. Smith – left the audience spell-bound. (The same happened, I’m sure, to those who saw the video and heard the album when they were released.)

Video blocked.

And here’s Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band performing “Bring ’Em Home” on Conan O’Brien’s late night show, June 23, 2006. This is the audio I posted last year for the Memorial Day Baker’s Dozen.

Video deleted.