Category: youtube

George Harrison’s demo for Ringo’s 1971 hit “I…

George Harrison’s demo for Ringo’s 1971 hit “It Don’t Come Easy”

Ringo co-wrote the song with George, who also produced this, added background vocals, and played bass and the wonderful guitar that’s so integral to this song’s success.

It’s quite ragged, but this version is AWESOME. There are no horns, and with fewer layers of overdubs, you can really hear backup vocals. George’s guitar is also truly sweet in this version – easily the equal of anything he played on All Things Must Pass. There’s even a bonus “Hare Krishna” chant in the middle!

Play this NOW, thank me later.

Dave Mason & Cass Elliot, “Something to Ma…

Dave Mason & Cass Elliot, “Something to Make You Happy” (1971)

Something to make YOU happy! One of the most incandescent singles of 1971, featuring Traffic’s Dave Mason and The Mamas and The Papas’ Cass Elliot embarking on an all-too-brief duo excursion.

A rare co-writing credit for Cass adds another touch of magic to this career highlight for her, its soaring chorus highlighting the ways that she and Dave Mason brought the very best out of each other in this hidden gem from 1971. 

They’d been introduced by mutual friend Gram Parsons soon after Dave’s arrival in LA. As she had for so many other artists before (including another recently solo Englishman, Graham Nash), Cass took Dave under her wing, and it didn’t take long for them to realize that they sounded amazing together. As Cass told Rolling Stone, “I sing better with David because he’s so good. You want to do better. I’m singing notes I never sang with The Mamas & the Papas.” 

Released in March 1971, Dave Mason & Cass Elliot had in fact begun as a Dave solo album, his second after leaving Traffic (to whom he’d return for a brief summer 1971 tour and live album). 

He’d written all the songs and recorded all the lead vocals up to the point that Cass came on, but it was immediately obvious that they had something special together, so Dave reshaped the album more collaboratively from there: adding a couple of songs Cass wrote (indeed, the last time in her career she’d record her own compositions), more lead vocals, lots of harmonies on Dave’s earlier tracks, and joint billing as both performer and producer. 

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They played a few shows together (Santa Monica Civic and Fillmore East, where the photo above was taken by Amalie R. Rothschild) as well as a couple of TV appearances (The Andy Williams Show, The Tonight Show), and while they remained close and spoke about recording a proper collaboration someday, Cass’ untimely passing came first.

In any case, 100% magic for fans of both artists, and one of 1971′s hidden gems.

George Harrison and Bob Dylan rehearsing “If N…

George Harrison and Bob Dylan rehearsing “If Not For You” before the Sunday afternoon show of the Concerts for Bangladesh, Sunday, August 1, 1971. It’s messy, but adorable.

Like The Beatles, Bob Dylan had quit touring in 1966. Unlike The Beatles, and apart from  a 1969 TV performance with Johnny Cash, and an appearance with The Band at the Isle of Wight, Bob had all but disappeared. While he was generally up for lending a hand to George’s effort, he wasn’t sure what to sing, and was even less sure if he was going to be able to pull himself together to even show up at the appointed hour. When George introduced him that afternoon, he was by no means certain that Bob would actually walk out. 

While they were working out which songs to perform together, “If Not For You” was an obvious place to start. A lovely tune that Bob introduced on New Morning almost exactly a year earlier (August 12, 1970), George covered it on his own album All Things Must Pass, which was the #1 album in the US for the first 7 weeks of 1971, and for the months of February and March 1971 in the UK

Neither Bob nor George released “If Not For You” as a single, but in May 1971, it was the debut single for 22 year old Olivia Newton-John. Based on George’s arrangement rather than Bob’s, it reached #7 in the UK, and in the US, #25 on the Billboard Hot 200, and eight weeks straight at #1 on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart! 

(Yes, I bought it. Yes, I still love it. Yes, I will post it later.)

Our boys passed on performing this for the big show(s), but this rehearsal is an enduring reminder that beyond being two of the all-time giants of popular music, and rock gods, they were also both just so incredibly fucking adorable.

The remarkably unremarkable story behind one o…

The remarkably unremarkable story behind one of the most remarkable flourishes in pop music history…

…in which music professor David Mason plays a solo so perfect that even his peers didn’t believe he actually did it.

The Beatles were magpies, always looking for sounds they haven’t heard on pop records before, never moreso than in 1966 and 1967. Paul heard the solo played by baroque trumpet (an octave higher than typical ones) in Bach’s 2nd Brandenburg Concerto on television one evening, and asked George Martin to track the fellow down and get him to the studio as soon as possible.

David Mason was his name, and he arrived at Abbey Road on the evening of January 17, 1967. As the band walked into the session, David asked, “So, just come from a film set, have you?”, to which John replied, “No, we dress like this all the time.”

(David later playfully crossed John again when he expressed dismay that “Penny Lane” was being relegated to a b-side. “I think it’s better than ‘Strawberry Fields’, said David, standing next to John at the time. “Thanks, mate. *I* wrote that one!” As it turned out, “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields” were in fact released as a double-A side single, peaking at #2 on the UK’s official charts, although Melody Maker had it at #1 for 3 weeks, and listed “Penny Lane” rather than “Strawberry Fields Forever” as the band’s 13th #1. The same was true in the US, and indeed, it was only “Penny Lane” that was included on The Beatles’ 2000 anthology 1.) 

I’ll let you hear the rest of the story from David himself, noting his reply to the interviewer’s question, “How does it feel when you hear that solo today?” David answers, “Not to be immodest, but some people tell me it makes the song – and I think it does!” No immodesty there, Professor Mason. It does.

Along the way, David hit a high “E” note that had previously been thought impossible – hence his musicologist expert friends’ mistaken certainty that David had played a standard trumpet, with the tape sped up on playback to raise its pitch (a trick actually employed by George Martin for his own piano solo on “In My Life”, making it sound more like a harpsichord). Needless to say, that high “E” has since become expected from every piccolo trumpet player to this very day. 

David recorded twice more with The Beatles, on “All You Need Is Love” and “Magical Mystery Tour.”

And a quick note about the promo video for the song, directed by Peter Goldman. For all that it’s quite simple visually – the lads walking through the East End and Chelsea, with a sequence shot in a park in Sevenoaks, roughly 20 miles southeast of London – it was a significant departure from anything that had come before. No real narrative, no shots of them playing, only a montage of images that are barely related on any rational level, but creating an impressionistic unity that underscores the song’s emotional context. 

This is of course what music videos became more as the rule rather than the exception going forward, leading this clip (and the related clip for “Strawberry Fields”, also directed by Goldman) to be identified by the Smithsonian Institution as among the most important of the era.

George Harrison, “Here Comes the Sun”, August …

George Harrison, “Here Comes the Sun”, August 1, 1971. From the Concert for Bangladesh of course. You can see at the beginning how nervous George was! Not only his first solo performance, his first concert appearance at all since 1966, featuring his first performances of his own compositions ever – but here, also for the first time on stage, vulnerable and stripped down to an acoustic guitar. George’s little smile as the audience reaches out to him is priceless.

His duet partner, Badfinger’s Pete Ham, later revealed that they hadn’t even rehearsed! “George just wanted to keep it simple,” he said. After George told him the chord changes, Pete ducked into his hotel room to listen to the version on Abbey Road a couple of times, and that’s all there was time for! 

The result: magic. And beauty and joy and, yes, sun, sun, sun! Here it comes!

(Mi pequeña, está toda bien!)

(Note that by the time you come across this post, the video may have been taken down. It happens. Here’s the YouTube search for you to find another version. Worth the extra clicks!)

George Harrison and Bob Dylan rehearsing “If N…

George Harrison and Bob Dylan rehearsing “If Not For You” before the Sunday afternoon show of the Concerts for Bangladesh, Sunday, August 1, 1971. It’s messy, but adorable.

Like The Beatles, Bob Dylan had quit touring in 1966. Unlike The Beatles, and apart from  a 1969 TV performance with Johnny Cash, and an appearance with The Band at the Isle of Wight, Bob had all but disappeared. While he was generally up for lending a hand to George’s effort, he was by no means sure what to sing, and was even less sure if he was going to be able to pull himself together to even show up at the appointed hour. When George introduced him that afternoon, he was by no means certain that Bob would actually walk out. 

While they were working out which songs to perform together, “If Not For You” was an obvious place to start. A lovely tune that Bob introduced on New Morning almost exactly a year earlier (August 12, 1970), George covered it on his own album All Things Must Pass, which was the #1 album in the US for the first 7 weeks of 1971, and for the months of February and March 1971 in the UK

Neither Bob nor George released “If Not For You” as a single, but in May 1971, it was the debut single for 22 year old Olivia Newton-John. Based on George’s arrangement rather than Bob’s, it reached #7 in the UK, and in the US, #25 on the Billboard Hot 200, and eight weeks straight at #1 on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart! 

(Yes, I bought it. Yes, I still love it. Yes, I will post it later.)

Our boys passed on performing this for the big show(s), but this rehearsal is an enduring reminder that beyond being two of the all-time giants of popular music, and rock gods, they were also both just so incredibly fucking adorable.

George Harrison, “Here Comes the Sun”, August …

George Harrison, “Here Comes the Sun”, August 1, 1971. From the Concert for Bangladesh of course. You can see at the beginning how nervous George was. Not only his first solo performance, his first concert appearance at all since 1966, featuring his first performances of his own compositions ever – but here, also for the first time on stage, vulnerable and stripped down to an acoustic guitar. George’s little smile as the audience reaches out to him is priceless.

His duet partner, Badfinger’s Pete Ham, later revealed that they hadn’t even rehearsed! “George just wanted to keep it simple,” he said. After George told him the chord changes, Pete ducked into his hotel room to listen to the version on Abbey Road a couple of times, and that’s all there was time for! 

The result: magic. And beauty and joy and, yes, sun, sun, sun! Here it comes!

(Mi pequeña, está toda bien!)

(Note that by the time you come across this post, the video may have been taken down. It happens. Here’s the YouTube search for you to find another version. Worth the extra clicks!)

Richie Havens – Here Comes The Sun (1971) The …

Richie Havens – Here Comes The Sun (1971)

The first time that most people had ever seen or heard Richie
Havens wasn’t at Woodstock. It was when they saw Woodstock the movie.
That’s the thing about Woodstock.
Only a relative handful of people knew much about what happened there – and there
was nothing resembling a consensus on even the basics – until long after the
fact. 

So not in 1969. Not even necessarily 1970. For a lot of people, it wasn’t
even until well into 1971, when Woodstock was awarded the Best Documentary
Oscar in April and the film was subsequently re-released into theaters with a much, much
higher profile than before.

As a result, quite a few of the performers featured in the
film had their chart peaks and released their best-selling albums not in 1969,
not in 1970, but in 1971.
These included performers as varied as Joan Baez, The
Who, and Melanie, among others – like Richie Havens.

Richie been kicking around Greenwich Village since the 50s, when Beatnik poets were still the biggest draws in the local clubs. He wasn’t the first act
scheduled to appear at Woodstock. He was simply the only one there at all by the time the crowds were
starting to get restless, and promoters were already afraid that the whole thing
was about to get away from them.

The legend is that he played the better part of three hours
as staff kept pushing him back on stage to keep the crowd occupied, and
that having sung every song he knew (including “Handsome Johnny”, already on
its way to becoming a standard), he was left to make something up on the spot,
riffing on “Freedom” over the base of “Motherless Child”.

 While the reality is somewhat less dramatic than the legend,
what we saw in the film was jaw-dropping. It translated into chart success in 1971,
with by far his highest charting album, Alarm Clock (peaking at #29; his next album
peaked at just #55, with no others after that breaking into the Top 100), and the
one and only charting single of his long and distinguished career in the spring
of 1971, a glorious cover of
“Here Comes The Sun”.

Richie’s version is so different from The Beatles that there’s
really no point in arguing which is better. They barely seem like even the same song, but I’m glad we live in a world where we have both. I think it’s also safe to say that even if we’d never had The
Beatles version, Richie’s version would have been a hit on its own.
He packed an incredible amount of music into
his 72 years, and this one is one of the true gems.

This live version has an even shaggier charm than the
version on Alarm Clock, and if Woodstock the movie taught us anything, it’s that
the best part of any Richie Havens performance isn’t his soothingly ragged
voice, or the relentless innovation and drive of his open-chord strumming, but
the pleasure of watching him play and sing.

“Here Comes The Sun” spent 14 weeks on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart,
peaking at #16 on May 21, 1971, just about a month after Woodstock won its
Oscar. Even more than that one, this is the version you need to hear…and see.

Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, featuring Du…

Delaney & Bonnie and Friends, featuring Duane Allman, July 22, 1971.

This is from a lovely radio set at New York’s A&R studios, highly informal, laid alllll the way back, in keeping with Delaney & Bonnie’s typical approach of the time. Delightful acoustic slide work from Brother Duane, with Bonnie Bramlett’s voice soaring like an angel above it all on this Robert Johnson standard first recorded in 1936.

“Gimme Some Truth”, Imagine, 1971

“Gimme Some Truth”, Imagine, 1971

John: Side Two starts with “Give Me Some Truth” which is one I started a year or two back – probably in India. We wrote a lot there. It was an old lick that I had around a long time but I again changed the lyrics. 

I like the track because it sounds good but it didn’t get much attention, so it’s a personal track that I like the sound of. The guitars are good and the voice sounds nice and, you know, and it says whatever it says. George does a sharp solo with his steel finger (he’s not too proud of it – but I like it). 

It’s about politicians, newspaper men and all the hypocrites of the world. And male chauvinists, it’s about them too. I think that music reflects the state that the society is in. There is nothing to hide.  

I think our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. And I think that’s what I sussed when I was 16 and 12, way down the line. But I expressed it differently all through my life. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends…..I think they’re all insane but I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it. 

(more here)