I was never going to find retirement easy. When I was working, I had an unhealthy desire to be busy every waking moment; to fill the spare moments with lesson preparation or writing a quiz or analysing results or writing missives to colleagues. Snooker, football, cricket, beer, TV, coffee, walking meant that I seemed to be perpetually busy. The pandemic has forced me to slow down and yet I still feel busy. On the other hand, my idea of busy has, today, involved an hour and half in the bath finishing “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig which is a truly life affirming book. It has also involved a walk along Brighton sea front with Pete and nearly two hours discussing
important things with Andy.
An article in “Psychology Today” by Raj Raghunathan Ph.D. states that we are different to every other species of animal in the way that we have a need to be busy. Other animals would be quite happy doing nothing, as long as they have enough to eat and have good shelter. Human beings need to be busy but the activities need to be meaningful. A positive emotional state can only be maintained by a meaningful existence.
On 26th August 1963, the following appeared in a (Liverpool?) newspaper. “James Paul McCartney, 21-years-old-musician of 20 Forthlin Road, Allerton, Liverpool, was fined £25 and disqualified from driving at Wallasey for 12 months after he had admitted exceeding the speed limit along Seabank Road. McCartney who had two previous convictions for speeding this year was told by Alderman W.O. Hanford presiding: “It is time you were taught a lesson.” McCartney was also fined £3 on each of two summonses for failing to produce his driving licence and his certificate of insurance within five days of being asked to do so by a police officer. He admitted all three summonses. Inspector L.E. Harrison, prosecuting, said that at 11.45 p.m. on June 14 McCartney’s car was paced for two tenths of a mile at between 50 and 55 miles per hour. When advised of his speed and asked for an explanation by Constable Stephen Goodhall McCartney made no reply. He was unable to produce his driving documents at that time. The documents were not produced until the beginning of July. When asked why he had not produced them before McCartney said he had been on tour.”
On 15th July 1964, John, Cynthia and Julian Lennon moved to Weybridge from London. Paul McCartney was still banned from driving and this presented difficulties if he wanted to write some songs with John Lennon. At the time he was living in Jane Asher’s parent’s house and it was difficult for John Lennon to visit him there. The solution was to employ a chauffeur to drive him to Weybridge. On one occasion, according to Paul McCartney, he asked “How’ve you been?'” and he received the reply “Oh working hard, working eight days a week”. This was the inspiration for the song “Eight Days A Week” which was the first song on Side Two of “Beatles For Sale”, recorded in October 1964 and released in December 1964. In the USA, it was a single which was released in February 1965 and became their seventh Number One. In 2016, Ron Howard directed a film called “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years” and at the same time, a soundtrack album was released called “Live At The Hollywood Bowl”.
To tie in with the film, a live album was released and the decision was made to enhance the only live album The Beatles officially released. The original intention for this album was to use The Beatles’ performance at Carnegie Hall, New York in February 1964 for the live album. However, the American Federation of Musicians would not give its approval and so Capitol Records recorded the concert in The Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles on 23 August 1964. However, the quality of the recording wasn’t good enough and the plans were shelved. The Beatles returned to the same venue a year later for two concerts which were recorded but, again, the quality was deemed too poor for release.
In the 1970s, bootleg albums of live performances started to circulate. In addition, Bellaphon, a German record company released a very poor recording of The Beatles playing at The Star Club in Hamburg in late 1962. There was pressure for an official live recording and Capitol Records handed the recordings of the three concerts to George Martin. He said “The fact that they were the only live recordings of The Beatles did not impress me. What did was the electric atmosphere and raw energy.” He did what he could, the screams were intrusive but an album was released in May 1977.
39 years later, an Abbey Road engineer called James Clarke developed a “demix” program which allows certain frequencies to be isolated and mixed at different volumes. Giles Martin, George’s son, applied this technique to the 1977 album and a new mix was made which ensured that the volume of the screams was decreased and the music could be heard properly. Giles Martin said “no other band had to face that level of blatant noise when they were performing.” He didn’t digitally enhance or use auto tune anything from the original performance. “As a snapshot of the time, it’s really evocative. Now you really feel their youth and excitement.” The album was released to tie in with Ron Howard’s excellent documentary which tells the story of The Beatles up to the time they stopped touring in 1966.
In the sleevenotes to the 2016 re release, David Fricke describes the performance of “Things We Said Today”. “It starts almost at a whisper – Lennon and Harrison strumming their guitars in a dreamy jangle over the impeccably even swing of Starr’s drumming. But then The Beatles jump twice in volume and charge, as if struck by lightning, into the bridge. It is a spectacular rave-up, way more frantic than the break on the record – and immediately doubled by the crowd in pitch and delight.” Listen at 1:05 and 1:43.
There were 13 songs on the original album and four extra songs have been added. Eight of the songs are from 1964, two songs are from the first 1965 concert, six are from the second 1965 concert and “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” is an edit from the two 1965 concerts. Considering that they couldn’t hear each other, considering the pandemonium all around them, the performances are astonishing, putting to bed the idea that they weren’t a good live band. Paul McCartney’s vocals, Ringo Starr’s drumming on “Long Tall Sally” are remarkable. The YouTube video below is from the Washington concert but sounds equally exciting.
The Beatles were busy in 1964. They played 132 live concerts. They filmed “A Hard Day’s Night”. They recorded 35 new songs. George Harrison always said that The Beatles destroyed his nervous system
and but Raj Raghunathan said that a positive emotional state can only be maintained by a meaningful existence.