Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sgt. Peppers as it should have been...

With the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", it got me thinking about what should have been:

When the Beatles started the recording sessions of what would become Sgt. Pepper on 24 November 1966, two of the first songs they recorded were Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever. (The third was When I'm Sixty-Four, another song about their childhood growing up in Liverpool.) Because of the pressure to release a single, Penny Lane / Strawberry Fields Forever was released in February 1967 as a double-A side. Because their producer George Martin and manager Brian Epstein thought "it was inappropriate to require fans to pay twice for the same material", they left these songs off Sgt. Pepper. Martin later described the decision to drop these two songs as "the biggest mistake of my professional life".

So...if we "restored" these two songs to Sgt. Pepper, where would they go? I couldn't see how to place them on side one without completely re-ordering the album. But I saw one logical and artistic place: put both songs on side two, right after the first song "Within You Without You". As the new 2nd song, "Penny Lane" is a strong comeback after "Within You Without You". Then if "Penny Lane" is followed with "Strawberry Fields Forever", it's another good change of pace, and preserves the mix of Lennon/McCartney songs on the album. It also makes side 2 and the whole album much stronger in my opinion. 

Here is how I would include "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" on Sgt. Peppers. What are your thoughts?

Side one
Lead vocals
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band"
"With a Little Help from My Friends"
"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds "
"Getting Better"
"Fixing a Hole"
"She's Leaving Home"
McCartney with Lennon
"Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!"

Side two
Lead vocals
"Within You Without You"
"Penny Lane"
"Strawberry Fields Forever"
"When I'm Sixty-Four"
"Lovely Rita"
"Good Morning Good Morning"
"Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)"
Lennon, McCartney and Harrison
"A Day in the Life"
Lennon and McCartney

Side note: The issue for this version of the LP is length. Side 2 clocks in at 27:05 (up from 20:02), vs 19:50 for side 1. The standard LP mastering technology allows 23 minutes per side. LPs longer than 23 minutes per side are possible, and can be 30 minutes or longer, but with a loss of fidelity. So if these two songs were added, it's likely there would have been other changes to the song order, and possibly which songs were included!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Across The Knife Edge (poem)

Across The Knife Edge

Following the cold trail across the high country,
somewhere in front of us the other summit rises,
invisible in the icy windswept fog.
We must reach the safety of the other side
before the coming storm
reaches us.

Across the knife edge,
faster and faster we go
into the fog of the day.

Along the tumbled edge,
giant rocks make us twist and turn.
Some are hewn too large for us to step.
Faster and faster we go,
into the fog of the day,
into the invisible future.

Across the knife edge,
the path narrows as we climb,
but we don’t see it yet.
Why don’t we see it?
Hunting, hunting
for ground beneath our feet.
Will we stop or turn
before it falls away –
Why don’t we see it?
Hunting, hunting
for ground beneath our feet.

Across the knife edge,
into the fog of the day,
through the wind, ahead of the storm,
to the safety of the other side,
into the invisible future,
we race.

May 2014 North Andover, Mass.

Monday, April 17, 2017

From The Christening (poem)

From The Christening

Those who came before us
are not gone,
even though they rest today
in quiet fields of stone and flower.

Those we love who are gone
live in mind and heart,
their home,
alive in love’s power.

But more than this,
those who came before
and gave us life,
or read stories to us at a Sunday visit,
played games together at the family picnic,
gazed out the window with us during the storm –
arms around –
or held us at the christening,
still live I claim.

Look back through the lens of time.
Follow the unseen line of sight,
not my invention,
but one that science calls dimension.

This story tells of an unbroken line, a celestial strand,
a woven thread of strength eternal.
The eternal now.

The ones we love
are still as they were,
alive and strong,
though passed from our easy view.
They still move and breathe,
laugh and sing,
on that line of time,
as real as yesterday,
like friends who moved away
now living in another town.
But we’re the ones who moved.
Still, that strand is in our reach.

I feel the threads return and join,
connecting to the fabric here
that I now hold in hand,
this fabric of the gown passed down
from the christening.

April 2014  North Andover, Mass.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

here are some haiku / standing here looking at you / say kon'nichiwa

I wanted to share some haiku I wrote, but before I do, I wanted to start with a few by Japan's most renowned haiku poet, Matsuo Bashō, who lived from 1644 to 1694. These are translated by Jane Reichhold. Enjoy.

ah haru haru
yōinaru kana haru
to un nun

ah spring spring
how great is spring
and so on

haru kaze ni
fukidashi warau
hana mogana

spring winds
hoping the flowers burst
out in laughter

hatsu hana ni
inochi shichi jyū
go nen hodo

first blossoms
seeing them extends my life
seventy-five more years

my haiku about haiku

the words are loaded
in the poetic pistol they wait
bang! flowers appear!

simple only, so
around, it sees, it hears, so
in the moment, so

the haiku – not clear
a few words say what they say
everyone says what?

the black ink stands small
tries to fill the empty page
white space fills the rest

a poem
a suitcase of words
packed with brain, heart, and soul
ready for travel