George Martin

George Martin has died at the age of 90..

I can’t begin to tell you how much pleasure George Martin has added to my life. Here is “In My Life,” which includes the famous piano bridge written and performed by Martin:

And this is how Wikipedia describes the bridge:

The song was recorded on 18 October 1965, and was complete except for the instrumental bridge. At that time, Lennon had not decided what instrument to use, but he subsequently asked George Martin to play a piano solo, suggesting “something Baroque-sounding”. Martin wrote a Bach-influenced piece that he found he could not play at the song’s tempo. On 22 October, the solo was recorded with the tape running at half speed, so when played back at normal pace the piano was twice as fast and an octave higher, solving the performance challenge and also giving the solo a unique timbre, reminiscent of a harpsichord.

It’s hard to believe that this song has been around for over 50 years.

Delilah and Dalila

One of Jon Vickers’s greatest roles was in Samson et Dalila by Saint-Saens.  So of course his death brought to mind Florence + The Machine’s song Delilah from their excellent new album “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful”:

If that’s not to your taste, here is Vickers again:


Two minutes and forty seconds of immortality

Once upon a time I had a tape of “The Best of Louie, Louie” from the inimitable Rhino Records. (My favorite track was the version by the Rice University Marching Owls Band.  What a great song for a marching band!  I was less impressed by the versions where you could actually make out the lyrics.  Who cares what the song is really about?

Amazon tells me I can also purchase “Love that Louie: The Louie Files” , “The Best of Louie Louie Vol 02“, and other compilations.  I guess this tells you the song is a classic.

Jack Ely, the Kingsmen’s lead singer, died yesterday, so let’s take this outa here — let’s go!

Percy Sledge may be dead, but his song will never die

Here is “When a Man Loves a Woman” sung (pretty well) by someone in the Chinese version of “The Voice”:

OK, fine, but there will never be anything like the original:

Hearkening back to our discussions of first person vs. third person: notice how the song starts out in the third person, and then abruptly changes into the first person, and suddenly becomes infinitely more powerful.  Percy isn’t talking in generalities now; he is talking about himself.  And therefore he’s talking about each of us.


An apology to “Louie, Louie”

I realize my previous post was perhaps not sufficiently deferential to “Louie, Louie.”  It is, of course, a work of immense cultural and artistic significance — just not a song you want to hear after a presidential assassination.  I used to own a tape of Rhino’s “The Best of Louie, Louie,” which of course includes the hit Kingsmen version, plus — my favorite — a rockin’ rendition by the Rice University Marching Owl Band.  There are even versions where you can hear the actual lyrics, not that the lyrics are necessary to enjoy the song.

Here are the Kingsmen in all their unintelligible glory:

As Tears Go By

I didn’t read Keith Richards’ Life, but my lovely wife did.  She loved it, which means I had large chunks of the book narrated to me.  I particularly liked the story of the Rolling Stones’ manager, Andrew Oldham, locking Richards and Mick Jagger (then both 21 years old) in the kitchen of their apartment and not letting them out until they had written their first song.  He thought the Stones had to expand beyond covers, as the Beatles had done.

What they came out of the kitchen with was a sweet little pop ballad called As Time Goes By.  Not Stones material.  Also, turned out there was already a song called As Time Goes By.  Who knew?  So Oldham changed the title to As Tears Go By, and they gave the song to the incredibly young Marianne Faithfull.  Here she is singing it in 1965 (aged 18).  Was she told not to move an inch during the taping?

Here is the Stones version, which was released as the B-side of 19th Nervous Breakdown later that year.  Jagger sings, Richards plays the guitar, and there is a string section; the rest of the Stones are nowhere to be found.