Beatles with the Maharishi

Beatles with the Maharishi
Beatles with the Maharishi

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Sweet Lord

I think with George it started off as traditional, as if it were a Christian song referring to the Lord as Jesus Christ. However, as in the Beatles tradition common with John and Paul, George's song takes a bit of a twist in the middle, saying that the Lord is Krishna and not Christ and in doing so making it a Krishna rather than a Christian song.
It could have been symbolic in the way in which George was raised as a Christian and later rediscovered his own spirituality in Krishna.
George had developed an interest in Indian philosophy in the mid 1960s. He had experimented with drugs, particularly LSD. Many users of LSD have a religious experience while intoxicated. They feel a oneness with God. George's wife, actress and model Patti Boyd, was also interested in transcendental meditation and convinced George to try TM with the Maharishi. In the spring of 1968 all of the Beatles went to India, but it was George who became the most influenced by TM.
My personal opinion is that the Hare Krishnas are very aggressive in converting people to their religion. In the 1960s I can remember the Hare Krishnas were in the city converting hippies and this song came out in 1971 at the height of all of that.
I like the Beatles like twist of the song. It starts off as Lord as in Jesus, but then it changes, twists into opening up the listener to other lords such as Krishna. You can think that Jesus and Krishna are one and the same or different. Whether it is hallelujah or hare krishna it is all the same.
It is not anything sinister like getting people hooked on Hare Krishna. It is about showing how we are basically all the same, despite the outward appearances of being different.
So you don't have to cover your kid's ears when it comes on the radio. And if they want to sing along with Hare Krishna they are not going to run off to an ashram. But they might be a bit friendlier to the Indian kids in their class and not treat them like they are strange and unusual. So it's not about getting a person hooked on anything but about recovery from the addictions of hate and preset prejudices.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Beatles White Album part 1

I can remember people asking me about it when I was younger. "What do you mean that you don't have the White Album?" I was 12 years old and I was reluctant to get an album that was so expensive, a double album and not sure about the number of hit records on it. I had their Greatest Hits albums, the Red and Blue double disc sets, and the White Album tracks were on the Blue record.
The Beatles learned that people were calling their album "the White Album" and it was never the official title of the double disc set. It was simply titled "The Beatles." It is probably the most ecclectic and bizarre album that the Beatles produced. Paul was noodling at the piano doing songs that ranged from Broadway musical numbers to folk music and then competing with the Who with a blaring rocker called "Helter Skelter." George was searching for answers in "Long, Long," made social commentary in "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" aided by Beatle friend Eric Clapton on guitar. Ringo was given a lullaby to sing from John "Goodnight" and added his own composition "Don't Pass Me By." John, the most bizarre creator on the most bizarre of Beatle albums, concocted an avant gard piece called "Revolution 9," attributed to his new girlfriend the conceptual artist Yoko Ono.
The White Album represents the fragments of what the Beatles had become. The group was no longer functioning cohesively but was wafting away at remote ends of EMI studios recording their individual pieces with random inclusions of other Beatles, guests and other recording artists and session musicians. At one point, the idea for the album cover was to take the four included photos of the Beatles and put them in the windows of a doll's house as an ode to Ibsen's famous drama "A Doll's House." Interestingly enough, Ibsen's play was about a woman who was dysfunctional in a relationship with a man that was still her husband but was a man whom she no longer loved. In much the same way, the Beatles were still a band but recording as solo artists with various band members contributing bits and pieces. They did record some tracks together, but the overall cohesion of the Beatles was lacking.
Later when the Beatles split up in 1970, they attributed their demise from tensions that heated up during the recording of the White Album.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Baby You're a Rich Man

Baby, You're a Rich Man
I read somewhere, it could have been in the Ray Coleman book "Lennon" that John had a version in which he sang about Brian Epstein and he said "baby you're a rich fag Jew." The song was about Brian Epstein and the refererence to "you keep all your money in a big brown bag" was a reference to how Brian would accept money from concert promoters in brown paper bags to avoid paying taxes, so it was this loose, undeclared cash. The Beatles had a nasty time in Manila and Brian and Mal Evans somehow forgot to take the brown paper bags into the plane with them or they were confiscated at the airport. They had been told to perform for Imelda Marcos for a royal performance and it was their day off and they never did that performance and got roughed up at the airport.
Brian was depressed after the touring stopped. The Beatles wanted to concentrate on songwriting and were using film and videotape to promote their hit records rather than through personal appearances. Brian hadn't foreseen this and thought of the records as a novelty to promote the touring rather than the other way around that the touring was done to market the records.
Ray Coleman implied that John's comments on the unreleased version of this song hurt Brian. But that would be far too simplistic.
Brian was a very complicated person but that was what John Lennon liked about him. John had often frequented the transvestite bars in Hamburg. He didn't care for the other managers that they had. Brian was just obsessed with the Beatles. They meant everything to Brian. If you know of people who are Beatlemaniacs and find themselves just lost in the hysteria of what they were at that time, Brian was one of those people and he was their manager.
Brian had to keep his homosexuality in the closet. He literally had to hide his love away. He would have trysts with boys here and there. The more famous he became, the more he was used and exploited. He enjoyed being roughed up and then to make matters worse, he would be swindled by his partners who threatened to report him to the press unless they were paid. That was his sex life. He never had a boyfriend. The only man that ever loved him as a person was John Lennon and he was married and a straight man who was just bi curious.
I think if the Beatles were a working band today, a guy like Brian could have had a life out in the open being gay and all of that. But then it wouldn't be the Beatles then, would it.
The fact that back then, being gay was illegal gave Brian an appeal to John Lennon.
John was always ironic, puns, so whatever he wrote should not be taken literally. John hated the beautiful people. He hated them and thought the beautiful people were boring and square. John like Brian because he was like the drag queens in Hamburg and he had this side of him that he liked getting roughed up and he had gambling addictions and so forth. So you can picture John nudging Brian as if to say "how does it feel to be one of them, eh?" and that's with the assumption that he wasn't one of them.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Eat, Pray, Beatles

Having seen the Julia Robert's movie "Eat, Pray, Love," I could not help but think of the Beatles meditating in India under the direction of the Maharishi. They had been into drugs and now they were getting into Eastern Philosophy. Whether they were trend setters or merely followers, the Beatles were always hip what was happening at the time. The sixties were a time to find oneself and to find God. He wasn't found on any of the LSD trips that they took but the idea of trying to find him was there. Who is God? Is there some supernatural force that is greater than what we have on Earth? John had mocked Western organized religions by stating that "the Beatles are bigger than Jesus" and predicted that Christianity would fade away. Receiving death threats from the Ku Klux Klan didn't deter him to apologize for what he had said. He did offer an explanation. He was not "knocking Jesus as a person or God as a thing." It was more of an explanation of what he had said rather than an apology for what he had said. Now, the man who had mocked Jesus was asking an Indian guru for the answer.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sour Milk Sea

Has any of you ever heard of the song "Sour Milk Seas"?
George Harrison wrote it in 1968. He had signed Jackie Lomax on to Apple Records at the time and I think he wrote the song "Sour Milk Sea" for him. George recorded it from the Esher demo tapes recorded at George's house in the Spring of 1968 and it is included along with many of the tracks that were later re-recorded and finalized at EMI for the Beatles White Album. It is not one of George's best recorded pieces and I have never heard Jackie Lomax's version of the song. George's voice sounds thin on the high notes. Not one of his best for his vocal range. "Not Guilty" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" were better for George's vocal range.
The Beatles recorded a version of the song, or should I say, George Harrison recorded a version of the song at his house with the Beatles backing him up on the recording. It was used as a demo recording for Jackie Lomax and was never officially released on a Beatles album. Come to think of it, it never made it on the Anthology CDs either.
The Beatles Unsurpassed Demos .Yellow Dog Records.
The Beatles Unplugged. Alternative Edge Productions.
Jackie Lomax
George Harrison's demo recoring with the Beatles at his home in Esher

Saturday, April 17, 2010

If John Lennon was alive today, how would he feel about what's happening currently?

Nationalized Health Care. The Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The economy. Gay marriage. Sex abuse among the clergy. And many other issues. John Lennon was the outspoken and controversial Beatle. He was the Beatle who said "the Beatles are bigger than Jesus Christ." He was considered one of the most dangerous men in America according to the FBI who wanted him deported. His marriage to Japanese conceptual artist Yoko Ono was hated by many Beatle fans who associated her relationship with John as the reason the Beatles broke up. John was criticized for mocking Jesus in his song "The Ballad of John and Yoko" and for his no religion comments in his song "Imagine."
He was not the only songwriter who spoke out about the issues of his time. But because John Lennon said it, more people were affected positively or negatively by his comments in interviews and in his songs.
In Revolution, John spoke about the student protests. "You say you've got a real solution, well you know. we'd all love to see the plan." What would John think of the thousands of pages of Obama's Nationalized Health Care Reform plan?
And in Imagine, John's comments are still too controversial to understand. Imagine no countries, no religion, no possessions. Back then it was the War in Vietnam. Today it's the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Different places but essentially the same line of reasoning. Defending our country in someone else's country, American soldiers killed, wounded for complex reasons rather than basic reasons. "Imagine there's no countries... no need to kill or die for... a brotherhood of man." We still don't get it. Could it ever be possible? No religion, no countries, one world economy and peace and solving real problems rather than manufactured problems?
In one of his last albums John in Double Fantasy seemed content to "Watch the Wheels" go around. He was done with trying to speak out about the issues. But he did say a comment in Playboy magazine that struck a chord with me even to this day.
"Don't expect Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan or John Lennon or Yoko Ono or Bob Dylan or Jesus Christ to come and do it for you. You have to do it yourself. "
Well said. Rest in peace John.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


I was in Naples, Florida a few weeks ago. I was in an Irish pub, McCabe's and they had a singer/guitarist there. The audience requested a few Beatles songs but the musician wouldn't play most of the requests. Finally he settled on "Revolution." That was a great song, Revolution. John had been involved with Yoko Ono and he was really starting to come out as far as speaking his mind about politics. John had been chiding the late Beatle manager Brian Epstein about speaking out against the Vietnam War during their last tour. Brian told them not to comment on it. John was in enough trouble about his Jesus comments. "The Beatles are bigger than Jesus now." And then he said "Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary." The Ku Klux Klan sent the Beatles a death threat to their hotel. At a concert down South, Memphis I believe, John and George winced when a boy lit off a pack of firecrackers at a Beatle concert. They looked at each other to see if one of them had been shot. George said "America was mad. It had only been a few years since Kennedy was killed." Revolution was recorded in several forms. At George's home in Esher, a demo was recorded with John singing double tracked and playing on an acoustic guitar. George had a four track recorder so a few overdubs were done. For the most part, this first version of Revolution had a very homey feel to it like the Beatles were jamming in your living room. So cool. Later on the White Album "Revolution 1" was recorded. It first it was much longer. Yoko was reading a passage. John added in sound effects that he later transferred over on to "Revolution 9." He can be heard vomiting, having orgasms, doing primal screams, and all such audio avante garde influenced by Yoko Ono and her conceptual performance art. This extended version of Revolution was hated by the other Beatles. Paul was doing multiple takes of "Obla Di, Obla Da" as well as writing songs and producing demos for Mary Hopkin and a group he reformed called Badfinger. For Mary Hopkin, Paul produced a demo called "Goodbye." For Badfinger he produced "Come and Get It." The song writing credits were to Lennon and McCartney but Paul wrote and produced the songs for his new found talent.
John was not sure how he wanted go with the intention of his Revolution. He sang "don't you know that you can count me out-in!" He didn't know if he was for or against a Revolution. He was very much involved with Yoko at the time. He came back from India disillusioned from the Maharishi. He suspected the Indian guru of trying to seduce some women in the Beatles entourage. But if the truth be told, he was using that rumor as an excuse to get back to London to be with Yoko and take drugs. He had been experimenting with LSD and he missed the trips. Yoko was taking heroine and soon John would be showing up at Beatles recording sessions in a lethargic state. Paul would try in desperation to rally the Beatles to do the next take of Obladi Oblada and John would simply smile at him and laugh and as soon as he had the chance would go off with Yoko. Yoko would follow John into the bathroom. She never left him alone. She was sick and put a bed in the recording studio. The other Beatles were livid. Before Yoko, the Beatle wives and girlfriends were never allowed in the recording studio. Now here was Yoko, not only present in the studio, but sleeping in the studio and making critical comments. "Beatles do this. Paul play piano like this." Paul was shocked. Here was John's bird telling him how to play music.
Later on, when Paul recorded "Hey Jude" as a new Beatles single. John decided to re-record "Revolution" on the other side of the single making the disc a Double A single. Two hits on one disc. Paul's Hey Jude on one side. John's Revolution on the other side. He brought in Nicky Hopkins to play piano. Special care was taken to produce the lead guitar that was recorded directly into the mixing board. John overloaded the circuits and created a distinctive distortion sound. The opening machine gun sounding guitar riff is his signature. John Lennon was breaking the studio rules again. Many of the recording artists of that late 1960s time period were producing loud distorted guitar sounds. Eric Clapton. Jimi Hendrix. Now John was adding his own sound. He would produce a similar sound with "Cold Turkey" as a solo artist with Yoko and then aided by Eric Clapton, a friend of John and George. But here in "Revolution" the sound is John's sound. It is the machine gun of a Revolution, loud and violently abrasive. It was the perfect backdrop of student anti-war protests, LSD trips, hippies sleeping in city parks, people like John and Yoko living in sin and without a care in the world. The straight world was in shock. Who was this long haired freak wearing women's glasses sleeping with a Japanese woman? It was John Lennon. He was crazy and every kid loved him and every kid's parent hated him. He didn't need to say that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. Soon a man named Charles Manson would be telling his followers to listen to the Beatles albums and listen to Revolution. And Charlie Manson and his followers thought he was Jesus.