Sunday, October 31, 2010

Double Fantasy Stripped Down Part IV

The cover sleeve for the 45-single "Woman" (above). The song was the second of three singles ["(Just Like) Starting Over" and "Watching the Wheels" being the others] from the album Double Fantasy.


BEAUTIFUL BOYS

This song, Yoko's ode to her two 'boys' John and Sean, is was and always will be the most haunting on the finished album, Double Fantasy. I say the finished album because - as we'll see in a moment - there is a song on Stripped Down that actually out-haunts it. But, for now, we'll focus on this one.

The song - featuring John on Spanish guitar - features three stanzas: one to Sean, one to John and one to both of them. Unlike the album version, the Stripped Down version does not include that Jack Douglas-inspired Star Wars laser conclusion. It also differs in that the middle musical interlude that appears on the finished product instead opens the track on Stripped Down. After John's beautiful guitar playing, the song begins:

You're a beautiful boy
With all your little toys
Your eyes have seen the world
Though you're only four years old
And your tears are streaming
Even when you're smiling
Please never be afraid to cry

You're a beautiful boy
With all your little ploys
Your mind has changed the world
And you're now forty years old
You got all you can carry
And still feel somehow empty
Don't ever be afraid to fly

All you beautiful boys
Creating multiple plays
You like to fence in your world
And settle down when you're old
You can run from pole to pole
And never scratch your soul
Don't be afraid to go to hell and back
Don't be afraid to go to hell and back
Don't be afraid to be afraid


DEAR YOKO

John's love of old-time Blued Grass American country music mixes with a rocked-up love letter to Yoko. Much like "Crippled Inside" (1971)and "I Know" (1973)- two earlier country-type Lennon tracks - "Dear Yoko" features John with a faux-American southern twang at points throughout the song. The tune - written in Bermuda while John and Sean were on vacation while Yoko remained in New York [although John never knew it, Yoko sent them to Bermuda because she had become addicted to heroin and needed them gone to detox at home] - features the English concertina, in this case used to mimic the Blue Grass staple of the accordion.

The album version of "Dear Yoko" ends with John on a verbal riff saying, "It was a sunny night in the fishing boat. It really hit home, you know what I mean? When you come over next time don't sell the cows, spend some time with me and Sean you'll like it. Get in the water". The spoken riff on Stripped Down is different, although in the same vein: it's a postcard John has written home to Yoko back in New York. On the Double Fantasy version, he's chastising her - albeit tongue-in-cheek -for not "getting into" Bermuda the way he and Sean have. He even throws in a mention of Yoko's famous investment in Holstein cows that netted the Lennon's a nifty $120,000 profit. [Unfortunately, the press that the investment received was one of many things that supposedly angered Mark Chapman, who considered it another example of John being a sell-out]. As you'll read in a moment, the spoken riff on Stripped Down is more light and humorous.

The song begins with John trying to figure out what key guitarist Hugh McCracken is in. They have just completed a run through of the song, and John wants to immediately do it again, as he is pleased with what they've just done.

"Huey, Huey? Ah. Ok, let's do it again, right away. A one, two, three, four!"

A-wella, hella, hella...
Even after all these years
I miss you when you're not here
I wish you were here my dear Yoko
Even if it's just a day
I miss you when you're away
I wish you were here today dear Yoko

Even if it's just one night
I miss you and it don't feel right
I wish you were here tonight dear Yoko
Even if it's just one hour
I wilt just like a fading flower
Ain't nothing in the world like our love dear Yoko

Oh, a-hoh Yoko
I'm never, ever, ever, ever, ever gonna let you go
Oh a-hoh Yoko
I'm never, ever, ever, ever, ever gonna let you go
No sir!


Even when I'm miles at sea
And nowhere is the place to be
Your spirit's watching over me dear Yoko
Even when I watch T.V.
There's a hole where you're supposed to be
There's nobody lying next to me dear Yoko

Oh a-ho Yoko
I'm never, ever, ever, ever, ever gonna let you go
Oh a-ho, a-ho Yoko
I never, ever, ever, ever, ever gonna let you go

Even after all this time
I miss you like the sun don't shine
Without you I'm a one track m-m-m-mind dear Yoko
After all is really said and done
The two of us are really one
The goddess really smiled upon our love dear Yoko

Well, well, well, well, well.
Yoko!
Yo-ho-ho-ho-ko !

"I'm here in Bermuda, having a lovely time
Bought all sorts of clothes.
Went down to the restaurant, and had a great meal.
Then threw it up because I felt sick.
Swimming every day.
The water's 190 degrees.
The houses are all pink and blue, and the street's very quiet.
And there's no dirt anywhere.
And it's really quiet.
Anyway, and it's just a lot of ships and things.
And you're right by water.
And you can really see a fantastic view.
And anyway, I thought I'm gonna have this painting painted of me and Sean.
But I'm not gonna tell you 'till I get home.
So I won't write this on the postcard.
But by now you'll have found out
Because I've already had it done.
It's hanging up in your office, Right?
That's true, but on the other hand I'd just like to mention it here.
For the folks back home.
Thank you."

EVERY MAN HAS A WOMAN

This song - which John envisioned as being the follow-up single to "(Just Like) Starting Over" but which Yoko held back in the aftermath of John's death - is a real upbeat tale of eternal love on the album version. On the Stripped Down version, however, it is haunting, slower and almost other-worldly. It's almost as if Yoko is singing it on Earth and John from the heavens in the aftermath of his murder. None of the upbeat synthesizers are on this version. Instead, it is a foggy, out of space-feel. John and Yoko sing in harmony throughout the song, as these are the same vocal tracks eventually used on the album version.

Every man has a woman who loves him
Rain or shine, or life.
Or death
If he finds her in this life time
He will know
When he presses his ear to her breast

Why do I roam when I know you're the one?
Why do I laugh when I feel like crying?
[John: Yeah!]

Every woman has a man who loves her
Rise or fall of her life.
And in death
If she finds him in this life time
She will know
When she looks into his eyes

Why do I roam when I know you're the one?
Why do I run when I feel like holding you?

Every man has a woman who loves him
If he finds her in this life time
He will know
[John: oh, oh, oh, oh......]


HARD TIMES ARE OVER

In the aftermath of John's murder, of course, this song took on a morbid and ironic meaning never intended. Yoko would point out, though, that she wrote the song with the addendum - "over for a while" - to the celebration that "hard times are over". Not forever. Not maybe even tomorrow. But for a while, anyway.

As he did with the 1971 Christmas [now classic] "Happy X-Mas (War is Over)", John brought in a choir for this track [the Harlem Boys Choir completed the joyful spirit of "Happy X-Mas"]. The difference, of course, is that Yoko wrote and sings lead on this one, leading John to cry joyously to David Sheff at one point, "I've invented Asian soul music!" Interestingly, at the recording session, which Sheff attended, John and Yoko had the choir sing "One world, one people! One world, one people!" as a fade out of the song. For some reason, however, they opted not to use it and it doesn't appear on Stripped Down,

The album version is a great completion to Double Fantasy. The Stripped Down version, is even better because the choir - the Benny Cummings Singers-Kings Temple Choir - is even clearer, as is John's backing vocal [which includes typical Lennon tongue-in-cheek banter]. On the album version, the song begins with the choir praying. This came as a result of a quick observation by Douglas as he watched the choir warm up, "Get that!" Douglas yelled an engineer. The result is the now-familiar "We thank you for the glory in our hearts, right now! We thank you right now! Thank you, thank you!" While that is missing from Stripped Down, the clapping and harmonies of the choir are more clear on Stripped Down. As is John's wicked enjoyment of the two worlds - Japanese vocals and American gospel - colliding. The result is classic John Lennon.

John: "Ah!"
It's been very hard
But it's getting easier now
Hard times are over, over for awhile
The leaves are shining in the sun
And I'm smiling inside
You and I watching each other on a street corner
Cars and buses and planes and people go by
But we don't care
We want to know
Wanna know in each other's eyes
That hard times are over, over for some time
[John: "Yeah!"]

Hard times are over
Hard times are over
Hard times are over, over for awhile
[John: Hard times are over. Hear ye, hear ye. Come what may!]

It's been very rough
But It's getting easier now
Hard times are over, over for awhile
The streams are twinkling in the sun
And I'm smiling inside
You and I walking together 'round the street corner

Hard times are over
Hard times are over
Hard times are over, over for awhile
[John: A collection will be taken. It's an offer you can't refuse. Heh, heh, heh]

Hard times are over
Hard times are over
[John: Hard times are over!]
Hard times are over, over for awhile
[John: Yeah, yeah, yeah]
Hard times are over
[John: In an unfortunate mocking of "Happiness is a Warm Gun", When I hold you - in my armchair...]

Hard times are over, over for awhile!
[John: Heh, heh,. heh. D'Oh! That's all folks, hah, hah, hah]


copyright 2010 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Double Fantasy Stripped Down Part III

The jacket cover for the single "Watching the Wheels" [above] featured a photo actually taken by one of the 'Dakota Groupies', a band of loonies and ne'er-do-wells who would wait around the Dakota's entrance for a glimpse of John. This photo happened to be taken on August 4, 1980, just as John and Yoko were heading out to the first recording sessions for Double Fantasy. While initially annoyed with the fan photographer, John loved this photo and wanted to use it for the "Watching the Wheels" single. Unfortunately, that same fan would take another picture - four months later - that would become infamous. The fan who took the picture above was Paul Goresh, the same man who would photograph John signing an autograph for Mark Chapman on December 8, 1980.

WATCHING THE WHEELS

This song is my favorite of favorites. It may be the most autobiographical song in the history of rock music, actually. The song - as with much of that period - is touched with a special sadness because of the role it played in convincing Mark Chapman to kill John Lennon. With his infatuation with Catcher in the Rye and Holden Caulfield, the one scene in the book that resonated the most with Chapman said was when Holden's little sister, Phoebe, is riding the merry-go-round and worrying that she will fall off [i.e. grow up]. When Chapman first played "Watching the Wheels" and heard the lyrics, "...no longer ridin' on the merry-go-round. I just had to let it go." Chapman said that was the final sign he needed to remove the few doubts he still had as to whether or not he was really meant to kill John Lennon.

While it is unlikely that sound of a merry-go-round in the song made it any more likely that Chapman would kill Lennon, there is an interesting back story as to how that sound - created by an instrument called a Hammered dulcimer - ended up in the song. While walking one day in Greenwich Village, producer Jack Douglas and engineer Lee DeCarlo literally stumbled upon a street musician playing a Hammered dulcimer on the corner. The sound immediately made them think of a merry-go-round and the lyric in John's song.

Struck by the sound, the two men went up to the street musician - Matthew Cunningham -- and asked him whether he was interested in taking part in a paying gig at a professional recording session. Cunningham naturally agreed but interestingly enough never asked who was making the recording. At the studio - still not knowing for whom he was playing - Cunningham set up by sitting down with his Hammered dulcimer in a yoga position, with his legs folded under him. At this point, Douglas came down from the production control room with John joining them. Douglas and Lennon then told Cunningham exactly where they wanted him to play on the song. He played wonderfully, getting the exact sound John wanted on one take.

As he waited to get paid, Cunningham started staring into the control room. Finally, he pointed to John and said, "What's your name?" Amused, John replied, "I'm John." After a pause, Cunningham said, "Hi, John." It would be months before he'd learn that he had played on John Lennon's last album.

On Stripped Down, what is most noticeable about the song is that there is only John on one piano. On the recorded version on Double Fantasy, John played a second piano tracked to mirror the first one. It makes a different sound, to be sure, and actually highlights the part of the chorus where John mimics the Hammered dulcimer to add to the merry-go-round effect.

People say I'm crazy
Doing what I'm doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings
To save me from ruin
When I say that I'm o.k.
Well they look at me kind of strange
Surely you're not happy now
You no longer play the game

People say I'm lazy
Dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice
Designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I'm doing fine
Watching shadows on the wall
Don't you miss the big time boy
You're no longer on the ball

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

Ah, people asking questions
Lost in confusion
Well I tell them there's no problem,
Only solutions
Well they shake their heads and they look at me
As if I've lost my mind
I tell them there's no hurry
I'm just sitting here doing time

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round, you see
I just had to let it go
I just had to let it go
I just had to let it go


YES, I'M YOUR ANGEL

There are very few differences between the song as it appeared on the finished product and as it does on Striped Down. Missing, though, is the enjoyable interlude between "Watching the Wheels" and "Yes, I'm your Angel". After the final drum roll ending the former, the latter begins with the sounds of a street busy with life. We hear a homeless man [John] on a corner with a hat collecting money, and as each passer-by drops in a coin John says, "Thank you, thank you; you've got a lucky face. Thank you, thank you." We then follow a man after he drops a coin in the beggar's hat as he is walking down the street. He stops inside a drinking establishment as we hear the swinging saloon door squeak closed behind him. Glasses are clinking and people are talking as the lady at the piano is warming up. When she begins, they applaud politely as Yoko performs in this imaginary nightclub in the 1940s.

Yes, I'm your angel
I'll give you everything
In my magic power
So make a wish
And I'll let it come true for you
Tra, la, la, la, la

[John whistles]

You're my fairy
You give me everything
I ever wanted from life
Have I made a wish
And is that why I have you
Tra, la, la, la, la

[John whistles]

We believe in pumpkins that turn into princess
And frogs that turn into prince
We believe in moons that smile to us
When we hurry home before the midnight strikes
Tra, la, la, la, la

[John whistles]

Yes, I'm so pretty [John whistles a cat-call]
You're so dizzy
And we're so happy every day
Let's make a wish
And let it come true for us
Tra, la, la, la, la

I'm in your pocket
You're in my locket
And we're so lucky in every way
We make a wish
And let it come true for us
Tra, la, la, la, la

[John whistles]

We believe in houses built in the sky
And love that lifts us high
We believe in the sun that looks over our shoulders
And brings our shadows together
Tra, la, la, la, la

[John whistles]

Yes, our hearts are one
Our bodies, too
And it's so good (hmmm) everytime
We make a wish
And let it come true for you, too
Tra, la, la, la, la

Happy birthday, my love
I'm your angel
I'll give you everything
In my magic power
So make a wish
And I'll let it come true for you
Tra, la, la, la, la, la


WOMAN

The track begins with John strumming a note on the guitar before asking quizzically to the musicians, "Where we goin' fellas?" This was a phrase John would use with the other three Beatles in the early days of their careers, playing at clubs, dance halls and bars. He'd say, "Where we goin' fellas?" They're response was, "To the top, Johnny?" John would then say, "And where's that, fellas?" To which they'd replay, "To the toppermost of the poppermost!"

The version on Stripped Down is quite beautiful and the song's origins as a tune for guitar are more easily gleaned as it is only John, a bass and a drum. After asking them where they're going, John counts in, "two, three, four"

For the other half of the sky...
Woman I can hardly express
My mixed emotions at my thoughtlessness
After all I'm forever in your debt
And woman I will try to express
My inner feelings and thankfulness
For showing me the meaning of success

Oooooh, well, well
Doo, doo, doo, doodle, doo
Ooooh, well, well
Doo, doo, doo, doodle, doo

Woman I know you understand
The little child inside the man
Please remember my life is in your hands
And woman hold me close to your heart
However distant don't keep us apart
After all it is written in the stars

Oooooh, well, well
Doo, doo, doo, doodle, doo
Oooooh, well, well
Doo, doo, doo, doodle, doo
Well

Woman please let me explain
I never meant to cause you sorrow or pain
So let me tell you again and again and again

I love you, yeah, yeah
Now and forever
I love you, yeah, yeah
Now and forever
I love you,
[deep breath] yeah, yeah
Now and forever
I love you,
[deep breath] yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

NEXT: The Final Four

copyright 1980 John Lennon and Yoko Ono;
copyright 2010 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Double Fantasy Stripped Down Part II

If I had a dime for every minute of my early adolescence that I stared and studied the back cover of my Double Fantasy album [above] I'd be millionaire many times over. Most touching - to me, anyway - was the note from John and Yoko [you can barely see it, in white text, in the lower right quadrant of the album cover above]: "With special thanks to all the people, known and unknown, who helped us stay in America, without whom this album would not have been made. love John & Yoko."
GIVE ME SOMETHING

With her second track on the album, Yoko comes back with another rocker featuring John and Hugh McCracken on two strong guitar solos, not unlike the ones John, Paul and George used on "The End" from Abbey Road. While "Kiss Kiss Kiss" shows the couple in bliss, "Give Me Something" starts a set of three tracks where things are rough between the two lovers. Yoko has said that she wrote much of this song and "I'm Moving" on in 1973-74 when she and John were separated.

The beginning of the track starts with the familiar "Ah-oh, ah-oh" that we hear on the album, but in a slightly different rhythm.

Ah-oh, a-oh
Ah-oh, a-oh OH!
Oh.......................

The food is cold
Your eyes are cold
The window's cold
The bed's cold

Give me something that's not cold, come on, come on
Give me something that's not cold, come on, come on
Give me something that's not cold, come on, come on
Give me, give me, give me

The chair's hard
Your voice is hard
Your money's hard
The living's hard

Give me something that's not hard, come on, come on
Give me something that's not hard, come on, come on
Give me something that's not hard, come on, come on
Give me, give me, give me


Here Hugh McCracken begins his guitar solo and is soon joined by John .

I'll give you my heartbeat
And a bit of tear and flesh
It's not very much but while it's there
You can have it, you can have it



I'M LOSING YOU

One of the great unheralded songs on the album. There is also a back-story to this one. Jack Douglas had previously produced Cheap Trick and convinced John that bringing in some of the band members would give a special edge to both "I'm Losing You" and "I'm Moving On". Finally, John agreed. There was a problem, however: Cheap Trick were also in recording sessions at the same time. Their producer? George Martin. Yes, that George Martin of Beatle fame. Douglas would later joke that he called Martin and said, “You’ve got my band and I’ve got one of yours, can I borrow my band for a few tracks?”

Martin naturally agreed. Cheap Trick drummer Bun E Carlos arrived with guitarist Rick Nielsen at The Hit Factory recording studios. Nielsen almost didn't make it: his wife went into labor and gave birth to their third son that morning. Knowing how badly her husband wanted to play with John Lennon, however, Nielsen's wife consented to allow him to go to the session. Nielsen would later remember, “I don’t think I would have missed being at the hospital for anyone else except for John Lennon!”

With their arrival, the Cheap Trick pair joined regular session bassist Tony Levin and George Smalls on keyboards for the recording of “I’m Losing You”. Douglas, John and all of the musicians were amazed at the sound generated by Lennon and Nielsen trading guitar licks. “It really rocked,” Douglas later said. “John was thrilled.”
Indeed, John was so impressed with Nielsen that at one point he turned to Bun E Carlos and said, "Man, I wish I’d had him on ‘Cold Turkey’ – we had Clapton on that and he froze up and could only play this one riff.”

There was a problem, though. While John may have been pleased with the track, Yoko was not. She would give no reason and Douglas remembered that there was nothing that he could do or say to persuade her that Cheap Trick wasn’t some unknown band wishing to trade on the Lennon name. “And of course John didn’t argue with Yoko,” Douglas said. As for Cheap Trick, they were unaware of any problems in the studio. “Yoko was great to us when we were there – and she said great stuff about us when the track was finally released 17 years later [Yoko released the Cheap Trick version of "I'm Losing You" on the 1998 John Lennon Anthology 4-CD box set],” said Nielsen. “We were thrilled that we got to play on it and when it came out all those years later I felt kind of vindicated as I always thought our version was better than the one on the album.”

The track begins with John telling drummer Andy Newmark, "Count it, Andy." "Is the tempo good?" Newmark asks. "Beautiful, beautiful," John gushes. With that, Andy starts the 'counting'

One, two, one, two, three, four and Andy's familiar drum roll begins the song as John moans,

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww Whoa.

Here in some stranger's room
Late in the afternoon
What am I doing here at all?
Ain't no doubt about it
I'm losing you
I'm losing you

Somehow the wires have crossed
Communication's lost
Can't even get you on the telephone - no mamma
Just got to shout about it
I'm losing you
I'm losing you

Well, here in the valley of indecision
I don't know what to do
I feel you slipping away
I feel you slipping away
[John counts, "one, two, three, four"]
I'm losing you
I'm losing you

Well now, you say you're not getting enough
But I remind you of all that bad, bad, bad stuff
So what the hell am I supposed to do?
Just put a Band-aid on it!
And stop the bleeding now
Stop the bleeding now

Welllllll. Whoooo. Ah.... Humph. Humph, Humph. Ahhhhha Way-hoooo!

Hmmmm. I'm losing you
Oh, I'm losing you
Well, well, well

I know I hurt you then
But hell, that was way back when
Well, do you still have to carry that cross? Drop it!
Don't want to hear about it
I'm losing you
I'm losing you
Don't want to lose you now
Welllllllll!

At this point as the song begins to fade out, the assumption has always been that John sings, "Long, long, long gone." With Stripped Down, though, we learn that he is really singing an old traditional song called. "Long Lost John". He finishes that up by slipping into Joe Williams' 1935 standard "Baby Please Don't Go". So back to our fade out...


....Wellllllllllll!
Long, long lost John. [
Makes a sound like someone who is gasping for air]
Long, long lost John. [Gasping]
Long, long lost John. [Gasping]
Ah, oh, baby please don't go. Baby please don't go.....


I'M MOVING ON

One of my favorite tracks on the entire album. The guitar work by McCracken and Lennon make it a tight ball of energy as Yoko basically tells the mid-1970s John to take a hike.

While on the album there is a natural fade into the song from the conclusion of "I'm Losing You", here we hear the familiar counting before the guitars begin, and Yoko starts to lay into John:

Save your sweet talk for when you score
Keep your Monday kisses for your glass lady
I want the truth and nothing more
I'm moving on, moving on you're getting phony

You didn't have to tell a white lie
You knew you scarred me for life
Don't stick your finger in my pie
You know I'll see through your jive
I want the truth and nothing more
I'm moving, moving on we're getting phony

When you were angry you had love in your eyes
When you were sad you had dream in your voice
But now you're giving me your window smile
I'm moving on, moving on it's getting phony

I'm moving on. Moving on. Moving on. Moving onnnnnnnnnn!


BEAUTIFUL BOY [DARLING BOY]

A song that has such meaning for me. For years when it looked as though I might never have children, this song brought a deep sadness. Even years before those adventures, the sadness of John singing, "I can hardly wait to see you come of age" - knowing what we know but he did not - made it painfully beautiful. The song, though, is not just powerful to me, but I think to every father. I saw a BBC documentary with Paul McCartney on YouTube recently, from 1982. Paul had apparently recently discovered "Beautiful Boy" after months of being unable to play the album following John's murder. On the documentary, Paul is talking about John and says, "Everything you need to know about John is on this record." With that, Paul plays the song for the interviewer. Soon, Paul's eyes well with tears as he mouths silently 'Beautiful, man. Beautiful.' That's how powerful the song is.

The song on Stripped Down is not much different from the studio version, although it is even more poignant in that - without the overdubs - the feelings John has for Sean come through even more clear on this version.

Not to make it too heavy, though, John jokes just prior to beginning his guitar strumming, saying "We'll change the rhythm around a little and do something a little more slow. Sit down, there."

Close your eyes
Have no fear
The monster's gone
He's on the run and your daddy's here

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
It's getting better and better

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Out on the ocean sailing away
I can hardly wait
To see you come of age
But I guess we'll both just have to be patient
'Cause it's a long way to go
A hard row to hoe
Yes it's a long way to go
But in the meantime

Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you're busy making other plans

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy

Before you go to sleep
Say a little prayer
Every day in every way
It's getting better and better

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful
Beautiful boy
Darling, darling, darling
Darling Sean

Whispering: Good night, Sean. See you in the morning. Go back to bed.....


I always needed an emotional break after listening to that song before turning the record over to side 2. And so it shall be with this entry. Next time, I'll be emotionally ready for side two.


copyright 1980 John Lennon & Yoko Ono
copyright 2010 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Double Fantasy Stripped Down Part I

The cover of the jacket sleeve for the single '(Just Like) Starting Over' [above]. Kiss Kiss Kiss made up the 'B' side. Remember b-sides?


(JUST LIKE) STARTING OVER

In the talk-up to the start of the song, John whispers, "This one's for Gene [Vincent] and Eddie [Cochran] and Elvis..." Then, as if he suddenly remembers, "...and Buddy [Holly]!" John considered this song an ode to the 'old' rock and roll, hence his dedication to four of the greats of rock and roll. John was partially inspired, he said, by "Hungry Heart" by Bruce Springsteen, which he thought was an excellent nod to the past done in a modern way.

With John's introduction, we hear the familiar beginning with only John's vocal and his strumming on the guitar:

Our life
Together
Is so precious
Together
We have grown,
We have grown.
Although our love
Is still special
Let's take a chance and fly away
Somewhere
Alone.


Next comes the familiar backing musicians. The difference is a much clearer piano [John] throughout the piece, as well as an absence of the background singers [Michelle Simpson and Cassandra Wooten] who appeared on the released track. With that, John sings on:

It's been too long since we took the time
No one's to blame, I know time flies so quickly.
But when I see you darling,
It's like we both are falling
In love
Again
It'll be
Just like starting over, starting over.

Everyday we used to make it, love
Why can't we be making love nice and easy?
It's time to spread our wings and fly
Don't let another day go by
My love
It'll be
Just like starting over, starting over.

Why don't we take off alone?
Take a trip somewhere far, far away
We'll be together all alone again,
Like we used to in the early days.

Well, well darling
It's been too long since we took the time
No one's to blame, I know time flies so quickly.
But when I see you darling,
It's like we both are falling
In love
Again
It'll be
Just like starting over, starting over

Look out.

Our life
Together
Is so precious
Together
We have grown,
Hmmmm, we have grown
Although our love's
Still special
Let's take a chance and fly away
Somewhere.............

Here, as on the record, the silence pauses and John returns for the song's fade out. This version is the full version of his riff, however. On the original album, only snippets of a riff John proceeded to go on were actually used to make the fade out that we're all familiar with. Stripped Down has the full version of the riff. John times his return to singing with "Ch-ch-ch-ch". He then comes back from the pause with:

Ooooooooooh
Doooowho.
Starting over....
Starting over...
Over and over
Hoooowe who
Hooowe who, who, who, who
Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow
Starting over

Starting over
Over and over, ov-ve-ve-ver


John then indicates to the musicians that he's done - they have enough for the fade out - by saying, "Ok, boys, print it!"

He then plays a piano 'stage exit' riff and finishes with, "Thank you, thank you."


KISS, KISS, KISS

The second track, Yoko's first song, begins as does the record version, with her speaking Japanese in a 'whisper' almost sensually. As with "(Just Like) Starting Over", the sound is purer, with John's guitar far more audible.

Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss me love
Just one kiss, kiss will do
Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss me love
Just one kiss, kiss will do

Why death
Why life
Warm hearts
Cold darts

Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss me love
I'm bleeding inside

It's a long, long story to tell
And I can only show you my hell

Touch, touch, touch, touch me love
Just one touch, touch will do
Touch, touch, touch, touch me love
Just one touch, touch will do

Why me
Why you
Broken mirror
White terror

Touch, touch, touch, touch me love
I'm shaking inside

It's that faint faint sound of the childhood bell
Ringing in my soul

Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss me love
Just one kiss, kiss will do.

Here Yoko - as on the album - goes into her voice gyrations and sounds. The difference is that - on this version- you can here on the play out that background singers Simpson and Wooten are singing:

Oooooh kiss
Oooooh, kiss me
Oooooh kiss
Oooooh, kiss me
Oooooh kiss
Oooooh, kiss me

CLEANUP TIME

While it is clear on the studio version that John leads into this song with something that sounds like a version of "Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble", on Stripped Down we hear what he really says:

Bubble, bubble
Toil but NO trouble

Whoo, hoo, hoo
Well, well, well
Moonlight on the water
Sunlight on my face
You and me together
We are in our place
The gods are in the heavens
The angels treat us well
The oracle has spoken
We cast the perfect spell

Here is the first change. A backing track of John's voice - as if played through a megaphone - sings, which I'll denote in parentheses:

(Now, now, now)

Now it begins - let it begin
Cleanup time
(Ring-a, ring around the world)
Hey, cleanup time
(Ring-a, ring around the world)
Well, it's cleanup time
(Ring-a ring around the world)

Well, well, well
Well, well, well, well

Hmmm, the queen is in the counting house
Counting out the money
The king is in the kitchen
Making bread and honey
No friends and yet no enemies
Absolutely free
No rats aboard the magic ship
Of perfect harmony

(Now, now, now)
Now it begins
Let it begin
(well, well, well, well)
Cleanup time
(C-c-clean up, clean up)
Cleanup time
(C-c-clean up, clean up)
Cleanup time
(C-c-clean up, clean up)

Well, well,
[backup guitarist High McCracken yells, "Whew!"] Well....

(Tweedily dum, tweedily dum, tweedily dee, tweedily dee
Tweedily dum, tweedily dum, tweedily dee, tweedily dee
Tweedily dum, tweedily dum....)

However far we travel
Wherever we may roam
The center of the circle
Will always be our home

Yeah. yea, yeah,
Dooo, doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo....

Yeah, cleanup
(Clean up)
Cleanup time
Cleanup time
Cleanup time
Cleanup time
Cleanup time
Cleanup time
It's Christmas time, it's that time of year again
It's party time, it's that time of year again
It's party time, show those mother's how to party.....



NEXT UP: The remainder of "Side One" [remember when there were such things as 'sides'?!].

copyright 1980 by John Lennon and Yoko Ono
copyright 2010 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

For the Other Half of the Sky....


After begging off numerous requests from his mother, Sean Lennon finally agreed to sketch the cover of Double Fantasy (above) for the 2010 Double Fantasy Stripped Down project. Sean's reluctance, Yoko hints at in the liner notes, stemmed from his association of the album with the deep psychological scars left in the aftermath of his father's murder.

It would probably be impossible to overstate the impact on my life of a gift I received for my 12th birthday. A few months earlier, I had discovered some old record albums in my mother's closet - Beatles' records. Like every kid in the late 1970s, I knew Paul McCartney from Wings. Never heard of George Harrison. I'd heard some 'old' Ringo Starr songs [from 'a-way' back in the early 1970s] but thought no more about them than I did the Partridge Family's Greatest Hits. John Lennon? Never heard of him.

Until that point where I discovered the old Beatle records, remember, Lennon had been out of the music industry for much of my 'formative' years of listening to popular music. By the time I was semi-regularly listening to pop music - I'd put it mid-to-late 1974 - John was pretty much gone from the music scene. So, I suppose, it's not that surprising that in the fall of 1980 I would not know John Lennon by name - as amazing as that is to think about today.

Shortly after I started listening to the Beatles songs, of course, John was murdered. I've written before about the effect - for whatever reason; I long ago gave up trying to figure it out - John's murder and its aftermath has had on me. I've written before about waking up that Tuesday morning, opening my bedroom door in our duplex apartment [not in the sky, folks; I said duplex, not deluxe] and seeing my parents on either side of our television [we finally got color during that summer of 1980, by the way]. On the screen - just fading out - was the text 'John Lennon 1940-1980' with a photo of a guy who looked a lot like Elvis did back in the 1950s [later I recognized that they'd used a photo of John from Hamburg in 1960 for that memorial fade-out on TV]. I'd seen my mother before with that sad look on her face, but it was my father's reaction that struck me and that I remember to this day: he looked lost. Not sad, but confused as if you'd just told him that I wasn't his son, or that my mother wasn't his wife. The kind of 'lost' that said, "What the hell just happened here?"

So, by the time my birthday rolled around a few months later, I'd become totally immersed in Lennon and the Beatles. I wanted for my birthday - very badly - to get Lennon's last album - the one he'd been promoting in the final days of his life - Double Fantasy, done with his wife, Yoko Ono. One reason I wanted the album - a small reason, but a precursor/warning to the puberty-hell that was about to rip my life to shreds - was that my buddy Donnie Kellerman [some buddy; asshole gave me chicken pox...but more on that in a moment] had gotten a hold of Double Fantasy [Donnie's family had money; which, in my world, meant that his mom and dad could afford the $9.99 it cost to buy Double Fantasy] and told me that on one of the songs Yoko Ono "had sex". It's hard for me to remember what that meant to me in the winter of 1980-81, but I do know that I knew it was something I'd never seen and was not meant to see.

Of course, what Donnie had heard was the second track on the album, Yoko's "Kiss Kiss Kiss", which includes throughout the track Yoko mimicking an orgasm. Donnie was more advanced than me, because when I finally did get the album and did hear "Kiss Kiss Kiss", her orgasm sounded awfully painful rather than titillating.

Anyway, I wanted that album. So, when it finally got into my hands it was as a 12th birthday present from my Aunt Ida. Ida was - and is - an interesting character. She loved, loved, loved the Beatles..... pre-1967. Anything they did after that was - with a few exceptions like "Hey Jude" - Bohemian. To her, something bizarre had happened to John [and the rest of them, but it had particularly addled John, in her mind] and he'd gone nuts. That bearded hippie singing "Give Peace a Chance" was not John Lennon as far as she was concerned. Unlike most, Aunt Ida never blamed Yoko. "He was just always nuts," was Ida's opinion. It just took Yoko to bring it out of him, she said.

It was kind of ironic, then, that Aunt Ida was the bearer of this gift, this record that would have such an effect on my life. Ida couldn't figure out why everybody was all upset about John Lennon's death. "How does it effect my life" was her response. Plus, it drove her nuts the way Lennon's music was EVERYWHERE in the months after his death. "If I hear "Watching the Wheels" one more time I'm gonna vomit," Ida said.

Yet, for her little nephew B, she'd have scaled the walls of the Dakota to get me an autograph of John [pre-death, obviously] if I'd asked her. So, Ida, who could afford the $10, went against her better judgement and got me the album.

Now, a chain of events transpired right around this time that contributed to this whole love affair with the record. A few days before my birthday, I was taking off my shirt to get into my pajamas when my mother shrieked, "What's that!" Apparently, I had red spots on my lower back and - now that I looked closer - on my stomach, too. At almost literally that moment, Donnie Kellerman's mother called. Guess what she found on Donnie's back and stomach? And on his little sister's, too? In case you haven't guessed - which I sure as hell couldn't have - all three of us [Donnie, me and his twerp sister] had chicken pox. For Donnie and me, we were screwed. At 12, that was awfully old to be getting chicken pox. The disease - now, apparently, almost totally eradicated - is quite painful at that age, in addition to being an itchy hell.

At almost the exact same time as Double Fantasy and chicken pox fell into my life came a medical warning intended - as most of these are - to scare the shit out of people for no good reason. The Centers for Disease Control [CDC] began cautioning physicians and parents about the association between the use of aspirin and the outbreak of something called Reye’s Syndrome, particularly in children with chicken pox or virus-like illnesses. While generally a harmless virus in adults, in children about 30% with Reye's Syndrome died. With that confluence of 'aspirin', 'Reye's Syndrome', 'chicken pox', my mother went into full panic mode.

Needless to say, there'd be "NO ASPIRIN FOR YOU!" Instead, to deal with the pain from chicken pox, I got Tylenol, which was about as useful as cat piss in the fight against pain from chicken pox. [As an aside, the folks at Tylenol loved Reye's Syndrome and the CDC in early-1981. They immediately went on the airwaves with commercials touting the fact that Tylenol did not result in Reye's Syndrome. Of course, in a few months, Tylenol would be faced with something a helluva lot more devastating to their bottom line than Reye's Syndrome was to the aspirin folks, as some still-unknown asshole started putting poison in Tylenol in a tampering terror that changed the way all of us looked at each other, let alone our medicines].

So, all of these things converged at the same time: my birthday, chicken pox, Double Fantasy and Reye's Syndrome. What it meant was that I'd be suffering in bed on my 12th birthday on simple Tylenol [rather than aspirin, which would have actually helped], in misery with the fucking chicken pox. But what I did have was hours and hours and hours of time to play that Double Fantasy album over and over and over and over again. No school with chicken pox, and no sleep with only Tylenol to fight the pain, folks. As I look back, had I not had the opportunity to - literally - listen to Double Fantasy almost uninterrupted for 24 hours a day for 10 days straight, who knows whether it would have had the effect that it did.

I'm not sure if I can explain in words why Double Fantasy means what it means to me. I listened to it, obviously, knowing that it would be Lennon's last. All of that had been set up for me, making the lyrics more poignant than John would have ever intended them. But there was a feel to the album, a joy. I may have been the only 12-year old in the world who even liked Yoko's songs on the album. I thought they were really, really good. I now know that one of the reasons I felt that way is because John's guitars, pianos band backing vocals are all over Yoko's tracks. Indeed, he delivers backing vocals on two of my favorite Yoko songs on the album ["Every Man Has a Woman" and "Hard Times Are Over"]. But it was also because Yoko's lyrics on Double Fantasy really had something to say. Indeed, the whole album - as both John and Yoko intended - is really a dialogue between husband and wife. And - with a few exceptions - Yoko's contributions were actually, as John would say in one of his last interviews, "Bloody good pop songs, folks."

There was also the issue of John and Yoko's five-year old son, Sean. At five, I'd lost my grandmother who had been very close with me. So, I know on some level John's death resonated with me for that reason as well. I also felt a 'kinship' of sorts with Sean, although obviously the differences between the two of us and our situations were monumentally different. Indeed, until I had my own children, one of the things that I think convinced me that I wanted to be a parent was the joy with which John wrote, spoke and sang about fatherhood on that album and in the promotional interviews.

Later, the album and my love of it took on more meaning and deeper feelings. First, I read Playboy writer David Sheff's All We Are Saying: The John Lennon Playboy Interview Tape. The book was a full transcript with back-stories of Sheff's August 1980 22-day set of interviews that made up the January 1981 Playboy interview with John Lennon. [One of the bazillion ironies about the whole evening of John's murder is that - for literally millions of Americans - they learned about John's death while listening to their newly purchased Double Fantasy records while reading the newly delivered - that very day - January Playboy magazine that featured the Lennon interview].

The interviews and transcripts were amazing because Sheff had literally unfettered access to John over a period of the first three weeks of the making of Double Fantasy. There were sessions where John and David sat on the floor of one of a bathroom in the Dakota for hours on end as Sheff would call out the titles of Beatles songs and John would tell Sheff of his recollections of who wrote what, how it came about, everything. Then there were trips to John and Yoko's favorite restaurant, Cafe Fortuna, for coffee, pastry, cigarettes and conversation. There were also long nights talking in the living room of the Dakota. In one of those late-evening chats, there is a really, really creepy moment where John is speaking and - from down in the courtyard below - someone screams in obvious pain. John stops in mid-sentence and, not missing a beat, laughingly says, 'Oh, another murder in the Rue Dakota'. The interviews were really behind-the-scenes, day-by-day looks at how the album was made. Later, I would buy a bootleg copy of some of the Sheff tapes [John's copies] that were part of the trove of materials stolen by Lennon aide Fred Seaman on the night of his murder. The bootleg - A Heart Play - was like sitting down and having your own conversation with John and Yoko.

Then, a few years later, a friend of mine got me a bootleg of outtakes from some of the recording sessions of Double Fantasy. I later found out that this, too, was part of the cache of tapes stolen by Seaman. That bootleg was - despite the illicit nature by which it came out - just amazing. It consisted of conversations and recording jams that made you feel as though you were sitting in on the recording sessions of Double Fantasy yourself. One of my favorite moments on the bootleg include John quipping to someone who asks him if he wants to see playback of a video that had just been taken [and has never been released] of him singing 'I'm Losing You', "No, I don't need to see it. I know what I look like. Like a fucking bird."

Then there are the jam sessions. As John says at one point to guitarist Hugh McCracken when the latter starts calling out 1960s songs he wants to jam on, "Hughey, I don't back to the sixties, I go back to the fifties, man." Then there is the hysterical version of '(Just Like) Starting Over', as John sings it for the sessions musicians to learn:

Why don't we do it in the road?
A little hotel, where we used to screw.
A little motel, down in Montauk,
Just you, me the cooks and the servants too.


So, I think I've covered the point that I love Double Fantasy. Each song means something to me. It reminds me of 1981, where I was and what I was thinking, and all of the subsequent moments over the last thirty years where the album has been prominent in my life.

Yoko takes a lot of shit about the fact that over the past thirty years she's released countless outtakes, remakes, and repackaging of of John's stuff. She's painted as an opportunist bitch who just wants to make money off her dead husband. Generally, this opinion is held by those who felt that all Yoko wanted to do was make money off her husband while he was alive. I don't buy it. Instead, I think Yoko knows that - for lunatics like me - John is very much alive. And these vignettes of new stuff that we get every few years helps to keep him so. With them, John is never really completely gone because Yoko will come up with something we've never heard before. Where others look at this with disgust, we are grateful to Yoko for making that possible.

Such was the case in the celebration of what would have been John's 70th birthday. Of all of the things Yoko released a few weeks ago, nothing attracted my interest as much as a 'stripped down' version of Double Fantasy. With the exception of his first album, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, John would never allow his voice to be put on an album without overdubs, double-and-triple tracking and other 'touches' because he never liked his voice. Indeed, his relationship with Phil Spector and the latter's horrible productions of some of Lennon's solo work was a direct result of the fact that John liked how Spector 'buried' John's voice deep enough to John's satisfaction.

While the overdubs were nowhere near as heavy on Double Fantasy as they had been on Spector's butcher-jobs of Mind Games, Rock and Roll and even to some extent Imagine, they were there in 1980. Yoko decided that John's voice was so good on Double Fantasy, without the double tracking and overdubs, that it deserved to be heard. She has said she really wrestled with this because John was so sensitive about his voice. She has said she was afraid that she was wrong to be going against John's wishes in releasing a 'stripped down' Double Fantasy. In the end, though, she said she liked to think that by age 70 had he lived, he would have been comfortable enough to allow himself to be heard undubbed.

What follows in the next post [or posts] is a breakdown of Double Fantasy Stripped Down. I've included the lyrics, but also the new talk-ups to various tracks and some differences between this original version and the version that John and Yoko released in 1980.

For anyone who loves Double Fantasy as much as I do, I know you'll enjoy.
copyright 2010 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

There Used To Be A Ballpark



Crowds prepare to enter Boston's Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds (above) prior to Game 1 of the 1903 World Series. As you can see, most of them should have been in school.

As it is October [apparently], I started thinking about the World Series. The history of the Series, of course, is long and legendary. That first World Series, however, is the topic of our trip down memory lane today.

1903 Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Boston Americans [Red Sox]

The very first World Series - in 1903 - paired the National and American League champions in a Best-of-9 series. The Pirates were competing in their 22nd season in 1903 - although they were known as the Pittsburgh Alleghenys from 1882-1890. During most of those seasons, the Pirates were a middling-to-good team [with the exception of the 1890 crew, who somehow managed to go 23-110 without being run out of town], but one that never finished higher than 2nd place. At the turn of the century, however, the Pirates were becoming a force. They began a streak of three straight National League pennants in 1901. The team featured future Hall of Famer Honus Wagner and stars Deacon Phillippe and player-manager Fred Clarke. The 1902 Pirates were nearly perfect, going 103-36 in winning the pennant. By 1903, then, it was no surprise to see the Pirates take the National League crown again, finishing 6 1/2 games ahead of John McGraw's New York Giants. At 91-49, then, the Pirates were formidable.

Against them were the relatively new Boston Americans in the relatively new American League. For the first two years of their existence before 1903, the Americans finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. The Americans featured Hall of Famer Cy Young and stars Bill Dinneen and Patsy Dougherty. In 1903, the Americans went 91-47, finishing 14 1/2 games ahead of Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics.

Managing the Pirates was the aforementioned future Hall of Famer, Fred "Cap" Clarke. Two days shy of his 31st birthday, Clarke was a player-manager, as were many of the managers at the turn of the century. Clarke played the outfield, batting .351 in 1903, with 32 doubles, 15 triples and 70 RBIs. At the helm of the Americans was 33-year old Jimmy Collins, another future Hall of Famer and another player-manager. Collins played third base and batted .296 in 1903 with 33 doubles, 17 triples and 72 RBIs.



The 1903 Boston Americans [above, prior to Game 1 of the 1903 World Series] were massive underdogs against the mighty National League's Pittsburgh Pirates.

GAME ONE
The Series began on Thursday, October 1st in Boston's Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds. In addition to the teams, 16,242 fans found one reason or another to skip work, school or some other responsibility to take in the first game of the first World Series. On the mound for the visiting Pirates was Deacon Phillippe, a 31-year old right-hander who finished 25-9 in 1903, completing 31 of the 33 games he started, while compiling a 2.43 ERA. Opposing him was right-hander Cy Young, who brought with him to the mound that afternoon a mind-bending 379 career victories. At age 36, he had another 132 victories in his future. Young - who jumped to the new American League at its inception in 1901 after a career spent primarily with the National League's Cleveland Spiders - finished 28-9...downright pedestrian for the future Hall of Famer [after winning 33 and 32 games respectively for the Americans in 1901 and 1902]. For 1903, Young compiled a 2.08 ERA, completing 34 or his 35 starts.

The Pirates were not the least bit intimidated by Young's greatness. Indeed, it was a long first inning for Cy, as the Pirates plated 4 runs - all after Young retired the first two batters. Pirate third baseman Tommy Leach laced a triple to right field. Shortstop Honus Wagner followed with a single, scoring Leach. Wagner then stole second and went to third after Prates' first baseman Kitty Bransfield reached on an error by Americans' second baseman Hobe Ferris. Bransfield - hardly fleet afoot with only 13 stolen bases - took off for second with Young in the stretch. Perhaps shocked at the immobile Bransfield's flight path, Americans' catcher Lou Criger unleashed a throw to second that sailed into the outfield, allowing Wagner to score and Bransfield to reach third. After Young walked Pirate second baseman Claude Ritchey, the slower-than-Bransfield Pirate stole second base. With runners on second and third, Pirate rightfielder Jimmy Sebring hit a two-run single, giving the Pirates their 4-0 lead.

While Young set the Pirates down in the second, in the top of the third Bransfield tripled to right and Sebring singled him home, giving the Pirates a 5-0 lead after three innings. The Americans' second baseman Ferris' lousy day continued in the fourth, as he once again booted a grounder hit to him, allowing Pirates' centerfielder Ginger Beaumont to reach first. Young should not have been too shocked by the shoddy defense, however, as Ferris committed 40 errors [playing both second and shortstop] in 1903. Nonetheless, when Leach singled, Beaumont scored from second, making it 6-0 Pirates.

While Young settled down in the fifth and sixth innings, the Americans simply were unable to touch Phillippe, managing only two hits off the Pirates' hurler through six innings. It was not until the bottom of the seventh - after the Pirates' Sebring raced around the bases for an inside-the-park home run in the top of the seventh to make it 7-0 - that the Americans finally broke through. Back-to-back triples from Buck Freeman and Freddy Parent finally broke Phillippe's shutout. Americans' first baseman Candy LaChance hit a long sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Parent. But that was all Phillippe would allow, and the Pirates led the Americans 7-2 after seven innings. The Americans could only muster another run in the bottom of the ninth [another sacrifice fly by LaChance]. With that,Phillippe retired pinch hitter Duke Farrell [batting for Young] on a comebacker to the mound for the final out, and the Pirates had Game One, 7-3.

And all of this took less than two hours. Official time of game? How about 1:55?

GAME TWO
Game 2 was the next day, also in Boston. The novelty of the championship series seemed to have worn off on the Boston fans, as only 9,415 showed up for the follow-up act. On the mound for the visiting Pirates was Sam Leever,another 31-year old right-hander. Leever finished the 1903 campaign 25-7 in 1903, completing 30 of the 34 games he started while compiling a 2.06 ERA. Opposing him was the right-hander Bill Dinneen, At age 37, Dinneen went 21-13 with a 2.26 ERA in 1903.

It was clear from the outset that Game 2 would be different from the previous day's matchup. For one thing, Dinneen got out of the first inning without giving up a run. Secondly, Americans' leadoff hitter - Patsy Dougherty - laced an inside-the-park home run to centerfield to stake the Americans to a 1-0 lead. That was doubled a few batters later, when Buck Freeman singled home Americans' centerfielder Chick Stahl, who had doubled off Leever. With a 2-0 lead, Dinneen had all the run support he would need, and Leever's afternoon was over after one inning, as Clarke replaced him with Bucky Veil. The rest of the game was a duel between Dinneen and Veil. A 6th-inning homerun from Dougherty - his second of the game, and this one over the wall - provided the only other scoring, as the Americans evened the series with a 3-0 victory. This game took even less time than Game 1, finishing up in an amazing 1:47.


NICE CROWD CONTROL: Hordes of Americans' fans swarm the playing field at the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds in Boston prior to Game 3 of the 1903 World Series (above).


GAME THREE
Game 3 was the next day, Saturday, October 3rd. the Best-of-9 series was broken up into three-four-two swing between Boston and Pittsburgh's home fields. Thus, for Game 3, the Series remained in Boston. Being a weekend, 18,801 came out to the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds for the afternoon. Amazingly - despite the fact that he had thrown nine innings and struck out 10 only 48 hours earlier - the Pirates sent Deacon Phillippe out again to pitch Game 3. Opposing him was the Americans' Tom Hughes, who who had gone 20-7 with a 2.57 ERA in 1903.

The Pirates led off the scoring in the second inning when catcher Ed Phelps' ground rule double scored Claude Ritchey [who, himself, had gotten aboard via ground-rule double]. After Hughes gave up another run the following inning - on a single by Tommy Leach that plated Ginger Beaumont, who had walked - Americans' manager Jimmy Collins had seen enough. Perhaps inspired by Fred Clarke's use of Phillippe, Collins called in Cy Young from the bullpen. That move didn't look too smart, however, when Young plunked Honus Wagner with a pitch to load the bases. Young almost got out of the inning unscathed, however, retiring the next two batters. That still left one more out to get. He appeared to have it, though, when Jimmy Sebring grounded what appeared to be the third out to Americans' third baseman - and manager - Collins...who promptly booted the ball. While Leach scored easily Wagner - perhaps still miffed at being hit - continued racing around third and headed home. Collins recovered, however, and fired to catcher Americans' catcher Lou Criger at home, nailing Wagner [a second time] for the final out. After all of this, the Pirates led 3-0. The Americans did manage one run in the fourth inning [on a sacrifice fly by Freddy Parent], but still trailed 3-1 after seven innings.

In the top of the eighth, Wagner doubled and Kitty Bransfield tried to sacrificed him to third, but ended up reaching base safely himself after Young was unable to field the bunt cleanly. Ritchey followed with an RBI single, to give the Pirates their 3-run lead back, 4-1. The Americans could manage only one other run off Phillippe - an RBI single by Chick Stahl in the eighth - and the Pirates won Game 3, 4-2. Out of 27 innings of World Series play, the Pirates' Phillippe had thrown 18 innings, allowed only 10 hits, 5 runs [4 earned] and struck out 16 batters. Not bad for 48 hours' work.

GAME FOUR
With the Pirates up 2 games to 1, the Series broke for the 575-mile train travel to Pittsburgh, and resumed with Game 4 on Tuesday, October 6th at Exposition Park III [my guess is that Exposition Parks I and II probably burned to the ground, like many all-wooden ballparks did back in the day]. Despite their Pirates' lead in the series, only 7,600 fans showed up for Game 4. I'm sure many had only just gotten their asses in their seats before the game was over - the entire contest lasted 1:30. Or, put another way, the game lasted the average amount of time it takes the Yankees vs. Red Sox to get through the second inning.

With two entire days rest, Phillippe was naturally ready to pitch again, so Pirates' skipper Fred Clarke sent him back up to the mound to start Game 4. Facing him was Bill Dinneen, the winning pitcher for the Americans in Game 2. As had been the case in Games 1 and 3, the Pirates scored first. In the bottom of the first. Ginger Beaumont led off the game with a single, but was forced out at second on a ground ball by Clarke, who beat out the throw to prevent the double play. With Clarke on first, Honus Wagner lined a single to advance the Pirates' manager to second base. Kitty Bransfield then lined a single. As Clarke rounded third, Wagner decided to try to advance from first to third on the hit. The problem was the throwing arm of Americans' centerfielder Chick Stahl. Stahl unleashed a bullet to third baseman Jimmy Collins. Before the Americans' manager could tag Wagner for the third out, however, Clarke slid safely at home with the first run.

The score remained 1-0 Pirates until the Americans batted in the fifth. With one out, Candy LaChance lined a single to leftfield and advanced to second on a groundout by Hobe Ferris. Lou Criger followed with a single to left, plating LaChance and tying the game at 1. That lasted only a few minutes, however, as the Pirates went ahead in the bottom of the inning when Tommy Leach singled home Beaumont who had tripled, to make it 2-1 Pirates. The Pirates added to their lead in the bottom of the seventh. Pitcher Phillippe led off the inning with a single to leftfield. When Americans' leftfielder Patsy Dougherty bobbled the ball, however, the alert Phillippe took second base on the error. Next, Beaumont laid down a bunt and turned what was meant to be a sacrifice into an infield hit by beating out the throw from Collins. Thinking that Phillippe might keep running around third in an attempt to score on the play, Americans' first baseman LaChance fired home. The problem was that Phillippe had been content to stay at third. When LaChance fired to Criger at home, however, Beaumont went all the way to second base on what was scored a bunt single. With runners on second and third, manager Clarke came up next and lofted a fly ball to short left field - too short for Phillippe to attempt to score. That missed chance ended up being moot, however, when the next batter - Leach - lined a triple to right field, plating Phillippe and Beaumont. When Wagner singled in Leach, it gave the Pirates a 5-1 lead after seven innings.

Perhaps because he was entering his 27th inning of pitching in six days, Phillippe made it interesting in the top of the ninth. Collins led off the Americans' last chance with a single, and raced to third on a single by Stahl. Buck Freeman then lined a single to rightfield, scoring Collins and sending Stahl to third. Amazingly, Clarke kept Phillippe in the game. Stahl scored on a ground ball to Wagner at short, which Wagner flipped to second baseman Claude Ritchey, forcing Freeman at second. With the Pirates' lead now 5-3, singles by LaChance and Ferris loaded the bases for the Americans with only one out.

At that moment, sensing that the entire tone of the Series could shift with one swing of the bat, the Americans' manager Collins sent Duke Farrell to the plate to bat for Criger. Farrell - a late-season addition who batted .404 in his brief time with Boston - lifted a long fly ball to leftfield which Pirate manager Clarke caught, with Parent scoring on the sacrifice fly. With runners on first and second and two outs, holding a slim 5-4 lead, Clarke kept Phillippe in to try to get the final out. Collins sent Jack O'Brien to the plate to bat for pitcher Dinneen. At first glance, O'Brien was an odd choice. 1903 would be his final season in a brief three-season career, and O'Brien had hit only .210 for the season. In 1903, however, baseball rosters were only 20 men [as opposed to today's 25], and O'Brien was the sole remaining left-handed batter on Collins' bench. Plus, despite O'Brien's meek numbers, he was a better option than Dinneen, who'd hit only .160 for the year.

With the nervous Pirates' fans on the edge of their seats, Phillippe hurled a pitch and O'Brien delivered a colossal swing...unfortunately for the Americans, however, the ball did not travel a distance commensurate with said swing. Instead, O'Brien's cut on the ball resulted in a mere pop fly to second baseman Ritchey, and the Pirates took a commanding 3 games to 1 lead with their 5-4 victory in Game 4.

GAME FIVE
While the Pirates did into Game 5 with a 3-1 lead in the Series, remember that the showdown was a Best-of-nine. So, they were still two - rather than the customary one - wins away from taking the Series. The game took place on Wednesday, October 7th. Perhaps tuned into the fact that their baseball team was on the threshold of something big, 12,322 fans thronged to Exposition Park III that midweek afternoon. The Americans went back to Cy Young. The Pirates sent...no, not Phillippe [although one wonders if Fred Clarke perhaps thought of it], but the perfectly-monikered Brickyard Kennedy. Now that, my friends, is a name. The 35-year old right-hander posted a 9-6 record for the Pirates in 1903, with a 3.45 ERA. He started only 15 games that season, but completed 10 of them. Kennedy was in his 11th season, having pitched nine of those with the Brooklyn Grooms before joining the New York Giants in 1902. Prior to 1903, Kennedy had won 20 games or more four times, but had lost 20 games or more five times. Alas, Kennedy's best days were behind him, and his performance in Game 5 was proof of that.

Although it didn't start out that way. Indeed, Kennedy and Young exchanged zeroes through five innings. Kennedy's troubles began in the top of the sixth, when the Americans' Chick Stahl led off the inning by lofting a fly ball to Pirate manager Fred Clarke in left. Now, in 2010 we often talk about a manager costing his team a ballgame. In 1903, he really did. Inexplicably, Clarke dropped the ball. A single by Buck Freeman put Stahl on second. Shoddy defense continued for the Pirates, however, when the Americans' Freddy Parent dropped a bunt down the third base line. Correctly reading the play beforehand, Pirate third baseman Tommy Leach charged the ball, believing he could get Stahl at third base. His instinct was right, as he fired a perfect strike to shortstop Honus Wagner, who had alertly covered third. Not so alertly, however, Wagner simply dropped the ball.

Thanks to the dreadful defense behind him, Brickyard Kennedy was looking at bases loaded with none out instead of what should have been two men on and two out. Perhaps addled by the shoddy play behind him, Kennedy promptly walked Stahl to force in a run. Things went from bad to worse next: Hobe Ferris hit a sure double-play ball back to Wagner. The future Hall of Famer made his second error of the game [and third of the Series], sailing his throw to second baseman Ritchey clear into right field, allowing Freeman and Parent to score, giving the Americans a 3-0 lead on three Pirate errors. Kennedy was able to mercifully record an out when Lou Criger - perhaps taking pity on the old man - sacrificed the runners [Candy LaChance and Ferris] to second and third respectively. It turns out he needn't have bothered. Next up was pitcher Cy Young, who promptly laced a triple to leftfield, plating LaChance and Criger and giving the Americans a commanding 5-0 lead, still with only one out. The winded Young then scored on a triple by Patsy Dougherty. Kennedy managed to finally record the last two outs and the Americans held 6-0 lead.

Amazingly - perhaps masochistically - Clarke sent Kennedy back out against the Americans in the seventh inning. Freeman and Parent started the inning with singles. LaChance then grounded to Ritchey, who flipped to Wagner for the forceout of Parent at second. With runners at first and third, Ferris singled up the middle to score Freeman, with LaChance stopping at second. Kennedy promptly walked Criger to load the bases, bringing Cy Young back up. Young promptly grounded out to Ritchey, allowing LaChance to score to make it 8-0. With two outs it looked as though Kennedy might escape with no further damage. If you think so, then you haven't been paying attention. Instead, Dougherty promptly tripled to centerfield, scoring Ferris and Criger and the Americans led 10-0.

Clarke finally had mercy on Kennedy's soul, sending out Gus Thompson to start the top of the eighth inning. New pitcher, same result. Stahl led off with a triple to right and scored on a Freeman groundout to Stahl at second. Thompson at least made progress, however, as he allowed only that run in the inning, leaving the Americans an 11-0 lead.

The Pirates avoided being shut out by Young in their half of the eighth. With two out, Ginger Beaumont singled. Manager Clarke then hit a ground ball to the Americans' shortstop Parent. While thinking about turning the double play, however, Parent took his eye off the ball and it went under his glove. The Pirates ended Young's shutout when Leach lined a triple to rightfield, scoring Beaumont and Clarke and cutting the deficit to 11-2. Alas, for the Pirates, that would be it. The Americans took Game 5, 11-2, cutting the Pirates' lead in the series to 3 games to 2. Young pitched a complete game [surprise, surprise], allowing only six hits. Kennedy, meanwhile, yielded 10 runs in seven innings. For those Pirates' fans looking for a silver lining, only four of the 10 runs were earned.

GAME SIX
Game 6 of the series was played the next day, Thursday, October 8th, again at Exposition Park III. The Americans sent out Bill Dinneen against the Pirates' Sam Leever, in a rematch of Game 2. The Americans got on the board first, in the third inning. With two outs, Dinneen himself started the fun with single to left. Leever then walked leadoff hitter Patsy Dougherty. With runners on first and second, manager Jimmy Collins singled to center, scoring Dinneen with the game's first run. Chick Stahl followed with another single to center, scoring Dougherty, with Collins going to third. Stahl then stole second base to put runners on second and third. The Pirates' dreadful defense struck again, however, as Leever thought he had the third out of the inning on a ground ball to third baseman Tommy Leach. Leach booted the ball, however, allowing Collins to score the third run of the inning. When Freddy Parent made the third out on a comebacker to Leever, the Americans led 3-0.

Down 3-0, and seeing their Pirates' once-commanding 3 games to 1 Series lead in jeopardy, the 11,556 Pittsburgh fans sat stonefaced. Meanwhile, the Pirates could do nothing against Dinneen. The Americans had no such problem, however, against Leever. Stahl led off the fifth inning with a triple to leftfield. Buck Freeman's sacrifice fly to center scored Stahl, to make it 4-0 Americans. Leever promptly plunked Parent with a pitch, giving the Pirates' defense yet another opportunity to screw up. Leever managed to get the second out of the inning on Candy LaChance's fly ball to deep centerfield. When Hobe Ferris followed with a single to center, however, Parent attempted to go from first to third. Honus Wagner struck again. The Pirates' shortstop uncorked a wild throw to third baseman Leach, and Parent came all the way around to score. By the time the final out was recorded, the Americans led 5-0.

By this point it was obvious to the Pittsburgh faithful that the Pirates simply couldn't touch Dinneen. Through six innings he yielded five harmless singles to the Pirates. Meanwhile, the Americans piled on more runs again in the top of the seventh. With one out, Parent tripled to leftfield. LaChance followed with a double - also to leftfield - making it 6-0 Americans. Perhaps inspired by Leever's ability to limit the Americans to only one run in the top of the seventh, the Pirates finally broke through against Dinneen in the bottom of the inning. Jimmy Sebring led off with a single to rightfield. Pirates' catcher Ed Phelps followed with a single to centerfield. After Leever grounded out to second baseman Ferris - exactly why he let a pitcher trailing 6-0 bat in the seventh inning is a secret that went with Pirate manager Fred Clarke to the grave upon his death in 1960 - Sebring and Phelps each advanced a base. Ginger Beaumont followed with a single to centerfield, scoring Sebring and sending Phelps to third. Clarke followed with a long double to leftfield, scoring both Phelps and Beaumont, and cutting the Americans' lead in half, 6-3. After Dinneen got Leach to fly out to right, Clarke stole third base. Then Dinneen - who to that point had walked only four batters in 23 2/3 innings in the Series - inexplicably walked both Wagner and Kitty Bransfield to load the bases.

When Claude Ritchey stepped to the plate, then, with two out in the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded, he represented the go-ahead run. Pittsburgh fans could see, then, the Pirates taking a commanding 4 games to 2 lead in the Series, needing only one more win to clinch it. Alas, Dinneen settled down to retire Richey on a ground out to Collins [who flipped to Ferris at second for the force out] to put an end to the inning. And the scoring for the game, as the Americans tied the Series at 3 games a piece with their 6-3 win in Game 6.

A shocked Pittsburgh Pirates team sits dejectedly in their dugout in the waning moments of Game 7 of the 1903 World Series (above).

GAME SEVEN
Pittsburgh fans had to wait a day to see their final Series game, as rain washed out the game on Friday. Game 7, then, took place on Saturday, October 10th. Obviously having seen enough - not to mention watching his two-game Series lead disappear - Pirates' manager Fred Clarke went back to the man who had won all three Pirates' victories so far, Deacon Phillippe, for Game 7. The Americans countered once again with Cy Young. It being a Saturday, the ballpark was packed at game time with 17,038 in attendance. However, they were barely in their seats before things got ugly for their Pirates. With one out in the top of the first, Americans' manager Jimmy Collins lined a triple to right field. Chick Stahl followed with another triple - this one to deep centerfield - scoring Collins and setting the Americans up for another big inning.

Considering how futile the Pirates had looked offensively in the past few games, the idea of giving up a second run was none too appealing to Pirates' manager Fred Clarke. So, he brought the infield in, even though it was only the first inning. In theory, this was wise. In practice, well, if there was one thing the Pirates' defense could have used, it was practice. At first it seemed that Clarke's strategy would pay off, as Buck Freeman grounded to second baseman Hobe Ferris. Ferris immediately fired home in an effort to nail Stahl at the plate. Unfortunately, Pirate catcher Ed Phelps dropped the ball, allowing Stahl to score for yet another unearned run courtesy of a Pirates' error - their 14 error of the Series at that point. Phelps somewhat redeemed himself by throwing out Freeman on a stolen base attempt. The damage was done however, and the Pirates were down 2-0 before they even came to bat.

Through the first three innings, the Pirates could muster only three singles against Young. The Americans scored again in the fourth. Freeman led off with a triple to centerfield and scored when Freddy Parent grounded out to Honus Wagner. After Phillippe struck out Candy LaChance, Ferris lined a triple between left and center. He came around to score when Lou Criger followed with a single to right. By the time Phillippe retired Young on a flyball to centerfield to end the inning, the Americans were now ahead 4-0.

The Pirates finally cracked through against Young in the bottom of the fourth. Kitty Bransfield tripled to left and scored when Claude Ritchey ground out to Jimmy Collins at third. Young then retired Jimmy Sebring on a pop up to Collins, however, to end the inning, with the Americans ahead 4-1.

Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh faithful in attendance for what would be the last game of the year at home - regardless of the Series' outcome, the Bucs' defense struck again. Parent led off the top of the sixth with a single past first baseman Bransfield. Chance tried to bunt Parent to second, but when Phillippe fielded the ball, instead of taking the sure out at first he tried to get Parent at second. The throw went wide and the runners moved up [Parent to third, LaChance to second]. From there, all it took was a Criger single to plate both men and by the time Phillippe induced Young to hit into a double play to end the inning, the Americans were now up 6-1.

The Pirates' miseries continued in the bottom of the inning - and that was even while scoring a run. Clarke led off with a triple to left. After Young struck out Tommy Leach, Honus Wagner attempted a suicide squeeze bunt. While Clarke did score on the play, Wagner had bunted the ball too hard back to Young, allowing him to easily retire Wagner for the second out. Young then retired Ritchey [after a single by Bransfield], and the Pirates still trailed 6-2 after six innings.

A pall hung over Exposition Park III. With the Americans poised to take a 4 games to 3 lead, the misery was punctuated by the way the Americans scored their seventh run in the top of the eighth. After retiring Buck Freeman on a pop up to Bransfield at first, Phillippe surrendered another triple - this one to Parent. Perhaps unnerved - or maybe just exhausted pitching into his 35th inning in a nine-day period - Phillippe uncorked a wild pitch, along Parent to score to make it 7-2.

The Pirates showed a faint glimmer of hope in the bottom of the ninth. Jimmy Sebring led off with an infield single and took second on Phelps' single to centerfield. With two on and no out, Clarke allowed Phillippe to bat, even though he had just completed his 36th inning on the mound. Phillippe came through, however, singling home Sebring, making it 7-3 with runners on first and second and no outs. Remember, though, I said faint hope. Young promptly retired Ginger Beaumont, Clark and Leach, and the Americans were heading back to Boston with a 4 games to 3 lead in the Series, needing only to win one of the next two games at the Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds.



GAME EIGHT
Having lost three in a row - something the Pirates had done only three times all season - the Pirates were at the brink of elimination for Game 8, on Tuesday, October 13th. Only 7,455 would be in attendance to see if the Americans could upset the mighty Pirates. With the luxury of four days' rest, Bill Dinneen took the mound for the Americans. Pirates' manager Fred Clarke subscribed to the "leave with the gal who brung ya'" philosophy of baseball, throwing Phillippe out for yet another start, this on two days rest.

For the first three innings, Dinneen and Phillippe exchanged zeroes. Dinneen retired the Pirates in the top of the fourth inning as well. The Boston faithful were rewarded, however, in the bottom of the inning. Buck Freeman led off with a triple to rightfield. The Pirates' defense struck again when Freddy Parent beat a ball off home plate. While Freeman could not score on the play, Pirates' catcher Ed Phelps simply could not field the ball, throwing too late to get Parent at first. After that latest Pirate error, perhaps sensing the Pirates' infielders were coming unraveled, the Americans' Candy LaChance squared to bunt. Pirates' first baseman Kitty Bransfield charged and successfully got LaChance at first with Claude Ritchey covering the bag. So, with one out and runners on second and third, Phillippe reared back and fired a pitch to Hobe Ferris. The Americans' second baseman promptly delivered a two-run single to center, scoring both Freeman and Parent and the Americans held a 2-0 lead. Throughout the frenzied Boston crowd, there was a feeling that those two runs would be all that Dinneen and the Americans would need.

The Americans added a third run in the bottom of the sixth. LaChance hit a two out triple to right field and scored on a single to center by Ferris. Dinneen went into the top of the seventh, then, needing just nine more outs to give the Americans' the first World Series title. He would not give up another hit. With the exception of a two-out seventh inning walk to Ritchey, Dinneen easily dispatched the Americans in the seventh and eighth. As he took the mound for the top of the ninth, he stood three outs away from baseball history.

The first batter for the Pirates in the top of the ninth was manager Fred Clarke. After nearly eight games of World Series play, Clarke was hitting .273 [9 for 33] with 2 doubles, a triple and 2 RBIs. This - in addition to their awful defense - was one reason the Pirates were three outs away from elimination. During the season, Clarke had hit a blistering .351 and led the National League in doubles [32], slugging percentage [.532] and OPS [.946]. All of that was forgotten, however, as he walked slowly back to his dugout in the top of the ninth after being retired by Dinneen on a lazy fly ball to leftfield. Next up was Tommy Leach. Leach's World Series statistics were almost identical to his manager's [a .281 average, having gone 9 for 32]. At least his playoff batting average was more in line with his regular season numbers [.298 average]. None of that mattered, however, as he too walked slowly back to the dugout after being retired by Dinneen on a fly ball to right.

With two outs, then, Dinneen was one out away from winning the World Series. The Boston fans - even though there were barely 7,000 of them - were near pandemonium. The idea that the upstart American League - in only its third season could upend the mighty National League was incredible enough. But that it would happen with the Pirates losing four games in a row - something they'd done only once the entire 1903 season - made it even more amazing. Dinneen stared in at Honus Wagner.

Standing at 5'11", Wagner would not seem imposing in 2010. Weighing in at 200 pounds with arms as big and thick as logs, however, he was one of the most fearsome physical specimens of his day. His World Series had been a miserable one. He'd hit only .231 [6 for 26] with only 1 extra base hit [double]. This was embarrassing when compared with his 1903 batting average of.355 [winning the National League batting title in the process]. During the 1903 season, Wagner also knocked in 101 runs [on only five home runs, mind you]. That was why he was among the highest paid players in either league, earning $5,000 in 1903 [about $118,000 in 2009 dollars, folks].

Worse than his hitting, though, was his fielding. Granted, Honus Wagner did not get into the Hall of Fame because of his fielding. And it is true that it is important to remember that field conditions in 1903 were nowhere near as pristine as today [many infields looked like land mines]. Still, normally Wagner's fielding could always be overlooked by his hitting. Not in the 1903 World Series.

And so it was that Wagner sauntered up to the plate to face Dinneen knowing that this was his last chance to salvage what had been an otherwise glorious season for him personally, and for his team as a whole.

Dinneen - nursing only a 3-run lead - looked into Wagner. Today, we talk about every kid dreaming of being on the mound with two outs in the final game of the World Series. In 1903, though, that fantasy was years off. Still, Dinneen knew the monumental importance of what he was about to do. On his final pitch, Dinneen reared back and fired, Wagner vainly swung his mighty bat...and hit nothing but air, missing for the third strike. The third out. In the final game of the first World Series. The Boston Americans had shocked the baseball world - not to mention the entire city of Pittsburgh - winning the Series 5 games to 3. To do so, the Americans had to win the final four games in a row - three of them on the road.

The 1903 World Series - if played in today's multimedia hell - would have gone down as one of the greatest of all time. No, there was no bottom of the ninth home run heroics. What there were, though, were two great teams battling it out over a nearly two-week period. Of all of the amazing things about that Series, perhaps none is more amazing than the fact that - in eight games - the two teams combined to use only eight pitchers! [Kennedy, Leever, Phillippe, Thompson and Veil for the Pirates; Dinneen, Hughes and Young for the Americans]. The other night Texas Rangers' manager Ron Washington used five pitchers in one inning!

The Americans would become the Red Sox beginning with the 1908 season. In addition to the 1903 title, they would win six more World Series - four before 1918 and then none again until 2004, doing so 101 years after they won their first one. The Pirates would recover to go on to win 5 World Series between 1909 and 1979. Recently, though, there have been far, far more lean years than fat ones for the Pirates. Indeed, while both the Americans and Pirates franchise would end up winning nearly the same number of World Series, the true story of the franchises is in their records. The Americans/Red Sox have gone a combined 8,819-8,233 for a .517 winning percentage. The Pirates, on the other hand, have gone a combined 9,810-9,684, a .503 winning percentage. There were some good years for the Pirates, it's true. Indeed, it's sobering to realize that 2,645 of those 9,684 losses have come since 1980.

None of that was known on that Tuesday October afternoon in Boston 107 years ago. As Wagner struck out and Dinneen raised his arms in triumph, all that mattered was that the Boston Americans had won the World Series.

copyright 2010 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JOHN. WOULD THAT YOU COULD BE HERE....



copyright 2010 by EBBP Redux. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than EBBP Redux or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Video Review


Los Angeles Times music critic Robert Hilburn [left] interviews John Lennon [right] on October 10, 1980. Video of the interview surfaced on YouTube in 2007.

On October 10, 1980, Los Angeles Times music critic Robert Hilburn interviewed John Lennon in the Hit Factory Studios where John and Yoko Ono were recording and mixing Double Fantasy. At some point that evening, John's personal assistant, Fred Seaman, had set up on the console in front of Hilburn and Lennon a new RCA video camera and began filming. It is the only video interview of John in 1980. Intentionally or otherwise, John and Yoko only did radio interviews in promotion of the album by the time of his death.

The quality of the video - remember, this is 1980, folks, is horrid. One can barely make out the images of Hilburn and John. The sound, however, is pretty good. Good, that is, with the exception of the fact that album co-producer Jack Douglas is playing an excerpt from Star Wars at an incredibly loud volume, splicing the audio from a laser fight into Ono's Beautiful Boys. Unfortunately, during many periods of the interview, John and Hilburn are inaudible because of the sound.

Seaman, along with Toshihiro Hamaya, were John's closest assistants in the last two years of his life. Seaman had access to just about every facet of Lennon's life, including writings, songs, videos and photos. On the night of John's murder, Seaman went to the Dakota and stole many items, including Lennon's diaries, some stereo equipment and photos. When he was arrested later, he claimed that he was acting on John's orders to him to make sure that Julian Lennon receive the diaries. Since Seaman couldn't explain why the stereo equipment disappeared [presumably, Julian had his own], the judge didn't buy it and convicted him. He only received probation, and by that time had already reproduced many of the photos, diaries and videos. I used some of those photos last year in The Last Interview series. I did so with mixed feelings, as they were private and possibly [we'll never know] never meant for public consumption. Nonetheless, I used them because they were often touching, personal snapshots of the last years of his life.

The October 10, 1980 video is one of the items that Seaman either took from the Dakota the night of John's murder, or had already copied earlier for some nefarious reason. A few years ago, the video turned up on YouTube. Whether Seaman himself put it there or he had sold the video [or given a copy] to someone, I don't know. I first saw it in 2007 and was mesmerized, even though the video quality is awful. It was intriguing, however, because I'd never heard of it [let alone seen it].

On this, what would have been John's 70th birthday, I thought I would reproduce a transcript - as best as I can thanks to Star Wars - of the interview. In the interview, it is clear that John - one day after turning 40 - is subdued and possibly even a little depressed. Unlike most of the other public interviews he gave that fall, he is not "on", meaning positive, up and looking toward the future. There could be many reasons for this, of course. Knowing how I felt the day after I turned 40, I can certainly relate. It could also be because Hilburn - at least in the portions Seaman videotaped - asked questions about the past as opposed to Double Fantasy.

There is an interesting moment in the tape where John sees the camera and mistakenly thinks Seaman has left the lens cap on. The camera was RCA's latest video camera, which for the first time came with a video monitor for viewing [as opposed to simply looking through a lens]. John is amused to discover that "there's a little TV" as opposed to a lens.

During those periods where the audio is, well, inaudible because of the Star Wars battles, I have simply written [Inaudible]. So, as a birthday tribute, here then is my best attempt at a transcript of the October 10, 1980 interview of John Lennon by Robert Hilburn.

As the video begins, John and Hilburn are looking at photographs taken the day before of the skywriting message Yoko had written over New York City, with birthday wishes for John and his son Sean, who had turned 5. There was also a message about world peace in 1981. Hilburn has just handed John a photograph of the message:

John: ”Well, that's quite far away [the photo], ‘Cause when I saw it it was, the image was that big, look [John holds the photo up high to the ceiling]. It was sort of, it was that fat."

Hilburn hands John another photo:

John: “I like that.”
Hilburn: “It’s just hard to get the whole thing because the wind…”
John: “Yeah, and it was too wide [the message], anyway."
Hilburn: “…it [the writing] started to fade…”
John: "’Cause it’d say 'Happy' you know, ‘Peace [19]81 and Sean' on The Plaza [presumably from where the photo was taken]. You know, like ‘Happy Birthday John and Sean'."
Hilburn: “Yeah, it was like half the city, it was really cool.”
Yoko to John, “Is Toshi [production assistant Toshihiro Hamaya] there?”

John talks into the microphone that allows those in the control room to communicate to those down into the studio below.

John: “Toshi?”

John then speaks Japanese to into the microphone. At that moment, the video goes fuzzy. Just prior to the video resuming, Seaman whispers faintly, ‘John Lennon’, as if for some reason he had to identify who he was recording. As the video resumes, Hilburn has just asked John about Paul McCartney.

John: “Paul? My dear one.”

At that moment, we first hear the Star War battles. While the sound makes it impossible to hear Hilburn's exact question, it has to do with Magical Mystery Tour. Presumably, Hilburn has asked something along the lines of, ‘Whose idea was it?’.

John: “It was originally Paul. Here’s another one [example] when he’d call me up and say, eh, ‘We’re going to be up at the studio..” [Inaudible]“'…we’re gonna make a movie, so just write a bit.’ So I just wrote dreams that I had…” [Inaudible]“….and try to recreate them. The one bit, the only bit I like [in the movie] – that I contributed to –is the dream sequence where the... where they’re eating and the very fat lady and this English or Scottish guy... [Inaudible] …he’s sayin’ something or other to her…It was a real dream of mine. [Inaudible] And people are walkin’ on the tables, and there’s an elevator that comes down – this is in the dream – that comes down – like one of those French ones you’ve seen? And there was a midget in it, and it comes down and lands right on a table and comes out. And people are comin’ out of the elevator and walkin’ across the room…but the waiter is me. Only most people didn’t recognize me. I dressed like me father, me stepfather, ‘cause they were both waiters. And they greased their hair back and these little pencil….[miming a mustache] those cheap little Valentino …like in the forties…and, you know this greased hair, and this crazy [John removes his glasses and makes the face of a demented person...John then stands up and mimes as if he is shoveling] and I’m shoveling the food on the table, like this, with all this spaghetti, and the fat woman’s just eating it. And they're talkin’ as if I’m not doin’ anything. And I’m just doin’ it – like John Cleese, in fact."
Hilburn, “That’s a great scene…”
John: “Yeah, well, that was my dream , ya know, but…he [Paul] had it [the movie] kinda mapped…’cause they [The Beatles] were gonna go on this tour, ya know? And it’s on a bus, and …[John holds out his hand like he’s holding a piece of paper, showing how Paul held up the map of the script], and here he says, ‘This quarter, you have to fill in'. So, I says, ‘Well, how long have a I got?’ ‘You got two days.’ ‘Oh, I have? Okay.’ [John laughs]. So I got two days, so I’m tryin’ to fill in…. He’s [Paul]...he’s got an hour written like that [showing his hand again]….”
Hilburn: “So, would each of you do one quarter, or…."
John: “Well he was dividing it a bit like a record, you know? But the fact is, he’d written like ten songs and I had nothing [laughs]. [I Am The] Walrus is the only one in that film, I mean, that’s entirely me. I contributed to the Mystery Tour songs [Inaudible]…runnin’ down the steps...Your Mother Should Know [Inaudible]. So ‘Walrus’, I filmed that part, too. And they had all these policemen on the top of the [Inaudible] studio, so the guy got us an airplane hanger to film in, you know. And they had these big concrete blocks [Inaudible] the planes in the war. [Inaudible] confuse meself [Inaudible] so, whatever, we’ll dress up in these funny [Inaudible] and all these eggheads …”

At this point, again, the video goes fuzzy. It resumes:

John: “…cause I didn’t know anything [Inaudible] editing. And it’s out of frame for TV. You know, so I said, ‘Ok' [Inaudible] and the frame comes back over the top. And I said ‘Well print the bit down below'. See, if you ever see it [the movie], you’ll see the sky – well it’s surreal again - the sky, and the cops are all dancing beneath the group, whose playing with all the lunatics walking. And that’s how that was made.”
Hilburn: "When it [the movie] was finished, what did you think of it when you saw it?"
John: “Oh, I loved it. You know, because it was a trip. So everybody was down on it, but it was...it’s alright. Pretty average. So what? So was the first [Beatles] album. But there’s too much 'nothing' happening. Just nothing happening at all. But there’s some nice moments, the dream sequence . Your Mother Should Know’s a nice sequence. Comin' down [the stairs] with all those silly suits on you know. …”
Hilburn: “Did the [negative] reaction [to the film] surprise you?”
John: “Uh, yeah, but they were gunnin’ for us before then. And what the BBC – the stupid idiots – did was they showed it in black and white first. Can you imagine? ‘Round Christmas on BBC2. So, it doesn’t look well in black and white. Color you can just about manage it. And all the kids would’ve been alright in color, but they put it in black and white and then they reviewed it in black and white on the BBC2. And so by the time it came to be on in color…well, I don’t know if it ever got on in color. But that was the end of it. It’s like reviewing a mono version of a stereo record."
Hilburn: "Was that the most…was that the kind of...the most criticism the band got from the outside…”
John: “Oh, I don’t think so. The review of From Me to You is ‘Below par Beatles'..in the NME [New Musical Express, a British music magazine]. So it started then. ‘Below par’. We’d only had two bloody singles out! [laughs].
Hilburn: “Cause everyone thinks it’s all acclaim…”
John: “Well NOW they think its all acclaim. You know, and Chaplin and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. But look of the reviews of the day [Inaudible]. Not all acclaim at all. Some very nasty bits."
Hilburn: “After a point though wasn’t it…”
John [dejectedly], “No. Never was easy…”

At this point the video goes fuzzy again. It resumes:

John: “…live in dreamland. ‘Give me a Beatle and I’ll make a million'. It doesn’t work like that or ever [Inaudible]..you’ve gotta have product. Yellow Submarine bombed out didn’t it? It’s a great movie…”
Hilburn: “I don’t think people were critical…”
John [sounding incredulous]: “Are you kidding?! It was ripped to shreds.”
Hilburn: “By critics?."
John: “Yeah, well, the answer was by everybody that it was because…the people, the kids like it. Sean loves it now – all the little children do. Because they [the critics] expected the real Beatles to be in the movie [as opposed to being animated] and they felt tricked [Inaudible]."
Hilburn: “Have you ever seen it again?”
John: “Oh, sure I seen ‘em [the Beatles movies] again. I see ‘em different every time I see ‘em. ’Cause I’m changin’ all the time."

At this point the video goes fuzzy again. It resumes:

John: “...I’m not so hard on meself with the group."
Hilburn: “Did the reaction to A Hard Day’s Night surprise you when you got such good reviews…”
John: “Oh no. In those days we expected everybody to just fall …"

The video goes fuzzy again. When it resumes, the topic has turned to John’s solo career and his first album, John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band.

John: “…I didn’t need to sell 20 million [albums] to feel good you know? I was proud of it. I knew it was alright. But some people [critics] got very upset about it. I think it’s because it made ‘em feel. It made them uncomfortable about their own mothers and their own fathers sand their own childhood and their own [Inaudible] and they reviewed their own emotions.”

At that moment – seemingly oblivious to the fact that he’s giving an interview - an engineer yells, “John!”

John [continuing, and ignoring the engineer]: “...about what that album …it makes you feel… you can’t listen to it in the background. You can’t have it goin’ on like the Stones you know. You have to either listen to it or forget it. And you can’t listen to it every other day, 'cause it’s all too much. It’s like goin’ to see some heavy play. You don’t want…you’re not in the mood. It’ll just destroy you.”
Hilburn: "When you went in to do Imagine , how did…did reaction to the first album effect you at all?"
John: “Yeah, I guess it did. Well, that was sort of, sort of after Imagine was sort of a success. And then I got a bit bitter sayin’, ‘Oh, well it’s [Imagine] just Mother with chocolate on it. You [the critics] couldn’t take it pure'. Also, I felt like makin it [Imagine] like that …”

At this point, Hamaya has spotted Seaman and the camera. Looking into the camera Hamaya says, "Busy bee. Busy bee." Seaman then pans the studio while John continues the interview. When he turns the camera back onto John and Hilburn, the conversation has turned to Some Time in New York City.

John: “…meaning, ‘don’t expect the typing [on the liner notes] to be all right [correct]. [Inaudible]...and it’s [the album] the rush edition. And it’s uh, there’s no finesse on it. It’s a newspaper it’s not a magazine. So….”
Hilburn: “By Mind Games…you were talking earlier today about…that it was hard for you…”
John: “Because then I was in confusion, you know? I mean? Jesus…”
Hilburn: “Did you know it at the time?”
John: “Oh, I knew I was confused, alright, because every time I tried to clear it [make the album have a central theme] it wasn’t coming out clear. Like, ‘rewrite, rewrite, rewrite'.”
Hilburn: "But did you think at that time, ‘Might I just wait another year'…”
John: “Oh, I never dreamt of waiting [laughing]. No, are you kiddin’?”
Hilburn: "You felt you just had to have…"
John: “It’s like bein’ on stage and thinking 'Well, it’s not a good night, I better stop', you know? You can’t do that. You just do it anyway, right? You see, the Mind Games single is fine. There’s just no energy to sustain through the album, and there was no clarity of vision. There’s a few pieces that are alright, but as a whole piece there’s no clarity. And the guy [John himself] is there on the front [of the album] with a little bag and she’s [Yoko] the mountain and, and the whole thing says it. That cover says more to me than the record."
Hilburn: “So, when you finished that record, did you think it was not up to what you’d done the first two times? [Inaudible]...when you went into Walls and Bridges ,how did you feel, was your confidence [Inaudible]..."

John: “I’m excited every time I make [a record], I’m always excited. I was not not excited about any of them. I was always excited. I was always pretty high on ‘em, but you can be excited but still be soft on it [afterward], right? [Inaudible]…”
Hilburn:"Well, when you finished with Walls and Bridges did you know you were going to take a break then or..."
John: “No idea. But I’ll tell you what's funny: at the end of the Rock And Roll album, I was doin’ Just Because which Phil [Spector, who produced the record], [Inaudible]...So I'm saying, ‘And so we say farewell from Record Plant….’ It just came into my consciousness - ‘Am I sayin’ goodbye to everything? Is this, the Rock and Roll and the picture from Hamburg ..is this it?' It just flashed in my mind for a split second, but I didn’t consciously think it."
Hilburn: “Was that on the record?”
John: “Yeah. It was the last track [Inaudible]. ‘And so we say farewell from Record Plant [Inaudible] '…is that’s what happening? Is this the beginning of the end?' [Inaudible]. No, I was ad-libbing like I do on many records but [Inaudible]. I was hearing it like somebody else was saying it. Thinking, ‘Is he sayin…is that what he’s saying?’ But then he [himself] didn’t meant that because it wasn’t consciously conceived. [Inaudible] I had no idea of not really doin’ it [making music]. Do you understand? So, it was like a dream [Inaudible], and then it's gone, you see? It doesn’t occur to me again until something happens and you say, ‘Is this de ja vu?’ So when I did it [go back in the studio for Double Fantasy] I started remembering that [his fade out ad-lib from Just Because ], thinking, ‘Jesus, is that ...it’s like the Mind Games cover, ‘Is that what it was? Is that what it was saying? Is it a premonition of my own self'?"
Hilburn: “But, when you go back six months [after making a record] and listen to it can you learn things from it?"
Johns: “I never do that. I always play the one [record I made] before...just before I go in again [to the studio]. Like, I played Walls and Bridges just before I came in here [to record Double Fantasy] to see what state of the art I was at then. And, uh, it was not bad. It’s just miserable."
Hilburn: “The memory of when you were doin’ it..”
John: “Yeah, yeah, just brought all the misery back. But, so, Mother can bring all the misery of that back. It does tend to.”

At this point, there’s an actual fade out of the video, as if it was intentional.It fades back in again:

Hilburn: “Do you keep up with Paul’s albums at all?”
John: “No, I dropped out ‘round about the one with the rose in his mouth…”
Hilburn: “Red Rose Speedway?”
John: "Yeah. But I hear the singles. If it's on the radio I hear it. And uh, I thought that Coming Up was great. And I like the freak version that he made in his barn better than that live Glasgow one. You see? I…”
Hilburn: “The one with the speeded up voices…”
John: “Yeah, I think…if I’d have been with him I’d have said, ‘That’s the one to do’. And I thought the record company had a nerve changing it ‘round on him, but I know they want to hear the real guy singing but I like the freaky one. Stevie Wonder does it and nobody moans at him."
Hilburn “When you stopped listening to Paul, You weren’t bitter…”
John: “Well, he was putting so much stuff out, I couldn’t compete with all that 'tingly-tingly' stuff going on albums, you know, just dribbling on….”
Hilburn: “How about at the beginning...[Inaudible]"
John: "I was so full of meself - centered. I didn’t give a shit what he [Paul] was doing.”
Hilburn: "Full of what?”
John: “Full of meself. Centered, you know? There’s no comparison [between Paul] to me because…"
Hilburn: “Do you mean artistically, or sales-wise?"
John: “Oh, sales-wise forget it. He was..he always had more fans than me, even in The Cavern. So there’s no comparison on that level. And on the other [artistic] level doesn’t…I don’t think it counts. I think it's like comparing...I dunno [Rene Francois Ghislain] Magritte and, uh [Pablo] Picasso if you want to put it on that level, or whatever. You know? How can you compare it?”
Hilburn: “Was there any sense [Inaudible]...did you try to come up with songs that were…did you feel he [Paul] wrote better songs than you….”
John: “What, when we were together [in The Beatles]? [Inaudible]...it was always competititve, all of us. For space and...and time."
Hilburn: “.. [Inaudible] were you impressed…”
John: “If I’m impressed [with a song he hears] I run away and write one. [Laughs]. You know?”
Hilbburn: "If you’re impressed…"
John: “Oh, if I’m impressed by a record on the air [on radio] I immediately, I want to write. Warren Beatty said it about movies. 'A great movie is one that makes you want to make a movie'. ‘I wish I’d made that’. ‘Shit, I’d go right out and make it', you know?” [Inaudible]. I don’t know what it is, but he [Beatty] is right: when I hear a great record I want to make it. ‘I'll make one like that.’"
Hilburn: “Was there one of Paul’s songs, that he came in [to the studio] with [while in The Beatles] that you were surprised that he could write something that...good, or...”
John: “No, he never surprised me because, like, can you be surprised by your brother? From age 15 on? Not surprised, but I’d think, 'Hmmm. Well, if he’s goin’ there, then I’m goin…’ [Inaudible]. It’s hard to detail it."

At this moment John stops. He sees what appears to be a cap over the lense of the camera and speaks to Seaman.

John: [Inaudible]“You’ve got a paddle over the front of it [the camera]. How can you see? It [the lense] says RCA. On the window [of the lense]. [Inaudible] Oh! That’s a little TV in there. Oh! The old cameras you used to actually see through, right? That [Inaudible] one you got me you could film in the night?"
Seaman: “No, that had a TV in it.”
John: “Oh."
Seaman [practically whispering]: “Movie cameras [Inaudible]..."
John: "What?"
Seaman: "Movie cameras [Inaudible]..."
John: “I should’ve known [about the video monitor], but I didn’t. I thought, 'Oh the silly bugger’s left the cap on the lense', you know?
Seaman [now mumbling]: [Inaudible]
John [growing annoyed at being unable to hear Seaman]: “What!?!"

Seaman says something about a tape. Presumably, he’s saying that he’s shot some good video tape or that John will like the tape when he sees it.

John: “I will? Do it. File it under ‘good tape’."

Seaman then once again pans around the studio where producer Jack Douglas and others are mixing and remixing the Star Wars piece into Beautiful Boys.
The video goes black and then resumes with Seaman creepily filming Yoko as she somehow sleeps on a cot in the studio.

Next, Douglas makes a comment along the lines of the laser war he’s just recorded is the quickest war he’s ever seen.

John: “What do they call them? They have a name for those short wars, don’t they? What, what…they have some kind of name for very quick short wars."
Hilburn: “Like skirmishes?”
John: “Yeah, like ‘Three-day war’ [Inaudible] border skirmish.
John: [speaking to Douglas]: "Is Hal [horn player Howard Johnson] gonna do some tricks now?”
Douglas: “Pretty soon.”
John: “Oh, you have to, to tell him first, right?”
Douglas: “Yeah”.
John: “Is it absolutely boiling [hot] in here [the studio] again?"
Douglas: “It feels warm.”
John: “It’s the lights [for the video camera]. Dim the lights, Toshi. …Oh, no…"
Seaman: “No, I’m going."
John: “Oh, ok. [To Hamaya] He’s goin'."
Seaman: “It’s a good cue.”
John: “Well, give me the video. You’re not goin’ off with it in the city..”
Seaman: “No, no, no, no.”
John: “You wouldn’t do that.

Apparently, though, in less than two months, he would….

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