Posts Tagged ‘Revolver’

Cleo at her command post
This dog is guarding the house.

We had to put our dog Cleo to sleep yesterday. She had been gradually losing control of her back legs, but her descent had accelerated and she was spending more time just sitting, inspecting the grass around her and taking sensor readings of the air. It was five months to the day since I first saw her wobbling at high speed around the pen where she was being held. How can one undersized corgi become an oversized part of your life in just five months?

On her last day, Cleo slept on the bed, ate lots of treats, rolled in the grass, took a few steps on her favorite trail, charmed one last stranger, and (briefly) chased a squirrel. That would be a good day for most humans. I’ll miss the war she waged against the chickadees in our backyard, the way she swam through the undergrowth in the forest, and how she would kick me awake at 3am because she was dreaming about chasing down a moose. Like most of us, in her dream life she was invincible.

Cheryl Strayed wrote in Wild, “The universe takes things away and never gives them back.” But the universe also gives you gifts. Cleo was a gift to us in a dark hour, and we’ll never regret taking a chance on her.

Cleo's tulip parade 041414
Tulips on parade.

Horace Silver, 1928-2014
Horace Silver was my favorite jazz pianist, though I didn’t discover him until his 1996 release, The Hard-Bop Grandpop. The man was a jazz institution and I came to him very late in his career. Two earlier albums that I know and can recommend are Blowin’ the Blues Away (1959) and especially Song for My Father (1964). RIP.

I was dreamin’ when I wrote this/forgive me if it goes astray
Let’s change the mood here. The Prince Project is on hold (just when were getting to the most notorious albums) because I am once again participating in the Clarion West Write-a-thon. I’m not going to blog about it because doing that last summer was insane. Instead, I’m signing off. See you on August 2. Enjoy your summer!

Random Pick of the Day
The Beatles, Revolver (1966)
Four things strike me as I listened to Revolver after many years of not listening to it:

One is that The Beatles embarked on 14 separate explorations of new musical pathways and brought each of them home in a concise 2-3 minutes. Arcade Fire or Pink Floyd would still be playing.

Two is that the album begins with something as mundane as taxes and ends with the Tibetan Book of the Dead. (Do the Tibetans read any fun books?)

Three is that “She Said She Said” would fit into any alt-rock radio playlist in 1986, 1996, 2006, and probably in 2166.

Four is that The Beatles’ experiment with Indian music is like punk’s flirtation a decade later with reggae – interesting, but only to a point, which in The Beatles’ case will come the following year on Sgt. Pepper.

A must-own album. But you already do.

Loyal Reader Laurel recently celebrated a birthday. Though she appears to be a mere sprig of her girl, she is old enough to have seen The Beatles 17 times in her native LA. She also carried on a brief but intense postal correspondence with a prominent member of the late George Harrison’s family. In honor of Laurel’s birthday, here’s a quick look at one of the most-covered Beatles’ songs, Revolver’s “Tomorrow Never Knows” (1966).

(“Tomorrow Never Knows” is one of the most-covered Beatles songs? How did I figure that one out? Entirely unscientifically, so shut UP.)

“Tomorrow Never Knows,” the final track on Revolver, is a nightmare of a drug trip complete with lyrics from the Tibetan Book of the Dead (which is currently ranked 8,836 on Amazon, with 78 mostly positive customer reviews). It appeared in August, a month after another altered-consciousness classic, The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High” (on the album Fifth Dimension). What a summer that was for non-linear thinking…“Tomorrow Never Knows” features pioneering technical effects and a strong Indian influence. In just 2 minutes and 58 seconds it terrified parents and thrilled middle-schoolers like me.

The Mirage, Tomorrow Never Knows – The Pop Sike World of the Mirage: Singles & Lost Sessions (2006)
The first band to cover this epic song was The Mirage – a British psychedelic act that’s so obscure they’re practically frozen in a block of carbonite. In the fall of 1966 they released their version, which sounds like U.S. garage rock minus the accents. Some simple yet effectively melancholic piano in the middle. Perhaps because they knew their own limitations, they wisely held their song to 2:36 – the only cover here that’s shorter than the original.

801, 801 Live (1976)
801 was a short-lived avant-garde outfit put together by Brian Eno and Phil Manzanera while on sabbatical from Roxy Music. Between my disco phase and my punk phase I had a brief avant-garde phase, which was a struggle for me because I don’t smoke, I don’t look good in a beret, and I have a generally positive view of life. Eno and Manzanera’s version, which they called “TnK,” is the longest I know (6:15). It’s breathtaking.

Monsoon, Monsoon Featuring Sheila Chandra (1995)
Sheila Chandra has an indelible voice. She had a hit in the U.K. in 1982 with “Ever So Lonely.” Sometime in the ’80s she also recorded “Tomorrow Never Knows.” I like this Britpop/Indian hybrid, but it’s maybe a little too comfy, given the subject matter. Running time: 4:05.

Various artists*, The Craft: Original Soundtrack (1996)
The Craft is a sensitive, incisive look at four teenage witches who learn about life and love at a Catholic school in LA. The soundtrack is even worse than what I wrote in the last sentence. However, Canadian rockers Our Lady Peace turn in an excellent 4-minute cover that bows respectfully to The Beatles while also giving you a state-of-the-union message on mid-’90s alternative rock. It’s the opening track, too, so you can hit Eject immediately after.
* When I say “artists,” I’m being generous.

Invert, Between the Seconds (2003)
Invert is, or was, a classical string quartet that inverted the normal string-quartet lineup and presented us with violin, viola, and two cellos. Heavy on the bass! No singing on their cover but lots of spacey space sounds. They clock in at a relatively svelte 3:12.

Emmanuel Santarromana, FAB4EVER (2006)
The Italian Santarromana produced an interesting collection of Beatles covers. His “Tomorrow Never Knows” is more of a novelty number, as fun as Sheb Wooley’s “The Purple People Eater” or Afroman’s “Because I Got High” but not something to place in regular rotation. The vocalist sounds like Max Headroom’s younger brother. Running time: 3:29.

Giacomo Bondi, A Lounged Out Homage to the Beatles (2007)
Signore Bondi hired an Italian Beatles cover band (The Apple Pies) to faithfully record the songs on this disc. Then he ran their work through his software, supposedly to reconstruct (or deconstruct) everything. The songs come out different, I’ll give him that. I vote for “Paperback Writer” and “Tomorrow Never Knows.” The running time on the latter is 4:53, which is too long, and the opening sounds like the last 10 superhero movies I’ve seen, but it’s definitely worth a listen. (There are two versions of this album. I briefly reviewed the one from 2010.)

I like all of the covers here, some much more than others, but I have to say that no one has topped John Lennon and Paul McCartney. As in most things. Happy birthday, Loyal Reader Laurel, and I’ll try to write about The Beatles again before your next birthday.