084 – When I Was 64 – Dr Harry Steinberg

August 24, 2010


Original recording – December 6–21 1966

Ukulele recording – May 17 2010

Dr. Harry Steinberg – Vocal

Pete Steinberg – Baritone Ukulele

Gary Schreiner – Accordion

Nathan Macormack – Cello

Radigan – Backing Vocal

David Barratt – Toy Organ, Glockenspiel, Xylophone, Pretend Brass

The part of Harry’s wife is played by Claire

Produced by David Barratt at The Abattoir Of Good Taste Moblie in Los Angeles.


Paul McCartney wrote “When I’m 64” when he was 16, recorded it in 1967 when he was 25 on a concept album that was based on a fictitious musical act that was performing sometime around 1910.

1910 was the year that Dr Harry Steinberg was born so it seemed only natural for us to invite him to sing the song.

“When I’m 64” is from the concept album Sgt. Pepper. I never really understood the concept fully but I think it was something about a guy named Billy Shears who fancies a girl called Lucy. They repair a house together but their daughter runs away from home. To distract himself Billy goes to the circus and ends up finding spiritual peace in India. This however makes him feel insecure about growing old so he has an affair with a traffic cop. Eventually he wakes up, smokes some weed, crashes his car and dies…. The End.


“When I Am 64” reminds me of the Daimien Hirst piece “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’’.

To be 64 in 1967 seemed very old indeed, and not surprisingly so. Someone born in 1902 would have had their teenage years interrupted by the most horrific of wars in 1914. Just as they were recovering from that, the Great Depression hit and continued until World War 2 which carried on until they had reached middle age. By the time that the 60’s were beginning to swing they were exhausted and grumpy.

When Sgt. Pepper came out the world looked like it belonged to the young. Paul was full of the arrogance of youth and anyone over thirty were considered past their sell-by date. Life expectancy in the UK at time of the the release of Sgt. Pepper was around 67 years. In 2010 it is 78.

in 1967 low cholesterol diets, cosmetic surgery, HGH, Viagra and Provigil were unheard of.

Could the 25 year old version of Paul imagine a 68 year old man having just completed a sell out stadium tour where he played to almost 800,000 paying customers. I think not. But that is what Paul just did, playing the final show of the “Up And Coming Tour” on August 19th.

“When I Am 64” is a piece of vaudeville placed in the middle of psychedelia. Paul’s father passed on his love of Music Hall and Paul returned to this style of writing again and again. This was his first attempt at the genre. The vaudevillian atmosphere was enhanced by Robert Burns, Henry MacKenzie, and Frank Reidy who’s clarinets gave the song it’s antiquated sound.

The song was originally performed in the key of C but Paul wanted his voice to sound younger so the tape was sped up half a step to D-flat. You can hear the tape speed effect clearly on Paul’s voice on bridge.

“Within You Without You” which precedes “64” is in C#. The effect of the songs effectively being in the same key makes a tricky transition between opposing styles much smoother.

There is a different melody on the two bridges which gives a space for some excellent backing vocal parts. I find the peculiar chamber reverb on the lead vocal distracting, especially on the stereo mix, it would have been better left dry.

Ringo being Ringo plays an understated part. He leaves all the right spaces. So many drummers over-play but he uses silence in the same way others use fills. He does an excellent job especially on the second half of the bridge where he plays a busy but perfect rhythm on the ride cymbal.

Paul’s bass which perfectly mimics a tuba, was the final overdub as usual.

Not surprisingly John was dismissive of the song:

“Paul wrote it in the Cavern days. We just stuck a few more words on it like ‘grandchildren on your knee’ and ‘Vera, Chuck and Dave’ … I would never even dream of writing a song like that.”

Of course not John, you would never do a pastiche number with a catchy tune that refers to turn of the 20th century. Oh… with the possible exception of “Benefit Of Mr Kite” maybe?

An interesting aside, due to the Six Day War between Egypt and Israel The Suez Canal was closed which meant that the specially printed covers of The Sgt. Pepper album due to arrive in Australia were delayed. This provided an Australian band (The Twilights) with an opportunity to perform the entire album night after night to sold out audiences.

The ukulele version of the now re-titled “When I Was 64” is sung by Dr. Harry Steinberg. Harry turned 64 was a long time ago and he is wondering why his lover does not treat him with the same care and attention that he received back then.

The song was recorded a couple of days after his 100th birthday party in Los Angeles which I was honored to attend. I’ve know Harry almost 30 years and in that time I have come to know him and his family as true friends.

The baritone ukulele part is played by his son Pete who also wrote a beautiful biography of his father which can be found HERE.

The song ends with Claire, letting him know he is, was and always will be loved.


For a full biography of Harry Steinberg by his son


In 1910 the year of Harry Steinberg’s birth many Jews had left Russia to escape the Pogroms. Harry’s family were part of that exodus. He was raised in a tiny basement apartment in Pittsburgh with his five siblings.

His brother Sam would die from a heart condition at fifteen when Harry was only five. Sam was born in Russia as was another child who died in infancy.

He attended the University of Michigan, graduated near the top of his class and entered Medical School at the age of twenty two. He had to wait a year because the Jewish “quota” was filled.

During his summers he worked as an orderly at the Monte Fiore Hospital in Pittsburgh. There he saw death on a daily basis. Fleming had yet to invent antibiotics and people died from dental infection and pneumonia on a daily basis.

While working as an orderly Harry met Isabelle Patricia Mauchline. She was the head nurse at Monte Fiore Hospital – Harry’s boss and soon to be wife.

Upon completing his residency he became a Country Circuit rider in Virginia. Here he did everything. Setting broken bones, appendectomies, assisted in births and closed wounds with sterile suture.

He also served as a doctor to the local prison chain gangs and witnessed the horror of the conscripted labor system first hand.

He loved being a country doctor, loved his patients and felt that he could ultimately be a force for good, but, the political body in the south was corrupt, evil and could be very dangerous. It was no place to raise kids.

Pearl Harbor came and he served throughout the duration of the war in the European theater.

He received a bronze star on Omaha Beach for getting over 800 men off the beach into the landing craft that still worked in order to get them back to a ship’s hospital and back to England. He was at the Battle of the Bulge and crossed the Rhine into Germany. He stayed in the Army until 1963 and retired a full colonel.

Harry became an Ear Nose and Throat doctor schooled in reconstructive surgery. There was plenty of it after the war.

In the early fifties doctors still made house calls. Of that time he says:

“There’s nothing like being alone at night far from a hospital or phone with a patient who just won’t stop bleeding no matter what you try. It gets prayers out of atheists” (which he is). “It gives you a lot of humility.”

His wife contracted viral encephalitis and was very ill for about twelve years and passed away in 1978. Shortly after he remarried. He claims that one of the factors contributing to his old age is his marriage to Claire.

Harry Steinberg has spent the remainder of his years living what his life is really about. He has involved himself in his two great passions: medicine and art. He is a good painter and a very fine sculptor and became a prodigious collector of Pre Columbian and African Art.

In recent years he has constructed art from found objects.

He loves creating art.

He loves new people and situations.

He loves a good party.

He loves a good joke.

He loves his children

He loves Claire.

He is physically and emotionally engaged with life.

083 – Julia – Don Rosler with Emily O’Reilly

August 17, 2010

Original version recorded October 13 1968

Ukulele version recorded April 2010

Emily O’Reilly – Vocals

Don Rosler – Vocals, keyboards and percussion

David Barratt – Ukulele

Recorded at Donnyboy Studio, Poor Man’s Den and The Abattoir Of Good Taste

Special thanks to Gary Schreiner

Arranged by Don Rosler

Produced and mixed by David Barratt


Julia is the only song in The Beatles catalog that John performed unaccompanied – without any help from his friends. The minimal arrangement is comprised of a simple mildly-flanged, finger-picked solo acoustic guitar and voice. There is some double tracking, but essentially what we have here is John naked.

The title suggests the song was about his mother but most of the imagery of the lyric references his soon to be wife. In Japanese, the name Yoko literally means “ocean child.” The words in the song lead us towards meaning without ever fully explaining themselves. The mother and wife image merge in a way that is touching and not as unpleasant as it could be in less skilled hands.

The vagueness of the lyric is its strength. Concepts of mother and lover were always very confused for John so there is a touching honesty here. In the last verse he runs out of words completely and he hums where the lyric should be but the sense of beauty, regret and wonder remain.

The previous song on “The White Album” is Paul’s “I Will”. It is fascinating to compare these two recordings. It is almost as if John and Paul had a songwriting competition to determine who could write the more moving love song.

Listening to them sequentially the two songs tells you much about the two men. The differences of their world views, strengths and vulnerabilities are clearly stated.

Paul’s melody and arrangement is sophisticated. He knows exactly how to make you feel what he wants you to feel at any given moment. The vocal is gentle and heartwarming. The innocence of love is celebrated with every phrase. We are in the hands of a professional.

John is more in tune with the mystical. “Julia” is a funereal dirge which is appropriate considering the tragic circumstances of his mother’s death. The singer knows about the pain of loving something so thoroughly that it will empty him. There is beauty in such pain and John expresses it exquisitely.

As usual with any competition between John and Paul, I pronounce it an honorable tie and am glad to possess both songs.

This is the strength of The Beatles. To reflect similar emotions in two entirely different ways. Two sides of two quite different currencies.

“Julia” was yet another song that was written at Rishikesh in northern India. I’m not sure exactly how much it cost to stay with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, but there is no doubt they got their money’s worth.

The premise of the ukulele version is that Don is teaching Emily how to sing the song. Don reminds Emily of what lyrics to sing but it is quite clear that Emily possesses a talent that can not be taught. By the end of the piece she is singing solo and Don has tears in his eyes as do I.


Emily O’Reilly

Hello my name is Emily O’Reilly and I am 10 years old. I am a fourth grader in the school PS24. I am a singer and a songwriter and I love to act. I was asked to record the song “Julia” by John Lennon with Don Rosner and I had a lot of fun recording it. The people were very nice. I like to play the guitar, play softball, play basket ball and I like American Girl Dolls. I love The Beatles. My favorite Beatle is Paul McCartney. I saw him in concert at Citified last summer and my two favorite songs by the Beatles are “All my Lovin” and “Yesterday”. I hope I get to record more and I will never forget my first recording. Thank you for giving me the opportunity of a life time. Sincerely Emily Grace O’Reilly

Don Rosler

Don Rosler was born in a blackout, for real, but everyone he knows is tired of hearing that story. What some don’t know is the reason he stopped playing sax in his mid-twenties: he suddenly developed a neurotic aversion to the texture of a reed in his mouth. In the spirit of “one door closes, another opens” he then shifted over to writing lyrics and songs (which spared him having to fumble through “Caravan” and “Giant Steps” at breakneck tempos).

Currently, he is finishing up “Rosler’s Recording Booth,” a concept CD he wrote, produced, and sings on. This CD uses the once-popular recordio and voice-o-graph booths as a springboard for new songs, and features 9 guest artists, some of which are also featured vocalists on the “Beatles Complete on Ukulele Project” (Kathena Bryant, Tamara Hey, Spottiswoode, and Terry Radigan). You can hear a sneak preview of “Rosler’s Recording Booth” at:


Don wrote lyrics for three compositions with Roger Treece and ten-time-Grammy-award-winning Bobby McFerrin for the new critically acclaimed Bobby McFerrin CD, “VOCAbuLarieS” (Decca/Universal), which also features over 50 singers. (The BBC called it “an instant classic…a kaleidoscopic celebration of the human voice.”). Roger and Don were also commissioned to write for the Chicago Children’s Choir, the Grammy-nominated L.A. Master Chorale, and the Grammy-award winning U.K.-based King’s Singers’ latest CD (released in June 2010).

Don was also, to quote Hubert Humphrey, “pleased as punch” to have

co-written and co-produced the “John Margolis: Christine’s Refrigerator” CD, which was described by Singer Magazine as a “must add to any music connoisseur’s collection.”

For more information about Don’s songs & lyrics, please go to:


082 – I Should Have Known Better – Samantha Fox

August 10, 2010

Original version recorded – February 25 – 26, 1964

Ukulele version recorded – July 6, 2010

Samantha Fox – Vocal

David Barratt – Ukulele and everything else

Produced by David Barratt at The Abattoir Of Good Taste Mobile Studio on location in England

Production Co-ordination – Howard Marshall

Essay – Richard Grayson


As a young man John Lennon did not hold women in great regard. That is to say he adored, worshipped and feared them as distant goddesses who could harm, destroy or bestow great bounty on him at any moment.

To John The Younger women were not quite human, and many times in his early songs they appear as fuzzy caricatures that he is trying to control. He orders them about.

Is this a Beatles lyric or is it lifted from one of Kim Il Jong’s speeches to the terrified masses?

“When I tell you that I love you, You’re gonna say you love me too,

And when I ask you to be mine, You’re gonna say you love me too”.

You will do as you are told.

But times change.

The breathy husky spoken question of ‘Do you love me?’ kicks off a magical mystery tour of identity and desire that is the Samantha Fox/Ukulele version of the song. A perky bass figure kicks in behind a gleeful girly “sharing secrets after school” voice singing “I should have known better with a girl like you.”

If the harmonica driven original version recorded for the soundtrack of a Hard Days Night marks a point where the pop culture of the sixties starts to change ways that people think, rather than how music sounds, Sam Fox’s version takes us along some of the complex paths that love and sex have taken since then.

The cheerful ‘boys next door’ and ‘isn’t Paul the one you’d like to bring home to dear old mum’ construction of The Beatles Brand, and the simple joy of the original song, give little hint of how complex things would get to be. But this complexity is a mark of the seismic shifts the Beatles helped trigger.

In 1964 John was married to Cynthia Lennon (nee Powell), a classic girl next door. Had John’s life not taken such an unexpected turn it is not unimaginable that they would, in the summer of 2010, be sharing a retirement home in a picturesque part of Lancashire reminiscing about the good old days and laughing about John’s ridiculous old teddy boy haircut.

Cynthia’s place in John’s life was defined by the sexual politics of her time. She was skilled and educated at Liverpool College of Art in graphic design and calligraphy. Nowadays she could expect a career in one of the many forms of media that feed from such skills but in the early part of the 1960’s marriage and motherhood was all that was expected of and by her.

The early part of their marriage was not publicly acknowledged due to the fact that it might upset the pubescent fans of The Beatles. She was an unperson surrounded by uproar that came in her husband’s wake.

She said that she loved him too.

Skip forward to 1984 and it is doubtful that you would have thought that Samantha Fox’s voice could talk about the complex dance that is man/woman relations in quite so many different ways.

She came to public view as a topless model in Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper, and something about her confident innocence and happy smile along with the fullness of her figure quickly propelled her image onto hundreds of boy’s bedroom garage and army barrack walls.

The sort of girl, similar in many ways to Cynthia, who lived in the terrace house next door. She and young John (maybe) used to walk to school together when they were kids, then perhaps to the corner shop where she got her first Saturday job. When he started messing round with the guitar she’d come and see him and his mates play during the intermission at the Gaumont cinema. But she is no longer a little girl and there’s a charge in their relationship. It’s dawning on John that he ‘should have realized a lot of things before’, so now he is going to ask Sam ‘to be mine’. So he writes a song for her.

Samantha Fox became short-hand for a ‘normal’, everyday, bouncy heterosexuality that fitted perfectly between the sheets of the Margaret Thatcher-loving Sun newspaper, with its conservative horror of difference, weirdness or anything out of the ordinary. For three years running she won the Page Three Girl Of The Year Award.

Given her embrace by the Murdoch press and all the pinup malarky it was easy to see her as a passive player in other peoples constructions, but she moved confidently from image to sound to record.

She scored a series of substantial hits. All were pin-up pop. She was a voice of temptation and titillation telling a seemingly simple story about women and male desire: which could be read (in an entry-level cultural studies sort of way) as constructions of her own objectification and alienation. This was not a revolutionary call to arms certainly, but it was an in your face declamation of her sexual power over her spotty yearning (male) audience.

She cut ribbons, opened shopping centers, appeared on TV, moved from two dimensions into three and established herself as a rounded personality and became the focus of the amnesiac undifferentiated public affection that permeates Media World UK.

It all became far more complex and intriguing when in 1999 it was announced that she was to be a judge at a lesbian beauty pageant. Sam Fox was coming out. Later she issued press statements and even participated in the TV show Celebrity Wife Swap with the charming and hilarious Myra Stratton, her manager and partner.

The cheeky lusty sighs punctuating this bubbling disco arrangement signal a sort of excitement, a surge, a triumph, an exhalation in recognition of the distance traveled by an army of Cynthias and Sams over the years. The song is transformed into a celebration of a desire that has found its true object.

And now ‘she knows better’, she really does. It’s a love that previously, on a profound level had ‘never realized what a kiss could be’ but which is now expressing its true essence in the singing of this song and reveling in the certainty that,

When I tell you that I love you

You’re gonna say you love me too.

and we do.


Music was Sam’s first love and secured her first record deal aged 15, however she was whisked into the glamorous modelling world and her music career was put on hold. During the four year tenure of her extremely lucrative modelling contract, Samantha Fox became a household name in the UK overnight and became the nation’s darling.

She gave up modelling aged 20 to concentrate on her music and released her first single in 1986, ‘Touch Me’ reached No 3 in the UK and No 4 in the USA. The single went on to amass a formidable array of Platinum, Gold and Silver awards and 24 discs honour these sales.

She has sold over 30 million records worldwide.

As someone with humanitarian interests she chose to visit and perform in many countries including Bosnia, Russia, the Ukraine and Siberia. In India Sam performed to 70,000 people three nights in a row, breaking the record previously held by Bruce Springsteen. It is her global approach that accounts for the international composition of Sam’s fan base.

Sam has also had parts in three films ‘It’s Been Real’ starring John Altman, The Match starring Piers Brosnan, Ian Holm (Alien), Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan), Neil Morrissey (Men Behaving Badly), David Hayman and Ilar Blair and Bollywood classic ‘Rock Dancer’ written and directed by V Menon, starring Kamal Sadanah, Ronit Roy, Sharon Prabhakar, Javid Jafri, Anood Kumar and Johnny Lever. In recent years she has appeared in several TV shows including ‘Celebrity Wife Swap’ with her partner Myra – swapping places with Freddie Starr and his wife Donna.

Her duet with Sabrina Salerno (a cover of ‘Call Me’) is getting a worldwide release and she has another movie role lined up in Brit Flick ‘The Beautiful Outsiders’ for which she is writing and performing the theme song.

Samantha is playing a full live set live with her band at The Milk Festival at Ballinlough Castle near Dublin on Saturday August 14th.

Details at


More about Sam at: http://www.samfox.com

081 – All You Need Is Love – Nikki Gregoroff

August 3, 2010


Original version recorded July 7 1967

Ukulele version recorded June 8 2010

Nikki Gregoroff – Vocals

Ira Siegal – Ukulele, 12 String Guitar

David Barratt – Ukulele, Bass and Bells

Produced by David Barratt The Abattoir Of Good Taste Brooklyn from recordings made at Nikki and Ira’s home studios

Essay by Dr L.P.Nicolas


My cantankerous half-brother E.P. Nicolas went on record on this site two weeks ago disapproving of what he sees as the grandiose inflating of trivial personal events by Lennon in his song “The Ballad of John and Yoko,” so I am pleased to be able to redress the balance—and continue a lifelong competition with that pedantic windbag with whom I regrettably share a quarter of my genes– to discuss the irreproachably great piece by Lennon presented on this site this week.

One of my earliest memories is watching John singing “All You Need Is Love” while chewing gum and singing at the same time. I have not undertaken detailed research but believe the vocal on “All You Need Is Love” is the greatest to have been performed while chewing gum.

The song stands in a tradition of works intended explicitly as propaganda but which, due to the irrepressibly creative mental habits of the artist, wind up as bona fide works of art despite arguably shallow intentions.

My favorite example is “The Possessed” (sometimes rendered as “The Devils” in English), undertaken by Dostoevsky as a piece of Slavophile propaganda warning Russian readers of the dangers of the proto-Bolshevik movement developing amongst some members of the urban intelligentsia in the 1860s and ‘70’s.

Being Dostoevsky, he couldn’t help himself… before long, purely good and purely evil symbolic characters got complicated, psychologically plausible human ambiguities came increasingly into play, and a magnificent and complicated work of art emerged instead.

I’d nominate “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Leni Riefenstahl’s “Olympia,” and W.H. Auden’s “September 1, 1939” in this tradition as well.

The American national anthem places the listener on the deck of a warship amid frightening naval battle imagery and begins and ends intriguingly with questions—‘can you see it?’ and ‘does it yet wave’? Are we vanquished or triumphant? (And can we possibly sing those absurdly high “red glare” notes in the bridge?)

The notorious German filmmaker Riefenstahl had a brief, and a budget, explicitly for promoting the National Socialist agenda, and wound up changing the language of cinema forever, in a work as beautiful as it is appalling and contemptible.

And the Auden poem, which sets out to call European civilization on the carpet for producing Nazism, ends up so ambiguous in its preachiness that Auden himself sought to prevent it from being anthologized in its original version.

Lennon called himself “a revolutionary artist,” maintaining that his songs “Power To the People,” “Give Peace a Chance” and “All You Need Is Love” were intended as propaganda—‘message’ tunes.

And all right, he scored high on the propaganda meter with “Power” and “Peace,” but with “Love” his artistic nature triumphed in spite of himself.

Lennonesque wit begins before the lyric does, with an impudent quote from “La Marseillaise,” perhaps the bloodiest of all national anthems. The verse, mainly in 7/4 time, presents a series of propositions that get odder the more you try to think them through. Lennon’s debt here is more to Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear than to Maxim Gorky and Abbie Hoffman.

It does sort of make sense, there are plenty of things that I can do (that I am logistically able to do) which can’t be done (are not permitted)

The structure of the song is complex. The main body (the verse) is in a 7/4 time signature with two measures of 7/4, one of 8/4, then back to 7/4 with the intro background vocals repeatedly singing “Love, love, love”, over the top of

which enter Lennon’s lyrics:

By contrast, the chorus is simple: “All you need is love”, in 4/4 time repeated against the horn response but, each chorus has only seven measures as opposed to the usual eight, and the seventh is 6/4, then back to the verse in 7/4.

When a hit song is in 7/4 you know something special is going on: “Money” by Pink Floyd, “Solsbury Hill” by Peter Gabriel, and “2+2=5” by Radiohead are on this very short list.

“All You Need Is Love” could not possibly have flowed from McCartney’s pen. Paul told his friend and biographer Barry Miles that because of the relative security and warmth of his upbringing, he did not feel the need explicitly to shout slogans nor to air personal matters in his songs, preferring to disguise the original emotions with the sorts of artifice he prized in predecessors like Cole Porter and Lorenz Hart.

Whereas, Macca observed, John tended to treat his experiences of love and sadness as world-altering discoveries that needed to be broadcast in unalloyed advertisements: “Love is touch! Touch is love!” “I can’t explain/ so much pain/ I could never show it/ My mummy’s dead”- and so on.

And so when given the chance to perform a song on the first live global television link (“Our World,” broadcast via satellite in June 1967), Lennon chose a sentiment as moving and universal as it is untrue: “All You Need Is Love.” This is a sentiment fully dependent on an advanced civilization that enables its members to take basic needs of food and shelter for granted in order to be other than grimly, hilariously incorrect.

But then the magical power of art kicks in.

Because this song exists, even a hardened cynic like myself has a mental companion for life, melodiously reminding him – say, at the sight of his lovely child playing in a fountain, or at the deathbed of his father – that not only can you “learn to be you in time,” but that “it’s easy”—which is what that wonderful saxophone line seems to affirm, every time they sing the hook, and these old eyes well up once again.

As they do when I listen to the understated version by Nikki Gregoroff. The simple but moving ukulele part played by the legendary Ira Siegal begins with a quote from the anthem of Nikki’s birthplace. The sloganeering melts away as she repeats the sentiment that we all wish to be true.


Canadian by birth internationalist by spirit, Nikki Gregoroff currently lives in New York and has worked with a diverse set of artists including Jewel, Joe Jackson, Britney Spears, Roseanne Cash, Ennio Morricone & Patti Austin.

Her songs have bee

n recorded by more artists than this blog allows space for. You have probably heard one of her songs as you watch television or go to the cinema.

But that has nothing to do with her version of “All You Need Is Love”.

As a young girl in a little cottage in Canada her two sisters and slightly eccentric Scouse mum created a fictional world that lay on the banks of The Mersey

There was always music in that cottage. Pub songs, folk songs, Scouse songs and lots of stories about her mum’s childhood in Liverpool during World War II. Street stalls, music halls and bomb shelters. Ration cards, nylons and dock yards all distilled though harmony and rhythm.

Hitler may have redefined the architecture in Liverpool for 60 years but neither his philosophy or his weaponry ever scratched the skin of the Liverpudlian spirit.

In that cottage her mum would transport her back with a piano, a set of spoons and singing… and of course love.

Apparently it’s all you need

Listen to more of Nikki’s work at


080 – Ob​-​La​-​Di, Ob​-​La​-​Da – Victor Spinetti

July 27, 2010


Original Recording – July 3rd 1968

Ukulele Recording – July 15th 2010

Victor Spinetti – Vocal

David Barratt – Ukulele and Bass

Recorded at The Festival Theatre, Malvern, England

Mixed at The Abattoir Of Good Taste, Brooklyn

Produced by David Barratt


There is a very good reason why we have placed this song immediately after “Ballad Of John And Yoko”. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da is “The Ballad Of Paul and Linda”.

The spring of 1968 was a busy time on that filthy ball of dirt we like to call Earth.

American and Vietnamese youth were ripping each other apart with napalm and homemade weaponry. China was continuing to consume itself in a frenzy of Revolting Culture. Nigerian forces were performing genocide in Biafra. Paris was burning and considering handing itself over to 23 year old Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Richard Nixon was in the process of getting elected as President. Valerie Solanas and Sirhan Sirhan were planning to shoot Andy Warhol and Robert F. Kennedy respectively. Enoch Powell was making his incendiary Rivers of Blood speech to proto-fascists in Birmingham, England. Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. Doctor Harry Steinberg turned 58 (see TBCOU #84) and Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot dead.

Naturally, Paul McCartney thought that what the world needed at that moment in history, was a casually racist, hyper-catchy, faux-reggae, singalong about family life and cross dressing. It was a profoundly personal and intimate song.

You know the reference points. I wonder which Beatle was the closet cross-dresser? My guess is George.

Many of the songs on The White Album written and recorded quickly but “Ob-La-Di” was so important to Paul that it took over sixty takes to get to the version we all know and love/hate today. John helped write an early version of the song when they were working in India, but it was not long before John turned on his original creation, calling it, “Paul’s granny shit”.

After leaving the studio during the 45th recording of the song, Lennon returned elegantly elevated, stumbled to the piano and played the opening chords considerably louder and faster than before. He forcefully claimed that was how the number should be performed.

This, of course, was the version they ended up using.

Paul wanted to get this song right but the many re-recordings drove the remaining three Beatles to distraction. Harrison hinted at his frustration on “Savoy Truffle,” which was recorded three months later. In the song he wrote;

But what is sweet now, turns so sour/ We all know Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da/ But can you show me, where you are?

McCartney genuinely loved this song, and I think I know why. What he was yearning for, in the middle of his world-famous, jet-setting Beatleworld, was a good, old-fashioned family life, with music and maybe just a little perviness on the side. Which is what he pretty much ended up with in the end.

John thoroughly loathed this song. It represented everything he despised about Paul. Lennon had recently fallen in love with the future Mrs Lennon and he wanted to avoid all the cliches of romance and family life that Paul represented. To have such a happy, simple ballad shoved in his face must have been very confronting. John was later to call the song nonsensical. Maybe Paul should have added lyrics about “yellow matter custard” or “semolina pilchards” or maybe “eggmen” Maybe it would have more sense then.

Ultimately it became The Ballad Of Paul And Linda. Paul stays at home and does his pretty face – What else does a musician do without a day job? – and in the evening Linda became a singer with the band.

McCartney wanted to release Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da as a single, but the band rebelled and refused, which gave a small unknown band an opportunity. Marmalade became the first Scottish group to top the UK charts, leaving little doubt about their birthplace when they performed the song on Top Of The Pops wearing kilts.

Marmalade’s bassist Graham Knight recalls, “The Beatles’ music publisher, Dick James, played us the acetate of The Beatles’ Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da and we thought it was great. He said, ‘You can have it, I won’t give it to anyone else,’ but of course he passed it to another 27 acts. We rush-recorded it in the middle of the night during a week of cabaret in the north-east. Our manager, who was in America at the time, kept sending us telegrams not to do it. He didn’t think we should record a Beatles song. We expected it to do well, but we didn’t think it would go to #1. We got no feedback from The Beatles at all. There had been so many covers by that time that I shouldn’t think they’d have been very interested.” (1000 UK #1 Hits)

There is a little controversy about the authorship of the song.

McCartney was quoted, “A fella (Jimmy Anonmuogharan Scott Emuakpor) who used to hang around the clubs used to say in a Jamaican accent, “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on,” and he got annoyed when I did a song of it, ’cause he wanted a cut. I said, ‘Come on, Jimmy, it’s just an expression.”

Jimmy Scott, who was Nigerian, not Jamaican, did try to claim a writer’s credit for the use of his catch phrase in the song. Scott argued it was not a general expression, but a phrase that was exclusively used in the Scott-Emuakpor family. However, he agreed to drop the case when McCartney agreed to pay Scott’s legal expenses for bail for missing alimony payments. McCartney had his friend Alistair Taylor put up the money in exchange for Scott dropping rights to the name. Taylor had to get the money from a friend, since no one in the Beatles camp carried much cash.

A melody strikingly similar to Ob-La-Di was used by The Offspring in their song “Why Don’t You Get A Job?”.

I wonder if the lawyers chased that one?

The ukulele version of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da rejects all the jolliness of the original recording and confronts death face on.

We decided to record in the style of Samuel Beckett’s play “Krapp’s Last Tape” featuring the actor/director Victor Spinetti.

The phrase “Life goes on” is not necessarily a happy one.

Victor’s connection with The Beatles is a deep one. He appeared in all of their movies: A Hard Day’s Night, Help and Magical Mystery Tour. He also directed and co-wrote with John Lennon “In His Own Write” which was performed at The National Theatre in London in 1968.

Dave will be directing an audio version of “Krapp’s Last Tape” with Spinetti in 2011.


Spinetti sprang to international prominence in three Beatles’ films in the 1960s, A Hard Day’s Night, Help! and Magical Mystery Tour. He also appeared on one of The Beatles’ Christmas recordings.

The best explanation for this long-running collaboration and friendship might have been provided by George Harrison, who said, “You’ve got to be in all our films … if you’re not in them me Mum won’t come and see them—because she fancies you.”

Paul McCartney described Spinetti as “the man who makes clouds disappear”.

Spinetti has appeared in more than 30 films, including Zeffirelli’s The Taming of the Shrew, Under Milk Wood with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Becket, The Return of the Pink Panther and The Krays.

Spinetti’s work in Joan Littlewood’s Theatre Workshop produced many memorable performances including Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be (1959, by Frank Norman, with music by Lionel Bart), and Oh! What a Lovely War (1963), which transferred to New York City and for which he won a Tony Award for his main role as an obnoxious Drill Sergeant. He has appeared in the West End in The Odd Couple (as Felix); Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in the West End; as Albert Einstein in a critically lauded performance in 2005 in a new play, Albert’s Boy at the Finborough Theatre in 2005 and in his own one-man show, A Very Private Diary.

He directed The Biograph Girl, a musical about the silent film era, at the Phoenix Theatre. He has also appeared on Broadway in The Hostage and The Philanthropist. He has also acted with the Royal Shakespeare Company, in such roles as Lord Foppington in The Relapse and the Archbishop in Richard III.

Spinetti co-authored In His Own Write, the play with John Lennon which he also directed at the National Theatre, premiering on 18 June 1968, at the Old Vic.

In September 2008 Spinetti reprised his one-man show, A Very Private Diary, touring the UK, telling his life story.

He is currently on tour throughout Britain in Peter Gordon’s play Murdered To Death.

Tour Dates

Redditch, Palace Theatre: 4th – 5th June
Windsor, Theatre Royal: 7th – 12th June
Stevenage, Gordon Craig Theatre: 15th – 19th June
Blackpool, Grand Theatre: 28th June – 3rd July
Crewe, Lyceum Theatre: 5th – 10th July
Malvern, Festival Theatre: 12th – 17th July
Shrewsbury Theatresevern: 19th – 24th July
Wolverhampton, Grand Theatre: 27th -31st July
Worthing, Connaught Theatre: 10th – 14th August
Swansea, Grand Theatre: 17th – 21st August
Colchester, Mercury Theatre: 6th – 11th September
Lincoln, Theatre Royal: 14th – 18th September
Buxton Opera House: 23rd – 25th September
Basingstoke, Haymarket Theatre: 27th September – 2nd October
Lichfield Garrick: 11th – 16th October


Dr. L.P.Nicolas adds

I am only too happy to interject on behalf of this oft-maligned ditty. Though my curmudgeonly half-brother Edward P. will no doubt demur, I myself cannot help but admire the bounce and pizzazz, the “naïf et primitif” charm that to this day causes audiences–when the song is performed faithfully to the original–reliably to smile, sing along to the admittedly inane chorus, and repeatedly flex and relax the muscles of their hindquarters and lower groin areas in time to the “beat,” as the periodicity of emphasis in this style of music is commonly.

Furthermore, my ne’er-do-well layabout ‘musician’ nephew Eric reports that as recently as last night (Sunday July 25) a crowd of Russian and Israeli Jews at a house party on the Long Island Sound were roused to a merry frenzy by his band’s rendition of this same tune, bringing the dance floor to furious life as “September” and “Let’s Groove Tonight” had failed by comparison to do. McCartney elsewhere has opined that “Moscow girls make [him] sing and shout,” and his music reliably returns the favor.

079 – The Ballad Of John And Yoko – Tred

July 20, 2010

The Ballad Of John And Yoko – Tred

Original Recording – May 30 1969

Ukulele Recording – May 23 2010

Tred – vocals and some instruments

David Barratt – Ukulele and some other instruments

Produced By David Barratt at The Abattoir Of Good Taste from original recordings made by Tred.

Essay – Dr. E.P.Nicolas


I’m not going to lie to you: I never cared for the glorified Tweet that was “The Ballad of John and Yoko.” It was Dave’s idea that I write about it.

Reluctantly I revisited this distastefully self-regarding diary-entry of a studio quickie, a tedious travelogue of the famous first-person narrator’s real-life efforts to marry his current ladyfriend and then to pretend to find himself accidentally at the center of the resulting media event — and to be suffering—suffering!– in anticipation of being ‘crucified’ by all that publicity.

(So concerned with the threat of crucifixion was Lennon that he rushed Paul forthwith into the studio, Ringo and George being for the moment unavailable, to immortalize recent events in a 3-chord ditty apparently based on the riff from The Coasters’ “Poison Ivy.” And released it as a single.)

I endured once more the repetition of its insufficiently ironic chorus, which gives a shout-out to fellow-celebrity “Christ” not once but twice in the space of four lines.

Why does it merit discussion at all?

Because of the precedent it sets: the lyric sounds like a trivial blog entry—an over-sharing Tweet whose only claim to interestingness lies in the fame of its author.

The first ‘did-you-mean-to-press-“reply all”?’ in history.

Montaigne, grand patriarch of the essay form, tried to be interesting; posterity does not preserve his account of his honeymoon.

And Van Gogh, in his often soaringly illuminating letters to his brother, included a lot of prosaic detail (‘running low on titanium white again’), but he wasn’t writing that stuff to us.

Lennon himself–and this of course is why the “Ballad” is so disheartening–had already set the bar of pop-lyric interestingness quite high in scads of earlier songs that were framed as first-person accounts, but which quickly rise to the level of the well-worth-saying.

For instance, “Girl” (1966) which, beginning with “Is there anybody going to listen to my story, all about the girl who came to stay” rapidly becomes trenchant and universal.

“The smart one” seemed able to do that sort of thing as readily as rolling out of bed. More readily, in fact, in Lennon’s case, as he was well known to roll only with great difficulty out of bed.

Why then was he, a plainly extraordinary artist, choosing to subject the world to this ballad? A ‘ballad’ in the early sense of the word: straight, allegedly factual narration of events. Most famous surviving ballads are accounts of dramatic, usually lethal, events in the lives of aristocrats, sung for the entertainment of commoners. And so “The B of J & Y” is firmly in that tradition, except that nothing dramatic happens.

What had happened to John’s imagination, and to his wickedly canny sense of what was and was not interesting?

Well, some figures in history appear to be born bellwethers. Who, at the time of John and Yoko’s media-event nuptials, could have predicted that the society of the future might come to suffer from mass confusion about the distinction between individual private lives and the realm of culture, news and art?

By the time of “The Ballad of John and Yoko” (1969), Lennon appears to have come to believe that it mattered to the world what he had had for lunch. And from the point of view of the gutter press, it did.

The lyric faithfully reports this: “the men from the press,” earning their bread by pretending to be fascinated by the quotidiana of Beatledom so as to feed the new mass audience for celebrity gossip, dance a lopsided decathlon pas-de-deux with the coy, shrewd, and protesting-too-much rock star, who has become a master of getting himself photographed and scribbled about while complaining about it.

This is now an essential trait of the modern celebrity.

Lennon’s actual celebrity made his every movement seem newsworthy, and today, vicarious and imaginary celebrity can make what YOU do seem worth telling the planet about.

You don’t have to be a professional historian to know that hindsight is 20/20. With the help of hindsight’s enhancing optical power I am routinely able to understand events–say,

a) an oil spill.

b) a church scandal.


c) The falling-out between Roger and Dave.

as having been, in effect, inevitable given preceding circumstances and conditions —

a) lax regulation, Dick Cheney, a petroleum-based society.

b) a history of papal secrecy, the doctrine of celibacy for clergy, the inherent mendacity of large religious institutions.


c) the combustible nature of affinities of genius.

Yet of course this is a notorious fallacy: in every case things could have turned out otherwise.

Still, some instances make you wonder.

The Beatles have often had ascribed to them various special anointings from Destiny. But of course this again is retroactive, ‘20/20,’ faux wisdom. More ridiculous claims have been made for the Beatles than for the waters of Lourdes. But while a McCartney would in any age have been a reliable font of innovation, synthesis and delightfulness, Lennon is hard to resist as a figure of Fortune’s favorite for his historical moment.

His “Beatles are more popular than Jesus” remark, to which the Christ business in “Ballad” elliptically refers, reported right round a quaintly scandalized world, seemed to have raced right out front of the Sixties’ parade of cascading secularism and irreverence; similarly, the progression of his drug use seems now a microcosm of the adventurous-to-decadent trajectory of the whole Western history of “partying” from the Sixties to the Eighties.

Not for nothing did the original fame monster David Bowie exploit the totemic power of the sound of Lennon’s voice in his hit song “Fame.”

Pop music, like fascism (only nicer), couldn’t have existed without technologies of mass communication, and it was through this newly near-global matrix of media that the Beatles’ charming artistry propelled pop music from pastime to Culture. Unfortunately this left John, still after all a young man, with the mistaken impression that since he could say it and the world would listen, it followed that it was worth saying.

And so let it be a caution to all of us postmodern-day microcelebrities, each of us blasting and Tweeting and blogging away at the helms of our own little PR juggernaut machines, that the experience of actual celebrity ultimately persuaded Lennon – you can see it in his increasingly solipsistic work from “The Ballad of John and Yoko” onward –that innovation and imagination just weren’t as important as what he called (in “God,” from ‘Plastic Ono Band’) “reality,” as in:

“I don’t believe in Beatles / I just believe in me / Yoko and me / and that’s reality.”

I don’t care who you are, that sort of reality just isn’t as interesting as art.

Now will you all please go write a nice poem?


In 1983 there was a talent contest at the Chuck E. Cheese in Mattydale, NY.

Their stunning live show at the time consisted of 1TRED on the drums and TRED2 on the Farfisa.

Despite their stellar performance of “Billie Jean”, they were robbed of first place by a 7 year-old MJ impersonator.

And so would begin a disastrous career in music for the young TRED boys.

Sure, they played to packed rooms in New York City in 1984. But those rooms were rather small.

In 1985 they won a spot on the Live Aid stage when they beat The Hooters tour manager in a vodka and Clamato fueled late night game of snooker.

As you are well aware, TRED never ended up playing Live Aid and neither did Rod Stewart.

This major career setback created a gaping hole in TRED’s relationship with themselves, their music, and their shared love for the word “portmanteau”.

1989’s “The Chickpea” would become the last time the boys would ever work together.

In 2007 1TRED (aka Juan TRED) started work on what would become 2009’s Crappy Hits of the 80’s: vol II.

He released the music under the TRED moniker just piss off his former collaborator.

15 years on, TRED still does not understand how rain on one’s wedding day is ironic.

Find TRED past, present and future on the internet.




078 – I Me Mine – Stacie Rose

July 13, 2010

Original version recorded – January 3rd 1970

Ukulele version recorded – March 26th 2010

Stacie Rose – Vocals

David Barratt – Ukulele and everything else

photo by angelshots.com

Produced by David Barratt at The Abattoir Of Good Taste, Brooklyn, NY

“I looked around and everything I could see was relative to my ego. You know, like ‘that’s my piece of paper,’ and ‘that’s my flannel,’ or ‘give it to me,’ or ‘I am.’ It drove me crackers– I hated everything about my ego

George Harrison (25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001)

“The greatness of a man’s power is the measure of his surrender.”

William Booth (10 April 1829 – 20 August 1912)


“I Me Mine” from the “Let It Be” album is written and sung by George. He liked the title so much that he used it again for his scrapbook/autobiography in 1980.

The Beatles recording is a mix of two of my least favorite genres. “Maudlin Irish Wake Music” and “White Man Pub Rock Blues”.

Recorded at Twickenham Film Studios it was never intended to be released due to quality control reasons. The song was saved because director Michael Lindsay-Hogg included it on a rough edit of The Saddest Rock’n’Roll Documentary Of All Time.

I Me Mine is very close to being a post-Beatles recording. John had privately quit the group in September 1969 and was practicing “Not Being A Beatle” in Denmark.

Paul, George and Ringo (It doesn’t have the same ring to it does it?) entered Abbey Road on January 3rd 1970 to record a new version of the song. 16 takes later a one minute, thirty-four second version was deemed acceptable.

Harrison referenced Lennon’s absence at the beginning of take 15.

“You all will have read that Dave Dee is no longer with us. But Mickey and Tich and I would just like to carry on the good work that’s always gone down in number two.”

When Phil Spector was brought in to save the car crash that was the “Get Back” album he got out his usual bag of tricks i.e. oodles of orchestral overdubs, and re-edited it to squeeze out an extra 45 seconds or so.

The final “re-produced” version by Spector, was featured on the re-titled Let It Be album. A similar edit, without Spector’s overdubs, is available on Let It Be… Naked.

The music of I Me Mine is a little dull but the idea behind the song is not.

The Beatles Machine was collapsing under the weight of it’s own collective ego. The individuals in the band felt they were more important than the collective. That included George as well. Let us not forget that his first album after The Beatles break up was a triple album.

But despite his own war with his ego George tells us there is no “ME” only “WE”.

He may be right.

As I write this I am eating breakfast in a cafe in Barking, East London.

The whole experience was created by many people: farmers, butchers, cooks, drivers and many others collaborating with many materials, markets and systems. I, as the end user of the breakfast, am in direct contact with them. My experience is the result of their efforts and aspirations. At the same time I am integral to the fact that the breakfast is created. All the links in the chain that made this breakfast possible are inseparable.

Obviously it is not my breakfast.

In fact everything in society is a collaboration. Not only the physical things, but also the very thoughts within are based on the ideas, myths, experience, language and cultural habits of our ancestors, figures of history and contemporaries.

As stated by Musho in a previous post (link here),”ME” is a delusion in action. Protecting “ME” is a huge industry that controls us personally and politically. “ME” is a field fortified with selfishness and fear, and as it is cultivated we become addicted to anyone who can satisfy and glorify the delusion of “ME”.

The idea of “WE” gets a bit of a bad rap in my home town of New York. “ME” or “control of self” is valued above everything. “WE” or “surrender of self” is looked down upon.

In the last few thousand years, we’ve become incredibly adept technically. We’ve over-valued the controlling part of ourselves and neglected the surrendering part.

There are however four areas, religion, art, sex, drugs, in which this kind of surrender believed to have value. These are areas where you stop being manipulators of your surroundings and become recipients.

– In religion, you stop being you and you start to become us.

– In art, the work you are creating is not by you put passes through you.

– With drugs, you go from being you to being part of everything.

– In sex, when it’s done right, the distinction of self and other disappear.

In lots of South American cultures, religion and drugs are very close.

In Hinduism, sex and religion are very close.

For a lucky few of us all four can be combined at will.


Genre-jumping pop genius Stacie Rose with David Barratt merged the various sections of I Me Mine into one rhythmic melange with her voice swooping and swirling like an osprey in flight across the track.

Stacie Rose is thrilled to have recorded one of her all-time favorite Beatle songs for this amazing project. The notion that this song illuminates and exposes our human lust/obsession with ego and in a sense renounces that, which can only bog us down seems particularly fitting, since she’s about to release her Alter-Ego Ep’s. (ENCHANTED RECORDS) The idea of life being more about “WE” than “ME” is appealing as Stacie continues an ongoing love affair with collaboration in music making.

With all Ego aside…here are the facts..

Rose has been hailed for her super-hooky, confessional songs that effortlessly, fuse pop, soul, country, & rock and stay in your head. Critics have compared her song-writing to the likes of Rosanne Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Suzanne Vega, and Aimee Mann and her pop sensibility to artists like, Sheryl Crow, Nelly Furtado, Dido and Avril Lavigne; but have praised her for a vocal & visceral sound all her own. Consistently noted as an “artist you should know about.”

Stacie knows that you are not alone.

You are not even you.


077 – I Wanna Be Your Man – We’re Late For Class

July 7, 2010

Original version recorded September 12 1963

Ukulele version recorded February 29 2010

We’re Late For Class – Music, Vocals

Blind Lemon Siegel – Ukulele

Scribbling – Kylie Brush

Produced by Dave at The Abattoir Of Good Taste from original recordings made by WLFC.


Stones, Beatles; Beatles, Stones. Back and forth, cut and thrust, lob and volley, the simple stand-and-deliver question “The Beatles or The Stones?” still rattles cages after a half-century of exposition.

Back in November 1963, the near-simultaneous release of versions of Lennon and McCartney’s “I Wanna Be Your Man” by both groups provided a neat snapshot comparison of where they were at and where they were going.

The Stones “may” be better than The Beatles, just as Dave “may” spend this summer reclining at his exclusive 97-room palace on his own private island in the company of Kate Winslet, Gisele Bundchen and Vladimir Putin occasionally dive bombing the beaches of the Cote d’Azur in his fur-lined executive gunship, and dining every evening on vintage moose-milk cheese and life-sized replicas of himself sculpted entirely from foie gras.

But what can not be denied that is The Stones version of I Wanna Be Your Man IS better than The Beatles version.

There is a very simple reason for this

The Beatles were not very good at doing sex.

They fumbled and apologized their way through inept bra unfastening while The Stones were practically born with beautiful models dripping off of their androgynous but perfectly formed bodies.

Sex is good and nice and very important and The Beatles were rubbish at it.

Would you shag John?

I don’t think so. What we all want to get close to is confidence and the Stones despite their lack to technique in writing, playing and singing, had in spades. Little Johnny was way too paranoid.

Paranoia is simply not sexy.

Now don’t get me wrong, paranoia has it’s uses. It is an excellent tactic for the powerless. The expression of those conspiracy theories, if you shout them loud enough, puts you at the centre of events and attention thereby giving the paranoiac a type of power and status that can be got by no other means.

Lennon and other bullied boys at the back of the class lived for that shit. But would you want to fuck that shitty self image?

Of course some of you would, but millions more would shag The Stones. Any of them. Even Charlie.

The Beatles want you to like them, The Stones don’t care (it’s not accidental that we automatically call Ringo by his first name and Jagger by his second).

The Beatles would soon reveal extraordinary melodic flair, surreal humour and boundary-changing sonic inventiveness, but The Stones would always have elemental dirty elegance on their side. So you’ve got two bands. Two food groups. You can of course create a nutritionally balanced menu from both. Or you can binge on either like a deranged animal until you’re sick. All I’m saying is, this is not a health and safety issue, it’s a quality of life issue. And I’m not a doctor.

Our version is performed by the enigmatic genius that is “We’re Late For Class” on Feb. 29, 2010, except this wasn’t a leap year, so we’re not sure what the deal is. They would not let us see their faces while we worked which made the recording a unique and rewarding process which we wish other artists would consider.


“Live, all improvisational college collective, with about a dozen rotating members.

Anti-contract, pro-herb and some cut & paste.”

46 posts of original, all improv, space racket (and one Beatles Mash Up, #47).

It’s all free. …

About all you really need is our blog address


071 – Nowhere Man – Emily Bindiger

May 25, 2010


Nowhere Man – Emily Bindiger

Emily Bindiger – Vocals

Eric Nicolas – Guitar

Tim Ouimette – Trumpet

David Barratt – Ukulele and everything else

Original version recorded October 21-22 1965

New version recorded Jan 26 2010

Produced by David Barratt The Abattoir Of Good Taste Brooklyn

For best results play Nowhere Man on repeat while reading this essay.


Nowhere Man from Rubber Soul is an early example of The Beatles taking themselves seriously.

John Lennon: “We were just getting better, technically, and musically, that’s all. Finally we took over the studio. In the early days, we had to take what we were given, we didn’t know how you can get more bass. We were learning the technique on Rubber Soul. We were more precise about making an album”.

Years later, John, after much therapy, Yokoism and weed claimed that Nowhere Man was about himself, which unconsciously it possibly was, but at the time of recording there is very little doubt that he was making a pretty limp wristed attack on what he considered to be The Establishment.

Trapped in the suburbs, trapped in his marriage and trapped in his own head John was lashing out at the Grey Men he thought ran the world.

Ironically The Beatles at that very moment were being courted by the powers that be.

Prince Charles wrote asking for the Beatles autographs – and received them. Unfortunately, like most Beatles autographs, they were forged by road manager Neil Aspinall.

Harold Wilson, The British Prime Minister was a fan.

On October 16th 1965 The Beatles received their MBE’s (Member of the Order of British Empire) at Buckingham Palace.

John, was not entirely happy with receiving the award. When he’d originally seen the brown envelope with ‘On Her Majesty’s Service’ written on it he thought he was being called up for the armed services. When Brian Epstein phoned him to discuss it and he told him that he wanted to turn it down, Brian, forever the politician, said that he had to accept the honor. Later, John said: “Taking the MBE was a sell-out to me.”

Just a week after receiving their medals “Nowhere Man” was recorded at Abbey Road.

Nowhere Man is first Beatles song not to be about romantic love. The lyrics are Dylanesque but not in the same league as Dylan. There is a preachiness about these lyrics that is more early George than John.

So why is it so bloody good?

Well… The acapella opening is stunning and unique on a Beatles recording. The band kicks in on the end of the 4th bar with a simple but effective folk rock arrangement.

George’s guitar riff played on a Rickenbacker cuts like glass. Obviously this was deeply influenced by The Byrds who had a hit at the beginning of 1965 with their cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mr Tambourine Man” but the Beatles arrangement is much more restrained and thought out. More English. This is California seen from a misted up window in Dorking. You can hear grey clouds on this recording.

Paul’s arpeggiated bass-line is insistent but never interferes with the melody contrasting with the simplicity of Ringo’s rhythm.

George’s solo, played on a sonic blue Strat, is one of my favorites. Playing a simple melody The Rickenbacker shimmers and shines. The low E followed by the harmonic at the end is a hook in itself.

But it is the vocal arrangement that takes this song from a B- to a solid A. The group vocal on the verses changes to a lead and two harmony vocals reflecting the change of speaking in the third person to a direct address on the bridge.

“Making all his nowhere plans for nobody” was Paul’s lyrical contribution to the song which he uses to upstage John in the coda by singing it loudly as the high harmony at the end.

Nowhere Man is a direct ancestor of “And Your Bird Can Sing” even down to John’s use of a capo on the second fret, write it in D and have to come out in E.

Our version features one of New York’s top session singers Emily Bindiger. I had been listening to a lot of Dusty Springfield at the time of this recording and it shows. I made Emily wear a beehive wig during the recording to which, being the professional she is, complied without hesitation. Special mention should be made of Tim Ouimette’s subtle and tender trumpet on the bridge.


Emily Bindiger hears voices. The kind that make her harmonize with everything, anything and anyone, including herself.

Emily is a NY singer, producer, and vocal arranger who has recorded and/or performed with such diverse artists as Leonard Cohen, George Benson, Buster Poindexter (David Johansen), Joan Osborne, Lou Reed, Steve Van Zandt, Lesley Gore, Kathie Lee Gifford, and Neil Sedaka, with whom she toured for several years.

Movie soundtracks include Woody Allen’s “Bullets Over Broadway” and “Everyone Says I Love You”, “Donnie Brasco”, “The Hudsucker Proxy”, “Michael Collins”, “Mission to Mars”, “The Stepford Wives”, “Shining Through”, “Joe’s Apartment” (she played a singing bug!), “A Chorus Line”, “Mr. Nanny”, the animated feature “The Tune”, “Hot Rod”, and “Nine”.

She is also a member of the multi-award-winning a cappella group, The Accidentals.

Yes, she hears voices…

069 – Here Comes The Sun – Holly Palmer

May 9, 2010
Original version recorded July /August 1969
Ukulele version recorded February 26th 2010
Holly Palmer – Vocals
Kenny White – Ukulele
Tim Ouimette – Trumpet
David Barratt – Wall of ukuleles and everything else
Produced by David Barratt The Abattoir Of Good Taste Brooklyn
Winters in England, though not severe, seem to drag on for an eternity. One of the main reasons about 400,000 Brittons emigrate from the UK every year is the endless drag of the cold grey season that can stretch well into May.
If the Eskimos have 400 words for snow, the English have 700 words for “it’s dark and cold.”
1968/9 was an especially painful winter of discontent for George Harrison. He knew that the Beatles were done.  Apple records had become a catastrophic black hole that threatened to suck George, and everything else in sight, into its death spiral.  The reason George was in a band in the first place was to escape the drudgery of a real job in a real corporation, and the business of trying to keep Apple afloat among the all but dead relationship of its founders was a particularly grueling job for anyone, including Beatle George.
The business of being a Beatle was no fun at all in 1969.  It was cold, dreary, and dark.  It was a winter in and of itself.
George just wanted these simultaneous winters, both within him and without him, to end.  He wanted his moment to shine, without having to worry about two of the greatest songwriters of all time checking over his homework.
Like most musicians I know, all George really wanted to do was play music. One afternoon he escaped from his duties at Apple and took a drive to his best friend’s house in Ewhurst, Surrey.  Fortunately his best friend at the time was Eric Clapton, so there was no shortage of guitars to mess about with. In the garden, reflecting on the misery that had been and the thaw he was feeling, Harrison constructed a simple but gorgeous melody. The song is quintessentially Beatlesque without referring directly to any previous Beatle song.
Spring is coming. It will all be OK.  I will be OK.  This misery is going to end and something new and wonderful will begin.
All four Beatles had agreed that Abbey Road was to be their last project as a group. It’s not really a band album but the best bits from four solo albums glued together with the three spare Beatles supporting the writer of any paticular song. The album does not suffer because of this. The vision of each songwriter is intact and it is a credit to all of them that they did not sabotage the project for the sake of their own vanity.
George Martin, very comfortable in his role as headmaster, made sure there was to be none of the fighting that accompanied the painful “White Album” or “Let It Be” sessions.
The recording began on July 7, 1969, two years to the day after the release of John’s own version of his “It will all be ok” song, “All You Need Is Love.”  The production of “Sun,” like “Love,” is happy and relaxed.
Unlike “Love,” though, “Sun” shines with a crystalline clarity that cuts through the performance with waves of joy – musical sunshine. The use of the Moog synth parts are especially tasteful considering what other people were doing with (or to) the instrument at the time.
Paul’s backing vocals on the track, directed by George, sounds like errr… George.  Ringo smoothes out all the signature changes making 11/8 time sound like 4/4, which is no mean feat. John is nowhere to be found on the recording — which is no bad thing.
A little more than two weeks later, though, John directed the recording of his own song, which pointedly began with the lyrics “Here comes the sun . . . . KING.”  Was John Lennon, of all people, tipping his hat to the now nearly-finished Harrison masterpiece of which he had no part?  The songs, after all don’t begin with a similar lyric; they begin with the exact same lyric. John Lennon had started borrowing songwriting tips from George Harrison.
The message in “Here Comes The Sun” is clear, and it was apparently heard by its intended recipients.
Dear John and Paul,
I have had enough of your constant power struggles. I am old enough now to take care of myself. Thanks for everything.  Bye.
George had finally – if only for a few years – blossomed as a songwriter par excellence, the two best compositions on Abbey Road were his — and they all knew it.
The ice had melted.  Winter was over.
Our version features Holly Palmer. For her the song has a very special resonance. When Holly was about seven years of age her Uncle gave her a copy of Sgt. Pepper. Not the 1967 Beatles album but the soundtrack to the much maligned Robert Stigwood/Bee Gees film which was released in 1978.
No matter to Holly.
She immediately became enraptured with the Sandy Farina version of Here Comes The Sun. For the little girl there was no snobbiness surrounding the fact that it was not the original recording. Holly heard beauty and responded to it. The song has stayed with her throughout her life but the meaning of the lyric has changed.
Her vocal that you are listening to now reflects that change. There is a sadness in Holly’s voice that captures the pain of the winter just passed as well as celebrating the spring to come.
Her son Maceo was born on March 13, 2009.  After an ideal pregnancy, and a short labor, he was born with no breath in his body.
He was limp, grey and silent.
She was told that at some point in the few days prior to delivery, something happened in-utero depriving her baby of oxygen for an undeterminable amount of time. Evidently he recovered enough to be born, but the lack of oxygen left him with a brain injury.
No one knew exactly why or how this came about but Holly and her husband Joe figured that it didn’t matter. What mattered was that life was going to be totally different than it was before and they had better be up to the task ahead.
The next couple of months Maceo, Holly and Joe struggled in the hospital. Most parents come home with their baby a day or so after birth. It took two months of constant care in NICU – Bay 4, Bed 3 for Maceo to be ready to leave.
The recording on this site is released May 11th 2010 — exactly one year to the day that Maceo was released from hospital.
Our version is for him and anyone else who is struggling to come home.
Holly Palmer is an American singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles, California. She has released four albums as a solo artist, and has toured and recorded extensively as a vocalist with acts including David Bowie and Gnarls Barkley.
Other musicians with whom she has collaborated include Dr. Dre, Billy Preston, Mark Isham, Dave Navarro and Michael Bublé.
Holly Palmer (1996, Warner Bros. Records)
Tender Hooks (2004, Bombshell Records)
I Confess (2004, Bombshell Records)
Songs for Tuesday (2007, Bombshell Records)
To lean more about Maceo’s story go to
Post Script
In 1977 NASA tried to license “Here Comes The Sun”  so it could be included in a set of recordings to be sent into space on a Voyager mission.
George and the rest of The Beatles were totally into it.
EMI in an act of greed and stupidity refused the license. In the same year EMI let the Sex Pistols leave the label for nothing.
Both signs of EMI’s business acumen and a harbinger of their future success.