Posts Tagged 'Music'

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!


Life on Mars

My friend wrekehavoc has been doing a whole month of blog posts on great 70s music. It’s been a lot of fun reading her posts and I definitely recommend a look.

Now that one of my favorite shows, Life On Mars, is back I get to hear some great 70s music. One of the great things is that they strive to find music that would have been on the radio. Back in the 70s (unlike today) you also got to hear more obscure songs as well as the big hits.

There were four songs on last night’s episode, starting with the big hit No Time from The Guess Who. The Guess Who is a very interesting band. They are a Canadian group and the first Canadian group to get into the top 5 on the US charts (including their number one hit a few months later, American Woman). The Guess Who was a very typical band of the early 70s and their music is like much of the early 70s rock music that we all know and love. I think the most interesting thing about the band is that the name may have been an attempt to keep the names of the band secret and make people think that it was a group of very well known singers and help sell the records.

The second song was Legs by Darondo (somewhat obscure song)

Third was Whisky in the Jar by Thin Lizzy. This Irish folk song from the 17th Century was given a nice rock spin by this Irish heavy Metal group.

Finally the show ended with My Maria by B.W. Stevenson. This great love ballad became a bit hit for Country singer Stevenson in 1973.


New Year, More Blog

It’s hard to believe it is 2009. Some days I wake up and I can remember the mid 80s like it was yesterday. When people tell you that time moves so fast, they are certainly telling the truth. It’s been a while since I have written in my blog and one of my two real New Year’s resolutions is to get back to writing regularly. I’ll come to the other in a moment. I want to partially go back to my original plan for this blog which was to write about my family and I am going to do that. I also want to continue writing about things that I think about and current events. So as much as I loved writing a song of the day for every day, I am going to give that a rest. From time to time I may have a song of the day blog posting, but much less frequent. I have been thinking about starting to write movie reviews, so perhaps you will see some of those in the near future (or course they will mostly be reviews of movies I see on DVD and Blu-Ray as we rarely get to the movie theater).

So starting off this year of blogging I want to update on my family. I’ll start with the kids. Shayna is 3 years old and definitely going through a defiant stage. There is almost nothing that she will not try to defy us on, but unlike Avi, she does respond to the consequences of her actions, and I am confident that we will see the end of this phase soon. The other major obstacle with Shayna is potty training. When the boys were training I always remember people telling us that girls were so much easier. Well, I’m here to tell you that they must have been lying. She has been a nightmare with this. One of the main reasons we moved her to a different pre-school is because at her old school she could not be in the pre-school class without being out of diapers (but we are happy with the new school). Luckily, her class is doing a major push, since most of the kids in the class are not trained. God willing she will be a more regular pottier.

Noam is cursed with being the middle child. Definite Jan Brady syndrome. We try hard to give him the attention he needs, and I think much of the time we succeed. He is a fun kid, but is still hesitant with new things. He is starting to get into the cub scouts like Avi and I think he will slowly come out of his shell as he gets more into the scouts. He is really enjoying Solomon Schechter and soon he might know more Hebrew than me!

Avi’s ADHD (and maybe bipolar disorder) are continuing to be sources of difficulty in our home. He is still going to the special school (New Vue Academy) and is doing well there. They work on a point system and the max the kids can get in a day is 20. If Avi gets 20 points today it will be his tenth in a row and that will put him on honors (I’m not entirely sure what that he will get for that) and this will be the first time he will achieve that. Avi gets home at about 2:30 from school and Noam and Shayna at about 4. It is the time between 4 and when I get home that are the most difficult. Starting next week, we will have a behavioral therapist come to our house for 5 hours each week, so that will happen on two or three days a week during that time, so God willing things will get a bit easier.

Marsha is still doing the Pampered Chef thing and is working hard to build her business this year. If anyone wants to host a Pampered Chef party or do a catalog sale, let me know. You could get a lot of free stuff for hosting and you will certainly have a lot of fun.

Which brings me to me. Many people know that I have Crohn’s Disease. I have not had any major problems from this in years, but last week we got a little scare. I was in the hospital for a number of hours on Friday with abdominal pains. They did a CT scan and it was inconclusive (although now they think it was a kidney stone). I am long overdue for a Colonoscopy and I will get that done the week after next. I went to the doctor to follow up last night and he really scared me about my weight, and that brings me to resolution number 2. I really want to get down to a more healthy weight this year. Marsha is doing weight watchers and I have done that in the past, so I signed up to do the online version. I will update my progress here from time to time

Well that is enough information to last for a while. Happy new year to everyone!

Oh, and I was watching a clip from the amazing movie Fame yesterday. It is a great song from the 80s and one of the best movie songs ever.


Song of the day

My love of The Beatles has clearly transferred to my children. Both Avi and Noam know many Beatles tunes, and they can usually identify a Beatles song even if they have not heard it before (I’m very proud). Now Shayna is also getting into the groove and she also knows Beatles songs. Of course she knows many of the words in Yellow Submarine (which was also Avi and Noam’s first Beatles song), but there is another song that all of them seem to like and often ask for.

The film Yellow Submarine has a very interesting story. In 1964 The Beatles contracted with United Artists to make three motion pictures. The first was the wonderful A Hard Day’s Night and the second was the not as wonderful HELP! Soon after they produced the British television movie Magical Mystery Tour which was very poorly received.

Not really wanting to do any more movies, but still having one movie left to make for UA, the group agreed to give their music to an animated film. Five new songs were added to a bunch of Beatles hits and the movie Yellow Submarine was born. Actors were hired to do the group’s voices and the movie was a big hit. In fact The Beatles themselves like the movie so much they added a short live scene at the very end in which they all appeared.

My kids love this movie (after having seen it at our friend’s house in Vermont) and became particularly fond of the song All Together Now which is one of the new songs.

Here are two videos with the song, one is where the song appeared in the movie and the other is the reprise at the end of the film. My kids get a real kick out of the end in that the words all together now are translated into many languages including Hebrew so they all keep an eye out for that.


Song of the day

Yesterday, October 5, marks the 46th anniversary of the release of The Beatles first single, Love Me Do. The song was written a few years earlier by Paul and later, John added the middle eight, as was common in their songwriting partnership. The record established The Beatles as a hit band, with the single moving very quickly to number 17 on the UK charts. Two years later it would reach number one in the US.

So In honor of this auspicious occasion, today’s song is Love Me Do.


Song of the day

Continuing a look at some beautiful Hebrew songs, I am including a beautiful song called Livkot Lekha, or To Cry for You. As I said many of the beautiful poetry songs of modern Israel come from the fact that Israel is a nation always at war with its neighbors and the poets write about their loss and their hopes. This particular song, however, while steeped in this style of songwriting, was written by Aviv Geffen in memory of his Nir Shpiener who was killed in a car accident in 1992 at the age of 18. Later the song was taken to be a sort of anthem for soldiers who were taken before their time. It is interesting to note that more people die from automobile accidents in Israel than anything else. The country has a fairly low rate of death by automobile accident when compared to countries like the US, but Israel has a very low death rate from accident to begin with.

Here are the English words:

I am going to cry for you, be strong up there
My longings are like doors opened at night.

Forever, my brother, I will always remember you
And at the end we will meet, you know,
I have other friends but they all fade away
Against your unbelievable light.

When we are sad we go to the sea,
that’s why the sea is salty

And it is very sad you can return equipment
But you can not return the longings.
Forever, my brother….

And like the waves we are getting smashed
Against the pier, against life.

So I am going to cry for you, be strong up there.

Forever, my brother, I will always remember you

So I’m going to cry for you,
be strong up there

I could not find a youtube with this song, so I am creating one myself with audio only.


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.


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