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Top Ten Queen Videos September 12, 2011

Filed under: lists,Queen — yourbirdcansing88 @ 2:26 AM
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Okay, so I know I’m a day (or two) late.  It was hard work narrowing down so many awesome videos to the ten best, not to mention putting them in order.  But here it is, the top ten Queen videos.

10.  “It’s a Hard Life” (The Works, 1984)

We start off here with a video that is inexplicable and camp-tacular (even by Queen’s standards).  This may not be the band’s most popular video (in fact, at least one or two of the band’s members openly despise this video), but in my personal opinion, its weirdness is what makes it so charming.  Looking like the mutant love child of a Shakespeare comedy and that one scene from Labyrinth, we see Freddie Mercury prancing around in what is almost certainly the weirdest outfit he’s ever worn (and for a man who’s not exactly known for dressing conservatively, that’s really saying something) and wearing a really strange wig in some scenes for no apparent reason, and Brian May playing a wicked solo on a skull.  Also, look closely for John Deacon walking around with his noble steed, a stuffed unicorn head on a long wooden stick.

9.  “The Invisible Man” (The Miracle, 1989)

There’s only one thing that pisses me off about this video, and that’s this:  no matter how much time I waste playing video games, not once have I ever gotten to the point where Queen emerge from my closet and dance around my room.  Talk about false advertising!  The kid in this video is basically the luckiest kid ever (the only possible exceptions being the kids in the video for “The Miracle”).  He even gets to wear John Deacon’s badass cowboy hat.  Lucky!  And yes, the song sounds eerily similar to the theme from Ghostbusters.  Let us speak no more of this.

8.  “Liar” (Queen, 1973)

If you need any more convincing that “Bohemian Rhapsody” was not, as is sometimes falsely claimed, the first music video ever, at least know this:  it wasn’t even Queen’s first.  “Liar” stands out from most of the videos in this list in that it is a simple performance video.  There’s no storyline, no characters outside of the band, nothing but the band performing on a brightly lighted stage that probably isn’t in front of a real audience.  Even the outfits are pretty low-key for a band that could have been considered part of the “glam rock” scene that was emerging in England around that time.  Still, stripped of the gimmicks they’d come to be known for both onstage and onscreen, Queen have an undeniably magnetic stage presence.  Despite its length of six and a half minutes and its simplicity, the video for “Liar” never bores.

7.  “Princes of the Universe” (A Kind of Magic, 1985)

Don’t ask me why, but movie tie-in music videos generally annoy me, especially when the totally awesome song was written for a possibly-not-so-awesome movie, thereby making it so that there isn’t a non-movie-tie-in version of the video that I can watch instead.  However, I’m going to make an exception for “Princes of the Universe,” a song that was written for Highlander and which, to my knowledge, doesn’t have a video that leaves out all those movie clips.  I haven’t even seen Highlander (but I do want to, for precisely three reasons, the Queen-filled soundtrack being one of them.  The other two, by the way, are Clancy Brown and kilts.  But mostly Clancy Brown).  Doesn’t matter.  The fact is, movie tie-in or not, this is one of the most epic music videos ever.  If anything, the connection with the movie makes the video all the more epic, because of the way it includes the band in the action of the movie, placing the band in the same setting as what I’m guessing is a pretty important scene in the movie.  There’s even a brief moment of interaction between Freddie and the film’s hero.  If that’s not epic, I don’t know what is.  As an added bonus, I don’t think anyone ever looked cooler with the wind blowing through his hair than Brian May.

6.  “Save Me” (The Game, 1980)

The video for “Save Me” is as gorgeous and moving as the tender love song it illustrates.  Half live-action performance video, and half animated narrative, this is perhaps Queen’s most beautiful video.  I’m at a loss to describe this video further than the fact that it features a dove motif (I’m a sucker for bird symbolism.  Actually, I’m a sucker for birds in general), so I’ll say no more about it and let the video speak for itself.

5.  “Bohemian Rhapsody” (A Night at the Opera, 1975)

Seriously, did you think I’d be able to list the top ten Queen videos without including this song?  While not my favorite Queen video by a long-shot (though still, within the spectrum of music videos in general, it ranks pretty darn high), “Bohemian Rhapsody” is undoubtedly the most influential, to the point that some people are still under the impression that it was the first music video ever.  If you’ve been paying attention to this blog (or even to this particular post), you’ll know this assumption to be false, yet the very fact that this is a widely-held belief shows how much of an impact the “Bohemian Rhapsody” has had on the history of music and the art of music video.  And perhaps, while not the first music video ever made (remember, Bob Dylan had 10 years on them), it may be one of the first music videos that truly mattered; that proved that the music video was an art form in and of itself and not just a creative way to promote a record.

4.  “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” (The Game, 1979)

When I showed a friend of mine this video about a month ago, her response was that it was “like a bisexual version of Grease.”  I couldn’t have described it better myself, but I’ll try:  to me, this is one of the all-time sexiest videos ever.  Sure, it’s kinda goofy and looks like it was made on a budget of $150 and maybe a blowjob here and there, but that doesn’t matter.  Why?  Because…Freddie Mercury.  Leather.  Superfluous close-up of Freddie’s leather-clad ass.  Brian May in awesome shades.   Freddie Mercury getting his shirt ripped off by his co-ed posse of backup dancers.  Roger Taylor without a shirt.  Freddie Mercury doing what could be described as pole-dancing.  Oh, and did I mention Freddie flippin’ Mercury?  As a side note, is it just me, or does Freddie kind of look like Jakob Dylan in this video?

3.  “One Vision” (A Kind of Magic, 1985)

Okay, this one starts out a little weird, with the warped voices and the wobbly still from the “Bohemian Rhapsody” video, but once you get past that, this is one fun video.  Filmed around the same time as the band’s legendary performance at Live Aid (note the logo on Brian May’s white t-shirt), the video shows the band recording the song and having one heck of a fun time in the process.  I get the impression that someone decided to put cameras in the studio, start recording, and just let the band do whatever the heck they felt like.  Turns out, they’re really silly boys.  Also, Brian really should have worn black tank tops more often.  Because of the sexy.

2.  “I’m Going Slightly Mad” (Innuendo, 1991)

The video for “I’m Going Slightly Mad” is delightful.  More delightful, in fact, than it has any right to be, considering the tragic reality surrounding both the song and the video.  Released mere months before his death, Freddie Mercury wrote this song about his experience with AIDS-induced dementia.  By the time the video was filmed, the singer’s illness necessitated the use of heavy makeup and black-and-white film to disguise his condition.  This same use of makeup and monochrome, however, is part of what makes this video so charming and quirky, which only makes it more tragic when one remembers that all that charm and quirk are coming from a man who’s months away from his death bed, and knows it.  In spite of all that, however, this video made me laugh the first time I saw it, and continues to make me smile.  It’s heartwarming to know that Freddie could still act goofy and irreverent even as his life was coming to a close.  This, along with all the weird goings-on in this video — Freddie’s banana wig, John Deacon as an unenthusiastic jester, and let’s not forget REAL LIVE PENGUINS (!!) along with Brian May in a penguin suit — make this one of my very favorites.

1.  “I Want to Break Free” (The Works, 1984)

This is by far the greatest Queen video of all time.  For lots of reasons, but if for nothing else, for the cross-dressing.  Which is apparently a reference to a long-running British soap opera called Coronation Street.  Which I’ve never seen, but I believe it.  What I don’t believe is that this video is actually marked as “age-restricted” on YouTube.  What the hell, YouTube?  Buncha homophobes need to get the hell over themselves.  They’re the ones who’ll have a bad influence on the children.  But anyway, enjoy the video.  Unless you’re one of those homophobes.  If you are, get your ignorant ass off of my blog and never darken my door again.

Bonus:  “The Great Pretender”(1987)

And here’s a little something from Freddie’s solo career:  his take on a classic by doo-wop group The Platters.  Features clips and re-enactments of his previous videos as both a member of Queen and as a solo artist, some of which are on this very list.  But mostly I decided to put this here because of the cross-dressing.  ‘Cause I’m kinda into that.  And because this video not only gives us a chance to see Freddie in drag once again, but also Roger Taylor.  And there was much rejoicing (coming from me, anyway).

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Just about done with those Christmas leftovers? Here’s some more… December 31, 2009

Hey, everyone!  I realize I haven’t posted in a while.  I was insanely busy working on finals, and then had limited internet access due to having to share computer time (and space) with family members.  But now that a certain relative is no longer sleeping in the only room in the house that gets internet access, and now that I have my own laptop hooked up to an ethernet cable, I’m back on the blog!  Anyway, since I have this big heapin’ helping of Christmas-themed videos that I found on YouTube and wanted to share with you readers, and because one day of Christmas a year just ain’t enough for me, I’m gonna go ahead and post the links on here, even if it’s a week late.

First of all, since I may have made a passing reference to this video during my inaugural “Video of the Week” post…

And now that I’ve got you in the garage rockin’ Christmas spirit, here are The Ramones:

Now for an oldie-but-goodie from the late and great Eartha Kitt…

Don’t think I’ve forgotten you, either, fellow children of the nineties (by the way, whether you grew up in the nineties or not, if you haven’t seen this film yet, you are deeply deprived.  Even if it did scare the bejeezus out of me when I was in preschool)…

Here’s a video from Bob Dylan’s new Christmas album (an aesthetic upon which my kindred spirit rock buddy Adam and I will, sadly, never agree.  Sure, what little voice he ever had is totally gone now.  That’s not gonna keep me from dancing around like an idiot to this song):

And what would Christmas be without a rockin’ obscure song by everyone’s favorite candy-cane-colored band?

And now, how ’bout some Christmas specials?!  Here’s some fine mid-1970s yuletide madness brought to you by Eric Idle and THE GREATEST MUSICIAN IN THE HISTORY OF ROCK MUSIC, PERIOD, END OF STORY (in my humble opinion, of course), Mr. George Harrison:

And this has been a favorite of mine for a couple of years, The Monkees Christmas special, featuring that kid from The Munsters (who literally has nothing better to do with his time these days than to appear — for reasons I can’t even begin to comprehend — signing books at a little table in the merch room at Beatlefest.  I’ve seen him there for the past two years.  My roommate and I even had the chance to ask him what it was like to work with The Monkees.  He was rather nice, for a faded child star):

Part 1:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jSFwcVYIkE

Part 2:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mH48_NXUJU

Part 3:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1gT9gLx1VM

And for those of you who are as hooked on British comedy and/or parodies of cheesy movies as I am, here’s AD/BC:  A Rock Opera, a 30-minute special which I discovered over the summer during the height of my Mighty Boosh binge (the special features several actors who have appeared on The Mighty Boosh.  And The IT Crowd.  And Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.  And I mean, the same four actors who’ve been in all these shows are in AD/BC).  It’s a parody of all those Christian rock musicals/operas that came out in the mid-to-late-1970s, and it’s the story of the nativity told from the point of view of the innkeeper.  My favorite part is Tony Iscariot’s (apparently the father of Judas) epic song at the end of Part 1:

Part 1:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nu-KK6FfjA

Part 2:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q37UomRayr0

Part 3:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7DWq6GfP0Y

And now, don’t think I’ve forgotten you Jews out there (I’m 1/2 Jewish myself.  And yes, I’m fully aware that Hanukkah was at the beginning of December this year).  I’ll let Mr. Sandler take it from here:

And last but not least, the sons of December birthday boy Frank Zappa (whom my roommate and I have decided is God and have declared December 21st Zappamas in honor of The Great One), singing a modern Christmas favorite:

Now may all your days be mellow, and may all your Zappamases be yellow.

Oh, and Happy Holidays to all, regardless of your faith/culture/celebrity obsession.

 

Jack White: The Discography (So Far) July 12, 2009

There are several reasons right now for me to post a (sorta) complete retrospective of Jack White’s albums (definition of “complete” depends on whether or not you count movie soundtracks he’s contributed to, guest appearances he may have made on other artists’ albums, or bands he was in prior to The White Stripes.  If you count any of those, this list is far from complete.  Sorry.  I kind of jumped on the Jack White bandwagon late and was not able to delve that deeply into his work.  So sue me).  One reason is that Jack White’s birthday was a couple of days ago (Thursday, to be exact).  Happy 34th, Jack.  Another reason is that his latest band, The Dead Weather, are coming out with their debut album, Horehound, later this month(and when I say “later this month,” I mean really really really soon.  Like in 2 or 3 days soon).  It’s about time, too.  I’ve been waiting for this thing since early March (actually, since around the same time this blog was started).  So in preparation for Horehound, and in honor of the birthday boy, I now present to you a detailed discography — in chronological order, mind you — of all the albums Jack’s released with The White Stripes and The Raconteurs.

 

The White Stripes

The White Stripes — The White Stripes (1999)

Way back in 1999, long before The White Stripes hit the mainstream, and shortly before lead singer/guitarist Jack White and drummer Meg White filed for the most amicable of divorces (though to this day they still claim to be siblings.  I’m sure they know they’re not fooling anyone anymore, but to be fair, maybe the whole reason why they got divorced was because their bond was too fraternal to last as a marriage.  So, for all intents and purposes, they have a brother-sister relationship), The White Stripes released their self-titled debut album.  Released when Mr. and Ms. White were still living in their hometown of Detroit, The White Stripes features a raw, savage sound best described as “punk blues” (it makes a lot more sense when you actually hear it), combining the structure and rhythm of blues music with the fast tempo and high volume of punk rock, while also embracing the minimalism that both genres share.  Minimalism is a key ingredient to The White Stripes’ credo, contributing to everything from the band’s primitive recording techniques to its very strict dress code (as The White Stripes, Jack and Meg are only ever seen wearing red, white, black, or any combination of those three colors), and though they’ve never abandoned their minimalist approach to music, on no album did they adhere to it more than on their very first album.

Recommended Tracks:  “Sugar Never Tasted So Good”; “Cannon”; “Broken Bricks”; “Screwdriver”; “I Fought Pirhanas”.

 

De Stijl

The White Stripes — De Stijl (2000)

The White Stripes’ sophomore album — named after an early-20th-century Dutch art movement (translation:  “the style”) that valued minimalism and geometric shapes — was released one year after the band’s debut album.  De Stijl saw the band dabbling in a more diverse range of genres, from the mid-1960s-pop-rock-sounding “You’re Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)” to the bouncy piano tune “Apple Blossom”, to the country-tinged cover of bluesman Blind Willie McTell’s “Your Southern Can is Mine”.  Still, the punk blues sound that was so pervasive on The White Stripes still radiates heavily on De Stijl, most notably on songs like “Hello Operator”, “Let’s Build a Home”, and the band’s cover of Son House’s “Death Letter”.

Recommended Tracks:  “You’re Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)”; “Hello Operator”; “Death Letter”; “Truth Doesn’t Make a Noise”; “A Boy’s Best Friend”; “Let’s Build a Home”.

 

White Blood Cells

The White Stripes — White Blood Cells (2001)

This is the album that launched the Stripes into the stratosphere of stardom, and all it took was one minute and 55 seconds of energetic retro-rock and the lego-filled video that went withit.  I’m talking about The White Stripes’ very first hit single — “Fell in Love With a Girl”.  A mere four years after Jack and Meg formed their candy-colored musical duo, they’d made the big time.  Soon to follow would be MTV apperances, speculations revolving around the nature of the pair’s relationship (one minute the public buys the idea that they’re brother and sister — I mean, heck, they look like they could be siblings! — and the next minute their divorce papers are circulating around the internet…someone has some ‘splaining to do), and the inclusion of “We’re Going to Be Friends” (in my humble opinion, the greatest song ever released by The White Stripes, and quite possibly the greatest song Jack White has ever written.  So far, that is) in the opening credits of the love-it-or-hate-it (I happened to love it.  Though I didn’t love those of my peers who quoted it ad nauseam.  Way to ruin a good film, guys) teen cult film Napoleon Dynamite.  The band’s sound was remarkably different on White Blood Cells than on their previous two albums, relying less on the punk blues sound and more heavily on straight-up garage rock.  However, in spite of the slight change in style, White Blood Cells is no less ecclectic a collection than De Stijl, gathering influence from country (“Hotel Yorba”), 1970s hard rock (“Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”), 1970s soft rock (“The Same Boy You’ve Always Known”), folk (“We’re Going to be Friends”), scat (“Little Room”), mid-1960s proto-punk (“Fell in Love With a Girl”) and Citizen Kane (“The Union Forever”).

Recommended Tracks:  “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”; “Fell in Love With a Girl”; “The Union Forever”; “The Same Boy You’ve Always Known”; “We’re Going to Be Friends”; “I Can’t Wait”; “I Can Learn”.

 

Elephant

The White Stripes — Elephant (2003)

If White Blood Cells was the springboard from which The White Stripes leapt into stardom, Elephant was the huge splash they made when they landed in it.  Elephant features the riff-driven “Seven Nation Army”, which remains the Stripes’ biggest hit to this day.  And that’s just the beginning of the impact Elephant made on the band’s career.  Elephant won the Stripes their first two Grammy awards in 2004 (Best Alternative Album; Best Rock Song for “Seven Nation Army”).  Also on Elephant is “The Hardest Button to Button”, the video for which was parodied a couple years later on an episode The Simpsons in which The White Stripes themselves made a brief cameo.  Once Elephant was let loose, the Stripes were practically unstoppable.  Pretty soon they had a week-long gig on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, and Jack White started doing crazy celebrity things like appearing as a minor character in a war epic, dating an actress or two, getting into a tussle with a former protegee, making occasional onstage appearances at Bob Dylan concerts, and collecting taxidermy (oh, wait — he was already doing that).  But anyway, back to what’s really important about Elephant:  the music.  The White Stripes’ fourthalbum saw them returning to their blues-rock roots with songs like “Black Math”, “In the Cold, Cold Night” (featuring Meg White’s first ever lead vocal), and the unbearably sexy “Ball and Biscuit”.  Yet the Stripes also continued to experiment with a variety of different styles.  “Seven Nation Army”, though undoubtedly a rock song, has a beat that can be easily danced to (Mom, if you’re reading this, please spare me the Dick Clark reference), while “There’s No Home for You Here” features multi-tracked vocal harmonies that sound like a weird hybrid of The Beatles and Queen.

Recommended Tracks:  “Seven Nation Army”; “Black Math”; “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself”; “In the Cold, Cold Night”; “You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket”; “Ball and Biscuit”; “The Hardest Button to Button”.

 

Get Behind Me Satan

The White Stripes — Get Behind Me Satan (2005)

Sometime around 2005, Jack White evidently felt the need to unleash his inner Leon Russell.  Thus, he grew some facial hair, developed a strong attachment to wide-brimmed hats, and released the piano-heavy Get Behind Me Satan.  In spite of the album’s title and cover art, Jack White’s quasi-gothic appearance at the time, and the dark quality of the album’s first single, “Blue Orchid”, as well as the eerie video that went with it, Get Behind Me Satan contains some of the lightest, most pop-oriented material The White Stripes have yet produced.  Though, in my opinion, Get Behind Me Satan is altogether a relatively weak album (especially when it had the misfortune of following Elephant), it does contain some of Jack White’s most beautiful, introspective songs, with “Ugly as I Seem” and “I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet)”.

Recommended Tracks:  “My Doorbell”; “Forever for Her (Is Over for Me)”; “Little Ghost”; “The Denial Twist”; “As Ugly as I Seem”; “I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet”.

 

Broken Boy Soldiers

The Raconteurs — Broken Boy Soldiers (2006)

In 2006, the music world was introduced to Jack White’s new band, The Raconteurs.  Joining forces with solo artist Brendan Benson and The Greenhornes’ Little Jack “LJ” Lawrence and Patrick Keeler, Jack and his new bandmates preferred not to call their supergroupa “side project”, but instead a “new band made up of old friends.”  Their retro-style brand of modern hard rock proved that The Raconteurs had potential for staying power and appealing to a wide audience.  Having three additional band members rather than just one also helped take some of the pressure off of Jack’s performance, as he got to share vocal and guitar duty with Benson.  The Raconteurs also gave Jack some room to play withsounds completely separate from The White Stripes’ material.  It is quite easy to distinguish a Raconteurs song from a White Stripes song, and there are many Raconteurs fans who prefer them to The White Stripes.  That fact alone is enough evidence to suggest that The Raconteurs were more than just a side project.  As for me, I enjoy bothbands about equally (though I lean a little more towards The White Stripes, if only because they have more material out).  Listen to both if you want to decide for yourself.

Recommended Tracks:  “Hands”; “Broken Boy Soldier”; “Together”; “Yellow Sun”; “Blue Veins”.

 

Icky Thump

The White Stripes — Icky Thump (2007)

To the relief of all the White Stripes fans who thought Jack had abandoned his soul sister so he could continue playing with the boys, Jack and Meg returned again with Icky Thump.  And for all we know, Mr. White may have needed that year off with another band to refuel his peppermint-flavored creative juices for The White Stripes.  Because Icky Thump is a darn fine album, and showcases a diversity of musical styles that spans further than the Stripes had ever dared to reach before.  Jack celebrates his Scottish heritage with the bagpipe-driven “Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn” and “St. Andrew”.  And though The White Stripes have performed many covers before on previous albums, few — if any — are as unusual as their latin-flavored cover of Patti Page’s 1952 hit “Conquest”.  Yet, with the Stripes’ ever-increasing exploration of different styles on Icky Thump, there’s still plenty of room for the classic garage rock/punk blues sound that The White Stripes started out with, which can be heard on such songs as “Bone Broke”, “Little Cream Soda”, “Rag and Bone”, and “Catch Hell Blues”.

Recommended Tracks:  “You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do as You’re Told)”; “300 M.P.H. Outpour Blues”; “Little Cream Soda”; “Rag and Bone”; “A Martyr for My Love for You”; “Catch Hell Blues”.

 

Consolers of the Lonely

The Raconteurs — Consolers of the Lonely (2008)

In 2008, The Raconteurs set out to prove that they weren’t just a one-album wonder.  And what a way to prove it.  This is the very album that made me a Jack White fan, and so will always hold a special place in my heart.  I was convinced that good rock and roll had gone down the tubes (and I don’t mean the London subway system — though I do remember seeing huge ads for Consolers on subway walls when I was in London last summer) until that fateful day in late January when I went out on a limb and decided to check these guys out (well, that and I needed a recent album to review for my reviewing and publishing class.  The same class responsible for me starting this blog, now that I think about it).  But enough about me.  This album is a prime example of how modern rock can still…well, rock.  The trick is to pay homage to older music, without adhering too firmly to any one genre.  Take, for example, “These Stones Will Shout”, which begins with a Cat Stevens/Donovan type of gentle folk, and gradually builds up to a powerful Zeppelinesque hard rock sound.  And that just barely scratches the surface of how awesome and diverse this album is.  Within the fourteen songs featured on Consolers, one can hear the essence of such genres as folk, blues, country, punk, bluegrass, 1970s metal, southern rock, hard rock, soft rock, and spaghetti-western-soundtrack-type-music (see “The Switch and the Spur”).  So please excuse my gushing; after all, this was the first album — the first anything, really — that I ever wrote a review for.  And before I go about paraphrasing the entire review I wrote for class, let me just finish by saying this:  Consolers of the Lonely was robbed of a Grammy.  Coldplay can stick their Rock Album of the Year award…uh…somewhere where it will be very painful to stick a small metallic gramophone.  Like…up their nose or something.  And that’s the end of my uncharacteristically biased rant.  My apologies to Coldplay and anyone who may be a huge Coldplay fan.

Recommended Tracks:  “Salute Your Solution”; “Old Enough”; ‘The Switch and the Spur”; “Hold Up”; “Top Yourself”; “These Stones Will Shout”; “Carolina Drama”.

 

Top 5 “Fifth Beatles” March 28, 2009

Throughout The Beatles’ career, many of their associates have been referred to as “the fifth Beatle”.  Those worthy of this title have ranged from The Beatles’ wives, their roadies, musicians who’ve been featured on their albums, those who have helped formulate their image and/or sound and/or publicity, and sometimes just general hangers-on (see entry #5).  The following are just a few of many “fifth Beatles”, but are the most noteworthy of the bunch.

 

 

 

5.  Murray the K, disc jockey

The Beatles with Murray the K

The Beatles with Murray the K

Murray “Murray the K” Kaufman may not have had as close a relationship with The Beatles as most other “fifth Beatles” had, nor spent nearly as much time with them throughout their career, but he is noteworthy merely in that he was the first to be called “the fifth Beatle”, back in 1964.  The phrase is sometimes attributed to being coined by Murray himself, but, according to “The Rough Guide to The Beatles”, it was actually George Harrison who first referred to Murray as “The Fifth Beatle”.  The title soon stuck, and with good reason, since for all the time he spent hanging around The Beatles during their first trip to America, he may as well have been a member of the group.  Murray is a very commanding presence in the Maysles brothers’ Beatles documentary “The Beatles:  The First U.S. Visit”.

 

 

 

 

 

4.  Yoko Ono, John Lennon’s second wife

John and Yoko:  The artist with his muse.

John and Yoko: The artist with his muse.

Love her or hate her, there’s no denying that Yoko Ono was an important presence in The Beatles’ later years and a muse for John Lennon.  John met Yoko, a conceptual artist, at one of her exhibitions in 1966.  By 1968 the two were virtually inseperable, much to the annoyance of the other members of the band, who weren’t so crazy about Yoko and could almost certainly have done without having her in the studio all the time.  Yet, for all the tension Yoko may have caused between The Beatles, she was still a key figure in their later years, inspiring such songs as “The Ballad of John and Yoko”, as well as the album art (or lack thereof) for “The White Album”.  Yoko also inspired countless loves songs from John’s post-Beatles career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Billy Preston, keyboardist

Keyboarding virtuouso Billy Preston

Keyboarding virtuouso and former child prodigy Billy Preston

It was George Harrison’s idea to feature keyboarding prodigy Billy Preston (whose other notable credits include writing the Joe Cocker classic “You are So Beautiful”) on The Beatles’ “Let it Be” album, and what a wonderful idea it was.  George became acquainted with Billy in 1969, and soon afterwards invited him to the studios to play on some songs.  Not only did Billy provide the rocking keyboard solo in “Get Back” and the beautiful keyboard part on the song “Let it Be”, but he also helped alleviate the tension between the members of The Beatles, who were all practically at each other’s throats at the time.  George Harrison remained good friends with Billy Preston long after the breakup of The Beatles, and featured Billy in his now-legendary benefit concert, 1971’s “Concert for Bangladesh”.  And he appeared as the titular sergeant in the “so-bad-it’s-good” Beatles-inspired musical “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.

 

 

 

 

 

2.  George Martin, producer

The very dashing Sir George Martin

The very dashing Sir George Martin

George Martin (I beg your pardon- Sir George Martin) was The Beatles’ producer from “Please Please Me” to “Abbey Road”.  In other words, he was there from beginning to end.  Having produced mainly comedy and jazz records prior to The Beatles, he was hitherto inexperienced when it came to rock music.  However, The Beatles’ charming personalities convinced him to sign them on to the EMI label of which he was the head.  The result:  an artist-producer alliance that could not be beat.  Martin recognized The Beatles’ talent early on and did not intrude much on the ideas they had for songs but he occasionally made his own contributions to their songs.  That beautiful piano part in the middle of “In My Life” is played by George Martin.

 

 

 

 

 

1.  Brian Epstein, manager

Brian Epstein, The Beatles' friend and manager

Brian Epstein, The Beatles' friend and manager

Brian Epstein was The Beatles’ manager from 1961 until his untimely death in 1967.  Epstein was working in his family’s music store when a youth came in asking if they had any records by The Beatles.  Soon afterwards, he decided to check the band out at The Cavern Club, a place where The Beatles played frequently at the time.  Pretty soon he was their manager and had convinced them to switch from the leather outfits they had been wearing to the more appealing and gentlemanly suits that they became famous for in their early days of fame.  Not only did Epstein have a profound influence on The Beatles’ image, but he also may have been what kept the bond so strong between the band members for all those years.  Brian Epstein died at the age of 32 from a combination of alcohol and sleeping pills (it is uncertain whether his death was accidental or  intentional), and The Beatles were shocked by the sudden loss of not just a manager, but a good friend.  After his death, The Beatles tried in vain to find a manager who could adequately replace Epstein, and the band quickly started to fall apart due to disagreements over prospective managers.  I believe that it was Epstein’s death more than anything else that caused the breakup of The Beatles.

 

Honorable Mentions:  Stuart Sutcliffe (original bassist), Pete Best (original drummer), Neil Aspinall (roadie), Mal Evans (roadie), Derek Taylor (The Beatles’ press manager), Klaus Voorman (German artist and musician who met The Beatles in Hamburg, designed the cover of “Revolver”, and played the bass in George Harrison’s “Concert for Bangladesh”)

 

The Beatles’ Films March 26, 2009

During their career as a band, The Beatles made five films together — in fact, if I’m not mistaken, they were under a contract to make at least five films.  For a while, after filming their first two or three films, they were throwing some crazy ideas around which never came to fruition, including a “Lord of the Rings” adaptation (I kid you not), but what they ultimately wound up with were  two full-length comedies, one short “experimental” film, an animated feature, and a documentary.  Each film has its own particular style and plot (when there is a plot, that is.  Not all their films had one) that sets it apart from the other four, and each film shows a different side of the Fab Four, due in part to their ever-changing interests, musical style, appearance, and tolerance toward each other.

 

 

The Beatles attempt to flee from their screaming fans in "A Hard Day's Night"

The Beatles attempt to flee from their screaming fans in "A Hard Day's Night"

“A Hard Day’s Night” (1964)

 The Beatles made their first film, “A Hard Day’s Night”, right when Beatlemania was on the verge of becoming an international craze.  What better way, then, to represent The Beatles in film, than to show them running from flocks of screaming fangirls?  With the exception of “Let it Be”, “A Hard Day’s Night” is the most realistic portrayal of The Beatles as a rock band.  Not that “A Hard Day’s Night” is an extremely realistic movie, but it does feature the band having to deal with the usual strains that come with superstardom:  bossy managers, humorless newspaper reporters who don’t “get it”, humorless teen magazine publishers who think they “get it” but don’t, fussy TV producers with no fashion sense, and of course, the stampedes of hormone-charged teenagers.  And when they’re not dealing with those things, the boys have to struggle to keep Paul’s sinister grandfather from causing mayhem.  Songs featured:  “A Hard Day’s Night”; “I Should Have Known Better”; “Can’t Buy Me Love”; “And I Love Her”; “Tell Me Why”.  Recommended if:  You’re a fan of The Beatles.  Avoid if:  You simply cannot endure to watch anything in black-and-white (what’s wrong with you?!  Don’t you know how many great films you’re missing out on?!  Jeeeeeez).

 

The Beatles making music on a snowy slope in "Help!"

The Beatles making music on a snowy slope in "Help!"

“Help!” (1965)

After making a relatively realistic (if a little far-fetched) black-and-white film about a day in the life of a typical world-famous rock group, The Beatles took a totally different approach with “Help!”  While the majority of “A Hard Day’s Night” took place all in the same city, “Help!” has The Beatles traveling all over the world with the life of their very own Ringo at stake.  It all starts when a religious cult all the way out in the “East” (i.e. Asia) are about to make their daily sacrifice to their goddess, Kaili (at least I think that’s how it’s spelled), when they find that their sacrificial ring, without which they cannot continue the sacrifice, has gone missing.  But how did it wind up on the finger of The Beatles’ drummer?  And what will happen to Ringo now that the ring won’t come off?  And why are a couple of third-rate mad scientists suddenly after the ring as well? Whatever the case, pretty soon the boys will either have to find a way to get that ring off their drummer’s finger, or find themselves a new drummer.  “Help!”, unlike “A Hard Day’s Night”, is in color, which really enhances the aesthetic effect of certain scenes, like the ones inside the band’s groovy color-coded apartment.  Songs Featured:  “Help!”; “You’re Going to Lose That Girl”; “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”; “Ticket to Ride”; “She’s a Woman”. Recommended if:  You like action/adventure films; Ringo Starr is your favorite Beatle; you enjoy Monty Python-type humor.  Avoid if:  You are extremely sensitive to outdated ethnic stereotypes, particularly those pertaining to Asians.  This movie isn’t racist or anything, and the stereotypes are pretty mild for a movie made at that time, but I know those things bother some people, so I’m just putting it out there.

 

John is the walrus!

John is the walrus!

“Magical Mystery Tour” (1967)

“Magical Mystery Tour”, having virtually no plot and playing out like an hour-long acid trip, is panned more harshly than any other Beatles movie.  However, there are many who still enjoy it nonetheless (Me, for one.  Steven Spielberg is apparently also a big fan, and it just so happens to be my roommate’s favorite Beatles movie).  It also features some memorable musical sequences, which are basically music videos inserted between scenes.  And keep in mind that this is almost two decades before MTV.  Also notable is a guest appearance by The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (I’m not quite sure who they are, either.  But my Uncle Mark loves them), who sing “Death Cab for Cutie” (way before the title became the name of a band) during a striptease (nothing explicit — a huge censor bar covers up all toplessness).  There’s not much more I can really say about “Magical Mystery Tour”, since the movie is just too weird for words.  But if your movie tastes are anything like mine, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, now is it?  Songs Featured:  “Magical Mystery Tour”; “Fool on the Hill”; “I am the Walrus”; “Blue Jay Way”; “Your Mother Should Know”  Recommended if:  You like weird movies; you’ve even heard of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band; you’ve always wanted to see John Lennon in a walrus suit.  Avoid if:  You prefer movies that have plots.  There’ll be none of that in this movie!

 

The Beatles in cartoon form.

The Beatles in cartoon form

“Yellow Submarine” (1968)

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this one.  I’ve been watching “Yellow Submarine” since I was a little kid, even though the first time I saw it, it scared the crap out of me.  In this film, animated versions of the Fab Four travel the seven seas in the titular submarine in order to aid their new friend, Old Fred, in rescuing the undersea utopia of Pepperland from the tyrannical Blue Meanies.  How do The Beatles defeat the Meanies?  With music, of course!  Sadly, The Beatles do not provide their own voices for the cartoon versions of themselves, and in fact had very little to do with the film at all.  It wasn’t until after they saw the film that they decided that they liked it, and a brief live action scene of the four of them was filmed and tacked onto the end of the film.  Songs featured:  “Yellow Submarine”; “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”; “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”; “All Together Now”; “When I’m Sixty-Four”.  Recommended if:  You’re looking for an animated movie that looks nothing like Disney; you like fantasy films.  Avoid if:  You hate the sight of 1960s psychedelic posters; you’re looking for a good animated movie to show your very young scaredy-cat child (just wait a few years, and then they’ll love it).

 

The Beatles' rooftop concert at the end of "Let it Be"

The Beatles' rooftop concert at the end of "Let it Be"

“Let it Be” (1970)

“Let it Be” was a documentary filmed in 1969.  It was meant to document the recording of an album, but it wound up being most of all the portrait of a band falling apart.  The Beatles were practically at each other’s throats at this point, with Paul bossing everyone around and John’s girlfriend Yoko Ono encroaching on the band’s recording space.  At one point, Paul and George get into a huge argument over a guitar solo in a song.  Nevertheless, this film also shows that, when The Beatles put aside their differences long enough to make music together, the result still sounds incredible.  And in spite of all their quarrelling, they really all seem to have a lot of fun during the rooftop concert at the film’s end.  The movie also features lots of great keyboard work by Billy Preston, one of the people most frequently regarded as the “fifth Beatle”, due to his work on the “Let it Be” album.  Unfortunately, due to the fragile egos of the two remaining Beatles, “Let it Be” will not be released on DVD any time soon.  But if for some reason you ever get the opportunity to see “Let it Be”, I would not recommend that you pass it up.  Songs featured:  “Let it Be”; “The Long and Winding Road”; “Don’t Let Me Down”; “For You Blue”; “I’ve Got a Feeling”.  Recommended if:  You ever wondered what a band breakup looks like; you want to see an honest portrayal of The Beatles, warts and all.  Avoid if:  You want to continue thinking of The Beatles as a happy band that never had a quarrel in all the years they were together.

 

5 Beatles Albums Every Fan Should Hear March 24, 2009

Think you’re a Beatles fan after listening to “1” and/or the soundtrack to “Across the Universe”?  Think again, my friend.  If you really want to get acquainted with the Fab Four’s most significant material, I suggest that you check out at least a couple of the following albums as soon as possible.

 

Rubber Soul“Rubber Soul” (1965)

After several relatively homogenous albums of upbeat pop-rock love songs (which are the main reason why some of my peers dismiss The Beatles, claiming “all their songs sound the same”) , The Beatles came out with the folk-infused “Rubber Soul”.  While this album still features many songs about love, they tend to focus on less-than-perfect romantic situations.  In fact, many of the songs on the album were inspired by the real-life relationship issues Paul McCartney was going through with his then-girlfriend, actress Jane Asher.  The most positive love songs on “Rubber Soul” are about a different kind of love entirely:  “The Word” deals with universal love, a subject which The Beatles would later expand upon with “All You Need is Love”; “In My Life” is about love for every person who’s had an impact on one’s life.  This album also marks the first time a sitar was ever used in a pop song, on “Norwegian Wood” (the sitar would figure prominently in popular music for the rest of the 1960s).  And then there’s the album’s closer, “Run for Your Life”, which is so catchy that it might take several listens before you realize how horribly misogynistic it is.

 

Revolver“Revolver” (1966)

“Revolver” came out right after “Rubber Soul” and right before “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, and the transistion between the band’s folksy rock sound on the former and the psychedelic and orchestral sounds they adopted for the latter can be plainly heard on this album.  “Revolver” has The Beatles experimenting with instruments not typical to rock music (“Eleanor Rigby” features a string quartet; several Indian instruments are used in “Love You To”), backwards tracking (“I’m Only Sleeping” features a backwards guitar solo),  social commentary (“Taxman” is told from the point of view of a ruthless tax collector, who asserts “You’re working for no one but me.”), and just altogether weird sounds (i.e. “Tomorrow Never Knows”).  Love songs are even fewer on “Revolver” than on “Rubber Soul”, although it does feature the tender “Here, There, and Everywhere”, and the joyous “Got to Get You Into My Life” (which is for all intents and purposes a love song, even though I’ve heard that it’s actually written not for a woman, but for a certain mind-altering herb.  But you’d never know that just from listening to it).  And of course there’s everybody’s favorite (NOT!), “Yellow Submarine”, which I’m sure you’ve probably heard countless times before (I know I have.  And if you ever meet a hardcore Beatles fan, my best advice is to NOT sing “Yellow Submarine” to them.  I shudder to think of the possible consequences), as well as one of my own personal favorites, “And Your Bird Can Sing”, which the typical Beatles novice has never heard of.

 

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (1967)

What can I say about this album that hasn’t been said already?  Honestly, this isn’t one of my favorite Beatles albums, and I have serious doubts regarding the claim that it’s “the first concept album ever”, but the fact is that “Sgt. Pepper” is an important album and therefore is essential for anyone who claims to be a Beatles fan to hear.  Highlights on this album include the trippy “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”, the heartbreaking “She’s Leaving Home” (try not to cry the first couple of times you hear this one.  I dare you), the bawdy “Lovely Rita”, and the epic “A Day in the Life”, which I consider to be one of the greatest songs The Beatles ever did.  I’d advise you not to doze off around the end of this album, or you might be startled out of your skin by some weird noises that come up after “A Day in the Life” fades out.  Fear not:  it’s just the boys messing around in the studio.

 

The White Album“The Beatles”, a.k.a. “The White Album” (1968)

Remember those people I was talking about before, the ones who complain that “all The Beatles’ songs sound the same”?  They’ve obviously never heard “The White Album”, which is by far the most ecclectic album The Beatles ever recorded.  There’s thirty tracks on this double album, and not a single one sounds like any of the others.  On “The White Album”, The Beatles dabble in genres such as the blues (“Yer Blues” and “Why Don’t We Do it in the Road?”), country (“Rocky Raccoon” and “Don’t Pass Me By”), ragtime (“Honey Pie”), folk (“Mother Nature’s Son” and “Blackbird”), and doo-wop (“Revolution 1”).  The album also includes some harbingers of future rock genres, most notably with the shockingly proto-metal “Helter Skelter”.  And then there’s “Revolution 9”, a creepy, 8-minute montage of noise that defies explanation.  This album has something for everyone.

 

Abbey Road“Abbey Road” (1969)

“Abbey Road” was the last album The Beatles ever recorded (“Let it Be” was released after “Abbey Road”, but was recorded before it), and one of their best.  The fact that the band’s members could hardly stand to be in the same room at that point clearly had no bearing on their ability to sound more amazing together than they ever had.  The first half of the album includes gems like “Something”, “Oh! Darling”, “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” (a delightful little ditty about a homicidal maniac which, for some reason, even my most Beatles-resistant friends seem to love), “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”, and “Here Comes the Sun”; the second half of the album is made up of a couple of medleys, plus “Her Majesty”, the brief and charming “extra track” tacked on a few seconds after “The End” ends.  I don’t think The Beatles could have ended any better.

 

A Few Words on Bob Dylan March 12, 2009

Filed under: Bob Dylan,lists,Rants and Raves — yourbirdcansing88 @ 4:05 PM
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The "unwashed phenomenon" himself, in 1966.

The "unwashed phenomenon" himself, in 1966.

I think before I post anything else, I should say something about Bob Dylan.  Bob Dylan’s name will probably come up more frequently in my posts than anyone else’s, and there’s a very good reason for this.  Bob Dylan is, quite simply, the greatest singer/songwriter that popular music has ever known.  Yes, I know his voice is anything but conventionally beautiful.  I know he was never an extraordinary instrumentalist (although his backing bands over the years have consisted of quite a few).  I know his lyrics can be indecipherable, or just plain weird.  And yes, I’m well aware that he did that  Victoria’s Secret commercial.  But none of those things matter to me.  If anything, Dylan’s imperfection and lack of convention are what make him the one-of-a-kind artist that he is.

 

Dylan is an acquired taste for some, mostly because of his voice.  For those who’ve never heard Dylan sing, I can best describe his voice using any combination of the following adjectives:  “raspy”, “gravelly”, “rough”, “nasal”, even “whiny”.  I know many people who think Dylan is a lyrical genius, but prefer to hear other people cover his music because they can’t stand his voice.  For me, his voice was never a problem, because I started listening to him when I was about ten or eleven years old, back before I even knew or cared what a “good voice” was.  Furthermore, I find that Dylan’s voice complements his songs like no other voice could.  Especially in Dylan’s earlier songs, such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, in which he sang of suffering, his weathered-sounding voice could convince his listeners that he’d been through all that suffering, despite the reality that he was just a kid in his early twenties from a comfortable middle-class background.

 

Now before I get out of control singing the praises of Mr. Dylan, I should probably take the time now to post some recommendations to those who might want to get more acquainted with the man’s work.  Here are some Dylan songs (and a couple of albums) that I think are essential:

  • “Blowin’ in the Wind” (from “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”) – a good song to begin with.  Not really one of his stronger songs, in my opinion, but it is his original “signature song”, it’s the song that first got young revolutionaries in America to notice him, it was probably the first song I ever heard by him, and its message is still somewhat relevant today, even though it was written in 1962.
  • “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” (from “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”) – probably the first song to have that ambiguity that Dylan later became famous for.  This song, rife with ominous imagery and warnings about an impending “hard rain”, was thought to be about nuclear war, but Dylan has always denied this assumption.  It could be about any huge and catastrophic event that’s just beyond the horizon, but just what it could be is unknown.
  • “Talkin’ World War III Blues” (from “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan”) – very few artists could pull off a song that’s this hilarious and this tragic all at the same time.  Dylan did a lot of “Talking Blues” songs during the first few years of his career, but this is probably the best.
  • “The Times They Are A-Changin'” (from “The Times They Are A-Changin'”) – perpetually relevant, as long as the world continues to change.
  • “Chimes of Freedom” (from “Another Side of Bob Dylan”) – a powerful song from Dylan’s “protest” period that calls for the freedom of “every hung-up person in the whole wide universe”.
  • “Mr. Tambourine Man” (from “Bringing it All Back Home”) – one of my three all-time favorite songs (tied with two other Dylan songs: “Visions of Johanna” and “Shelter from the Storm”).  The Byrds did a very melodic cover of it which I quite like, but lyrically there’s so much more going on in Dylan’s version.  Many think the song is about drugs (I blame The Byrds for this.  They had to omit every verse except the one about the “magic swirling ship”, didn’t they?), but I think it actually is literally about easing one’s emotional pain through music, and not drugs.  Maybe I’m wrong; maybe I’m naive.  I don’t care.
  • “Subterranean Homesick Blues” (from “Bringing it All Back Home”) – one of Dylan’s contemporaries, folksinger Arlo Guthrie (whose father, Woody Guthrie, had a profound influence on Dylan) called this “the first rap song”.  I’ll let you be the judge.  Rap song or not, I doubt that R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” would have even existed without this song’s influence.
  • “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” (from “Bringing it All Back Home”) – it’s a shame Dylan isn’t more well-known for his plethora of beautiful love songs.  This is one of the best.
  • “Like a Rolling Stone” (from “Highway 61 Revisited”) – one of Dylan’s other “signature songs”, this song is not just one of Bob Dylan’s best, but also one of the greatest rock songs from the 1960s, or possibly ever.  “Rolling Stone” magazine (I wonder where they got their name from?) even called this the #1 rock song ever.  It’s also allegedly the song that made Bruce Springsteen realize he wanted to be a musician.  I don’t know If I’d consider “Like a Rolling Stone” to be THE greatest rock song ever, but it’s a darn great song, and I think every music fan should hear it at least once in his or her life.
  • “Blonde on Blonde” (whole album) – one of Dylan’s finest albums.  It includes “Visions of Johanna”, which I consider to be, quite possibly, the greatest song ever.  This was my favorite Dylan album until I got “Blood on the Tracks”.  By the way, “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35” (better known as “Everybody Must Get Stoned”) is not about drugs.  “Stoned” means “ostracized” in this song.  Although I’ve read that everyone in the studio was stoned when the song was recorded, so one could argue that “Everybody must get stoned” is a double-entendre.
  • “I Want You” (from “Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits”) – unbearable longing never sounded so good.
  • “Lay Lady Lay” (from “Nashville Skyline”) – A beautiful seduction song, and a good song to start with if you’re not crazy about Dylan’s voice.  He was apparently getting voice lessons or something when “Nashville Skyline” was being recorded, so his voice sounds a lot smoother on this album than on any other (he started singing again in his regular voice by the next album).
  • “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (from the soundtrack to “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid”) – and you thought it was a Guns ‘n’ Roses song, didn’t you?
  • “Blood on the Tracks” (whole album) – truly Dylan’s masterpiece.  Many of the songs are wrought with sorrow, anger, and regret, since Dylan’s marriage was starting to unravel when he recorded this.  Yet, there’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”, which, in spite of its title, is a relatively upbeat song.  And “Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts” tells a story that’s just begging for a movie adaptation.
  • “One More Cup of Coffee” (from “Desire”) – just a cool sounding song.  I recently discovered a pretty awesome cover of this song performed by The White Stripes, which just goes to show you how much Dylan has stood the test of time.
  • “Love Sick” (from “Time Out of Mind”) – Dylan’s a different kind of love sick here:  he’s sick of love.  This song was used in the Victoria’s Secret commercial that marked about the 50th time that Dylan could have conceivably “sold out”.  But who cares?  This song has a hypnotic organ part, that’s good enough for me.
  • “Thunder on the Mountain” (from “Modern Times”) – from Dylan’s latest studio album (at the time this was written.  I hear he’s coming out with a new one soon).  One needs no further evidence than this song to know Dylan’s still got it.  So this song makes a reference to Alica Keys.  Dylan’s “I Shall Be Free” from the early 1960s made reference to Elizabeth Taylor, Brigitte Bardot, Sofia Loren, and Anita Eckberg.