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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Off-White Album

Unless you're a serious Beatles buff, this post may not be for you. And Beatles purists - you won't be happy.

Which songs would you leave on the White album if it were just a single LP? Since the double LP had thirty selections, you get to keep fifteen. And, how would you sequence the tunes? I'm open to re-considering my flawless choices and sequence should someone demonstrate they've given this matter the requisite thought. The judge of that? Who do you think?

Side 1: While My Guitar Gently Weeps (lead vocal -Harrison); Revolution (Lennon); I Will (McCartney); Yer Blues (Lennon); Helter Skelter (McCartney); Piggies (Harrison); Dear Prudence (Lennon)

Side 2:  Birthday (McCartney); Happiness Is A Warm Gun (Lennon); Blackbird (McCartney); Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey (Lennon); Savoy Truffle (Harrison); Julia (Lennon); Back In The USSR (McCartney); *Goodnight* (Starr)

* Only if we can dump most of the strings - piano and acoustic guitar would be much better, along with McCartney playing one of his great bass lines on standup with a bow. If that can't be managed, then my Off-White album closes instead with "I'm So Tired" - another Lennon vocal; sorry Ringo.

This post was directly inspired by a scene from "Boyhood" when the father (played by Ethan Hawke) gives his teenage son (Ellar Coltrane) a mix tape comprised of songs by each of the Beatles as solo artists. He calls it "the Black Album"; gotta love any screenplay with that brilliant idea.     

7 comments:

  1. This is somewhat irrelevant since I've no strong opinions in reaction to your selections above. Just wanted to share that my niece's School of Rock in PA just did a Beatles show. Your guitar student came with me to experience it and enjoyed the fact that she knew a few of the songs because of her time with you. Thank you for spreading your enthusiasm! d.

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  2. Side 1: While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Sexy Sadie, Blackbird, I'm So Tired, Why Don't We Do It In the Road, Happiness is a Warm Gun, Goodnight
    Side 2: Martha My Dear, Dear Prudence, Back in the USSR, Birthday, Yer Blues, Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey, Mother Nature's Son, Revolution. Signed, Michael A. Nonymous

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  3. OK, Here's my off-white Album:
    Side 1: Mellow - Dear Prudence, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Martha My Dear, I'm So Tired, Blackbird, I Will, Julia
    Side 2: Rockin Out - Back in the USSR, Happiness is a Warm Gun, Piggies, Why Don't We Do It In The Road, Birthday, Helter Skelter, Revolution

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  4. The following are the songs that I would choose for my Beatles “off white” album... the songs Ive eliminated to me are their “angry/break up “ songs because this album was the “beginning of the end” and I think some of those songs were more or less a “power struggle”.... I’ve also eliminated Ringo’s songs for obvious reasons .... I’ve left them in the same order so I wouldn’t have to re-train my brain
    Side 1
    Back In USSR
    Dear Prudence
    Ob La Di
    While My Guitar
    Martha My Dear
    I’m So Tired
    Blackbird
    Rocky Raccoon
    Side 2
    I Will
    Julia
    Birthday
    Mother Nature’s Son
    Sexy Sadie
    Revolution
    Savoy Truffle

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  5. For my list, I screened to include only the songs I could remember without reference to the record. That left me with about half, and it means that I may be omitting some songs that I would enjoy if I heard them again in my maturity. This is not my favorite album of theirs. I like Rubber Soul and Revolver best. I also like the early efforts with Lennon singing in a blues vein.
    1. Don’t Pass Me By (first because it’s catchy)
    2. Happiness is a Warm Gun (because it’s a change of tempo)
    3. The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
    4. Martha My Dear
    5. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
    6. Back in the USSR (Yay, Beach Boys)
    7. Blackbird
    8. Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey
    9. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (I used to do this one in a band)
    10. Mother Nature’s Son
    11. Revolution (11-13 are to get you dancing)
    12. Birthday
    13. Helter Skelter
    14. I’m So Tired segueing into 15 Good Night (for thematic reasons)
    Since I restricted my choices to songs that have stuck with me over the years, probably because of the melodies, my impression is that this list contains a lot of songs with poor, confusing, or meaningless lyrics (to the extent I remember them). In that group, I’d include 2, 3, 8, and 12.

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  6. I’m probably one of the few people who accepts the White Album for what it is and what it meant at the time. For me, it marks the beginning of another Beatle era. The “yeah, yeah, yeah” phase gave way to their “renaissance” era with brilliant melodies, harmonies and subject matter, giving way to the lavish psychedelic, and experimental production found on Revolver, Sgt. Pepper, and Magical mystery tour, returning back to their rock and roll roots with the White Album and continuing forward with that style through Abbey Road and Let It Be.
    I remember the first time my daughter, born 20 years after the release of the album, heard it. She was so taken aback and amazed over the grit, energy and darkness,of the album. She only knew the Beatles as the “cutesy, sugary sweet pop phenom”. The White Album showed her another dimension of the Beatles and has since become her favorite fab four recording.
    When you look at timing i.e. Revolver being released in 1966, Sgt. Pepper in the spring of1967 followed by Magical mystery tour in the fall of 67, I think the fans had high expectations for the next release. Then out came the gritty double album that sounded nothing like its predecessors. No one knew what to make of it, so they passed judgement based on those previous records.
    I believe that if just two songs were omitted from the album, there would be no double/ single album debate controversy.
    The one song everyone brings up, Revolution#9 dabbles in post-modern classical/ minimalist music experimentation, emulating the popular artists of the time in that genre, such as Steven Reich and Pierre Henry and Philip Glass. We just couldn’t understand it. Should that have that been on the album? Perhaps not. It might have been something worthy of a Lennon solo disc. Next on the delete list would be Wild Honey Pie. Fortunately, it’s only 53 seconds.
    Copy the album on a CD or USB stick without those two songs and I feel you’ll find a coherent, strong offering in the White Album.
    Sure, there is some weaker songs like Rocky Racoon, Bungalow Bill , Piggies and Don’t Pass me by; but doesn’t the proclaimed masterpiece “Abby Road “ have Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, Octopus’ Garden and Oh Darling? All weak songs, but all propped up by the strong tracks on the record.
    Give it some thought ,listen again and let the debates begin!


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    Replies
    1. OK Larry, you now have the distinction of publishing the longest comment ever on my blog. Interesting perspective on the White Album, even if it's one I don't share. We'll also have t agree to disagree about both "Piggies" (which made the cut for my Off-White album) being one of the "weaker" songs and more significantly, about "Oh, Darlin'" on Abbey Road, which for my money, is one of McCartney's great moments, far superior to "Martha My Dear" or "Honey Pie", two of the White Album songs I chose to not include on my single album. Anyway, thanks for reading and commenting. Hope to see you again sometime in the future and would love it if you took a peek at my blog sometime in the future.

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