Category Archives: Beatlemania

My 25 Favorite Beatles Songs

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I can’t count the number of times people have asked me my favorite Beatles songs – a question which usually leaves me stymied because….hello, y’all, have you ever met me? I do not deal in black & white; I deal in no less than eight hundred-fifty shades of gray. Ask me to pick a favorite song and my response is something along the lines of, “Do you mean when I’m sad? Happy? The one whose bass line I like the best? The one I’m gladdest to hear on Sundays after 5 pm during a waning gibbous moon?” In other words, I can’t pick just one. Or two. In fact, I was hard-pressed to pick twenty-five. But I did. It was not easy.

The method I used to compile this list was as follows: I sat down with a list of all the songs the Beatles recorded either for albums or for release as a single or B-side. With pen and paper at hand I jotted down every song that jumped off the page at me as one I especially favor for whatever reason. That gave me a working list of 36 songs. Then I went down my list and circled all the songs that absolutely, unquestionably must stay on the list (there were 10). I agonized over the remaining 26, trying to pick 11 to trim. It was painful to cross out any of them but eventually I whittled it down. I’m pretty happy with the results. Are there surprises? A few, I think. Of course there are standards that one might expect to see but there are certainly a few that are a little off the beaten path.

Without further ado, in chronological (release) order, I give you my 25 favorite Beatles songs:

  1. She Loves You
  2. This Boy
  3. If I Fell
  4. I Should’ve Known Better
  5. I’ll Cry Instead
  6. I’ve Just Seen a Face
  7. Girl
  8. In My Life
  9. Here, There & Everywhere
  10. Within You Without You
  11. A Day in the Life
  12. All You Need is Love
  13. Your Mother Should Know
  14. Hey Jude
  15. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  16. Blackbird
  17. Rocky Raccoon
  18. I Will
  19. Yer Blues
  20. The Ballad of John and Yoko
  21. Something
  22. Here Comes the Sun
  23. The End
  24. Let it Be
  25. The Long and Winding Road

And, for the record, the songs that were on the original list of 36 that just barely missed the cut:

  • Please Please Me
  • It Won’t be Long
  • No Reply
  • Act Naturally (the only cover song I picked)
  • Back in the USSR
  • Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey
  • Helter Skelter
  • Hey Bulldog
  • Because (I eliminated this one because it’s not the original version I love but the voices-only version on Anthology 3 and LOVE.)
  • I’ve Got a Feeling

And now, in true Mary fashion, now that I see it all written out I’m second-guessing my picks and wondering if I made my decisions too hastily. Honestly, it really is like trying to pick a favorite amongst your children. I’m just going to go with this list for now unless inspiration strikes. Cut, print, that’s a wrap.

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All you need is…

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I wonder how many times over the course of my lifetime I will fall in love with John Lennon.

It happens a lot.

I am the ultimate Beatles/Lennon fan. But sometimes real life overtakes me. I never entirely stop listening to the lads but they are, occasionally, pushed to the back burner. Once in a while it’s because I’m listening to something new that grabs my attention but, most often, I’ve pulled away from music, in general, while I deal with that bloody nuisance people call “reality”. The Beatles are still there, cropping up on my iPod, peering at me in some form in just about every room in my house, but the hippie-dippy spiritual connection-type stuff fades away. It isn’t lost – more like forgotten. I reach a saturation point, I think, where I have heard the songs so many times that I cease to really listen and they simply become noise. Well-loved noise….but noise, nonetheless.

But then, one day, a song of theirs will come on and, out of the blue, suddenly: I remember. I remember how and why all this started in the first place. I recognize, afresh, their genius. I notice subtle nuances I had begun to overlook. And I fall in love all over again.

Tonight was one of those nights. I’ve been in a phase where John has been removed from my immediate thoughts for quite some time. I went out to run an errand and queued up my iPod in the car. The first song up was “I Feel Fine” and as I heard John singing….it clicked. I have been feeling very blue the past week and, as a result, very tense. Listening to John’s voice I felt the tension draining away. I could wax philosophical about it but probably never do it justice. It’s oh, so much more than just “listening to music I enjoy.” His voice is the missing piece in my dysfunctional jigsaw puzzle of a soul. I hate that I forget that sometimes but I think I have to in order to truly appreciate what he/they mean to me when I come back to them. And I always come back to them.

How I Learned to Love The Beatles

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I suppose we have to go back, all the way back to the beginning, to see where it started….and where it didn’t.

Neither of my parents were big Beatles fans. My dad, being a bit older than The Beatles, themselves, was of a different generation than Beatlemania. My mom was of prime maniac age when they arrived on the scene but, although she did like their songs on the radio, she liked other bands better and never went crazy for them. She did have one 45″ single she’d bought – Yellow Submarine. Whenever Mom let me get her box of 45s down and listen to them, Yellow Submarine was always one I played. That, and watching the Yellow Submarine movie when it came on t.v., comprised the entirety of my Beatle exposure as a child.

Next stop: high school and phase two of my conversion. The guy I went out with when I was 15 had the Blue Album and we listened to it quite a bit. I liked it well enough that I borrowed the tape and copied a number of songs off it. However, that was as far as it was destined to go for another five years, which leads us to 1995 and the event that would change my life completely.

In November of that year ABC aired the six-part Beatles Anthology series. When I heard that it was coming on I found myself with an inexplicable desire to watch it. I’m not even sure why. As I said, I liked some of the songs but had no special attachment or interest in the band prior to this. I have no idea why I thought I might want to sit through six hours of documentary footage about them. I just…..did. I was working in the evenings and I had my mom record the shows for me, and I will tell you, ladies and gentlemen, from that first sixty minutes onward, it was all over. I was hooked. I started voraciously consuming anything and everything Beatles-related that I could find and, 15 years later, I haven’t stopped.

So why did it suddenly “click” with me at that specific moment? I don’t know. I like to think of it as a harmonic convergence. The planets aligned and just at that particular moment I was open to receive a story and the messages that would change my life in many ways – all of them positive. If this sounds a bit too New Age-y to you by all means feel free to formulate your own theory. All I know is I was meant to be a Beatles fan. They are truly a major part of my life. All across the U.S. and from Canada to Scandinavia to the UK and all the way down to Australia, there are people who immediately think of me anytime they see something Beatles-related. The Beatles are a part of my actual being; they are a fact about me just like my hair color or my height. People know I’ve (currently) got red hair, I’m pretty short and I love The Beatles. That’s me. And I am so very glad that I thought to ask my mother to spare a video tape and record that program for me.

Rock Show

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‘Tis a sad state of affairs when I have even failed to blog about the fact that I am going to be seeing Paul McCartney next week….twice.

All of this came about (relatively) quickly. In the past I’ve known for months in advance the cities where he would be playing and then tickets have always gone on sale several months before the shows. On this abbreviated tour, however, his August 17th show in Tulsa was announced in July. I have known about the Dallas show for even less time. Somehow, and I’m not sure how I managed it, but somehow I missed the news that Paul was playing there. I had no clue until a friend mentioned it to me on July 13th, scarcely more than a month before the show!

There was some self-created drama centered around whether or not I’d get tickets for both shows or not, and also whether or not I could take Madalyn as I’d been planning to do for about the past seven years. It really is crap timing, though, us having just got back from practically the entire summer in California, and financing that, and having to pay our part of the body work incurred by Robert and his run-in with the Single Horse, Man, of the Apocalypse. So, though it was contrary to my wishes, I decided to go solo again (and, okay, it meant I could afford better seats. Shut up.) Now, if Paul never tours again, I will go to my grave wracked with guilt that I never took at least one of my kids to see him, so let’s all cross our fingers that he comes around again so my soul can (at some date far in the future) rest in peace, mmmmkay?

So, where does that leave us? Well, it leaves me dashing off to Tulsa on Monday for the show at 7:30. Unfortunately I won’t be able to stay overnight so it will be a late, late drive back home afterward. Then I have Tuesday to prepare to be gone overnight and Wednesday I’m off to Dallas for concert #2. I’m staying the night at Le Meridien, near the Dallas Galleria. I plan to have a couple of good meals while I’m out and enjoy the peace and quiet in the hotel room during the short period I’m there.

Not only do I get the joy and thrill of seeing Paul but, like the spoiled brat I am, I have some pretty spiffy seats for both shows. To whit:
Tulsa, Section 120, Row D
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Dallas, Section C, Row 16
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Yes, needing only a single ticket does have its advantages.

Incidentally, I paid face value for both of these tickets, via the official online ticket outlets (Tickets.com for Tulsa and Ticketbastard for Dallas). Tulsa was simple. I got online and was waiting at the website when the tickets went on sale. The first three or four times I clicked it said nothing was available but I kept trying and that seat popped up. It was actually the section I was hoping for, if I couldn’t get a floor seat.

Dallas took a little more diligence. The show was, officially, sold out. However, as many people advised me, the venue often releases seats they’d held as the concert date got closer. I’d been browsing secondary-market tickets on several websites and was frustrated with the selection. The cheaper ones were all too far away from the stage for me to consider and the really good seats were out of my price range. Taking into account the advice I’d received I started checking Ticketbastard every few hours, daily. This went on for about a week. I’d had some moderately acceptable lower-level stadium seats pop up and then some poor floors seats (in Sections A and E, which is flagged as having “limited views of the stage.”) This past Monday night I was getting ready to head to bed. I almost closed the computer and then thought, “Oh yeah, I’ll just check one last time for tonight.” Thirty seconds later I nearly fell off the couch when a Section C seat popped up. I even opened a new tab and pulled up the seating chart to make sure it was really where I thought it was! I had a brief moment of temptation where I thought, “Hey, maybe if I put this one back it will give me another one, even closer!” but then I snapped out of it and went, “Whoa, lady, you’ve ridden the luck train as far as it’s going to go. Take it and be done with it!” And, really, you can’t get much better than 16th row, dead center floor for face value. I feel like I got off cheaply, and the good thing about shopping for tickets on the secondary market and then reporting the prices back to Robert is, he feels like it was pretty cheap, too. Everybody’s happy.

So there’s the latest. Check back later in the week for Part Two: Depression and the Aftermath of Post-Concert Letdown.

Greetings From the Banks of the Ohio River

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Madalyn and I arrived, safe and sound, in Louisville around 5:15 this evening. The travel gods smiled upon us (remind me to sacrifice a Samsonite in thanks later) and both our flights went well. The second flight was funny. I like to think of myself as being a bit more knowledgeable about geography than the average American (many of whom couldn’t find their own asses with both hands and a flashlight). However, I didn’t realize just how close Cincinnati (our layover city) was to Louisville. Once we got airborne our actual flying time was sixteen minutes. That is, officially, the shortest flight I’ve ever taken. We might as well have just driven the plane down the highway (where we’d likely been stuck behind a four-foot tall blue-hair with no peripheral vision doing 50 in the fast lane in her Buick).

We buzzed over to our temporary home, the Galt House, with an only semi-crazed cab driver who, on the plus side, did refrain from swearing, at least in English. Check-in went smoothly (I am always slightly paranoid that my reservation will have been lost since I make it so far in advance). We got up to our room and I am nearly positive it’s the same room I had last year. It is the same room location, that’s for sure. I just can’t remember 100% whether it’s the same floor.

I had mandated a rest time when we arrived in the room; however, this consisted of Madalyn watching raucous Nickelodeon shows for about thirty minutes and then spending the next half-hour asking me approximately every sixty seconds when we were going to leave. So I gave in and we headed downstairs. The first thing we did was get some chow, which Madalyn wanted to sit and eat overlooking the river. Then we drifted over to the main stage and then the t-shirt/memorabilia vendors. Madalyn picked out two t-shirts for herself and I picked two for Eliza. Mad’s own cash was burning a hole in her pocket so she bought a picture of the lads. Incidentally, the hotel was giving out $40 Visa gift cards to everyone staying three days or more. I used mine to pay for Eliza’s shirts so, woohoo, free shirts!

Madalyn had been a bit complaining through all of this, wanting to move on after only a few minutes at each stop. She had spied the fountain and wanted to go play in it. There is a stage at the fountain so, in the interest of peace and preserving camaraderie, I took her over there. I sat at the fountain’s edge and listened to music and she proceeded to get soaked while making friends with every kid who passed through.

Mad had a great time splashing around, singing and dancing to the music. The sun went down while all this was going on, so, of course, she started to get cold and begged to go up to the room to dry off. When she found out there were shows going on inside the hotel she was all for changing clothes and going down to check them out, so that’s what we did (after a phone call home). Once we got there, though, the fact that she is eight years old, not fifteen, caught up with her and she only made it through four or five songs before she crashed and burned. She was cold and tired (by now it was going on 11 p.m.) So, though I’d have liked to hear the next band up, we turned in for the night. Madalyn’s now snoring away (literally) in the bed next to mine.

I have warned her that she probably won’t be allowed in the fountain every day, simply because, for one, I haven’t brought enough extra clothing for her to go through two outfits a day and, secondly, there are other bands I want to hear besides just those at the Fountain Stage. I have told her to be ready to do a lot of things I want to do tomorrow. After all, that’s the whole reason we brought the Nintendo AND books AND her MP3 player AND Webkinz — so, if she gets bored with the concerts, she can do something other than hounding me about leaving. We’ll see how it goes. She does like the music and she likes dancing. I think tonight she was just worn out. She was an hour late getting to bed last night, then we had to get up early, spend all day traveling and then she was frigid and tired after the fountain.

As for me, I am just utterly thrilled to be back. Up until we actually arrived here at the hotel the promise of the weekend’s fun was overshadowed by my usual pre-trip stressing out and rushing around trying to get everything done. This happens to me a lot. I lose sight of the preparations and travel as a means to an end and, instead, focus entirely on them and how much I dislike doing them to the point of wishing I didn’t have to go at all. That, coupled with my bad attitude during last year’s AROTR, made me wonder if I really cared much about coming any more. Turns out I do. When I walked into the hotel lobby that I now know so well it was like stepping into a haven of fun and relaxation. When I looked out our hotel window onto the festival grounds I became giddy with excitement. It just feels right to be here. Like I belong. I need to be here to feed my soul and get back in touch with things that I love that, all too often these days, are shoved aside and ignored while I deal with life. I need to be here to be reminded of why I love these four boys from Liverpool and to remember and honor them, because I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.