Archive for February, 2009

Elijah is coming to town

You better watch out…

Now that the football season is over our minds and hearts can turn to that spring pastime that we call

PASSOVER!

Believe it or not, there are only 49 shopping days until Passover! And just to be sure that you are aware, the grocery stores have begun putting in their Passover food section (at least in NJ). Of course we still have Purim coming and most people have hardly given any thought to Passover, but it’s here and they want you to buy.

Not that we have not already begun thinking about it. For those who read my blog last year, the three moms (Marsha and two friends) have already made preliminary plans to do the Seders together again, and that puts us at about 23 people each night already.

So as we begin the season of Passover purchasing I will leave you with this youtube video.

Enjoy!

Beatles Covers Part 2

First off, when talking about instrumental covers of The Beatles, I accidentally left off some great work by Booker T and the MGs. Their wonderful disco sounds really made great instrumental versions of some songs, especially Eleanor Rigby (which shows off amazing use of the wah wah pedal).

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of covers of Beatles songs, and it would be impossible to list them all in one place. I took some time over the past few days to listen to some that I have and found a few that I don’t, and came up with this list of 42 examples (in alphabetical order by artist). Some will surprise you. Some are good, some are not so good and some are great, but I think they all deserve notice. Some of the artists covered multiple Beatles songs and I only noting one or two. With a few of exceptions, I am leaving off songs from the movie Across the Universe. I have written about this movie in previous blog posts, and I find all the covers exceptional. The two that are in this list are the most exceptional of the movie. One final note, some of these covers are recorded and some were live performances. All the live performances can be found in youtube so I have included them here.

I will comment on a few at the end.

  1. Aerosmith – Come Together
  2. Bananarama – Help!
  3. Bon Jovi – Here Comes the Sun
  4. Bono – I am the Walrus
  5. James Brown – Something
  6. Jim Carrey – I am the Walrus
  7. Ray Charles – Let It Be
  8. George Michael – The Long and Winding Road
  9. Judy Collins – In My Life
  10. Phil Collins – Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End
  11. Sheryl Crow – Mother Nature’s Son
  12. Dave Matthews – In My Life
  13. John Denven – Mother Nature’s Son
  14. Electric Light Orchestra – Day Tripper
  15. John Farnham – I feel Fine
  16. Alison Kraus – I will
  17. Emmylou Harris – For No One
  18. Emmylou Harris – Here, There and Everywhere
  19. Eddie Izzard – Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite
  20. Michael Jackson – Come Together
  21. The Jam – And Your Bird Can Sing
  22. Elton John – Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
  23. Kansas (with the London Symphony Orchestra) – Eleanor Rigby
  24. Cyndi Lauper – Strawberry Fields
  25. Aimee Mann & Michael Penn – Two of Us
  26. Sarah McLachlan – Blackbird
  27. Bette Middler – In My Life
  28. Alanis Morissette – Norwegian Wood
  29. Alanis Morissette – Dear Prudence
  30. Ozzy Osborne – In My Life
  31. Tom Petty – I Need You
  32. Elvis Presley – Lady Madonna
  33. Billy Preston – Get Back
  34. Otis Redding – Day Tripper
  35. The Rolling Stones – I Wanna Be Your Man
  36. Sting – A Day in the Life
  37. Toto – While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  38. U2 – Norwegian Wood
  39. Whitesnake – Day Tripper
  40. Paul Westerberg – Nowhere Man
  41. Carol Woods – Let It Be
  42. Yes – Every Little Thing

Some of the ones I like are obvious, but some really surprise me. Like for example Bananarama’s version of Help! This British girl groups had mile success in the US in the late 80’s particularly their remake of the 70s hit Venus. They recorded Help! together with the British comics French & Saunders and Kathy Burke to raise money for comic relief. The record hit #3 on the British Charts. I cannot tell you why I like this version; perhaps it is due to the homage to the Beatles in the comic video of just my love of girl groups in general.

Bono is one of the most successful artists in history and he was recruited to be in the movie Across the Universe. In the movie he play a character called Dr. Robert, loosely based on Ken Kesey. Bono was wonderful in the role, ad-libbing much of his way through his part. He got to sing two songs for the movie, and his I Am the Walrus is amazing.

George Michael has also had an amazing career (despite being part of Wham!) I loved his appearance on the tv show Eli Stone. He performed The Long and Winding Road in concert.

Judy Collins is perhaps one of the greatest living American folk singers. Her voice is extraordinarily beautiful and she recorded a wonderful version of In My Life (forgive the cheesy video)

John Denver had, I believe, one of the best male singing voices in our times. Yes, he was basically a county singer and I loathe country music, but he crossed over to the pop charts so many times, you can easily call him a pop singer. He did a number of different Beatles tunes, but when I heard him sing Mother Nature’s Son, I decided that the song was really meant for him to sing.

Alison Krauss is also a country singer and a fiddler. She has the record for the most grammy awards for a female singer and 3rd over all. This is a beautiful version of I Will.

Cyndi Lauper has always been a favorite of mine. Her wonderful work in her early career earned her 5 hit songs from one album (a first at that time), and she has an amazing voice and makes consistently beautiful music. This video is from a tribute to John Lennon that was performed at Strawberry Fields in Central Park.

Aimee Mann & Michael Penn recorded Two of Us for the movie I am Sam. I think that this is my second favorite Beatles Cover (next to Joe Cockers With a Little Help from my Friends). The song, written by Paul, was about his time with Linda, but if you listen to the lyrics it could be about any couple (perhaps really about he and John).

Alanis Morissette is an amazing singer. She recorded Norwegian Wood which is one of my favorite Beatles songs. The song is perhaps about a Lesbian encounter that leads to nothing and perhaps it is best sung by a woman.

Billy Preston is the only artist who got billing alongside the Beatles on any recording. On the single for Get Back the artists are listed as The Beatles with Billy Preston. He also played the Hammond Organ for much of the Get Back sessions (what later became the album Let It Be). Years later he appeared in the movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the horrible movie that is loosely based on the album of the same name. He appeared as Sgt. Pepper and his song in the movie, Get Back, is perhaps the only good song in the film.

Lastly Carol Woods was cast as a gospel singer in the Movie Across the Universe to sing Let It Be. The first time I heard this version of the song (before I saw the movie) I was stunned. I mean is it possible for one artist to cover a song better than the original singers? I don’t know the answer, but this Let It Be is about the best I have ever heard. The song was made to be a gospel piece and the scene in the movie is perhaps the most moving of the film.

Well, thank you for indulging me in the fun exercise. I hope everyone enjoys!

Facebook

Facebook has become a major part of my daily routine and it has brought me in contact with many people from my USY days. It’s been a lot of fun. One interesting thing has been these facebook memes that are spreading (whether they are really memes at all is for a different discussion). They are little notes that are being passed from person to person and you have to answer a bunch of questions and then send to friends and they answer the same questions, etc.

One of the more recent of these memes that I have done was called coverama. You had to pick a half dozen of your favorite cover songs. I, of course made mine into a Beatles edition, and it got me thinking about covers of Beatles songs. Now you might remember that I have written here in the past on covers, and I have stated that in general I do not like covers, but listening to a lot of Beatles covers over the past few days has changed my opinion a little. I still don’t really like the idea of covers, but there are some good ones out there, and so for the next few days I am bringing back song of the day and focusing on Beatles Covers.

Today I want to focus on instrumental covers. There are a host of possibilities out there as many symphony orchestras have recorded Beatles songs (first and foremost the London Symphony Orchestra) but I want to feature a few from outside the symphonies.

Perhaps the best I have heard is Jeff Beck’s version of A Day in the Life. Jeff Beck was the second guitarist of the Yardbirds, replacing Eric Clapton when he left. Together with Clapton and Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck completes perhaps the greatest trio of British guitarists (all who played with the Yardbirds). Today he records almost exclusively instrumental pieces. When Sir George Martin, the famous producer of most of the Beatles work, did a “farewell” album of Beatles Songs, he recruited Beck. That album is called In My Life. This song is also prominently featured in the movie Across the Universe.

The other two recordings are also from that album by Martin. First is a beautiful rendition of Because by the amazing violinist Vanessa Mae (there is some choral in this) and the other is an arrangement by John Williams of Here Comes the Sun (he also conducted this as well).

Enjoy!

Difficulties

This is going to be a very down blog entry. I usually like to write something upbeat, but it’s my blog, and I can write what I want.

It seems to us many days that Avi is not getting any better. We have been through many different medications and therapies and so far nothing seems to work. We have been working with a state run agency for a while now called Youth Case Management, and finally, after 3 worthless case managers, we seem to have found someone who knows what they are doing and is not going to leave for a better job in a few weeks (one case manager was with us for around a month and told us after speaking with him once or twice, “oh yeah, I’m leaving next week.)

So Nicole, our case manager, came to meet with Marsha at home (the only one who did this) and got to see a full blown episode from Avi. She went with Marsha and Avi to UBHC (University Behavioral Health Center) but they wont admit Avi as he is not suicidal or homicidal (thank God). Then I spoke with her on the phone the next day and she would like to see a full Psychiatric eval of Avi (we have never really had a comprehensive one done) and a Neuro-Developmental eval as well. She is thinking that there are signs of Autism spectrum disorder in Avi and perhaps the entire diagnosis (ADHD)  is wrong. If this is the case, everything we have done for Avi over the past year has been a total mistake and we will have to start from scratch.

I guess I really hope that we did have it wrong. I don’t want to know that we wasted a year and that we have to start all over again, but if we have a better idea as to what is wrong with Avi, then we will have a better chance of helping him. So hopefully we will get these done over the next month or so and if we are lucky we will have better news then.

I guess I can end on a happy note. Noam won 2nd place in our Cub Scout pack pinewood derby (photo to come soon!)