Apr. 27, 2014

I knew I wanted to be a rock and roll guy from a very early age. I got my first Beatles album for Christmas when I was five years old…Rubber Soul. Yes…I said five-years-old.

My mom would hold up my ‘Beatles Complete’ songbook when I was 8-9-10 years old. I would learn songs like “Blackbird.” My mom would be dead just a few years later when I was 12. My dad remarried, but I always had my Beatles to hold on to and I loved Paul’s songs: “Mother Nature’s Son,” “And I Love Her,” “Michelle” and “Oh Darling.” I loved John Lennon also, but Paul was my favorite when I was a kid.

When I was 13 years old, I remember watching the Academy Awards because McCartney was up for Best Song with “Live and Let Die.” He didn’t win that year. “The Way We Were” beat McCartney out. This was 1974. I was a few weeks away from my 14th birthday and the Beatles had been split up for three years.

My pal Stewart and I were both huge Beatles fans and we cooked up this idea to meet the man at the Beverly Hills Hotel. We were in 8th grade and it was literally a 10-minute walk from the playground to the hotel. We KNEW he was there. It was just a matter of getting his room number and then….

Okay. I know you are thinking to yourselves. Come on. You didn’t actually find out his room number and meet the guy???

I can’t remember how we got the room number, but we did some sleuthing and got the number. It may have been a distract-and-peek job with the hotel manager.

Stewart and I snuck up to the room and knocked on the door. We were VERY nervous. The door opened and it was the maid.

“Is Paul there?” Stewart asked.

“Who?” The maid was playing coy with us. We KNEW that was the room. We couldn’t camp out there. We were sure to get busted by hotel management.


We were determined. We were young and we did not know any better.

Next stop was the Polo Lounge, the infamous bar at the Beverly Hills Hotel. We were four years underage to get seated. I believe I took a quick spin around the room to see if McCartney was in there and Stewart went to the restaurant for a quick peek.

No luck there. This was around 45-minutes into our little adventure and we were tiring and wondering when we would finally get booted by the hotel staff. We decided to give up when Stewart had one last idea…THE POOL.
We ran to the pool area and there they were: Paul, Linda and Heather sunbathing at the world famous Beverly Hills Hotel Pool.

We approached the family.

“Hi boys,” Paul said.

“Sorry about ‘Live and Let Die” out of breath, I said. I told him I watched the Oscars ONLY to see him win. He shrugged his shoulders and said something trivial about ‘getting em’ next time. I then told him about a song I heard at Christmastime called “Band on the Run.”

Paul told us to keep our eyes and ears open as it was about to be released.

Stewart and I exchanged pleasantries for a few more moments with our favorite Beatle and then I did something that I had never done before or since…I asked him for his autograph. He signed little slips of paper for Stewart and myself and then I went to shake his hand.
He was sitting on a pool lounge chair. I put out my right hand FORGETTING he was left handed and he awkwardly turned his left hand upside down and shook my hand.

We ran home with our prized autographs after a most adventurous afternoon.

That is how I met Paul McCartney when I was 13 years old.

For more info on Marc’s Politics of Pop CD Click Here

Jan. 26, 2014

By Marc Platt
January 29, 2014

I have been waiting for The Strypes from Cavan, Ireland to make it to America since December, 2012. 

It finally happened. It was well worth the wait.

The teenage blues rock quartet is Ross Farrelly (lead vocals/harmonica), Josh McClorey (lead guitar/vocals), Pete O'Hanlon (bass guitar/harmonica) and Evan Walsh (drums). They are managed by Elton John's management company.

On Tuesday January 28, Sir Elton John was sitting up in the balcony at the Troubadour. He was watching his lads give everything they had on the very stage as lead guitarist Josh McClorey yelled out "The Troubadour...The very stage Elton John got his start in America."

This band began their set in a rock n roll frenzy and NEVER let up for an hour and a half. They played the first hour of originals from their current EP release "Blue Collar Jane" and their upcoming Snapshot full-length CD.

The highlights of the originals were the slower bluesy "Angel Eyes," the fast-driving "I'll Still Drive You Home," the current singles "What a Shame" and Blue Collar Jane." These young musicians (ranging 16-to-18-years old) has obviously been well-schooled in the blues rock tradition of a great vinyl record collection at home. Their parents have supported them being a band since they were small kids when they formed in 2008.

It's hard not to put them in the "Retro" box, but I have to say, they do it with bravado, authenticity and passion. There were teenage girls throughout the club going out of their minds. There is a swelling hype surrounding the band having fans like Jeff Beck, Dave Grohl and The Jam's Paul Weller. Their PR people know how to use that fact in the build up, but you know what? They deliver in a big way. These guys took no breaks and ripped through at a pace Bruce Springsteen would have marvelled at. It was impressive start to finish.

One good way of judging a band's authenticity is being to identify which songs are original and which ones were covers. I happen to have the same kind of record collection as the Strypes and I knew Slim Harpo's "Got Love If You Want It" and Willie Dixon's "You Can't Judge A Book By Looking At The Cover," but my girlfriend, as well as the people in the club kept asking is that theirs or a cover? This is always a good sign for this kind of act.

Their writing is good now and it will get better. Their choice in Nick Lowe's "Heart of the City" from Rockpile was a fantastic choice for this band late in the show.

The rhythm section of bassis Pete O'Hanlon (who also wields a mean mouth harp) and drummer Evan Walsh are impeccable. Lead singer Ross Farrelly is also a fine guitar player, but only played on one song. The band in the past year made a decision to free him up to just sing and play harmonica, which he also excels at.

The Strypes are exciting visually, engaging performers and authentic as hell. I think they will go far if they keep growing. 

Strype-mania is beginning in America. Check them out.

Jan. 16, 2014

The big Beatles 50th year Anniversary is upon us.

I am in the "Beatle fanatic" category. I can understand the people writing the "Beatles Are Overrated" articles, but couldn't disagree more.

The band has been split up since 1970. The final track the band ever worked on was George Harrison's "I Me Mine" for the Let It Be soundtrack, which was produced by Phil Spector. Most of their material was produced by George Martin. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were responsible for writing about 80% of their material, but George Harrison held his own, especially late in the band's run.

The Beatles had a brief eight-year recording career in which their songs transformed popular music. I don't need to go through the statistics of all their Billboard chart success and record sales. That would be meaningless in today's pop music culture.

I want to focus on subjective creative analysis to debunk what some of these "critics" are writing about the Beatles' music.

Let's start with "Eleanor Rigby," a 1966 Lennon-McCartney composition from Revolver about a lonely spinster.

John Lennon's sole contribution is one line in the song: "Aw, look at all the lonely people." Needless to say, that line sums up the brilliant McCartney lyric about the main character: 

"Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been,
Lives in a dream/Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
/Who is it for?"

The song goes on to bring in "Father McKenzie, who also resides at the same church:

"Father Mckenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear/No one comes near/Look at him working, darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there/What does he care?"

McCartney was only 23-years-old when he wrote Eleanor Rigby. Never mind that The Beatles sang and performed this song immaculately, this is a heady lyric for such young writers. Lennon and McCartney worked so well with each other as editors and collaborators and knew how to make each song better.

The song is tied up brilliantly at the end:

"Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came/Father Mckenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave/No one was saved."

McCartney and Lennon bring the two together as the spinster dies and Father McKenzie is the only one at the gravesite.

Bob Dylan is the ONLY other artist in this age range at that time to deliver this quality. While The Beatles started off with tribal dance music like "I want To Hold Your Hand" and Please Please Me," they moved on to "Yesterday" and "She's Leaving Home." Dylan and The Beatles were the leaders and others soon followed their lead.

I could go on and on. Look how Lennon and McCartney worked together on "Getting Better." McCartney wrote the entire song himself in 1967 and Lennon once again had ONE line that helped the song immensly:

McCartney: "It's getting better all the time"
Lennon: "It couldn't get much worse"

That line helps make the song better in the irony. This is great stuff I look at all the time as a songwriter. I teach writing and use these examples all the time.

Lennon wrote biting and inner soul-searching songs like "I'm A Loser," "In My Life," "Nowhere Man" and "Revolution." Those songs all have important messages and were hailed by fans and critics at the time as major contributions.

George Harrison penned "Taxman," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Here Comes The Sun" and Frank Sinatra's "Favorite" Lennon & McCartney song "Something."

Harrison's "Something" has been covered by Sinatra and MANY other artists worldwide for more than 43 years.

Paul McCartney's "Yesterday" is one of the most recorded songs in history.

So, to my "friends" on the wrong side of this Beatle issue, I believe from a lyrical standpoint I have made my point. The melody and music speaks for itself.

Most popular music that has been recorded SINCE the Beatles arrived have in some way been influenced by their music, recording techniques and style among other characteristics.

I find it offensive that anyone would just simply dismiss the Beatles as "rubbish." I'm not going to even dignify some of the articles I read directly. This is how I choose to deal with those.

Thanks for reading my rant. I now feel better.

Enjoy the 50th year anniversary.

Dec. 16, 2013

"...What's old is new and what's new is old.."
(from Inside Llewyn Davis)

Let me preface this review with tha fact that I went to the first screening on the first day the movie was released. I have also read a lot of reviews by writers I know and don't know and have been perplexed by some of the reaction from rock critics.

Music critics don't like it, but a lot of regular folks (no pun intended) do like the film a lot. I also downloaded the soundtrack. It is excellent.

I fall somewhere in the middle.

First of all, the film is not directly about Greenwhich Village Folk Legend Dave Van Ronk. It is loosely based on his book "The Mayor of MacDougal Street." There are a few lines and events lifted directly from that source. The Llewyn Davis character played brilliantly by Oscar Isaac is a dour, decadent couch surfer who lacks hope.

Many survivors of that scene who are still around insist that the music scene in the Village was actually a joyous experience for most and not a snapshot of the "Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" album that the Coen Brothers devised for their look of the scene in 1961.

What I liked about the film were two things. 

The music was expertly recaptured by T-Bone Burnett and Marcus Mumford. Oscar Isaac has a great voice and plays guitar very well almost expertly capturing Van Ronk's finger picking style. I loved the music throughout the movie and there are contributions by co-star Justin Timberlake and other current arftists on the music scene.

The thing I like the most about the film is the attitude of people towards folk music and musicians at that time. The John Goodman (Doc Pomus-like) character looks down on Davis as a "Three-chord" neophyte. The F. Murray Abraham (Albert Grossman-like) character declares "I don't see any money here" when Davis plays for him in his Chicago club.

I love the attitude of the upper West Side couple who often host Davis on their couch and call him "Our folk singer friend" to their dinner guests.

To me, that is what the essence of "Inside Llewyn Davis" is really about, NOT the historical accuracy that the Gaslight Club conveys, or whether the folky artists could walk into a doctor's office and so casually talk about getting an illegal abortion. Yes some of those things are annoying, but not enough to declare the film "Bad."

This is a good film, not a great film. This is a film that will do a lot of good to expose people to a music that has long been lost in the American psyche. This is the pre-Dylan period of traditional folk music that is well-documented in this film.

I recommend this film, especially to people who don't know much about this time period in our history.

Aug. 3, 2013

"I will say this: There is more than one party that benefits from me not ever stepping back on the field. And that's not my teammates and it's not the Yankee fans."  (Alex Rodriguez 8/3/13)

"Fuck my victims. I carried them for twenty years, and now I'm doing 150 years."
(Bernie Madoff, 2011)

The definition of "Delusion," according to Websters: 

"-the act of deluding : the state of being deludedb : an abnormal mental state characterized by the occurrence of psychotic delusions.
-a false belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that persists despite the facts and occurs in some psychotic states."

These guys have a lot in common. One will do 150 years in a real prison, the other will take his hundreds of millions and create his own emotional prison as baseball keeps him out of the Hall of Fame.

Alex Rodriguez is about to be banned from Major League Baseball for life. He will be given a lifetime ban from the sport and fans he defrauded for the better part of a decade. Sure he put up incredible statistics and helped the Yankees win a World Series title in 2009. 

Bernie Madoff stole millions of dollars and ruined many lives on his way to prison. He was a very famous financier, well-respected and trusted by a lot of important people for many years. He lived a lavish existence and protected his secret for so many years.

Both of these men are white collar criminals. There have been many criminals who have defrauded sports fans for decades. A-Rod will just be one of the most celebrated and probably be the "Face" of baseball scandal.

Consider his ouster Budf Selig's parting gesture. Selig has been adamant to rid the sport of Performance Enhancing Drugs and its abusers, but he too participated and yes, created the culture that allowed PEDs to ravage the sport in the first place.

In 1994, MLB endured a season-ending strike that crippled the game financially for 4 years. It wasn't until Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa had their memorable homerun chase in 1998 that folks started spending money at the old ballyard again. The numbers were incredible moneywise and homerun-wise. It was unbelievable, too good to be true. 

You know the rest. It wasn't real. It was chemically enhanced and MANY players started putting up crazy numbers. Once great ballplayers like Barry Bonds became superhuman. Roger Clemens won a boatload of tainted Cy Young AWards. We all know his legal battles.

Now with A-Rod and Ryan Braun, we have a face for legitimate scapegoating.

It may seem like a stretch equating professional ballplayers with Bernie Madoff, but not in my mind. Madoff exploited people and took THEIR money just like these ballplayers. 

Madoff, A-Rod and the rest off these cheaters are morally bankrupt and put a huge stain on the landscape.

The "CLEAN" players do not like the cheaters. No one likes Madoff.

Maybe it's time to figure out a way to get Pete Rose into the Hall of Fame (as a player only). His gambling issues seem like like a parking ticket in significance at this point compared to what has been going on in baseball the past 25 years.
Just a thought.