In which I listen to Revolver Super Deluxe in a controlled environment

I’m the opposite of an audiophile. My favorite ways to listen to music are in Alex’s 2004 Honda CR-V via cassette deck or CD while driving up/down the I-5, or walking around the city with my crappy old wired earbuds that came with some long-retired iPhone. (It’s less about the medium, I suppose, and more about the setting; I just like listening to music on the move.)

A demonstration of this: the first time I listened to Volume 2 of the new Revolver Super Deluxe reissue—5 days ago—was on BART to Oakland International Airport before catching a $32 flight to Santa Ana for a quick family Disneyland trip. It is not the type of setting most people would consider optimal listening conditions for a highly-anticipated reissue. But! Now whenever I hear “Doctor Robert (Take 7)” I’ll think of riding the BART to OAK connector on a beautiful Halloween afternoon, and that is a very nice memory.

Bar none, my favorite Beatles album cover.

Beatlefans and audiophiles have been eagerly awaiting the new Revolver reissue, for many good reasons. The original stereo mixes and 2009 remasters are generally regarded as subpar, and this is the first Beatles reissue to use Peter Jackson’s AI technology to isolate and remix the instruments that were previously all recorded on one track (alchemy!!). And of course, Giles Martin is at the helm, which is the closest thing to having Big George Martin here to supervise this new era of the Beatles’ catalog.

Even though the subtleties of remixes like this are usually lost on me, this time I did want to sit down and re-listen to the stereo version of the album in a more controlled setting so I could try to appreciate what Giles and this crazy AI technology can do (and also so I could blog about it). Our home system is nothing fancy, but now we have a nice Onkyo receiver—with Bluetooth!—and two vintage Bose tall boi speakers, a good setup that is much appreciated after years of our dying Sony receiver. So after listening to Revolver Super Deluxe through both the speakers and then again with Alex’s fancy (read: non-earbud) headphones, I’ll pretend for a few minutes to know what I’m talking about.


Listening to both the mono and stereo versions of the album, the difference in the new stereo mixes is most noticeable on “Tomorrow Never Knows” (good!) and “She Said She Said” (bad). TNK is outta this world. All that sound and color swirling around, it’s such a wild ride. I can’t imagine not listening to it in stereo. With “She Said She Said”, the guitars are split left and right, which sounds cool at first, but then there’s a jarring drop in the left guitar at 0:11 which makes everything sound strange and unbalanced for the rest of the song. Redditors are tearing this one apart (my favorite comment: “Giles Martin is making me feel like I’ve never been born”) but it’s not actually that bad on speakers, just weird with headphones.

Moving on…OH HI, PAUL. Each Giles reissue makes me realize how many tasty bass licks I’d missed in the lesser versions of these songs. These mixes really bring them forward! There’s some great fills in “I’m Only Sleeping” and “Got To Get You Into My Life”, and I’m really glad the Super Deluxe version also includes new mixes of “Paperback Writer” and “Rain”, which weren’t on the album but recorded at the same time and feature some of Paul’s best bass playing. Something about his tone and articulation is just so clean…it’s truly a pleasure to listen to.

More breathing room in stereo mixes = more fun easter eggs, like the yawn in “I’m Only Sleeping” and John’s response to “she feels good” in “Good Day Sunshine”. My only (petty) complaint is that I wish the snaps at the end of “Here, There, and Everywhere” were more prominent! When I first heard those in the 2009 remaster, my world changed. TURN UP THE SNAPS, GILES.

But enough of the original album, let’s talk about the EXTRAS!!!

  • Got To Get You Into My Life (Second Version) is a revelation! I love this version more than the actual track, I think. Why use horns when you have fantastic droning guitar and those punchy chords?? I love Paul’s exposed bass fills and the little vocal interlude (“Get you in, into my life”) too!
  • Love You To (Unnumbered Rehearsal) – It’s very cool to hear George practicing sitar in this one – a little glimpse into his work ethic. And his “oww!”s at the end from undoubtedly shredded fingers. There was a time in my life when I could relate.
  • Rain (Take 5/Actual Speed)EXCUSE ME?! This has been sitting in the archives all these years?! I hardly ever think of Beatles songs in terms of individual parts (one of their greatest qualities is how effortlessly the four of them meld together into one), but holy buckets, Paul and Ringo—absolute mad lads—just dominate this take. This feels like the pop rock gods dropped into EMI Studios in 1966 and inhabited the Fabs’ bodies for just long enough to create this transcendental two and a half minutes of music.
  • Doctor Robert (Take 7) – Oohhhh OKAY, I hear you, double time bass in the second bridge. How does this not appear in the final cut (which used Take 7)? I don’t know how mixing works.
  • And Your Bird Can Sing (First Version/Take 2/Giggling) – Now we can hear John and Paul cracking up in extra hi def! Seriously though, I can hear their silent laughing in this version, and it’s so joyous. A true gift for all Beatlefans.
  • I’m Only Sleeping – The rehearsal bits with vibes sound straight out of a SMiLE session. Takes 2 and 5 make me appreciate the finished version of the song even more. The slower speed, backing vocals, and backwards guitar transform it from a somewhat straightforward rock song into a real trip.
  • Yellow Submarine (Songwriting Work Tapes 1 & 2) – Yellow Submarine is the skip track of Revolver, but the Yellow Submarine Work Tapes are the HIGHLIGHT of Revolver Super Deluxe. Gosh, no disrespect to Ringo, but I really wish they’d kept the original folksy vibe of this song. John on vocals stretching out “ma-a-an” and “la-a-and” and “ye-e-ellow” give it a nice push-and-pull, and the “look out/get down!” bits in the chorus are lovely, too. What a treat!
  • She Said She Said (Take 15/Backing Track) – Groovy guitar. I could listen to an 18-minute version of this.

Final thoughts: Will I buy the Special Edition 5 disc version complete with stereo+mono mixes, demos, 100-page book, and Klaus Voormann art? …strong maybe. But for now, I can highly recommend enjoying the new reissue on your streaming platform of choice, listening to this interview with Giles Martin, and discovering all the versions that might’ve been:

things that have fixed my heart lately

A few unrelated things that have picked me up recently…

Fire of Love

We picked a late afternoon showtime on a whim last week and it happened to be this film. It’s part documentary—about a volcano-chasing couple in the 70s and 80s—and part audio-visual adventure, with mesmerizing footage of lava flows and ash clouds and the close-up sounds of the earth breathing. Watching it on the big screen with only one other person in the theater was a trip, like the film was made just for us.

Repeatedly through interviews and quotes, Katia and Maurice Krafft convey how they’d choose to live on the edge of a volcano forever if they could; if food wasn’t a necessity they’d never go into civilization. There was also a specific quote (I don’t remember if it was from Katia or Maurice) about how the geographic separation from society made them rediscover their love of humans. Like, humans have done a lot of awful things and can be super messy and dramatic, but when you become detached enough you can appreciate humankind at a scientific, cosmic level. You get the sense they felt like aliens coming to earth every time they came back from a volcano. Even just getting to experience their world for an hour and a half was enough to reset my mind and acknowledge how tiny we all are in the grand scheme of things. A much needed experience.

Boz Scaggs – Silk Degrees

Ok, this album slaps. It’s one of those dad albums (a term I used to describe any album that is in both my father’s and my father-in-law’s record collections) that I never really thought to listen to, although the cover is instantly recognizable. (A Pitchfork review by Sam Sodomsky opens with a great description of this.) Anyway, turns out one of my favorite things of all things is when I realize how much a dad album rocks.

It’s certainly an album that feels like it should be listened to on vinyl, at least if you want Maximum 1970s-Soul-Disco-Pop Energy, which I always do. It kinda feels funny/ironic to include this in a list called “things that have fixed my heart” but it’s not hyperbole! Sometimes I get into ruts where music doesn’t bring me the same joy it used to and then I have nothing to write in here, which is a huge bummer. So anything that reignites that joy, makes me dance like a fool in the dining room, and gives me reason to dust off the blog is always worth celebrating.

From Sodomsky’s review: …as it has aged, the album feels increasingly divorced from its moment in pop culture, and its more mysterious qualities—the abstract melancholy of Scaggs’ voice, the late-night twinkle of the band—are what pull you in, making it feel like your own, no matter how many people owned the LP before you did.

Joni Jam

My hearing about and watching the videos of Joni Mitchell’s return to the stage came later that I’d like to admit—lately I’ve been getting tunnel vision during the work week and have fallen into a weird habit of allowing myself very regulated amounts of the things that bring me happiness: 3 pages of writing and 4 word games in the morning, 1-2 albums on the record player and 2 episodes of a show in the evening, max, 1-2 chapters of a book before bed. Repeat every workday. So on Friday night of this week, when at last I didn’t have to think about planning my next day and how early to get up the next morning, I finally watched all the videos from Newport 2022 and it very nearly made my soul burst. I’d deprived myself of this performance for a whole week?!

So now here I am on Saturday morning, hungrily re-watching it all, on the brink of a full-blown Joni Weekend. One of my favorite things about these videos is how genuinely awed and emotional everyone else on the stage is. I bet it’s something most of these musicians never thought they’d experience, sharing the stage with Joni for a full set. Brandi Carlile’s emotion is tangible, and contagious. I shed more tears with each viewing. What an absolute gift to the world.

PS: You might’ve noticed in the video I linked above that I skipped over the first minute, which would surely be the thing I’d be writing about if Joni hadn’t shown up at Newport: Paul Simon ALSO made a surprise appearance at the festival(!). Here’s PS and Rhiannon Giddens performing “American Tune”, one of my all-time favorites.


Edit: I had to come back and add one more thing that’s been a delight to me lately, the show The Bear. It’s such a perfect piece of television art: raw, stressful, emotional, and hilarious (with much of the hilarity coming from Matty Matheson). I can’t recommend it enough.

Praise be to the garage sale gods

While visiting my parents recently, I was browsing through my dad’s latest garage sale finds and came across this banger of an album:

Not gonna lie, the gatefold image is what sent me from “oh I should check this out” to “I am putting this on the record player RIGHT NOW”:

Incredible aesthetics aside, the list of backing musicians also got me excited: Steve Gadd, Richard Tee, Eric Gale, Dave Grusin—basically, Paul Simon’s go-to band in the 70s and 80s, transported to Budokan.

These guys in the year 1980 had such a sound. Like, this first track feels like it could’ve easily capped off the album One Trick Pony (if One Trick Pony took a decidedly jazzy turn). Glorious.

(Side note: 1980 was also the year the accompanying film One Trick Pony came out, which is worth watching just to see these brilliant studio musicians playing washed out versions of themselves.)

Dad let me take the album and several others from the crate (which he’d acquired in one of those “I’ll take this box of records off your hands for $20” situations). And now this album has been in the background of everything I do lately. So, thanks to the garage sale gods for introducing me to the wonderful world of Sadao Watanabe—five decades of music (and still going strong!) is enough to keep me busy for a while.

Highlights from the Barton collection

At the risk of sounding like a museum curator (actually a dream job of mine), I’m ÜBER excited to share that we recently acquired four crates worth of near-mint condition records from Alex’s parents’ house. The Barton collection, as we call it, is an extremely well-kept selection of singer-songwriter, classic rock, bluegrass, and niche LA and Bay Area recordings. The plan was that we would safe-keep the records while they renovate their living room, but I think the mutual understanding is that “safe-keeping” actually means “keeping” in this case (one of the main reasons for this is that we’re the only ones in the family with a record player, although much of our setup was also “borrowed” from Alex’s dad).

Anyway, thanks to this new acquisition, we now have near-complete discographies for the Grateful Dead, Beatles, and Joni Mitchell. And we’ve been filling in our DIY record shelf rather nicely!

We made that shelf from scratch! Not pictured: 2 more crates and a bunch more records in the stereo console waiting to be catalogued.

Classic rock aside, the majority of albums in the collection I’ve never heard before. As a result, we’ve been spending recent afternoons and evenings in the dining room/record room, drinking wine and listening to a few random picks at a time—my very favorite way to pass the time. Some highlights:

Old & In the WayOld & In the Way

I didn’t know about this Jerry Garcia/David Crisman/Peter Rowan collab until about two months ago. Then, in quick succession, not only did we acquire a cassette tape of this album while in Vista for the holidays (I picked it out of a box of my dad’s old cassettes—Alex’s car is old enough to have a cassette player and we were looking for music to listen to on the drive back), but soon after we came to possess two copies of the album on vinyl, both of them presumably from Alex’s dad’s half of the record collection. What can I say, it’s a classic Boomer Dad album, with a name worthy of many Boomer Dad jokes (“Oh that old album? Take it, it’s just getting in the way.”).

It’s wonderfully bluegrassy, a mix of originals and traditional songs, with a cover of “Wild Horses” thrown in for good measure. A fun tidbit: it was recorded live at the Boarding House, a music and comedy venue in San Francisco with quite a storied history.

Phoebe Snow – Phoebe Snow

Another eponymous first album – we’re on some kind of roll here!

I am one of those people who became acquainted with Phoebe Snow through her credits on Paul Simon songs, and waited far too long to listen to her solo work. In fact, I’ve still only listened to this debut album in full, and have yet to explore her later albums (we don’t have any others on vinyl). Anyway, don’t be like me! Listen to Phoebe Snow now, not later!! Her voice is incredible…angelic and sexy and powerful all at once, capable of slipping effortlessly between folk, jazz, pop, soul. The entire album is just so cool. A small sampling.

Can I also just say how great I think this album cover is? The font, the sparse style and delicate rainbows in Phoebe’s hair, the glasses. Instant brownie points from me for any artist who flaunts glasses on their album covers.

Strange Paradise – Cris Williamson

One of my favorite discoveries to come from these listening sessions has been Olivia Records, the first record label made for and by women. Alex’s parents had quite a few albums from Olivia Records and/or the Women’s Music Movement: Meg Christian, Margie Adams, Cris Williamson. Those I’ve listened to so far have been immensely refreshing and empowering, with Strange Paradise so far being one of my favorites. As the cover so aptly suggests, it’s the kind of album you might listen to on a solo road trip through the most sacred corners of the American Southwest.

When Strange Paradise was released, Olivia Records was based in Oakland and according to liner notes, the album was recorded partly at The Automatt in San Francisco. So I want to believe the song “On, Judah!” is about the N Judah, even though the lyrics suggest the train is maybe more of an Amtrak sort?, and the notes dedicate it to the Lion of Judah. :shrug:

I just really like the vibe of this album. With lyrics like Home, like a folding of wings and choruses that repeat Gonna kill them with kindness …it’s given me a few new personal anthems.

Silk Purse – Linda Ronstadt

Show me the discography of a popular artist I don’t know very well and ask me to pick an album, and I’ll probably choose the one that looks the most like a country rock album from 1970. I’ve still only scratched the surface of Linda’s catalog, and I knew she did a good amount of country-adjacent stuff, but I wasn’t prepared for how truly down-home this album would be. Her yodelicious version of “Lovesick Blues” pulled me in and kept me happily surprised all the way to “Life is Like a Mountain Railway”—pure Americana!

There are so many entry points to Linda Ronstadt: her music spans at least a dozen genres and she’s collaborated with so many people! My entry point, unsurprisingly, was Mike Nesmith, thanks to her cover of “Different Drum” with the Stone Poneys. But maybe you’ve heard her collabs with Philip Glass, Frank Zappa(?!), or Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. Or maybe you’ve even seen this 1979 Linda Ronstadt and Phoebe Snow duet (how relevant!) from SNL! I certainly hadn’t before now, but want to thank the YouTube algorithm for so conveniently introducing it to me. The icing on the cake is that they’re singing a song by the Roches! 😍

Ignore the circa-2004-DVD-menu graphics; no idea what’s up with that but I couldn’t find another version:

Those 1979 styles though! I wish I could pull off either look.

Anyway, it’s been too cold to go outside lately and there are stacks upon stacks of records waiting to be listened to, so I’m sure I’ll be back soon with another round.

The Upside of Goodbye

Considering how this blog got started and the recurring themes that have kept it going over the past 13 years, this is a hard one to write. :(

After hearing of Michael Nesmith’s passing last night, I spent much of today listening to the lovely McCabe’s Tapes and reminiscing about the two Nez shows I attended a couple years back, pre-pandemic. For whatever reason, I didn’t write about them at the time (or rather, I did, but never got around to actually posting about it), so figured I’d finish up and share the memories now in honor of one of my favorite underrated songwriters.

In January 2018 I saw Michael Nesmith and the First National Band (Redux) at The Rio in Santa Cruz. I went by myself, partially because no one in my extended circle shares the same fondness for pedal steel-infused cosmic Texas country rock, but mainly because my appreciation for Nez has always been more of a personal one. It’s one of those things you’re perfectly content to call your own; and in fact, you might even enjoy it more because you have it all to yourself. (See also: yearly re-watchings of You’ve Got Mail during the holiday season.)

Obligatory backstory: Late summer of 2008, in the empty weeks between drum corps ending and fall quarter at UCLA beginning, I spiraled deep into my first Nez obsession. Somehow, replaying the Monkees Greatest Hits CD turned into a full-blown obsession with the TV show (leading me to buy and rewatch both seasons ad nauseam and also to start this blog) which then turned into a never-ending Mike Nesmith side journey. Piece by downloaded piece, I loaded up my iPod with all the Nez solo albums I could find. I learned “Nine Times Blue” on the guitar and played it nonstop. While simultaneously worrying about the future and many other now-insignificant matters, I read and re-read the liner notes to And the Hits Just Keep On Coming and felt a little less angsty. In the years since, I think I’ve masked all this by telling people I’m a Monkees fan, but really ever since that summer in 2008 it’s been Nez all the way.

Anyway, even at age 30, I was expecting to be one of the youngest people at the Santa Cruz show, as per usual with these things, but to my surprise I happened to sit next to three teenage girls who had traveled all the way from Denver to be there, proof that there are bonafide Nez fangirls in every generation! They were so enthusiastic and excited, I couldn’t stop smiling while talking with them. It was like meeting a version of myself as a teenager, the version that posted unfiltered fanatical thoughts to LiveJournal and would’ve also traveled 1,200 miles just to see one of my favorite people in concert, if I could find someone to drive me. The teens struck up a conversation with the older couple behind us, and it turns out the man was a DJ at KPIG, who previously worked with Nez at Pacific Arts. In short, I felt like I was among a group of people who were all friends, and all of this even before the band walked onto the stage.

The show was a delight. Mike was so happy and goofy, which I’m sure was partly due to the fact that he was sharing the stage with his two sons and daughter-in-law, who seem like lovely people (his oldest son Christian especially got the crowd going). Nothing I love more than a family band! This was when I realized just how much I loved those First National Band albums I’d downloaded piecemeal a decade prior: song after song (“Calico Girlfriend”, “Dedicated Friend”, “Some of Shelly’s Blues”, “Nine Times Blue”) I sang along gleefully. Mike’s career spans eras and moods—1980s LA grooves, synth-forward sci-fi soundtracks, and tropical campfires to name a few—but I think 1970s rollicking roadtrip romps will always be my favorite.

I saw Nez & Fam again a year later at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, this time with my dad and a bunch of his friends who were in town for the festival. There in Golden Gate Park surrounded by a crowd full of boomers, I made my way to the front row to experience it all myself, singing out of tune to a meandering version of “Papa Gene’s Blues” and letting the pedal steel take me away.

Now that I think about it, this might’ve been the last live show I attended before everything shut down in 2020. I knew Mike’s health had wavered a bit in the past few years, so I was grateful to get to see him two times (three if you count the Monkees show) while he was touring and in good spirits. It seemed like he was doing well these last few months too, having just finished a tour with Micky. So, while I’m a bit shocked and saddened to hear of his passing, it’s nice to know he was playing music up until the end. To paraphrase “The Upside of Goodbye,” I’d like to think our dear Nez’s departure doesn’t leave us empty but instead with a fullness to lean on.

Thanx for everything, Nez. ❤️

Get Back Part 3

Mannnn, I don’t know where to start. We watched Part 3 last night but I was so overwhelmed by the end that I couldn’t sit down and knock out a post like a did with the other two parts. It’s been so long since I’ve felt this way: giddy at the thought of Brand New Beatles Content and literally unable to think about anything else. I’m sad that it’s already over, but really hope that Peter Jackson eventually ends up releasing an even longer version, which sounds very possible.

Part 3 thoughts:

  • The first 10 minutes are so joyous it’s almost unreal. George helping Ringo with “Octopus’s Garden” and everyone else gathering around and joining in is just SO WHOLESOME. And then Heather (Linda’s daughter) shows up and they just start jamming and letting her play along and it’s wonderful.
  • Also, Heather observing Yoko’s *ahem* vocal stylings and then doing a spot-on impression while the Beatles jammed was a real kick. I loved John’s incredulous “Yoko!”
  • George coming in with “Old Brown Shoe” and Ringo, Paul, and Billy proceeding to rock out with it was great. The look on George’s face when he realizes his mates are enjoying playing his song…made me so happy.
  • Wow, I wish November 27 me could go back and tell November 26 me how much more George Martin content was yet to come!! GM playing the shaker on “Dig It”…GM troubleshooting the PA setup (“I’ll fix ya lads, I’ll fix ya” 🥰 )…GM helping them come up with the track list for the album. What a treat.

Sidebar: I know this is super uninteresting to most people, but I have a theory on George Martin’s presence in these sessions. When I hear demos and outtakes from the other albums, I always think of him as the man in the box—I know he would come down and work with the band, and play piano and other bits on their songs, but he always seemed like more of a schoolteacher presence, keeping the Beatles in line and calmly directing their chaos into focused recordings. That’s why it’s super cool to see him just chilling with the Beatles in the studio while Glyn Johns focuses on recording and mixing. Without his name attached to the album, it seems like he’s able to let loose a little and just hang out (obviously while still helping a lot with the equipment and production). I just think it’s neat to see him spending so much time with them and, having had so much history with them already, knowing best how to help when they need it.

The king has spoken.
  • I’m not gonna talk about Allen Klein. In fact, we’re not gonna talk about Allen Klein at all.
A Rocky appearance!
  • There’s a part where Paul leaves for an appointment and John runs rehearsal, and it’s really cool to see him saddle up and get serious about practicing, where in the first two parts he was much more passive/disinterested. I liked hearing him sing Paul’s parts for “I’ve Got A Feeling” and giving more time to George’s song. You get a glimpse of what it was probably like in early days when John was the undisputed leader of the band.
  • I would pay to listen to 8 hours of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” jams, holy buckets.
  • I can’t lie, even though George will always be my fave and I think a lot of his pissy attitude was justified, it must be said that he was a big buzzkill during most of the Let It Be sessions. There were several parts where the band was close to agreeing on a show venue or some other decision only for George to shut it down or make some passive aggressive comment about it being a dumb idea. :(
  • But, George seems very self-aware and generally in better spirits in Part 3. It was cool to hear him talking to John about wanting to make his own album. John and Yoko were so supportive!
  • When Ringo spoke up that he wanted to play on the roof, they should’ve just called it then and there. Ringo has an opinion on it?? DO IT, BOYS!

Rooftop concert day:

  • I didn’t know there were so many cameras! I also lol’ed at George Martin immediately spotting the “hidden” camera in the reception area.
  • The way Peter Jackson used the multiple camera angles was really neat. I feel like that’s the best thing he could’ve done, knowing that each camera had something worth seeing. Rather than cut back and forth between them all, why not just show three at once? (I think the Woodstock documentary did this too, maybe he was influenced by that.)
  • Shout-out to everyone in the Beatles’ extended circle who tried to distract and/or delay the cops when they showed up. Debbie at the front desk pretending like she didn’t know what was going on, and Mal buying time by saying he’d go up and cut the PA (but not doing it?)—both were clutch. Unsung heroes.
  • When film crew on the street started doing impromptu interviews with the people who had gathered around, they were asking the same questions reporters would ask in 1964 (“Who’s your favorite Beatle?” “Do you buy their records?”), but obviously the fans had grown up just like the Beatles. They weren’t screaming and ogling, they were just like “Yeah, I think what they’re doing is pretty cool.” I also really liked this gentleman’s comments.
  • Poor Paul wanted to get arrested so bad. He kept talking about it in the earlier parts, and then when he sees the cops show up on the roof he’s positively giddy. Too bad the cops just stood in the back looking grumpy instead of doing anything.
  • And POOR MAL was put in an impossible situation; you could tell he was trying everything in his power to stall before being forced to unplug George and John’s amps.
  • I couldn’t suss out whether George was annoyed or actually enjoyed playing on the roof. But I enjoyed the Defiant Teenager Energy from him when he flipped his amp back on to keep playing. He knew the cops weren’t actually going to do anything, lol.
When the annoying cops tell you to turn down your guitar on the rooftop
  • I LOVED the footage of the band and crew and wives listening to the live recordings in the control room afterward. Mo’s energy is infectious!
  • I felt a bit like Peter Jackson rushed the ending by not giving us full takes of the slow jams (“Let It Be”, “The Long and Winding Road”, “Two of Us”) on Day 22, but I guess that’s because those already exist on the original film? It certainly wasn’t because he was worried about the dang thing being too long. Maybe they’ll make it into the extended Director’s Cut, who knows.
  • I did really love the “Let It Be” outtakes at the very end, and the little banter before “Two of Us” that melts my heart every time.

Would I recommend Get Back to non-Beatles fans? Part of me is convinced that Part 3 could be an accessible way to get to know them, and if you like that, then bring out the additional hours of footage. But I also know it’s not for everyone. Peter Jackson made this film for the fans, obviously. Sometimes even I got tired of hearing them start yet another take of “Get Back.” But seeing everything come together and all the happy joyous bits in between was more than I ever could have asked for. I still can’t quite believe we have this much footage of the Beatles working together in the studio, and in such incredible quality (sorry for not mentioning it until just now, but one million kudos to Peter Jackson and his team for restoring the film and audio!!!). It truly is a gift.


The Complete Get Back Drinking Game (revisions probable)

Take a drink when:

  • Someone plays a song that ends up on a solo album
  • The camera does a closeup of Mal Evans smiling 🤓
  • John is late
  • Yoko starts a new hobby
  • Paul’s beard is mentioned
  • The anvil makes an appearance
  • Someone makes fun of Glyn Johns
  • A Beatle drinks tea or eats toast
  • Ringo plays that drum fill
  • “And now, your host for this evening…”
  • George Martin fixes a problem
  • Glyn Johns looks like a fashionista
  • The Beatles play a version of a song that ends up on the final Let It Be album
  • Someone on the street thinks the rooftop concert is annoying

Take two drinks when:

  • Someone gets electrocuted
  • George and Paul have a row
  • Paul does parkour
  • Ringo introduces a Starkey original
  • Yoko sings

Chug it:

  • George leaves the band
  • Paul calls Glyn Johns a f*ckface
  • “Thanks, Mo.”

Get Back Part Deux

Whoof! Lots to unpack here.

  • Not gonna lie, the first 45 minutes of this part was hard to watch. Not just for the lack of George, but because it managed to be both tedious and stressful at the same time (we know George will come back, but WHEN?!).
  • The long shot of Paul after he says “and then there were two” looking like he’s about to cry was a bit too on the nose. 😭 At least we got some nice Paul and Ringo moments out of that day.
  • John really comes in strong with the droll Lennon humor on Day 9. It even makes Peter Sellers (who, by the way, just shows up) seem uncomfortable!
  • The so-called “flowerpot conversation” was super enlightening. First off, it’s pretty sketchy that the film crew secretly recorded John and Paul’s convo in the cafeteria. But I’m conflicted, because now we have this amazing insight into one of the most fraught moments of the band’s career. I didn’t realize real humans were capable of having a difficult, honest conversation like this while not blowing up at each other. Apparently this was cut down from like 30 minutes and had to be heavily edited to fix the background noise, but man, the whole thing would be amazing to hear.
  • The first day they moved to Apple Studios (the day they didn’t let the film crew record them) must’ve been crazy productive. Starting the next day, “Get Back” and “Two of Us” were so much more fully formed. And George seems so much happier. 😌
  • BILLY HAS ARRIVED. I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that he saved the day/album. His presence immediately pulls the group together and gives the songs so much LIIIIFE.
  • The “by John Lennon” credits on the India footage gives me It’s Alive vibes.
  • The India footage is really cool! But you can tell Paul and John joking about some of their experiences was rubbing George the wrong way. Treading on thin ice, boys!
  • John is such a spazz.
  • The second half of Part 2 in general is just so happy and silly. I could watch the Beatles goof off in the studio in HD all day.
  • I am so pleasantly surprised by how much George Martin footage there is, considering he wasn’t actually producing this album. HE IS A LOVELY MAN and you can’t convince me otherwise. Like, what would they have done with their unusable studio if he hadn’t been there to pull in all the recording equipment from EMI?
  • The short convo between the two Georges at the end of Day 15 is so heartwarming. I love how GM makes a point to tell GH how well they’ve all been working together. “You’re looking at each other, you’re seeing each other.” Extremely wholesome Beatles content.
A screenshot of GM being lovely, with an unfortunate caption to accompany it
Here he is on the floor reading the paper while a millionth take of “Let It Be” dissolves into chaos.

Ok I need to stop before this becomes a George Martin fangirl post.

Additions to the drinking game:

  • Someone makes fun of Glyn Johns
  • Paul does parkour
  • The appearance of tea
  • Ringo plays that drum fill
  • “And now, your host for this evening…”

Chug:

  • Paul calls Glyn Johns a f*ckface

Get Back Part I

This day…….

I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.

I half-jokingly told some people that I would live tweet my Get Back-watching experience, but of course I’m too chicken to broadcast all my rambling Beatlethoughts to Twitter. So here in the safety of my own echo chamber, I’ll throw all the tweet-sized thoughts that ran through my head (and occasionally out of my mouth) while watching the first part of the series with my husband, cat, and a bottle of wine.

  • I wasn’t expecting the rapid-fire history at the very beginning, but it was pretty nicely done. (And I’ll never complain about seeing Beatles footage in high quality.) Also, it conveniently provided context for quips later on: “Who’s that little old man?” “You could go back to Manila,” etc. etc.
  • Framing this as a literal day-by-day documentary worked better than I thought it would. In the Anthology book—which I definitely pulled out to cross-reference—John talks about the band being like a 9 to 5 job at that point, and it does kind of seem like that. But it’s cool to see how much the new songs progress day by day.
  • Watching the Beatles rehearsing “All Things Must Pass” was magical. And John misreading “wind” as “mind” and then George keeping it for when he eventually recorded the song…I was just a PUDDLE of feels.
  • “We’ve been grumpy for the past 18 months” – Ringo, 1969 (also: all of us, 2021)
  • MLH trying so hard to get the Beatles to do a show in Libya was a bit painful. I can’t imagine them doing that at all…but it would’ve been pretty wild if they’d pulled it off.
heavy Live at Pompeii vibes
  • It was hilarious how adamantly George didn’t want to travel by boat to a venue (“expensive and insane,” in his words).
  • Watching “Get Back” materialize out of nothing really was something to behold. So was Ringo and George’s reaction.
  • The sheer AMOUNT of music these guys blasted through in the first week of filming alone…is that normal? Like, there’s just an endless well of Lennon/McCartney songs to pull from, not to mention all the covers they run through, plus stuff that would end up on future albums…and then George and Ringo occasionally just walk in like, “Here’s a song I wrote last night”…it’s all very impressive to me, as a person who used to spend 6+ months learning 3 pieces of pre-arranged music.
  • Also, I know this is probably just normal band stuff, and of course the Beatles would refer back to their own catalog, but I still found it fascinating which songs they’d pull out of past albums and just start playing. “Every Little Thing”? I’m SO pleased George thought that was a nice song!!
  • LOL at Dick James trying to talk music biz with the guys and their extreme disinterest every time.
  • What do we think Yoko and Linda were talking about??
  • This version of “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” is hott.
  • The “No Pakistanis” version of “Get Back”, even though it’s satire could easily get the Beatles cancelled in modern times. For that reason, I’m pretty glad they went a different direction with it.
  • Honestly, I can relate to Paul’s work ethic. I get that everyone felt he was being bossy, but at the same time, if Paul wasn’t there to steer them in some direction, I’m pretty sure the album (and film) would’ve just dissolved into nothing. And I’m so glad it became something.
  • It’s easy to see John’s antics as comedic relief, but I guess what it really was was a general sense of apathy…and heroin abuse. He didn’t really want to be there but his go-to way of handling it was just being a goof. They showed a lot less of the antics in the original Let It Be film, which always led me to believe he was just completely over the Beatles at this point in their career. It’s nice to see it wasn’t always like that, though.
  • Watching George trying to speak up while Paul and John just keep talking to each other about how a song should go…that sucks. Plus, George came in with some straight up bangers and I feel like he got a lukewarm reception to all of them.
  • Also George prefacing all of his songs with “It’s really short/easy,” “It’s ok if you don’t want it” – TAKE MORE CREDIT JOJ YOU DESERVE IT!!
  • That ^ Twitter account btw is VERY VERY GOOD.
  • Ringo just really stays out of the drama, good for him.
  • The violent jamming to Yoko’s screaming (and Paul swinging from the scaffolding) after George leaves was…unexpected.
  • How exciting to have a reason for a new drinking game! I’ll be adding to this as the next 2 parts get released…

Take a drink when:

  • Someone plays a song that ends up on a solo album
  • The camera does a closeup of Mal Evans smiling 🤓
  • John is late
  • Yoko starts a new hobby
  • Paul’s beard is mentioned

Take two drinks when:

  • Someone gets electrocuted
  • Ringo introduces a Starkey original
  • George and Paul have a row

Chug it:

  • George leaves the band

#Thankful for the long weekend / giddy for part 2,

n.

What a time to be caught without a turtleneck.

In celebration of Halloween, I would like you to please enjoy a clip from one of my favorite Monkees episodes. It’s the perfect combo of goofy dialogue, physical comedy, and the chaotic, self-aware editing that made the late second season just so completely batty (heyyy see what I did there? 🦇).

Also! I revisited my rock & roll-adjacent Halloween playlist, which was pretty sad and lame back when I first made it on 8tracks. Now that 8tracks has kicked the bucket, I’ve decided to pad it out a bit with some more psychedelic tunes and jammy spooky songs at the end. The resulting extended version lives on Spotify now:

And finally, let us all remember 2021 as the year Paul and Ringo (aged 79 and 81 respectively) graced us with Halloween selfies on Twitter, truly the best gift we could ever hope for:

HBD, ATMP!

Ok, so November 27th is the *actual* birthday of All Things Must Pass, but the 50th anniversary reissue just came out this past week, so like most Beatlefans, I’m celebrating now. It’s taken me til the weekend to truly listen to most of the album + extras and man, it’s a lot to unpack. (Can we also address the Uber Deluxe Edition, which includes—in addition to 8 LPs, 5 CDs, 4 gnomes, 3 books, Rudraksha beads, and a Klaus Voormann illustration—a wooden bookmark made from a felled oak tree in George’s Friar Park garden?? It’s almost enough to distract me from the $1,000 price tag.)

I have yet to listen to the whole thing in one sitting, but some initial favorites:

“Behind That Locked Door” – This has always been one of my top songs on the album. I’m a sucker for pedal steel guitar, and combined with Billy Preston on the Hammond and Klaus Voorman on bass? *chef’s kiss* A real treat. I usually feel like I don’t have the ear to comment on production, but the 2020 mix really gives those vocals life, wow!

Om Hare Om (Gopala Krishna)” – This feels like one of those songs Phil Spector told George couldn’t be on the album because it’s a little too devotional—or maybe because it doesn’t lend itself as much to the ol’ Wall of Sound. I love it, though. George’s vocal line in the verse would make a lovely lehra (the melodic line accompanying a tabla solo), which could very well have been his intention. Can’t get this one out of my head.

“Run of the Mill – Day 2 Demo, Take 1” – The album version is nice, but I think this acoustic demo version evokes a lot more feels, especially knowing that this song was a reflection of the Beatles’ pre-breakup rift.

“Art of Dying – Day 2 Demo, Take 1” – Similarly, I love this stripped down version, sans Clapton’s in-your-face wailing. I just recently read this song dates back to 1966 (when Geo was a mere 23-year-old bebe). Can you imagine if this was on Revolver? It’s too good for the Beatles, honestly. 😬 The version on Disc 5 is a jam too.

“Wedding Bells (Are Breaking Up That Old Gang of Mine)” – DELIGHTFUL. More pedal steel please!!

“Get Back” – It’s George singing Get Back accompanied by horns, what’s not to like!

I’ll leave you with the luscious “Isn’t It A Pity” (Take 27) and its equally luscious video. Coincidentally (and unfathomably), George was 27 years old when ATMP was released. I always forget this fact, because he definitely gives off Wise Old Philosopher vibes throughout the album and in all the pictures from that era. But nope, he is the same age in those pictures as Justin Bieber is now. What is life?!