The Beatles performing during the Let It Be Sessions
WOLF TROUBLE? — One of the more alarming developments in the last few weeks of civil unrest and protests is the immediate cancellation of such shows, like Cops (33 seasons!) and LIVE PD, that showed over and over, how heroic the police can be and usually always are.
Personally, I never watched any of these shows; often too gruesome and sad to see. Truth be told, I never had any desire.
Another looming dialogue is all the Dick Wolf-produced shows under the banner of Law & Order. How, in the various episodes, the cops (and, lawyers) are always portrayed as heroes and always right.
On Hulu, the streamer said goodbye to the Abigail Spencer-fronted Reprisal, a drama about a woman who was left for dead and starts a vengeful campaign, and Harlots, a period drama starring Jessica Brown Findlay.
I’m a Law & Order fan and to be completely honest, there have been shows about cops who ventured out of the blue-wall and were swiftly brought to justice. Just as several of Wolf’s show successfully portrayed a Harvey Weinstein-like figure last year, we’ll see what happens this year … if they can even start filming new shows.
Is this an overreaction? Most definitely. There’s no question that tweaks and adjustments can be made, but to sever an entire series, seems to be, to be a bit much.
Sure, the scripts will be no written differently and more sensitively and to me that’s a very, positive thing.
Law & Order: SVU brought to light the injustice done to victims (male and female) and to me that should be applauded. Face it: they talked about Harvey Weinstein-like figures before his allegations even came to light.
60% of TV will be affected by the pandemic; the Fall TV season, which usually starts in September, won’t. Stay tuned …this story is far from over.
JOLLY HOLLY BEATLES — (via Variety) On the basis of the Beatles’ swan-song 1970 film Let It Be, the album’s sessions were downright morose. While the idea was to show the group performing live, creating music on the spot, as nature intended, the sessions actually took place early in the morning in the depths of a London winter, and in the film the bandmembers often seem glum, occasionally argue and rarely summon their famed charisma and enthusiasm — and the cavernous soundstage (Twickenham) in which they performed cast a dark, murky atmosphere over the film.
Amid the extensive Beatles reissue campaigns, it’s the one project the surviving members have seemed reluctant to return to — until last year, when Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, who had just completed They Shall Not Grow Old, a project that saw him cleaning up and colorizing archival World War I film footage, was essentially enlisted him to do the same with the many hours of unused Let It Be footage.
An entirely different, much more cheerful narrative will be presented in Jackson’s forthcoming film, on the basis of a several-minute-long preview that was screened for an invite-only audience during a Universal Music Group’s showcase.
After the audience was warned not to photograph or film the footage, longtime Apple Records chief Jeff Jones (who noted that the Beatles had taken the name for their record company long before the computer colossus was formed) said, “We have created a brand-new film that will attempt to bust the myth that the ‘Let It Be’ sessions were the final nail in the Beatles’ coffin.”
And sure enough, an amazing counter-narrative to Let It Be film has ensued: It’s brighter both visually and spiritually, with many, many shots of the Beatles joking around, making fun of each other, singing in silly accents and generally indulging in vintage Moptop hijinks.
It also features many scenes of the group rehearsing songs from the Abbey Road album — their true swan song, which would be recorded over the following summer — and even rough versions of songs that would appear on solo records.
On the basis of this clip, Beatles fans will lose their minds over this film, which has no release date but seems likely to be released in the spring, in time for the 50th anniversary of the original “Let It Be” release date in May.
UPDATE: The Beatles: Get Back, which chronicles the group’s rehearsals and performances from January 1969 as it began work on a new album, won’t premiere until August 2021. The movie was originally scheduled to open in September but has now been delayed for almost a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to The Wrap, The Beatles: Get Back is just one of several projects that Disney has postponed until next year. The film expands on the Beatles’ original 1970 movie Let It Be, which was envisioned as a TV special before the group changed direction during the making of the album.
The Beatles had intended to get back to their roots with a new stripped-down record following the studio experiments of albums like 1966’s Revolver and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band from the next year, as well as the tumultuous and often fractured sessions of the White Album in 1968.
But things didn’t turn out that way, and band members were soon quarreling with one another. After a live performance on the roof of their Apple headquarters was shut down by the police, the Beatles abandoned the Get Back project, where it sat on the shelf for a year before producer Phil Spector assembled the tapes into the final album released by the group, Let It Be.
The accompanying film, which has been out of circulation for years, documented the splintering band and the making of the LP. Jackson’s new version will include previously unseen footage, which reportedly gives a more clear indication of what was really going down during the sessions. According to various accounts, the new scenes show things weren’t as tense as Let It Be and legend indicate.
“I am really happy that Peter has delved into our archives to make a film that shows the truth about the Beatles recording together,” Paul McCartney said in an earlier statement. “The friendship and love between us comes over and reminds me of what a crazily beautiful time we had.”
Ringo Starr added: “I’m really looking forward to this film. Peter is great, and it was so cool looking at all this footage. There was hours and hours of us just laughing and playing music, not at all like the version that came out. There was a lot of joy, and I think Peter will show that. I think this version will be a lot more peace and loving, like we really were.”
Jackson’s movie will also include the entirety of the famous rooftop concert. The Let It Be film included about half of the performance’s 42 minutes. Shortly after that impromptu lunchtime show, the Beatles started work on another new album, Abbey Road, which became their last LP recorded together – and, perhaps not coincidentally, one that captured the back-to-basics spirit they were trying to achieve earlier in 1969.
As I’ve stated previously, I’ll see the new, updated film, but I don’t want to see it portrayed as they were in A Hard Day’s Night. We’ve all read for decades about what really went down and how tensions were high.
Revisionist history? Definitely.
DALI RESUE — Stressed out while working at a bank in New Zealand, Junelle Kunin began searching for music paired with teachings from the Dalai Lama to calm herself down and allow herself to focus.
But she couldn’t find it online.
That’s when the musician and practicing Buddhist proposed an idea to The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Let’s make an album fusing music with mantras and chants from the Tibetan spiritual leader.
She was politely turned down.
But on a trip to India — where Kunin says she typically gets a chance to meet the Dalai Lama — she asked again, this time writing a letter and handing it to one of his assistants.
Five years later, Inner World is born. The album featuring teachings and mantras by the Dalai Lama set to music will be released on July 6, his 85th birthday.
“I’d never heard him speak like this. He really was so excited … he actually proceeded to explain to me how important music is,” Kunin said. “He leaned forward and his eyes were sparkling, and his fingers were rubbing together and he (talked) about how music can help people in a way that he can’t; it can transcend differences and return us to our true nature and our good heartedness.”
The 11-track project will be released in conjunction with a companion booklet.
On her trip to India in 2015, Kunin wrote down a list of topics and mantras she thought would be great for the album, and recorded the conversations with the Dalai Lama for “
Inner World. The religious leader recites the mantras of seven Buddhas on the album, discussing topics like wisdom, courage, healing and children. The track “Compassion,” one of the most famous Buddhist prayers, was released this past Tuesday.
When Kunin returned home, her husband, Abraham, who is also a musician and producer, helped her create music and sounds to enhance the Dalai Lama’s messages and powerful words.
Kunin said that although they’ve worked on the album for the last five years, it feels extremely relevant releasing it now.
“The entire purpose of this project is to try to help people. It’s not a Buddhist project, it’s to help everyday people like myself, even though I am Buddhist,” she said. “The messages couldn’t be more poignant for our current social climate and needs as humanity.”
Net proceeds from the sales of the album will benefit Mind & Life Institute as well as Social, Emotional and Ethical Learning (SEE Learning), an international education program developed by Emory University and the Dalai Lama.
Grammy-nominated sitar player Anoushka Shankar makes a guest appearance on the album, playing on “Ama La,” a track honoring mothers. Shankar said being invited to perform on the album was “a huge honor.”
She first met The Dalai Lama as a child with her father, the legendary musician Ravi Shankar.
For the new album, she said, “What I was given was a beautiful template of (the Dalai Lama’s) voice speaking … it was very evocative with his speaking. It’s so clear what the mood is about … that it kind of flowed quite simply to just play over that and try to add a musical enhancement to the words he’s speaking.”
Dozens of other musicians were invited to help on the project, while Kunin’s husband had multiple roles, from playing guitar and percussion to drum and synth programming. Kunin co-produced the album and added vocals to three songs, including “Purification.”
She wrote the piano part of that track with her hospitalized mother in mind, growing more nervous as the coronavirus rapidly spread.
“I really thought we were going to lose her. And so I wrote what I would want her to feel and hear at the time of her dying,” Kunin said.
Her mother survived, but weeks later Kunin’s nephew died. And because of COVID-19 restrictions, she and her family couldn’t carry out the tradition of sleeping surrounding his body, which would typically lie on a marae for three days. On top of that, her husband was back home finishing the album to make its deadline.
“(My husband) was home weeping at this point, which is when the inspiration came to complete the song ‘Purification,’” Kunin said, adding that they dedicated the track to their nephew Izyah Micah Toli.
“And he finished it.”
SHORT TAKES — Grunge-rockers Daeodon guests on Zach Martin’s BFA podcast Tuesday, in support of their excellent new album Forever Strangers …
Celebrity-scribe Mark Bego, who just signed with Yorkshire Publishing, joins Debbie Gibson (he wrote a biography on her too!) this week on Debby Campbell’s podcast.
We’ll have the link later this week for you … Romeo Delight (the #1 Van Halen-tribute band) will be at the Cutting Room in November … and, HAPPY BDAY to Roger Friedman.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Audrey Strahl; Seymour Stein; Coati Mundi; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; J. Robert Spencer; Donnie Kehr; Liberty DeVitto; Vic Kastel; Roy Trakin; Will Lee; Steve Gadd; Steve Walter; Robert Miller; Andy Skurow; and, CHIP!