A Beatlemaniac’s Pilgrimage

Last week, I was able to visit the mecca of all Beatles’ history: Liverpool. It’s no secret that while my love of classic rock runs deep for many bands, The Beatles have always been my favorite. So when I boarded the Magical Mystery Tour Bus (which I highly recommend if you ever find yourself in Liverpool), I was ecstatic to finally be seeing the places that John, Paul, George and Ringo called home.

One of our first stops was Penny Lane.  Surprisingly, the small tiny lane isn’t what the song is actually centered around. A few blocks away is Smithdown Road, a busy plaza where Paul and George would wait for the bus to school. Here, they would see ‘the barber showing photographs’ and ‘the banker with a motorcar’. Sadly, it was a cloudy day, so no blue suburban skies for me.



Next, we made a quick stop at the birthplace and childhood home of George Harrison (pictured bottom right). My favorite stop, Strawberry Fields, followed. The replica of the famous red gate is pictured on the left. Lyrics and messages to the band were scribbled all over, as seen on the top right with the lyrics from ‘The End’. Young John Lennon used to attend small concerts and events for the Salvation Army at Strawberry Fields with his Aunt Mimi, a place that stuck with him for quite some time afterwards.

PicMonkey Collage

Mendips, pictured on the left, is John’s childhood home. Sent to live with his Aunt Mimi at a young age, John looked to her as his constant maternal figure (although he interacted regularly with his mother, Julia, until her untimely death). Mimi’s now famous words to John reside on a plaque in this house and in her current home: “The guitar’s all very well as a hobby, John, but you’ll never make a living out of it.” The next two pictures are photos from the McCartney residence, where Paul and his brothers grew up. This house is famous for its history; countless of the Beatles’ early hits were brought to life by John and Paul inside.

PicMonkey Collage

A Beatles tour in Liverpool would not be complete without stopping at the band’s breakthrough stage: The Cavern Club. Outside, the brick wall features hundreds of famous musicians who have performed at the club (such as the Arctic Monkeys, Jimi Hendrix, and Gerry and the Pacemakers). The Beatles, along with each individual member, are front and center.


Inside, the dark and loud atmosphere made me feel like I stepped into the club in the early ’60s. Beatle relics and posters of other performers surrounded the walls as a local guitarist played a few Beatles and Elvis covers. It wasn’t hard to imagine the Fab Four taking the stage to bursts of applause and screams just over fifty years ago.

PicMonkey Collagel PicMonkey Collagem


My last, personal stop was The Beatles Story, a walk through journey covering the band’s early days in Hamburg to their rocky ending. Another great experience. The picture below was the last room of the attraction, a tribute to John Lennon’s Imagine. My trip to Liverpool was long sought after and well worth it! A must do for any fellow Beatlemaniac.



‘Hard Day’s Night’ Re-Release

In 1964, The Beatles shot to unprecedented, world-wide fame.  They became a household name as men and women of all ages fell in love with their optimistic pop.  The release of Hard Day’s Night, their first movie, marked their quickly increasing critical and public reception. The movie was set up as a ‘mockumentary’, meant to play off a day in the life of the Beatles.  Approaching the fiftieth anniversary of Hard Day’s Night release, NME has just announced that the fully restored film will be released in theaters on July 4th.

Hard Day’s Night is a tribute to the Beatles’ die-hard fans.  John, Paul, George and Ringo get into crazy situations with only the most sarcastic and witty humor, and although their life at the time was almost nothing like the movie depicted, it is still a great watch with great music.

The film was directed by Richard Lester (who also worked on the band’s next film, Help!) and features an appearance by George Harrison’s future (and ex) wife, Pattie Boyd. Victor Spinetti, who also appeared in the bands’ other movies, played a television director. He became a good friend to the four band members and passed away in 2012.

The Beatles featured in many other movies such as Help!Magical Mystery TourYellow Submarine, and the foreshadowing Let it Be.  Hard Day’s Night was their first and is my personal favorite.  At the beginning of their career, they seemed to be four boys startled and pleasantly surprised with their quick rise to fame, and this film captures that perfectly.  While they quickly grew out of this phase and matured into more sophisticated song writers and personas, it is always nice to revisit this side of the band again.

Hard Day’s Night will re-release in theaters on July 4th, DVD and Blu-ray on July 21st.



Hallelujah (Jeff Buckley)

Hallelujah, originally written by Leonard Cohen, has been covered countless times (most will recognize its appearance in Shrek). Ten years after its release, musician Jeff Buckley released his only full album, Grace, featuring his own take of the classic song.  Today, it is viewed as one of the song’s best covers and Buckley’s best work.

Leonard Cohen’s lyrics are beautiful and their meaning is still debated, as the reoccurring religious subtext gives a new meaning to the song. At its least obscure, this song is about love lost and passion that died.  Buckley’s soft voice and intricate guitar work seem to fully encompass the meaning that Cohen imagined when he wrote the song. Cohen’s version, and all others, are worth celebrating, but this cover, standing at six minutes and forty-two seconds, is emotionally impacting in a way the others are not.

Buckley died three years after the release of his album, drowning in the Mississippi River. The last anyone saw of him was just before he went swimming, playing and singing Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love. His other work may not be vividly remembered by many, but his beautiful cover of Hallelujah continues to stand the test of time.

Well I heard there was a secret chord
that David played and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
Well it goes like this:
The fourth, the fifth,
The minor fall and the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah…

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to her kitchen chair
She broke your throne and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah…

Baby I’ve been here before
I’ve seen this room and I’ve walked this floor (you know)
I used to live alone before I knew you
And I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
and love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah…

there was a time when you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show that to me, do you?
But remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was Hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah…

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you
And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah


Jimi Hendrix: Best of the Best

Jimi Hendrix is February’s Artist of the Month.  As March approaches, we’ll take one last look back on the guitar god’s greatest moments and songs.

Woodstock, 1969: The Star-Spangled Banner

The last morning of Woodstock brought thousands of crazed, tired yet energetic fans to a stand still quiet when Jimi Hendrix took the stage for his rendition of the national anthem.  Never before had it been played with such a absolute message (the Vietnam war), and never again will it be played with such gusto. Often looked at as the stand out of his career, Hendrix will always be remembered for the quiet way in which he changed America and the world that morning.

Little Wing (1967)

One of Hendrix’s shortest songs, Little Wing is one of his greatest. The slow, meaningful guitar plays with such an understated beauty and Hendrix’s voice is full of the appreciation he feels for the woman in this song. The beginning is beautiful, the fade out is beautiful, and so is everything in between.  Hendrix knew how to rock, but when he dialed it back down, he was able to create something otherworldly.

Are You Experienced (Album- 1967)

No other debut album will ever have the influence that Are You Experienced had.  Every song on this album is a gem, and every guitar riff was something unheard of.  From he emotion filled and riling ‘Hey Joe’ to the melodic ‘May This Be Love’, every track presented a new side of the then up and coming band.

All Along the Watch Tower (1968)

This song was originally written and performed by Bob Dylan, but Hendrix took the calm song and made it his own.  The piercing guitar that Hendrix is remembered for does not disappoint here, shaking the ground in the first few seconds and going on wild, erratic runs throughout the song. Hendrix’s vocals add to the overall wild and fast feel of one of his best songs.

Voodoo Child (Slight Return) (1968)

Ranked #101 on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Songs, Voodoo Child (Slight Return) features Hendrix at his most innovative.  A timeless classic rock song that introduced the concept of the wah-wah guitar, this song makes a return to a similar song (Voodoo Chile) that appears earlier on the album (Electric Ladyland).  It was released as a single after Hendrix’s untimely death, and it shot to #1 immediately.

What are your favorite Hendrix songs and moments?

Just the Way You Are (Billy Joel)

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and this 1977 Billy Joel hit is the perfect song for the occasion (if you have a reason to celebrate!).   Joel wrote ‘Just the Way You Are’ for his first wife, Elizabeth Weber, but Joel believed that the song never lived up its potential.  If not for Joel’s manager, the song might not have seen the light of day.

‘Just the Way You Are’ was released on Joel’s most famous album, ‘The Stranger’.  After divorcing his wife, he rarely acknowledged the song as apart of his catalogue.  But contrary to his personal distaste for the track, the public immediately fell in love with the simple and meaningful lyrics.  The song managed to clinch a rock and roll Grammy- something that shocked Joel, who was still slightly new to the business.  “I was absolutely surprised it won a Grammy. It wasn’t even Rock ‘n’ Roll, it was like a standard with a little bit of R&B in it. It reminded me of an old Stevie Wonder recording.”

This song is hard to not love; you feel as though Billy Joel is singing to you over the strong alto saxophone (the defining instrument of this song).  Widely-played at weddings, ‘Just the Way You Are” has always been one of rock’s most classic love songs.

Don’t go changing, to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore
I would not leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you areDon’t go trying some new fashion
Don’t change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care

I don’t want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
I just want someone that I can talk to
I want you just the way you are.

I need to know that you will always be
The same old someone that I knew
What will it take ’till you believe in me
The way that I believe in you.

I said I love you and that’s forever
And this I promise from my heart
I couldn’t love you any better
I love you just the way you are.


50 Years of The Beatles

8 pm, February 9th, 1964.  An astonishing 76 million Americans gathered around their black and white televisions.  60% of America tuned in to see the four young men from Liverpool, the most watched television program to that date.  While the show’s studio was full of screaming girls, children and adults alike watched the event that would soon go down in cultural history: The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show.

50 years later, this band has not only stood the test of time, but has become such a part of our culture that it seems as though they never left.  The Beatles paved the road for every artist that followed them; without them, music would not be what it is today.

When they arrived in America, no one was ready for the storm they brought with them.  The British Invasion, in my opinion, began the moment when Ed Sullivan introduced the Beatles. There was no going back after that moment- the world would be forever changed.


America had been going through a rough patch at the time, as Kennedy had just been assassinated.  The  lively and energetic group from Liverpool not only brought musical talent, but changed the mood of a crestfallen country.   Elvis’ rock and roll was being restored in a country that needed something to be happy about.

Will the Beatles still be remembered in another 50 years? The answer is undoubtedly yes. Everything they stood for- from their suits to their haircuts to their Liverpool accents- was iconic.  They connect with us on a personal level that is hard to find in music nowadays.  ‘All You Need Is Love’ remains a universally recognized message; ‘Let It Be’ will always be an inspiration during dark times.  If any four people had the power to change historic culture so drastically, it was Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr.

But as America, Britain, and the rest of the world learned the hard way, great things cannot last forever.  The breakup was rough- the two untimely deaths were even more distressing.  But even after all this time, the legacy remains intact even when the band is not.  They represented hope, change, and above all, love.  No musician will ever come close to impacting the world as much as four young men from Liverpool did.

Summertime (Janis Joplin)

In the middle of a deadly winter, everyone is starting to get sick of the black ice and negative temperatures.  If impulsively buying tickets to the closest Caribbean island isn’t an option for you, the next best thing is to day dream about escaping.  And what better way to do it than with some summer themed music?

Janis Joplin’s music was a massive part of the psychedelic movement in the 60s and 70s.  Like Jimi Hendrix (our Artist of the Month), her voice, style, and guitar paved new frontiers, especially for women.  Summertime was one of Joplin’s five chart-topping singles of her career, and is the week’s Song of the Week.

Originally written by George Gershwin as an aria, Summertime was recorded by Joplin and her band in the late sixties.  Her version is claimed to be the most recognized and acclaimed version of the song. Joplin’s songs are usually on the more subdued and calm side, and this is no exception.  The opening guitar riff is really unforgettable, and if you’ve never heard it I suggest listening to it (with the link below).

Joplin’s crooning voice takes us back to the warm days of her past.  The style of her singing this song differs from many of her songs; the higher notes and rough voice give it a slightly desperate tone.  Someone once told me that if you listen closely, Joplin sounds exactly how he imagined Marge Simpson would sing.  If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense (in the weirdest way).

Summertime was often Joplin’s closing song at concerts, and was the last song she ever performed live. On one of her tours, Jimi Hendrix played the guitar part to this song while she sang.  There are no video recordings, and only a few audio tapes of the performance exist. Nevertheless, it was a momentous moment where two titans of blues-rock took the stage together.

The 2014 Grammys: A Beatles Reunion and the Winners

The 2014 Grammys was a huge night for classic rock (and especially for Beatlemaniacs!).  A few days ago, I published an article about the upcoming event, so now its time to look back and reflect on music’s most extravagant night.

First things first – a Beatles reunion! (Or, the remaining half of the band performing together.)  As a huge Beatles fan who has seen Paul McCartney twice in concert, I saw this as a monumental event.  Paul and Ringo Starr took the stage for one of McCartney’s new songs Queenie Eye.  When the song finished, the pair hugged and bowed to a standing audience in the classic Beatles manner.  Ringo also performed one his own songs, Photograph.

Since the band’s split in 1970 (which I can’t say I recall), fans have been waiting for some sort of reconciliation between the band members.  Although all four members came to friendly terms before the two untimely deaths, it was great to see the remaining members of the band performing together.  The Beatles changed the world of music in so many ways, and as their 50th anniversary in America approaches, such a performance seems fitting.

Metallica fans rejoiced with a performance of one of their greats, One.  Queens of the Stone Age also took the stage with Dave Grohl and Nine Inch Nails.


Best rock song
“Ain’t Messin’ ‘Round” — Gary Clark Jr.
“Cut Me Some Slack” — Paul McCartney, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Pat Smear — WINNER
“Doom and Gloom” — The Rolling Stones
“God Is Dead?” — Black Sabbath
“Panic Station” — Muse

Cut Me Some Slack is restoringtherock’s Song of the Week.  The song was the favorite to win the award, so it was no surprise when the Nirvana members and McCartney took the Grammy home.

Best rock album
Black Sabbath — “13”
David Bowie — “The Next Day”
Kings of Leon — “Mechanical Bull”
Led Zeppelin — “Celebration Day” — WINNER
Queens of the Stone Age — “… Like Clockwork”
Neil Young with Crazy Horse — “Psychedelic Pill”

A little late to the game – but nothing could really beat an album comprised of Led Zeppelin’s greatest hits.

Best rock performance
Alabama Shakes — “Always Alright”
David Bowie — “The Stars (Are Out Tonight)”
Imagine Dragons — “Radioactive” — WINNER
Led Zeppelin — “Kashmir”
Queens of the Stone Age — “My God is the Sun”
Jack White — “I’m Shakin’ ”

What did you think about the Grammy winners? The Beatles reunion and other performances?


Cut Me Some Slack (McCartney, Grohl, Novoselic, Smear)

If you were one of the 27 million people who tuned in to watch the Grammys, you’ll understand why Cut Me Some Slack is this week’s Song of the Week.  Written by Paul McCartney, and Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear of Nirvana, this song was awarded Best Rock Song.  The group debuted this song at the 12-12-12 Benefit Concert for Sandy Relief, surprising the entire audience (which included me!) Here’s a video of their performance:

Cut Me Some Slack is featured in Grohl’s new documentary Sound City.  According to Grohl, the track was written in just three hours – a huge achievement when considering the group’s success.  But quick song writing isn’t new to this group of musicians.  McCartney wrote some of his greatest Beatles hits in less than an hour.

Accepting the Grammy for Best Rock Song
Accepting the Grammy for Best Rock Song

The song was not originally meant to premiere at the 12-12-12 concert, but Grohl and McCartney decided it make ‘quite the splash’. “We walked in; we jammed the song. It just came out of nowhere. The best songs happen that way,” said Grohl. “We recorded it live and put a vocal over it and that was it. It was three hours and it was perfect.”

The song is a full blown tribute to rock, tracing back to Nirvana’s roots and the Beatles’ later catalogue.  The inspiration for the song came swiftly and while the group was ‘jamming’ – something that McCartney says is a necessary part of the creative process.  Creative energy and ideas are things that are sometimes missing from music these days, but McCartney, Grohl, Smear and Novoselic know how it’s done.

Looking Ahead to the Grammy Awards

Music’s biggest night is fast approaching- January 26th at 8pm to be exact.  While the music award show emphasizes a lot of modern day music (and rightfully so), some big classic rock names are still in the running for awards and performances.

Best Rock Performance

David Bowie and Led Zeppelin both are contenders in this category; Bowie for The Stars (Are Out Tonight) and Zeppelin for Kashmir.  Zeppelin fans have been split over this nomination.  Some are glad that the band is included, while many scoff at the idea of this nomination being too late and meaningless.  Personally, Kashmir is my favorite Zeppelin song, so this win would be great. But I agree with those who say that music like this is timeless and Grammys mean almost nothing this late in the game- no loss of awards will change how great of a band Led Zeppelin was.

Best Rock Song

Two rock titans are nominated in this category: The Rolling Stones with their new song Doom and Gloom, and Paul McCartney with the reunited Nirvana with Cut Me Some Slack.  I had the pleasure of seeing the last one performed live at the 12-12-12 concert, where it was released to the public for the first time, so I might be a bit biased.  The other nominations in this category (Panic Station- Muse, God is Dead- Black Sabbath, Ain’t Messin ‘Round- Gary Clark Jr.) also hold a lot of sway. It will be a close call.

Best Rock Album

Led Zeppelin’s Celebration Day is another late nomination, while David Bowie’s successful The Next Day  is also a contender.  Black Sabbath also earned itself a nomination with 13Psychedelic Phil by Neil Young, Mechanical Bull by Kings of Leon, and …Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age are the other nominees.


Both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr are listed as performers, and they’re being honored with the 2014  Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award.  Metallica will also be taking the stage, and on a side note, so will Beyonce!  The list of performers goes on with Daft Punk, Pink and John Legend, just to name a few.

Whether you think that the Grammys awards are meaningful or meaningless, it nevertheless promises to be a fun night.  Tune in this Sunday night at 8pm and check back at restoringtherock.net soon afterwards!

because what's life without the classics?