Monday, August 26, 2019

The worst Beatles lyrics of all time


Even the best band of all time wasn't perfect. Here are some of their weaker lyrical compositions.

#5: Here, There, and Everywhere
It's a near-perfect melody by Paul. But the lyrics are a mess. Where to begin? How about:

To lead a better life, I need my love to be here.

It's like Paul wrote it when he was high, and thought, "This is so profound, man," but afterwards he never bothered to read it again.

Here, making each day of the year
Changing my life with the wave of her hand
Nobody can deny that there's something there.

For starters, "there" doesn't rhyme with "year." And it's not like either line was so good that you had to force a rhyme to fit it. What does "making each day of the year" even mean? 

In verse 2, "someone is speaking, but she doesn't know he's there." How does he know this? And why is he introducing another character for no apparent reason?

Eek, now the chorus:

I want her everywhere and if she's beside me
I know I need never care
But to love her is to need her everywhere

I have no idea what that pile of vomit means.

Knowing that love is to share
Each one believing that love never dies
Watching her eyes and hoping I'm always there.

I get that he can't say "both of us believing" because the meter doesn't fit. But "each one believing" changes the POV from first-person to third. He could've said "Both of us knowing," for example.

The shame is that the melody is so good, and it deserves better lyrics. It's like every Elton John song ever. Moving on.

#4: Glass Onion
This is a self-referential song from the White Album whose meaningless lyrics, per John, are simply intended to confuse fans who seemed to find hidden meaning in everything.

Standing on the cast iron shore, yeah
Lady Madonna trying to make ends meet, yeah
Looking through a glass onion

It's not horrible. It's just...hey, everybody phones it in now and then.

#3: Run For Your Life
It's not that the lyrics are poorly written--they're just frighteningly violent. They begin like this:

Well, I'd rather see you dead little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head little girl
Or you won't know where I am

And the rest of the song continues on that theme. Lest you think it's just a figure of speech, John assures us:

Let this be a sermon
I mean everything I've said
Baby, I'm determined
And I'd rather see you dead

John later said it was his least favorite Beatles song and the one he most regretted writing. But, alas, he did, and so it must go on the list.

#2: I Want You (She's So Heavy)
This is essentially an instrumental with some random verbal crap tossed in...

I want you
I want you so bad
I want you
I want you so bad, it's driving me mad
It's driving me mad
I want you
I want you so bad
I want you
I want you so bad, it's driving me mad
It's driving me...

Enough said.

Drum roll, please.

#1: Why Don't We Do It in the Road?
Just two lines of lyrics, both of them stupid:

Why don't we do it in the road?
Why don't we do it in the road?
Why don't we do it in the road?
Why don't we do it in the road?
No one will be watching us
Why don't we do it in the road?

Paul was inspired by seeing two monkeys doing it in the road in India, and apparently decided to spend eight seconds writing a song about it. This was the unfortunate result.

Honorable Mention:

Love Me Do: Not much to it, but even at only a few lines it's more than three times the length of Why Don't We Do It in the Road and I Want You.

Your Mother Should Know: A bouncy tune by Paul with lyrics that make no sense. Why should your mother know about a song that was a hit before she was even born, regardless of how old she is?

Okay, that's it. Let's go listen to some Beatles music and be happy.

Friday, August 23, 2019

The best Beatles lyrics of all time


This post is only about lyrics! Here's my best shot, with my justifications:

#5: Maxwell's Silver Hammer
This is a bouncy little tune about a hammer-wielding murderer. Paul wrote it, and the other Beatles were unanimous in their dislike of it. (Lennon referred to it as "more of Paul's granny music.") Melody aside, the lyrics feature sophisticated, multi-syllabic rhymes and perfect meter:

Joan was quizzical, studied pataphysical science in the home
Late nights all alone with a test tube, oh, oh, oh, oh
Maxwell Edison, majoring in medicine, calls her on the phone
Can I take you out to the picture show, Joa, oa, oa, oan.

It's clever, it's unique, and plllttt to John.

#4: When I'm Sixty-Four
Another McCartney composition, written when he was sixteen. It features some of the best lyrics ever penned by a sixteen-year-old, such as:

I can be handy mending a fuse
when your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride

Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
when I'm sixty-four?

#3: Across the Universe
This one is John's. He claimed it was among the best, most poetic lyrics he'd ever written. He was correct.

Words are flowing out like endless rain inside a paper cup
They slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me

#2: Penny Lane
Primarily written by Paul, with lyrical contributions from John, this song wonderfully evokes a time and place--namely, a neighborhood in south Liverpool they frequently visited in their youth. 

In Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs
Of every head he's had the pleasure to know
And all the people that come and go
Stop and say hello

It's gentle, poetic nostalgia beneath the blue suburban skies.

#1: Eleanor Rigby

Written primarily by Paul, with input from the other three, this song broke with convention by being a pop song about loneliness. The lyrics are eloquent and haunting:

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

Honorable Mention:
A Day in the Life - An interesting collection of vignettes from newspaper stories, with lines like "A crowd of people turned away. But I just had to look, having read the book."

Back in the USSR - A parody of Chuck Berry's Back in the USA and the Beach Boys' California Girls, it's clever and fun. And the Ukraine girls really knock me out.

Let it Be - Admittedly, part of my love for the lyrics is the way they blend with the melody that accompanies them. In any event, there's something spiritual about a song that begins, "When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me."

She's Leaving Home - I love the imagery and characters of this song, and it might've made the top five were it not for the unfortunate last line, "Fun is the one thing that money can't buy." Really? Must have been in a rush to finish an otherwise great set of lyrics.

So...that's my best shot at a tough topic. What did I miss?

My next post will be the worst Beatles lyrics of all time!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Mrs. Maisel exhibit

Here are some pics from our visit to the "Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" exhibit at the Paley Center.

The exhibit featured costumes, props, and re-created sets from the show, which is set in NYC in 1959-61. 



Our 1959 television debut...


A quick trip to Paris, complete with cigarette...


Jo gets a quick 'do in the Catskills...


"B. Altman's, how may I direct your call?"


On the way home, a block from our apartment, we were discussing Tony Shalhoub, the actor who plays Abe Weissman on the series. We both looked up, and coming toward us down the sidewalk was...Tony Shalhoub. He said hi. We said hi. Then Jo squeezed my hand, and I thought, "I love New York City."

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Odds and ends


One of my favorite places in the world is Brownstone Discovery Park, a Connecticut waterpark created from an old rock quarry. It's so cool because there are no fiberglass slides, no fake palm trees, and no steel drum music from speakers hidden in fake rocks.

There are cliffs you zipline off, cliffs you jump off, and cliffs you swing from via Tarzan rope.

I went with Ethan and his girlfriend Ruby. My three thoughts for the day:

1. I love swinging from a rope, letting go at the top of the arc, and falling into the water like I am a graceful heron.

2. I will miss Ethan when he goes to college.

3. At some point I will be too old to grip the Tarzan swing, and I will confidently leap from the cliff, only to immediately plummet into the water 20 feet below, like the people who are old or overweight. When will that time come? I don't know. Will anyone warn me in advance? Will I listen? 

Monday, July 29, 2019

Practicality is overrated


If practicality were the most important thing in the world, you'd have been a podiatrist. You'd live in a small town in South Dakota in a post-war ranch house, preferably single-level, with a 2-year-old Kia in the driveway with 12 months left on the warranty. You'd have no kids (not worth the money), no pets (not worth the hassle), no antiques (you can get a perfectly nice lamp from Menards in Sioux Falls and you don't have to worry about bumping into it with your TV tray).

You'd never live in New York City (crowded and filthy), certainly not in Manhattan (overpriced), and God forbid in a pre-war apartment (do you have any idea how much energy those high ceilings waste?).

You certainly wouldn't work in media (unstable) or write children's books (no money, no future).

And if, on a misguided whim, you ever decided to renovate your kitchen, you'd never choose marble countertops. Ever. Marble is too soft and porous. Everyone agrees. It scratches too easily. It chips too easily. It stains too easily. It doesn't matter that every time you and your wife walk into a kitchen showroom and gasp at the island countertop and say, "What's that?" they always reply, "That's marble. But you don't want that. Come look at this quartzite. It's more practical."



You suspect that if Michelangelo were alive today, he'd be advised to sculpt with quartzite. He'd be told that that the Menards in Sioux Falls sometimes has clearance sales.

But, alas, you are not practical. You are fortunate to have a wonderful wife who loves you anyway. She said you can make the decision about the countertops. He-he. Dangerous. Like giving fireworks to an 8-year-old boy.

As soon as you recover financially you are going to take her to Paris. You will take her to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and you will tell her how much you love her, and you will kiss under the Parisian full moon, and you will both smile because you are in love and you have marble countertops like everyone in Paris. And to hell with all the podiatrists in Sioux Falls who think you're nuts.


Sunday, July 7, 2019

First-world problems

This morning at brunch Jo and I were discussing whether our kitchen renovation is going to come in on budget, and whether having marble counter tops is going to make us stressed out all the time, and whether we should go with the Bosch or the Bertozzini appliances.

Is Ethan going to like college? What is Sam going to do when he graduates?

I need to sell another picture book manuscript.

And I need a new media gig.

And my feet are sore from running in the park yesterday.

And some a-hole stole a couple of the solar landscape lights we just installed.

And look at those cute babies; we need one.







How nice it is, for however long this bliss lasts, that these are the biggest problems in our lives.

Friday, June 21, 2019

California!

You know what? I'm not even going to caption these photos. You get the gist. It was great to be with so many family members, great to enjoy the sunshine (and fog) of southern California, and great to create some special memories with our new nuclear family.

Here's to California!



























Friday, June 7, 2019

3 Things About Ethan That The Goverment Doesn't Want You to Know


1. He has made his college choice. He will attend Centre College, a small liberal arts college in Danville, Kentucky. It's a bold choice, most notably because it will be such a radical change from the Upper West Side.

62.5% of Kentuckians voted for Trump. I'd like to say that I don't disparage the entire state of Kentucky for that, but I kind of do. It's less in anger than condescending pity, like when your grandmother gets phished by someone claiming to be a Nigerian prince. You just shake your head and sigh. That's how I feel about the state of Kentucky.

But it was also a bold choice for Centre College to admit Ethan. So kudos to everyone involved. Life should be about stretching one's boundaries.

2. He just completed his semester-long senior project, which consisted of writing an entire 120,000-word novel. He was cranking out ten pages a day for the past three months (does that add up? I'm not going to check). He says the goal wasn't to write a great novel, but simply to write 120,000 words. 

I'm inching along with my own novel, and he blew by me like a '79 Firebird Formula overtaking a '76 Gremlin.

In short, I'm very impressed.

Here he is with his project advisor, after his presentation this week:



3. As of next Wednesday he will be a high school graduate. Which means Jo and I will have no more household members enrolled in the K-12 school system. Which means we need to get more in the pipeline. Pronto. 

But I digress.




Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Novel update


As you may recall, it's called Imagine, Arizona, about a community that's self-exiled from the post-1980 world.

Three chapters are done plus the outlines for most of the remainder. I was writing some dialogue last night for a chapter in which Julia, the main character, visits her mom's grave in the local cemetery. Jo was sitting next to me while I was typing away, and all of a sudden she saw tears running down my cheek and said, "What's wrong?"

I sniffled and said, "This is going to be a good chapter."

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Book update


Whiskey informs me that the "F&Gs" for Naughty Ninja Takes a Bath have arrived from the publisher. That's the entire book minus the cardboard covers that are added in the final step of the process. Whiskey adds that the cover is delicious. Publication date is October.


Three Grumpy Trucks was selected for the International Literacy Association's Children's Choice 2019 Reading List. The list of 100 picture books was voted on by 12,500 kids. This is my first book to make the list.


Bailey celebrated by showing Whiskey how to roll in the clover in Central Park.