Monthly Archives: March 2012

TMBP Extra: The quiet man

Unlike a few weeks later, when none of the Beatles would show up to accept their Oscar for best film score, at the 13th Grammy Awards — held March 16, 1971 — there was indeed a member of the Fab Four in the house. Way in the back of the house.

Presenting the award for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special was none other than a not necessarily sober John Wayne (who was pretty funny with Andy Williams in the intro to the award). Safe to say there was no Beatles connection.

In fact, the award wasn’t given to the Beatles at all, but to the individual composers.

How the other three Beatles — who lost the case Paul brought against them to formally split up the band four days earlier — reacted to the McCartneys taking their awards for an album he was so dismissive of would have been interesting to see, to put it mildly.

Paul kept his thanks as brief as they could be with a “thank you, good night.”

The awards show itself seemed like a fun watch.

Here’s a rundown, via Film Threat (by way of the Internet Archive)

Speaking of acceptance speeches, no one said anything beyond a mere thanks. Even the most dramatic audience response of the night, which accompanied the surprise appearance of Paul McCartney (with his wife Linda) to accept the Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special Award, was capped by McCartney saying a mere “Thank you!” before disappearing from the show. (Herb Alpert, a guest presenter, deviated from the script to offer a sincere word of praise for McCartney’s attendance at the broadcast.)

But for the rest of the show, “The 13th Annual Grammy Awards” was fascinating for its sheer strangeness. Some of the presenters were having a seriously off-night: Lynn Anderson was sporting a large chin brace (she never explained why, only joking that she was trying “to keep my chin up), Nancy Sinatra boasted of having the flu, John Wayne (who announced the award McCartney accepted) appeared to have indulged in a few too many drinks and was visibly bobbing and weaving, Brook Benton and Glen Campbell could not see the distant TelePrompter during their respective podium turns and needed Williams to help read the nominations out loud, and Zsa Zsa Gabor (introduced by Williams as being “beautiful and talented”) flustered co-presenter Bob Newhart (for the comedy recording award) by the ad-libbed suggestion he was fathering children out of wedlock.

Further, here’s another account of the night, via Ottawa Beatles Site

The following is an excerpt from the “Variety” book entitled “The Grammy’s”  by Thomas O’Neil….

“Bridge [may have] swept the top honours”, wrote the L.A. Times, “but it was ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, in a rare public appearance, who created the most excitement” at the ceremony. “Though the event was strictly black tie, McCartney strolled in wearing a blue suit, red flower shirt and open at the neck, and white tennis shoes.”

Like Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles broke up in 1970 but still had a bounty of nominations (six) for their farewell LP, Let It Be. They won only one award — for Best Original Score written for a Motion Picture or TV Special – after losing Record and Song of the Year nods (in a close contest, according to the Washington Post) to “Bridge.” But “there were shrieks of surprise” from the audience when the winner of the best film score was announced, the Times reported. “With Linda at his side, McCartney raced up to the podium to accept the award from actor John Wayne, saying only, ‘Thank you.'”

Variety columnist Army Archerd added, “Paul McCartney kept his word, returned to the press tent after the awards — and, as expected, had to plough his way thru a mob to reach his car with (expectant) wife Linda. McCartney, informally attired (would you believe sneakers?), admitted, ‘I didn’t know whether they’d let me in.'”

Interesting side note: During the presentation, Wayne said the nominees were John, Paul and George — and he in fact handed Paul three awards.  But as history tells, Ringo should have also received some hardware.

10 Comments

Filed under Extra

Jan. 3, 1969: Shoctric shocks

Before I begin, thanks to all the new followers who found me from the spectacular Hey Dullblog and the superlative Kenwood. Glad to have you here!

The hour and a half spent listening to the Beatles rehearse “All Things Must Pass” (that includes their chatter before and after playing)  on the second day of the Twickenham sessions are interesting (and aggravating) enough to  warrant multiple posts. Count this as post No. 1.

Like Let it Be’s opening sequence, there was a bit of symbolism in the film’s portrayal of the “All Things Must Pass” rehearsals.

Feedback

Don’t remember hearing the song in the movie? Well, they never quite got to the song itself.

About 5 1/2 minutes in — after a performance of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” from a different day — there’s a sequence lasting just under a minute of George getting a load of feedback speaking from his microphone, and the crew working to fix it.

** Check the scene here ** (can’t embed this one)

Hilarity ensues after George exclaims, “Fucking hell… shocktric shocks.” He  insists “I’ve just got a belt, man” as far as what could possibly be causing the feedback. “I’ve got rubber shoes as well,” he says before Michael Lindsay-Hogg (I believe) chimes in, “And you’re made of wood” to laughter.

Naturally George tries again to touch the mic only to get shocked again.

Paul wraps the scene by looking into the camera and saying, “If this boy dies, you’re going to cop it.” And we’re off to a later take of “Two of Us.”

So here we have the lone moment in the movie of “All Things Must Pass” and it’s simply aborted, merely comic relief.

One of the film’s “touching” moments

In the movie, it was truly just a blip between songs. In reality, the technical problems lasted…  well, I don’t know how long it lasted. But based on the remainder of that take in the tapes (“All Things Must Pass 3.101, for those keeping score), there was more feedback, more mic maneuvering for more than two minutes, more poking fun at George, then the tapes cut off. We’re back as they begin a subsequent take of the song, immediate issues already resolved.

The scene was edited for the film, as the dialogue didn’t quite happen in the order it was presented.

Knowing now what the song is actually being attempted — and we never do actually get to it in the film (or recorded for the album) — is an awful, awful tease. But that was really just part and parcel of the rehearsals of the song on Jan. 3 (and, I suppose, of how John and Paul treated the song overall, dismissing it at every turn).

George has a really difficult time teaching the band how he wants the song to sound (“Tell us the bits of which you’re most unsure of it,” he asks the band. “Or all of it.”). They sound clumsy and distant.

From the “Get Back Book” — find it here: http://www.beatlesource.com/bs/mains/audio/GetBack/GetBackBook.pdf

You hear phones ringing in the background at times. The equipment doesn’t work.  The band is distracted — Paul argues about recording equipment with Mal Evans during one of the takes.  There’s plenty of this throughout the sessions at Twickenham, I’m sure (I’m just on Day 2).  but this is, in the immortal words of Paul years later, a drag, isn’t it?

After hearing a few songs sound close in pretty good shape (“Don’t Let Me Down,” “I’ve Got a Feeling,” and “One After 909” — that last one is cheating, I know) and other new songs with more polish (“Two of Us” and “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”) in those first two days, I hoped for more from the initial rehearsals for “All Things Must Pass,” some remote acknowledgement that this song was a keeper and should be thrown in the pile of songs for the performance and album they were working on.

Instead, it’s an aggravating listen, kind of the classic Beatles “with their trousers down” that the sessions were always labeled as.  I do know the song gets better, having heard rehearsals from later in the sessions.  I just got greedy wanting more early. And it’s made worse with the hindsight that ultimately, the song wouldn’t end up going much further than it already was.

More on the song — and the discussions the band had during rehearsals of it — in the next few posts.

9 Comments

Filed under Day by day

Jan. 3, 1969: Traveling on that line

When we last left you on the Nagra Tapes timeline, George wondered aloud whether it was practical for the Beatles to perform a concert consisting only of new songs, without throwing the audiences — especially the American one — a bone with an “oldie but goldie.”

They had, in fact, rehearsed such a song a few hours earlier. Well, it may not have been a goldie, but it was an original Beatles oldie dating all the way back to the days of the Quarrymen.

And while they did in fact record “One After 909” in 1963 — in fact, it was 49 years ago today, on March 5, 1963 (the same day they cut “From Me To You”) — that original recording didn’t see an official release until Anthology in 1995.

The band attacked their first take of the song (in presumably five-plus years) with much of the same gusto they gave covers of the same era during the sessions. How do we know they enjoyed playing it? They actually finished the song.

Following that first run-through, which was replete with stumbles but seemed to have John and Paul remembering all the words, the band — especially Paul — collectively marveled at the simplicity of the lyrics.

“I always meant to just change the words a bit,” John said. Paul chimed in that “it’s great,” before giving a spoken-word run-through of first verse, to George’s laughter. Then George, ever eager still to actually have a focus here, asks if the band should rehearse the song more.

A bit of that dialogue appeared in the Let It Be film, and decades later, on a podcast promoting the Let It Be … Naked release on iTunes.

“Or maybe we should do it without practicing. You know, practicing will fuck it up,” he said.

The band in fact, did return to the song — after first running through a take of the presumed John oldie “Wake Up in the Morning/Because You Love Me So.” And like the prior run-through, this take of “One After 909” was closer in spirit and pacing to the Quarrymen version than the 1963 recording.

Also like the prior take, the band continues to poke fun at the lyrics once the song is over. John bemoans, “We always thought it wasn’t finished.”  And George goes further, suggesting “Most people don’t give a shit what the words are
about, as long as it’s popping along.”

It’s rock and roll, and it’s a song, written in 1957, that is indeed seminal rock. It was a Beatles song, not a John song/Paul song/George song as the bandmates had been bringing to the sessions otherwise — and you can hear the harmony (literally and figuratively) while they play.  Really, it’s the perfect song for what they were trying to achieve during these sessions: developing a loose, off-the-cuff presentation of their songs.

8 Comments

Filed under Day by day