Tag Archives: Let it Be

No. 3 Saville Row, London

50 years ago on January 30, 1969, the Beatles performed live for the last time.  It wasn’t a big show, but it was a big deal.  The Fab Four performed on the rooftop of No. 3 Saville Row, home of Apple Corps.  According to Tripadvisor, No. 3 Saville Row is 679th on a list of 1914 attractions in London. The Beatles performed 9 songs including 3 takes of ‘Get Back’.  On the 50th anniversary of the fab four finale it’s announced that award winning director Peter Jackson will be piecing together unseen footage of the Let it Be sessions giving generations of Beatles fans a new look at the sessions that would result in the final Lp that the Beatles would release.  There have been many articles written about the rooftop concert, the movie shows four musicians  who still had something to prove.  For there to be a new film about that time, that music, that LP and that concert its like a new Star Wars movie moment for me.

Forty one years ago, was the release of another generational last concert .  On the American Thanksgiving in 1976,  The Band hosted “The Last Waltz” a dinner and a concert for and with many of their friends at the Winterland Ballroom in San Fransisco. Conceived by Robbie Robertson the Last Waltz was not planned to be the end of the The Band, but rather like the Beatles, the end of touring.  It ended up being the end of the Band led by Robbie Robertson though.   The Band invited many of their friends to join them on stage for the farewell.  The film directed by Martin Scorsese, stands as one of the finest concert documentaries.  Five different versions of the concert, five different song line-ups.  If you’re counting, there’s the  concert song line up which differs from the film which differs from the original 1978 soundtrack version which differs from the 2002 four disc CD to finally,  the 40th anniversary edition released in 2018. which is different from all the others.  Amazingly and for whatever reason each has a different song sequence.  Perhaps Robbie Robertson can answer the question with the follow up to his book Testimony which ended after the final song of the concert.

In 1976, Neil Young performed two songs in The Last Waltz, though only those who were in the Winterland Ballroom would see Young perform ‘Four Strong Winds’, it hasn’t appeared (that I know of) on any released version of the Last Waltz.  In ’76 Young was an established artist but it was only 10 years earlier that he started making a name for himself  since arriving in California from Toronto.

Young compared his music, especially the sessions for the ‘Everybody Knows this is nowhere’ album to that of the Beatles, short and traditionally structured.  Its not the only comparison he makes to the Beatles. In the biography “Shakey” his says his time with CSN&Y is like the Beatles while performing with Crazy Horse is like the Rolling Stones.

In 2006 Young started releasing his archive series, live recordings going back to 1968.  The second archives release is his concert in Massey Hall in 1971, it went to #1 in Canada and #6 in the US.   It was a time when he was extremely creative he would release music with Buffalo Springfield, CSN&Y, Crazy Horse and also released solo recordings.  The Live at Massey Hall recording is momental for a few reasons, first its recorded in Massey Hall and it captures Young just before he would have his first #1 hit, Heart of Gold. It’s this tour in 1971 that had Neil at his best.  When I first listened to the recording in 2007 I got chills.  Here was Young playing music that was new in ’71.  No one knew what would happen to it.  But as I listened I was envious that I was not there (I was only 11 at the time) to hear these incredible songs that would end up on “Harvest”.  The people that filled Massey Hall that evening had no idea that they were a part of a generational shift in music.

I can only imagine what those  people that jammed Massey Hall in 1971 thought of the music they were listening to – and then to have the chance to hear it all again 36 years later.  It gives me chills just thinking now how they would react to hear that show all over again kowing that his music that night would be as great today as it was when he played those songs befiore they were released on that in 1971.  There is a part in that show where I stand (or sit) still and just listen.  It happens as Neil has walked off the stage and the crowd starts clapping, banging seats and making noise with just about anything to bring him out for an encore.  It goes on for at least 4 minutes before Young reappears and starts into ‘I am a child’. I listen in amazement to the reaction of those at the concert when he comes back.  It gives me shivers every time.

Imagine being one of the 2,765 people that would have had the opportunity to be making that noise in Massey Hall that night to bring him back, but to hear it all again a generation later.  That’s what makes this recording worthy of being connected to The Beatles on the roof on No. 3 Saville Row and The Band in The Last Waltz in a trifecta of concerts we should not be without watching or listening to.

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My Inner Beatle

This morning Liz and I received an email from her daughter that she was on her way home.  Speaking generally they were on their way home to Canada via LAX from Tokyo.  They have been travelling since August starting from Canada’s East Coast to Europe, Africa, India, Everest Base Camp Japan and now home to visit her sister in Vancouver and then make the trek back to Ontario and home by July.  The email came with the audio clip of The Beatles “Two of Us” and …’on our way back home’.  I went for my iPhone and played the song to get Liz and I up on the right side of the bed.  It brought a tear to our eyes; they were on their way home.

Liz asked why liked, no LOVED the Beatles so much.

My love of the Beatles started so many years again, with the release of “Abbey Road”.  My oldest brother Ron would go to a friend’s home and listen the LP, side 1 on one day and then side 2 the next day.  I remember his excitement and the euphoria when he brought his own copy home and probably wear out the first copy within weeks.  I can relate to the idea of having to buy more than one copy of the LP as I myself have 2 copies in vinyl and have the 1st CD version and the latest re-mastered Abbey Road in my library.

Back to Liz’s question, why do I love the Beatles so much?  It is the simplicity in the way the music was played, the honesty in the way the songs were written and the love of hearing these songs now 40 years+ still sounding fresh and new.  When an artist can bring a tear to your eyes, goose bumps on your arm or makes you keep repeating a song while you sing (loudly) in your car – you know they have hit a nerve and connected.

I admit that my favourite Beatle was and is Paul, but John, George and Ringo have all crept in to take over large parts of my inner Beatle self.  I find myself appreciating the little nuances of the Fab Four when I hear more about how they made their music.  This week I learned that the Beatles put together the animal sounds in their “Good Morning Good Morning” from 1967’s Sgt Pepper in the order of the animal food chain.  Simple? Of course, and genius at the same time.  There is probably so much to learn!  Maybe it’s time to earn my PHD in Beatles, http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jan/27/worlds-first-beatles-graduate.

‘Let it Be’ and “Two of Us” are the Beatle soundtrack of the day, that will probably evolve to ‘Abbey Road’.  But as I write this I have an urge to morph my inner Beatle self to George Harrison’s “What is Life”…to Ringo’s “Photograph” and then to John’s “Whatever gets you through the night”.  As for the next day and what I’ll want to hear…Tomorrow Never Knows.

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