Sunday, December 19, 2010

Captain Beefheart Dies at 69

Cover of "Trout Mask Replica"                           Cover of Trout Mask ReplicaBy Kevin O'Donnell on December 17, 2010 5:11 PM on

Don Van Vliet - the iconic experimental musician known as Captain Beefheart - died today due to complications from multiple sclerosis at a hospital in Northern California, according to reports. He was 69.

From 1967 through the early '80s, Van Vliet released some of the most challenging rock albums ever, which showed off his quirky knack for free-form experimental rhythms, avant-garde melodies, and his gruff, smoky howl. He released music that would challenge fans' assumptions and expectations about rock 'n' roll. "People like music to be in tune because they've heard it in tune all the time," Van Vliet said in 1978. "I really tried to break that down."

Vliet's career peak came in 1969 when he released Trout Mask Replica, the Frank Zappa-produced, blues-based record that would go on to inspire everyone from Tom Waits and John Lennon (during his solo years) to Sonic Youth and PJ Harvey. In recent years, acts ranging from Beck and the White Stripes to the Kills and the Black Keys have recorded covers of Captain Beefheart's music.

In 1999, SPIN published an in-depth feature on the making of Vliet's iconic album. "I don't see how you can listen to it and not come away with some sense of being changed, if you allow it in," Waits told SPIN about Trout Mask in '99. "You can't really get it yourself — figuring out Don's music is like trying to figure out the choreography of a bee. But it's there to behold and to wonder about, and to hopefully take some sort of the light of it away wth you. He's a mighty kind."

Iconic British DJ John Peel was more effusive about Vliet's impact on rock 'n' roll: "If there has ever been such a thing as a genius in the history of popular music, it's Beefheart," he said in 1997.

In a 2009 interview, PJ Harvey, who lyrically referenced Beefheart's music on songs like "Rid of Me" and "Meet Ze Monsta," recalled being initially turned off by his sound, only to later come to understand its power. "I'd heard Beefheart when I was really young through my mother and father who had a fantastic vinyl collection," she said. "When I was a child, it used to make me feel ill, but once I met John [Parrish, Harvey's musical collaborator], he introduced me to many things and re-introduced me to [Beefheart's] Many Shiny Things."

Despite his far-reaching appeal among musicians, Van Valiet became something of a recluse, especially with the release of 1982's Ice Cream for Crow and MTV's refusal to promote Beefheart's out-there music. Instead, Vliet focused on his work as a visual artist and even had his work shown recently at galleries in New York. Vliet did make a rare appearance, however, in the 1993 documentary by photographer Anton Corbijn titled Some Yo Yo Stuff.
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

John Lennon's Last Interview

Lennon signing Chapman's Double Fantasy albumImage via WikipediaFrom Phillip James on:

On December 8th, 1980, radio personality Dave Sholin and Laurie Kaye flew from San Francisco to New York for an interview with John Lennon in an apartment at The Dakota.

At 12:30pm, Sholin was lead into a room, where Geffen Records arranged the interview to help promote the launch of John's album "Double Fantasy".

After the interview, Lennon and Yoko Ono gave Sholin and Kay a lift in their limo to their recording studio before they had to leave for a flight back to San Francisco. Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman just hours later.

Dave Sholin later learned about the murder while he was listening to the news in his car. This changed the best day of his life into his worst.
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Rolling Stone Releases Lennon's Final Interview

by Nekesa Mumbi Moody, AP Music Writer

New York - Three days before he was gunned down, John Lennon complained about his critics - saying they were just interested in "dead heroes" - and talked optimistically about his family and future, musing that he had "plenty of time" to accomplish some of his life goals.

Lennon's final interview was released to The Associated Press by Rolling Stone on Wednesday, the 30th anniversary of the musician's death. The issue using the full interview will be on magazine stands on Friday. While brief excerpts of Jonathan Cott's interview with Lennon were released for a 1980 Rolling Stone cover story days after Lennon's death, this is the first time the entire interview has been published.

"His words are totally joyous and vibrant and hopeful and subversive and fearless," said Cott in an interview on Tuesday. "He didn't mince words."

Lennon saves some of his harshest words for critics who were perennially disappointed with Lennon's path, in both music and in his life, after leaving the Beatles.

"These critics with the illusions they've created about artists — it's like idol worship," he said. "They only like people when they're on their way up ... I cannot be on the way up again.

"What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean. I'm not interesting in being a dead (expletive) hero. .. So forget 'em, forget 'em."

He also predicted that Bruce Springsteen, then hailed as rock's bright future, would endure the same critical barbs: "And God help Bruce Springsteen when they decide he's no longer God. ... They'll turn on him, and I hope he survives it."

But Lennon also talked about trying to be a good father to his youngest son Sean, learning how to relate to a child (he admitted he wasn't good at play) and spoke of his strong bond with wife Yoko Ono: "I've selected to work with ... only two people: Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono. ... That ain't bad picking."

At 40, he was also reflective of what he had accomplished so far in life and exploring life's themes, and remained committed to his goal of peace and love on earth.

"I'm not claiming divinity. I've never claimed purity of soul. I've never claimed to have the answers to life. I only put out songs and answer questions as honestly as I can ... But I still believe in peace, love and understanding."

Cott interviewed Lennon at his apartment and at his record studio. The interview was originally planned for a cover story for Lennon and Ono's upcoming album "Double Fantasy," but in the rush to put out a story after Lennon was shot to death by Mark David Chapman, only snippets were used.

Cott said he never went back to the three hours worth of tapes until a few months ago when he was cleaning out his closet.

"On a strip of magnetic tape, it was sort of a miracle that first of all, the tape had not degraded after 30 years," he said. "All of this sudden, this guy's voice, totally alive ... just made me feel so inspired that I felt that I should really transcribe the whole thing."

Cott said he was struck by how much he was thinking about his life and mortality.

"There were a lot of strange consideration of where he was and what he felt like sort of in the middle of his journey," Cott said. "I think it was like a mid-life meditation, I was struck by that."

The magazine also included an essay by Ono recalling her final days with her husband.

Ono released a statement Tuesday night in tribute to Lennon.

"On this tragic anniversary please join me in remembering John with deep love and respect," Ono said. "In his short lived life of 40 years, he has given so much to the world. The world was lucky to have known him. We still learn so much from him today. John, I love you!"

Yoko and Fans Mark 30 Years Since Lennon's Death

Recording Of Give Peace a Chance. 1969 with Ti...Image via Wikipedia (from

by Paul Ellis Paul Ellis

Liverpool (AFP) - Fans gathered in Liverpool Wednesday to mark the 30th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon, as part of a global day of celebrations of the music icon's life.

In the city which produced the Beatles, the focus of the memorials were the Peace and Harmony monument unveiled earlier this year in memory of Lennon, who died when he was only 40.

Fans were to light candles and sing songs to remember the musician whose life was abruptly ended by a lone gunman outside the luxury Dakota apartment block in New York on December 8, 1980.

The Peace and Harmony monument was unveiled on October 9 - his birthday - by Lennon's first wife Cynthia and their son Julian in Chavasse Park.

In the port city, local musicians led the wellwishers and Beatles fans as they remembered the life of one of Liverpool's best-loved sons whose songwriting relationship with Paul McCartney produced some of music's classic songs.

In Tokyo, Lennon's widow Yoko Ono who was with him when he was shot marked the anniversary with a concert, saying the world still had so much to learn from his life and his songs.

"Today, on this painful anniversary, please join me in remembering John with deep love and respect," she said in a Japanese language tweet, as she prepared for the annual charity show, which features Japanese performers.

"Despite his short, 40 years of life, he gave so much to the world. The world was blessed with fortune to have known John.

"We continue to learn so much from him even today. John, I love you. 2010/12/8 Yoko Ono Lennon," said Ono in a message on Twitter.

Rolling Stone magazine released unpublished extracts online from an interview with Lennon, recorded three days before he was killed, in which he took a swipe at "dead heroes."

In the interview, which was published in part just after he was shot, Lennon took on his critics with uncharacteristic harshness, as well as fans who had not accepted his withdrawal from the music world, five years on.

Lennon said what fans wanted were "dead heroes" like Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious and screen star James Dean.

"I am not interested in being a dead fucking hero... so forget 'em, forget 'em," Lennon quipped.

And he did not rule out the idea of going back on the road to make music again.

"But there will be no smoke bombs, no lipstick, no flashing lights. It just has to be comfy, but we could have a laugh. We're born-again rockers, and we're starting over... There's plenty of time, right? Plenty of time," Lennon said.

A charity concert will take place on Thursday at Liverpool's Echo Arena, called "Lennon Remembered - The 9 Faces of John", which will feature the Liverpudlian's friends and former bandmates performing his most famous songs.

The acts will include his first band The Quarrymen.

A poll found that "Imagine" remains Lennon's most popular song.

The chart was released by PRS for Music, which collects royalties on behalf of songwriters, and is based on airplay and live covers of the songs since 2005.

"Lennon's iconic songs inspired and symbolised the ideals of the masses, so it's no surprise that 30 years after his death his songs are still as popular as ever," said Chairman Ellis Rich.
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New York Fans Recall Lennon 30 Years After Murder

John LennonCover of John Lennon

by Barbara Goldberg

New York (Reuters) – Crowds gathered around the "Imagine" mosaic in Central Park on the 30th anniversary of John Lennon's death on Wednesday, sharing his music and recalling when they first heard the former Beatle was shot.

Lennon was 40 when he was murdered outside his New York apartment on December 8, 1980. His killer, Mark David Chapman, is serving a prison sentence of 20 years to life.

"It came over the radio and me Mum just stopped what she was doing and burst into tears," said Jan Huntley, a Liverpool native on her honeymoon in New York. She said she was 8 years old and getting ready for school when they heard the news.

Around the "Imagine" mosaic in Strawberry Fields, a memorial to Lennon in Central Park, fans huddled in the cold, playing guitars and singing Beatles' songs.

"I love what he stood for. All he wanted in his life was peace," said Ranada Havard, a tourist from Louisiana. "All he wanted was to love his wife, love his children. But he lost it. People are still remembering 30 years later. It's great."

Even those who weren't born when Lennon died said they felt compelled to visit Strawberry Fields, across the street from Lennon's apartment building, to express their grief.

"I've been a Beatles fan all my life. I was raised on them," said 17-year-old Russell Schwartz of Farmingdale, New York. "Honestly, on the 30th anniversary, I couldn't miss the chance to honor a legend."

Lennon remains very much alive in the hearts of his fans, including the nearly 1.3 million visitors who expressed support on his Facebook page.

Oddly enough, one of Lennon's final comments was that he never wanted to be a "dead hero," according to a newly published interview in Rolling Stone.

Tapes of what may be Lennon's final interview, conducted just three days before his murder, were discovered recently when journalist Jonathan Cott was cleaning his apartment. In the interview, Lennon denounced fans who criticized him during his five-year break from music.

"What they want is dead heroes, like Sid Vicious and James Dean," Lennon said. "I'm not interested in being a dead fucking hero ... so forget 'em, forget 'em."

In remembrance of her husband, Yoko Ono used Twitter to share a more domestic picture, recalling a debate they had over the proper way to make tea.

"'Yoko, Yoko, you're supposed to first put the tea bags in, and then the hot water,'" Ono recalled in the account.

He later reversed his instructions, and "we both cracked up. That was in 1980. Neither of us knew that it was to be the last year of our life together," Ono wrote.

Their son, Sean, now a musician, also used Twitter to thank people remembering his father.

"Thank you for all the kind words. Let's all just pray for peace on earth. That's what he cared about most. Love, S."
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Fender Stratocaster - Why Do Guitarists Still Love It After 50 Years?

Self-taken photo of Rock Band Fender Stratocas...                                Image via WikipediaBy Andrew Atkins

The Fender Stratocaster, a design classic and guitar icon, loved by guitarists everywhere from unknown beginners strumming at home to some of the most famous artists in the world, was designed by Leo Fender, George Fullerton and Freddie Tavares in 1954 and has been manufactured by Fender Musical Instrument Corporation ever since.

Perhaps one of the reasons for the enduring popularity of the Fender Strat is that there have been subtle improvements and alterations in line with customer demand over the last 50 years without losing the classic design and appeal.

A major design change facilitated by customers occurred during the 1970s. The original Strat incorporated three single-coil pickups controlled by a three-way switch. Guitarists discovered that by jamming the switch between first and second position they could select the bridge and middle pickups. In the same way between second and third they could select both middle and neck pickups. Responding to their customers' needs Fender introduced a 5-way pickup selector, which became a standard feature in 1977, allowing guitarists to develop their own unique sound and to experiment more with the instrument.

To coincide with this Fender also introduced a reverse-wound, reverse-polarity middle pickup. Essentially a hum-cancelling device, it created what became known as 'Fat Strat', giving a thicker tone. It led to artists choosing varying numbers of 'humbuckers' for even more versatility and distinctive sound.

After a slight dip in popularity of Fender Stratocasters during its ownership by CBS from 1965-1985, when manufacturing was shipped out to Asia, Fender regained its high-ranking place in the world of guitar manufacturing with a change of ownership. Bill Schultz bought the company in 1985 and the first change was a return to high quality manufacturing, leading to a new interest in vintage instruments. The most popular guitars from the Leo Fender era were ear-marked for this remarketing of the brand, designs including a maple fret board from 1957 and a rosewood fret board from 1962. These became known as American Vintage Reissues and are now some of the most sought-after guitars.

Following on this tradition of responding to the voice of the consumer, since 2007 Fender offers an extensive range of Stratocasters as well as a Custom Shop service that makes individual, limited edition Strats. Amongst the most popular are the signature guitars of some of the famous players of the Fender Stratocaster, each with different specifications distinctive to the performer. Guitars include:
  • The American Artist Jeff Beck Signature Stratocaster, whose specifications are, amongst others, an alder body with thinner C-shaped maple neck, Fender Special Design dual-coil ceramic Noiseless pickups and straight-ahead five-way switching.
  • The Fender Artist Series Eric Clapton Stratocaster with a select alder body and a soft V-shaped maple neck and fret board, three Fender Vintage Noiseless pickups, powerful active mid-boost and TBX circuits.
  • The Fender Artist Series Billy Corgan Stratocaster with two Special Design DiMarzio Billy Corgan single-spaced humbucking pickups (neck and bridge) and a DiMarzio Chopper middle pickup.
Other stellar artists available for the aspiring guitarist are David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler, Buddy Guy, Richie Sambora, Eddie Van Halen and Jim Root.

Custom Shop Fenders are made in a limited quantity or timescale so that they become as much an investment as an instrument for the discerning guitarist. They are individually designed and handcrafted by the Fender team, such as the Fender Custom Shop David Gilmour Signature Series Stratocaster. Based on David Gilmour's iconic 'Black Strat' the Fender Custom Shop worked with the artist himself and his technician Phil Taylor to create it. The guitar has a black nitrocellulose lacquer finished alder body, one piece maple neck, custom pickups, David Gilmour's electronics and shorter tremolo arm. It comes with a custom case too.

Also in the Fender family is the Fender American Deluxe Stratocaster. It has a new compound radius fret board allowing effortless string bending, new Samarium N3 noiseless pickups to provide improved clarion tones with no hum and newly reconfigured S-1 switching, staggered locking tuners, two-point synchronized tremolo bridge with pop-in arm and beveled neck heel.

The Fender American Standard Stratocaster, which has been improved recently with a new bridge, a new neck and body finish and Fender exclusive high-tech moulded case, whilst still retaining hand-rolled fretboard edges, alnico V pickup and staggered tuning machines is a popular range for the company.

All these and more can be seen, along with more detailed information, at soundsliveshop

As a true example of Fender keeping up with reality-altering, popular culture, they have licensed the appearance of the Stratocaster to EA as a replica guitar controller and to Harmonix's Rock Band video game. A real Stratocaster, retrofitted to be an electronic controller will be a feature on Rock Band 3. It is now bizarrely possible for wannabe rock stars to play air guitar with a real Fender Strat!

With something for everyone and Custom Shop for the customer requiring a more personal touch, it's no wonder the Fender Stratocaster is still the favourite after more than 50 years manufacturing. What guitarist could resist the sleek lines, classic shape and iconic design of the Fender Strat?

As part of Andrew's work, he has an on-going personal and professional involvement in the music industry. In addition to advising several companies involved in the sector, such as Soundslive and Let's Do Music, his gigging roots go back to the club and pub circuit in the English Midlands of the late 80's and early '90's. These days he's more likely to be found working on online marketing for music industry businesses or lending his sound deck experience (and gear!) to local music groups. This article was written on behalf of

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The Beatles Red and Blue Album

Cover of "1967-1970 (The Blue Album)"Cover of 1967-1970 (The Blue Album)By Marcus Poole

The Beatles red and blue albums have been remastered. They include some of The Beatles most famous songs.

The Beatles have long been absent from digital downloads, now they too have joined the ranks of pixelated music for sale. This review takes a look at the songs that make The Beatles red and blue compilation albums that divide the Fab Four years in two.

As a kid whose musical tastes were awakened in the 80's, discovering The Beatles was a merciful release from 80's popsters let loose with newly invented synthesisers and drum machines. A tight band formed from hours of endless gigging in the Reeperbahn in Hamburg, the Beatles grew musically to announce whole new worlds of sound for pop, be it string quartets, harpsichords, sitars or brass bands, The Beatles truly revolutionised the soundscape of pop music. The red and blue compilation albums gives you a swift view of their development. Listening to them back to back, the re-inventions of their sound is truly remarkable.

What can you find on The Beatles red and blue albums?

The Beatles 1962-66 (the red one)

Love Me Do - a mouth organ, a steady beat and a melody as simple as Three Blind Mice - genius. A sound full of exuberance and energy; no wonder the teenage girls were screaming. With Please, Please Me, From Me to You, She Loves You and I Want to Hold Your Hand the Beatles also lead the way in being among the first pop groups to write their own songs. The red album takes us from these early years of love songs to the band beginning to branch out and expand their ideas. You can find Norwegian Wood complete with George Harrison playing sitar and a balalaika in Girl. Nowhere Man is a move away from girls meets boy love songs to introspection and self- reflection.

The Beatles 1967-1970 (the blue one)

The blue album covers the later years of psychedelia and experimentation in an exploding hip scene of Swinging Sixties London. We have Harrison emerging as a great songwriter in his on right with the striking While My Guitar Gently Weeps and the beautiful Something. The blue album offers snippets of the seminal Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club album and pure Beatle classics in Strawberry Fields Forever, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Penny Lane and I Am the Walrus.

The breadth of styles on show on these tow albums is breathtaking. The Beatles red and blue album compilations' line up really takes you through all the sounds and styles that made The Beatles the greatest band on earth.

Find facts about The Beatles and the chance to see more about the Beatles red and blue album here.

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Don't Let Me Down(Load)

George HarrisonCover of George HarrisonBy R. Christian Curran

Pop ... crack ... whisp ... hisssss ... hisss ... hissss. "Hey ... hey ... hey ... hey." BANG!! "Jude, don't make it bad. Take a sad song ..." Some of you may have no idea where I am going with this clumsy onomatopoeia laced introduction. But for many, you know exactly what these sounds of yesterday are. So before I move on, let's take our digital generation readers through a play-by-play of exactly what was really happening within the first 20 words of this article.

Long Island, NY 1982:

I sat Indian style in my parent's living room and sifted through a cardboard Coka-kola box loaded with an upright stack of "Beatlely" goodness. I'm talking about records. Not that of a Guinness book entry or a filed tax document, but vinyl LP recordings. Long Play. These are what George Harrison called a "33 and a 1/3rd" and Aerosmith praised as their "big 10 inch" ... record that is. They were grooved, matted, and black. Each one was outfitted with a perfect bull's-eye where the paper label was affixed to the lacquer.

This record I held had an orange label with tan bold text that read, "Capitol". This color combination was indicative of Capitol's later year pressings of Beatles' recordings. I was part of the first post-Beatles generation and by the mid-to-late 1970's, Capitol's pressing of Beatles' records were already in double digits when it came to the lot numbers. I only had two Fab albums that were qualified as "first pressing". These beauties had Capitol's trademark jet black background, silver text, and a magical rainbow circle of colors on the label's outer perimeter. One would think these gems would have been under lock and key.

Nope. They were under something though ... my bum. As a kid, I had this odd habit of sitting on the unused stack of records while I listened to one. This particular record I had pulled from the album jacket's inner sleeve was titled Hey Jude. I handled it the way we all handled records back then. It was suspended in between the palms of my hands; like how one would say "it's about this big" while using their hands as a visual aid. I walked the record to the turntable of the phonograph and placed it down on the rubbery pancake ... B-side up.

While the cylindrical disc spun at 33.33333 revolutions per minute, I lowered the needle's arm into the starting groove and sat back down to the comforting sounds of: Pop...crack...whisp...hisssss...hisss...hissss "Hey...hey...hey...hey". Whoops, the album was skipping already. It was time to get up and give the player's deck a whack of the hand.


"Jude, don't make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better." There we are.

What you just read was a daily activity in the early days of this Beatles fanatic. That was 1982. For now, let's jump the needle up 28 years and dig into an unannounced rock history lesson. For you younger Beatles fans, you may still be sifting through the dated words above that make up my vivid memory and wondering about this or that. Though the biggest question mark you may have drawn is, "What the hell is the Hey Jude album?"

Yes, I grew up in the great age of records, intense album art with its' Zelda-like hidden messages, and Stereo Hi-Fidelity. However, I also sadly grew up in an era of the great continental divide between Parlophone in the UK and Capitol in the US. As foreign as the Hey Jude album may seem to you is as bizarre as Beatles For Sale was to me. Let's face it, we are all creatures of habit and comforted by what we grew up with.

My mother's meatloaf was awful when compared to my wife's creation of the classic America dish, but I still miss it nonetheless. It also means that comfort laid in the A Hard Day's Night album was littered with instrumental tracks, that "Help!" opened with a James Bond intro, and my "Revolver" was 3 songs shy of 14 tracks. The latter being a product of the "Yesterday....and Today" release 2 months prior so that money hungry Capitol could peddle a fast 27 minutes of "new" music to an unsuspecting American public.

But when I was 8 years old, I did not know, nor would have cared, that the 1970 "Hey Jude" album consisted of songs hand picked by the cash-grubbing Allen Klein from 1964, 1965, 1966, 1968, and 1969; blasphemy for any Beatles purist. All I knew was that this album was JACKED with great music. How could anyone not get excited when you look at the album's line up? While it did not matter to me then, it sure matters now. I can't stand the fact that I grew up on albums that the Beatles themselves had no idea what the album titles were or the songs they were made up of. The American albums I so adored were a complete mystery to my heroes and something they loathed.

Listen to John Lennon when he introduces "Baby's In Black" at the first Shea Stadium show. He goes on to wrongly say with obvious passive aggression that it is "off of Beatles Six or something...I don't know. I haven't got it." Of course, we "all" know that it was released on "Beatles '65", even if John did not. The Beatles hated that they had no control of their American releases. John in particular was bothered by this.

"We used to say, 'Why can't we put 14 [songs] out in America, you know? 'Cos we would sequence the albums how we thought they should sound and put a lot of work into the sequencing too. And we almost got to not care what happened in America 'cos it was always different, they wouldn't let us put 14 out, they said there was some rule or something against it. Well, whatever it was, you know? And so we almost didn't care what happened to the albums in America until we started coming over more, and noticing... they'd have outtakes and mumbling on the beginning, which used to drive us crackers."

This was the altering, or butchering some might say, that Capitol Records would do with established UK Beatles albums for the American market. It was not until the advent of Compact Discs that American-based fans had the record set straight. In 1987 the entire British, and only the British, catalogue was released on the new digital media that was changing the way we listened to music.

This included the 12 studio albums the way God intended them to be, and two collections of A and B sides. For the budding fans of the mid-80s, it was almost a guarantee that they would be getting off on the right foot. However, for me and so many others, we were stranded as countless zombies to sift through the rubble of Capitol Records greed. Where was The Second Album? What was on With The Beatles?

And why the hell was "Drive My Car" on Rubber Soul?  What had they done? It was as if they took the entire pre-1967 library, tossed it up in the air, and let the songs fall where they may. Little did most of us know, but Parlophone had done us all a favor and FINALLY set us "Yanks" straight on the way it really was, and should have always been. Yes, this new technology that was too run vinyl out of town provided the greatest Beatles history lesson of all.

So here we are, some 23 years after those 120mm iridescent discs of reflective plastic drank up the entire Beatles catalogue and belched it back out to us its intended and proper order. Except now, they themselves have been all but eradicated by the latest "electronic noise" in the form of digital music and its many methods of delivery. What I once held in 4 soda pop cartons can now be stored in something half the size of a Pop-Tart. While the advancement of technology is frustrating for those who get used to a certain way, it does do one significant thing for a last century act like the Beatles. It introduces them to the next generation of fans by using their medium of choice.

The choice among these fans is the iPod; a music device that has allowed them to put 3500 songs in their hip pocket. On November 16th 2010, Apple Computers, with its game changing iPod, announced that it would finally be releasing the entire Beatles catalogue for download via its iTunes store. Once again, it is time to "Meet the Beatles".

There is no question that this move will have a positive swelling among the iconic group's young fan base and guarantee the Beatles remaining in the public's watchful eye. Unfortunately, that is where I feel the positives will end. My biggest concern is the potential for the fan's loss of understanding and appreciating the band's full albums as a complete work of art. As we well know, the miracle of iTunes is all about logging in, and cherry picking songs by title familiarity and likeness. Somebody hears Come Together on the radio, logs into iTunes, and pulls it down. What this type of musical commerce does is it leaves the other 16 songs that make up the incomparable "Abbey Road" in its 99 cent wake.

When I was a kid, if I wanted Come Together I had to take along with it Something, Mean Mr. Mustard and his lesbian sister, Pam. Even though I may have been raised on the "wrong" records, they were still albums, albeit haphazardly compiled. And while the waning Compact Disc era rightfully presented the Beatles music in tidy, organized bundles of song; this latest technology may just crush that 23 years of Beatle album righteousness for this next generation. While the Beatles may have fallen to the iTunes gravy train, there are some big names that still refuse. Most them are sharing and standing the ground of my aforementioned concern. Take the classic hard hitting Aussies, "AC/DC". When asked 'why'? Here is what lead guitarist and founding member, Angus Young, had to say.

"We don't make singles, we make albums," Angus says. "If we were on iTunes, we know a certain percentage of people would only download two or three songs from the album -- and we don't think that represents us musically."

Even country sell out, Garth Brooks, is worried about the integrity of the album. "Until we get variable pricing, until we get album only down loads, then iTunes is not a true retailer for my stuff, and you won't see my stuff...," Brooks said.

So where does this leave us Beatle fans now that the mighty have fallen? I myself embrace the partnership Apple and, well, Apple have agreed upon. I think such a move is almost unavoidable and maybe even career suicide for some acts. However, no amount of payola can excuse the importance of the album. This will need to be cultivated and hammered home to the iTune loons. It will be incumbent upon long time fans such as me, my mentor brother, and my best friend to not only nourish and nurture these fresh Beatle saplings, but to make sure they will be hit full bloom when they mature armed with the full understanding that the tree is indeed made up of its single limbs.

The promise of this vibrant plumage lays solely in their working appreciation of the full albums and not the convoluted compiling of "playlists" created as they pluck low hanging fruit from the Apple superstore. Capitol already did this to us by cramming singles and misguided collections down our throats and we all know how bare that left the pure Beatles Album orchard. Unlike Capitol listeners, iTunes users will have a choice.

Unfortunately, it is the luxury of this choice that may be the undoing of the sacred album.

R. Christian Curran is a devoted father of 4 wonderful and exhausting children. Long Island born and raised, he now resides in upstate New York with his college sweetheart, Stephanie. He has combined his lifelong passion for the Beatles and writing with his technology background to create and The Dirty Mac newsletter. As founder, Webmaster, and contributor, Richard has his eye on the progress of both the website and the newsletter.

When he is not online, Richard can be found playing guitar, following his beloved New York Rangers, upland bird hunting with his dog, Juno or sagging off with his favorite gal, Stephanie, to Lake Placid. Comments?

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Top 5 Acoustic Guitar Solos of All Time

David GilmourCover of David GilmourBy Ameen Jabbar

There obviously aren't as many acoustic guitar solos around as there are electric guitar solos. However, that is what makes them very special and it tells you that it is no easy task. The beauty about acoustic guitar solos is that the sound out of the instrument and strings is pretty much purely natural, unlike a lot of electric guitar solos out there in which much of the sound is distorted.

What makes a great acoustic guitar solo? A lot of music played on acoustic guitars is slower tempo than solos played on electric guitars and they can be very melodic. Playing a beautiful solo on an acoustic guitar sure means you have talent.

Top 5 acoustic guitar solos of all time

1. The Eagles - Hotel California (acoustic version)
The Eagles are a great band to anybody and 'Hotel California' is known by many. The original song made use of two acoustic guitars played simultaneously as an intro solo. However the acoustic version of the song played the end solos on the acoustic and is a beautiful, yet soulful rendition of the original.

2. Guns N Roses - Patience
Guns n Roses are capable of whacking out a song of any kind. 'Patience' sure describes the song and the atmosphere backed up by the acoustic sounds of Slash's lovely intro solo.

3. John Butler - Ocean
This artist is simply amazing. All of John Butler's music is acoustic based. 'Ocean' contains no lyrics because he solos throughout this song. It is worth noting the speed of the piece changes constantly from slow to fast which is also melodic. He provides all the necessary sound using his guitar only. Incredible! Well worth a listen to this guy

4. John Butler - Funky Tonight
This song contains a beautiful solo towards the end which contains rhythm and also melodic all in one and is played quite rapidly. John Butler sure knows how to blend rhythm with single soloing notes. One word, Awesome!

5. Pink Floyd - Wish you Were Here
This song is one reason what makes this band rock mammoth and why Pink Floyd's music is so melodic. 'Wish you were here is performed acoustically though out by David Gilmour. The great thing about 'Wish you were here' is that it contains three solos, intro, middle and outro. This solo, well actually, the full song really takes you somewhere. David Gilmour proves through his soloing skills that speed is no meaning for an amazing guitar solo. He is simply one of the greatest guitarists in the world.

I hope this article has inspired you to play acoustic guitar solos mentioned in this article to help you with your own music and become better guitarist.

Author. Ameen Jabbar

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Fight Club - Top Ten Classic Rock Guitar Tones

Stevie Ray VaughanCover of Stevie Ray VaughanBy Chaz Beers

Tone is one of those things that guitarists look for, long for and obsess over. Non-guitarists often don't understand our mania for it and our ability to split endless hairs in pursuit of it. We all have our tonal benchmarks that set our ears ablaze and gave us something to aim for in our lives, and it is always interesting to find out what tones inspire what people out there in Gear-Vault-land.

To that end, your ever-grooving staff here at GV has compiled a list of favorite guitar tones from the 1950's-1980's classic rock period that got most of us going on the tone questing lifestyle. It will surely cause much discussion and argument amongst all of you, but that is kind of the point. Let us know your favorites, too, as we like to keep these conversations going and see who all of you dig. Here goes nothing (in no particular order):

1 - Danny Cedrone on "Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Halley and the Comets - Perhaps the first rock shredder, Cedrone's solo on "Rock Around The Clock" set the bar high for rock and roll players in both tone and performance. Cedrone died shortly after tracking it, which is sad, as who knows what else he might have done.

2 - Stevie Ray Vaughn - "Pride And Joy" - Texas blues tone personified. Vaughn came into most of our worlds with this tune and tone and it is still one of his best cuts.

3 - Eddie Van Halen - Anything on "Van Halen I" - Eddie's first album gave us all the "Brown Sound", which is, to me, still the best Marshall amp sound ever put to tape. Go on YouTube and listen to Eddie's guitar tracks isolated and just bask in the glory of it all.

4 - Eric Johnson "Cliffs Of Dover" - Another tone that launched 1000 ships, Johnson and his 50's Strat are smooth as silk yet still full of power. Many consider him the ultimate Stratocaster guy and this track gives much credence to that opinion.

5 - Carlos Santana "Black Magic Woman" - Carlos has always defined the type of sustaining, singing guitar tone many of us aim for and this is one of his early best. His sound has changed over the years, but this one remains a fave rave.

6 - Brian Setzer - ANY - Best Gretsch Sound Ever. Plus, he seems to be the only man in America who can keep one in tune.

7 - Angus Young - ANY - Young is another one who has truly mastered the Marshall amplifier and his sound over the course of his career has helped to define rock guitar crunch. Listen close: he is less distorted than many think.

8 - Dick Dale "Miserlou" - Dale is one of the most powerful rock guitarists of the pre-Hendrix era and his tone has always been raging and wonderful, thanks to the Showman amps that Leo Fender built for him. This is one of the most iconic and unique guitar tracks in rock history and all should give it a listen.

9 - Jimi Hendrix "The Wind Cries Mary" - Many love hearing Jimi rock, but it is his clean tones I love the most. This is Jimi playing like a Hammond organ player and it is a song a sound that I never get tired of hearing.

10 - Duane Allman "Statesboro Blues" - Duane Allman is still the high-water mark for many in regards to slide guitar and this is one of his best. They say Duane was just trying to sound like Little Walter's harmonica and, if you listen to him with that in mind, it becomes ever more profound.

I am sure all of you will have much to say over these choices and will have picks of your own to offer, so bring the noise and we will have a party. Picking only ten players makes it hard, but also makes it extra personal, as they really have to be favorites to make the list. Watch this space for further discussion on what is sure to be a hot topic.

Gear-Vault is one of the most respectable guitar lesson and review websites on the entire web. Read their professional and comprehensive guitar tips from Easy guitar riffs to Easy Guitar Songs.

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The White Meat: How one Beatles fan spends his Thanksgiving morning every year for 23 years running

Cover of "The Beatles (The White Album)"Cover of The Beatles (The White Album)By Matt Kindelmann

It's been roasted turkey, fluffy mashed potatoes, and Glass Onions for me every Thanksgiving since 1987. I've spent the morning hours of the last Thursday of every November since I was 12, in my bedroom, with the Beatles' 1968 White Album playing on my stereo. No snow storms, meddling houseguests, or holiday traveling inconveniences have interrupted my 23 year ritual. The album and the holiday have merged so strongly in my subconscious that it's now odd for me not to taste cranberry sauce or brown gravy when I hear I'm So Tired or Sexy Sadie.

Whether it was borrowed from the library, bought at the local record shop with paper route money, obtained in a swap with a classmate, or given to me for my birthday; the initial listening of a Beatles' record was always a major event when I was 12 or 13. The record was always anticipated, analyzed, absorbed, and ultimately adored. From the moment it was in my hands, I started a countdown to when I could be alone in my room with my prize spinning on my player.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 1987, a new friend from art class lent me the White Album and I spent the rest of the school day wondering about the magic the shiny black grooves held. I studied the stark white cover with its matching gatefold, which was a complete departure from the garish Sgt Pepper and cartoonish Magical Mystery Tour. The vibrant satin uniforms and animal costumes were replaced with four separate black and white portraits of each unsmiling Beatle. I studied the printed song names on the bus ride home and while some rang bells, others like Why Don't We Do It in the Road? and Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey made me scratch my head.

I'd mastered a bunch of Beatle records by that point and had done a fair share of reading about the band at the library, but the White Album was still a mystery. Instead of darting to the turntable as soon as I got off the bus, I took my time getting home, pensively shuffling my feet through the fallen leaves. I'd wait until tomorrow, I thought. The White Album, with its 30 tracks, could not be rushed. Little did I know I'd be starting a tradition I still cherish 23 years later.

The next morning, after combing my hair and finishing my cornflakes, I returned to my room for the first spin. The scent of roasted turkey wafted under the door as my fingertips gingerly placed the record on the turntable. I rested the needle on the first groove, and after a few pops, jet engines soared to introduce Back in the USSR, Paul's pastiche of the Beach Boys and Chuck Berry. It took only the first few thumping measures to pull me in. The Beatles, once again, made it seem as easy as Honey Pie.

The White Album offers an array as eclectic as a Thanksgiving Day supper table. Paul sings reggae influenced pop about the marital bliss of Desmond and Molly Jones, John and his acoustic guitar lament his dead mum, Ringo's drumsticks give him blisters on the fingers, and George's six string sobs through our speakers. A big game hunter, a vengeful cowboy, a reluctant shut-in named Prudence, and a menagerie of piggies, a blackbird, a sheepdog, and a monkey who's got nothing to hide, join the Beatles' cast of characters. The band throws a pair of Revolutions our way, gives us a whole new melodious way to celebrate a birthday, and lulls us to sleep with the lush Good Night. Listening to all four sides of this stuffed album is a rich experience and it still leaves me coming back for seconds.

The juxtaposition in the tracking is a key ingredient of the album's appeal. The gritty saturation of Yer Blues is followed by the serene and sunshiny Mother Nature's Son. Helter Skelter's droning guitars and smashed cymbals still cast shadows as Long, Long, Long softens the mood. Paul is a guttural and raunchy Mr. Hyde in Why Don't We Do It in the Road? and immediately morphs back into the sensitive and doe-eyed Dr. Jekyll with the subsequent I Will. Songs about chocolates and kings and queens are followed by an eight and a half minute freaky sound collage filled with fire sound effects, football chants, and piano noodling. I feel like my plate is overflowing.

The White Album is a potluck Thanksgiving dinner with John, Paul, George, and Ringo each bringing a number of tasty dishes to the table, but the tracks on the record show that by 1968 the Beatles were each cooking in a different kitchen. Things started to change for the Beatles after Sgt. Pepper's glow began to fade. Their manager had overdosed, the amateurish Magical Mystery Tour film had scotched their legacy, and they grew disenchanted with the Maharishi. The cracks that started to show when the band hung up their touring suits two years earlier began to broaden.

The fact I associate the White Album with a cold and gray Thanksgiving does make sense. The album was originally released in November of 1968 during the Beatles' autumn years, 18 months before the band was pronounced dead. Listening to the Fabs during this period is like looking at a tree with its few remaining browned leaves waving in the brisk wind. Just like the changing weather before a deep winter, the sessions for the White Album were acrimonious and unpredictable.

Neglected and irritated Ringo stormed out halfway through the sessions. Perfectionist Paul pissed off the others when he sneaked off to other rooms at Abbey Road to polish off tracks alone. Scowling George griped about his slice of the album pie and brought in chum Eric Clapton to play a solo. Acid tongued and heroin induced John had a bed rolled in for his pregnant and intrusive girlfriend. The final product is more like a collection of solo songs by John, Paul, George, and Ringo. The band's future during the White Album sessions mirrors what the album's cover looks like: a cold and snow-blanketed winter.

Oddly, my parents who usually made me fetch folding chairs from the cellar or a card table from the garage turned a blind eye to my meditative Thanksgiving mornings. Maybe they knew how much it meant to me. They let me stay in my dimly lit room with the Beatles playing, right up until the first guests arrived for supper. The sounds of my mother mashing potatoes or the football game my father was watching in the den intertwined with some of the tracks.

Today I have my own home and moved my ritual to my living room. I still feast on healthy helpings of the White Album each Thanksgiving morning, but now the sounds travel throughout my entire house. I like to keep the lights off, but I open the blinds and allow the gray morning sky to come through. I sip coffee, stare at the ceiling, and listen to each track. I hear the music in my head and sometimes look out of my window at the handful of leaves waving on the branches of the strong oak in my yard.

Matt is a full time contributor to the The Dirty Mac, the official newsletter of

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1960s Retro Books for Christmas!

Hi again readers,

Yet another great post from Kim at Retro: Kimmer - Thanks again to Kim for a really great post and a great selection of retro books from the 1960s.

1960s Retro Books for Christmas!

1960's: A Decade of Change - The 1960s includes over 60 interviews, and over 25 student writings. The book tells about the lives of Vietnam veterans, housewives, college students, and hippies and their perspectives of life during a decade of change.

To read more, go to:

Shindig Hullabaloo and Where the Action Is 1960's

Hi readers,

Another great retrospective from Kim at Retro: Kimmer - Who remembers Hullabaloo? Shows such as this really made me realise that I was in the middle of something big - and we even got it on TV down here in Australia!!!

Shindig Hullabaloo and Where the Action Is 1960's

Shindig! was the first of a kind in the US- a prime-time rock music TV show that featured live (maybe rehearsed and then taped live) performances by the top acts of the early Sixties.

To read more, go to:

Downloading The Beatles - What Is the Best Audio Format?

A recreation of the set for The Ed Sullivan Sh...Image via WikipediaBy James Magary

There was much Beatles hoopla happening in November, when iTunes and the Beatles finally announced that they would be selling all the re-mastered Beatles albums through the iTunes store. Many fans have been waiting eagerly for this, because the Beatles were among the last of the truly huge bands that had not gotten their product distributed through the Apple music system.

However, the files that one purchases through iTunes have DRM (digital rights management) copy-protection, which means there are limitations to how one can use the files. Many fans are unaware of an alternative way to purchase these classic Beatles albums that does not have this limitation, and which actually offers a higher-quality audio format.

What is DRM?

Digital Rights Management is a system that iTunes and other digital distribution providers use to limit the ability to copy digital files and to limit the use of certain digital devices to play copyrighted material. It is in use by companies like Apple as well as Sony, Amazon, Microsoft, AOL, and others who distribute digital products. For a user downloading a song from a service using DRM, it means the file will only play on the computer or device authorized for use per the restrictions put in place by the seller, and this generally means that you cannot buy a song and then move the file to another computer without first gaining authorization for the new computer.

DRM-free Beatles?

Many fans recall that in 2009 the Beatles released their major works in re-mastered CD format, finally improving the audio quality of the classic Beatles albums from the 1960's, which had been long overdue for re-release. The other big Beatles news from 2009 was the release of Beatles Rock Band which allowed fans to hear the music and play along with the popular video game.

Overshadowed in all of this was the release, in December 2009, of the Beatles USB Apple box set. No, this is not Apple as in Steve Jobs, but "apple", as in the fruit. The product, which is still available, was released as a "box set" in the form of a tiny green aluminum apple that contains the full, re-mastered versions of all of the albums that are also available on the stereo box set. This set contains both high-quality FLAC 44.1 Khz 24-bit sound files (that means that it's better than CD-quality), as well as DRM-free mp3 files. These mp3s are not only free of DRM restrictions, but they are also higher quality that the usual compressed music files that one buys from iTunes and other stores. Specifically, the mp3s are 320 kbps, which is a higher resolution that the more typical 128 kbps found on most commercially available mp3s.

As of now, this Beatles USB apple remains the only way to get DRM-free, audiophile-quality versions of the Beatles' albums, and fans continue to scurry to pick up the product before it becomes discontinued. Now that iTunes has the Beatles, the concern among Beatles fans and audiophiles alike is that all the marketing push for Beatles music will go through that venue, and that the USB production will be stopped.

Where Can You Get the Beatles USB Apple?

To read more about the Beatles and their influence, and to see a review of the Beatles USB box set, go to this site: Beatles USB Review.

To go to the author's company website and learn about SEO, web marketing, and web development for small businesses, visit this site: SEO Consultant.

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Saxophone Giants: John Coltrane

John ColtraneCover of John ColtraneBy Joel Krett

Woodshedding Monster

One of the undisputed giants of the tenor saxophone was John Coltrane. His total dedication to the mastery of his instrument of choice and his immense, innate talent made him a formidable force in the world of jazz during the 50's and 60's. It has been rumored that he would spend 12 hours practicing just one scale until he exhausted all possibilities with it and that 24 hour practice sessions were not uncommon.

Brotherly Love

John Coltrane was born in Hamlet, North Carolina into family life full of music. After graduating from high school in 1943 he moved to Philadelphia where he enrolled in the Ornstein School of Music where he was known for his unrelenting work ethic. In 1945 Coltrane was called to military service by Uncle Sam where he performed with the US Navy Band. With his military obligations fulfilled Coltrane returned to Philadelphia where he played with jazz greats such as Jimmy Heath, Benny Golson, and Ray Bryant. In 1948 Coltrane played tenor saxophone with Eddie 'Cleanhead" Vinson followed by a stint as alto saxophonist with the Dizzy Gillespie Big Band.

Kind Of Blue

In 1958 Coltrane joined the Miles Davis Quintet where according to him he was given "plenty of freedom" to explore his evolving approach to jazz improvisation. As a member of this group he participated in the recording of what is to be considered one of the greatest jazz albums of all time, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. Trane, as he came to be known, along with alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderly laid down some of the best jazz saxophone solos ever heard and still studied today by up and coming jazz musicians.

Giant Steps

John Coltrane left Miles Davis and started his own quartet in 1960. However, during his time with Miles he managed record his own legendary jazz album called Giant Steps. The title tune became known as a groundbreaking jazz composition because of the new harmonic progression employed by Coltrane. The complex chord progression, later to be known as 'Cotrane changes", and the fast tempo made the song a difficult task even for serious jazz musicians.

The Trane Stops Running

John Coltrane died from liver cancer before his 41st birthday. One can only imagine what can of music Trane would have made had he'd been able to play another 40 years much like his contemporary Sonny Rollins has managed to do. His horn has been silent for many years now, but the music he left us with is thriving and continues to have a major impact on the world of jazz.

Joel Krett currently plays tenor saxophone and harmonica with The Subway Show Band out of Morgantown, WV. and is an avid jazz fan.

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John Lennon: Remembering John Lennon's Death Thirty Years Ago

John Lennon rehearses Give Peace A Chance by R...Image via WikipediaBy Jimmy Hall

December the 8th, 1980 was a Monday. Former Beatle and artist, writer, singer, activist, and solo singer and musician John Lennon was tragically murdered that night. As a young and somewhat naive 19 year-old in love with his lovely 17 year-old girlfriend, I was working a 4pm to 2:30am shift at a local Arrow Shirt Company Plant just across the expressway from Six Flags Over Georgia, so I had long weekends. I was spreading cloth.

Returning from my 12:30am break, a Beatles song was playing on the radio in one of the noisy cutting areas, and John Lennon was singing lead. I commented to one of the pickup men that I loved the song. Then he startled me with the words, "I believe John Lennon was killed tonight; they have been playing many of his songs." I was absolutely stunned. Still, the employee was not 100% certain. I held-out some hope, and no one else knew anything definite. I hoped it was a rumor. Time passed very slowly.

I rode back and forth to work with the son of the man that ran the entire plant, not just our cutting department, and we both scanned the radio while traveling I-20 West on the way home, and we did hear a couple of John Lennon songs. Then came the words, "...tonight's tragedy in New York City. John Lennon was shot dead in front of his Dakota Apartment Building." The dread was now a reality.

Arriving home at 2:55am, my folks were up, as usual, fixing to listen to the old Larry King Radio Program on Mutual Radio. I immediately walked up the stairs and muttered, "John Lennon was assassinated tonight," before heading to the table for my usual 3am supper. John Lennon's death at the hands of Mark David Chapman was Larry's subject. I still recall how well Mr. King handled that program that night. He was so totally respectful, and was overcome by the reaction to John Lennon's death. He purposely did not have his usual funny callers and things. It was well done. People cried.

John Lennon's death was the first of the big news celebrity deaths. Not even Elvis' demise 3 1/2 years earlier was covered to this extent, as our society was just then entering the modern news age (David Brinkley even hesitated about mentioning Elvis' death in the first two minutes of the national newscast in 1977). Indeed, the worldwide outpouring of love and affection for John, Yoko, and his children was unexpected (the second big news story that night was of a potential hostage deal from Iran).

At any rate, I listened to Larry King and his listeners talk about John Lennon all night, even the rebroadcast. At about 5am I called my girlfriend, on double-sessions in her senior year of high school an hour away in Lilburn, Georgia. She had read two of Lennon's books, and was also devastated. I agreed to be there when she got out of school about 11am, and was. Together we bought numerous Lennon and Beatles' albums at NorthLake Mall. I actually had tears in my eyes driving there. I think I also had my headlights on in his honor.

Going into work on that Tuesday afternoon was not easy, since I wanted to learn more and more about John Lennon and the situation. A kind older black co-worker, with a few missing fingers, came-up to me (a white kid) and said he was sorry about what happened to Mr. Lennon the night before. I was genuinely touched by his sentiment and concern. Thirty years later, I still remember John Lennon's death as if it happened last week. Unlike millions of others, I did not hear Howard Cosell's account of John's death on Monday Night Football until a long while later.

John Lennon, 1940-1980.

I'm Jimmy Hall, a freelance writer outside of Atlanta that specializes in business and corporate writing, website and webpage search engine optimization, general web-writing, professional projects, press releases, business letters, college coursework help, ad-columns, articles, and essays. I can help you or your organization at a reasonable fee or rate. Phone: 404-580-1501 Webpage:

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Me And Mrs Jones Still Got A Thing!

Billy PaulCover of Billy PaulBy Richard Quindry

I'm thinking back to a cold day in December when the future seemed open to every possibility and I was the new father to my eleven month old daughter. That was the day I first heard this song, Me and Mrs. Jones. While I drove down snow-covered streets, thoughts of my child warmed me more than the heater of my old hoop-dee ever could. We had less "stuff" in those days, but we had each other. With the radio set to my favorite station I listened in fascination to this new talent.

Having been a Motown fan since its beginning in the tumultuous Motor City of the 60s, I was as likely to be listening to Smokey Robinson, The Temptations or The Four Tops as I was to the Beatles or the Stones. What the heck, I was even a closet Country & Western fan back then (the 60s) - I finally came out in the late 70s - and would even listen to Johnny Cash, Conway Twitter and Eddy Arnold. At a low volume with the bedroom door closed, that is. I didn't want to get a ribbing from "Joe Mama." Big brothers can be a pain in the ass.

This is the same guy who later stole all my classic vinyl, when I went away to the Air Force years later. Along with my tools and whatever else I left stored in Mom's garage. Getting back to the point; Billy Paul didn't exactly have a stellar career.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Paul Williams began his singing career at the age of eleven. With the help of neighborhood friend he was able to get a spot on WPEN which led to a string of local performances. His style soon developed along the lines of R&B, Pop and Jazz. This was no doubt due to the influence of his mother, who collected such greats as Nat King Cole and Duke Ellington.

Trained and educated in the art of music he attended Temple University, West Philadelphia Music School, and Granoff Music School. He became known as Billy Paul when it was necessary to change his name to avoid confusion with the Temptations lead singer, Paul Williams. He quickly became an underground sensation around "Philly" and after gaining national recognition he was performing in concert with such greats as Sammy Davis, Jr., Dinah Washington, Nina Simone, Miles Davis, the Impressions, and Roberta Flack.

He cut his first single for Jubilee records as part of a trio he had formed. It was titled "Why Am I" and was not the huge success that this "Grammy Winning" song later turned out to be. He was drafted into the military shortly afterward. Following his discharge, he did a stint with Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes and was once compared with Teddy Pendergrass for his "saxophonic baritone."

His first album, Feelin' Good at the Cadillac Club, flopped like a fish out of water. It wasn't until he released 360 Degrees of Billy Paul, his second project (his fourth) with Philadelphia International Records, that he charted with Me and Mrs. Jones. It went on to hold the No. 1 spot for the last three weeks of 1972 and sell more than 2 million copies, which gave it platinum status as a single. "I knew it would be a hit before it was even released," said Paul.

Yeah, there are some songs that you know as soon as you hear it that they are to become legendary. I recall how it was with Satisfaction when the Stones released it in '65. I first heard it on my funky little transistor radio I carried around everywhere that summer before high school.

Paul's career continued to falter with the release of Am I Black Enough, which was considered too controversial. It was shunned by many program directors and consequently it received very little air play, fading after just five weeks. He was then able to score a repeat Top 40 appearance with the ironically titled Thanks for Saving My Life in the spring of 1974. He continues performing after nearly 50 years.

By the way, that neighborhood friend we can thank for helping Billy get his first big break? That was none other than Bill Cosby. Thanks Bill!

Richard Quindry writes fiction and non-fiction on his website. He can be contacted via email at the email address shown below. He accepts free lance assignments and enjoys researching topics of every sort. He is an avid reader of many other Blogs and likes to share ideas with other writers. His favorite books include mysteries, science-fiction and biographies. He also enjoys writing poetry, a talent he acquired from his grandfather.

Richard Quindry

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: The Risk of Being Ridiculous: A Historical Novel of Love and Revolution by Guy Maynard

Hi all,

Here's some information about a new book by Guy Maynard - sounds like it will bring back lots of memories of the 1960s and 1970s.


Guy Maynard is a writer from Eugene, Oregon. The Risk of Being Ridiculous is published by Hellgate Press and available at local bookstores, at, or from online booksellers.

It’s Boston 1969 and nineteen-year-old Ben Tucker lives in a funky apartment on Mountfort Street with his tribe of fellow long-haired freaks. Together they mix radical street politics, a love of rock and roll, and celebratory drug use in their desperate search for lives that make sense in a world distorted by war, racism, and bankrupt values.

Ridiculous takes you on a passionate, lyrical six-week ride through confrontation and confusion, courts and cops, parties and politics, school and the streets, Weathermen and women’s liberation, acid and activism, revolution and reaction. And, of course, Love - as through it all Ben feverishly pursues the long-shot desire of his life: Sarah Stein.

"Maynard vividly evokes the passions and fevered tempo of those times - the music, the weed, the hitchhiking, the fellowship, the idealism, the outrage, and the wildness in the streets as the overwhelming need to do something, whether brave or foolish or both, ran headlong at the forces of civil order. If you came of age in that riotous and magical period of American life, you’re likely to recognize variations of your own story in this lively narrative" - John Daniel, author of Rogue River Journal and The Far Corner.

". . .a love story and a time machine. Spanning just six weeks during 1969, it’s the story of real events from heady, drug-hazed, headline-making time in Maynard’s life . . . You can imagine this novel being used in classrooms to help students of [this] era really understand the risks kids were taking to fight against the [Vietnam] war and to live in radically different ways than their parents had" - Jamie Passaro, The Register Guard.

"Maynard draws on his years in the Boston area to paint the scene for us in great detail . . . He injects fascinating historical facts in the book, his characters are memorable and sympathetic and the dialogue flows easily. His account of being in a protest mob facing angry cops is gripping, and his description of an LSD trip is the most transporting we’ve read anywhere. The tale builds to an unpredictable ending" - Ted Taylor, Eugene Weekly.

"[Maynard] captures both the essence of that one colorfully wild historical moment - the late 1960s - and the timeless yearning for meaning. . . . In the end, [this] is a romance as tender as any you’ll read" - Ana Maria Spagna, author of Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus: A Daughter’s Civil Rights Journey, winner of the 2009 River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

"Everything Must Go" and Jerry Garcia's environmental message

Taken in New Haven, CT. Jerry Garcia WPLR Show                                  Image via WikipediaHi dudes,

Here's a posting from a really connected guy. It's related to a new comedy movie called "Everything Must Go". Video clips of the movie are available at the following URL: Check it out - if you're interested in the environment, hippie culture and having fun, you've got to see this.

Below, there is a post about Jerry Garcia and his dedication to environmental issues. Please leave comments - I'd love to see what you think!

11-28-10 LEN'S BLOG -- First posting: December 1, 2010

I became friends with Garcia in 1980 and 1981 during the production and especially the editing of "Dead Ahead," the classic concert film shot at Radio City in New York.

He sent me a board tape in the summer of '84, and this is when I first heard the Weir-Barlow tune "Throwing Stones." What a great and original song, and how amazing was it that a big popular band like the Dead would take on such a serious subject as the destruction of the environment.

A live version of the song was included in the next full-length video I produced for the Dead, which came out in 1987 and was called "So Far." A little-known factoid: Garcia actually co-directed "So Far" with me.

"So Far" went on to become the best-selling concert video of 1988 and it won the American Film Institute's award for best full-length music film of that year.

Also in 1988, Grateful Dead decided to give a benefit concert at Madison Square Garden in NYC to help save the rainforest. They asked me to create visuals that would directly address rainforest destruction, to show on the live reinforcement screens hanging above the stage while they played drums/space/Throwing Stones.

While prepping for that, I met Randy Hayes of Rainforest Action Network and other egg-heads and activists who would be the beneficiaries of the concert, and this is how I first learned about climate change in a serious way. It blew my mind.

Members of the Dead gave a press conference at the U.N. to announce the Benefit and to talk about the trouble ahead and raise awareness of ecological issues.

Ever since then, I have been very focused on the issue of climate change, and I've been able to stay involved through my work with a private family foundation that was started by my father-in-law in the 1990's.

Meanwhile, I had been dreaming about making my own "story" film since I can remember--I went to NYU film school--and when I finally had the time and the means to do it, it was clear to me that my film should be about climate change. But far from being serious, the movie is darkly comic and the story is entertaining because I felt that would be the best way to get the message across. The film is called "Everything Must Go."

Garcia's insightful statement at the U.N. press conference never left my mind over all those years--he was a very smart guy, on top of all his other accomplishments. Of all the problems we face, climate change is such a huge and unknowable threat that it must be seen as a priority. If the earth becomes unlivable for us humans, we certainly can't work on any of our other problems.

I hope you enjoy the film, and I'd love to hear your comments.

Watch this space for further journal entries in the future, and I hope to be adding new and interesting clips from my archive on a regular basis.

--Len Dell'Amico, November 23rd, 2010
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