Vintage video for “Heart Of The Country,” off the 1971 album Ram, which gets the deluxe remastered treatment this year. The album will be released tomorrow in a number of different formats.
Archive for Paul McCartney
The last time I watched a Grammy Awards telecast all the way through was when John Denver was the host, and the Eurythmics were the hottest band on the planet (that would be 1982, punk). Until last night – I watched from beginning to end, and learned a great deal in the process.
If you were an alien who just dropped in from another planet and watched the Grammy Awards to see what music is all about, the first thing you would gather is that rock and roll is best performed by old guys. The old guys who bookended the show – Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney – peaked long ago as master songwriters but they’re still both dynamite live performers.
Even though Springsteen’s new song “We Take Care Of Our Own” sounds like about 10 other Springsteen tunes, his rockin’ performance managed to stoke a little excitement for the rest of the telecast to come (and, Bruce hopes, his new album which conveniently comes out soon).
And you can’t go wrong with McCartney doing a Beatles classic; or classics, in the form of “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End” from the Beatles’ Abbey Road album. Sir Paul’s voice has lost a lot of its old bite and he is a clever performer who knows how to manage his limitations.
Which he did by playing the tune backed by his crack touring band (and the awesome drummer Abe Laboriel Jr.) and, next, by turning “The End” into a superstar guitar duel featuring McCartney, his band’s guitarists Rusty Anderson and Brian Ray, as well as guests Springsteen, Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh. Everyone acquitted themselves well except for maybe Springsteen, who looked like he ran out of gas after his first solo. Maybe next time invite Glen Campbell to play.
Another thing I learned is that the Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary reunion tour may be entertaining mainly for singer Mike Love’s crazy antics. Probably the most clueless man in rock, Love is the musical equivalent of actor Nicolas Cage – a true head case. The only thing older than that merch-table ball cap was Al Jardine’s comb-over … but the Beach Boys actually sounded all right. Probably that’s because Brian Wilson’s backing band is also a crack unit and all the Boys had to do was sing. (Perhaps the lesson here is if you’re an older rocker get yourself a smokin’ band – like Bruce, Paul and Brian.)
I also learned that rhythm and blues has changed a little. Where R&B used to mean Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and Smokey Robinson, it now means Chris Brown. Don’t know if the guy can actually sing – he didn’t last night – but he does a mean backflip. And I hear he has a left hook that would do Ike Turner proud. Otis did win an award though, as the title of a rap song.
One more thing I learned is that true talent will always save the day. Thanks, Adele. You deserve every award you get, if only for exposing the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and especially Nicki Minaj as the frauds they are.
So the big lesson we can carry away from Grammy Awards 2012 is that you don’t “get” music by watching stupid TV shows. You need to listen – with your ears, with your brain and with your heart. And only then will you find the music. I think Dave Grohl said that.
As a bonus we’ve added the best moment from last night’s Grammy telecast: a TV commercial from Chipotle that features a neat little story and cool music (Willie Nelson singing Coldplay’s “The Scientist”). Like Chrysler’s Super Bowl ad with Clint Eastwood, this will prove to be the most memorable moment from an otherwise overhyped and bloated affair.
YouTube: “Back To The Start” Chipotle ad
Paul McCartney will peform an intimate concert from Capitol Studios in Hollywood on Thursday, Feb. 9. You can stream it for free on iTunes – it’s to help promote his new album Kisses On The Bottom, a collection of love songs that comes out today.
The concert begins at 10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST here. From the news release: Kisses On The Bottom is a collection of standards Paul grew up listening to in his childhood, including two new McCartney compositions “My Valentine” and “Only Our Hearts.” With the help of Grammy Award-winning producer Tommy LiPuma and Diana Krall and her band— as well as guest appearances from Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder, Paul’s new album is a deeply personal journey through classic American compositions.
The CD will be available at a Starbucks near you – or from iTunes, which will carry a specially mastered (for iTunes) version. You probably already know if this is for you – but if not, here’s a video taste:
Here’s hoping you had a fine 2011 … and that you will experience a great 2012. See you in the new year.
MP3: “Queer For The New Year” by Blowfly (Not Safe For Work!)
YouTube: “New Year’s Day” by U2
We must have been in a hurry to put up our last post on this subject because we missed a whole bunch of holiday stinkers. Here is the rest of our list of the best of the worst Christmas songs of all-time:
“Last Christmas” by Wham
Released in 1984, shortly after we were introduced to George Michael and his white short shorts.
“The Chipmunk Song” by Alvin and the Chipmunks
I thought it was cute in sixth grade, but I heard it the other day and it was a long 2:23.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside” by GLEE Cast
Like the great Kevin Dorsey used to say on 101 KLOL in Houston…”I just don’t know anymore.”
“Wonderful Christmastime” by Paul McCartney
I love Paul McCartney, but this song sounds like he got a new Casio for Christmas and had a lot of time to kill.
“Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley
Elvis sounds fine and the song is not horrible, but the background singers kill it.
“Dominick the Donkey”
Anyone have Tony Soprano’s number? Maybe he can whack the stronzo who wrote this scoreggia.
“Step Into Christmas” by Elton John
This one never did anything for me. Sounds like a throwaway that was turned into a Christmas tune.
“Toyland” by Doris Day
Heard this for the first time this morning and it will be the last.
“The 12 Days of Christmas” by The Sinatra Family
I can picture rich people sitting around the tree singing this version as the help serves them another cup of egg nog.
By now everyone should be ready for this big storm. Just remember – when the wind’s blowin’ stay indoors, and try to find high ground when the floodwaters come. These big storms are gifts from Mother Nature, who doesn’t give a shit if you live in New York City or Podunk, Texas.
She couldn’t care less if you have someplace to be or something to do, and if you think you are going to show Mother Nature how tough you are then she may just want to show you back. That’s usually when we read about you in the paper – in the past tense.
Be smart, stay high and keep dry. Do that and you’ll stay safe. Here are some tunes to help you ride out the storm.
Mike’s Weather Page (This excellent page is one of the best I’ve seen – it’s a virtual hurricane command center)
Remind me never to go back to New York City in the dead of summer: walking along the city’s sidewalks as the sun sizzled temperatures to near 97 was just as hellish as any August day in our hometown of Houston. But it wasn’t just the heat that reminded us of Texas – it seemed everywhere you turned, there was music in the big city.
The summertime is perfect for live music in New York, and there are plenty of “canned” live music events to satisfy any tourist, including but not limited to the Friday-morning TV-ready “concerts” staged for the network morning news shows. We didn’t do those anyway – we had our hands full with all the other things going on.
New York City is of course a cradle of rock and roll history. You can go to about 100 places that have some significance in music history, from the Brill Building to the Iridium Club (where Les Paul used to play live on a weekly basis) to the Strawberry Fields-John Lennon memorial in Central Park (along with the adjacent Dakota apartment building).
We got the tourist stuff out of the way first, heading to the big Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square which is an attraction not for its food but for its rich store of rock memorabilia. No shortage of Beatles stuff here – from the actual doors from the Abbey Road studios, to early Beatles matching stage costumes, to beautiful album art covers autographed by all four Beatles, it’s a Fab Four mother lode.
We were lucky enough to sit right under a Bruce Springsteen exhibit with a Boss guitar, a Little Steven guitar and a Clarence Clemons saxophone. We paid tribute once more to the Big Man – a great, great artist. Did you know that the Hard Rock is located in what used to be NYC’s Paramount Theatre, where rock and roll pioneer Alan Freed staged some of his seminal shows back in the day? It’s also the place where Elvis’ first movie Love Me Tender had its world premiere in 1956.
We also walked into Greenwich Village, and in Washington Square park there were at least seven bands playing for tips along the sidewalks. Soon we were on Bleeker headed for the former location of CBGBs on Bowery St. The seminal punk club closed in 2006, and virtually overnight the owners uprooted just about anything that wasn’t nailed down for a possible rebirth of the club someplace else.
I’d never been in the neighborhood before, it didn’t seem the kind of place that hordes of mohawked and safety-pin-pierced punks would frequent, but I understand many things have changed since 1977. Right now the old CBGBs is an upscale fashion boutique ($800 for a leather jacket, and not a cool one at that!) and pretty much the only concession to history are some patches of wall that still sport hundreds of stickers and fliers from the punk daze, protected under a clear glass window.
Pretty much everywhere you turn in Greenwich Village, you see written on the subway walls and tenement halls two words of graffiti: “Lou Reed.” In one three-block stroll on the way to the former CBGBs, I think I must have seen that name scrawled at least 100 times. I surmised that the graffiti had been created by Lou himself, after some sort of guerilla-marketing brainstorm (or a six pack). No matter – Lou Reed is perhaps the No. 1 rocker that comes to mind when I think of New York City.
Lou is also the unofficial King of Coney Island (King Neptune), and the next day we found ourselves on the D train headed for Brooklyn and Coney Island. There was a free concert on Coney Island the night before, with San Antonio’s Girl In A Coma and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts headlining, but nobody wanted to ride the subway back late at night. So we arrived on the Boardwalk right about high noon, and there were smells of suntan lotion, hot dogs and cologne everywhere. I looked around for Lou, but no luck; I did, however, catch a few bars of “Coney Island Baby” emanating from Cha-Cha’s Bar & Cafe.
Later that night, back in Manhattan, we cleaned up and attended “Spider Man: Turn Off The Dark” on Broadway. Although Bono and the Edge were rumored to be in town for an appearance on David Letterman, they were no-shows at the play. We particularly enjoyed one scene, where Peter Parker and Mary Jane dance in a club to U2’s “Vertigo.” It is the best song in the show.
Then, finally, the next night we headed for the Bronx to see some guy sing Beatles songs in Yankee Stadium. You can read all about that below; even the part about the guest walk-on by Billy Joel, who Paul McCartney called “a friend of New York.” I would have to agree with that – mostly. Nobody asked me, but if you want Mr. Rock and Roll New York, go down to Greenwich Village and read the graffiti.
New York City is arguably the world’s biggest stage for any music artist, and when a legend like Paul McCartney wants to kick off a tour in the Big Apple he needs an outta-site venue, the best of the best. So McCartney took over brand-new Yankee Stadium for a two-night stand over the weekend and launched his “On The Run” tour, which right now has scheduled stops in only four more U.S. cities.
We caught Sir Paul’s second night in NYC, and the 69-year-old former Beatle turned in a musical marathon performance that would make Bruce Springsteen proud. McCartney played Beatles classics, Wings favorites and some choice selections from his recent past, doing about 36 songs during a three-hour show. Opening with “Magical Mystery Tour,” McCartney was in fine voice and only three songs in, he rekindled Beatlemania with a rousing version of “All My Loving,” from 1963.
Jesus, are these songs really about a half century old? That didn’t stop the audience – including an awful lot of kids born after Wings, not to mention the Beatles – from singing along. McCartney pulled out “The Night Before,” from Help!, which he explained he hasn’t performed live until this tour.
“Paperback Writer” rocked, and even the Wings warhorse “Let Me Roll It” spiraled into a short instrumental cover of “Foxey Lady,” which McCartney dedicated to Jimi Hendrix.
Sir Paul also didn’t forget to remember his fallen bandmates, following a sublime “Eleanor Rigby” with George Harrison’s “Something,” which got one of the biggest ovations of the night. McCartney also remembered his dear friend John Lennon with “Here Today” and a rousing “A Day In The Life,” morphing into “Give Peace A Chance.”
If there was a surprise for the night, to me it was the five songs from the Beatles’ White Album: “Back In The U.S.S.R.,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “I Will,” “Helter Skelter” and “Blackbird,” which McCartney explained was written in response to the U.S. civil rights movement during the 1960s. He also did five more from another album, Band On The Run: the title song, “Let Me Roll It,” “Jet,” “Mrs. Vanderbilt” and “Nineteen Hundred Eighty Four.”
The encore guest shot by Billy Joel on “I Saw Her Standing There” was a surprise only if you believed the beer-line rumors of appearances by Elton John, Bono and the Edge or even Bruce Springsteen. Wishful thinking, but McCartney didn’t need any help.
Armed with easily the greatest catalog in the history of rock, McCartney could have sleepwalked through this show and still given everyone their money’s worth. But he came out rocking, never leaving the stage even while his younger bandmates took a few breaks, playing a dizzying variety of instruments and hitting pretty much every note like it was 1969 all over again. In fact, I thought he was in much better voice than he exhibited on the 2009 live CD/DVD Good Evening New York City – simply amazing.
By the time the full moon started to peek over the upper bleachers of Yankee Stadium, McCartney’s show was nearing its third hour with the standards “Let It Be,” “Hey Jude,” “Get Back” and the fireworks exploding around “Live And Let Die.”
With the final song lyrics “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make” still echoing in our ears, we hit the subway to go from the Bronx back to Manhattan. And there in the Herald Square subway station, playing their hearts out after midnight, was a live band doing “I Want To Hold Your Hand.” A nice end to a great night of rock and roll.
YouTube: “Maybe I’m Amazed” from Yankee Stadium
YouTube: “I Saw Her Standing There” with Billy Joel
About two weeks ago, Paul McCartney started selling tickets for his “On The Run” summer/fall tour, which kicks off in July at Yankee Stadium in New York City. Tickets for the first show sold out in about 15 minutes, after a second show was announced it took about an hour to reach a sellout.
Naturally, ticket reseller websites like StubHub just as quickly filled up with McCartney tickets, priced in some cases at double the face value. Of about 100,000 tickets available for the two shows, no doubt most of ‘em were snapped up by scalpers. Don’t get me started about scalping – these days it’s more prevalent than ever and despite the occasional half-assed prosecution for show, the everyday music fan continues to take it in the shorts.
Take, for instance, a recent ruling in New Jersey on three guys who netted $25 million by scalping concert tickets. Despite the fact that the men pleaded guilty to using a sophisticated computer program to take millions of tickets out of the hands of legitimate buyers, a federal judge gave them probation, saying their actions were simply “e-commerce.”
So, basically, keeping honest ticket buyers away from the mother lode of tickets until scalpers have had their pick of the litter is legal. This used to be called organized crime, now it’s “e-commerce.”
And don’t start with the old argument: it’s only supply and demand. Take the scalpers out of the picture and what sort of demand do you have? Certainly not the type of demand that sells out stadium shows in a matter of minutes. The thousands of legal ticket brokers and amateur scalpers who turn up for every ticket sale create a false demand that they hope to capitalize on by selling marked-up tickets.
Websites like Craigslist, eBay and StubHub have created even more scalpers. Recently the Austin City Limits music festival sold out its entire supply of three-day passes and one-day tickets and even the event’s official Facebook site couldn’t escape the stink of scalpers – just an hour after sellouts were announced, these douchebags brazenly posted “tickets for sale” comments for those left out in the cold. Naturally they were way over face value.
Of course, ticket sellers as well as promoters and artists won’t really do anything because all this means they are guaranteed sellouts. They pocket their money and look the other way. Meanwhile, if the average fan can manage to score a ticket to a popular show, it’s by sheer luck.
The ACL Festival also staged a photo contest on Facebook, offering a grand prize of two VIP tickets (face value about $850 apiece) and some guy tried to win by somehow generating hundreds of phony Facebook friends who “liked” his entry. When this scammer was announced as the winner, fans flooded the Facebook site with howls of protest until ACL promoters realized their mistake and awarded the prize to someone else. Had this con artist won the two tickets, you know they would have wound up on eBay.
That goes to show we’re not totally powerless: we can all make a resolution to stop scalpers by just not buying from them. If you can’t get a ticket at face value from the original seller, just pass on seeing your favorite artist or attending the festival of the moment. Keep your money in your pocket – that’s the only way they will get the message.
Paul McCartney recruited award-winning surf filmmaker Jack McCoy to create a music video for his previously unreleased track “Blue Sway.” Written nearly 20 years ago, “Blue Sway” is available for the first time on the bonus audio disc of the special edition of McCartney II, which was released June 14. The music video created by McCoy is also featured on the bonus DVD included in the set, and is a perfect summer mood piece.