On January 30, 1969, the Beatles went to the rooftop of Apple headquarters for their first live performance in more than two years. The impromptu show continued for 42 minutes until the band was shut down by the police.
The Rooftop Performance
The performance was in some ways a last gasp of a group that was coming apart. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were trying to get back to their roots with some help from keyboardist Billy Preston.
Of course, the performance did not save the band. But it gave the world one more glimpse at the genius that was The Beatles. And they rocked.
The rooftop concert was part of The Beatles’ work on a project that was entitled Get Back at the time. The album would ultimately be entitled Let It Be, as would the film that included 21 minutes of the performance.
Currently, the full performance is not available for embedding, but below is the Beatles performing “Don’t Let Me Down” on the roof.
Release of Let It Be
The Beatles released the album from the sessions, Let It Be, in May 1970. The release came soon after the band had broken up.
Let It Be was the final studio album released by The Beatles. However, they recorded their album Abbey Road after Let It Be. But they released Let it Be earlier, releasing it in September (U.K.) and October (U.S.) 1969.
On August 3, 1965, the Beatles released the album Help! in the United Kingdom, releasing it ten days later in the United States on August 13. During this time in their careers, the Fab Four were reducing their promotional appearances. So they only appeared on only one U.K. television show to promote the new album, Blackpool Night Out.
ABC TV made Blackpool Night Out, filming the show at the ABC Theatre in Blackpool, a summer seaside resort city with other connections to John Lennon. The live broadcast with the Beatles ran from 9.10 pm to 10.05 pm.
The Beatles performed several songs on the Sunday, August 1, 1965 show. They started with “I Feel Fine,” “I’m Down,” “Act Naturally,” and “Ticket To Ride.”
Next, Paul McCartney sang “Yesterday” by himself in the song’s first performance on British television. The band returned, with Lennon carrying flowers and joking, “Thank you Ringo, that was wonderful.” The band closed with “Help!” Below you may hear the audio of part of the 1965 show.
Although some thought the video of the show was lost, a video of the show popped up on YouTube recently. Unfortunately, they had to take it down for copyright issues.
The album Anthology 2 (1996) included fours songs from this performance, “I Feel Fine,” “Ticket To Ride,” “Yesterday,” and “Help!”
What is your favorite Beatles TV appearance? Leave your two cents in the comments.
The 2000 release of number one songs by the Beatles, The Beatles’ 1, is getting a new updated release in a couple of different forms with music videos and the group’s short films. Among the video content, the new Beatles 1+ package includes the Beatles’ original video for “A Day in the Life” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967).
The video for “A Day in the Life” shows the playful side of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr. The video footage of them hanging out with friends like the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards also includes shots of an orchestra during the 1967 recording sessions. Check out the video for “A Day in the Life.”
Sometimes I hate the invasiveness of new technology into our lives, but other times I figure we are pretty lucky. One of those times was when after watching Enemy (2013) I realized I could immediately seek help from the Internet in decoding what Jake Gyllenhaal saw. And recently, while watching Boyhood (2014), there was a scene with a mix CD where I thought, “I bet I’ll be able to find the track listings for the pretend CD on the Internet.” And, of course, I did.
In Boyhood, there is a scene where Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) gives his son Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) a mix CD he made, called The Beatles’ Black Album. The father explains that it is a compilation of the post-Beatles solo work by George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr. He tells how the music fits perfectly together, illustrating what albums we might have heard had the Beatles never broken up, continuing to work together in their mature years. We get a glimpse of the track list in the movie, and I then spent the next several minutes missing what was happening in the film because I was wondering what is on the CD.
The CD, however, was not created just for the movie. Ethan Hawke first made The Black Album for his daughter, even writing liner notes explaining his choices and why he made the album. Fortunately for us curious folks, he reworked the notes a little bit more and released them to the world via the Internet, along with the track listings. For the touching liner notes, which are worth reading, head over to Buzzfeed. You can catch the track listings from the three CDs of The Black Album below.
Disc 1: 1. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Band on the Run”; 2. George Harrison, “My Sweet Lord”; 3. John Lennon feat. The Flux Fiddlers & the Plastic Ono Band, “Jealous Guy”; 4. Ringo Starr, “Photograph”; 5. John Lennon, “How?”; 6. Paul McCartney, “Every Night”; 7. George Harrison, “Blow Away”; 8. Paul McCartney, “Maybe I’m Amazed”; 9. John Lennon, “Woman”; 10.Paul McCartney & Wings, “Jet”; 11. John Lennon, “Stand by Me”; 12. Ringo Starr, “No No Song”; 13. Paul McCartney, “Junk”; 14. John Lennon, “Love”; 15. Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney, “The Back Seat of My Car”; 16. John Lennon, “Watching the Wheels”; 17. John Lennon, “Mind Games”; 18. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Bluebird”; 19. John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”; 20. George Harrison, “What Is Life”
Disc 2: 1. John Lennon, “God”; 2. Wings, “Listen to What the Man Said”; 3. John Lennon, “Crippled Inside”; 4. Ringo Starr, “You’re Sixteen You’re Beautiful (And You’re Mine)”; 5. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Let Me Roll It”; 6. John Lennon & The Plastic Ono Band, “Power to the People”; 7. Paul McCartney, “Another Day”; 8. George Harrison, “If Not For You (2001 Digital Remaster)”; 9. John Lennon, “(Just Like) Starting Over”; 10. Wings, “Let ‘Em In”; 11. John Lennon, “Mother”; 12. Paul McCartney & Wings, “Helen Wheels”; 13. John Lennon, “I Found Out”; 14. Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney, “Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey”; 15. John Lennon, Yoko Ono & The Plastic Ono Band, “Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)”; 15. George Harrison, “Not Guilty (2004 Digital Remaster)”; 16. Paul McCartney & Linda McCartney, “Heart of the Country”; 17. John Lennon, “Oh Yoko!”; 18. Wings, “Mull of Kintyre”; 19. Ringo Starr, “It Don’t Come Easy”
Disc 3: 1. John Lennon, “Grow Old With Me (2010 Remaster)”; 2. Wings, “Silly Love Songs”; 3. The Beatles, “Real Love”; 4. Paul McCartney & Wings, “My Love”; 5. John Lennon, “Oh My Love”; 6. George Harrison, “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)”; 7. Paul McCartney, “Pipes of Peace”; 8. John Lennon, “Imagine”; 9. Paul McCartney, “Here Today”; 10. George Harrison, “All Things Must Pass”; 11. Paul McCartney, “And I Love Her (Live on MTV Unplugged)”
Regarding the movie Boyhood, it is a fun experience seeing how director Richard Linklater filmed the story over twelve years so that the characters, and in particular the young man at the center of the story, age just like the actors. It is worth checking out for that reason alone. Be prepared that the movie is a little long and there is not a lot of plot. But the movie captures real life, which is pretty great for a film. So you should check it out.
As for the Black Album, the CD is a great idea, and while I might make some different choices, it is pretty cool to sit back and just enjoy the list and think “what if?”
What songs would you change on your Beatles’ “Black Album”? Leave your two cents in the comments.
On July 11, 1899, Elwyn Brooks White was born in Mount Vernon, New York. White became the famous writer we know as “E. B. White.”
As a young man, White joined The New Yorker in its early years and helped shape the magazine. In 1959, White reworked William Strunk Jr.’s The Elements of Style, creating one of my favorite handbooks on writing that is now commonly referred to as “Strunk & White.” But most of us first encounter White’s work as children.
White’s classic children’s books include Stuart Little (1945) and The Trumpet of the Swan (1970). His most famous book, though, may be the story of a pig named Wilbur who becomes friends with a spider named Charlotte, Charlotte’s Web (1952).
Several years ago, Publisher’s Weekly listed Charlotte’s Web as the best-selling children’s book of all time. Wilbur is certainly one of the most famous pig characters in popular culture, along with Babe, Arnold (Green Acres), and Porky.
The Beatles and “Piggies”
There are not many famous songs about pigs. The most famous may be “Piggies” by the Beatles, even though the song is not really about four-legged porkers.
“Piggies” was written by George Harrison and appeared on The Beatles album, also known as “The White Album,” in 1968. As recounted in Steve Turner’s book, A Hard Day’s Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song, Harrison described the song making fun of the middle class as “as social comment.”
The lyrics are not very complex. The song refers to people as “piggies.” And the song also notes that things are “getting worse” for the little piggies while the bigger piggies “[a]lways have clean shirts to play around in.”
Although “Piggies” is not on anybody’s list of top Beatles songs, the effectiveness of the song lies in its simplicity. The song captures the sound of a classical nursery rhyme, as shown in the live version below.
Unfortunately, “Piggies” is another song like “Revolution” that got hijacked by Charles Manson. Reportedly, the crazy man liked the line about the piggies needing “a damn good whacking.” Also, variations on the word “pig” were written on the walls in blood at the site of Manson family murders.
Understandably, Harrison was appalled with Manson’s foolish interpretation of the song. The “damn good whacking” line was only added to the lyrics after Harrison’s mom suggested it as something to rhyme with “backing” and “lacking.”
E.B. White and Death
It was unfortunate that “Piggies,” designed as a short commentary, ended up associated with horrible deaths. But E. B. White, who wrote about the death of a real pig in a 1948 essay and passed away in 1985, understood that death is everywhere.
In White’s book about a pig and a spider, he wrote, “After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die.” The best we can do is try to live a worthwhile life. That is not a bad lesson coming from a spider and a pig. Leave your two cents in the comments.