Posts Tagged 'beatles'

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!

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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!

Here Comes the Sun

I don’t hide the fact that I am a Democrat and that I supported Barack Obama from the moment he was the front runner in the Democratic primaries. There are many reasons why I am a Democrat and I am not going to bore anyone with that list here. I do, however, want to make note of a few things (and perhaps some of my reasons for being a Democrat will show through).

First I want to say that although in the end I was very much against everything that Bush said and did, I was not totally in that camp. Clearly when he was running against Al Gore back in 2000 I supported Gore, however, I had more of a wait and see policy. It was very obvious that Bush was and still is a major supporter of Israel and for that I will be forever thankful. I think that due to Bush our Country will, for the foreseeable future, be a very pro Israel country. It was not until the Iraq war that I became totally dissatisfied with the Bush administration. I did give him the benefit of the doubt at first, and I really wish that the Republican right would extend the same courtesy to Obama. Everything I read from the right has been so anti Obama it actually pains me to read it at times.

If you look at Rush Limbaugh’s web site, the top headlines read “Obama Executive Orders put Politics over National Security” and “I want Obama’s Policies to Fail”. And even worse “Greg Craig, Our 44th President.” Obama has spent 2 full working days in office and this is what they have to say. Why can’t they wait and see what things are going to be like before they criticize. Of course I understand that someone like Limbaugh is partly entertainment and that the ultra left may have spouted off similarly when Bush won office. But truth be told, are we better off now than we were 8 years ago when Bush became President? I think the answer is an obvious no, and I would love to hear the reasons why someone would answer yes. Let’s wait and see what happens over the next year. When Bill Clinton became president, things were not in the best of shape, but after eight years in the White House, our country was doing the best it had been in many years.

So to my Republican friends, take a deep breath and wait and see.

Second, I am very excited about Obama’s first executive order, issued on his first full day in office. It spells out an ethics pledge that any new governmental appointee will need to sign. You can read it here.

And third, as to the closing of secret overseas prisons and Guantanamo Bay I am also happy about this. Obama said this afternoon “Our ideals give us the strength and moral high ground” to combat terrorism. Where I hear this I am reminded about what Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1775 “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

So in honor of the first days of the Obama administration….

Song of the day

When talking about music and songs, a frequent question is what is your favorite song? For many people this is a very simple question. But for those of us who truly love music it is not such a simple question. I can easily say what I don’t like. I don’t like country music. I am not a big fan of rap music and some hip hop also does not sit well on my ears. But to say what my favorite is, I would have to say it can sometimes change from day to day (perhaps that is why I write a song of the day!)

So what is my favorite today? Would you believe that the music I am listening today is due to a cell phone ringtone? I got this nifty (do people still use that word?) piece of software for my Palm Centro that allows me to take any mp3 file, cut out the part I want and save it as a ringtone. So where would I look first? You guessed it, The Beatles! I don’t have a specific favorite Beatles song, like everything else, that designation changes frequently. I had to search, though for some songs that I thought would work well as a ringtone. I came up with a few, but I am going to include two here, both amazing songs.

First, is often overused song, Birthday. This song is found on the White Album and is significant because of its wonderful return to the Beatles roots, pure rock and roll. My ringtone is the early part of the song before the words, and it just repeats.

The second is a much more complex song. The Sgt. Peppers album is an amazing album where much of the music seems to work very well together. The second to last song on the album is a reprise of the title song. But right after that we find the song A Day in the Life. This song is one of the most influential (if not the most) song in modern music. It appears on almost every “top x” list and many later musicians will credit this song as an influence. If I had to choose favorite Beatles songs, this would certainly make my top ten. The song includes two cacophonous, part-improvised, orchestral crescendos, and it ends, with what may be the most “famous” chord in music history, which is an E Major chord. My ringtone is the final crescendo and the chord.

EnjoyI

Song of the day

I am finally at the end of the list of my ten favorite songs from the White Album.  I ordered them in the order they appear on the album, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would probably be Blackbird.  The song is so beautiful and simple.  I know it is a favorite of Sir Paul as well.  So before I get to the end of the list, here is a clip of Blackbird from the Movie Across The Universe.  As covers go, this one is quite good.

OK

So once again, here is the list so far.

  1. Back in the U.S.S.R.
  2. Dear Prudence
  3. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  4. Happiness is a Warm Gun
  5. Martha My Dear
  6. Blackbird
  7. Piggies
  8. I will

The final additions:

  1. Mother Nature’s Son
    This song probably ranks in my top 10 Beatles songs.  It is another of Paul’s and it is so simple yet so beautiful.  When I hear it I just imagine myself sitting in the country singing songs with my friends and just relaxing watching and listening to nature.
  2. Revolution
    There are actually two released versions of this song.  There have been different versions of other Beatles songs that have come from rehearsals or different takes, but this is the only song that was actually released twice.  You can read about it on Wikipedia, but the first one recorded is the one that appears on the White album and was titled Revolution 1 to distinguish it from the one that was released as the B side of Hey Jude which was just called Revolution.  Personally, I like the slower version from the album.  I have both versions below.

There are precious few films or videos of the Beatles performing.  The movie Let it Be has quite a bit, and the TV documentary The Beatles Anthology has a bit more.  Beyond that there are a few scenes from televsion appearances and such.  By the time of the White ablum, The Beatles made a few promotional fils of their songs.  This is some of the earliest examples of what we would call music videos.  Below you will see the promotional film for Revolution.

Enjoy!

Mother Nature’s Son

Revolution 1

Revolution Film


Song of the day

One sad note about the White Album which thankfully is not too well known today is its use by Charles Manson.  I wont go into this more here, but you can read the Wikipedia article about it.

We are winding down to the end of this list of the best ten songs on the White Album.  So far we have:

  1. Back in the U.S.S.R.
  2. Dear Prudence
  3. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  4. Happiness is a Warm Gun
  5. Martha My Dear
  6. Blackbird

Now for today’s additions.

  1. Piggies
    This song that appeared in the song of the day a while back.  As I explained there, George wrote this song as a social commentary on class and corporate greed.  Unfortunately, Charles Manson took the song to be an anti-police song.  The song is one of my favorite (and one of the least remembered of George’s songs).  The use of the Harpsichord is wonderful.
  2. I Will
    Paul wrote a number of songs for his wife Linda.  Two of them were Beatles songs and this is the first.  It is a beautiful ballad that is a foreshadow of what was to come for Paul and his music.

Enjoy!

As an extra special addition, here is the first take of I Will from the Anthology Album.

Song of the day

We interrupt One Hit Wonder Wednesday to continue the top ten songs from The Beatles White Album.  The list so far:

1.  Back in the U.S.S.R.
2.  Dear Prudence
3.  While My Guitar Gently Weeps
4.  Happiness is a Warm Gun

And today’s additions:

5.  Martha My Dear
I just like this song.  It was written by Paul, perhaps about Jane Asher (a longtime love interest of Paul’s) It has a great piano opening which appears throughout the song and a brass band as backup.

6.  Blackbird
Blackbird, also by Paul McCartney is probably my favorite song on the album.  Nuff said!

Enjoy!


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