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Music matters

Thursday 11/23/23

Downloaded some goodies and rarities--this Christmas-themed Judy Garland album that someone curated, stuffed with hard-to-find items from all kinds of sources, and an expanded edition of the Meet Me in St. Louis soundtrack, with lots of alternate takes. How I love Judy Garland. Also grabbed a radio session from the end of 1944, with the first ever performance of "Meet Me in St. Louis," which I've discussed on the radio. She gets the title wrong--that's how new the song was. For technique, Garland was at that Ella Fitzgerald level.

The Who's "The Real Me" is very much informed by their own cover of "Baby Don't You Do It."

There are a number of issues with the Beatles'--though it's not the Beatles--"Now and Then," but one of them is consent. Do you really have the right to take someone else's work that was made in these separate circumstances for something other than what you wish to use it for and call it now, do what you want to it and then put it out as this thing it was never intended to be? You can say, "He would have been fine with this" all you want, but I'm not certain John Lennon would have been and I'm more inclined to think he would't be.

I never listen to any Beatles remixes done by Giles Martin. It's not his place and I don't care. The music was the music and I'll take it as it was made and released.

Downloaded all of Herbie Nichols' Blue Note output and the Grateful Dead's run of six shows at the Capitol Theater in Port Chester in February 1971.

Listened to Black Rebel Motorcycle's Howl. All of their albums are worthwhile--they're consistent and consummate and have been one of our finest rock and roll bands for more than twenty years--but this one is their best.

What I wouldn't do for a recording of a Little Willie John concert.

There is no need for their to be expanded versions of the Beatles' Red and Blue albums, and I would say that putting them out runs counter to the concept of value the Beatles were about. As record collectors themselves, they gave you good value. Theirs album, for example, didn't need to include the recent singles. When you bought Beatles product, you got good value.

The Red and Blue albums were gateway albums for people who weren't around when the Beatles were. You started there--or there was a good chance, anyway--and then you went to the proper albums.

You had the right concept at the time, the right amount of songs, with the original versions of the Red and Blue albums. The sampler was what it was, but when you keep adding to a sampler, it's something else, and now you have these two bastardized sets that occupy this no man's land. Because when you expand something like these sets, then they aren't primers, and they aren't really self-contained, worthwhile listening experiences. They don't have a purpose. Save to pull in cash. But it's not value as the Beatles had espoused value.

It'd be better to put out sets of unreleased material, but I understand why they don't and why Dylan does. The Beatles as a business venture is now very broad, the way Disney is very broad and superhero films are very broad. There's no interest in the person who is learned when it comes to that subject, whereas Dylan product caters to that person.

For the Beatles, it's entirely about sales. Bottom line. Even if they were going to make money, if they're not going to make a certain huge amount of money, it won't come out. Or it's much less likely. When people buy things like the Revolver expanded edition, what do they talk about most? The original album, as remixed. It's really like the Beatles as in Beatles, Inc. doesn't want the expert, but only the Everyman who knows some of the hits and the Boomers who have conflated the Beatles with their own sense of self. I have experience with that kind of person. An older person who has become infected by the rampant narcissism of our age and the insecurity it further fosters. They are people who take it personally if they encounter an intelligent insight about the Beatles' music that is not full-on cheerleading. It's like if you called them fat or stupid personally. They get very angry, very defensive. Hyper-irrational. Infantile. I don't believe they listen that closely at all, or care to. They just want that background tune they can hum to, and to be able to think about themselves a certain way. It's actually very sad, when you think about it. Empty. But we as a people are emptier by the day, these brittle, barren cupboards where it takes a single flick of the finger to crack the shelves.

What should be released and would actually add something new, at least in terms of official product? The Washington Coliseum show from February 1964. All of the Ed Sullivan performances. The Shea Stadium show from 1965. A sanctioned version of the bootleg It's Not Too Bad which documents the evolution of "Strawberry Fields Forever." The complete BBC material. The Paris concerts from 1965.

Saw Dylan at the Orpheum recently. As I was leaving, with Park Street Church in front of me on a nice autumn night, two meatheads were complaining. One said, "He literally didn't play any classics," to which the other suggested they go to the bar, "for a quick one," which I'm pretty sure ended up being rather more than that. Beyond apparently no one in the world knowing how to use the word "literally" correctly, what's annoying is that there wasn't exactly some great mystery as to what he was going to play and the order he was going to play it in. These are very predictable shows in terms of setlists, with perhaps the inclusion of some surprise song that has something to do with the city he's in. You need to sing along to "Tangled Up in Blue"? That's what you need at the Dylan show?

Attended a noon performance of Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf at Symphony Hall. Lots of kids in attendance, less where I was up in the balcony.

Listened to Paul Lewis's album of Brahms' late piano works. Music for the November portion of autumn.


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