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Something About the Beatles

Author: Parading Press

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Hosted by award-winning author Robert Rodriguez, Something About The Beatles is an intelligent but entertaining examination of The Beatles' music and career. Smart, funny and surprising - just like the Fab Four.
219 Episodes
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216: Dear Friend

216: Dear Friend

2021-06-0501:30:25

There's been loads of speculation as to the exact nature of the friendship between John Lennon and Paul McCartney; during and after The Beatles. And when I say "loads," it runs the gamut from former bandmates who recalled each other fondly from a distance to something encompassing a physical nature. What does seem clear is that between the two of them, while Paul's descriptions of their relationship stayed pretty constant, John's went from demonizing Paul in print and song to describing him as his best (male) friend. Somewhere in there lies a truth, and to help unearth it, my guest today is journalist and author Glenn Greenberg, who recently penned an 80th birthday magabook on John. 
215: Four Sides of a Square

215: Four Sides of a Square

2021-05-0401:59:35

In this discussion, Dr. Duncan Driver (SATB 205, Fab4ConJam, One Sweet Dream podcast) springboard off of the title Paul McCartney quote, in which he asserted that each Beatle was as important as another to the group's success. We explore the shifting power dynamics within the group and the question of leadership; we also discuss Duncan's thesis of the four distinctive elements of the Beatles collective identity: live performers - singles makers - album makers - songwriters.
214: Beatle Production

214: Beatle Production

2021-04-2501:43:481

In this episode, we examine the process of a song becoming a record, as heard through the ears of those in the producer's chair. Luther Russell, previous SATB guest and Fab4ConJam star, has operated as a composer, performer, collaborator, engineer and producer and is therefore more than qualified to offer his insights as a musical idea gets transformed into a production and how creative decisions are made along the way.    
My guest Tim English (Sounds Like Teen Spirit, Popology) discuss his newest book, examining the artists that John was listening to in the last few years of his life and how certain artists and records influenced the recordings he (and Yoko) made during the summer of 1980. Some of the acts we've known about for awhile (B-52s, Lene Lovich, etc) but many others were less obvious (The Selecter, Christopher Cross, The Doobie Brothers).  John Lennon: 1980 Playlist is out now.  
Back in SATB 205, Dr. Duncan Driver (showcased 2+xs at Fab4ConJam) and discussed his article on the timeline to The Beatles break-up.  In this episode, returning guest Gary Wenstrup and I dissect the subject further: when exactly did The Beatles - or individual members within - decide they were quits exactly? The answer - like so much else in Fab history - is not as straightforward as you might think. 
It was in 1968 that a young Canadian filmmaker, seeking solace in TM for a broken heart, was befriended by The Beatles in Rishikesh during their immersive study with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In 2000, Paul Saltzman published his wonderfully immediate photos in a book (The Beatles in Rishikesh), later augmented and re-published as The Beatles in India in 2018. 2020 saw the release of his documentary, Meeting The Beatles in India - a film that brings together others who were there (Pattie and Jenny Boyd) as well as the real "Bungalow Bill," Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn and filmmaker David Lynch, a major booster of TM.  You can check out Paul's website here, and see the film as well as participate in a Q&A with Paul at the first Fab4ConJam on February 21, 2021.  Details: fab4conjam.com   
210: The Beatles 1962 - 1970

210: The Beatles 1962 - 1970

2021-01-2402:43:341

Big things take much time to execute: both this episode and the long-awaited event I've been teasing for the last few months.... First: the new show. SATB 210 features n guests and no host; instead, it depicts in rigid but scaled down time, the unfolding of their career from the October 5, 1962 issue of "Love Me Do" to the May 1970 issue of "The Long and Winding Road" as a final US single. What lies between is the sounds of their hectic pace, with interviews, shows, projects, radio, film and TV populating their days. There is no greater way to get the context of their hard work and success than experiencing it in context.    (Want to hear a version, Beatles only? Click here . ) Next: the really big show - welcome to the first Fab4ConJam, coming February 20-21, 2021. It's two days of global community, featuring speakers, panels and music celebrating the world's greatest unifying force.  Check out the site now for details as they unfold.  
209: The Wish List

209: The Wish List

2020-12-2202:04:46

In which Luther Russell and myself detail our picks for the things in the vault known to exist, group and solo, that we one day hope for Apple to release, in well-presented packages. This episode was the live round-the-world broadcast we did from Chicago back in September 2020, powered by in.live (thanks David Simon!) and that is why you get to hear a bit of the city in the background, along with loads of rare audio detailing what we're talking about.  Happy Holidays to all and onward and upward in 2021!
If you aren't already aware of this veteran jazz/blues guitarist's Youtube channel with loads of deconstructions of their music, by all means, check it out. Mike has been performing and recording for decades (18 solo albums), as well as with artists ranging from Phil Keaggy to Micky Dolenz. Like so many others, his life was changed on the evening of February 9th, 1964. Much of the what he absorbed beginning then became the basis for his career, which he now shares in the form of informative videos.  In this discussion, he offers his insights into what The Beatles' primary guitar players were up to and the basis of their brilliance.  Check out MikePachelli.com, and his most recent project - High Standards - which features Tony Levin and Danny Gottleib.
This episode features a conversation between Luther Russell and I with producer John Leckie - if you aren't familiar with his name, you may be with the acts he's worked with (working backwards chronologically): My Morning Jacket - New Order - Radiohead - Robyn Hitchcock and The Egyptians - The Posies - Stone Roses - XTC - Dukes of Stratosphear -  Human League - Simple Minds - Magazine - Be Bop Deluxe - Wizzard - Mott The Hoople - Barclay James Harvest - Syd Barrett - Pink Floyd - Roy Harper - Paul McCartney and Wings.  For the purposes of our discussion, we focus on three key albums he worked on at the onset of his career: the pair of Plastic Ono Band releases by John and Yoko, and All Things Must Pass. It's those first two that we examine in detail, fifty years on (well, a little Pink Floyd too). John has the stories and the insights - it was our honor to host him (and keep him from his dinner).    
206: Performing The Beatles

206: Performing The Beatles

2020-11-1001:48:03

Returning guest Jack Petruzzelli of The Fab Faux has been playing Beatles music onstage all over the world since 1998. In this conversation, he goes into detail about what goes into the effort to replicate heavily-produced music not necessarily intended for live performance, by a core of five members. Given the current conditions, the band is on hold, but Jack can be seen performing online on his Facebook page ("Thursday night service"November 19th 8pm ET), as well as his interactive Beatle class: https://www.gowanusmusicclub.com/beatles-101   Thanks to Joe Chinnici for recording the Fab Faux in New York for the Sirius XM Beatles Channel.
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205: Countdown to Break-Up

205: Countdown to Break-Up

2020-10-3001:40:10

With so many conflicting accounts and blame laid for the series of events that led to The Beatles' split, it's hard to detect a coherent narrative that, fifty years on, makes any sense as to exactly what went down and how. But Dr. Duncan Driver, in an article published earlier this year in Beatlefan magazine, has laid out a timeline detailing the sequence of events, from which some measure of patterns emerge. You can (and should) read the full-length piece here.  We discuss the direction that things were moving in during the last years of the group (and past that point, too), toward a greater understanding of how events played out, maybe not exactly as we'd been led to believe. 
204: The Guest List Part 2

204: The Guest List Part 2

2020-10-2101:53:05

Back in May 2020, my guest Gary Wenstrup and I presented the first half of our conversation, where we offered up our respective lists of what people in Beatle world we would like to be able to sit down and interview: insiders who knew The Beatles well - worked with and for them - and essentially operated as part of the infrastructure; people who haven't been tapped out as interview subjects.  Here are more names we came up with of folks still among the living that may end up on the show yet - time will tell.  Gary is a lecturer and adjunct professor at College of DuPage, specializing in Beatles and classic rock.     PS: Guess who's on an upcoming episode of the Fans on the Run podcast?  Ethan Alexanian and I just had a lengthy sit down.   Also, remember Luther Russell evoking the Yesterday and Today podcast? He and I both contributed to their upcoming 100th episode. 
As you may recall: back in July, SATB featured the first part of a conversation covering The Beatles in the studio in 1968, during the White Album sessions and just before. Here's the continuation, featuring SATB semi-regular Luther Russell (singer-songwriter/producer/performing artist). As always, the talk goes where it goes, covering a lot of Beatle ground.  Jerry's volume 5 of The Beatles Recording Reference Manual series will be out later this year; it covers all of the 1969 recordings, including the Let It Be sessions, the Yellow Submarine soundtrack and Abbey Road.    Luther's music here: https://lutherrussell.bandcamp.com/ 
Coming on what would've been the 80th anniversary of his birth, this collection of Lennon material - Beatles and solo - is being presented by a number of artists associated with Beatles music, among them The Weeklings and The Gripweeds. Consider this one a "new phase" SATB show - the first to feature a guest host: Tom Frangione. You may know him from his writings in Beatlefan magazine - his role twice annually at The Fest for Beatles Fans, or as one of the three hosts heard on the Sirius XM Beatles channel program, Fab Fourum. His guests on this episode are JEM Records' president Marty Scott; veteran musician Glen Burtnik (Beatlemania, Styx, The Orchestra) of The Weeklings, and Kurt Reil (The Gripweeds). They discuss the process of putting this collection together, including song selection as well as the process of arranging such familiar material into something fresh.    http://www.jemrecordings.com/ 
202: Sylvie Simmons

202: Sylvie Simmons

2020-09-2501:35:11

You may know her as the award-winning veteran rock journalist (Creem, Kerrang!, Mojo, and so forth) who also penned the best-selling biography of Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen (2011), as well as Debbie Harry's memoir, Face It (2019). But as a music-stricken child growing up in London during the 1960s, she became what she'd describe later as "Beatle damaged" at an early age.  Here, Sylvie recounts that backdrop when music was absolutely everything; so much so that, starting in 2014 and after a successful career as one of rock's most thoughtful scribes, she became a recording artist: first with Sylvie and now - six years later - Blue on Blue. Her musical endeavors have won her further praise, but on this show, she offers up her perspective and insights on the Beatles as a group and solo, through the eyes (and ears) of a journalist and fan.    Her books, archive and interviews can be found here: http://sylviesimmons.com/ 
In which this returning SATB fave (The Beatles and The Historians) and I expand from previous discussions focusing on books to cover the media specifically around the time of the break-up, and how the nonsensical "John vs Paul - who was the greater genius?" discussion got fueled and put forth into the world. The role of Allen Klein in their break-up is also discussed, in this two-hour conversation that drills deep into the dynamic between these two and hour the world viewed it.  
For SATB's 200th episode (more or less), we're doing something special: returning with guest photographer/writer Ethan Russell, one of this most storied individuals in rock history through his iconic visual documentation of The Beatles, the Rolling Stones and The Who, to name three (scores more as well). Ethan was the official rock photographer of the Rock 'n' Roll Circus, the Let It Be sessions, the final Beatles group photo shoot, as well as behind tons of other classic images, most of which have been gathered up and published in his latest book, Photographs - a singular monograph of superlative visuals presented in stunning quality. It's available only at his website: www.ethanrussell.com  I spoke with Ethan last year and this follow on covers more details of his work with the Fabs: his impressions of them individually - of Yoko - of the Let It Be project and Michael Lindsay-Hogg, as well as of Peter Jackson (of whose upcoming work Ethan got a peek). Ethan came of age in San Francisco and went to London in 1967 - within a year he was in the orbit of the top British acts of the day. As a chronicler of the times, his work and observations are impeccable.   
In which my returning guest and I discuss this: what if The Beatles' songwriting credits were more accurately apportioned to reflect actual significant contributions from not-credited bandmates? Their recording career began with a singular "McCartney-Harrison" credit for "In Spite of All The Danger" - one can make the case (and we do) that their career was book-ended by "I Me Mine," which might have rightfully have bore the same credit.  Anyway, as always, it leads down many rabbit holes... 
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Letícia Stofel

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Feb 5th
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