My track-by-track tales follow this bare-bones list.
- Ringo Starr, It Don’t Come Easy (live, from The Concert for Bangladesh)
- Paul McCartney/Wings, Morse Moose And The Grey Goose
- John Lennon, Gimme Some Truth
- John Lennon, How Do You Sleep?
- Paul McCartney/Wings, Let Me Roll It
- George Harrison, Isn’t It A Pity
- John Lennon, I Found Out
- Paul McCartney, The Song We Were Singing
- Ringo Starr, No No Song
- Ringo Starr, Husbands and Wives
- John Lennon, Crippled Inside
- Paul McCartney/Wings, Beware My Love (live, from Wings Over America)
- George Harrison, I’d Have You Anytime
- Ringo Starr, Oh, My My
- John Lennon, I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama
- Paul McCartney, Ain’t No Sunshine (live, from Unplugged: The Official Bootleg)
- George Harrison, Beware Of Darkness
- Paul McCartney/Wings, Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me)
- Ringo Starr, I’m The Greatest
- John Lennon, Out The Blue
- George Harrison, It’s What You Value
- Ringo Starr, Snookeroo
- John Lennon, Steel And Glass
- George Harrison, Blow Away
- John Lennon, Meat City
- Paul McCartney/Wings, Cafe On The Left Bank
- George Harrison, Tired Of Midnight Blue
- Paul McCartney/Wings, Go Now (live, from Wings Over America)
My track-by-track tales:
- Ringo Starr, It Don’t Come Easy (live, from The Concert for Bangladesh) . . . Live version of one of Ringo’s biggest hits, the 1971 single he wrote with help from George Harrison, although only Ringo is credited.
Depending on what you hear or read, though, Harrison may have written the song outright – and there are versions of him singing it available online – and just gave it to Ringo out of the goodness of his heart, although in liner notes to a compilation I have, Ringo says he was proud of himself for the line “got to pay your dues if you want to play the blues’.
Anyway, all of the now former Beatles were helping each other out on their respective solo work in the immediate aftermath of the breakup and for a few years after – aside from the fact everyone was pissed at Paul McCartney so nobody helped him. Not, arguably, that McCartney really needed it, amazing talent that he remains although his solo work until Band On The Run was somewhat spotty. And, all four Beatles wound up together, sort of, albeit never in the same studio all at the same time, as they helped out on the ‘Ringo’ studio album released in 1973.
Meantime, back to It Don’t Come Easy. Harrison produced the studio single and plays guitar on it as well as the Bangladesh live version from Harrison’s all-star fundraiser, also in 1971 – a precursor to such later events as Live Aid and Live 8.Interesting reading about Ringo while I was putting this show together. I always aim for deep cuts and was encouraged by a friend about some but frankly, aside from a few songs including one from the Goodnight Vienna album I’m playing later in the set, I admit I’m not as familiar as I could be with Ringo’s stuff beyond the mid-1970s, and beyond the hits. Which may be a common issue except to extreme die-hards like my friend, a credit to him.
To quote from The Rough Guide series book (an excellent series about various bands/artists) on The Beatles, in their solo work section: “Most listeners have got the measure of Ringo’s talent by now. No matter how competently made his records are – and he manages to attract some considerable talent to come and help out – they are still Ringo records. And (key point here, my thought) other than a blip of commercial credibility in the early to mid-1970s, the public has voted with their feet and stayed away in their millions. Which is a shame in a way, because they’re (the albums) not bad, but it’s also understandable because they’re not that good, either.”
My sentiments, exactly. Most fans of bands/artists do try to travel with them, try hard to like their stuff but at certain points, you might abandon them.
- Paul McCartney/Wings, Morse Moose And The Grey Goose . . . I played this ages ago, to great acclaim (at least from one friend). It’s McCartney unleashed, in a fun, great way, if you ask me, on this extended rocker from the London Town album, 1978. It’s the type of track people who criticize him for being soft, or not creative, for not taking chances, ought to listen to if they haven’t heard it. It’s not as if it’s unconventional by any measure, certainly not if you have any appreciation for McCartney’s deeper cuts. In some ways I’d equate it to Uncle Albert/
Admiral Halsey in terms of being multiple songs in one. Yet unlike that song, which appears on McCartney compilations hence is known to the masses, Morse Moose remains somewhat (unfairly) obscure. But, happily obscure in that it’s not overplayed, or played much at all.
- John Lennon, Gimme Some Truth . . . Angry John, from the Imagine album.
- John Lennon, How Do You Sleep? . . . Angrier John, from Imagine, his famous rip job on Paul McCartney. Brilliantly done, actually, and I could not choose between the two guys/have no favorite as far as the brilliant music they did together, and apart.
- Paul McCartney/Wings, Let Me Roll It . . . Many thought this song, from the Band On The Run album, was McCartney’s response to Lennon but nobody will ever likely truly know except for McCartney himself, who has said it was simply about smoking pot. Besides, he had other songs previous to this – Too Many People for one – about Lennon, which probably prompted How Do You Sleep? As listeners/fans, we all benefited.
- George Harrison, Isn’t It A Pity . . . Harrison’s great full-fledged debut album All Things Must Pass was his, largely, unleashing of songs, like this one, that The Beatles had apparently rejected but which he could finally put on a solo album, post-breakup. Originally written in 1966, the song has also come to be seen as a reflection on the band’s breakup. It was the B-side to Harrison’s smash single My Sweet Lord.
- John Lennon, I Found Out . . . Down and dirty stuff and as always from Lennon lyrically potent, from his first proper solo album, 1970’s Plastic Ono Band. I didn’t realize this until looking up the song but the Red Hot Chili Peppers covered it. Decent, not as good, too drone-like/lazy sounding if you ask me.
- Paul McCartney, The Song We Were Singing . . . Lead cut from McCartney’s 1997 album Flaming Pie which yielded the (to me) memorable single The World Tonight. The Song We Were Singing wasn’t among the three singles released from the album, but could easily have been. I’d suggest the lyrics could be about The Beatles, all those years later – it always came back to the songs they were singing, despite their various issues, until they could no longer overcome them.
- Ringo Starr, No No Song . . . Hoyt Axton wrote so many great songs, many of which rock/pop artists turned into hits, like Steppewolf with one of my favorties of theirs, Snowblind Friend, and this one from Ringo.
- Ringo Starr, Husbands and Wives . . . A Roger Miller tune, from Ringo’s Goodnight Vienna album. “The angry words spoke in haste, such a waste of two lives, it’s my belief pride is the chief cause in the decline in the number of husbands and wives.’
- John Lennon, Crippled Inside . . . Another good one from the Imagine album but forever it’s been the title cut and nothing else on radio, which is why radio outside of (I’m biased) independent radio no longer really exists in a commercial sense, musically.
- Paul McCartney/Wings, Beware My Love (live, from Wings Over America) . . . I wrestled over which version to play, the studio cut from Wings At The Speed Of Sound or this live one but settled on the more, let’s say aggressive, live version from Wings Over America, a terrific tour document.
- George Harrison, I’d Have You Anytime . . . Beautiful song, co-written with Bob Dylan ad with Eric Clapton on lead guitar. It was the opening cut on All Things Must Pass. There’s extensive literature available on how the song came about, space does not permit but worth looking up.
- Ringo Starr, Oh, My My . . . A No. 5 US pop hit for Ringo, released in 1973, charted in 1974. As mentioned earlier in my drawing from the Rough Guide to The Beatles book, Ringo (like, it comes to mind, Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones) always had many musician friends of great repute ready and willing to lend a helping hand on his albums/songs. On this one, we have Billy Preston on keyboards, longtime Beatles’ associate (especially on solo stuff) Klaus Voorman on bass, drummer Jim Keltner, horn player Jim, uh, really, Horn (also on many 70s Stones’ albums) along with backup singers Martha Reeves of The Vandellas and Merry Clayton, she of the immortal contribution to the Stones’ Gimme Shelter.
- John Lennon, I Don’t Wanna Be A Soldier Mama . . . One of my favorites from Imagine. It’s suggested, in a book I have, that Lennon’s sentiments were not so well expressed on the song, terming it “a feverish, semi-coherent rant’. If so, maybe that’s why it’s good. Maybe someone not wanting to be a soldier sent off to die for the misguided policies of politicians and militarists, or not wanting to be a conformist in any way to what society seems to expect, might rant feverishly. Critics. Eye rolls.
- Paul McCartney, Ain’t No Sunshine (live, from Unplugged: The Official Bootleg) . . . A great cover version from a great live album issued in 1993 when ‘unplugged’ albums were a ‘thing’, of the Bill Withers smash hit. Hamish Stuart of McCartney’s band handles lead vocals while Macca drums on the track. The album is a mixture of McCartney/Beatles/covers. Great stuff.
- George Harrison, Beware Of Darkness . . . What a ridiculously good album All Things Must Pass is. Yet another example here.
- Paul McCartney/Wings, Picasso’s Last Words (Drink To Me) . . . The genesis of the song results, apparently, from a meeting a vacationing McCartney had with actors Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen on the set of the movie Papillon. McCartney dined with Hoffman, who challenged him to write a song about ‘anything’ if presented with ‘anything’ to write about. What Hoffman presented was a magazine featuring the death of Picasso and his last words and, presto, “he’s doing it’ Hoffman raved to his wife about McCartney’s innate creativity.
- Ringo Starr, I’m The Greatest . . . A John Lennon-penned tune, from the ‘Ringo’ album, 1973. See previous thoughts on solo Beatles helping out solo Beatles on their solo albums, post-breakup. So, why didn’t they just stay together, one might wonder. It’s fine, long ago reality, we got some great music out of it, regardless.
- John Lennon, Out The Blue . . . From the Mind Games album, one of the many songs Lennon wrote in tribute to Yoko Ono, during a period when they were separated, which prompted some of Lennon’s best work and their eventual reconciliation.
- George Harrison, It’s What You Value . . . From 33 1/3, released in 1976. It was the album’s fourth single, lyrically – “someone’s driving a 450 . . . ” a reference to Harrison paying drummer Jim Keltner with a Mercedes 450 SL, apparently at Keltner’s request, in lieu of money for Keltner’s playing on Harrison’s 1974 Dark Horse album tour.
- Ringo Starr, Snookeroo . . . Another hit from Ringo’s Goodnight Vienna album, this one written by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Like many Ringo songs/hits, almost as interesting as the song is who plays on it. In this case it’s: Robbie Robertson of The Band on guitar. Elton John, piano. James Newton Howard of Elton’s band and later to become a renowned movie score writer (Pretty Woman, Space Jam, The Fugitive, The Dark Knight, etc.) and award winner, on synthesizer. The aformentioned Klaus Voorman and Jim Keltner on bass and drums, respectively and Bobby Keys of Rolling Stones fame on horns.
- John Lennon, Steel And Glass . . . Lennon, to read some books or magazine articles, dismissed 1974’s Walls and Bridges album as the work of an uninspired soul in the midst of a separation from the love of his life, during his infamous year-long ‘lost weekend’ of partying and other debauchery while apart from Yoko Ono. Maybe he said it for Yoko’s benefit. And maybe he should have stayed away because I think it’s a great album, as do many. But, pain is often great inspiration for creativity.
- George Harrison, Blow Away . . . The hit single from Harrison’s self-titled 1979 album, marking something of a comeback for him at the time. It did better business in North American than on Harrison’s home turf the UK, though. It was No. 7 and 16 in Canada and the US, respectively, but only No. 51 in the UK. I remember when the album came out, liked the single, never bought the album, had the single on compilations only until fairly recently when I bought the album on CD for a buck or two at a flea market.
- John Lennon, Meat City . . . Always liked this aggressive boogie funky noise from the Mind Games album. Lennon was often at his best when he just flat-out rocked.
- Paul McCartney/Wings, Cafe On The Left Bank . . . From the London Town album, 1978. Good tune, always liked it, I suppose I’m playing it because I mentioned it recently when talking about the maybe weird ways in which songs I play come to mind. The example was me choosing Flash And The Pan’s Man In The Middle because I picked the middle of three wine bottles at the store, prompting me to speculate that I’d have played Cafe On The Left Bank had I picked the bottle on the left. I’ve been back to the liquor store at least once since, still haven’t picked a bottle on the left. And I’m left-handed. Right, that’s enough. Next!
- George Harrison, Tired Of Midnight Blue . . . From 1975’s Extra Texture, easily one of the standout cuts on that album in my opinion. Leon Russell, who had been part of Harrison’s Concert For Bangladesh in 1971, contributes on piano.
- Paul McCartney/Wings, Go Now (live, from Wings Over America) . . . A song made famous to pop/rock listeners via The Moody Blues version released in 1964 and sung by Denny Laine who reprised it with Wings on the tour that yielded the triple live album released in late 1976. The song was originally done, also in 1964, by R & B/soul singer Bessie Banks, and a great version that one is, too.
- Ringo Starr, It Don’t Come Easy (live, from The Concert for Bangladesh) . . . Live version of one of Ringo’s biggest hits, the 1971 single he wrote with help from George Harrison, although only Ringo is credited. Depending on what you hear or read, though, Harrison may have written the song outright – and there are versions of him singing it available online – and just gave it to Ringo out of the goodness of his heart, although in liner notes to a compilation I have, Ringo says he was proud of himself for the line “got to pay your dues if you want to play the blues’.