Saturday, March 27, 2010

"Free as a Bird"

"Free as a Bird" is a song performed by The Beatles. The single was released on 4 December 1995, as part of the promotion for the release of The Beatles Anthology video documentary and the band's Anthology 1 compilation album.

The song had been written and recorded as a demo by John Lennon in 1977. Paul McCartney asked Lennon's widow Yoko Ono for any unreleased material by Lennon, and "Free as a Bird" was chosen as being the song all three remaining Beatles could be involved in, as they could finish the arrangement and write extra lyrics. Jeff Lynne of The Electric Light Orchestra was asked to co-produce the record as he had worked with George Harrison as part of The Traveling Wilburys.

The music video for "Free as a Bird" was produced by Vincent Joliet and directed by Joe Pytka (Space Jam) and depicts, from the point of view of a bird in flight, many references to The Beatles songs, such as "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Penny Lane", "Paperback Writer", "A Day in the Life", "Eleanor Rigby" and "Helter Skelter". "Free as a Bird" later won the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, and was The Beatles' 34th Top 10 single in America. It was the first of two singles by the group to become a Top 40 hit in the 1990's [the other being "Real Love" in 1996].


McCartney, Harrison and Ringo Starr originally intended to record some incidental background music (as a trio) for the Anthology project, but wanted to record new songs. The Beatles had always agreed that if one of them did not agree with something the idea would be vetoed, so the only way they could reunite musically as The Beatles was if Lennon could be on the recording.

McCartney then asked Ono if she had any unreleased recordings by Lennon, so she sent him cassette tapes of four songs. "Free as a Bird" was recorded by Lennon in 1977, in his and Ono's Dakota building apartment in New York City, but was not complete. Lennon introduced the song on the cassette by imitating a New York accent and saying, "Free - as a boid" (bird). The other songs were Grow Old with Me, Real Love, and Now and Then. Ono said: "It was all settled before then, I just used that occasion to hand over the tapes personally to Paul. I did not break up The Beatles, but I was there at the time, you know? Now I'm in a position where I could bring them back together and I would not want to hinder that. It was kind of a situation given to me by fate."

In an interview, McCartney remarked: "Yoko said 'I've got a couple of tracks I'll play you, you might be interested'. I'd never heard them before but she explained that they're quite well known to Lennon fans as bootlegs. I said to Yoko, 'Don't impose too many conditions on us, it's really difficult to do this, spiritually. We don't know, we may hate each other after two hours in the studio and just walk out. So don't put any conditions, it's tough enough. If it doesn't work out, you can veto it.' When I told George and Ringo I'd agreed to that they were going, 'What? What if we love it?' It didn't come to that, luckily." McCartney was later surprised to learn that Lennon's demo song of "Free as a Bird" had already been released on the Internet by fans, and was widely available. Starr admitted that when he first listened to the recording he found it very emotional.


The remaining Beatles decided that Lynne would produce the record (as he had worked with George Harrison as part of The Traveling Wilburys) and not George Martin, who had produced most Beatles' material before then, because of Martin's problems with his hearing. McCartney said: "George wasn't involved, no. George doesn't want to produce much any more 'cause his hearing's not as good as it used to be. He's a very sensible guy, and he says, 'Look, Paul I like to do a proper job', and if he doesn't feel he's up to it he won't do it. It's very noble of him, actually — most people would take the money and run."

The original tape of Lennon singing the song was on a cassette, with vocals and piano on the same track. They were impossible to separate, so Lynne had to produce the track with voice and piano together, but commented that it was good for the integrity of the project, as Lennon was not only singing occasional lines, but also playing on the song. Starr said that as Lennon was not in the studio, the three remaining Beatles agreed they would pretend that Lennon had "gone for lunch," or had gone for a "cup of tea." The remaining Beatles recorded a track around Lennon's basic song idea, but which had gaps they had to fill in musically. Some chords were changed, and the arrangement was expanded to include breaks for McCartney and Harrison to sing extra lines. Harrison played slide guitar in the solo.

The Beatles' overdubs and production were recorded between February and March 1994 in Sussex, England, at McCartney's home studio. It ends with a slight coda (The coda was an incomplete recording of This Boy), including a strummed ukulele by Harrison (an instrument that McCartney and Harrison were known to have often played) and the voice of John Lennon played backwards. The message, when played in reverse, is "Turned out nice again," which was the catch-phrase of George Formby, Jr. The final result sounds like "made by John Lennon," which, according to McCartney, was unintentional and was only discovered after the surviving Beatles reviewed the final mix. When Starr heard McCartney and Harrison singing the harmonies, and later the finished song, he said that it sounded just like them [The Beatles]. He explained his comment by saying that he looked at the project as "an outsider." Lynne fully expected the finished track to sound like The Beatles, as that was his premise for the project, but Harrison added: "It's gonna sound like them [The Beatles] if it is them... It sounds like them now [in the present]."

McCartney, Harrison and Starr all agreed that the recording was more pleasurable than when they later recorded "Real Love" (the second song chosen for release) as it was almost finished, they had very little input, and felt like sidemen for Lennon.


The song is the key of A Major, in a meter of 4/4, and uses the I-vi-iv-V7 model, with the exception that (in typical Lennon style -- see "In My Life") the iv chord is rendered as a minor chord (in this case Dm rather than D major). The structure is composed of:
Intro - verse chords
Verse - Lennon (A F#m F E / A F#m Dm E / A F#m Dm G / C Am Esus E)
Verse - Lennon
Bridge - McCartney (F F#° G A / F F#° G Esus E)
Verse - Lennon
Verse - Lennon (A F#m F E / A F#m Dm E / A F#m Dm G / C Am Ab+ G)
Bridge - Harrison (F F#° G Esus E) - (half-length)
Verse - Guitar Solo - (C Am Ab G / C Am Fm G / C Am Fm G)
Verse - Lennon
Outro - (A F# Dm G)

Music video

The music video for "Free as a Bird" was produced by Vincent Joliet and directed by Joe Pytka (Space Jam) and depicts, from the point of view of a bird in flight, many references to Beatles songs, such as "Penny Lane," "Paperback Writer," "A Day in the Life," "Eleanor Rigby," and "Helter Skelter." Between 80 and 100 allusions to The Beatles' story, music and lyrics in the video have been estimated. Although the bird can be heard at the beginning of the video, it is never seen. Neil Aspinall (Apple Records executive at the time) said that this was because no-one could agree on what kind of bird it should be. Pytka had to send his ideas to McCartney, Harrison and Starr, as well as Ono, to make sure they all agreed before he could proceed with the filming of the video. Derek Taylor (ex-Apple Records executive) sent a two-page letter to Pytka confirming that he could proceed, and personally encouraged and supported Pytka's ideas. The video was filmed in as many authentic locations as possible: Penny Lane was made by Pytka's art department to look as it was in the 1950s, and other locations filmed were The Liver Building, and Liverpool Docks (as a reference to Lennon's father Alfred Lennon).

Although Pytka fixed the ideas on a storyboard, he abandoned it as soon as filming began, and followed ideas based on what angles and perspectives the steady cam camera produced. One instance was the filming of the car crash, which Pytka filmed for hours from above, but realized that a steady cam shot on the ground was a much better idea. Archive footage was used by imposing it on scenes shot by Pytka, who utilized a green screen stage to digitally blend it into the finished film, such as the Old English Sheepdog in the graveyard, and the elephant in the ballroom procession scene. The elephant was put in last, as Aspinall phoned Pytka and said that Starr liked the scene, but insisted an elephant be put in it, which Pytka later did, as he had already put a sitar in at the request of Harrison. Apart from the steady cam shots, Pytka used a Russian-made Akil-crane for sweeping overhead shots, such as the Abbey Road zebra crossing shot at the end, as well as a remote-controlled toy helicopter with a camera added to it for intricate aerial shots.

Harrison played the ukulele in the studio for the song, and asked to appear as the ukulele player seen only from behind at the very end of the video. Pytka resisted this, as he felt it would be wrong for any contemporary members of The Beatles to appear on screen. Pytka later stated that it was "heartbreaking" that Harrison had not played the role, particularly after Harrison's death in 2001 and upon discovering that the ukulele was not a sample of an old song as Pytka had assumed. The video won the Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video in 1997.

Chart performance and critical reception

"Free as a Bird" was premiered on BBC Radio 1 in the early hours of 20 November 1995. It was released as a single in the UK on 4 December 1995, two weeks after its appearance on the Anthology 1 album. The single sold 120,000 copies in its first week, entering the UK Singles Chart at #2, but it was kept off the #1 position by Michael Jackson's "Earth Song". It remained in the charts for 8 weeks. In the U.S., the song reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming The Beatles' 34th Top 10 single in America.

It was the first time a new recording had been released under The Beatles' name since "The Long and Winding Road" in 1970. The promotional video was broadcast during episode one of "The Beatles Anthology" that aired on ITV in the UK and ABC in the U.S.

"Free as a Bird" was greeted with mixed reviews. Its release was criticized by one writer in The Guardian as a publicity gimmick, exploiting The Beatles brand, and owing less to The Beatles than Lynne. The Independent called the song "disappointingly low-key...George's guitar weeps gently enough when required, but the overall effect is of a dirge." Chris Carter, now the host of "Breakfast with the Beatles," commented: "I would value any song (especially if it was great) performed by John, Paul, George and Ringo, no matter how (or when) it was recorded." "Free as a Bird" later won the 1997 Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.


* John Lennon: lead vocal and piano.
* Paul McCartney: lead and backing vocals, piano, acoustic guitar, electric and upright bass.
* George Harrison: lead and backing vocals, lead, acoustic and slide guitars and ukulele.
* Ringo Starr: drums and percussion.

Track listings

* 7" UK: R6422 / USA: NR-58497

1. "Free as a Bird" – 2:42
* Original composition by Lennon; The Beatles version by Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starkey.
* Produced by Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, Starkey, and Lynne.
2. "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)" – 3:02
* By Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starkey.
* Music recorded 28 November, 1967 at EMI Studios, London. Greetings recorded 6 December, 1966 at EMI Studios, London.

* CD UK: CDR6422 / USA: CDP 58497

1. "Free as a Bird" – 4:26
2. "I Saw Her Standing There" – 2:51
* By Lennon and McCartney Recorded 11 February, 1963 at EMI Studios, London. Produced by Martin.
* This version (take 9) was recorded after the more familiar version released as an album track on Please Please Me. The introductory count-in from take 9 was actually edited onto the start of take 1 to create the version that can be heard on the Please Please Me album.
3. "This Boy" – 3:17
* By Lennon and McCartney. Recorded 17 October, 1963 at EMI Studios, London. Produced by Martin.
* Here are two fun, but incomplete, versions (takes 12 and 13) of this song; both of them break down in laughter.
4. "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)" – 3:02

B-side: "Christmas Time (Is Here Again)"
Released: 4 December 1995 (UK), 12 December 1995 (U.S.)
Format: 7", CD
Recorded: New York City, circa 1977 and Sussex, February-March 1994
Genre: Rock
Length: 4:26
Label: Apple Records
Producer: Jeff Lynne, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr


Friday, March 26, 2010

"For You Blue"

"For You Blue" is a Beatles song written by George Harrison . It was the B-side to "The Long and Winding Road" (in the U.S.) and the eleventh track on The Beatles' final LP release, Let It Be. "For You Blue" was listed with "The Long and Winding Road" as a double-sided hit when the single hit number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1970.


The song features John Lennon playing lap steel guitar with a cigarette lighter as shown in the Let It Be movie. Harrison makes a few spoken comments during the song, including, "Go, Johnny, go," "There go the twelve-bar blues," and "Elmore James got nothin' on this baby," referring to one of the Beatles' musical influences.

Song Name

The song's working title was "George's Blues (Because You're Sweet and Lovely)" when it was recorded on 25 January 1969. It was renamed sometime between 10 March and 28 May when it was listed as "For You Blue" on the final mix for the unreleased Get Back album. When Phil Spector remixed the song for inclusion on the Let It Be album, he added an introduction by Lennon, "The Queen says no to pot-smoking FBI members." This comment was edited in from dialog recorded at Twickenham Studios in early January 1969, long before "For You Blue" was recorded.

The song's title is never used as lyrics in the song.


* George Harrison – vocals, acoustic guitar
* John Lennon – lap steel guitar
* Paul McCartney – piano
* Ringo Starr – drums

Live Performances

This song was part of the set during Harrison's Dark Horse tour of North America in 1974.

On 29 November 2002, Paul McCartney sang this song at the Concert for George, a memorial concert for Harrison held on the first anniversary of his death.

Album: Let It Be
Released: 8 May 1970
Recorded: Apple Studios, 25 January 1969
Genre: Blues
Length: 2:27
Label: Apple, EMI
Writer: George Harrison
Producer: George Martin, Phil Spector


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Beatles Covers: The Buckinghams - I'll Be Back

Beatle People: Henry McCullough

Henry McCullough (born 21 July 1943) is a guitarist, who has played guitar in such bands as Spooky Tooth, Paul McCartney's Wings, and The Grease Band. Born in Portstewart, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Henry McCullough is a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, and is the only Irishman to play the Woodstock Festival (backing Joe Cocker). He turns up in many different places as sideman or a performer in his own right. In 2008, he recorded Poor Man's Moon, featuring the single "Too Late to Worry."


McCullough first came to prominence in the early 1960s as the teenage lead guitarist with The Skyrockets showband from Enniskillen. In 1964, with three other members of The Skyrockets, he left and formed a new showband fronted by South African born vocalist Gene Chetty, which they named Gene and The Gents.

In 1967 McCullough moved to Belfast where he joined Chris Stewart (bass), Ernie Graham (vocals) and Dave Lutton (drums) to form the psychedelic band The People. Later that year the band moved to London and were signed by Chas Chandler’s management team, who changed the group’s name to √Čire Apparent. Under Chandler’s guidance, despite only having one single released, they toured with groups such as Pink Floyd, Soft Machine, The Move and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Things went well until 1968, when McCullough was sent back to Ireland, from Canada, due to visa problems, and Mick Cox took his place in the band.

Back in Ireland McCullough joined what was primarily a folk group called Sweeney's Men. Under his influence, however, they soon began to mix folk and rock, and are often regarded as the innovators of the folk/rock genre. After a year in Ireland, McCullough returned to London to work with Joe Cocker as a member of his backing group, The Grease Band (also playing on their eponymous LP minus Cocker.) With Cocker he toured the U.S. and performed at the Woodstock Festival.

In 1973 Paul McCartney asked McCullough to join his new band, Wings, alongside Denny Laine and Denny Sewell. His guitar solo on "My Love" is regarded by many as one of rock music’s greatest solos. Musical differences with McCartney, however, saw McCullough move on once again within a year. McCullough also appeared as lead guitarist on the original 1970 recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.

In 1975, McCullough released Mind Your Own Business, his sole album on George Harrison's short-lived A&M Records' distributed Dark Horse label.

McCullough then did some session work, and played concerts with Roy Harper, Frankie Miller, Eric Burdon, Marianne Faithfull, Ronnie Lane (whose Kuschty Rye is a McCullough live favourite), and Donovan. In 1977 he temporarily joined Dr. Feelgood, following the departure of Wilko Johnson. He also spent some time with progressive band Spooky Tooth. While recovering from an injury to his hand while visiting his family in 1980, McCullough decided to stay in Ireland. He began to sit in with some old friends, The Fleadh Cowboys, at their Sunday afternoon residency in The Lower Deck in Dublin, and soon decided to move back to Portstewart and put a new band together. He was joined by Percy Robinson on pedal steel guitar, Roe Butcher on bass and Liam Bradley on drums.

In 1998 McCullough went to Poland, where he rehearsed with a band of Polish musicians for an upcoming tour. After the tour, they went into a recording studio and recorded a ‘live’ album which was released as Blue Sunset. This was followed by a further successful Polish tour. On returning home, McCullough recorded and released Failed Christian, a song that has since been covered by Nick Lowe on his album, Dig My Mood. In 1999, his beloved and invaluable cherry red 1963 Gibson ES335 guitar went missing during a flight from Warsaw to London. To date, it has never been recovered.

McCullough continues to record and perform and has released some solo material, including Belfast To Boston (2001) and Unfinished Business (2003). The latter contains his 1998 single Failed Christian, a powerful song best appreciated in live performance. Musically, he is bluesy and upbeat, with excursions into country and folk. McCullough gigs regularly in Northern Ireland and Scotland, playing with a solid backing band (featuring Stephen Quinn on drums and Sean McCarron on sax) with obvious enthusiasm.

McCullough's spoken words "I don't know; I was really drunk at the time" can be heard on Pink Floyd's album The Dark Side of the Moon, at the end of the song "Money".

In 2007, Over the Rhine covered Failed Christian on their album Live from Nowhere, Vol. II.

In late 2007 McCullough teamed up with Dave Sharp (ex Alarm) and together they enlisted the talents of Zoot Money (The Animals, Big Roll Band), on Keyboard; Gary Fletcher, (The Blues Band) on Bass; and Colin Allen, (Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker) on Drums. In Jan 2008 The Hard Travelers performed their debut gig at The Cellars, Portsmouth.

McCullough contributed guitar on and organized the band for Alaskan musician The Rev Neil Down's 2003 release 'When A Wrong Turns Right'

In 2008 McCullough recorded Poor Man's Moon at Amberville Studios. The album is scheduled for release in Ireland only on September 5, 2008 and features new McCullough compositions and a number of songs co-written with poet Eamon Carr (of Horslips) including the single “Too Late to Worry” released in August.

Among the musicians featured on the album are James Delaney on keyboards; Roe Butcher on electric bass guitar; Nicky Scott on double bass and electric bass guitar; Enda Walsh on keyboards; Adie McIlduff on drums; Percy Robinson on dobro and pedal steel guitar and Peter McKinney on drums/sequencing.


George Harrison on "Blue Jay Way"

"Derek [Taylor] got held up. He rang to say he'd be late. I told him on the phone that the house was in Blue Jay Way. He said he could find it okay, he could always ask a cop."

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mary McCartney

Mary Anna McCartney (previously McCartney-Donald) (born in London on 28 August 1969) is a photographer. The first child of rock photographer Linda Eastman McCartney and Paul McCartney of The Beatles, Mary was named after her grandmother, Mary McCartney.

Mary has an older half-sister named Heather McCartney (born Heather Louise See in 1962 to Linda and Joseph Melville See Jr.), who was adopted by Paul McCartney; a younger sister, Stella (born 1971); and a younger brother, James (born 1977). Mary's mother, Linda, died from breast cancer in 1998. Mary has a much younger half-sister, Beatrice Milly McCartney, born to her father and his second wife Heather Mills in 2003.

The most famous photograph of Mary McCartney was taken by her mother; it is a photograph of her as a baby, peeking out from inside her father's jacket. The photograph is featured on the back cover of her father's first solo album, McCartney, (sometimes known as the "cherries" album).

After the birth of sister Stella, McCartney's parents formed the classic rock group Wings, with whom she and her siblings traveled the globe until 1980. She grew up to be a vegetarian and is passionate about animal rights like the rest of her family. She has stated that she values friendship and trust, takes pride in her children, and enjoys nature, roller coasters, the fashion of the Roaring Twenties, chocolate and the scent of lavender.

Professional life

Following in the footsteps of her mother, McCartney became a professional photographer. She was photo editor for the music-book publisher Omnibus Press and in 1992 began taking photographs professionally, specializing in portrait and fashion photography. Because her paternal grandmother and her mother died after long bouts with breast cancer, she began campaigning for breast cancer awareness in the United Kingdom. As a result, she became close friends with Cherie Blair, wife of former UK prime minister Tony Blair. This led to McCartney being chosen to take the first official photo of the prime minister and his wife with their fourth child, Leo, born 20 May 2000. Before this, the most well-known photos of hers were the last photographs taken of her mother, three weeks before her death. McCartney has taken portraits of Sam Taylor-Wood, Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, and of her sister Stella, who is a fashion designer.

Her first public photography exhibition was titled Off Pointe: A Photographic Study of The Royal Ballet After Hours. It includes offstage pictures of members of The Royal Ballet as part of the Brighton Festival Fringe, and was meant to showcase the difference between their grueling and often painful everyday lives and their storybook performances.

In 2001, McCartney produced the television documentary Wingspan, a story of her father's post-Beatles musical career, focusing on her parents' band Wings. She also interviews her father in the film. In 2005 she was employed by former Spice Girl Melanie C to be the official photographer for her album Beautiful Intentions. Melanie C then asked Mary to direct the video for her single "Better Alone."

McCartney now runs the picture department at her father's company, MPL Communications.

Personal life

In 1995, Mary McCartney's younger brother James introduced her to director and television producer Alistair Donald. After dating for three years, they set a wedding date for May 1998. Upon the death of her mother, the wedding was delayed and McCartney and Donald were married on 26 September 1998. On 3 April 1999, McCartney gave birth to Paul McCartney's first grandchild, Arthur Alistair Donald, making Paul the second Beatle grandfather (the first was Ringo Starr). The Donalds' second son, Elliot Donald, was born on 1 August 2002.

In April 2005, the couple announced their separation, but they have stated that the separation is only temporary and that they wish to reconcile for the sake of their two sons. Though there has been no official confirmation of their divorce as of 2007, she has dropped the surname Donald and returned to using her birth name professionally. On 11 August 2008, Mary gave birth to Sam Aboud, her first child with Simon Aboud.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

George Harrison on Getting Busted for Drugs, 1969

"I'm a tidy sort of bloke, I don't like chaos. I kept records in the record rack, tea in the tea caddy, and pot in the pot box. This was the biggest stick of hash I have ever seen and obviously I'd have known about it if I'd seen it before. Those who think this is a low down dirty thing to smoke pot will be further convinced they're right and we're wrong. But it will strengthen the others who follow us. We were once everybody's darlings. But it isn't like that any more. They hate us."

Beatles News