An Open Letter to Sir Paul McCartney: Come to the Fest!

Dear Sir Paul, (although many of us still fondly think of you as Paul, the lad from Allerton)

 

It was your idea, remember? In 1969, you tried to convince John that The Beatles ought to surprise random audiences and give impromptu concerts at smaller venues. He called the concept “daft.” We think it, genius.

 

Please…surprise us!!!

 

Last year, we watched longingly as you played the Philharmonic Pub to that lucky crowd gathered around you (and James Corden). We smiled to see you enjoying “Get (ting) Back” to your roots — to the haunts around The Institute that you know so well. We grinned along with the thrilled, enthusiastic crowd who will most certainly tell their grandchildren about the day they were fortunate to see Paul McCartney in Hope Street.

 

Please…thrill us!!!

 

Every one of us shared the priceless photo on social media (and in The Sun) of you riding blissfully along on a U.K. train, checking your texts and reading the newspaper…sitting there casually “in the trenches,” one of us again. To a man, (and a woman), we pretended that we were the providential passenger sitting across the aisle, giving you complete privacy while longing to lean over and whisper, “Just so you know, you changed my life forever.”

 

Give us that chance.

 

Please…trust us!!!

 

The Fest for Beatles Fans is in its 45th year, and for 45 years, we have gathered twice annually (in some years, three and four times) to play your songs, discuss the events of your life in depth, celebrate your new releases, and share our treasured photographs from your concerts. Some of us can boast never missing a Fest for Beatles Fans since its inception. Others are proud to have attended for 15 or 20 consecutive years, and yes, even that “modest” number is an investment of time, money, and devotion. We are fans in the truest sense of the word. No group of people anywhere would be more appreciative or more overcome with joy to welcome you in person.

 

We think you’d enjoy meeting us as well. A good many of us remember that first Ed Sullivan show. We were there, too…watching…agog. And for us, that night was just the beginning of live concerts, purchased LPs, trips to Liverpool, and a life of devotion.

 

Others of us are Second Gen fans…schoolteachers and dentists and accountants in our forties. But don’t let our age fool you! We’re no less devoted than the Baby Boomers. In fact, because we were introduced to The Beatles and Wings and “Macca” by our parents, teachers, or slightly older friends, we’ve compensated by becoming intensely passionate fans.

 

Finally, a huge portion of our Fest Family is comprised of Third Genners…excited and proud to be Beatles and McCartney fans in our teens and twenties. We know the stories just as well as the others do. And fifty years from now, we’ll be the ones telling them to those who will follow.

 

We are diverse. But demographics aside, Paul, we find that at heart, our Fest Family is very much alike. We subscribe to Beatlefan magazine and Octopus’ Garden fanzine. We listen to podcasts such as “Something About The Beatles” and “Breakfast with The Beatles” and “Beatles Brunch.” We have McCartney and Beatles libraries in our homes. We’ve collected every concert t-shirt you’ve ever printed. In short, we are your people — the ones who would really cherish that incredible moment when you’d suddenly appear on The Fest for Beatles Fans stage and rave across the boards, with a little help from your friends.

 

This year, the New Jersey Fest for Beatles Fans is set for Friday, 29 March; Saturday, 30 March, and Sunday, 31 March, and you are most cordially invited, Sir Paul. It would, indeed, be the honor of a lifetime to have you there!

 

We hope to see you in Jersey City at the Hyatt Regency where, thanks to the hard work of Mark and Carol Lapidos, their daughters Michelle Joni and Jessica, and the Fest staff and family, a “splendid time is guaranteed for all.” Having you with us, even for a moment or so, would certainly make it so. It was a great idea in 1969…but it’s an even better one now!

 

Cryin’, wishin’, hopin’, (your Cavern song!)

Your Fest Fans

 

P.S. We love you.


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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Esher You Love It, Or You Don’t

The Esher Demos, those delightful “unplugged” precursors to The Beatles’ self-titled LP (commonly known as the White Album), were proof positive that Lennon and McCartney had completely different ideas about the way that rock’n’roll should be fashioned. 

 

From Day One, John firmly believed that music should be created extemporaneously — that reworking a piece over and over was “doin’ a thing to death.” John believed that a song’s beauty lay in its imperfection. Paul, on the other hand, thought that a musical composition should be slowly honed and developed…that a recording should be tweaked and re-recorded until the final product was exactly the way the songwriter wanted it. Two concepts. Both viable. 180 out.

 

Paul, therefore, arrived at George Harrison’s home, Kinfauns, in Esher, England on that day in late May 1968, with a pre-recorded tape of polished offerings for the next album. The songs that Paul played for his friends that chilly afternoon were very similar to the final product he offered listeners via the White Album tracks. Paul changed little in studio because he had worked diligently, (by himself and ahead of time) before he presented his Esher demos to The Beatles.

 

Not so with John Lennon. John arrived in Kinfauns with the beginnings of several excellent songs. He brought with him ideas and concepts that were to be “fleshed out by the band.” John proposed tangible ideas for his songs, but he had always believed that it took the consummate talents of the entire group to bring a song to life.

 

However, in the case of two tracks that John created for the White Album, there was a bit of theoretical acquiescence and compromise. In developing these songs, John did use the talents and efforts of his entire group, but he also employed the McCartney recipe for success. The two songs we’re about to look at evolved slowly, and they changed dramatically from May of 1968 to their eventual, delayed release. They are:

 

Child of Nature

 

Whist in Rishikesh, both John and Paul were inspired to write songs based on a talk that the Maharishi had given about the relationship between man and nature. Paul wrote “Mother Nature’s Son,” and John penned “Child of Nature.”

 

On some level, John must have known that the lyrics he’d scribbled onto paper were rather ludicrous. John was no child of nature.  In fact, I can only think of ONE instance in which he was profoundly touched by the majesty of his surroundings. In May of 1964, when John and Cynthia visited the Irish Cliffs of Mohr, John had perched alone, for some time, on a rocky, wind-swept Irish ledge. With Cynthia watching him protectively from a distance, John had taken it all in. And that afternoon as the sun set, he discovered a deep kinship with Ireland…a spiritual connection that spurred him to tell Cynthia that Ireland was where he wanted to retire, to spend the end of his life.

 

But otherwise, John spent as little time in nature as possible. Even when fervently trying to raise funds for a new guitar by mowing Mimi’s lawn, he never quite finished the job. Mimi told Ray Coleman: “He’d do half the job and give me a squeaker kiss for the rest.” John Lennon was no Euell Gibbons.

 

So here, in “Child of Nature” — as John tries to create a song about a theme that is foreign to him — he can’t quite take the job seriously. Indeed, as he sings his demo at Kinfauns, he warbles in a rather mocking way, filling the performance with exaggerated vibrato. It almost seems as if he is making fun of himself. In his heart of hearts, John knew that his lyrics lacked sincerity.

 

However, John didn’t give up on the offering…that afternoon, he diligently worked with his group. He double-tracked his voice on George’s Ampex recorder; he asked Ringo to use a shaker to accompany him. But despite a sincere effort, the song failed to soar.

 

Always shrewd and self-evaluating, John didn’t permit “Child of Nature” to be included on the White Album. For months after the LP’s release, he held it in abeyance.

 

Then, on the first day of the Let It Be sessions, John toyed with the offering again, recording it without that famous opening line, “On the road to Rishikesh.” By that juncture in history, John wanted nothing to remind him of the Maharishi. But try as he might, “Child of Nature” still didn’t work.

 

Finally, in 1971, John got down to brass tacks. He completely retooled the song into the very honest, open, and frank “Jealous Guy.” Now singing bespoke lyrics that suited his life and personality, John hit the mark.

 

I was dreaming of the past

And my heart was beating fast

I began to lose control, I began to lose control…

I didn’t mean to hurt you

I’m sorry that I made you cry…

 

Now this was about the real John…the little boy who had been so abandoned in his past that he could never trust future relationships…the child who had been so unloved that he could never relax into loving without the trembling query, “If I fell in love with you, would you promise to be true??” The lyrics of “Jealous Guy” were fitting for the man who often hurt people before they could hurt him. It was a genuine song.

 

In transforming “Child of Nature,” John had adopted Paul’s caution against work created too spontaneously. Though much later, John’s bent towards immediate release would succeed with “Instant Karma,” here a brilliant work was unearthed through years of change and reconsideration. “Child of Nature” was the germ of what would later become one of John’s most outstanding works.

 

Sexy Sadie

 

Like the British Romantic poets (Keats, Shelly, Wordsworth, Poe, Coleridge), John was most productive during periods of trial. His gift (and his key to survival) was transforming pain into music. And since the spring of 1968 was replete with pain and anguish for him, John was writing superb music.  Therefore, John came to Kinfauns bearing splendid songs to offer his mates. Some, like “Sexy Sadie,” however, still needed work.

 

Most Beatles fans know that John had penned “Sexy Sadie” in Rishikesh, during the aftermath of a rumour that the Maharishi had committed a grave impropriety with one of the young females on the Rishikesh excursion (a Mia Farrow look-alike named Pat, a nurse from Southern California).

 

John, who’d fervently hoped that the Maharishi would be “The Answer” to his marital problems and his discontent, reacted violently to the “griff” that the supposed holy man was more man than holy. John deducted, very sadly, that the Maharishi, therefore, probably didn’t hold the peace he was seeking, and disgusted, John had begun packing to leave India.

 

The version of “Sexy Sadie” that John sang to his friends in Esher wasn’t, of course, the original Rishikesh version. Only George Harrison had heard the initial lyrics, and he’d wisely convinced John not to use them. George had also encouraged John to scrap the very pointed title, “Maharishi,” pointing out not only the legal ramifications, but also, the bad karma one might incur from such a rash move. And John had listened.

 

With wisdom prevailing, John didn’t perform the original song at Kinfauns, either. Already, he’d begun the process of transforming “Maharishi” into the more acceptable “Sexy Sadie.” John had already implemented changes that would permit this song to be played on radio.

 

On July 19 and 21, in EMI Studios, John continued to cultivate his song. But this time, he moved more rapidly than he did with “Child of Nature.” Following his long-held philosophy of developing a song in studio with his band, John worked with “the group” to shape the track. The Beatles did 21 takes of “Sexy Sadie” on July 19, and then, completed another 23 takes on 24 July.  And that work certainly paid off.

 

“Sexy Sadie” emerged as the version that we now know. Although it is a rather “watered down” shadow of John’s original manuscript, the enhanced track appealed to a much wider group of listeners. Who hadn’t, at least once, been duped by a charming and duplicitous man or woman? Who hadn’t been deceived? John Lennon had sagely turned a personal affront into a universal theme…and in doing so, had created one of the strongest offerings on the White.

 

To learn more about the Esher Demos, attend Dr. Kit O’Toole’s presentation at the 2019 New York Metro Fest for Beatles Fans where you’ll be able to hear gifted musician, Scott Erickson, perform many of these unique songs for you.

 

To order your own copy of the newly remastered Esher Demos, HEAD HERE


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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‘Tis the Esher Season!

Part 1

 

Prior to their 1968 summer and early autumn recording sessions at EMI, Paul McCartney stated that The Beatles’ original plan was to have several rehearsals prior to the recording of their new LP.[i] But “life,” as we all know, “is what happens while you’re making other plans.” [ii] And so, the boys got one day and one day only to present their ideas and concept songs for The Beatles LP to one another. But what a magical day it turned out to be…and what remarkable tracks have recently been revealed to us via the long-awaited mid-November 2018 release of the Esher Demos.

 

For McCartney fans, there are not as many diamonds to unearth on Esher as there are for Lennon or Harrison aficionados. In keeping with Paul’s lifelong belief that rock’n’roll should be well-manufactured rather than grown, extemporaneously organic, Paul came to George Harrison’s house at Kinfauns with his demo songs almost completely fleshed out. Prior to his arrival in Esher, Paul had performed and recorded the songs with full backing tracks. He’d left very little to the imagination. Indeed, few of McCartney’s Esher offerings deviate significantly from the version we’ve come to know so well on the White Album.

 

And although Ringo contributed significantly to the White Album, there was no original Starr composition proudly presented to the others on that late day in May 1968. Therefore, in Part 1 of our discussion of the Esher Demos, our focus will turn to two of George Harrison’s offerings, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Not Guilty.”  In Part 2, we’ll consider Harrison’s “Sour Milk Sea” and a clever Lennon contribution: “What’s the New Mary Jane?” And in our final blog prior to the New York Metro Fest, we’ll examine John’s “Child of Nature” and “Julia.”

 

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While My Guitar Gently Weeps — In Rishikesh, India, George was less productive musically than John and Paul because he firmly believed that writing music was contrary to everything The Beatles had journeyed to India to achieve. They were supposed to be (he insisted) retreating from work and the pressures of business; they were supposed to be concentrating on their souls.

 

Paul later commented on the Rishikesh experience: “I remember talking about the next album, and George was quite strict. He’d say, ‘We’re not here to talk music; we’re here to meditate.’”[iii]  But agreeing to George’s face, Paul kept right on clandestinely writing music…while John meditated but worked openly — looking, all the while, for “a shortcut” to the Inner Light.

 

But despite their myriad of distractions from the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s teachings, the deep influence of India, nevertheless, filled the White Album. Indeed, George was later quoted as saying, “The experience of India was all embodied in that album.”[iv] And nowhere is it heard or felt more than in the reflective, soul-searching Esher version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”

 

Without being preachy (and George could occasionally be preachy, as in “Within You, Without You”), this quiet song enumerates the sins and faults of his “brothers” and almost pleads with them for repentance and a better way forward.

 

In this raw, primitive Esher version — minus the urgency of Clapton’s dazzling lead guitar — you can hear George’s heartbreak. Rock’n’roll author of The Recipe Records Series, Lanea Stagg, commented, “You can almost taste the salt of George’s tears.” Pared down to its essentials, Esher’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is even more poignant and touching than its final iteration.

 

This May 1968 version of the song is the background that we hear playing as Martin Scorsese’s “Living in the Material World, Part II” opens. And it’s an apt beginning to the second half of George’s biography, because with this song, Harrison more or less declares his independence from The Beatle collective and dejectedly, but firmly, sets out on his solo career.

 

Once this song goes into EMI production — once it’s engineered and filled out — the listener will hear Harrison’s words less clearly, less pointedly. But here, with minimal embellishment, one digests the deep disappointment that George has found in John and Paul:

 

“I don’t know why nobody told you how to unfold your love,

I don’t know how someone controlled you,

They bought and sold you.”

 

 

However, although you can’t miss the sorrow in George’s voice (the regret that things have played out as they have), you can also hear his resolve. He has come to terms with the fact that the world is still turning; he realizes that there are other options for him. And if waiting around too long to be respected has been a mistake, well, “with every mistake, we must surely be learning.” And so, George is sadly — very sadly — realizing that he must now move on.

 

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” always tugs at the heartstrings, but never more than when you hear it without any distractions. This is just George from Speke telling his boyhood Merseyside friends how much he has loved them and how much he has suffered…and now, at last, he intends to say goodbye.

 

In this version, it is George Harrison’s — and no one else’s — guitar that gently weeps.

 

Not Guilty –

 

“Not Guilty” is another of George Harrison’s songs (in the same vein as “Piggies,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” and “Sour Milk Sea”) in which he reprimands his mates for the way they’ve dealt with him through the years.  However, his other songs are rather veiled — somewhat softened. This track is not milquetoast. This is Harrison standing up for himself, without apology, without regret.

 

In fact, in 1999, George told Billboard Editor-in-Chief, Timothy White, that this song addresses “the grief I was catching from Lennon and McCartney post-India.” He went on to say that he was telling them once and for all that: “I wasn’t guilty of getting in the way of their career. I said I wasn’t guilty of leading them astray in our going to Rishikesh to see the Maharishi. I was sticking up for myself …”[v]

 

According to Harrison biographer Peter Doggett, in You Never Give Me Your Money, another issue that George was addressing was the incredible amount of money that The Beatles had invested on the launch of Apple. George had always been a sharp-eyed steward of the group’s finances, and in the spring of 1968, he felt that Apple’s extravagances were “too lavish” and unnecessary. In “Not Guilty,” Harrison relents and says he “won’t upset the Apple cart.” But, clearly, George isn’t pleased with the status quo.

 

The Esher version of “Not Guilty” is clear evidence that by May of 1968, George Harrison was no longer content to be long-suffering, to bite back his indignation, to “get along.” From the secure environment of his own home, Harrison cleared his throat, lifted his head, and sang his lyrics unabashedly — face-to-face with the friends who’d implied that he’d led them astray by convincing them to go to Rishikesh. He stared into their eyes and told them that he had never stood in the way of their progress…and that he had no apologies whatsoever for his behavior. It was a bold move, albeit an emotional one.

 

In the Esher Demo of “Not Guilty,” you can hear the passion in George’s voice. You can also feel the rigid, awkward silence all around him.

 

Next blog: “Sour Milk Sea” and “What’s the New Mary Jane?”

 

Purchase the re-engineered White Album with the Esher Demos and liner notes HERE.


[i] Howlett, Kevin, “Esher Demos” liner notes for the re-engineered White Album, November 2018.

[ii] Lennon, John, “Beautiful Boy” lyrics, with credit to Allen Saunders, an American cartoonist who created Mary Worth and used this phrase in a piece in Readers’ Digest in Feb. 1957.

[iii] Howlett, Kevin, “On the Road to the White Album,” liner notes for the re-engineered White Album, November 2018.

[iv] Howlett, “Esher Demos” liner notes for the re-engineered White Album, November 2018.

[v] Huntley, Elliot J., Mystical One: George Harrison – After the Break-Up of The Beatles, 165.


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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A Splendid Time Was Guaranteed (and Delivered) for All!

“And so, this is Christmas,

And what have you done?

Another year over,

A new one just begun…”

 

Usually, at the close of yet another year, when I hear John singing those words, I feel guilty. Maybe it’s my engrained American “work ethic” or perhaps I really never live up to my own expectations, but somehow in December, I look back and feel that I could have done more. But this once, I have to say…2018 was a pretty darned good year, all things considered. If we pause for a moment and look back together as a Fest Family, I think we’ll discover that we had quite a lot of spectacular moments to celebrate.

 

First, of course, there was the New Jersey Fest in which we were extremely fortunate to welcome Peter Asher, Billy J.Kramer, Jeremy Clyde, Neil Innes, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s hard-rockin’ Randy Bachman. Then, Fest favorites, Liverpool, The Weeklings, Mark Rivera, and Scott Erickson gave us a lot to write home about. It was a busy weekend, but now and again we stopped for a moment to take in the breathtaking view across the river: New York’s skyline. We absolutely love our new location!

 

Then…just a few weeks later, our own Michelle Joni Lapidos, released her first CD of songs, Swimming in Rainbows, produced by none other than the charismatic and beloved Mark Hudson. And Fest brother, Laurence Juber, performed with Michelle on several songs, making this LP a real “family affair.” If you missed Michelle Joni’s appearance on “She Said She Said,” radio show, give it a listen here.  She talks about the evolution of the LP and plays several tracks for you. Enjoy!

 

August was here before we knew it…and brought with it a brand-new book, Sound Images, from our esteemed colleague and friend, Dr. Ken Womack. (This is the second half of his incredible biography of Sir George Martin, entitled Maximum Volume.) Just weeks prior to the Chicago Fest, Ken premiered the book in England, and then, he came home to celebrate with us.

 

Similarly, I was thrilled to celebrate the release of Vol. 4 in The John Lennon Series, Should Have Known Better, at the Fest with a Saturday morning launch party. No other celebration that I’ve ever had even begins to compare to that event — being surrounded by my Beatles friends and family was a once-in-a-lifetime! Thank you all!

 

The Chicago Fest was off the charts! Big crowds, big sales, big fun! Jack Douglas was a Guest Speaker for the first time, and yes, he was spectacular! Funny, engrossing, and full of great stories about his time with John Lennon…Jack kept us all engaged. And we were all blessed to hear from Geoff Emerick as well. We had no idea, as we listened to him share his stories of days with George Martin and the boys at EMI, that this would be the last time we’d spend together. Geoff had made plans to return to the Fest for Jersey 2019. Those of us who were privileged to share that time in Chicago with Geoff were so lucky. The Fest always offers rare moments like that…if we will only take time to enjoy them.

 

Ordinarily, at the close of the Chicago Fest, we say “goodbye” to one another for the year, but in 2018, there was more to come…as we applauded the 1968 magic that was “Yellow Submarine.” Many members of our Fest Family, all across America, were asked to speak in major metropolitan theaters, introducing the re-released film that was being served up to audiences in August and September. Dr. Kit O’Toole, Bruce Spizer, and I were just a few of the authors who were asked to give moviegoers the history of this incredible film and to set the stage for the new release.

 

Speaking of new releases, our Liddypool mate, Dave Bedford, graced us all with his third incredible book this fall. A comprehensive look at each and every person who furnished that all-important backbeat for The Beatles, Finding the Fourth Beatle was released in September, and it’s remarkable!

 

Then — anticipating yet another Golden Anniversary for “the lads from Liddypool” — our dear friend, Bruce Spizer, released a gorgeous new book entitled, The Beatles White Album and the Launch of Apple. Filled with rare images, fan remembrances, and a unique look at 1968 supplied by guest writers Al Sussman and Piers Hemmingsen, Spizer’s work is up to his usual high bar. It’s a keeper.

 

Soon after, Ken Mansfield treated us to his insider’s look at what happened on The Roof. Subtitled The Beatles’ Final Concert, Mansfield’s moment-by-moment remembrance lets us live out what transpired on that cold and windy London day when John, Paul, George, Ringo, and yes, Ken, too (“the man in the white coat”) took to the roof to sing their final goodbyes. Sigh.

 

Well, as if these family accomplishments weren’t enough, 2018 gave us yet a bit more! Most of our cast and crew were still looking forward to yet another incredible event: The White Album Conference at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey.  This distinguished symposium, hosted by Dr. Ken Womack in honor of The White’s 50th birthday, was (quite happily) our third “fest” of the year — an off-site gathering of our group with Jim Berkenstadt, Lanea Stagg, Al Sussman, Susan and Jim Ryan, Scott Erickson, Tom Frangione, Bruce Spizer,  Vivek Tiwary, Gary Astridge, Dr. Kit O’Toole, Jerry Hammack, Wally Podrazik, Nicole and Jacob Michael, Aaron Krerowicz, Janet Davis, Eric Taros, Karen Duchaj, Robert Rodriguez, Anthony Robustelli, Dave Thurmaier, Allison Boron, Erika White, Walter Everett, Mark Brickley, and of course,  our fearless leaders Mark and Carol Lapidos all taking part! At the stroke of midnight on 8 November (12:01 a.m., Nov. 9), Mark and Carol made it possible for us to purchase the very first re-engineered CDs of the White — at an opening event listening party where Bruce Spizer and Scott Freiman shared insights into these wonderfully old, but vitally new and refreshed, tracks.

 

For four days, our group was enthralled by presentations from some of the best and finest in The Beatles’ World, including Sound Engineer, Chris Thomas; American Head of Apple, Ken Mansfield; co-traveler with The Beatles to Rishikesh, Paul Saltzman; and of course, Beatles’ Guru, Mark Lewisohn! We heard from Allan Kozinn, Ken Michaels, Walter Everett, Jeff Slate, The Fab 4 Free for All (Rob Leonard, Mitch Axelrod, and Tony Traguardo) and so many more! What an event it was! Hats off to Ken Womack for a stellar event!

 

And so, dear John, for once at the close of December, we’re smiling. We’ve given it our all in 2018! We’ve
“represented.” We’ve shown up. We’ve written. We’ve painted. We’ve researched. We’ve sung. We’ve celebrated. We’ve remembered. But most of all, we’ve continued to shine on. And that — I know you would say — is good enough.

 

However, there will be more!! To be continued in 2019…


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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Happiness is a Warm Cell Phone: Drake vs. The Beatles

Hi everyone! We hope to see you all at Monmouth University this week for the White Album conference featuring Mark Lapidos, Mark Lewisohn, Walter Everett, Ken Womack, Bruce Spizer, Al Sussman, Tom Frangione, Lanea Stagg (our featured blogger this week), Kit O’Toole, Susan and James Ryan, and me (Jude Southerland Kessler)…and SO many more.

 

To give you an idea of the kind of interesting topics that will be covered, here is Lanea Stagg’s comparison of The Beatles chart-blasting record to Drake, who claims to have surpassed The Beatles’ 1964 accomplishment of 5 songs in the Top Ten at once. Is it a valid claim? Has Drake stolen the crown from our Fabs? Read on…

 

This summer, news media outlets began reporting that pop star rapper, Drake, had surpassed The Beatles’ accomplishments on the Billboard “Hot 100” chart. Even last week it was reported that he surpassed another chart record belonging to The Fabs. I have been inclined to blame it solely on “Fake News.”

 

But, in an effort to be fair, I have opened my mind to Drake. According to pop music lovers today, 31-year-old Drake creates music which is a softer alternative to rap, bypassing hardcore gangster rap and infusing catchy love lines to hook the girls. I spoke with one 20-something male who explained to me that he didn’t like Drake’s music at first, but “girls like Drake … so eventually, the boys have to like Drake, because then they’re going to win the affection of the girls.” Does that sound familiar?

 

Today’s Top 100 Billboard charts have become a completely new environment for music artists. Music streaming and downloading have become an important component in the statistics collected to determine pop song success. It is fair to surmise that today’s metrics for determining chart success is not what we grew up with. On April 4, 1964, The Beatles held the top 5 slots on Billboard’s “Hot 100” chart. The charts at that time were driven by record sales and radio play. Today’s charts, however, are driven by downloading and streaming with a little bit of radio and physical sales sprinkled in.

 

Donald S. Passman, wrote in his book All You Need to Know About the Music Business, “When the Beatles were around, there were horrible (accounting) records of who sold what. Nobody knew how many records were sold in retail, only how many were shipped to the store.” So even if the records went back to the company, the statistics were likely inflated. But at the same time, it was a lot more difficult for an artist to sell records and to get on the radio simply because there were physically fewer retail stores, radio stations and listening opportunities – there were no cell phones or social media. Today’s false inflation of sales data creates an inaccurate perception of chart success.

 

I found it quite interesting to look at how the charts are measured today and driven by consumer listening habits. I questioned how people are listening to music, interviewing and surveying 200+ college students in Columbia, Missouri. Here is what I found, and the data directly affects chart ratings:

 

99% of the group listen to music via cell phone.

46% of the 200 students use a free subscription like Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, YouTube, etc.

42% use other paid subscriptions such as Apple Music, XM Radio, Amazon Prime, or Pandora;

20% actually purchase music via CD’s, iTunes, vinyl, etc. (which is shocking and exciting);

40% use the most popular paid subscription: Spotify.

 

Nearly all of the 128 students who purchase Spotify receive a discounted student rate: only $5 per month for unlimited music. This means they are allowed to stream and download millions of songs – 35 million to be exact. One student told me that Spotify has replaced listening to the radio. The music subscription creates its own playlists, and they tailor playlists based upon your past listening history. Spotify also sends listeners e-mails, i.e.: “Drake has a new album out.” And you can follow your friends and see what they are listening to as well.

 

Meanwhile back in 1964, Beatles fans were listening to The Fabs in conventional locations – in front of the only family television or on the radio in the family wagon, and who remembers that joyful scene in “That Thing You Do!” when the band heard their record for the first time on a transistor? A nostalgic, exciting moment – however, this mode of listening has all but disappeared.

 

So, what does this have to do with our topic? Drake vs. The Beatles?

 

Well, we all know that The Beatles climbed the charts – one physical record sale at a time. But for Drake, the climb to the top happened rapidly, via the aforementioned instant downloads.

 

Let’s take a look at this past summer, for example. On July 14, 2018, Drake “dominated” the Billboard “Hot 100” chart – seven spots in the Top 10 belonged to Drake. Multiple media outlets, and Drake himself, reported that he had “surpassed The Beatles’ record of five hit songs in the Top 10 at once.

 

However, a careful look at the facts will show us a bit of a difference. While The Beatles held spots 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, Drake did not. Drake held spots 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 9. One week later, Drake only held three tracks in the Top 10, at spots 1, 4, and 6.

 

It should be noted that on June 29, 2018, Drake released his 25-track disc titled “Scorpion,” and all 25 songs were on the Billboard “Top 100” chart immediately. So, when his entire disc of 25 songs was released, definitely the Spotify kids had it on their phones instantly – and so it gets tallied and accounted instantaneously.

 

Even the controversial media outlet BuzzFeed wrote on September 13, 2018, that “Spoofing Spotify by fans – (is) eroding the metrics of Billboard charts.” Remember that half of the students in my collegiate test group purchased Spotify for only $5/month. That allows them to download and stream all the music they can listen to (35 million songs!!) for only $5. Washington Post reporter, Travis Andrews, astutely observed, “The charts have struggled to come up with a streaming equivalent to an album purchase – or a song download. [But one must bear in mind that] it was harder to purchase The White Album than to put a stream of “Lemonade” on repeat, after all.”

 

The Senior Vice President of Charts and Data Development at Billboard magazine said this summer, “What we do is react to the marketplace around us. I think we are fairly nimble on downloading and even more so on streaming, to make sure we’re reflecting where the music consumer is going. Where that will end up, though…I don’t know.”

 

Why do charts matter, anyway? Charts matter mostly to record companies in terms of market share or clout. The music consumer isn’t as driven by the charts.

 

One example of record sale success overshadowing chart success happened in ’67 when “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” were released as a double A-side 45-rpm. Early predictions were that this single would perpetuate The Beatles’ unprecedented achievement of 12 straight Number 1 singles in the UK. However, the 45 was not released as one single, but two. This divided the sales data between the two songs, and hence, Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Release Me” took the Number 1 spot on the “Hot 100” over our Fabs, breaking their four-year “roll” as George Martin called it. However, Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane 45rpm sold 2.5 million copies, outselling Humperdinck two-to-one. Indeed, chart success in this case and many others does not guarantee either the superior sales success or music superiority of the record.

 

If you give Drake an honest, fair chance, it is apparent that he has achieved success. He is chart-topping. He is Grammy award-winning and platinum-selling, not to mention charming and charismatic. And oh yeahhis dad was the drummer for Jerry Lee Lewis. So, we can’t ignore that something is happening with this powerhouse. Many thought that The Beatles were a fad, so I try to consider that when I analyze today’s music trends. But in my opinion, Drake is primarily a brilliant marketer. Let’s give credit for Drake’s popularity where that credit is due: to downloading and streaming. Should we mark our calendars and plan for HIS “White Album” celebration in 50 years? Tomorrow never knows.

 

About our Guest Blogger:

Lanea Stagg is the author of the Recipe Records Cookbook Series: Recipe Records, Recipe Records-The 60s Edition, Recipe Records-A Culinary Tribute to The Beatles, and The Rolling Scones: Let’s Spend the Bite Together. The series combines music trivia, quips, quotes, and playlists with clever recipe titles that pay tribute to great music of many genres and decades.  In addition to the series, she has authored children’s books, a blog, and contributed to entertainment publications, along with co-hosting BlogTalkRadio program: “She Said She Said,” with Jude Southerland Kessler, the author of The John Lennon Series. Lanea will be giving a presentation on this topic at The White Album Conference next week at Monmouth University.

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John Lennon: Why We Still Care

Over three and a half decades after his passing…and still we pause on 9 October, celebrating the life of John Lennon, looking back not with misty-eyed nostalgia but with clear-headed vision that embraces both his many strengths and his many weaknesses.

 

John Lennon was no saint…that’s for sure. He never – not even as a teen – suffered fools lightly, and when the press (in 1963-66) asked him ridiculous questions such as “What do you do with all that hair while you sleep?” he, often as not, presented a jaw-clinched, disgusted visage and a sharp retort. He admitted that he had “a chip on [his] shoulder bigger than [his] feet,” and so his anger often flared, whereas Paul was always able to discover some politically-correct and charming response. And yes, John was often jealous and sharp-tongued. And yes, he was infrequently physical with Cynthia.

 

But despite the faults that his latter-day detractors have hurled at him, he is still one of the most exceptional individuals I’ve ever known. John Lennon endured a string of life tragedies that none of us could weather, and ultimately, he used them for good. He used them to create beautiful, haunting, lasting lyrics and compositions…he gave us the soundtrack of our lives.

 

Look, John had every reason to be bitter. At age five, his parents (for very complicated reasons) surrendered him to his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George to rear – and although George Toogood Smith was truly “too good” (exceptionally kind and loving), Mimi was not. She was the soul of decorum and discipline. And when six-year-old John – begging for love – would ask her, “Mimi, why are you here every day when I come home from school?” she would only respond, “Because it’s my duty to do so.” Mimi taught John many important things: to study, go to church, mind his manners, to behave…but she never taught to him to love.

 

As John grew into his preteen years, John “found out” that his mother, Julia, lived only about a mile from Mimi’s house. And he began to visit her frequently, getting to know his two half-sisters, Julia and Jacqui. It was a bond John cherished, but the knowledge that his mother didn’t “despise children,” after all – that she wanted her two girls and not him – was a heavy cross to bear. Alone in his bed at Mendips, it hurt. He wondered what he’d done to make her push him aside.

 

But that doubt must have been dispelled somewhat when, after the loss of John’s beloved Uncle George (when John was almost 15…a time when he needed a “father” most), Julia came back into his life as his best friend. For two years, his mother and he bonded. Julia encouraged John to skip school and hang out with her. She taught him to play the banjo, told him he “had music in his bones,” played her rock’n’roll records for him, and helped him form a skiffle band, The Quarrymen. She invited the fledgling band to practice in her acoustically excellent bathroom, and many times she banged on pots and pans, their drummer. Julia was beloved by them all, part of their group. However, on 15 July 1958, she was hit by a drunk driver and instantly killed. And once again, John had lost her. This time forever, to death.

 

If this had been John’s last tragedy, he would have been completely justified in being angry at the world. Even at this juncture, had every reason to give up and quit – to become a delinquent, a criminal, a bitter hermit, withdrawn from society. And many (including Dave Bennion, the “Head Boy” at Quarry Bank Grammar) thought Lennon would do just that.

 

But instead of surrendering to a life of sorrow, John began to write songs born of the pain. And over the next five years, he wailed at the microphones of Merseyside and then Hamburg and then the United Kingdom and finally, the world, for Julia. He told us all, “If she’s gone, I can’t go on, feelin’ two foot small.” And, “I’m a loser, and I’m not what I appear to be,” and “I’ve got every reason on earth to be mad, ’cause I just lost the only girl I had. If I could get my way, I’d give myself right up today, but I can’t, so I cry instead.” And using his loss to weave beauty, John Lennon created The Beatles and relentlessly pushed them (when on many occasions, they gave up) to achieve, to conquer, to succeed.

 

In his life, John did many great things. He was a talented writer, penning two award-winning books of wry, satirical poetry and prose. He was a gifted single-line artist whose gallery still tours the world to critical acclaim. He was a global advocate for peace. He was a fighter for Irish independence, writing two songs for the cause and leading the New York City march on BOAC on behalf of the Irish people. John had myriad talents.

 

But today, we remember him most because he left us the example of a life well-lived. He left us an example of a man who never surrendered to the lashing that the world can dole out. John never let the unending tragedies that tried to crush him snuff out his soul.

 

After the loss of his mother, John went on to endure the death of his soul mate, Stu Sutcliffe. John also suffered at the hands of an unfeeling press when a remark he’d made to a close journalist friend, Maureen Cleave, was lifted by Datebook magazine, taken out of context, and used to generate a hate campaign against John and The Beatles…and for months, John was vilified by the world. In later life, he suffered a messy divorce from a girl he had once loved deeply. And in his last decade, he and his second wife lost several children to late-term miscarriages. Even his career was rocky:  John’s music was banned by the BBC for his support of Ireland. Life for John Lennon was never ever easy.

 

But he never surrendered. And when on certain days, I feel down or depressed or hurt or angry, and I threaten to throw up my hands and walk away…I think of John. I think of his resolve and his “toppermost of the poppermost” attitude and his unflinching determination. And on those occasions, I repeat about John Winston Lennon the very best compliment that I could ever give  anyone: he never gave up.

 

And that…that is why we still care.


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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Carry That Weight a Long Time

When our lush, wax-leaf Ligustrum limbed out over the wall into our neighbor’s pool, I smiled and offered to take care of the intrusion for her. My husband, Rande – I chirped – would climb up and cut the limbs back. (Any excuse to use the trusty chain saw, right?) And I would enjoy “suntan aerobics” by dragging the branches across two yards to the street dumping point.

 

At first, it was a brilliant idea! Rande was whirring (and sweating) away, experiencing the ultimate joy of power tools, and I was getting a fantastic workout, hauling gigantic limbs. But the first half hour turned into an hour and then, it was two hours, and I began to sing, “Boy, you’re going to carry that weight, carry that weight a long time!” Some 50-odd years after The Beatles penned those lyrics, I began to understand their real meaning.

 

You know, it’s fairly easy to carry something – even something heavy – for a short duration. If there’s an end in sight, you can do it! You just grit your teeth, lift with your legs, breathe, and go for it.

 

But when you have to carry a weight a long time, that’s a completely different story. It takes real character to endure the long haul.

 

I just finished writing Vol. 4 in The John Lennon Series after four years of some pretty intense research, writing, and editing. And, in this last year as the worked stretched on and on and on, I began to doubt that I could carry that weight any longer…even though my husband and best friend, Lanea, were working right along with me – even though I had great editors and a wonderful research assistant. Still, the work seemed overwhelming…even unendurable, at points. For the first time in my life, I considered giving up.

 

But I had a great role model in perseverance: The Beatles. No one I’ve ever known could do it better. Just in 1964 alone, the boys steeled themselves to complete two LP’s; the film, “A Hard Day’s Night”; a World Tour, a lengthy North American Tour, and a “no frills” Autumn U.K. Tour…all the while writing songs, giving interviews, starring on TV specials, doing radio shows, and even performing an aerial ballet at “The Night of 100 Stars.” And though, by December, they were truly knackered – bone weary – somehow, they found the verve to do it all again in 1965.

 

What was The Beatles’ secret? My theory is that they were able to endure because they knew what was required of them was important and necessary. Those who survive do so because they realize that if they want to reach “the toppermost of the poppermost,” they must be constantly “workin’ like a dog,” “eight days a week.”

 

You see, I think our most difficult struggles are important ones. We live through chemo to cure the cancer. We accept the disorder and loneliness of moving to a new location to find that new career or new school or new life. We take the pain of a dissolved relationship to move ahead into a new hope. We work without sleep, ’round the clock, to create something that will last. Carrying the weight generally means that we are constructing tomorrow – that we are hauling in immense building blocks for something worthwhile. And that’s never easy.

 

One of the hardest parts of long-suffering (of “carrying the weight a long time”) is the feeling that no one else is hurting the way we’re hurting – that everyone else is leading a better and/or happier life and that we, alone, are in constant pain. But that is never true.

 

Attending church with my son and daughter-in-law two Christmas Eves ago, each family was given a book written by one of the pastors at the church. It was entitled Everyone’s Perfect (Until You Get to Know Them). I so love that title and the truth in its premise.

 

I sincerely believe that ALL (and yes, I mean ALL) of the people whom we eye enviously (you know, those folks who are sailing blissfully through life while we struggle under the load), are secretly carrying a tremendous weight as well. They may disguise it, but they are heavy-laden, in some form or another, just as we are.

 

Tonight, I heard a brilliant quote from newsman, Brit Hume. He said, “Every person you know is dealing with something you don’t know about. Be kind. Be very kind.” Every. Person. You. Know.

 

Each and every individual has a burden. No one is exempt.

 

We’re in this together, and we all share the same fate: that is, we must keep going. We must keep moving forward, keep trying, keep trudging toward the goal line. The Beatles didn’t say, “We suggest you carry the weight,” or “We think you should carry the weight,” or “It would be nice if you carried the weight…” No, they said, “Boy, you’re GOING TO carry that weight, carry that weight a long time.” It was a flat statement of fact: you will do this. This will happen. This must be.

 

Our boys, as always, were quite right. Our lives consist of putting one foot in front of another. Our days are built upon the motto, “Keep on keepin’ on.” Life is certainly no picnic, no simple chore. But knowing we’re all in this together, it’s something we can do. We get by with a little help from our friends.


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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From Us To You… Cheers, Bruce!

By Jude Southerland Kessler

 

In case you missed the really big celebration in Beatlefan magazine (“Beatles, Roaches Launch a 20-Year Journey”), on Sirius radio, and on podcasts such as the “She Said She Said” show on BlogTalk Radio, the Fest for Beatles Fans’ own Bruce Spizer is being lauded and applauded across the nation. It’s his anniversary!

 

Over the last 20 years, Bruce has built a reputation as the most respected Beatles music expert in the world, or as the Fest family fondly refers to him, “The Beatleseffin’pedia.” Despite the fact that he is a very busy New Orleans tax attorney, Spizer has written nine books establishing his well-deserved creds as the “go to guy” on the Beatles recordings, records, and record promotions. He has covered almost every aspect of Beatles music history in these distinguished volumes:

 

Beatles Records on Vee-Jay (1998)

The Beatles’ Story on Capitol Records, Part 1 (2000)

The Beatles’ Story on Capitol Records, Part 2 (2000)

The Beatles on Apple Records (2003)

The Beatles are Coming! (2003)

The Beatles Solo on Apple Records (2005)

The Beatles Swan Song (2007)

Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records (2011)

The Beatles and Sgt. Pepper: A Fan’s Perspective (2017)

 

Never intentionally setting out to write a book, Bruce’s personal investigation into authentic 1960s Beatles pressings (when his record collection was destroyed and needed to be replaced) revealed a wealth of intricate information. The more Bruce learned in his quest, the more convinced he became that there was a need for an accurate, detailed book covering The Beatles on the Vee-Jay label – and on the intricate legal battle surrounding the company’s dealing with the Fab Four. Therefore, in 1998, he published that very book. And in doing so, Spizer started a tradition that will not slow or stop. His books are requested…in fact, popularly demanded…by knowledgeable Beatles fans who want to learn more.

 

Almost the second his Vee-Jay book hit the stands, Fest goers were “wink-wink-nudge-nudging” Bruce with, “So, when’s the Capitol book coming out?” And once Spizer had given them “the Capitol book,” his readers (and they are many…his books have grossed $2 million since their inception) were clamouring for “the Apple book.” For Spizer, there was no resting on one’s laurels. He had to keep writing.

 

In 2007, Spizer released a volume that he was certain would tie up all loose ends, covering (he thought) every remaining shred of information about Beatles recordings – everything that he had not previously discussed. One of those topics was The Beatles’ catalogue on Swan records. So cleverly, Spizer entitled this “final, final, infinity final” work, The Beatles Swan Song. Except, of course, that it wasn’t. Spizer may have wanted this definitive volume to be the swan song of his author-itative career, but he wasn’t permitted to relax yet: fans wanted the complete Parlophone story as well. They were insistent that The Beatleseffin’pedia tackle it from A to Zed. So, Spizer did just that, releasing in 2011, Beatles for Sale on Parlophone Records.

 

Yes, it is…it’s clear that Beatles fans and music aficionados can’t get enough of the painstaking detail which Bruce Spizer provides. He hunts down myths about Beatles music and summarily dispels them. He speaks with primary sources, such as Walter Cronkite (who wrote the Foreword for The Beatles Are Coming!), and he sets right past errors. Bruce has said on many occasions that, “A worthy book about The Beatles can’t be a mere collection of quotes and facts from other previous works patched together…a good book must provide new research and cover new territory.” And that, Bruce has done.

 

But there’s more to Bruce’s story…the personal side…because for those of us who call The Fest for Beatles Fans our home, Bruce is family. Well-known for his Saturday noon Main Stage kick-off presentations and his Friday night panels with Al Sussman, Tom Frangione, Chuck Gunderson, and many others, Bruce has always been integral to The Fest…a tradition we all anticipate and enjoy.

 

It was at the 2004 New Jersey Fest that a novice author named Jude Southerland Kessler listened intently to Bruce’s speech and then went up to ask him about The Quarrymen’s 1957 competition at the Liverpool Empire against (amongst other skiffle bands) The Sunnyside Skiffle group. “Mr. Spizer,” I wondered, “I know that the lead singer for The Sunnyside Skiffle group – who defeated The Quarrymen that day – was energetic Nicky Cuff. But who were the other members of the group?” At that moment, Bruce Spizer did two things that impressed me tremendously: First, he admitted he didn’t know. (Many experts would have “bulled their way” through with a flimsy answer.) And secondly, he suggested that I get in touch with Radio Merseyside and ask them for assistance with my mission.

 

So, I did. I e-mailed Radio Merseyside and explained that I was writing John Lennon’s biography in narrative form and needed to know a bit about each member of the vivacious, charismatic skiffle band that had bested the ingenue Quarrymen in June 1957. I explained that, if possible, I needed to speak with someone from the band: to discover exactly why the earliest version of The Beatles had fallen short that fateful day. Well, Radio Merseyside did what Bruce knew they would do. They ran a contest to “Help the American Author” – and happily, that contest ended in a direct overseas call to me from Nicky Cuff himself!

 

As I chatted with Cuff – the leader of the band who’d taught John Lennon that rock’n’roll involved much more than just singing a song – I finally understood the old adage, “The bigger they are, the nicer they are.” Cuff was quite gracious. And though there was nothing “in it” for him, well-established author, Bruce Spizer, had also been extremely generous. He’d taken time to help an unknown. He helped me uncover information I truly needed, despite the fact that he didn’t know me or my work.

 

Bruce’s brilliant notion of ringing up Radio Merseyside came naturally, of course, because that is exactly the kind of in-depth scholarship he regularly practices. It’s Spizer’s “extra mile” – the path he consistently takes to uncover little-known facts.  Indeed, his thorough, comprehensive, “no stone unturned” research has always met with great respect from his fellow authors and with admiration from the fans and readers as well. For the last twenty years, we’ve all said, “Good on yer, son!” Moreover, we’ve continued to ask for “More, more, more!”

 

So today, Bruce, we salute you on this 20th anniversary and look forward to the books to come. You simply can’t stop now! As John would say, “Y’er on a rock’n’roll!”



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: I Dare You!!!

By Jude Southerland Kessler

 

It was the hot “self-help” book of the Sixties. Although William H. Danforth had penned it in 1931, I Dare You came into its own during the late Fifties and early 1960s. I got my red leather copy in 1965 – a present from my parents upon my elementary school graduation.

 

In this slim motivational volume, Danforth – the founder of the Ralston Purina dog food company – challenged young people to reach for the very best in life by “fulfilling their full potential through his strategies of becoming a more risk-taking person.” He dared people to find the best in life by seeking the path not taken, by trying new things and seeing the world in diverse and challenging ways. Well, very soon you’ll have a chance to be a Danforth devotee!

 

Next weekend, you will arrive at the New York Metro Fest for Beatles Fans…something you’ve done three times, ten times, or perhaps even thirty times before (or more!). You’ll be wearing that sweatshirt and those buttons; you know, the ones you always wear. You’ll hang out with the same friends and plan to attend the same presentations you’ve attended since you learned to master the hand-clap pattern in “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” You’ll do the exact same things in the exact same way and then squinch your eyes up and whine, “Awww, things aren’t as good as they used to be. This is just the same ole, same ole. Ugh!”

 

But wait! Hold on a minute. In honor of Mr. Danforth, I DARE YOU!

 

I dare you to approach the Fest boldly this year…to try Something New. I dare you (like Thoreau in the Walden Pond woods) to come to the Fest to live intentionally…to set out with a conscious determination to test some unique experiences.

 

In fact, here are Number 9 Fun Adventures that I recommend. (There are tons of others…these are just a few that caught my eye!)

 

  1. I’m sure you know that 2018 marks the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles’ days in Rishikesh…that adventurous time that they spent in the ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. And to commemorate that direction-changing event in their lives, come to the Fest with loose comfy clothes (a lightweight sweat suit or yoga pants and a loose top will be just fine) and try a yoga class. If you have children, there is a children’s yoga class as well…attend with them and have fun. I dare you!
  2. The Fest has a wealth of live music that you have probably never heard! For example, plan to see Scott Erickson celebrate the 30th Anniversary of The Traveling Wilburys by performing their Volume 1 in its entirety. If you’ve never heard Scott before, you’ve missed a treat. Seek him out.

 

Or, maybe you’d enjoy the mellow and gutsy stylings of Jacqui Armbruster. Check out her performance of “Come Together” at last year’s Fest.  Yeah, she’s great! And thus far, you’ve missed out! I dare you!

 

  1. Okay, you might not be a whiz kid, but you will LOVE seeing the people who are when Tom Frangione and Al Sussman host two great contests: “Beatles Trivia” and “Beatles Name that Tune.” The competitions range from easy to difficult, so “There’s a Place” for you. I promise. But even if you don’t participate (and I dare you to try), you will be wowed at those who do!! It’s lively and fast-paced! Give it a go!
  2. Need a less stressful change of pace? Well, Neal Glaser has the solution. Stroll through his art exhibit featuring the art of John, Paul, and Ringo. Not only are the incredible pieces that Glaser displays rare and amazing, but many are signed, and they’re available for purchase. Will you go home with an original McCartney? I dare you!
  3. Here’s a tip “From Me to You.” Did you know that there is a Sgt. Pepper juke box on display at the Fest? Find it and have your photo made beside it! (Or take a selfie.) In fact, why not stage a “Photography Contest” with a friend? Compete to see who (on one given afternoon) can capture the most unusual, artistic, or memory-filled photos. Agree beforehand on a prize for the winner, and get out there! IDY!
  4. One of The Quarrymen’s first “real gigs” (Saturday, 22 June 1957) was their appearance at the Roseberry Street Carnival in Liverpool 8 supervised by Mrs. Marjorie Roberts. And what a performance it was! John was so “on fire” that a group of breathless girls gathered at the foot of the stage…and the Hatherley Street gang (quite jealous that their birds were agog over Lennon) threatened to “smash The Beatles up.” Fortunately, young Charles Roberts was able to locate his mother and convince her to walk The Quarrymen off stage and into the safety of her home, where the boys remained until “the coast was clear.” Well, Charles Roberts himself will be at the New York Metro Fest! Meet him! Find him in the Marketplace and say hello! This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – work with me, people! 😊 IDY!
  5. There are so many authors – biographers, Beatles music experts, Beatles film gurus, etc. – who travel hundreds (in my case, thousands) of miles to attend the Fest and speak in their area of expertise. So, this year, baby, branch out! Attend a presentation by someone you haven’t heard before! Have you heard Dave Bedford talk about his bold, new book, Finding the Fourth Beatle? Heard Jerry Hammack talk about the intricacies of The Beatles’ recording sessions? Have you ever taken my trip of unusual Liverpool sites at the “Early Bird” presentation on Saturday morning? Have you attended the Historians panel with Fest emcee and Beatles DVD host, Susan Ryan; author, Kit O’Toole; Rebeat Editor Allison Boron, and many other distinguished Beatles experts? (This year, they’ll be discussing The White Album on the advent of its 50th Anniversary!) Don’t be Decca Records and reject the unknown…I dare you to experience an author to whom you’ve never given an ear.
  6. Now, this one takes a bit o’ bravery…or a few drinks. Gather a group of friends and head over to the Beatles Karaoke room. If you go in with a friendly group, this can only be a blast! You know the lyrics. (Look up the number.) Get in there and “SANG” your heart out! Try it. I dare you!
  7. I’m sure you’ve heard their weekly online Beatles discussion group, but have you ever seen the “Fab Four Free 4 All” in person? This year, all three members will be on hand at the Fest, and hence, you are in for a treat! When Rob Leonard, Mitch Axelrod, and Tony Traguardo get together anything can happen, and does!!! They debate and discuss Beatles issues, head-on. Plan to see it all transpire! IDY…

 

Admittedly, this is only a wee smattering of the incredible things to do at next week’s Fest! I mean, the wealth of Beatles primary sources – from Gary Van Scyoc who was in Elephant’s Memory Band and will be performing in Jeff Slate’s Birds of Paradox to Billy J. Kramer to Jon Cobert to Mark Rivera – is unequalled at any Beatles gathering anywhere in the world! And the nostalgically wonderful things to do throughout the weekend (i.e., dress up in Sixties garb, dance the night away, and join the bands all over the hotel for pop-up singalongs) are extensive! In fact, here is a link to the entire schedule for the weekend to come. Read it and find a few treasures of your own.

 

I dare you to go “Steppin’ Out.” I dare you to make each day at the Fest even better than “The Night Before.” I dare you to have the time of your life!

 

And if you can do it, then I can do it! Next week, I’ll join you. I’ll plan to break a few rules and make “all work and no play Jude” a less-than-dull girl. Shall we do this together? We shall. I very dare us!



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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May “A Paul” Fall Over The Land

By Jude Southerland Kessler

 

IT happened just after the Superbowl.

 

After four hours of knuckle-gnawing, hair-raising, supreme gridiron action…interrupted only by a halftime that piled choreography atop an incredible light show and special effects…after four hours of superb athletic play dolloped liberally with hilarious (Danny DeVito as a brash, red M & M) and extremely touching commercials (such as Verizon’s “Answering the Call” tribute to first responders), I took a breather. To calm and unwind, I found my quiet computer and sat down to handle some business posts on Facebook.

 

And there I found them…The Naysayers. They were alive and well, despite the joy of the evening’s incredible offerings, and they were quite vocal:

“Justin Timberlake did nothing for me!”

“The commercials were a big, fat yawn.”

“The refs were awful.”

“The halftime show was the worst to date!”

“I’m not one bit impressed.”

“What happened to all the great commercials we used to have?”

 

I could barely believe my eyes. Had these people witnessed the same game I’d just seen? Had they watched the heartfelt Busch “Stand by You” commercial? Had they taken a bathroom break during the brilliant “We Will Rock You” Ford Ram Vikings ad? Had they not sat on the edge of their couches and shouted at the television as I had? Or had the worst finally transpired…had we morphed into a world conditioned to gripe and grouse, 24/7??

 

At that very moment, IT happened…yes, indeed it did. This ardent John Lennon devotee was driven straightaway into the emotional camp of Paul McCartney! In the blink of an eye.

 

I’m here to stand up and shout: The world needs more Pauls. The world needs more smiles, more “thumbs up,” more tact and kindness. The world need more brave faces. We need more “let it be.”

 

From Day One, The Beatles recognized that Paul was a great asset, and not just as a musician. Of the four boys, McCartney was by far the best-equipped to handle their public relations, to smooth rough corners, to manage sticky situations. In his book, Beatlemania: The Real Story of The Beatles U.K. Tours: 1963-1965, author Martin Creasy writes: “McCartney had an in-built sense of exactly the right or wrong thing for a Beatle to say at any given moment. Among all his other talents, Paul was the PR heavyweight who rarely, if ever, let slip anything that could damage the group’s reputation. He soon realised that unguarded moments…could result in unwelcome headlines.”[i]

 

But even before there were headlines, Paul was busy making life rosy for the other Beatles. On their first tour with Johnny Gentle to Scotland (in May 1960), the Beatles minibus unfortunately rear-ended a car that was legally stopped at a four-way crossing. Two very startled and scared elderly ladies sat in the damaged car, shocked at this assault by a van of teenagers. The Beatles, for their part, were injured (especially drummer, Tommy Moore) and very afraid of the legal ramifications. Paul was immediately elected to get out and make everything right.

 

Now, I ask you, how does one explain careening into the back of a cautiously stopped vehicle? How does one make the officious ramming of a sedan driven by two sweet, old grandmas acceptable? I have no clue, but Paul did. He smiled and gestured and was his affable self…and within minutes, the ladies were feeling sorry for the skinny, tired, young entertainer whose driver was falling asleep from an extreme dearth of rest. Paul made it all okay.

 

On the few occasions when Paul wasn’t at the “Happy Helm” of The Beatles, the center began to fly apart. No one is sure what miffed Paul into silence at the Cleveland press conference during the North American Tour of 1964, but miffed he was. He sat at the press conference table and doodled away, saying not a word to anyone. (Well, once he snarled at John when John suggested that their education in Liverpool wasn’t the best. But other than this singular flare, Paul sketched and kept his head down.) And though easy-going Ringo tried his best to fill in the large gap left by the muted Gregarious Beatle, Ringo struggled. George and John, of course, were as honest and forthright as ever. It was a very tense, touch-and-go afternoon.

 

You see, we need those who mend fences. We need those who bite their tongues, now and again. We need those who try to compromise or see the good in the opposite viewpoint. We need the Pauls who find something happy in every situation…the Pauls who elect not to fight at every bend in the road, but who make life easier on all around, simply by refusing to complain.

 

I thrive on John Lennon’s biting satire and commentary. I love George Harrison’s blunt honesty. I adore Ringo’s mournful complaints when he’s attacked with scissors or girls who steal his medals and rend his clothing. Like most people, I cherish the frankness of The Beatles, the brash sincerity that made them so trusted and thus, beloved.

 

But every once in a while, I wish we could all take a large dose of Sir Macca’s positive approach and “can do” outlook. I wish we could all make an effort to say, “Good Day, Sunshine” and really mean it.

 

It seems to me, we could all use that Macca miracle drug…uh, yesterday. Seeing Sir Paul in concert, it’s a cinch to observe his zest for living, his utter enthusiasm. No one would guess him a day over 50, much less 70! Why? Because being joyous defeats age; it reverses wear and tear. It invigorates and rejuvenates. It refreshes. (Exactly why Sir Mc was an ideal Superbowl halftime performer in 2005!)[ii]

 

So, I fervently pray that somehow “a Paul” may fall over our land, as it were. We need something to laugh about…and it’s that (instead of money) that I want.

 

[i] Creasy, Beatlemania: The Real Story of The Beatles U.K. Tours, 1963-1965, p. 290.

[ii] To see Sir Paul McCartney perform his full 2005 Superbowl Halftime Show, go to:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QWw0WM_dos



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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