Evening Standard, Hulton Archive LONDON (AP) - Miles and Jimi. Jimi and Miles.…
- Posted on Nov 17th 2010 2:00PM by Brad Schreiber
John Pratt, Keystone / Getty Images
Let's start with the fiduciary: Steve Jobs must be relieved that the Beatles' catalog, which has sold worldwide 600 million units of records, tapes and compact discs up to this point in time, is going to bring in bushels of cash. The remastered studio works of the Fab Four were released in September 2009, after a long wait, to great acclaim. But for those who would rather download than order online for postal delivery, the iTunes version of these songs, at 256 kbps, will appear lickety-split on their computers and in their iPods. And as Apple currently dominates 90 percent of the ever-dwindling music download market, and the Beatles were third last year in recorded music sales with 3.3 million units, Apple stands to not just rake in but bulldozer in the money.
Apple.com. was certainly as enthusiastic as a hungry puppy on Methedrine being shown the dog dish when that website's teaser on Monday touted "Tomorrow is just another day. That you'll never forget." This enters the stratosphere of hyperbole, as the digital release of the Beatles' back catalog -- the Beatles being a group that is admittedly my favorite -- does not quite compare with the assassination of major political leaders or even, on a personal note, the night Shelley Mendelson deflowered me on her waterbed.
Why did it take so long to conclude this deal? One would have to be a member of the music industry or an attorney to desire hearing the arcane, overly complicated details of litigation between the Beatles' management, Apple Corps; their label, EMI; and that other Apple, the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer company, which include a settlement payment to EMI of almost $30 million (£18 million), injunctions, legal reversals and now the tenuous financial stature of EMI, which has gone through a leveraged buyout and is dependent on this back-catalog deal to stay solvent.
But you don't care about that, and frankly, why should you? On a purely musical basis, the conclusion of the Apple battle will mean more people will thrill to the joyous abandon of 'Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey.' Whether hippie holdovers or curious kids with a discretionary budget from their parents for downloads, more listeners will be exposed to the gorgeous psychedelia of 'Only a Northern Song' (ironically, written by George Harrison in response to what he considered the unfairness of the Beatles' music publishing company).
Somewhere, some kid who would rather listen to alternative Bulgarian emo folk funk trance hip-hop than the work of Mr. Harrison and his cohorts John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr might accidentally download 'Blackbird' or 'Here Comes the Sun,' two of their numerous songs rapidly ascending the Top 100 on iTunes. And perhaps that kid will be as moved as I was upon first hearing the work. Maybe our obsession with technology and the speed and convenience of delivery means someone previously unexposed to the Beatles will sense the historic thrill of John Lennon stumbling happily onto guitar feedback in the opening of 'I Feel Fine.'
If one can ruminate a bit more on social impact, the media hullabaloo over the Beatles/iTunes deal speaks volumes about the Liverpudlians' phenomenal endurance to shape us culturally. John Lennon was murdered 30 years ago and would have been 70 this year, and in addition to the release of the biopic 'Nowhere Boy,' there will shortly be two PBS programs on him: 'Lennon Naked,' starring Christopher Eccleston, and the American Masters doc 'LENNONYC.'
This writer, despite his love and respect for the Beatles, does not consider their catalog flawless. To these ears, 'The Long and Winding Road' is gooey, sophomoric elevator music and 'Mister Moonlight' is little better than a hound baying at that celestial orb. But lest we forget, the Boys we can now download with ease evolved with such an unrelenting creative maelstrom that to this cyber-moment in time, we have never seen the like of it in pop music.
And as co-author of the new book 'Becoming Jimi Hendrix,' I would remind the reader it was Paul McCartney who, when asked to recommend an act for an upcoming music festival in Monterey, Calif. in 1967, insisted on a Seattle kid who had to go to the UK and other European countries before returning to his native land to astonish and thrill us all.
Jimi paid his own respect to the Beatles, for when he was in England, playing regularly for the crème-de-la-crème of British rock, 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart Club Band' came out. Three days after its release, Jimi performed a brilliant, innovative yet respectful version of the title song at the Saville Theatre that was immediately, rapturously accepted by the crowd -- which included Harrison and McCartney.
Now that's a proper homage.
Brad Schreiber is a Los Angeles journalist, screenwriter, producer, and author of five books. His latest, co-authored with Steve Roby, is 'Becoming Jimi Hendrix: From Southern Crossroads to Psychedelic London, the Untold Story of a Musical Genius.' Read his blog on Red Room.