Art, Music and Movement
Elvis and the Beatles were two of the biggest acts of the 20th Century.
For the thirteen years between 1956 and 1969, the Man from Memphis and the Lads from Liverpool changed the very definition of popular music.
But when you look over the extensive body of their work it's easy to miss the fact that gentle ballads like Love Me Tender and Yesterday weren't the kinds of songs that first brought them to our attention.
And it wasn't Rock either that ensured their place in the Hall of Fame. No, what Elvis and the Beatles came from was not Rock Music.
It was Rock and Roll.
Raw, repetitive, raucous, raunchy rock and roll.
Music and movement forged in the still smoldering ashes of 12 Bar Blues-born Boogie Woogie of the 1940s and early 1950s.
Heartbreak Hotel may have been Elvis' first hit but it was Hound Dog that really defined him as a Rock and Roller.
Rock and Roll Music
John Lennon's voice and energy were a natural fit for Chuck Berry's R&B sound.
Elvis belted out a rock and roll classic in this 1957 film. Arguably, the video clip shown here is one of the first music videos.
Long Tall Sally
As John seemed to cover Chuck Berry with ease, Paul did an excellent job in his version of this Little Richard hit.
Classic rock and roll from the King.
Roll Over Beethoven
George proved that John wasn't the only Beatle who could take on Chuck Berry.
All Shook Up
In 1957, with All Shook Up, Elvis ruled both the Pop and R&B charts for over a month.
Kansas City / Hey, Hey
The Beatles released a mashup of Lieber and Stoller's Kansas City and Little Richard's Hey Hey.
Anyone who follows Apocalypzia knows that we're huge Beatle fans.
We even met one of the Fab Four in a strange moment of synchronicity in front of the Ed Sullivan Theatre.
But being, arguably, the greatest entertainment act of the 20th Century doesn't mean that every performance is going into the history books.
When the Beatles were cutting the tracks for the album that would become the soundtrack for Help!, their second film, John and Paul wrote a song for Ringo to sing called, If You've Got Trouble.
Somehow the record-breaking songwriting team came up with a tune that was so bad that it wasn't released until it was included on the Anthology CD many, many years later.
The song is an interesting piece of Beatle history because it fails on nearly every level.
The lyrics are laughable, the melody is almost non-existent and their performance is amateurish at best.
The strongest part of the recording is actually the vocal. Ringo does the best that he can do with what he has to work with.
But listen to his exasperation when the song segues into the guitar solo.
To the Beatles credit, they thought the song was pretty bad too. They tossed it from the soundtrack album and included a track of Ringo covering Buck Owen's Act Naturally instead.
We think this song is especially interesting because it was composed in the mid-60s when John and Paul were still very skeptical about George Harrison's songwriting ability.
John and Paul were reportedly especially critical of George's first songwriting effort, Don't Bother Me, a song similar to If You've Got Trouble thematically with, IOHO, a catchier melody and superior lyrics.
George had the last laugh, though.
George's song, Something, released just a few years later, was the second most covered Beatle song of all time, eclipsed only by Paul's Yesterday.
One of every ten adult Americans plays tennis.
That's about 25 million people.
That number is slightly below the number of golfers out there.
But the economic downturn may change that.
Eighteen rounds of golf costs you an average of $36.
With a $40 tennis racquet you can ace, deuce and love yourself all summer long.
Of course, we've never considered golf a sport. Anything you can participate in while smoking, drinking and riding around in a little go-kart somehow just isn't a sport.
Tennis on Television
But though participation in tennis is recently on the rise, TV viewership of major events is in relentless decline.
Back in 1977, when Chris Evert won the women's division of the US Open, according to Nielsen, 20% of US households watched the match. By 2007, when Justine Henin took home the US Open crown, the viewer share had plunged to 5%.
The world is different today and there are a lot more programs competing for our attention now, but that's still a pretty steep drop.
We can think of 5 very good reasons to follow women's tennis, however.
Five reasons that, indeed, personify what the producer of these five video clips appropriately called, the beauty of the power game.
Flashdance changed the whole idea of musicals in 1983
Tailor-made for the budding MTV generation, this movie about a steel-town girl who dreamed of one day being a professional dancer was exciting, energizing and inspiring.
And the driving pulse-beat of the film was the excellent song, Maniac. Though not written for the movie - and originally conceived as a country song - Maniac was the lifeblood of this Hero-Journey of a welder-turned-dancer.
And at the core of Maniac was a sizzling guitar solo that I have tried unsuccessfully for years to learn how to play.
Who knew there was this interesting tapping trick to it?
Here are four guys of have mastered that bit of musical magic...
Ago Tambone takes on the entire song. This excellent guitarist is in a class all by himself. (The solo is at 3:00 into the clip.)
The original Flashdance video
Look out Lady GaGa...
Anyone who follows us knows that we are huge fans of the singing sisters aka Fiomily. These not-so-long-ago cute adolescents are now blossoming into lovely young women, blessed with enormous talent.
Their harmonies are tighter than ever and they both, younger Fiona especially, bring a wisdom beyond their years to their art.
The guitar work of Emily is exceptional, providing the ideal accompaniment for the beautiful music the duo makes.
Fiomily has issued amazing and entertaining covers of songs by the Beatles, the Mamas and the Papas, The Killers, Paramore and Avril Lavigne.
Here they take on Lady Gaga and do it in grand style.
And their stutter-step on ju-ju-ju-just dance is ingenious!
More by Fiomily:
Emily and Fiona Sing the Beatles
Fiomily (Emily and Fiona) Encore
The Music of Fiomily: Its Emily and Fiona: Back to Back!
Dan & Dan
The clever and creative Stephen Fry (@StephenFry) broke his current twitter silence today to tweet about this funny video from Dan & Dan.
Dylan & Dylan
The style of the clip got us thinking about the opening scene of the 1965 Bob Dylan documentary, Don't Look Back.
Weird Al's Palindrome Masterpiece
In one of his most imaginative parodies, "Weird Al" Yankovic sends up Dylan's scene in a video in which every lyric line is a palindrome.
Movin' On Up
The talented Emily and Fiona, AKA Fiomily continue to move up the charts on Apocalypzia's most popular posts.
With so much that seems off-balance and out-of-focus in the world, we like to applaud those who sing their song, dance their dance and follow their bliss.
Take a few moments this Friday to link back to our previous posts about this adorable duo.
Emily and Fiona Sing The Beatles
A lot of people covered the Beatles but Emily and Fiona capture something of the spirit and passion from the early days in Liverpool.
Fiomily (Emily and Fiona) Encore
The Music of Fiomily: It's Emily and Fiona, Back to Back!
It's a musical showdown with Fiomily squaring off against some of the best in the business.
All things must pass...
Though I was fortunate enough to meet one of the Beatles, I wish that I'd had the opportunity to meet George, as well.
It was through hours and hours of listening to George's solos over and over again that I learned that playing the guitar was about more than just playing a blizzard of notes as fast as humanly possible.
There was an elegance and efficiency to his work that complemented and defined the sound that was The Beatles.
So Happy Birthday, George! Apocalypzia honors you with today's collection of musical memorabilia.
George and Paul met riding a bus to school
Paul introduced him to John, who first thought he was too young to join his group, The Quarrymen.
Before joining the Beatles, George formed a skiffle group called The Rebels.
George was the first Beatle to come to the USA
Five months before the Beatles' British invasion in February 1964, George visited his sister in Benton IL. During the trip, he sat in with a band at a VFW hall.
George suggested the major sixth chord vocal harmony at the end of She Loves You.
Producer George Martin thought it was too jazzy. John, Paul and Ringo trusted George's judgement and the song became the best selling single in 1963 and remains the top-selling Beatles single in the UK.
George was Mick Fleetwood's brother-in-law at one time
When George was married to Patti Boyd, Mick was married to Patti's sister, Jenny.
George once said , "If we'd known we were going to be The Beatles, we'd have tried harder."
George's Something was, by some EMI counts, the second most covered Beatle song.
Though his compositions were often in the shadow of those of his more prolific mates, John and Paul, a song written by George was covered by more artists than any other Lennon/McCartney composition with the exception of Yesterday.
Much to Paul's chagrin, Frank Sinatra once called Something his favorite "Lennon-McCartney" composition and "the greatest love song of the past fifty years."
George was the first former Beatle to have a Number #1 single and Number #1 album -- My Sweet Lord
Some people would like to take that credit away from George, given the whole litigation dust-up involving The Chiffon's hit He's So Fine.
I would suggest they listen to Paul McCartney's I Saw Her Standing There then put on When the Saints Go Marching In.
Fiomily Take 3
We're tremendous fans of Emily and Fiona and judging from the response to our previous posts showcasing these two young ladies there's a lot of love out there for their talent.
This time we feature them back-to-back with videos of the songs they cover.
By the way, Avril Lavigne might want to look out. In our own opinion, Fiomily's version of Nobody's Home is arguably superior to Avril's unplugged version presented here.
Emily and Fiona already show incredible talent covering songs recorded by others. If they add songwriting to the mix, the sky may be the limit for these two.
Star of the County Down
Emily and Fiona Sing The Beatles
Fiomily (Emily and Fiona) Encore
Millions were exposed to the art of Ernie Barnes through the 1970's TV show, Good Times
Mr. Barnes' art was backdrop for the show's closing credits. It was also used to represent the paintings of wisecracking JJ (Dyn-O-Mite!) Evans, the series' budding artist.
Ernie Barnes, who retired from professional football to pursue his love of art, described his particular creative style of distortion and exaggeration as neo-mannerism.
The closed eyes of the people in his paintings symbolize our blindness to true magic of humanity.
Whatever one might call it, his work is alive with movement, expression and nuance meaning.
My Miss America
Ernie Barnes 1938 - 2009
You know them, you love them, so we brought them back.
We told you all about these talented sisters in a previous post that included a number of video clips. Most of the clips in this post are more recent so you'll notice that Emily and Fiona look a little older here and have improved their already impressive skills.
You'll also notice that they're electrified, drummified, mic'ed, multi-tracked and sounding better than ever.
Emily and Fiona take on this musical autobiography by the Mamas and the Papas.
Mr. Bright Side
Emily and Fiona cover the Killers. Fine work here.
With help from Christian on drums, Emily and Fiona cover Paramore.
Needle and Spoon
Emily shows off her versatility here playing lead, rhythm and bass guitar while Fiona exhibits maturity beyond her young years, handling some serious lyrics.
We're closing out this set with a little vintage Fiomily from their Beatles repertoire.
We like this particular clip because we get a rare smile from Fiona and a cute grimace from Emily when she doesn't exactly hit the guitar note that she hoped for.
Take our word for it, this is a challenging guitar piece to play. We're still trying to master it.
Emily and Fiona Sing the Beatles
Best of the Beatles
Step aside Indigo Girls...Emily and Fiona have arrived!
In the process of preparing a post about musical groups who cover the Beatles, we came across Emily and Fiona, or Fiomily as they sometimes call themselves. We were absolutely blown away by their videos.
These lovely and talented young ladies are sisters and, at the tender ages of 17 and 14, they are an inspiration and a delight. Of all the Beatles covers we've heard and Beatles tribute bands we've seen, none are as compelling and charming as Emily and Fiona.
They capture that innocence of the early Beatles and perhaps for good reason. John Lennon was himself 17 when he auditioned the 15 year old Paul McCartney to join the band that would change Liverpool and then the world.
Emily and Fiona are already generating some worldwide attention themselves through their YouTube videos and live performances.
Beatles songs are just part of their repertoire and we'll be covering some of their other songs in upcoming posts. We can't say enough good things about these musicians.
Ladies and gentlemen, the amazing Emily and Fiona!
This Beatles song has a complex vocal harmony that Emily and Fiona capture quite beautifully. The rhythm guitar is spot on.
There is a cute moment where they bobble the lyrics a bit but recover like true professionals. Not to worry, ladies. John Lennon bobbled the lyrics a bit himself when the Beatles performed this song on the Ed Sullivan Show with 70 million viewers. And things turned out pretty well for them.
She Loves You
This song was the Beatles first US hit. The vocal harmonies they used intrigued even George Martin, their seasoned record producer.
Once again, Emily and Fiona nail it.
Love Me Do
This was the Beatles first British hit and Emily and Fiona do it proud with guitar and harmonica!
Again, they capture the John-and-Paul harmony quite brilliantly .
I Am the Walrus
As proof that Emily and Fiona are fearless, they take on one of the Beatles more arcane recordings from later in their career.
Great guitar work. Fantastic vocals. Well done!
Johnny B. Goode
And just to show you that Emily and Fiona's songlist goes beyond the Beatles, here they do a Chuck Berry Rock and Roll classic.
Johnny B. Goode - Live
Let's hear Emily and Fiona do Johnny B. Goode again but this time on stage, backed by the Blues Company, a professional German blues band.
As of December 2009, sales of The Beatles: Rock Band topped 1 million units worldwide.
And that's all because Dhani Harrison -- the spitting image of his famous Dad, George -- had a vision and saw it through.
In 2006, Dhani ran into MTV president Van Toffler and pitched the idea of a Beatles-based videogame. MTV had recently purchased Harmonix, the developer of Rock Band and the original developer of Guitar Hero.
Toffler didn't bite, but Dhani, undaunted, took the idea directly to Harmonix.
And more importantly, he took the idea to Apple Corps, the Beatles-founded music production company, and pitched the concept to Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and Yoko Ono. We assume that his Mom, Olivia, was already on board.
Beatle sons: Sean Lennon and Dhani Harrison
Dhani made the sale and helped put a package together between Harmonix and Apple Corps, whose shareholders saw the videogame as a way to introduce a whole new generation to Beatles music.
And after two years in development, the Beatles: Rock Band launched internationally on the same day as a re-release of the remastered Beatles CD catalog.
That release date was 09-09-09. Number nine, number nine, number nine for you fans of the Beatles White Album.
Of course, not everyone needs a videogame to cover the Beatles.
Here are some well done covers of Beatles songs and a tribute to some of George Harrison's great guitar solos.
Paperback Writer - The Cover
Paperback Writer - The Original
Run For Your Life - The Cover
Run For Your Life - The Original
Beatles Guitar Solos
Christmas videos: 20th vs 21st Century
In 2005, the Polar Express was a breakthrough children's film whose state-of-the-art 3D graphics helped to redefine Christmas movies.
Fifty years before, baby boomer kids were watching a very different kind of animation, using awkward stop-motion photography or simple paper and pen drawings.
It was low-tech and unsophisticated compared to today's standards yet it was imbued with a charm and simple wonder that spans half a century.
Travel back in time five decades and see the season the way that kids did in days gone by.
Hardrock, Cocoa and Joe
Frosty the Snowman
The Cold Breath of Winter...
December in Midwest USA has been mild so far and has spared us the bitter winter storms for a few more weeks. So today, happy that we're not shoveling snow, we're celebrating rain.
Perpetuum Jazzile: The Rain in Africa
Minnie Riperton: Rainy Day in Centerville
Brook Benton: Rainy Night in Georgia
Gustave Dore 1832-1883
Gustave Dore was a french artist, engraver and sculptor who is remembered, primarily, for his literary illustrations of the works of Balzac, Milton and Dante. Dore also illustrated Cervantes' Don Quixote, Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven and the Bible.
Something Beyond the Stars
What has always amazed us most about Dore is the majestic and ominous power of his black and white engravings depicting Heaven. Their grey-scale simplicity radiates something, indeed, beyond the stars and beyond this world.
If there is in truth a Heaven, we imagine that Dore has somehow captured something of the awesome and daunting mystery of it in his work.
Paradiso, Canto 31
In fashion then as of a snow-white rose
Displayed itself to me the saintly host,
Whom Christ in his own blood had made his bride.
Paradiso, Canto 18
So I became aware that my gyration
With heaven together had increased its arc,
That miracle beholding more adorned.
And such as is the change, in little lapse
Of time, in a pale woman, when her face
Is from the load of bashfulness unladen,
Such was it in mine eyes, when I had turned,
Caused by the whiteness of the temperate star,
The sixth, which to itself had gathered me.
Within that Jovial torch did I behold
The sparkling of the love which was therein
Delineate our language to mine eyes.
Purgatorio, Canto 2
In exitu Israel de Aegypto!
They chanted all together in one voice,
With whatso in that psalm is after written.
Then made he sign of holy rood upon them,
Whereat all cast themselves upon the shore,
And he departed swiftly as he came.
Paradise Lost: The Horrid Vale
Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool
His mighty stature; on each hand the flames
Driven backward slope their pointing spires, and, rolled
In billows, leave in the midst a horrid vale.
Paradise Lost: Descent into Hell
Hell at last
Yawning received them whole, and on them closed;
Hell, their fit habitation, fraught with fire
Unquenchable, the house of woe and pain.