Epic Grateful Dead Doc 'Long Strange Trip': 10 Things We Learned

It sounds like a punch line: “There’s a new Grateful Dead documentary – and it’s four hours long.” But Long Strange Trip, directed by Amir Bar-Lev (The Tillman Story, Happy Valley) and executive-produced by Martin Scorsese, is no amiably noodling shuffle through a defunct band’s yellowed back pages. What the film chronicles, imaginatively and unflinchingly, is the flowering of an exuberant American counterculture – its triumph, its corruption and the toll exacted at either extreme – as viewed through the prism of a singular band of anarchists and their charismatic yet unwilling ringmaster, Jerry Garcia.

In structure and pacing, Long Strange Trip, which opens in theaters Friday, and then comes to Amazon Prime Video June 2nd, resembles a classic Dead show. Much of the first half presents familiar themes in discrete episodes, served up at a measured pace: Garcia’s childhood; the band’s unlikely coalescing; psychedelic hijinks and rustic retreats; and the tragic 1973 death of co-founder Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. The second half is more wayward and contemplative, with exploratory detours into the Deadhead experience and the tape-trading phenomenon, yet it builds inexorably to the band’s incandescent commercial peak before turning to Garcia’s harrowing decline.

Apart from a handful of startling omissions (no acknowledgment of drummer Mickey Hart’s self-imposed exile of 1971–74, no attention paid to keyboardists Tom Constanten and Vince Welnick and touring pianist Bruce Hornsby), Long Strange Trip is rich in detail, with voices representing all whose lives were touched by the Dead: members, crew, industry figures, intimates and fans. Complementing each segment with the perfect Dead tune, Bar-Lev deftly mixes new footage with vintage clips (some previously unseen) to provide a panoramic, enveloping experience. Here are 10 things we learned from Long Strange Trip.

1. Jerry Garcia was obsessed with Frankenstein.
“I used to draw pictures of the Frankenstein monster over and over, endlessly, in different positions,” Garcia says near the start of Long Strange Trip, his voice playing over a montage of his sketches. He recalls seeing Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein in 1948, one year after his father had drowned. Images and film clips from Frankenstein films recur throughout the documentary. The interview, taped for a television program called The Movie That Changed My Life, returns at the end of the documentary, providing closure. “It touched something, I don’t know what, something very strong,” Garcia says. “It might have been the thing of a dead thing brought to life. Frankenstein’s monster is, after all, a drive to reanimate, or to produce life, and it hit me in that archetypal center.”

2. Garcia’s formative influence was bluegrass banjo legend Earl Scruggs.
“My mother was an amateur musician, my father was a professional musician, so I grew up in a musical household,” Garcia relates in another archival interview. “But the first time I decided that it was something I wanted to do was when I heard … Earl Scruggs play five-string banjo. I fell in love with the sound, and I thought, ‘That’s something I have to be able to do.'” Color film footage of an impossibly young Garcia showing his pluck reveals that he was a quick study. “Bluegrass is conversational music – the instruments kind of talk to each other,” Garcia adds, citing a credo that he carried over into what would become the Grateful Dead.

3. The Dead achieved commercial success by going country.
Driven out of San Francisco by curiosity seekers intent on spotting hippies, the Dead sought refuge in the countryside, and their music soon grew to reflect the new setting: a shift seen in rare footage of Garcia, Bob Weir and Phil Lesh working out vocal harmonies for “Candyman” while strumming acoustic guitars. “When it came time to do Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty – that’s really kind of really one long record – I talked to the guys, said, ‘Why don’t we approach this one as though it were, like, a country & western record?'” Garcia explains in an archival interview. “Or California country & western, like Bakersfield. And why don’t we put more energy into the vocals, and making the vocals sound as good as they can, and not getting hung up on the instrumental surroundings?”

4. During an early TV appearance, the Dead dosed a cast of extras with LSD.
Confronted with unfamiliar, potentially awkward situations as their fame began to rise, the Grateful Dead weren’t above employing “LSD as self-defense,” as then-tour manager Sam Cutler put it. Such was the case when in 1969 the band was booked to perform on Playboy After Dark, a syndicated television show hosted by Hugh Hefner. “All the people who are at the party are extras, you know – they’re from central casting, and they’re sitting there with glasses of ginger ale,” Garcia relates in an archival interview. “It’s laid out like an apartment, but it’s a Hollywood soundstage, and there’s Hugh Hefner and all these melons. And the coffee pot got dosed, and the whole thing turned from an artificial party into an authentic party.”

5. Keith and Donna Godchaux decided one day to join the Dead – and did.
“We had been seeing the Grateful Dead whenever we could,” explains Donna Godchaux, whose husband, classically trained pianist Keith Godchaux, joined the band in 1971. “I came home one day and said, ‘Let’s listen to the Grateful Dead.’ And Keith said, ‘I don’t want to listen to it anymore; I want to play it.’ … And I said, ‘OK, let’s go get in the band.'” Donna, who would join the Dead herself as a backing vocalist in 1972, approached Garcia after a concert and announced, “Keith is your next keyboard player.” Soon after, he was.

6. The Dead’s towering “Wall of Sound” PA system was designed by an LSD pioneer.
Owsley “Bear” Stanley, a fabled sound engineer and chemist whose special brand of acid fueled the Dead as well as Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters, became the group’s official soundman (and unofficial financier) starting in 1965. Asked in 1974 to produce a sound system powerful enough for the increasingly large spaces the Dead were playing, Stanley and his associates designed a towering rig that featured more than 500 speakers, plus noise-canceling parallel microphones, delivering clear sound for a quarter mile. “The Wall of Sound … I loved that thing,” Lesh says, laughing. “It was the best PA, ever. It was the best sound I can possibly imagine. And it was also the biggest – it was absolutely apocalyptic.” He should know; his bass stack alone was 32 feet tall. “It was like the voice of God,” he adds.

7. Two Dead factions, divided according to their respective drug of choice, clashed during the band’s fabled 1974 Winterland run.
Viewed at the time as a farewell engagement before a planned hiatus, the Dead’s October 1974 shows at San Francisco’s Winterland Arena were filmed for posterity as The Grateful Dead Movie. But behind the scenes, not everything was harmonious among the band members: Acid heads were feuding with cocaine enthusiasts. Rex Jackson, a stalwart roadie, took matters into his own hands, dosing everyone who took the stage. “‘Everybody who comes up these stairs, they’re gonna get acid,'” Steve Parish, another long-serving roadie, reports Jackson having declared. “‘They’ll just get LSD up the ass, and then they better fuckin’ behave.'”

8. Deadheads split themselves into a number of different tribes.
The diehard fans that followed the Dead from town to town were no uniform population. “The physical layout of a Grateful Dead show was like a mandala with different regions,” recalls Steve Silberman, a science journalist and longtime Deadhead. Denizens of the “Phil Zone,” he relates, positioned themselves to savor Lesh’s bass emanations, while in the “Deaf Zone,” hearing-impaired fans absorbed musical vibrations through inflated balloons while translators signed lyrics. “There was a whole crew of Wharf Rats, who were people following the 12-step path who would have meetings during the set breaks,” Silberman says. “Spinners would be out in the hall, having literally religious experiences, because they though Garcia was a prophet and they’d be bowing down.”

9. The Dead were hobbled by the enormity of their own success.
“Has success spoiled the Grateful Dead?” an unseen reporter asks Garcia in a clip from the band’s commercial peak, when the album In the Dark and hit single “Touch of Grey” had hit the charts. Garcia doesn’t hesitate: “Yeah.” Unanticipated popularity had prompted a move from arenas to stadiums, where newcomers elbowed in among diehard Deadheads. “Playing in the stadiums [was] akin to playing in the studio,” Kreutzman recalls. “There were 60,000 people there, but basically you didn’t have any touch with those people – they were hundreds of feet away from you.” And even then, the band couldn’t satisfy demand, a situation that led to members recording public-service announcements imploring fans without tickets not to loiter outside the concerts. “Jerry just couldn’t bring himself to do one of those,” Dead publicist and historian Dennis McNally notes ruefully.

10. Garcia considered stepping away from the Dead permanently in the Nineties.
Briefly reunited in 1993 with Barbara Meier, the former girlfriend who decades earlier had given him his first guitar, Garcia swept her away to Hawaii, took her scuba diving and proposed marriage. “I think he had been suffering for a long time under the weight and responsibility of this behemoth,” Meier says, relating a conversation in which Garcia mulled stepping out of the limelight. “I said, ‘Why don’t you?'” Meier recalls. She recounts his reply: “‘Do you know how many people are depending on this show going down the road?’ I understood in that moment that it was a machine by then. It wasn’t just a bunch of guys getting together and making music. This enormous community was demanding that he be the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia.” Not long afterward, gripped anew by addiction, Garcia again dismissed Meier from his life. She never saw him again.

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See Paul Simon Debut Forlorn 2011 Song 'Question for the Angels' on 'Colbert'

For the first time ever, Paul Simon performed his languorous, lightly political 2011 song “Question for the Angels” on The Late Show on Wednesday night with help from the revered guitarist Bill Frisell. The song appeared on Simon’s album So Beautiful or So What.

Simon and Frisell were blissfully unhurried. Simon picked gently and sang in his signature conversational tone, arcing the verses in unexpected directions. Frisell played elegantly, with shivers of electric guitar in the song’s quieter moments. “Who believes in angels?” Simon wondered. “Fools and pilgrims all over the world.”

Simon begins touring in late May and said the profits from his summer shows will be donated to E.O. Wilson’s biodiversity foundation. In the interview with Colbert, he also said that he’s at work on a new album that will allow him to revise songs he previously recorded – including “Question for the Angels.”

“It’s a rare opportunity for a writer to go back and reexamine a piece of work that was good but maybe could have been better,” Simon explained. “I’m picking out songs that I really liked that I thought were well written and not noticed – maybe there were other hits on the album or something. I’m recording them again with different musicians, and at times I change the lyrics if I think it’s better to change a verse.”

Demonstrating the value of returning to old songs with a new mindset, Simon and Colbert made amusing changes to the lyrics for “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy),” transforming the buoyant original into a song of doom and gloom that suits the current geopolitical climate. 

“Kellyanne Conway makes no sense, and even if Trump goes we’re stuck with Mike Pence,” Simon and Colbert sang. The two ended eerily, comically, on the requisite: “Nevertheless, all is groovy.”

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Remembering 'It's All Too Much,' the Great Lost Beatles Song

Rob Sheffield’s new book Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World is a celebration of the band, from the longtime Rolling Stone columnist. It tells the weird saga of how four lads from Liverpool became the world’s biggest pop group, then broke up – yet somehow just kept getting bigger. Dreaming the Beatles follows the ballad of John, Paul, George and Ringo, from their early days to their Sixties peaks to their afterlife as a cultural obsession. In this excerpt, Sheffield looks at one of the buried treasures in the Beatle songbook, the forgotten 1967 psychedelic jam “It’s All Too Much.”

Happy 50th birthday to “It’s All Too Much,” the great lost Beatles song. More than any of their other deep cuts, it deserves to be infinitely more famous than it is, one of the all-time great psychedelic guitar freak-outs. None of the Beatles thought it was anything special. But they were so wrong. It’s where they really nailed the Sgt. Pepper sound – that combination of acid-rock momentum and brass-band frippery. “It’s All Too Much” would have been the second or third best song on Sgt. Pepper – but alas, they cut it in May 1967, just a couple months late. Even George Harrison, so touchy about not getting his due as a songwriter, didn’t regard it as more than a candy-colored trifle. Any other band could have built a whole legend around “It’s All Too Much.” But the Beatles threw it away on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack, to fill out a piece of half-assed movie merch. They left it off Magical Mystery Tour – which means they rated it lower than “Flying” or “Blue Jay Way.”

They whipped “It’s All Too Much” together in a couple of days, starting on May 25th, 1967, in an unfamiliar studio with both George Martin and Geoff Emerick absent, effectively producing themselves. It opens with that Sonic Youth guitar clang and a bit of John chatter, as Paul lingers on that one-chord bass drone like a monster. The other Beatles join in with their “tooooo much! tooooo much!” chant, riding a ferocious Ringo groove for eight minutes. It proves they could jam, even though they couldn’t – they just accidentally pulled it off here. George sings his funniest mystic lyrics, with a wry English touch. “Show me that I’m everywhere and get me home for tea,” indeed.

The Beatles were in a restless frame of mind, waiting for Pepper to drop on June 1st. The other songs they recorded that May were silly ones – “All Together Now,” “Baby You’re a Rich Man,” “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number).” “It’s All Too Much” might seem silly too, but it rocks, which the Beatles weren’t much interested in doing in 1967. They show off individually (at any moment, you can pick out what any particular Beatle is doing) yet slip into the collective groove. The eight-minute jam got cut to six and a half minutes for Yellow Submarine, though the movie retains an extra verse that got tragically axed from the album version.

It’s a psychedelic love song, with George dazed by his hippie minx. More than any other George song, it sounds like his tribute to Patti Boyd, the puffy-lipped sex priestess he married, the Savoy-est of truffles. Patti is one of rock and roll’s most legendary muses – she was born to stir the songwriting juices of her guitar boys. She became the blondest corner of rock’s most iconic love triangle when George’s best friend Eric Clapton fell in love with her, inspiring “Layla,” but “It’s All Too Much” has to be her greatest hit. Only she could have turned such reserved English gents into tormented soul men.

Patti was the worldliest of the four Beatle first wives – the one who wasn’t pregnant at the wedding. She’s also the only one who went on to snag another rock star. After Clapton won her away, he wrote sedate tributes like “Wonderful Tonight”; it’s hard to connect those to the vixen who wrenched “Bell Bottom Blues” out of him or “For You Blue” out of George. When Patti left in 1974, George announced he was “very happy” about it, “because he’s great. I’d rather have her with him than with some dope.” Her older sister, Jenny, married Mick Fleetwood; younger sister Paula took up with another member of Derek and the Dominos. (There ought to be a movie about the Boyd sisters – but where would you find three mere movie stars who could live up to a myth like this?) When Patti married Clapton in May 1979, George, Paul, and Ringo jammed at the wedding, playing “Get Back” and “Sgt. Pepper.” John called Clapton to complain he hadn’t been invited.

It’s strange how George was always a little stingy with the love songs. When you’ve got Patti sharing your stash box and leaving her sandals under your bed, yet you’d rather write all your songs about Lord Krishna, you can’t blame the girl for getting restless – it’s understandable she would upgrade her muse glimmer with some other rock star, preferably your best friend. No doubt Patti did it all for the songs. And with “It’s All Too Much,” she drove George and his fellow Beatles to psychedelic realms they never visited again. Even if it’s been understandably overshadowed by the loftier myths of Pepper, a song this great deserves better than to get lost in the shuffle.

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Guns N' Roses Extend 2017 North American Tour

Guns N’ Roses will embark on another North American leg of their massive Not In This Lifetime reunion tour. The stadium and arena run begins October 8th in Philadelphia and wraps November 24th and 25th with two-night in Los Angeles, the first show at the Staples Center and the second at the Forum.

The trek also includes two-nights at Madison Square Garden in New York City and stops in Boston, Toronto, Chicago, Houston, Las Vegas and more. Tickets go on sale June 3rd via Live Nation while Citi cardholders will have access to pre-sale tickets starting May 30th at 10 a.m. local time and ending June 2nd at 10 p.m. AT&T will also host a pre-sale between June 1st at 10 a.m. local time and June 2nd at 10 p.m. VIP packages will be available as well.

Guns N’ Roses have also added a date to their North American summer run, August 5th at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Arkansas. That leg kicks off July 27th with the band’s return to St. Louis, Missouri, the location of their infamous 1991 “Riverport Riot,” when singer Axl Rose attacked a photographer in the audience.

Guns N’ Roses have also announced a slew of openers for that summer trek with ZZ Top, Deftones, Sturgill Simpson, Royal Blood, Live and Our Lady Peace set to join the band on select dates. A full itinerary is available on the GnR website.

Guns N’ Roses are in the middle of an international run that wraps up July 15th in Israel. The band reunited last spring, headlining Coachella before embarking on the Not In This Lifetime tour.

Guns N’ Roses North American Tour Dates

October 8, 2017 – Philadelphia, PA @ Wells Fargo Center
October 11, 2017 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden
October 15, 2017 – New York, NY @ Madison Square Garden
October 22, 2017 – Boston, MA TD @ Garden
October 26, 2017 – Cleveland, OH @ Quicken Loans Arena
October 29, 2017 – Toronto, ON @ Air Canada Centre
November 2, 2017 – Detroit, MI @ Little Caesers Arena
November 6, 2017 – Chicago, IL @ United Center
November 10, 2017 – Houston, TX @ Toyota Center
November 14, 2017 – Tulsa, OK @ BOK Center
November 17, 2017 – Las Vegas, NV @ T-Mobile Arena
November 21, 2017 – Oakland, CA @ Oracle Arena
November 24, 2017 – Los Angeles, CA @ Staples Center
November 25, 2017 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Forum

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Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper' at 50: How George Harrison Found Himself on 'Within You Without You'

The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which Rolling Stone named as the best album of all time, turns 50 on June 1st. In honor of the anniversary, and coinciding with a new deluxe reissue of Sgt. Pepper, we present a series of in-depth pieces – one for each of the album’s tracks, excluding the brief “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” reprise on Side Two – that explore the background of this revolutionary and beloved record. Today’s installment tells the story of George Harrison’s Indian-influenced late addition to the record, “Within You Without You.”

“I don’t personally enjoy being a Beatle anymore,” George Harrison admitted to biographer Hunter Davies not long after the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967. For all the praise it garnered, the recording was fraught with growing pains for the band’s youngest member, who had turned 24 that February. “All that sort of Beatle thing is trivial and unimportant. I’m fed up with all this ‘me, us, I’ stuff and all the meaningless things we do. I’m trying to work out solutions to the more important things in life.”

As Harrison grappled with the big questions, the tedious piecemeal process that defined the band’s recent sessions grated on him. “Up to that time, we had recorded more like a band; we would learn the songs and then play them,” he explained in the Beatles Anthology documentary. “Sgt. Pepper was the one album where things were done a little differently. A lot of the time it was just Paul playing the piano and Ringo keeping the tempo and we weren’t allowed to play as a band so much. It became an assembly process – just little parts and then overdubbing – and for me it became a bit tiring and a bit boring. I had a few moments in there that I enjoyed, but generally I didn’t really enjoy making that album much.” Making matters worse, Harrison’s initial contribution, a psychedelic swirl of cynicism called “Only a Northern Song,” was met with a response that fell somewhere between apathy and contempt.

Harrison had flourished during the three-month break that preceded the Sgt. Pepper sessions, a well-needed respite after the traumatic 1966 world tour that ended their live career for good. Accompanied by his wife Pattie, he flew to India that September for six weeks, checking into Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace Hotel under the name Sam Wells. The main objective of the visit was to study under sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar. Many players believe the instrument takes several lifetimes to master, so Harrison had to settle for a crash course. “I had George practice all the correct positions of sitting and some of the basic exercises,” Shankar wrote in his autobiography, My Music, My Life. “This was the most one could do in six weeks, considering that a disciple usually spends years learning these basics.” The posture was rough on Harrison’s hips, so Shankar signed him up for additional yoga courses.

It didn’t take long for news to spread that a Beatle was in Mumbai, and a reluctant press conference did little to discourage reporters who dogged the Harrisons wherever they went. They soon left the city to travel throughout the countryside, ultimately residing on a houseboat on Dal Lake in the northern territory Kashmir, at the foot of the Himalayas. Shankar, in his role as mentor, suggested that Harrison grow a mustache to disguise himself. Though it would take more than that to camouflage one of the most famous faces in the world, the change in appearance offered an important psychic break from his mop-topped identity. Exploring on his own, senses bombarded with exotic sights, sounds, smells and tastes, he felt free. “It was the first feeling I’d ever had of being liberated from being a Beatle,” he recalled.

The journey had a profound effect on Harrison, opening the floodgates of his spiritual consciousness and emboldening his curiosity. “The religions they have in India, I just believe in them much more than anything I learned from Christianity,” he said in an interview with the BBC Radio’s World Service network during his stay. “The difference over here is that their religion is every second and every minute of their lives and it is them – how they act, and how they conduct themselves and how they think.” His recent experiments with psychedelics had offered a glimpse of the divine, but now he sought an innate path to a higher power. “After I had taken LSD a lingering thought stayed with me and that thought was ‘the yogis of the Himalayas,'” he explained years later. “I don’t know why it stuck. I had never thought about them before, but suddenly this thought was at the back of my consciousness … that was part of the reason I went to India. Ravi and the sitar were excuses. Although they were a very important part of it, it was a search for a spiritual connection.” The connection he found would remain a constant for the rest of his life.

By the time he returned to England on October 22nd, he was reborn – and returning to the limitations of life as a Beatle in the stuffy institutional gloom of EMI’s Abbey Road Studios was not what he had in mind. “It was a job, like doing something I didn’t really want to do, and I was losing interest in being ‘fab’ at that point,” he reflected in the Anthology documentary. “I’d been let out of the confines of the group, and it was difficult for me to come back into the sessions. In a way it felt like going backwards.”

His resentment spilled over into his music. Returning to the theme of financial injustice, which had served him so well on Revolver‘s “Taxman” a year earlier, Harrison took aim at the Beatles’ publishing company, Northern Songs. Originally a venture for Lennon and McCartney’s music, managing director Dick James had persuaded Harrison to sign on soon after he began composing. The drawbacks of the deal quickly became apparent, especially after the company became publicly traded in February 1965. McCartney and Lennon, as the main songwriters, were named majority shareholders, each taking 15 percent (750,000 shares), while Harrison and Ringo Starr reportedly each held .8 percent (40,000 shares). This meant that Harrison did not own the copyrights to his own music, and that Lennon and McCartney – plus other shareholders – earned more from his songs than he did.

Harrison channeled his frustrations into “Only a Northern Song.” It can be viewed as the Beatles’ first meta-musical experiment, as he frets about his own chords, words and harmony, but in the end realizes that it doesn’t matter because “it’s only a Northern Song.” 

“It was at the point that I realized Dick James had conned me out of the copyrights for my own songs by offering to become my publisher,” Harrison explained to Billboard in 1999. “As an 18- or 19-year-old kid, I thought, ‘Great, somebody’s gonna publish my songs!’ But he never said, ‘And incidentally, when you sign this document here, you’re assigning me the ownership of the songs,’ which is what it is. It was just a blatant theft. By the time I realized what had happened, when they were going public and making all this money out of this catalog, I wrote ‘Only a Northern Song’ as what we call a ‘piss-take,’ just to have a joke about it.”

The other Beatles were less than amused when they gathered in the studio on February 13th, 1967. Producer George Martin particularly disliked the song, later writing that he “groaned inside” when he heard it, and deeming it “the song I hated most of all” in the entire Harrison oeuvre. Engineer Geoff Emerick shared Martin’s opinion, describing it in his memoir, Here There and Everywhere: Recording the Music of the Beatles, as “a weak track that we all winced at,” with “musical content that seemed to go nowhere. What’s more, the lyrics seemed to reflect both his creative frustration and his annoyance with the way the pie was being sliced financially. It seemed like such a inappropriate song to bring to what was generally a happy, upbeat album.”

They spent two days working on the song, yet it failed to take flight. “The Beatles were clearly underwhelmed,” writes Emerick. “John was so uninspired, in fact, that he decided not to participate in the backing track at all. Still, Paul, Ringo and George ambled through quite a few takes of ‘Only a Northern Song.’ It took a long time because nobody could really get into it, not even George himself. I think he was actually a bit embarrassed about the song – his guitar playing had no attitude, as if he didn’t care.”

The indifference of his bandmates sank what little enthusiasm Harrison had. Quite literally a junior partner in a business sense, he felt equally belittled in the studio. “In general, sessions where we did a George Harrison song were approached differently,” writes Emerick. “Everybody would relax – there was a definite sense that it really didn’t matter. It was never said in so many words, but there was a feeling that his songs simply didn’t have the integrity of John’s or Paul’s – certainly they were never considered as singles – and so no one was prepared to expend very much time or effort on them.” This attitude did little to improve Harrison’s cool feelings towards the band.

The second night of sessions ended early, and it fell to Martin to deliver the bad news. “I had to tell George that, as far as Pepper was concerned, I did not think his song would be good enough for what was shaping up as a really strong album,” he remembered. “I suggested he come up with something a bit better.”

Several weeks later, he did. In early March, Harrison attended a dinner party at the home of Klaus Voormann, a German musician and artist who had been a friend to the Beatles since their days playing Hamburg’s Reeperbahn district in the early Sixties. Tony King, another comrade and future Apple executive, was also present, and recalled the far-out dinner talk in Steve Turner’s book, A Hard Day’s Write: “We were all on about the wall of illusion and the love that flowed between us, but none of us knew what we were talking about. We all developed these groovy voices. It was a bit ridiculous, really. It was as if we were sages all of a sudden. We felt we had glimpsed the meaning of the universe.”

“The tune struck me as being a little bit of a dirge, but I found what George wanted to do with the song fascinating.” –George Martin

Later in the evening, Harrison began playing Voormann’s pedal harmonium. A melody started to take shape, with words taken from their earlier conversation. “I was doodling on it when the tune started to come,” Harrison told Davies. “The first sentence came out of what we’d been doing that evening … ‘We were talking.’ That’s as far as I got that night. I finished the rest of the words later at home.” He called the song “Within You Without You.”

The tune was partially based on a lengthy suite Shankar had written for All-India Radio. “It was a very long piece – maybe thirty or forty minutes – and was written in different parts, with a progression in each,” Harrison explained during the Anthology. “I wrote a mini version of it, using sounds similar to those I’d discovered in his piece. I recorded in three segments and spliced them together later.” The music showcased Indian modes and textures within the familiar framework of a Western pop song, and the lyrics were a similar blend of cultures. The desire to diminish one’s ego and remove the illusionary “space between us all” is a tenant of Hinduism, whereas references to those who “gain the world and lose their soul” are taken from several warnings Christ made to his disciples in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark.

“Within You Without You” was warmly received when Harrison presented the song to Martin. “It was a bit of a relief all around,” the producer wrote. “The tune struck me as being a little bit of a dirge, but I found what George wanted to do with the song fascinating.” Unable to find full-time Indian session musicians for hire, the two Georges called upon members of London’s Asian Music Circle. “They have jobs like bus driving during the day and only play in the evening,” Harrison explained to Davies. “[But] they were much better than any Western musician could do, because it at least is their natural style.” To set the mood, the floor of EMI’s Studio Two was covered with woven carpets. Lights were appropriately dimmed and joss sticks lit.

Martin, who augmented the song with an ingenious string score using Western instruments, was unable to read Indian music. Instead, Harrison walked around to each member of the Music Circle and taught them their parts using the traditional notation and syllables. It was a power shift Harrison no doubt savored; for the first time, he was in total command of his own session.

Though he was the only Beatle on the track, his bandmates praised “Within You Without You.” “I think that is one of George’s best songs, one of my favorites of his,” Lennon later said. “I like the arrangement, the sound and the words. He is clear on that song. You can hear his mind is clear and his music is clear. It’s his innate talent that comes through on that song, that brought that song together.”

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http://rockbands.net/wp-content/blogs.dir/3/files/2017/05/GunsNRoses_Not_in_this_lifetime_tour_Logo.jpg?p=captionLOS ANGELES, May 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Unstoppable rock music icons Guns N’ Roses will electrify fans into the fall, announcing today a series of fifteen additional North American Stadium and Arena stops on their ongoing worldwide Not In This Lifetime Tour.&nbsp…


The Kills to Release New Acoustic EP With Rihanna Cover

The Kills have announced they will release a new EP. Echo Home – Non-Electric EP will be available digitally and as a limited edition 10-inch vinyl release via Domino in June.

The acoustic set marks the duo of Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince’s 15th anniversary of their first-ever release, Black Rooster EP, and Echo Home includes that EP’s song, “Wait.” Stripped-down versions of Ash & Ice‘s “That Love” and a cover of Rihanna’s “Desperado” are also featured. The Kills previously unveiled their bluesy cover of Rihanna’s Anti cut “Desperado” during an appearance on Sirius XMU.

The Kills also unveiled a video for a new acoustic rendition of “Desperado.” The spare, yearning cover was filmed while they were in-studio recording.

The digital EP houses five tracks and includes both an album and acoustic version of “Echo Home” whereas the 10-inch only has one version of that song. The digital release will be available on June 2nd. The 1000-run limited edition vinyl will be released on August 18th and it’s currently available for pre-order.

The Kills kick off their European tour on May 27th in Liverpool, where they are supporting Guns N’ Roses, Foo Fighters and Bon Jovi on certain dates.

Echo Home Track List

1. “Echo Home” (album version)
2. “Echo Home” (acoustic)
3. “Desperado” (acoustic)
4. “Wait” (acoustic)
5. “That Love” (acoustic)

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Dave Navarro Reflects on Chris Cornell's 'True Musicianship'

Dave Navarro paid tribute to Chris Cornell, remembering him for his distinctive sound and his dedication to others in a moving piece for Billboard.

“The fact that Chris had such a recognizable sound at such a young age and the ease in which he was able to project that range – we hadn’t seen anything like that and we haven’t seen anything like it since,” Navarro said. “And he was at the forefront of true musicianship in that era, backed up with depth.” Navarro pointed out that other prodigies at the time may have been technically skilled, but didn’t have as much depth. “And Chris was the one guy that made everybody lean back and go, ‘Oh my God, this guy is unbelievable, real deal, going down in the history books.”

The guitarist also relayed how they teamed up and provided inspiration for kids from treatment centers while Jane’s Addiction was on tour with Audioslave for Lollapalooza in 2003.

“Chris and I were both clean from drugs and alcohol and we invited kids from treatment centers at different spots in the country to hang out backstage and just show them you can do what we do and enjoy touring and the music without being loaded,” Navarro said. “That’s what makes this so very hard to wrap my head around. This is a guy who was involved in making the world a better place for people.” Read Navarro’s full piece in Billboard.

In the days following Cornell’s unexpected death, former bandmates, collaborators, friends, tourmates, peers and famous fans shared remembrances on social media. Dozens of artists – including Heart’s Ann Wilson, Ryan Adams and Living Color – have also paid tribute onstage to the Soundgarden singer.

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