On Day Four of the Trump Impeachment Trial, it was clear that the House Democrats’ case against the President was Not Being Heard. Representative Adam Schiff speaks to the media before the fourth day of the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump. Each day this week, when the Senate impeachment trial of Donald John […]
“Rocket Man ” was the first Elton John song that I fell in love with. It wasn’t even mine, my brother Kenny bought it, god rest his soul. The first single I bought on my own was “Daniel”, which I traded away. I guess I was disappointed at the time because it wasn’t a rocket like lot of his stuff was. Today I can say, “you IDIOT, why would you give that record away? It was a great song!” Maybe I share Elton’s lack of judgement; in his recent book Me, he admits that he thought “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me ” was a terrible song: funny how things will look so different in retrospect.
He was fortunate to have ‘come out ‘ in 1967, the very year that the UK struck down its law making homosexuality illegal. Or we should say he was Found out by his boss Long John Baldry: “Oh come on, don’t you know you’re gay?”(or words to that effect).
It never bothered me that Elton was bi or gay or whatever. I just loved the music, his preferences were his own business. Gay wasn’t a thing people talked about when I was growing up, at least not around me, so I didn’t have a chance to be indoctrinated by anybody’s paranoid ravings. It’s just funny now. For instance I always liked Queen from the beginning and I never got the gay reference in their very name. Didn’t know, didn’t care. Those fellas could still rock.
Elton’s early records came out on the Uni label, a division of MCA Records, which is how his early singles like “Rocket Man ” looked like that in America but by the time “Daniel ” came along everything was on that black MCA label.
Oddly enough the songs I listened to first weren’t actually sung by Elton. “Lady Samantha” was a song I loved and picked up on my dad’s Three Dog Night record from 1969, ‘Suitable For Framing “. I remember we were at his cabin in Lake Land Village, a development over the Tacoma Narrows Bridge near Allyn, Washington. Three Dog Night was also the first band I heard doing “Your Song ” on an album I got for Christmas of 1971, “Golden Biscuits “. Elton’s version was already a year old by then.
Of course he was also notable for announcing that he was retiring, and then coming right out of retirement a few months later. For some reason retirement just didn’t seem to take with Elton. The first time he said that was 1976 or ’77: didn’t last long. He’d be in a slump for a while but that was okay: he’d give himself a jumpstart like his live Melbourne shows in ’86 or ‘The Lion King ‘ soundtrack.
Maybe I also liked Elton because he wore glasses. So did John Denver but see the thing was, in the 1970s glasses were not sexy. I always wore glasses and I was never good at sports at any level of schooling. If you wore glasses, you were a four eyes: if you couldn’t play ball, you were a faggot–sorry, their words.
Elton wore ’em, so did John Lennon. Not only that but Elton made them a fashion statement. He had a gift for flamboyance unmatched in the rock world, which is saying something considering it was par for the course with acts like David Bowie and KISS on the loose. I always appreciated Elton’s music and his example, and I thought I’d say so now.
The foregoing was inspired by Elton John ‘s 2019 biography Me, published by Henry Holt and Company.
UNITED STATES – Members of the lower legislative chamber in the US on Thursday approved a nonbinding resolution aimed at restraining President Donald Trump from taking military action against Iran. The House of Representatives voted against Trump’s ability to attack Iran in the future without congressional approval. The House reached the resolution following wide criticism […]
From December 2 to the 12th, George Harrison made his first stage appearance outside the confines of the Beatles when he sat in as an anonymous member of Delaney & Bonnie’s tour, alongside Eric Clapton who’d persuaded George to join in on what would be a enjoyable and fulfilling concert experience.
Is it a coincidence that every time John Lennon performed “Cold Turkey” live, in 1969 anyway, Eric Clapton was on hand to reprise his epic guitar riff? Organized to benefit UNICEF, John pulled together a larger Plastic Ono Band in just under 48 hours. The other acts performing included the Hot Chocolate Band, the Pioneers, the Rascals, Jimmy Cliff and Black Velvet.
George was also present, the first time that two Beatles had appeared on a stage together since 1966. And if George had wanted to fade into the background, he succeeded as his guitar was barely perceptible amongst all the other gathered artists that day who included John, Yoko, George, Eric, Klaus Voormann, the incomparable Bobby Keys, Billy Preston, Keith Moon, Alan White, Jim Gordon and Delaney & Bonnie. John would later to refer to this gathering as the Plastic Ono Supergroup. “Cold Turkey” had already become a concert favorite for John, this being the second time he’d performed it live. It’s a respectable reproduction of his terrifying single, though the screams don’t reach the same drug-fever pitch until the six-minute mark.
Next up is Yoko with “Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking For Her Hand in the Snow”. This is an exercise in dissonance. If I were a child and my mother sang this to me, I would be very frightened. Before the song begins she’s crying “John! I love you! Britain! You killed Hanratty, you murderer!” (James Hanratty (4 October 1936 – 4 April 1962), also known as the A6 Murderer, was a British criminal who was one of the final eight people in the UK to be executed before capital punishment was effectively abolished. c/o Wikipedia)
One harsh riff settles into a groove over the usual screaming, interspersed with Yoko wailing “Kyoko! Don’t Cry!”, with too few horns to accentuate her cat-like shrieking. Fifteen minutes they had to endure which only ended because the drummers sped up in a desperate attempt to end the song. Unfortunately the band raced along to keep up as well, so it still dragged on until John wound it up with his guitar blaring feedback from a speaker.
Beatles Bible: Plastic Ono Band Live at Lyceum 1969:
Available on: Side One of the Live Jam LP included with Some Time in New York City
Release date: June 1972
Remixed with Overdub in New York, 1971 by Geoff Emerick, with Nicky Hopkins on electric piano, replacing the original organ track. (P.S. the original performance of “Don’t Worry Kyoko ran for 40 minutes but it was trimmed down to 15 minutes for the album release. Emerick was forced to change reels during the song, and there are three edits evident in the Live Jam version. )
Mikes’ latest book, FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS, is available at amazon.com.
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[Hello there. This was something I scribbled one night for a project that may or may not ever come to fruition, bringing together all my female characters. Just for the hell of it I’m throwing it out here. See what you think. Enjoy.–Mike.]
She pushed herself up from the pile of bodies, wrinkling her nostrils against the sulfar stench wafting up from the lowlands. She stood tall, her cinammon-skin already damp with perspiration. Someone had thoughtfully provided a tight pair of snakeskin trunks, while leaving her feet bare. Next time, she mused, I get to pick my outfit.
Perhaps it was still night, Jamai thought. Somehow she knew this purple skyline with her roiling storm clouds had always been so. All it needed was a cliché bolt of–
“Holie!” And here it comes, grounded to the lightning rod her small companion thrust into the catwalk at the last second. A blinding flash illuminated her in white silhouette, but in all respects she appeared unharmed.
“Hah! Take that, you dinkoff! Nobody beats science around here!” After taking one quick around, she added to herself, “God willing.” None the less, her khaki shorts and dingy white safari blouse appeared undamaged.
“Well played, sister,” Jamai smiled, taking Kiana Richards’ hand.
“It was nothing special,” Kiana shrugged, flicking her neck-length auburn hair back from her face. “These things were just lying on the catwalk. It just seemed like the thing to do. One question…”
“Yes. Where are we?”
“Exactly where you need to be,” another voice intruded. Another sister. Her bootsteps rattled on the catwalk’s struts, shaking the fragile structure and sending sympathetic shivers through all their bodies. The violet skinsuit graced all her best features, while the window cut into the chest fabric did nothing to hide her globes.
“Lianna,” Jamai nodded.
Kiana did the same, adding, “This is gonna get confusing fast. So tell me, we were all called together for a reason, or fell out of time or some crap?”
“No need to get snarky, red.” A collective startle jumped up into their hearts as they jerked to the right. Another blonde like Lianna crouched on the handrail, honey-tinged this time. But even in this dank light she was pale beyond reason, the tips of her fangs dimpling the corners of her lips. Leather cloaked her from those wetlook leggings to the slinky coat on her back. “Hi there. I’m Vye.” Nudging Jamai’s forearm, she said, “Hi again, bosoms. Been a while.”
To the others she said this. “It’s probably appropriate that I’m here at least. Take a look down.”
Her gaze angled over the rail. Together the three of them joined Vye in peeking twenty stories down to the field of lava breathing acrid fumes below. A dark crust formed over a large proportion of the landscape, but there remained bubbling honeypots oozing fresh magma. And towards the east, from their position at least, there heaved a maw filled with stalactite teeth, wide enough to gorge on an elephant.
“Let me guess,” Kiana whistled. “That’s the devil himself.”
“I’m going for something more general,” Vye replied. “Evil from before the dawn of time.”
“And what say you, Godwalker?”
This was getting to be such a regular occurrence, the ladies simply joined in a mutual sag, then turned to greet the new intruders. Apparently this was to be the first man on their team, a husky fellow in buckskin breeches and waistcoat over a plain white shirt, with moccasins and a leather sash girding his Bowie knife.
“Welcome, Jeremiah,” Lianna grinned. “You’re just in time. Bring the reinforcements?” He nodded.
As the portal opened wide behind him, Kiana asked, “Excuse me. Godwalker?” “Just a nickname,” Lianna squirmed.
“You don’t say,” Jamai queried with her raised eyebrows.
Throwing up her hands, Lianna elaborated. “All right, I may have met some Hindu gods, and they were kind to me…”
“Hah! More like they fondled you!” Vye laughed.
“So wait…are we all…dead?” Kiana whispered.
“Only some of us, lass!” spoke the tall Irish beauty striding from the portal, flowing skirt trailing her. Beside her a girl of Chinese-American descent practically skipped to keep pace. Besides her TV-Western cowboy outfit, she also lugged a Santa Claus-sized bag across her right shoulder.
The flaming red Irish woman shook all their hands in turn. “Top of the day, lasses. I’m Caitlan, this poor we’en is my partner, Fong. As ye can see, television has thoroughly corrupted her.”
“Sez you,” Fong’s higher pitched voice laughed. “I got the gear.” She looked toward Jamai and smiled. “Hi, Granny!”
Six pairs of eyes at various heights swiveled to a suddenly bashful Jamai. “It’s an affectionate appellation…ohh!” Any shy feelings evaporated as Caitlan and Fong both swept in for a hug.
Lianna harumphed, drawing their attention. “Okay, we all know each other…most of us. We’re all connected in some way. We’re all sisters. A-and brother,” she noted, waving a hand to Jeremiah.
“We’ve all experienced our days of terror, all looked into the face of damnation. I can’t force you to do this, but…that thing down there represents a power even the gods are a little nervous about. We all have our powers, all have our own little gifts, and that’s going to come in handy in the next few minutes. So, I’m asking you, will you stand with me?” As she spoke, so she circulated among the gathered, touching each of her allies with a gloved hand. Those hands were now open, beckoning.
“We’re gonna need a way down there,” Vye commented.
“That’s what we’re here for,” Fong huffed, dropping the bag onto the catwalk. Reaching inside with both small hands, she distributed a rocket pack to each of her fellow warriors. Each one of them fastened the gear as though they’d done this before, like they’d done this all their lives.
“All we need now,” said Kiana cheerily, “is Gail Simone to lead us.”
“Maybe next time,” Fong chipped in.
“Ready, Godwalker?” Jeremiah smiled.
“Don’t call me that,” Lianna moaned. As the smallest, Vye and Kiana bunched on the rails, ready to push off. Everyone else dropped to a runner’s crouch, ready to watch Lianna’s back.
“Okay,” she called, “Let’s go!”
Mikes’ latest book, FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS, is available at amazon.com.
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(photo by Roy Kerwood, May 1969)
I may be cheating, ’cause technically this isn’t a live number at all. It wasn’t even recorded at the same bed-in. The first bed-in, immortalized in the soon-to-be borning single “The Ballad of John and Yoko”, began March 25 to 31st in Room 902 at the Amsterdam Hilton, the Netherlands, five days after their wedding in Gibraltar. Media saturation was the key, bringing in TV and film interviewers, or anyone with a camera or tape recorder to hear their message of peace. Of course it was all recorded and released as film and audio.
For the second bed-in they settled into Room 1742, Hotel Reine-Elizabeth in Montreal, Quebec. From May 26 to June 2nd, they again hosted radio and TV broadcasters, journalists and other visitors, and on the second-to-last day recorded one of the most enduring peace anthems of our generation in five minutes flat. It was taped on borrowed equipment with John on acoustic guitar and a host of friends chanting along to the chorus. A simple song with a powerful and irresistible message. Soon it would be established as part of John’s concert entourage, in one form or another.
Single release date: July 4, 1969 (UK)
Available on: Apple single 1809, anthologized on Shaved Fish (1975), The John Lennon Collection (1982 Geffen), Lennon Legend (1997), Working Class Hero: the Definitive Lennon (2003), Power to the People-The Hits (2010). A rehearsal recording was released on John Lennon Anthology, CD-1 Ascot (1998).
Selected audio highlights from the first bed-in from Amsterdam comprised Side Two of their last experimental LP, The Wedding Album, released November 7, 1969.
Filmed highlights: Honeymoon (1969, 60 minutes), Imagine: John Lennon (1988), John and Yoko: the Bed-In (1990 home video), Bed Peace (2011)
The Beatles Bible:
In what might be the last act of the Beatles-vs-Stones rivalry, following a year after Magical Mystery Tour bombed, the Rolling Stones unleashed a literal circus of their own. A better production was presented to all, though it wouldn’t see the light of day till 1996. The Rock and Roll Circus incorporated actual elements from Sir Robert Fossett’s Circus, including acrobats, a fire-eater and a trained tiger, for starters, along with Jethro Tull, coming off their first album, Taj Mahal, The Who and Marianne Faithful. Also debuting for the first and only time was the Dirty Mac, a super group headlined by Beatle John Lennon.
Directing chores fell to Michael Lindsay-Hogg, who’d already helmed many of the Beatles’ promotional films (“Rain”, “Paperback Writer”, “Hey Jude” and “Revolution”), and was doomed to direct the Get Back/ Let It Be film. The irony is not lost here as this special was filmed partly as a promotional tool for the Stones’ just-released record Begger’s Banquet. When his turn came, John and Mick Jagger sat through an awkward introductory segment wherein Mick almost completely loses his accent. Then John joins his mates live before an invited studio audience.
For this two-song set John assembled a stellar backing combo: Eric Clapton on lead guitar, Mitch Mitchell from the Jimi Hendrix Experience on drums, with Keith Richards from the Stones on bass and John on rhythm guitar. And what’s that black bag moving on the floor?…Oh right, that’s Yoko.
First up is a thumping rendition of “Yer Blues”, fresh from The White Album which had only just arrived in record stores three weeks before. This was a rockin’ cover considering that, for the most part it’s clearly not the same players. First John takes the solo, then Clapton steps in, and never was a sideman more apropos to a blues rendition.
Now joined by ‘perpetual violinist’ Ivry Gitlis, Yoko Ono emerges from her bag after this first song for what starts out as a pleasant little jam. Yoko’s screams don’t even start until they’re a minute and a half in. Luckily they only had to jam for four and a half minutes. Provisionally titled “Her Blues” by John, it wound up on the eventual album release as “Whole Lotta Yoko”.
By the time the Stones took the stage it was 2 am and most of the studio audience had left. Even so, John introduced them with a sly “And now…”, at which point they jump right into “Jumping Jack Flash”. And if some of the audience had left, a lot of those who were left, in their fancy dress and red or yellow blankets were on their feet dancing. Now all that was left was to prepare for broadcast.
This gathering of the stars would not see the light for another couple of decades, however. One story says the Stones felt upstaged by the Who’s performance of “A Quick One While He’s Away”. Another is that they were disappointed in their own performance. That’s a hard one to swallow since, despite the fact that the Stones were exhausted and quite honestly on drugs, they put on a pretty damn good show. One possible reason that rises above the others might be that this was the last public appearance of Brian Jones with the group. The less said the better, for though he was present, well…apart from his slide guitar on “No Expectations”, most of his contributions were inaudible. In an odd turn of events, neither Brian nor John would be around to see this special released to the public.
Available on: The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, released on VHS, laser disc and CD, October 1996, following two days of screenings at the Walter Reade Theater during the New York Film Festival. The DVD followed in October 2004. This was reissued as The Rock and Roll Circus Expanded Edition 2-CD set & The Deluxe CD-DVD-Blue-Ray Edition in April 2019.
Note: the reissue includes unreleased tracks such as “Revolution Rehearsal”, a disjointed uptempo version of “Revolution 1” from The White Album, which slaps the ‘all right’ refrain on top instead of the bottom of the song; a “Warmup Jam” and an unused second take of “Yer Blues” where Clapton lays down an even bluesier twang.
Mikes’ latest book, FATHERS AND DAUGHTERS, is available at amazon.com.
Mike’s Amazon page: