Really down

Amazing. Sad. It’s been thirty years since the murder. Lots of great post-Beatles songs — “Imagine,” “Jealous Guy,” “Watching the Wheels,” “Mind Games”…..but today I am thinking about The Beatles at Shea Stadium performing “I’m Down,” featuring a great lead vocal by Paul McCartney and wild organ playing and spectacular showmanship by the band’s leader, the late lamented John Lennon.

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Imagine…

Imagine if the Beatles had stayed together just a few more years…if they had recorded just one more album…What early (1970-1975) post-Beatles songs might have appeared on that fantasy Beatles album?

That was the theme of an article I read in some British newspaper a few months back. The writer, Neil McCormick of the Guardian, came up with this track list:

Side One: Instant Karma (John), Band on the Run (Paul), What Is Life (George), Love (John), The Back Seat of My Car (Paul), Back Off Boogaloo (Ringo), Mind Games (John).
Side Two: Gimme Some Truth (John), Let Me Roll It (Paul), Jealous Guy (John), Maybe I’m Amazed (Paul), #9 Dream (John), All Things Must Pass (George), Junk (Paul).

I say drop “Back Seat” and “Band On the Run” and “Let Me Roll it” and “Gimme Some Truth” and replace them with two more songs by George — “Beware of Darkness” and “Isn’t It a Pity” — and a different song by John — “Imagine.”  And I say drop Ringo — just let him play drums…

Here’s my track list:
Side One: Instant Karma, Beware of Darkness, #9 Dream, All Things Must Pass, Mind Games
Side Two: Love, Maybe I’m Amazed, Isn’t It a Pity, Jealous Guy,  Junk, What Is Life, Imagine

Imagine that…

And imagine if John Lennon and Paul McCartney, watching television one night at the Dakota, really acted on their impulse, got into a cab and rode to 30 Rock, and walked onto the set of “Saturday Night Live” to accept Lorne Michaels’ generous offer:

And just in case the song’s not familiar…here’s Paul McCartney’s “Junk” —

Yesterday, indeed

My son’s doing a study abroad program in London, where he just visited the British Museum and saw (among, I’m sure, many other wonders) two of the four original manuscripts of Magna Carta and handwritten original Beatles lyrics including “Yesterday” by Sir Paul McCartney.

The “Yesterday” lyrics are 40-something years old. The Magna Carta’s a little less poetic but was already, what, 750 years old or so when McCartney got this melody stuck in his head — a melody he originally titled “Scrambled Eggs” as a sort of placeholder until he came up with a song (written by a rich young man in his early 20s, mind you, in which he bemoaned bygone days when he was young and innocent and carefree.

One thing that “Yesterday” has over Magna Carta: It’s a little punchier, a little more poetic, a little more evocative, and a lot easier to hum along with. But Magna Carta is actually interesting reading, with stuff like “No sheriff of bailiff of ours or of anyone else is to take anyone’s horses or carts to make carriage unless he renders the payment customarily due, namely for a two-horse cart ten pence a day, and for a three-horse cart fourteen pence a day…”

And it’s probably will prove to be a little more important in the long term than the lyrics of the Beatles, although I do expect they will still be listened to and revered hundreds of years from now, just like Betthoven and Bach.

But the Magna Carta…I might not have the freedom to write this blog, to express myself freely, if not for that little declaration by the British King John, who in 1215 basically succumbed to public pressure agreed that even monarch were obliged to follow and respect the rule of law. Without the Magna Carta there probably would not have been an American Revolution — in which the colonists basically reminded King George that he was forgetting where he came from…

In any event, seeing the Magna Carta and Beatles lyrics on the very same day seems to me almost more than the human eye can stare at safely in the course of one day of seeing. I’d say there’s a decent chance that my son — who has also seen some other amazing sights in Paris (including Notre Dame cathedral) and elsewhere in England (including Stonehenge and St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Parliament building and, most significant of them all, the crosswalk at Abbey Road) will need a stronger prescription for his glasses when he gets back home in about two weeks.