Sir Paul @ The White House

2 08 2010

This past week PBS aired a special entitled: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song In Performance at the White House. It’s a real mouthful but then again, titles were never exactly PBS’ strong suit. The honoree this year was none-other-than Sir Paul McCartney, which should come as no surprise given the man is (literally) the most successful songwriter of all time. There were 2 stats that popped up during the presentation that were pretty astonishing to me. The first was that nearly 200 of his songs reached the charts. The second was more surprising, collectively these songs have spent a total of 32 years on the charts… 32 years! The special itself was pretty cool. It included some performances by Paul, some brief MC work from Jerry Seinfeld, numerous guest performances by other artist who honored Paul by covering his material and, of course, the President presenting Paul with his award. The whole thing can be watched in it’s entirety on the PBS website, which you can find a link to in the ‘references’ section at the bottom of this post. For a quick sneak peek you can find a few of my favorite moments right below.

Here is Jack White performing a great version of the Lennon/McCartney tune “Mother Nature’s Son” from The Beatles (The White Album).

Here is Stevie Wonder doing his amazing cover of yet another Lennon/McCartney collaboration, “We Can Work It Out”. This tune is on Stevie’s album Signed, Sealed, Delivered and in my opinion stands as one of the best interpretations of another artist’s song I’ve ever heard. It does what every cover is intended to do. It honors the original while putting a very unique (and in this case, compelling) spin on it.

This last one is a bit of a montage. It’s starts with Paul himself playing the classic “Michelle”. He gives a very charming introduction that is playfully apologetic to the Commander in Chief for singing such a flirty song to the First Lady. Unfortunately, this song is abbreviated, transitioning into “Eleanor Rigby” and then quickly cutting away to the actual award presentation. This version of the presentation is the long, unedited one. If you watch the version of the PBS site, they edit out some of the typical political rhetoric that usually accompanies such events. That version just sticks to what’s important about this evening: honoring a legend. Nevertheless, should you be curious you can see it all below…

References:

See the entire PBS Special

More info on Paul McCartney

More info on The Gershwin Prize

More info on The Library of Congress

More info on Barack Obama

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I Want To Be Your Man

7 05 2010

This is one of The Stones earlier hit singles. It’s a Lennon/McCartney tune that was written a bit hastily on request. Mic and the boys had run into John and Paul back in November of ’63. They were short on material and asked if they had any songs for them. John and Paul went back to the studio with them and quickly threw together “I Want To Be Your Man” from a single verse they had worked out previously. It never was released by The Rolling Stones on a full LP, but was available as a 45 in both the UK and US. It even climbed as high as No. 12 on the UK charts. The Beatles released their own version of the song just three weeks later. It’s quite different but still very good, featuring Ringo on lead vocals. John later said of the song, “That shows how much importance we put on it. We weren’t going to give them anything great, right?”. I love that, it’s some very funny commentary. The two bands were actually very friendly, but obviously with an ego like Lennon’s he was always competitive… even with his own band mates. Each group had there own take on the song, both of which illustrated their respective points of view. The Stones’ was rough and raw, with loud amps and screaming vocals. The Beatles’, while still not tame, was much sweeter with nice pop sensibilities. These two old videos are great examples of both.

The Rolling Stones

The Beatles





The Beatles | I’ve Just Seen A Face

6 04 2010

I just love this Beatles tune “I’ve Just Seen A Face”. It’s originally from the 1965 album Help! but was also added to the Capitol Records version of Rubber Soul for it’s American release.  Although credited as Lennon/McCartney it is actually a McCartney song. Paul is especially fond of it as evidenced by the fact that not only does he still play it live today, it was also just one of 5 Beatles songs he played during his Wings Over America Tour in 1975. Notable because at this point he was really shying away from all things Beatles. It’s one of the few songs in the entire Beatles catalog that is a country tune. Given the tempo, it could almost even be categorized as Bluegrass except that there is no banjo or fiddle. The instrumentation is a bit unique. There is no bass, just guitars with a snare drum and tambourine. If you are not too familiar, you have to check it out. It’s one of Lady GG’s favorite songs from the Fab Four and I can’t blame her… just have a listen.

Apparently a lot of musicians like this song as there are numerous covers. I found just a few that I thought I would share. I really like David Lee Roth’s and Eddie Vedder’s versions. Lady GG is obsessed with the Jim Sturgess version:

David Lee Roth’s tasteful cover… not the usual Diamond Dave, it’s actually VERY good

Eddie Vedder doing it a cappella at a Pearl Jam concert

Paul & Wings on the Wings Over America Tour circa 1975

Jim Sturgess’s version from the film Across The Universe








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