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…


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

Stax/Volt Revue | Live! in Europe 1967

17 05 2010

Back in 1967 Booker T & The MGs, Sam & Dave, Otis Redding, Arthur Conley and a host of other Stax artists took to the road. This was no ordinary tour either, this was a super charged European Tour that included some of the biggest names in American soul music. It was setup like a revue where every night was essentially the same program, starting out instrumental with Booker T, then it would slowly ramp up to Otis running through some of his biggest hits. A night in Oslo, Norway was captured on video and has since been released on DVD. That footage was edited down for a PBS special entitled “Sweet Soul Music: Stax Live in Europe 1967”. Below are six videos that together make up that PBS special. If played in their entirety, they will run right into each other. It’s about an hour of foot stomping fun, featuring some classic songs from some amazing talent.

The full set list is available at the bottom of this post. Keep in mind only a portion of that is captured in this abbreviated footage. Nevertheless, there are Stax hits like “Green Onions”, “Sweet Soul Music”, “Hold On, I’m Comin”, “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)” and Otis’ cover of The Rolling Stones “Satisfaction”. I really love the final moments of this footage. To the surprise of the M.C., Redding struts offstage and returns again and again and yet again, barking out the chorus while the band thrashes away and the crowd relishes the chance to rush the stage. Just minutes later the show is over, and the Norwegian audience neatly files out wondering what the hell had just hit them. Just a few months later Otis was killed in a plane crash, marking this as one of his last recorded performances. It’s truly remarkable. The whole revue is an amazing show that captures the essence of the Stax label and it’s contribution to American Soul music.

Full Sweet Soul Music Setlist:

Booker T and the MGs
1. Red Beans And Rice
2. Green Onions

The Mar-Keys
3.Philly Dog
4.Grab This Thing
5.Last Night

Arthur Conley
6.In The Midnight Hour
7.Sweet Soul Music

Eddie Floyd
8. Raise Your Hand

Sam and Dave
9. You Don’t Know Like I Know
10. Soothe Me
11. When Something Is Wrong With My Baby
12. Hold On! I’m Comin’

Otis Redding
13.Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)
14. My Girl
15. Shake
16. Satisfaction
17. Try A Little Tenderness


Buy the full Sweet Soul Music DVD on Amazon

More info on Stax Records

All About Jazz article/review

NY Times article/review

Press Release for the archived footage

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