McCartney III: The Album Fans Have Waited 40 Years To Hear

As you can probably tell from the title, when I decide I like an album, I tend to overstate that fact. I do. I remember going around for a short time in 2002 or so, telling people that “By the Way” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers was the greatest album of all time. We all probably listen to new releases from our favorites with rose-colored ear buds.

But let’s not do that with McCartney III.

I will say that for me it is about III times better than McCartney (1970) and McCartney II (1980) combined, but really the title of this post comes from the fact that it’s taken 40 years for the third installment. Critics felt the same way I do upon the releases of the first two, but over time, both of eponymous records have achieved cult classic status, the first among the lo-fi crowd, the second with electronica fans. McCartney III is a more complete album for me, in that there are no instrumentals, and it isn’t a niche album in the way it’s two predecessors were. It’s a very straightforward Paul McCartney pop rock album. The only thing that makes this album “McCartney III” is that it’s the first time he’s recorded totally alone since 1980. In 1970 he did it because he didn’t have a band anymore, with the Beatles’ recent demise. In 1980 he went back to the drawing board as a solo act because Wings had recently broken up. With McCartney III, we find Paul going it alone because with Covid-19 raging, he’s had nowhere to play this year with his current band.

“Long Tailed Winter Bird” is almost an instrumental, aside from a droning vocal bit at the end. The musicianship on this song is fresh and exciting, but still a few minutes into it I began to wonder if this album was going to be heavy on the guitar jam sessions, like McCartney (1970).

“Find My Way” sounds, at first, like the story of an old man wandering around his house at night, celebrating knowing where he was. But the more I listened, the more it sounded like a spiritual guide who’d come and gone before and knew the way. But if my first interpretation of “Find My Way” were correct, then it was amusing to think that “Slidin’ ” suddenly found him skydiving. At least at first glance. Really, “Slidin'” is about taking risks and the rewards for doing so, along with the obligatory nod to caution. Take it for what you will.

While “Lavatory Lil” is one of those character sketches McCartney has been doing since “Eleanor Rigby”, this one about a gold digger/groupie type hurtling toward her expiration date, “Pretty Boys” too is a scathing if generic condemnation of materialism and superficiality.

“Kiss of Venus” has the feel of “Calico Skies” from McCartney’s album Flaming Pie mashed up with the reprise to “Venus and Mars” on the Wings album of the same title. Inspired by a book about the flight patterns of celestial bodies in our solar system, if anything “Kiss of Venus” is a love song to the cosmos.

I thought “Seize the Day” may turn out to be a sappy song about making every day count regardless of / because of 2020. I think it actually could be about the end of the world. I suppose at times this year, the differences between the two have been negligible. Casual observers may not realize that McCartney’s lyrics are often more complicated than they appear, and this and other McCartney III tracks demonstrate that.

“Deep Down” is a repetitive, bluesy groove, more like anything on McCartney (1970) than anything else on this new set. And oddly, for a fleeting moment it reminds me of “Rock of Ages” by Def Leopard. It’s sort of a return to McCartney’s “Dance Tonight” from 2007 in some ways, so it’s nice to hear Sir Paul still likes to party. “Deep Deep Feeling” is not just similarly named, but just like “Deep Down” it’s a long, sprawling meditation of a track. This one tackles the subject of devoted love, and mortality, and how the two intermingle. It’s like the more and more he considers both, the more they become a mashup in his mind.

“Women and Wives” is a cautionary tale about the choices we make, the legacy we leave behind and how they are connected. Similarly “Winter Bird / When Winter Comes” after a brief instrumental reprise of the album’s opening track, picks up on that same theme – preparation and planning ahead – not just for ourselves, but to leave something behind for others.

Ever since 2007’s “Memory Almost Full” McCartney has been dropping tracks here and there about how he and his listeners might be remembered when we’re gone. Themes that may not be quite as relevant to younger listeners. In that time he has always tried to reach across the generations with each successive album. Though this album could be enjoyed by anyone, it doesn’t feel like he went out of his way to do that on McCartney III. Maybe that is due to the fact that, he claims, he started laying down these tracks without the intention of an album. Maybe that’s the best way.

My Broadcaster’s Voice, Allegedly.

When I am not writing things, I work in an insurance agency. I do marketing and I set up appointments for our agents. Today, a woman I’d called a few days ago was in the office. As I rolled by she flagged me down and asked if I was the guy she had talked to. I said yes. She told me that I have a “wonderful broadcaster’s voice” and suggested I should be on the radio.

I considered replying with “Thank you. It makes up for this face. It’s why I cover most of it with this beard.” But I didn’t. There is a time and place for sarcasm and self-deprecation. And anyway it was a nice compliment, and one that I have been given on a few occasions. I’m not bragging. I’m just reporting events as they happened.

I sort of hear what they mean, but I doubt that it is just the tone and timbre of my voice. A bit of the illusion has to do with my tendency to word things differently than most normal people when I speak. It’s a gift inherited from my maternal grandfather, probably. Like a lot of people, I write in my natural “voice” so speaking that way has enhanced my writing.

I thanked the woman and told her I’d keep it in mind should I be looking for a side gig. I’d rather be writing as a side gig, but honestly being a radio personality or podcaster has long been a pipe dream of mine.

Honestly I can picture myself pretty damned well pontificating about this song or that band between songs.

So why just a dream? I’ve never went for it because I am not a good “in the moment” kind of guy. I’m very prone to the umms in a speaking situation I am uncomfortable with. Not an uncommon phenomenon, and anyone can work through it. Even so, I keep thinking I function best as a writer, where I can take the time to perfect the craft. But I’ve gotten this far in a job where most of my responsibilities involve speaking to people on the phone, mostly off the cuff and conversational. And I’ve impressed enough of those people, what, with my broadcaster’s voice and all.

So there may be a side side gig on the horizon. I’ll keep you posted.


…But Listen To The Color Of Your Dreams…

Okay, full disclosure, I only titled this post as I did as an excuse to make a reference to the Beatles. This post has nothing to do with them or music or anything. It does have to do with the creative process.

Have you ever had a dream that was so vivid, so brimming with little nuggets of information that it is a self-contained story that demands to be told? I had one in about 2006 when I had a dream that I was in New York City outside the Dakota building waiting to get an autograph from John Lennon. No seriously this post isn’t about the Beatles. The dream turned into the first draft of a novel. I’m still not satisfied with it so it’s still a draft. I’ve had stuff to do. The point is that tiny little vignette turned into an entire novel.

I have another novel I started working on well over a year ago after a visit to New Orleans but set aside quite a while ago after hitting a brick wall creatively. Then, a few nights ago I had another one of those dreams that was so lucid that it demanded attention, and I knew as soon as I awoke that it was the next piece of the story I have to tell. Because the dream was a crystal-clear scene from a specific spot I’d been to in New Orleans, and a face in the dream was just as hauntingly clear. It was a New Orleans musician, a subject to which my story intimately relates. It was like the dream was grabbing me and shaking the next phase of my story out of me. I wasn’t about to ignore it.

Stories are like that. They come to you one chunk at a time. Each chunk, when it comes, gives you a giant leap forward. So listen to your dreams. Use them. Especially if a story you are trying to tell is really weighing on your mind but you can’t quite get it going. Your dreams are what is beneath the surface of your consciousness. Maybe these bits that come to you in a dream are so strikingly perfect sometimes because you’ve given them time to gel while you’re only sleeping.

Certainly I can’t wait around for that kind of inspiration to strike me while I am freelancing, but inspiration shows itself in various forms, thankfully. I listen for it.

Getting To Know Your Local Freelance Writer, Part 2

In my last post I presented you with the first half of a journey of musical self-discovery I’d recently begun. Now, I give you ….. the rest of it.

DAY 6: Dookie by Green Day – I once heard this album referred to as a “misfit’s manifesto” which couldn’t be more accurate. I was not a popular kid. I did not fit in. These songs spoke directly to me. Not in a literal way. I was not a stoner, wasn’t close to mental breakdown, nor was I as angry and destructive as some of the people in these songs. But subconsciously, the lyrics probably helped me work through some things I dealt with. I’ll never forget how my mom humored me when I remarked that these guys could be the “new Beatles.” I guess it was just a premonition of how important Green Day would become for me, but If you know me well you’ll find that comment pretty hilarious. This isn’t complex music, but it changed me. Green Day was the first band I ever got into who’s music I would go on to buy all of. My wife asked me recently what it was about them that captivated me. I said it was Billie Joe Armstrong’s presence as a front man. It was a confidence – an arrogance even – that I could hear in these songs, later confirmed when I saw him on stage. It was a poise that I could never have, but I felt like in some way I started to develop because of Dookie.

DAY 7: Chronicle by Creedence Clearwater Revival – I strongly feel every American household should contain a copy of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Chronicle Vol. 1. I don’t know that there is any other American band that can boast a better Best Of… album than this. When my parents got me my own computer, it had a CD player, and I inherited four hand-me-down CDs. Greatest Hits compilations from the Eagles and the Steve Miller Band, CCR Chronicle Volume 1, and the Beatles “Blue Album”. Wait, what? Yeah…though I devoured all four, at the time I was more into this than the Beatles. That came later. But CCR first opened me up to music that wasn’t new, a whole new world which led me to explore all varieties of classic rock. I think I have some kind of mystical connection with John Fogerty for two reasons. First, though he was a California boy, his music is sprinkled with references to the Louisiana bayou, and New Orleans. My affinity for that place is equally inexplicable. And second, long ago I noticed that when I hear certain CCR songs, the Dailey side of my family would pop into my head. So either this music was playing prominently during a family gathering long ago and it latched onto my subconscious mind, or this music is just a part of my DNA. Could be either one.

DAY 8 – Anthology 2 by The Beatles – I am not going to try to name one Beatles studio album that influenced me more than the others. Anyway they never would have influenced me were it not for Anthology, particularly the second installment. The three Anthology albums are basically an outtakes dump on a grand scale. While they presented the Beatles in their unpolished form, they were still pretty good. Anthology 2 covers 1965-67 into 1968 a bit. Those 3+ years encompass five Beatles albums if you count the Magical Mystery Tour double EP. Anthology 2 was so stunning to me because it showed how productive and progressive the band was over a relatively short time. Though it excited me like no other music had before, I remember it being a bit unsettling to find that “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “A Day in the Life” came just one and two years after “Ticket To Ride.”

I’ve always been a historian, and I like things to be linear. Anthology 2 is the sound of a band that is going someplace. They know where they are going and what they are doing. Now you see bands “trying something new” for their latest album. They may even do that on every release. But the Beatles from this period were different. Every album significantly built upon what they’d done on the last one. They changed how rock and roll sounds and is made, forever. Anthology 2 changed ME forever. I went on to buy every studio album the Beatles ever made, and very close to every studio album Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison ever made, along with a few from Ringo. How’s that for influence?

DAY 9 – Paul McCartney’s “Flaming Pie” was the first of dozens of former-Beatle solo albums I’d eventually own. This was a huge transition for me in that up until then every pop star I’d followed had either been a teenager or in their 20’s. While classic rock opened me up to the experiences of artists of (roughly) my age group but in a different time period, this album opened me up to the thoughts and style of a much older musician, Paul being in his mid-50s on this record. I was just becoming an adult when this came out so it helped me mature in my musical taste. I found his lyrics insightful and very moving really. “Calico Skies” and “Little Willow” are two beautiful, gentle acoustic ballads that everyone should hear. And he could rock! I mean, nothing on this album is going to melt your face off, but he could still jam. Still can now. And to this day, I almost always refer to a deep conversation as a discussion of “the vast intricacies of life” because of a line from “The Songs We Were Singing.”

DAY 10: “Who’s on First?: Radio Reruns” by Abbott & Costello – Until now my list has been albums that affected me chronologically as I grew. This one screws with my timeline in that (1) it was recorded in the 1940’s (2) I first heard it when I was about ten years old, and (3) its effect on me did not fully germinate until about four years ago. Let me explain. Yes, I was a huge baseball fan, and that is why I got this tape as a Christmas gift. I listened to the “Who’s On First?” bit over and over again, but I liked the rest of the skits, as old-timey as they were. I would let the entire cassette play because I couldn’t skip tracks. This included the two musical numbers on the album. One of them was a ballad called “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?” sung by actress Marilyn Maxwell. Fast forward to about 2016-17, and the melody and the evocative lyrics of “moonlight on the bayou”, “Creole tunes” and “magnolias in June” still came back to me sometimes. I was sitting at work one day, tired of the Pandora station I had going, and that tune popped into my head. I decided to start a new station based on Louis Armstrong’s original version of the song. Because of how Pandora works, I was soon flooded with a variety of New Orleans jazz musicians, contemporary and classic, eventually extending to some great funk, rhythm & blues, Mardi Gras Indian songs, and even zydeco. To me, all of these are branches of one genre called “New Orleans music.” Nothing has had even close to this effect on me since I discovered the Beatles over 20 years ago. I rarely listen to anything else now. Because I first discovered it through streaming individual tracks, I can’t pick one album. No matter. My “Who’s On First?” tape is the true source of the discovery. With that, I’m going to go make some red beans n rice now.

Getting To Know Your Local Freelance Writer, Part 1.

I recently embarked on a journey of self-discovery. I decided to do the 10 Days of Albums That Influenced Me Challenge on Facebook. Since each entry is a mini-blog unto itself I decided to just turn the first five into a blog post. It’ll give you a chance to get to know me a bit better.

This challenge is already giving me some insight into my own personal history of which I don’t know that I was fully aware until now. You should do this challenge just once in your life. You may find that music is more important to you than you know. Or you may not. In any case, here are my findings thus far.

DAY 1: “Greatest Hits” by Ronnie Milsap is the first album that I remember paying attention to that was not made for children. Almost every song on it takes me back on the Mississippi River on my parents’ boat (we had an 8-track player) when I was a child. There are other songs that take me back to that same place (“Right Here Waiting” by Richard Marx, and “Oh Sherry” by Steve Perry) and there are other songs around that time that I considered “favorite songs” (“Summer of ‘69” by Bryan Adams, and “St. Elmo’s Fire” by John Parr) but this entire album takes me there as a whole, though “Smoky Mountain Rain” and “Daydreams About Night Things” are stand-outs. Also, it is because of this album, I am sure, that I wanted “to be Ronnie Milsap” when I grew up. I did not want to be like him. I wanted to be him. So, I think this is a good place to start.

DAY 2: “Girl You Know It’s True” by Milli Vanilli – First things first, no this is not a joke. I am dead serious. This album influenced me for a few reasons. First, I was only 10 or 11 at the time but I liked the music. I also liked the New Kids on the Block like everybody else, but I had a feeling that even though Milli Vanilli was all over MTV and Top 40 radio, somehow this “band” belonged just to me and it was the first time I ever had that in my life. I didn’t think anyone I grew up with knew about them, a delusion that was backed up one day when we were invited to bring our favorite tape to school. I told a classmate I had Milli Vanilli and they repeated the name back to me, perplexed. I didn’t care. Second, my family was not an R&B household. This music passes for R&B I guess, so it expanded my musical pallette. And thirdly, in the end my brief fascination with Milli Vanilli taught me to look for authenticity in the artists I listened to. If you don’t know their story, look it up. When the news about them broke, a great philosophical question arose: Whether it mattered that the faces and the voices did not match up, as long as I thought it was good. I tend to think it does matter, but what do I know?

DAY 3: “Skid Row” by Skid Row – I first had this album on cassette but gave it away at some point. I bought it on CD a few years ago, and was amused that I still knew almost every lyric. The album represents my first “rebellious stage” with it’s “Youth Gone Wild” ethic. Every kid has to go through those stages. It’s healthy. I loved Guns n Roses, and I had their t-shirt and poster but that was almost solely based on “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. I actually listened to Skid Row’s whole album over and over again. You don’t need merch for that. The album doesn’t have a LOT of substance (a couple of lines in it are actually really not cool, looking back, but it’s good to be exposed to that too. You can learn a lot from a bad example). But at least it felt authentic. I even wrote a short story for a school assignment in which the protagonists were called Sebastian (Bach, Skid Row’s lead vocalist) and Ricky (from “18 & Life”). And how does one ignore lines like “Boss screamin’ in my ear about who I’m supposed to be/’Get you a three-piece Wall Street smile and son you’ll look just like me’/I said ‘Hey man, there’s somethin’ you oughta know/Park Avenue leads to Skid Row!'” and “She blew my mind behind the record machine/She was a shitload a’ trouble called the subway queen”?

DAY 4: “August and Everything After” by Counting Crows – I never bought another Counting Crows record and I don’t have this one anymore, but when it came out it exposed me to music from a much more artistic/poetic point of view than I was used to. A lot of the lyrics’ meaning were mysterious to me, but I knew they felt very important. And I was fascinated by the very evocative titles like “Perfect Blue Buildings”, “Murder of One”, “Raining in Baltimore”, etc. At night with the lights off when I was allegedly sleeping, I’d sit up in my bed and pretend to be on stage with a band (the band had a name. It was “Equilibrium”) lip syncing along with these songs. Why this album made me do that, I can’t say. Even if I did have the talent to sing on stage in real life I wouldn’t have the guts, but I had my rock and roll fantasies. To this day though, if “Mr. Jones” comes on the radio, odds are I’m going to sing every word of it fer ya.

DAY 5: “Vs.” by Pearl Jam – It seems the fall of 1993 was a pivotal time in my development as a music fan. My DAY 4 pick came out about a month before this one, and while I had both of these on steady repeat, I also had a close friend playing Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “Doggystyle” in one ear, and my siblings playing Garth Brooks’ “In Pieces” in the other ear. I respect the poetry of rap and the story-telling of country, but rock and roll prevailed. It isn’t lost on me that had I leaned one way or the other, had I not heard something in Pearl Jam’s “Vs” I may be a very different person today. I strongly believe music can do that. Either one of those paths would have been fine. I just would have been different. The road not taken, you know? I credit this album with teaching me some expressive vocabulary like “dissident”, “indifference” and “listless.” I actually wrote a “song” just because I wanted to use that last one…for some reason. And with that, we’re one step away from a string of major discoveries for me. Stay tuned.

What the Beatles Taught Me About the Value of a Second Draft

The Beatles, according to many, were the greatest songwriters of all time. I’m not here to argue that. The point is, great as they were, it did not always come easy to them.

The melody for “Yesterday” famously came to Paul McCartney in a dream. So he didn’t forget it, he shoved in the first words he thought of, which happened to be “Scrambled eggs/Oh, my baby, how I love your legs,” and so on.

I’m serious.

When McCartney and John Lennon first wrote “Drive My Car” it included the chorus “I can give you golden rings/I can give you anything/baby I love you.”

It’s trite, and it’s a massive cliche, and the Beatles knew it. But they liked the tune, so they went back to the drawing board. In the end, what they came away with was an anthem for women’s empowerment. The “girl” in the song was the VIP and the guy was her driver.

I think we can all agree that the final drafts of both songs were far superior.

Later, in “Paperback Writer” McCartney sang “I can make it longer if you like the style/I can change it ’round but I wanna be a paperback writer.” Clearly he understood that you aren’t always finished when you think you are, and it isn’t always brilliant when you think it is. Sometimes you just need to run a comb through it and tweak a few lines here and there. Sometimes you need to run your manuscript or lyric sheet or whatever through a shredder and start over. Either way a second draft can bring a freshness, a vitality to the piece.

And that’s just the writing process. When they got into the studio, they, like most recording artists, would do multiple takes of a song. The demo was the rough draft and each ensuing take was another “draft.”

In 1968, George Harrison brought a song to the sessions for the White album called “Not Guilty.” It is well documented that the Beatles recorded about 100 takes of the song. Literally. Many of them were partial or just false starts. But still they kept at it until they got it right. To top it off, after all that work they didn’t put it on the album!

It disappeared until 1979 when Harrison put it on his own album.

“Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” began as a very different song than the one they eventually released. They tried countless variations, but it was missing something, particularly in the intro. Then one day Lennon walked into the studio, went straight to the piano and banged out what would become the song’s famous opening.

It took a lot of work, but in a moment of frustrations/inspiration, it morphed into one of their most beloved tunes.

In 1969, according to Lennon in typical hyperbolic form, the Beatles recorded “a hundred million” takes of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” yet another McCartney number that was not held in high esteem by Lennon or Harrison. McCartney was convinced it was strong enough to be a Beatles single.

In fact, not only did Lennon and Harrison not appreciate it, it is often cited by fans as one of their least favorite Beatles tracks.

That’s three very different outcomes for songs given multiple takes (drafts). But in every case, the result was appreciated by someone.

I’ll be honest. When I am writing on this blog, I don’t very often write a second draft. Especially with long posts like this, I edit and improve it as I go along. But I’m not letting it sit for a day or two and coming back to it with fresh eyes. I absolutely do that when I am writing for a client. Because they expect my best, for one thing, but also because I know that you can always improve a piece you’ve written. There is always going to be a more colorful, more insightful way of saying something.

But when it’s finished, you just know. And at some point you’ve got to release the album.

Foresight 2020

Hey, Happy 2020, alright?

When the new year comes, I don’t make a point of big personal statements, soaring platitudes about what I’ve learned in the past 365 or 366 days or where I see life taking me in the year to come. I try to trust that the past has been instilled in me and installed in my consciousness well enough that its lessons will serve me well, and I usually just like to see for myself what the next year will bring as it happens.

It’s not that January 1st is just another day for me. But I am not the type of person who thinks that somewhere between December 31st and January 1st we discover a “New You” for the New Year.

If you are that kind of person, that is great. No sincere effort toward personal betterment is ever wasted.

But for me, like many people, at the end of most years, I am simply ready for it to be over. Take 2019 for example. In just these few days since Christmas I have

  • been sick
  • had a minor skin wound
  • had part of my wheelchair break off, and
  • someone sat on the laptop on which I do my freelance blogging work screwing it up irrevocably, I fear. I’m working on seeing what I can do about that. Meantime, I’m writing this on an older laptop. I’m soldiering on the best I know how.

Yet guess what. After all of the frustrations numerated above, tonight I discovered that I’ve got a new gig writing about one of the things that I’ve always told myself I am meant to be writing about. The Beatles. I can’t wait to jump into 2020 with this project immediately in front of me.

The traditional concept of hindsight will nag at me saying that I should have been doing these types of projects for years now. But I know there is no point in thinking that way. It is here now. Hindsight is 2020 because you have the benefit of…well, hindsight. You’ve been there and done that already, so you have an informed perspective on events.

I want to approach the year 2020 like that, except going forward instead of looking back. I want to approach the future of Dailey Freelance with the confidence of someone who sets goals with an informed certainty.

I want you, the client to set expectations on my work for you with a certainty as though when I discuss what I’m going to do for you, you can consider it already done.

I want to cover every freelance subject I write on with the certainty of an expert, to make myself so well-informed on the subject that it will be the most natural thing in the world for me to write your content.

So let’s put 2019 behind us and move into 2020 with certainty.



Beatles Relics Come To Rochester – The Magical History Tour Exhibit

My wife and I rolled up to the Beatles Magical History Tour in Rochester tonight. I am not the type of bloke who can very often be told things about the Beatles that he didn’t already know. But this exhibit did just that.

The main thing I learned that I didn’t already know was that those thousands of fans who were waiting at the airport for the Beatles when they arrived in America in 1964 were paid to scream and wear Beatles shirts. I mean it’s not like a myth has been shattered or anything. I think a part of me knew that must have been the case.

And though I know that Beatles marketing went berserk in the spring of 1964, I was still really amused to see exactly how nuts it got. For instance, did you know there were Beatles nylons…for some reason? Among the thousands and thousands of trinkets, toys and snacks with the Beatles name and likeness on it, that has to be the weirdest one for me. None of this stuff was endorsed by the Beatles. Well, very little of it. At this point it was a commercialized free-for-all beyond anyone’s control.

Did you know that the band that became the Beatles existed longer before the “Ed Sullivan Show” appearance than it did after the show? It’s true. And I would have liked it if the exhibit included more from the very early days of the band variously known as the Quarrymen, Johnny and the Moondogs and other monikers until they settled on “Beatles.” But it was nice to see a section featuring some of early Beatles bassist Stuart Sutcliffe’s artwork. I think he would have been well-known in the art world even if he had not been a Beatle, if he’d lived beyond the age of 21.

Being a super Beatles fan that I am, in some ways the exhibit was underwhelming. There are too many things to name that I would have liked to see that weren’t included. But they only had so much space, and let’s face it, some of the things that I would have liked to see probably should stay wherever they are. Besides, I know that for anyone who is at least a little more casual about their fandom than I am, the exhibit will be fascinating.

It was fun to listen to some of the songs that inspired each of the Beatles growing up. That interactive experience, coupled with the 1950’s era radios installed in the exhibit allowed one to imagine they were a teen in Liverpool listening to Radio Luxembourg just like John, Paul, George and Ringo did.

Speaking of music, though…

I was feeling good vibes hearing songs like “I Saw Her Standing There” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand” near the beginning. But the farther you get into the exhibit, each segment has different Beatles songs playing, and the further you go, the more songs layer on top of one another until it feels like, to reference Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s bio, “a cellarful of noise.” Midway through the one song that stood out to me among all the simultaneously playing songs was “Tomorrow Never Knows” which is already a cacophony of sound by itself. So it, layered with songs from every Beatles era, it got to be a bit much. You wanted to celebrate their music. It’s indispensable for such an exhibit, obviously. But I couldn’t help thinking a better way may have been having the tour scheduled on the hour or something so that everyone going through was at the same section at the same time. That way once you’re past the “I Saw Her Standing There” section they could switch that off and turn on “Help!” or whatever it was. But you don’t want something like this to be so strictly regimented, so it is what it is.

Speaking of “Tomorrow Never Knows”, there is one whole open section draped with psychedelic colors wherein “Tomorrow Never Knows” plays, and it is there that you know beyond a doubt that you are about to walk into a new phase of Beatledom. It’s a trip.

The exhibit really had everything though. I laughed at the witty letters written by or about the Beatles, at the Beatles mop-top inspired comb and bobble heads, and at the pieces of John and Paul’s hair, and the piece of carpet that had been cut up from a hotel room because the Beatles had stayed there. I awed at the spot-on reconstruction – graffiti and all – of the Cavern Club stage, the venue where the band played hundreds of shows in 1961-62, and at the original drum kit of Colin Hanton, the Quarrymen’s drummer from 1957-58. I sat in silent reverie for a moment in front of the actual Double Fantasy album that John Lennon autographed for Mark David Chapman just hours before Chapman murdered Lennon.

Given that the exhibit was otherwise a joyous affair, it deflated the experience a bit seeing Lennon’s signature there, picturing him signing it, assuming he thought he was signing an album for another fan who loved him and his music.

That was the polar opposite experience from the series of guitars on display that had been used by the Beatles. There were signs telling what albums, songs or promo films the instruments were played on, and by which Beatle. You could take yourself back to that time and imagine what was going on in the studio while they worked on those projects. They even brought in Beatles producer George Martin’s clavichord which was used on the album “Revolver”, a set of chimes used on various Beatles songs which you could play with a stick, and even a sitar which I assume was George’s that you could “play”, sort of. So, you know…happy thoughts.

At the end of the exhibit there is a life-sized poster of the Abbey Road crossing where you can get your picture taken, and of course a ton of merchandise to peruse. Some unique Beatles t-shirts, hats and bags, and even some wicked expensive replica guitars. If you know me, you may not believe that I’ve never been big on Beatles memorabilia. For me, it’s just the music and the history of the band, and you get a load of each with the Magical History Tour. Check it out. Today and for the next few Mondays it is free, but even at the every day admission price of $15, it would be worth seeing. It is family-friendly, and wheelchair accessible.

When we got home I told my wife “You know if we ever went to Liverpool, I’d get out of my wheelchair and drag myself down all those stone steps to see the basement of the Cavern Club right?…But we’ll probably never go there.”

To which she replied “Not with that attitude.”

The Difference Between Christmas Songs and Winter Songs

I was going to wait until after Thanksgiving. But you know what? It’s snowing outside right now. And the whole point of this post is that, while you really ought to wait until after Thanksgiving to bust out the legitimate Christmas music, there are certain songs on which there should be no such restrictions. There are certain songs that have been labeled as “Christmas songs” for no other reason than they have winter themes.

If you do a Web search you’ll find lists of songs that don’t mention “Christmas” in them yet are clearly about Christmas. But here is a list of songs that make no mention of Christmas, Noel, Yule, or Santa Claus and have nothing to do with the religious aspect of the holiday.

And yet they are labeled as Christmas songs. It’s the equivalent of “Surfin’ Safari” by the Beach Boys being labeled an Independence Day song because it’s about summer.

So here we go.

5. Let It Snow – This is just a love song that takes place during a snow storm. That is all there is to it. A sweet romantic rendezvous that the weather is helping to extend. No funny business like in “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

4. Winter Wonderland – This, again, is simply a love song set in the winter. The difference is that in this one, the weather has not grown inclement and the lovers are out enjoying themselves, frolicking and playing in the snow and building a snowman. And…you know, making arrangements for said snowman to perform their future wedding ceremony. Nothing weird.

3. Jingle Bell Rock – I doubt very much that you’ve ever been to a Christmas party that was worth a damn at which you did not hear this song play at least once. It is definitely a song about a festive occasion, and references to the sleigh and “dancin’ and prancin'” are so close, but not, in and of themselves direct references to Santa Claus and his reindeer. And so, I say, this is not a Christmas song.

2. Frosty the Snowman – Growing up, I don’t remember ever having a school Christmas concert at which this song was not sung. It was probably one of the first songs I ever learned. But it makes no mention of anything essential to Christmas. That is, of course, if you disregard the theory that Frosty was an allegory for Jesus Christ. But we’re not going to go there, and even if we did, that scenario would make this more of an Easter song than anything. But I digress.

1. Jingle Bells – Yes! Jingle Bells, for crying out loud! It is pretty much the ultimate Christmas song except that it has absolutely nothing in it about Christmas whatsoever. Again, back in the days it was written, everyone used to ride around in sleighs pulled by animals. Not just the big, jolly red guy.

Crazy, huh? Well, now that you know, feel free to enjoy these songs any time you want to….PROVIDED THAT… it is at least technically winter, or if outside of the winter season, there is already/still snow on the ground. That is the one rule of winter songs. If there is but one solitary flake of snow on the ground, you’re golden.

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and have a great winter.

A Whole Batch o’ Satchmo: My Top 10 Favorite Louis Armstrong Songs.

This is a random post to demonstrate the kind of content Dailey Freelance might generate for you and your business. I mean if you’re a dog groomer, let’s say, then of course the subject matter would reasonably reflect that. And I look forward to writing about your dog groomer business.

But for the purposes of this post, I felt like writing about my favorite “Satchmo” songs.

I toyed with the idea of making #10 on this list a whole list of songs itself, just to demonstrate that when it comes to Louis, you can’t narrow it down to ten. But we’re going to stick to ten. And now you’ll never know what my also-ran songs were. You’ll be okay. So here we go.

10. Cornet Chop Suey – This is one of the early Louis Armstrong songs that were so mind-blowing when they came out for being almost impossible to put down in musical notation. It’s been done, but Louis put that whole undertaking to the test with this and various other songs (maybe those songs are the also-rans. Who knows?) There simply are not symbols to indicate what he’s doing on some of these songs.

9. Storyville Blues – The red-light district of New Orleans known as Storyville doesn’t exist anymore. In many ways its spirit still hangs in the air, lives on in the people of the city. This version by Armstrong has such a foggy, dreamlike quality to it, that listening to it today, it really does feel like a portal into another place and time. Building on that theme, unlike the other entries on this list, search as I may, I have no idea when it was recorded.

8. S.O.L. Blues – This is a gritty little ditty about bad luck. And yes, the S.O.L. stands for exactly what you think it stands for. There is no profanity in the song, but because of the title, along with the “out of luck” theme of the lyrics, Armstrong was made to re-record this later with a new title (Gully Low Blues) and different lyrics.

7. You Rascal, You – An ode to jealous rage, this song’s lyrics would probably not fly too well today. Lyrics aside, I’ve always heard this as a very early rock n’ roll song. That’s probably why the song has held up so well and there have been so many covers.

6. Ain’t Misbehavin’ – This one was made famous by Fats Waller. I myself became familiar with it through Leon Redbone, an artist who is not from New Orleans, but he should be. Anyway this one is a nice counterpart to the last one in that it is an ode to absolutely loyalty.

5. Riverside Blues – Much like Sidney Bechet’s “All of Me” it begins with a quite long tinkling piano intro, but like the Bechet tune, when Satch starts blowing his horn, he rips this song a new one.

4. A Kiss to Build A Dream On – This song has one of the most powerful solos he ever recorded. I always loved the way it seems to begin a beat or so before you expect it to. It’s almost like, per the lyrics, he’s saying what he has to say before his chance to do so expires.

3. On The Sunny Side Of The Street – Louis Armstrong is one of the only singers who could make such a gruff voice sound so warm, and this song is a prime example of him doing just that. He really does make you feel like you could “leave your worries.” In short, it’s one of those “everything’s gonna work out all right” songs.

2. When The Saints Go Marching In – Before Louis Armstrong recorded it in 1938, this was just a traditional, devotional song. He was the first to record it in a secular, popular music context. Eight decades later, it is practically synonymous with New Orleans. Now there are dozens of songs that are practically synonymous with New Orleans, but this was the first.

1. Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans? – I heard this song for the first time when I was about ten years old on a cassette tape of an Abbott and Costello radio broadcast. It was sung by Marilyn Maxwell. I didn’t learn till years later that Louis was the original artist. Maxwell and others sing “the moonlight on the bayou” in the song where Armstrong sang “Oh the Mardi Gras, the memories.” While the line Armstrong used immediately evokes images of the heart of New Orleans, to me “moonlight on the bayou” calls to mind more of a rural Louisiana feel.

The more I listened to this song over the years, though I’d never been there, eventually the song planted in my mind what I’d characterize as “reverse nostalgia” for the place. I did “miss” it, somehow. Now that I’ve been there, the sentiment has been confirmed.