For the last installment in my November article series, P.S. I Love You I decided to end things appropriately as we head into December with a Christmas sleeve. Since yesterday was a George Harrison song that is now associated with Christmas, I decided to wrap it up and throw a bow on it (or something) by keeping the Beatles theme.
“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” will also celebrate its 40th anniversary on December 6th, although it was released in the UK a year later. The song is not really a Christmas song either, but was written as a statement against war, specifically the Vietnam war. John Lennon & Yoko Ono had paid for billboards to be placed in New York city during the 1969 holiday season that simply said WAR IS OVER! (IF YOU WANT IT) | Happy Christmas from John & Yoko. If anything, it marked Lennon’s unofficial independence from The Beatles, and let everyone know that John & Yoko were one.
The song was co-produced by Phil Spector along with John & Yoko, and it is Spector you see on the upper left hand corner of the picture sleeve photo with the Harlem Community Choir. Unfortunately, when the song is introduced on the radio today, the Harlem Community Choir are never credited by announcers but they’ve always been a part of the song, so celebrate them too.
It also marked the first Christmas-related song any Beatle would release to the general public, since their Christmas flexi-disc were made solely for fan club members and remained that way until The Beatles’ Christmas Album was counterfeited in the mid-1970’s.
A song called “Fish & Chick” may sound odd, but when you hear this song, it’s not odd at all. It’s Memória De Peixe, and they are a duo from Lisbon, Portugal consisting of Miguel Nicolau and Nuno Oliveira. For this track they bring on a lady simply known as Da Chick and together they get funky (in English) to create something I think a lot of people will become a fan of.
This was spotted while doing a search on Vimeo, it was posted three months ago but I didn’t know about it, so I share it with you. It’s Black Pus doing what he does best, or one of the things he does best.
A lot of times I do random searches to see what I come up with, and my latest search lead to this. The description is that what you’ll hear consists of a set-up “made from hacked sewing machine pedals, a circuit-bent guitar pedal, and an Arduino Uno. Created with Processing.”
I enjoy stuff like this a lot, because there’s no form other than to create, and there’s no sense of anything but to move forward. Apparently this is the last part of a movement, so I’d like to hear it in full.
With the cowbells sourced from Kool & The Gang‘s “Jungle Jazz”, you can’t lose, and this song by Yinka Diz is a winner. It’s a nice hip-hop track with a respectable soul balance that doesn’t overwhelm or class, which in my book means, well, a winner. Listen and enjoy.
Yinka Diz has released a album he’s making available for free, called New Art, New Money, and you can find it at YinkaDiz.com.
For George Harrison‘s first solo single following the announcement of the end of The Beatles in April 1970, he released what was to be a preview of a statement that was a long time coming for him. “My Sweet Lord”/”Isn’t It A Pity” was released as a double A-side on November 23, 1970. Up until 1969, the Billboard singles chart made it a regular habit to chart both sides of a single individually, so one record could have two different spots, with the A-side generally being higher than the B-side. If radio DJ’s felt strongly over the B-side, they’d give that a shot instead, so one side of the record might be a hit in one part of the country or state, while the other side might’ve been a hit elsewhere. That changed in 1969 when it was decided that if they were going to chart, both songs would chart “as one”. The first Beatles single to do that was “Something”/”Come Together”.
For Harrison’s first, “My Sweet Lord” was a folk-flavored song that spoke highly about his spirituality, while “Isn’t It A Pity” was a moody and somber piece about the human condition. Radio received both songs very well, but since “My Sweet Lord” was released close to the 1970 holiday season, it mixed in with some Christmas song programming and thus becoming a tradition of hearing it during Christmas, even though it is not a Christmas song.
What I love about “My Sweet Lord” is that it’s such an honest song for Harrison, which might seem funny considering he wasn’t honest about revealing the fact that its melody came directly from the girl group song “He’s So Fine” (by The Chiffons). Then again, anyone who listened to The Beatles’ Christmas records knew that pulling songs out of the air randomly was not anything new, since on the 1965 record, Ringo Starr would try to sing The Four Tops‘ “It’s The Same Old Song” before Harrison himself said the word “copyright”. Paul McCartney asks what will happen since they don’t have a copyright, and John Lennon states that perhaps “we’ll get the lilacs (lyrics) out of an old brown shoe”, a term Harrison would nick for himself when he and the band recorded “Old Brown Shoe” as the B-side to “The Ballad Of John & Yoko” four years later.
Thievery aside, it was Harrison’s way of saying that living life is part of the struggle, but that hopefully one day he will be able to “meet him” someday. The first half of the song has him singing “I really want to see you/I really want to see you/I really want to see you, lord/I really want to see you, lord, but it takes so long, my lord”, mixed in with a chorus singing the word “hallelujah”, alluding to his upbringing as a Christian in Liverpool. Once the second half of the song comes around, he changes his calling, equal to him converting to his Hindi beliefs and admiration of the culture and religion of India. All of a sudden, the song has him singing the Hare Krishna mantra, the first time that had ever been done in a pop song, and the first time a #1 pop song featured the mantra:
Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
Hare Rama Hare Rama
This is followed by the Gurur Brahma, or a “daily prayer” Gurur Brahma Gurur Vishnu
Gurur Devo Mahesh Varah
Guru Shakshat Para Brahma
Tasmai Shri Guruve Namah
Anyone who had listened to Harrison’s work with The Beatles knew he was incorporating more Indian sounds and themes in his music since “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”, so in many ways, the Hare Krishna mantra and a daily prayer was him showing his independence as a Beatle, and telling the world “this is me, this is very much a part of me, and I hope you will continue on this life voyage with me”. You don’t have to be religious to understand his devotion in the song, and thus it stands out as much more than just something to sing to alongside “Here Comes Santa Claus”.
As the song gained recognition around the world, it would be released with different picture sleeves, a few simply taking excerpts from the All Things Must Pass album, some simply taking Beatles photos from the Get Back/Let It Be sessions:
The sleeve used for the U.S. and UK (shown at the top) was a somber pick meant to represent not “Beatle George” but a new George circa November 1970, and he never looked back.
I believe it was producer 9th Wonder who made reference to this (2011-) being the new “golden era” of hip-hop, and anyone not really taking a serious listen will be missing out on a lot.
For me, when I saw this new video by Danny Brown, I got stoned. From the video and the song. I don’t partake, but I’m watching this and I felt like what happened when I saw the Oliver Stone movie The Doors at theaters, going “whoa man… this is far out”. Of course YMMV, but I really like this and I hope artists will follow their muse and do what THEY want to do, no excuses in 2012. Check it out.
This song came out earlier this year, but I was not aware of it until today. With some of the attention Fishbone has had as of late, with the documentary film making the rounds and a 26 year old song being used a politician on a late-night talk show, it’s a perfect time to get reintroduced to the power of Fishbone or get yourself familiar.
Japan has had a love for ska and reggae for years, and if you close your eyes and listened to this song, you’d think you were listening to ska pioneers and not someone called the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. While Moore does not appear in the video, his presence is in the music and it would be cool if they were able to do a second video and bring him in. Nonetheless, here they are. The Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra did pay a visit to Mexico on this video, they could’ve driven up and looked for Moore. Or maybe they were looking for Moore in Baja California.
You may not know the name Maimouna Youssef off the head just yet, but if you are a fan of The Roots, you definitely have heard her. She was the vocalist in their song “Don’t Feel Right”, which lead her to being nominated for a Grammy.
She laid low this year with the release of an EP called Black Magic Woman, but in 2012, you will be hearing and seeing more from Youssef with the release of her self-released debut album, The Blooming. The video was directed by Brian “B.Kyle” Atkins, and if you know of his work in the past, you know what he’s capable of.
Again, Maimouna Youssef may not be a name you know of just yet, but listen and realize that yes, you do know. Then learn, Then wait. You know of her, now everyone else will too.