It’s just a Submarine, dammit! (or is it?)

The Beatles were very lenient with the public’s interpretations of their songs.

 

In fact, only one or two times did the lads insist that the public’s comments about their lyrics was “dead wrong.” Toward the end of his life, John Lennon was adamant that “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was not about LSD! (And Paul McCartney backed him up on this). Similarly, Paul once said, “Personally, I think you can put any interpretation you want on anything! But when someone suggests that “Can’t Buy Me Love” is about a prostitute, I draw the line! That’s going too far.” (1)  But other than these two exceptions, as a rule, The Beatles welcomed the public’s multi-colored explanations of Beatles lyrics. In fact, they came to expect it.

 

I can just imagine Paul “laying in bed in the Asher’s garret,” (2)  working on the lyrics for “Yellow Submarine.” I can almost see the glimmer in his eye as he imagines what the “average Jill or Joe,” the scholarly professor, and the protester are going to make of his “simple children’s song.” It must have amused him.

 

The thing is…every single Beatles LP included a song for Ringo. And this is Ringo’s Revolver song, written in his tight vocal range and fitted for his “down-to-earth,” genuine personality. Ringo possessed a gentleness that appealed to many people, including children. (Hence, his work as Mr. Conductor on Shining Time’s (Series One) Thomas the Tank Engine show and his I Wanna Be Santa Claus CD years later). Paul’s placing of Ringo in the classic role of storyteller for “Yellow Submarine” was ideal. It worked.

 

But almost as soon as the LP was released, critics began to offer up far-flung, complex explanations of the magical song’s “deep and hidden meanings.” Here are just a few:

 

  • 1.) Sir Paul’s Explanation – Paul says he was trying to create “a story, a sort of [tale of] an ancient mariner, telling the young kids where he’d lived.” Tim Riley points out that Paul wanted to create a song “suited to the drummer’s humble charm,” (3) an enchanted story of a lovely life beneath the sea. To accomplish this, Paul’s original tale was populated by many submarines of vivid colors, but as McCartney honed the story, it became the narrative of one yellow submarine and the magical people aboard this legendary vessel. (4)

 

In fact, Paul told author Barry Miles, “I was thinking of it as a song for Ringo, which it eventually turned out to be…I quite like children’s things; I like children’s minds and imagination. So it didn’t seem uncool to me to have a pretty surreal idea that was also a children’s idea. I thought also, with Ringo being so good with children—a knockabout-uncle type—it might not be a bad idea for him to have a children’s song, rather than a very serious song. He wasn’t that keen on singing.” (5)

 

In short, on Side One of Revolver – a highly complex, intense compendium of thought-provoking songs – Paul’s concept was to offer up a simple ditty with “short words…which would be picked up quickly and sung by children.” (6) It was to be a breath of fresh air, as it were.

 

  • 2.) Donovan’s Story – During the writing of Revolver, Donovan and McCartney were close friends, in the habit of dropping in on one another at a moment’s notice to share their latest compositions. Donovan says, “One of the songs Paul played for me was about a yellow submarine, but he was missing a line or two. He asked me if I’d like to make a contribution. I left the room and came back with ‘sky of blue and sea of green.'” (7) And with an insider’s eye on the song’s composition, Donovan goes on to say that he felt Paul was using “Yellow Submarine” to convey the story of The Beatles.

 

Indeed, on the 2 May 2014  Howard Stern Show, Donovan stated: “It’s not really a submarine; it’s really about the life that [The Beatles] had been forced into living inside their own lives in the white tower called ‘Beatle fame’ and not really having any contact with reality out there anymore…you know, we are insulated from the outer world.” Donovan believed that “the friends aboard the submarine” were The Beatles’ entourage and close friends/associates, and that the sea was the protective bubble surrounding the group, encasing them while at the same time, cutting them off from life at large.

 

  • 3.) The Drug Innuendo Theory – In the summer of 1966, a popular drug had been released in New York: Nembutal capsules which were large, elongated, bluntly-rounded, and yellow – thus acquiring the nickname “Yellow Submarines.” But McCartney – who had no problem admitting that he used marijuana and enjoyed it – resisted the implication that his song celebrated the new drug. Paul insisted that the only “yellow submarines” he’d ever tasted were sugary Greek sweets that had to be dropped into water to be consumed. (8)  As the drug culture loudly contended that The Beatles were giving them a “secret nod of approval,” Robert Christgua of Esquire magazine vehemently refuted this claim. He wrote:  “I can’t believe that The Beatles indulge in the simplistic kind of symbolism that turns a yellow submarine into a Nembutal or a banana—it is just a yellow submarine, dammit!” 

 

  • 4.) The Political Statement Philosophy – Because a submarine is, as Robert Rodriguez has aptly pointed out, “a piece of military equipment,” (9) it was only moments after the song’s release that radicals began applauding The Beatles for the strong anti-Vietnam statement espoused in “Yellow Submarine.” In fact, one imaginative reviewer wrote: “The Yellow Submarine may suggest, in the context of The Beatles’ anti-Vietnam War statement in Tokyo this year, that the society over which Old Glory floats is as isolated and morally irresponsible as a nuclear submarine.” (10) Jumping on the bandwagon in droves, various 1966-1967 protest groups embraced “Yellow Submarine” as their anti-war anthem. But none of The Beatles seconded this notion or gave it credence.

 

Naturally, there are other wild-eyed theories out there, some as far-fetched as the notion that the song proves John Lennon’s obsession with phallic-symbols (echoed by John’s submarine bath scene in A Hard Day’s Night). But since John had nothing to do with the writing of “Yellow Submarine,” this argument rather collapses under its own weight, doesn’t it?

 

So…what say you? Which theory do you believe? Paul proclaimed, “I knew ‘Yellow Submarine’ would get connotations, but it really was a children’s song.” (11) Or was it? Send us your thoughts, opinions, and ideas, and we’ll share them with one another. Furthermore, if you have a theory we haven’t discussed, send that along as well! We’d love to hear from you!

 

The measure of a great work of literature is that decades after its creation, the work’s depth of meaning is still being debated and discussed. Paul might have set out to create a unpretentious, light-hearted song, but for The Beatles, a masterpiece was always the final destination. And so it is here as well.   


1. The Beatles, The Anthology, 114.
2. Turner, A Hard Day’s Write, 198, and Riley, Tell Me Why, 187.
3. Riley, Tell Me Why, 188.
4. Turner, 108.
5. Miles, Many Years from Now, 286-287.
6. Turner, 108.
7. Turner, 108.
8. Turner, 109.
9. Rodriguez, Robert, Revolver: How The Beatles Re-Imagined Rock’n’Roll, 140.
10. Doggett, Peter, There’s a Riot Going On: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars, and the Rise and Fall of the ’60s, 107–108.  
11. Turner, 109


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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Only Sleeping?

Anyone who considered John Lennon lazy didn’t know John well. John “worked smart, not hard,” but he worked without ceasing. Even while piled up in bed with his many pillows and guitar, John was never indolent. He was composing songs, listening to the telly for ideas, reading and scribbling notes on a sheet of paper — discovering concepts that he would later put to use.

 

His Aunt Mimi had taught the boy to create: to “Do something productive, John!” (whether that “something” was writing, composing, meditating, reading, listening, or absorbing). And the place where John was most creative was in his room. In his early Hamburg days, John wrote about this topic in There’s A Place. He sang:

 

“There’s a place, where I can go,

when I feel low, when I feel blue…

and it’s my mind…”

 

So where did he retreat to live inside the mind, to be inspired? Well, for John, that place where dreams could translate into beauty was always found in bed. Even as a little boy, John sat on his bedspread above the Mendips’ glassed-in porch and cut out dancing paper skeletons, illustrated his “Sport and Speed” serial stories, and sadly, sang himself to sleep. Bed was his retreat, the place where he could imagine.

 

So, in 1966, when he penned “I’m Only Sleeping” for Revolver, John created not a bored and listless throw-away number but a powerful and ironic song. The irony falls upon the word, “ONLY.” John cheekily saying to us, “I’m only writing a great poem.” “I’m only building something magical.” “I’m only composing.”

 

What Lennon is doing in his room – in his bed – is bigger than “running everywhere at such a speed.” He’s chosen the higher road; he’s chosen to stop, breathe, think, and create. And wonderfully, John’s letting you and me into his half-awake, half-asleep realm: The Land of Incredible Ideas.

 

For the first time in a long time, John turned to “our kid,” to his little brother (as it were) George, to help him bring this dream realm to life. In EMI Studio 2, John and George began the song’s recording, softly playing acoustic guitars in the key of E minor. They performed a bit faster than John wanted the song to be recorded, making it possible for George Martin to slow and mellow the sound, post-recording. (1)

 

But that wasn’t all…George Harrison had something special up his sleeve. He announced that he had composed a lead melody line intended intentionally to be played backward. More specifically, Harrison composed this line so that the tape could be run backwards and then and then only, the tune that George wanted to hear would emerge. (2)

 

But there’s more: Not only did Harrison play this line once on his guitar, but George played it again using his Gibson SG run through a fuzz box – varying the lines very slightly so that when they were played together they produced a blurry, ethereal sound. Dreamlike, unreal.

 

So if we’re being totally honest here, “I’m Only Sleeping” isn’t just a John Lennon creation, it’s a Lennon/Harrison composition…a superb collaboration that well exceeds their early endeavor, “Cry for a Shadow.”

 

For those out there who still see this complex song as a nod to the escape world of sleep, you’re also right! In 1966, John was suffering from what today we would diagnose as “clinical depression.” He had all the symptoms. He had gained weight; he was lashing out at Cynthia, the other Beatles, and the EMI staff. He was bored with everything and recklessly displeased with everything. John seemed to have lost interest in the world around him. Therefore, he retreated more and more often into the altered world of drugs and the magical, shadow world of sleep.  On a literal level, that explanation of his mood does exist in this song.

 

But “I’m Only Sleeping” is about so very much more. The key to its depth and meaning can be found in the lyrics.  In “Tomorrow Never Knows,” when John is singing about merely escaping reality, he “turns off his mind, relaxes, and floats downstream.” But in “I’m Only Sleeping,” he intentionally says,

 

“When I’m in the middle of a dream
Stay in bed, float up stream…”

 

Float up stream? Notice here that John’s fully-engaged and actually moving against the current. He’s willing himself to progress, to achieve, to be inspired…and to turn inspiration into music. Surely, that’s not escape, is it? No, this is something else.

 

“I’m Only Sleeping” mattered to John. He was very particular about the way he wanted it to be recorded. When he heard the initial playback of the song, John asked that Paul be taken off the vibraphone. Instead, John wanted Paul returned to his Hofner bass, to render that mellow, soft, wistful quality that you hear between the lines. John wanted to “make it dreamier and more mystical sounding.” (3) Paul was even instructed to yawn around Minute Two.

 

What John was trying to recreate was “the place” where he could go when he was low, when he was blue. He was, uncharacteristically, inviting us in. John Lennon was admitting us into his inner sanctum. That was and still is quite a privilege.

 

But instead of being honored, many music critics and fans criticized the song and the singer. They pointed fingers at him and called him slothful.

 

“No good deed goes unpunished,” John often smirked. Then, he retreated to bed, to the kingdom of imagination. And glaring, he closed the door.


1. Guesdon, Jean-Michel and Margotin, Phlippe, All The Songs, 328 Rodriguez, Robert. Revolver: How The Beatles Re-Imagined Rock’n’Roll, 101. The voice was over-dubbed and sped up while the rhythm track was slowed down.

2. Emerick, Geoff. Here, There, and Everywhere, 124 and conversation with Geoff Emerick, May 2016. Emerick is very clear about the fact that George really struggled to record this bit for the song making the recording session “one hard day’s night.”

3. Guesdon, Jean-Michel and Margotin, Phlippe, All The Songs, 328 and Rodriguez, Robert. Revolver: How The Beatles Re-Imagined Rock’n’Roll, 130. Rodriguez’s work is a “not to be missed” book on Revolver.


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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The Fest for Beatles Fans Dialogue on Revolver, Part 1

It was the blistering and bewildering summer of ’66. The Westinghouse air conditioner humming in my bedroom window provided more noise than relief as Emily Moss, Emily Wofford, and Patty Dalme waited impatiently as I carefully removed Revolver from its strange black and white cardboard sleeve.

 

I placed it on the turntable. Moss ate sliced lemons, dipped liberally into a saucer of fine sugar -– a dentist’s daydream of potential cavities. Patty and Emily smacked their Double Bubble and lazily thumbed through the latest Datebook. And, gauging my audience, I adjusted the volume on my new Magnavox record player as the count-in to “Taxman” began. That was the blistering part.

 

The half-hour or so that followed was the bewildering part…as if the summer of 1966 weren’t upsetting enough to four conservative girls from North Louisiana: boys in paisley shirts! Moms in vinyl raincoats and Mary Quant caps! The endless Vietnam War protests…the violent race riots! Our idyllic, happy days, we thought, were all but gone. Life had become bizarre and complex.

 

As we listened to “For No One” and “She Said, She Said” and finally, “Tomorrow Never Knows,” Revolver seemed the strangest part of that odd, pogo stick summer. For a few uncomfortable moments, as the needle found the scratchy play-out grooves, we were afraid to say anything. It took all the courage I could muster to even look at my friends.

 

“Well…” I had recently taken up swearing as an emblem of adult independence, “what the hell has happened to The Beatles?
“Yeah, what was that?” Emily Wofford shook herself the way a cat does when you’ve been holding it closely and set it free.
“That reeeeeeked!” Patty always knew her mind and spoke it.

 

Woffie and I nodded and shook our heads, agreeing but completely disgusted. But there was one in every crowd, or so they said.

 

“Ah, I don’t know,” Emily Moss sprawled out full-length on the bedspread, the way my Mother had told us never to do, “I thought it was pretty damn cool!” That was Moss. Her brother, Donald, was in a real band. He wore fringed, knee-length, moccasin boots, had long hair and colored beads that draped the doorway to his bedroom. If we had a “cutting edge” in our junior high foursome, Moss was definitely the one.

 

“Pffft! Define cool if that’s cool!” Woffie demanded.
“Yeah, well, I hated it,” I cut across the cool issue. “John didn’t even sound like John! And he was hardly on the record anyway! What’s the use of the record if John’s not there?” It was, after all, the Capitol version.

 

And so the discussion went in many bedrooms and family rooms and cars and soda shops and A&W Root Beer Stands and striped-awning Water Ice shops and narrow-laned hamburger joints across America. Was Revolver the most innovative, ground-breaking, breath of fresh air LP that The Beatles had ever created? Or was it junk? Was it art or was it a piece of “The Emperor’s New Clothes?” Was it brilliance or pure nonsense?

 

Over the next few months, I hope you’ll join me as we discuss these things together and share insights into each song on the Revolver LP. Every two weeks, I’ll post established research about Revolver from Beatles music scholars such as Robert Rodriguez, Walter Everett, Bruce Spizer, Anthony Robustelli, Aaron Krerowicz, Tim Riley, and many others. I’ll also propose a few of my own new and original ideas about the tracks.

 

I hope you’ll join in and share your facts and opinions and help us create The Fest for Beatles Fans Blog Dialogue on Revolver. We need YOU (Yeah, you! You in the paisley shirt!) to supplement what I’ll be sharing with additional and interesting information in our Comments Section.

 

There are so many controversial theories about the meanings of these songs and about the ways in which they were created and performed. So at times, we may disagree. That’s wonderful as long as we all disagree politely. All respectful opinions will be posted for everyone to enjoy. We want you all to be a part of this collaborative project and to jump in with your thoughts and information. Let’s work together to examine Revolver 50 years later and to find out what we’ve learned since the Summer of 1966!

 

To kick it all off, tell us your story!!! Where were you when you heard Revolver for the first time? And what, pray tell, did you think about it?

 

Hey, wait a sec…let me grab a cold Fresca and unwrap my Moonpie. Okay, there we go! Now I’m ready. Do tell!

 


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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Say the Word

You’re probably not surprised to find out that my husband played in a band (mainly rhythm guitar, but he also plays bass and piano). And, he’s recorded his own CD of original songs called Preferred Risk. Over the last few days, I’ve heard one of his songs –- called “Words” –- playing in a loop in my head. The “hook” or catch phrase is this:

 

Words that are written down –
Meanings realized –
Words placed together
Change our lives.

 

What could be more true? Think of all the wonderful words that have altered the course of your life: “I do.” “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” or “It’s twins!” or “You won!” or “I have your back.” Or “You’ll be attending (your favorite school’s name here) this fall!” or “I love you.” These words lift us up for years to come.

 

John Lennon placed his heart’s longing and his life’s purpose in the hands of words. He said quite honestly, “Half of what I say in meaningless. But I say it just to reach you, Julia.” In that simple, honest line he offered up, unabashedly, his life’s mission statement. And throughout his years here, John did just that. He used words to try to reach the “girl in a million, my friend,” the lovely Julia Lennon.

 

Paul McCartney, likewise, tried endlessly to explain to Jane Asher through his lyrics that he needed her to relinquish her career and “be with him” if they were to be happy. In one song after another (increasingly argumentative), he pled his case via “What You’re Doing,” “I’m Looking Through You,” “We Can Work it Out,” “You Won’t See Me,” and even “Here, There, and Everywhere.” Paul kept saying in plaintive words: “I need you to give up what you’re doing and be there for me.” He phrased it in every version possible.

 

Why? Because Paul knew that words have great appeal, great power. American poet Carl Sandburg realized that when he wrote this simple but unforgettable poem, “Primer Lesson.”


Look out how you use proud words.
When you let proud words go, it is not easy to call them back.
They wear long boots, hard boots; they walk off proud; they can’t hear you calling–
Look out how you use proud words.

 

No one understood this simple or “primer” lesson better than John Lennon. When his long and complicated discussion with journalist Maureen Cleave ended up being dissected, lifted out of context, and placed on the cover of Datebook magazine, John discovered how quickly the things we say and write can get away from us…can stalk off to live sordid lives of their own without our being able to “call them back.” Over and over and over on the 1966 North American Tour, in press conference after press conference, John apologized for his words about The Beatles being “more popular than Jesus.” But it was to no avail. His words had taken on a life of their own.

 

I’m a news junkie, and last night as I was listening to a rehashing of the day’s events, I decided that about 80 percent of our news items center on things that people have said: words or phrases about someone else, to someone else, about another country, agency, political candidate, or alleged crime for which they are being investigated. We even have a term for this sort of thing; we call it “a sound byte.” Words dominate our politics as well as our private lives.

 

Because society is inexorably “tied at the hip” (or “tied at the hype,” as you choose) to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and every other social media “flava of the month,” words have become dangerous weapons hurled at others on the spur of the moment.

 

We Tweet without censure. We blast someone on Facebook. We “Like” or “Dislike” and leave nasty comments for one another at will. We use words to wound, accuse, blame, and tear down. Without any concrete evidence, we sling vile accusations that have zero basis in fact. And we think that is acceptable. It’s not.

 

John and Paul would have been the first to warn us all that words, once spoken (or written) cannot be retrieved. Indeed, Paul eloquently sang, “Her words (and kindness) linger on when she no longer needs you.”

 

Images fade. Over time, facts blur. But the words that someone speaks to us and about us linger on. We remember.

 

What does Paul McCartney remember about his Mother Mary? He remembers her words: “Let it be.”

 

What does John Lennon say will set you free? “The Word.”

 

What immediately ties you to George Harrison? A single word. “Something.”

 

And without Ringo’s words (for example, “Tomorrow Never Knows”) Beatles history would have been quite different.

 

In Liverpool, one of my favorite spots is the “bombed out church” now turned into a garden of reflection in the heart of the city. Here, the violence of war has been turned into a retreat of peace. The wreckage of a bomb’s tragic destruction is daily being transformed into beauty.

 

But the wreckage of words will not reverse itself as easily. Children are “crippled inside” for a lifetime by the words we say. Families are torn apart. Friendships are ended with no hope of reparation. Marriages are injured. Look out how you use words. They have a dark magic all their own. And, my friends, it is large and in charge.


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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Magic Man: Geoff Emerick

“What kind of life am I living?”

 

That’s the question I’ve asked myself many times over the past 31 years as I’ve been extremely privileged to meet and interview many of John Lennon’s childhood friends, early band members, family members and Beatles associates in the process of writing The John Lennon Series. I’ve been so fortunate to get to know many people whom I never dreamed I’d even have the opportunity to meet!! And, let me hasten to say that that great good luck has never been taken for granted! Each day, I’m immensely grateful.

 

This past weekend, I was invited by the good folks at the GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi to meet Geoff Emerick and then hear him speak and answer questions about his stellar career. And having long been a student of his book, Here, There, and Everywhere and an admirer of his remarkable work with The Beatles as Engineer on Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Abbey Road, I was elated. I knew I’d enjoy the time spent with Geoff, but truly…it was even better than I’d anticipated.

 

 

Dressed in a plaid shirt, beige chinos, and high-top olive Converse, Geoff was casual – kind and unassuming. When I introduced my husband and myself to him, he shook my hand and said, “Geoff Emerick.” (As if we wouldn’t know!) He was honest (saying “I don’t remember” or “I can’t recall” when he didn’t). He was funny and articulate. And, he was very generous with his time, giving the intimate audience of less than 50 people two full hours of his time and memories…and then spending a great deal of time off stage signing autographs, answering questions one-on-one, and taking photos.

 

It was an incredible evening, and I thought you might enjoy hearing a few of the wonderful quips and quotes that he imparted to those who gathered to share “An Evening with Geoff Emerick.”

 

On John Lennon:

 

“He was the most aggressive of the four Beatles, but when he sang his voice held the most emotion. Tender. I always guessed he was thinking about his childhood.”

 

On Ringo Starr:

 

“He drummed his heart out in the studio! When the evening ended, there were broken pieces of drum sticks all over the floor.”

 

On recording the final guitar solos for “The End”:

 

“Yoko went literally everywhere with John. I mean, she sat on the floor outside the bathroom when he went in. But when he entered the studio to play his solo on ‘The End,’ he put up both hands and stopped her. ‘Not this time, luv,’ he said. And when they played those solos, they were sixteen again.”

 

On Mal Evans:

 

“The boys used to get rather aggravated with Mal if he didn’t have the things they needed. So he kept a roadie bag of just about everything: bandages, biscuits, elastic, tea, sugar, guitar strings, fuses…”

 

On George Harrison’s Indian music:

 

“Paul and John shared a nod ’n’a wink when George was recording his ‘new sound.’ I could tell they were thinking, ‘It’s all very nice, but it isn’t The Beatles, is it?’ But they went along.”

 

On The Beatles after Rishikesh:

 

“After India, they came back different…people we hardly knew. Dressed differently, they acted differently. Niggling at me. They weren’t the same people, and it wasn’t a change for the better.”

 

On Click Tracks:

 

“The only time we used a click track was in making ‘Eleanor Rigby.’ There was one playing in George Martin’s headset as he conducted the octet. Otherwise, we didn’t use them. They made the music too… artificial.”

 

On his knack with music:

 

“When I was a little boy, I had a toy gramophone on which I played 78’s. After I heard a song, I could sit down at the piano and play back what exactly I had heard. I didn’t have to plunk around for the correct notes. I knew where the next one would be.”

 

On recording:

 

“I see it as painting a picture with tonalities.”

 

 

 

 

On mono vs. stereo recordings:

 

“The mono mixes were made with The Beatles there, giving their input. They were never around for the stereo mixes. That was George Martin’s interpretation of what they’d want…and my interpretation. So, the mono recordings are the definitive mix.”

 

On Revolver:

 

“The role of the engineer changed with ‘Tomorrow Never Knows.’ No longer was I there just to capture sound. I was now creating sound.”

 

As you can see, it was a fantastic evening. Geoff would talk about a track, and then we’d play it and listen together. How exciting was that?!

 

Many of the aspects of being an author are less than glamorous: standing for eight to ten hours in a booth and stopping strangers with “Have you heard about the book?” just to get your work into the hands of readers is next-to-awful. But having the rare opportunity to chat with Geoff Emerick (or Bill Harry or Bob Wooler or Rod Murray) makes it all worth it.

 

When Geoff Emerick was invited by George Martin to become the Engineer on Revolver, he was fondly known to The Beatles as “Golden Ears.” And one can see why. However, after this past Saturday night, I’ll always think of him as “Magic Man.” His expertise, ground-breaking recording techniques and invention of new equipment (such as the Automatic Double Tracking device) astound me. But even more impressive is Geoff’s in-depth understanding of what The Beatles’ vision was for their music and his innate ability to give that vision life.

 

Geoff helped deliver the magic that became Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Abbey Road. Winning Grammys for these three LPs was, of course, incredibly well-deserved. But he won much more, didn’t he? Our hearts.


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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2016 New York Metro Fest Recap!

Dear Beatles Family,

 

What a weekend we had at the Fest in New York!

 

John, Paul, George, and Ringo did it again…the unity and atmosphere over the weekend was truly remarkable to see, and we have YOU to thank for it.

 

At #FESTCHESTER, thousands of Beatlemaniacs came together at the Hilton Westchester in Rye Brook, New York to celebrate all things Beatles, including the 50th Anniversary of Revolver. This is our collective recap…

 

If you get to the bottom of this email and these pics aren’t enough for your vicarious re-living of the New York Metro Fest, our first album on Facebook from the Fest’s Danny Abriano is already up HERE, as is Michelle Joni’s first album HERE. We’ll be adding more albums in the coming days, so be on the lookout! We’ll also be putting together a fans album, so be sure to tag your pics with #FESTCHESTER if you haven’t already.

 

Also head to and subscribe to our YouTube page, where videos from the New York Metro Fest have already gone up and many more are on the way!

 

The hotel started to fill with fans early in the week, and excitement built up as we set up the hotel. Lobby jams started, Beatles music started pumping both inside and outside the hotel, and fans explored the spacious and serene Hilton Westchester, preparing for the fab three days that were to come.

 


 

The FEST officially kicked off at 5 PM on Friday, April 15 as fans brought their Beatley swagger with them to more than a dozen ballrooms throughout the hotel. Along with our band, Liverpool, perfectly recreating Beatles tracks note for note, our guests included PETER ASHER, CHAD AND JEREMY, BILLY J. KRAMER, MIKE PENDER, MARK RIVERA, MARK HUDSON, and LOUISE HARRISON, most of whom joined emcee KEN DASHOW of Q104.3 (he called himself “hopalong Ken” over the weekend) on Friday night for a chat.

 

 

 

 

Friday night continued on with the 60s Dress Up contest and Dance Party –- where LIVERPOOL treated Festers to three rocking sets of Beatles tunes.

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘A Hard Day’s Night’

 

 

 

 

To go along with our incredible musical guests, the weekend also featured some amazing Sound Alike and Battle of the Beatles Bands competitors. Fab Forward won the Battle of the Bands, while last year’s winners, Yesterday and Today, snagged second place.

 

 

 

 

Our tradition of the ‘Beatles Gratitude Wall’ continued, and was where fans wrote and hung signs — both of the tongue in cheek and serious variety — showing their gratitude to the Beatles…

 

 

The FABoratory, one of our newest additions, where fans had the chance to turn into Beatles Magicians, Mad Fab Scientists, and teachers, was such a blast…

 

 

The live music of the weekend wasn’t limited to the nighttime concerts…

 

PETER ASHER joined forces with CHAD AND JEREMY for two special musical memoir concerts

 

 

 

MIKE PENDER of The Searchers and BILLY J. KRAMER united for a concert on Saturday afternoon, featuring Billy’s hot band including the legendary Liberty Devitto on Drums. Billy J. also world premiered his autobiography, Do You Want To Know A Secret at the FEST, and has signed a bunch of copies for us to sell to those of you who couldn’t be there.

 

 

 

 

JEFF SLATE’S BIRDS OF PARADOX, featuring members from John Lennon’s Elephant’s Memory band, rocked the house

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform “Slippin’ and Slidin'”

 

 

String quartet CELLOPHANE FLOWERS, featuring JEFF LUBIN, made their second Fest appearance, again wowing the crowd on two stages with their Beatles arrangements

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘Penny Lane’

 

 

THE WEEKLINGS, playing songs the Beatles wrote but never officially released, their Beatles-inspired originals, and other Beatles cuts, took the stage on Sunday

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘It Won’t Be Long’

 

 

And SCHOOL OF ROCK from Bedford, New York gave us a glimpse into the future with their performances on Sunday

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’

 

 

The Apple Jam Stage, which has become an integral part of the Fest experience, rocked all weekend with New York jam band THE MEETLES, Fest staple THE BOOTLEGS, SCOTT ERICKSON playing deeper Beatles cut, JANNA PELLE tickling the ivories, Beatles mixes with DJ SUN QUEEN & DJ MADONNA, MR. RAY’s children’s concert, 12-year-old guitarist/vocalist extraordinaire MOLLY JEANNE, JACQUI ARMBRUSTER (whose pipes and guitar playing are otherworldly), Criminal Trio BANDITS ON THE RUN, the incomparable MICHELLE JONI, CELLOPHANE FLOWERS (a teaser set before their main stage set), the uniquely talented OWL AND WOLF, BRUTE FORCE of King of Fuh fame, SCHOOL OF ROCK, enchanting trio TRIPLE G, and the supremely talented LENNON & KATIE of Youth Be Told.

 

HEAD HERE to see Jacqui Armbruster perform ‘Oh! Darling’

 

HEAD HERE to see Bandits On The Run perform ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’

 

HEAD HERE to see Triple G perform ‘Something’

 

 JACQUI ARMBRUSTER (with surprise drop-in MARK HUDSON)

SCOTT ERICKSON

THE MEETLES

DJ SUN QUEEN & DJ MADONNA

 BANDITS ON THE RUN

TRIPLE G

LENNON & KATIE OF YOUTH BE TOLD

 

All weekend, after the scheduled performances had concluded, the Apple Jam Stage opened up for the fans, who jammed into the wee hours of the morning.

 

MARK RIVERA —  who was otherwise occupied, as Billy Joel’s sax player — was only able to make it on Saturday, but put on a tremendous performance with Liverpool

 

 

JON COBERT, who recorded with John Lennon, performed with JEFF SLATE’S BIRDS OF PARADOX during their concert earlier on Saturday and joined in for the Musicians’ Forum

 

 

 

Meanwhile, jams were going strong all throughout the hotel all weekend long — sunrise to sundown and beyond…

 

 

As always, the Beatles art contest was a place where fans were treated to some truly great works by professionals, amateurs, and kids, all who took home prizes. In the Professional division, Eddie Colacci took first place for his 3D album covers, while Regina Gelfer’s ‘Celebrate the Beatles’ came in second. In the amateur division, Rachel Bremlist took first place for her Revolver mosaic, Nancy Lennon’s Yellow Submarine bathroom tower decoupage finished in second, and Gene Brady’s Help! silhouette finished third. For kids 16 and younger, Sophie Feldman took the top prize for her Paul at the piano pencil sketch. We thank Deco for continuing to do such a great job with the Art Museum.

 

 

 

At his 20th Fest, MR. PUPPET BOB ABDOU took to the main stage for a special performance and also led our fifth annual Beatles parade, which was Yellow Submarine-themed this year

 

 

The New York Metro Fest was also the weekend home to over a dozen Beatles authors and historians, including BRUCE SPIZER, VIVEK TIWARY, DAVID BEDFORD, JUDE SOUTHERLAND KESSLER, AL SUSSMAN, TOM FRANGIONE, CHUCK GUNDERSON, PIERS HEMMINGSEN, CANDY LEONARD, KIT O’TOOLE, JOHN KRUTH, MICHAEL STARR, ANTHONY ROBUSTELLI, KENNETH WOMACK, GREG STERLACE, AND JUDITH KRISTEN.

 

 

The Fest also featured the Marketplace and Vendor Room, where fans could get Every Little Beatles Thing they desired

 

 

 

Meanwhile, when Festers weren’t busy dancing, jamming in every nook of the hotel, and parading, they took in one of BOB ABDOU’s highly entertaining Beatles puppet shows, got memorabilia signed, watched a movie in the Beatles video room, sang Beatles karaoke, toured the photo, Beatles art, and memorabilia rooms (ROB SHANAHAN, NEAL GLASER, ERIC CASH), and more.

 

 

 

Many also took refuge in our Beatles Ashram, which featured yoga classes for adults and kids, and intro sessions to Cosmic Consciousness with the teachers of Transcendental Meditation.

 

 

Other highlights from the weekend were Live Beatles Trivia and Name That Tune hosted by Al Sussman and Tom Frangione, a fan winning a trip to Las Vegas to see The Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil, and the always spectacular Pig Light Show that accompanied Liverpool’s performances.

 

For our sixth Annual Las Vegas Beatles Love Getaway Sweepstakes, the winner, was not present, but Michelle Joni phoned her from the stage and she was home. We all heard her very excited reaction. Pictured below is last year’s winner, Carl Maltzman, who told the crowd what a great time he had.

 

 

Below, Michelle Joni and Tom Frangione show the Spirit Foundation grand prize that Yoko sent for the FEST. And the winner of the prize poses for a pic

 

 

As always, the Musicians’ Forum on Sunday was a treat, as were the Saturday and Sunday night concerts that saw LIVERPOOL play Revolver in its entirety and other Beatles cuts before the stage opened to MARK RIVERA, MIKE PENDER, BILLY J. KRAMER, and MARK HUDSON.

 

We also want to send out a huge THANK YOU to STEVE HOLLEY, who immediately jumped in upon hearing Chris had an accident over the winter and would not be fully ready to play the entire weekend. He did a fantastic job.

 

 

Drew, John, Glen, and Chris of Liverpool — with a little help from Steve Holley — were fantastic all weekend, kicking things off with the Dance Party on Friday night, playing Side 1 of Revolver and more on Saturday, and finishing things up in thrilling fashion on Sunday night by performing Side 2 of Revolver and even more Beatles cuts.

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘Love You To’

 

HEAD HERE to see them perform ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’

 

 

 

 

MARK HUDSON then joined in and he and Liverpool tore through the jams — including an epic rendition of the Joe Cocker version of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends — before wrapping things up with ‘Hey Jude.’

 

HEAD HERE to see Mark Hudson & Liverpool perform ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’

 

 

 

After the New York Metro Fest officially came to a close, the jamming continued into the wee hours of Monday morning, with Fest founder Mark Lapidos leading everyone in a rendition of “Here Comes The Sun” before Festers playing until the sun came up and people started going about their Monday morning business. This is our continued official tradition — join us next year!

 

The fans brought the energy all weekend, with the traditions of Fests gone by seamlessly intertwining with the new events and activities that spiced up the weekend.

 

We are still gathering all of the pictures and videos from The Fest to share, and we want to see all of yours, too! As we did over the weekend, use the hashtag #FESTCHESTER to share pictures with us on Instagram and Twitter (@Beatles_Fest), and post pictures on our Facebook wall at Facebook.com/thefest.

 

In addition to the albums that are already up, lots more pictures of all the guests, events, activities, and fans will be shared in emails, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and via email (send them to danny@thefest.com) in the coming days and weeks!

 

We’d also like to thank the Hilton Westchester, who did a terrific job hosting the Fest, especially Maura. Most of all, we want to offer another thank you to all the guests and fans who came to celebrate all things Beatles for our 42nd year in New York!

 

We are already gearing up for the Chicago Fest, taking place August 12-14 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare in Rosemont, Illinios. Details will be released at TheFest.com in late-May, so keep an eye out!

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If Not For You

It was an icy Liverpool winter, 1957, and seventeen-year-old John Lennon sat on his narrow bed just above the Mendips glassed-in porch, strumming his guitar and singing quietly to himself, lest Aunt Mimi hear. He was dreaming…dreaming of Someday…dreaming of becoming “bigger ’n Elvis.” That lazy afternoon, he was dreaming of achieving what he always referred to as “the toppermost of the poppermost.”

 

But NEVER…never in his wildest dreams did he ever imagine that 60 years later there would be Beatles authors, artists, reporters, bloggers, publicists, DJ’s with weekly Beatles radio shows, Las Vegas musicals, Broadway shows, websites, television specials, and a Fest for Beatles Fans. He never dreamed he was about to create a Beatles World.

 

Now, don’t get me wrong, John didn’t do it alone. He didn’t do it without the extraordinary genius of Paul McCartney, the talent and wry humor of George Harrison, and the grounded backbeat (both musically and spiritually) of Ringo Starr. And they didn’t do it without the ideas and concepts taught to him by Allan Williams (“Mach Shau, lads!”), Stu Sutcliffe (“Be an artiste, John, not just a rocker!”), Brian Epstein (“Dress appropriately; finish each song; don’t swear at the audience; stick to the playlist; bow after each number”.) and George Martin, whose creative magnificence helped to mold the music.

 

They didn’t do it without the input of so-called “Minor Players” (who were also giants in their own way): Neil Aspinall, Tony Barrow, Mal Evans, Beryl Adams, Pete Shotton, Bob Wooler, Tony Bramwell, Alistair Taylor…and oh yes, a slender lovely Irish girl who gave her time and talent to run the Beatles Fan Club, Freda Kelly. He didn’t do it without ghost writers, photographers, and reporters who told the story to you and me: Bill Harry, Ray Coleman, Hunter Davies, Maureen Cleave, Michael Braun, Larry Kane, Derek Taylor, Dezo Hoffman, Robert Freeman, or Ivor Davis.

 

Together an entire host of smart, determined, cutting-edge men and women worked shoulder-to-shoulder to create a phenomenon:

 

There were the EMI engineers and second engineers: Norman Smith, Geoff Emerick, Richard Langham…

 

The supporting actors in each film: Victor Spinetti (always there), Norm Rossington, Eleanor Bron, Leo McKern, Wilfred Brambell…

 

The style setters: Dougie Millings, Astrid Kirchherr, Horne Brothers…

 

The tour facilitators: Sid Bernstein, Norman Weiss, Tony Barrow, Bob Bonis…

 

The NEMS staff: Clive Epstein, Freda Kelly, Beryl Adams, Anne Collingham, Wendy Hanson, Tony Barrow, Alistair Taylor…

 

And those singularly important women: Julia Stanley Lennon, Louise Harrison, Mimi Smith, Elsie Greaves, Cynthia Powell Lennon, Maureen Starkey, Pattie Boyd Harrison, Jane Asher, Linda McCartney, Yoko Ono, Olivia Harrison, and May Pang.

 

It took an entourage – a retinue – to make this dream come true.

 

Right now, you’re shouting out a name I didn’t mention – someone whose role in the chain of events you especially relate to. Maybe it’s Ken Townsend or Pete Best or Chris O’Dell or Billy Preston or Eric Clapton or…well, you know who it is. And the truth is, they’re all important. They all contributed a sliver to the stained glass mosaic that was beautifully necessary for the whole. Removing one scarlet slice or one cerulean circle would have changed the entire picture. Altered it forever.

 

 “But of all these friends and lovers

There is no one

Compares with you.”

 

That’s right…dead in the center of the complex pattern of triangles, crescents, swirls, and ovals rests the most necessary piece of all: YOU.

 

Without you, the records go un-purchased. Without you, the fanzines fail to sell. Without you, the Beatles T-shirts and sweatshirts and wigs and games and bubblegum cards and clocks sit dusty on their overstocked shelves. No tickets sell. No posters dot walls. Without you, Shea Stadium stands empty. Without you, the theaters never fill. Without you, the books remain closed; the films, unviewed; the artwork, ignored. In all the Beatles’ story, the single most necessary and important ingredient has always been you: the fans. You are the ones who propelled The Beatles to heights they could never have anticipated.

 

In case you haven’t noticed, we don’t host a “Fest for The Beatles.” Ours is a “Fest for Beatles FANS.” Because all along, we’ve realized it: this dream-come-true is all about you. On April 15-17 in Westchester, we will celebrate your crucial role in The Beatles’ success. We’ll smile and raise a glass to your unswerving belief in the lads, your lifelong support. We will fête you with songs, laughter, entertainment, dances – a bit of well-deserved frolic! Because 60 years ago, John Lennon sat in his bedroom and dreamed, and thanks to you, his quiet, whispered vision blossomed into an awesome reality.

 

April 15-17 is your time! It is a weekend set apart to celebrate you, the beloved Beatles Fans. A party is being given in your honor, and “a splendid time is guaranteed for all.” Come to the Fest! You are our special guest.


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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Remembering George Martin

From Fest Founder Mark Lapidos:

 

It is a sad day in Beatles World and for music lovers around the world. George Martin passed away last night at the age of 90.

 

There is no question George Martin will be remembered as the most important and successful Record Producer of all time. How did a comedy record producer for a small EMI subsidiary get to be the producer of the greatest band of all time? It was because, being from Liverpool, The Beatles had a wonderful sense of humor and knew some of those recordings. During their first sessions, Beatle George broke the ice with his now famous line “For starters, I don’t like your tie.” Together over the ensuing seven years, they created the soundtrack of our lives. George first as their producer, then teacher, then interpreter of how they wanted their recordings to sound. It was a team effort and the stars were indeed aligned.

 

I had the pleasure and honor to meet with Sir George a few times, with the most notable encounter coming in the mid 1980s in Los Angeles. We got to spend about 30 minutes together in a private session and I found him charming, engaging, and a delight to be around.  At the end of the talk, I asked him if I could ask one question that had puzzled Beatles fans for almost 20 years (at the time). He said okay.  “How come the promotional copies of Penny Lane had the trumpet at the end, and the released version didn’t?” He said something like this: Capitol was bugging us for a new single so we reluctantly sent them Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever (we all know he regretted not holding them for Pepper). They were so deep into the Pepper sessions, they sent the final version over, not even aware there was any difference! It was just one of those things during a day in the life of recording with the Beatles.

 

We are all so lucky to have his body of work almost at our fingertips now. Today we are fixing a hole in our sad hearts in knowing that George Martin has left this world. He will never be forgotten. Our condolences to his wife, Judy, son Giles and the rest of his family. Through the music, we all became part of his extended family. It has been a ride of a lifetime.

 

Peace and Love,

 

Mark Lapidos

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Creative director John Kosh had his hand in many Beatles-related projects

Creative director John Kosh has been behind many Beatles-related projects, including the album covers for Abbey Road and Let It Be, and John’s ‘War Is Over’ campaign.

 

Kosh, who was a guest at one of our recent Fests, spoke with Best Classic Bands about his work with the Beatles and artists such as the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, The Who, and more.

 

Recalls Kosh about the Abbey Road cover:

 

It was designed without a title and without the name of the band. I received an irate call from the chairman of EMI, Joseph Lockwood, in the middle of the night saying that no one would know what it was. But the next morning George Harrison reassured me: ‘We’re the fu**ing Beatles.'”

 

::: Read more about Kosh at Best Classic Bands HERE :::

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