10 Awesome Songs You Should Know

Author: Danny Abriano, Entertainment

This list is going to run the gamut, from songs you’ve never heard of to songs that are absolute staples. Here are ten songs you should know the words to — for different reasons…

Buddy Holly:  True Love Ways 

Most people view Elvis Presley as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Wrong. It was Buddy Holly, who brought the music to the mainstream, wrote his own songs, and produced his own songs before his untimely death in a plane crash at the age of 22 in February of 1959.

If there was no Holly, The Beatles wouldn’t have existed. And this song is a clue as to what he might have accomplished had he lived a full life.

Key passage:

Just you know why
Why you and I
Will bye and bye
Know true love ways

Sometimes we’ll sigh,
sometimes we’ll cry
and we’ll know why just you and I know true love ways.

 

The Hollies: The Air That I Breathe

Most people don’t know who The Hollies are, but recognize lots of their songs, including Bus Stop and Long Cool Woman. The Air That I Breathe is obscure, but its rawness is amazing. And yes, the band named themselves after Buddy Holly.

Key passage:

Making love with you
Has left me peaceful, warm, and tired
What more could I ask
There’s nothing left to be desired
Peace came upon me and it leaves me weak
So sleep, silent angel, go to sleep

Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe
And to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe
Yes to love you
All I need is the air that I breathe

 

 

The Beatles: Yesterday

Yes, it’s the first one that everyone should know. This song was the first that featured only one Beatle — Paul McCartney. The initial lyrics came to him in a dream and the initial title was Scrambled Eggs. Seriously.

There are always regrets in life. And this song sums it up pretty succinctly.

Key passage:

Suddenly I’m not half the man I used to be.
There’s a shadow hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

 Why she had to go, I don’t know, she wouldn’t say.
I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.

 

 

Bob Dylan: Like A Rolling Stone

When Dylan went electric, lots of his most ardent fans hated it. But if he hadn’t gone electric, we would’ve been deprived of this masterpiece — often recognized as the best song of all time.

Key passage:

You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin’ out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.

How does it feel?
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

 

 

Harry Chapin: Taxi

The odds are that you have no idea who Harry Chapin is. I only know who he is because my mother is one of his biggest fans. His biggest hit, Cats In The Cradle, is one pretty much everyone knows. Taxi was a hit in the ’70s, but not the chart-topper Cats In The Cradle Was.

It’s a tale of what could have been but also a tale of realization.

Key passage:

Something about her was familiar
I could swear I’d seen her face before
But she said, “I’m sure you’re mistaken”
And she didn’t say anything more

It took a while, but she looked in the mirror
And she glanced at the license for my name
A smile seemed to come to her slowly
It was a sad smile, just the same

 

 

Righteous Brothers: Unchained Melody

If you’ve seen the movie Ghost, you know this song. You almost certainly know it even if you somehow haven’t seen Ghost. It’s simple and complex all at once and features one of the best vocals you’ll ever hear.

Key passage:

Oh, my, love, my darling I’ve hungered for
Your touch, a long lonely time
And time goes by, so slowly and time
Can do so much, are you still mine
I need your love,
I oh I need your love,
God speed your love to me.

 

Bob Dylan: Visions Of Johanna

Dylan is an absolute genius. And that genius is on full display on Visions Of Johanna, which features lyrics that are so amazing that it’s impossible to even fathom at times.

Key passage:

Louise, she’s all right, she’s just near
She’s delicate and seems like the mirror
But she just makes it all too concise and too clear
That Johanna’s not here
The ghost of ‘lectricity howls in the bones of her face
Where these visions of Johanna have now taken my place

 

 

The Eagles: Peaceful Easy Feeling

The Eagles are one of the best American bands of all-time, but they sometimes get a bad rap because their songs can be viewed as too simplistic. Guess what? Not every song needs to be deep or multifaceted, like Dylan’s are for instance. This one is pretty much perfect.

Key passage:

I like the way sparkling earrings lay
Against your skin so brown
And I want to sleep with you in the desert night
With a million stars all around

I got a peaceful easy feelin’
And I know you won’t let me down
‘Cause I’m already standin’
On the ground

 

 

Vampire Weekend: Hannah Hunt

Critics have a love/hate relationship with Vampire Weekend and to some, they’re an acquired taste. To me, they’re awesome. And their 2013 album Modern Vampires Of The City was an absolute masterpiece, with Hannah Hunt serving as one of the highlights.

Key passage:

A man of faith said
Hidden eyes could see what I was thinking
I just smiled and told him
That was only true of Hannah
And we glided on through Waverley and Lincoln

Our days were long our nights no longer
Count the seconds, watching hours
Though we live on the US dollar
You and me, we got our own sense of time

 

 

Derek and the Dominoes: Bell Bottom Blues

When people think Eric Clapton, they usually think Layla or Wonderful Tonight. This song, though, is Clapton at his most vulnerable. And it’s amazing.

Key passage:

Bell bottom blues, you made me cry
I don’t want to lose this feeling
And if I could choose a place to die
It would be in your arms

Do you want to see me crawl across the floor to you?
Do you want to hear me beg you to take me back?
I’d gladly do it because
I don’t want to fade away
Give me one more day, please
I don’t want to fade away
In your heart I want to stay

 

Want to hear all of these staples? We’ve put them all together for you in this playlist:

Why the Beatles Are Still Relevant to Millennials

Author: Danny Abriano, Entertainment

If you turn on Top 40 radio today, you’ll hear lots of different genres. One that isn’t heard much? Rock or Rock and Roll, whichever derivative you want to call it.

Part of that is because of how much music has evolved and how many different genres and sub-genres there are now. And part of it is because there simply aren’t any transcendent rock bands out there right now.

There are some good and even great acts, including The Black Keys and Arcade Fire. There are those who are still touring but removed from their prime, such as U2. And many who are still touring and far removed from their prime, such as Tom Petty, Neil Young and Bob Dylan.

In my opinion, though, there are no acts out there right now in their prime that actually transcend. None who make me think I’ll regret it for the rest of my life if I don’t see them.

Now, why are the Beatles and other classic rock bands still relevant to millennials?

When it comes to the Beatles, lots of things converged to create a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon.

For starters, they were the first band that actually wrote their own songs. The first popular band that brought true ferocity to the stage. The first band that evolved in a way where their first album is so different than their fifth that it’s nearly impossible to understand their brilliance.

The Beatles also gained popularity in the U.S. and around the rest of the world shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, giving American youth something to turn to.

Aside from their immense musical talent, though, the Beatles were political. They were opinionated. And sometimes purposefully and sometimes not, they gave young people a reason to feel free. A reason to rebel. A reason to experiment. A reason to hope.

And the above things are eternal and what transcends, making it easy to understand why millennials still identify with the Beatles and why many millennials are more hardcore fans than their parents were.

Other classic rock bands that transcend and are loved by many millennials include Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, but the Beatles stand head and shoulders above them.

I work for a Beatles festival, and while fans of all ages attend, it seems some of the most ardent and true fans are millennials.

Why is that?

With youth comes hope, and with the Beatles — who disbanded in 1970 when none of them were older than 30 — there is eternal youth.

Fest Logo

I Attended The Fest For Beatles Fans, and Here’s Why You Should Too

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Entertainment

I had the pleasure of attending The Fest For Beatles Fans on March 4th in Jersey City. And while we’ve discussed it multiple times — back when the Chicago Fest was happening in August 2016, when we talked about bands with the influence of the Beatles, or when we previewed the acts who played last weekend — I didn’t have the full picture.

When I arrived at the Hyatt Regency Jersey City on the second day of the New York Metro Fest — with my parents in tow — I walked into an atmosphere that can only be described as fun and welcoming. We only had a few hours to see everything that I wanted to see at The Fest, but the staff was exceptionally accommodating, not to mention enthusiastic, about why we were there and what we could see.

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In the midst of a few art galleries and even a room where I added to a massive Beatles-themed collage, people of all ages filled the hallways. While those in my parents’ age group were expected (as they remember when the Beatles played Shea Stadium), I was amazed to see millennials, Gen Xers, teenagers and even little kids sporting Beatles t-shirts, Beatles jackets and even Sgt. Peppers album cover costumes.

The Fest even drew notables — including Klaus Voormann, who designed album cover art for the Beatles and Ken Dashow of New York radio station Q-104.3, just to name a few.

I listened to the Beatles a lot as a child — my dad was fast to play their albums as well as radio stations that specialized in Beatles blocks. At the time, I pretended to hate it — but secretly loved it. I was brought right back to those days while walking around The Fest, and was moved by how the Beatles brought so many generations together.

The highlights of the day, however, had to be the performances I watched both on the main stage and the smaller — but no less notable — Apple Jam Stage. I was most moved by my dad while we watched Birds of Paradox on the main stage as he knew every word to every song played, and I’ll admit — my highly sensitive side got the better of me as they played Imagine.

After we visited the massive Beatles marketplace (and were pleased with our many purchases), it was time to leave — but I’m pretty sure none of us wanted to.

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So, what makes The Fest so special? The easy answers are live music, great loot, good people and inspiring exhibits, which are all true answers. But it’s more than all that. The Fest showed me that in the midst of troubling times — both personally, and in our current political landscape — it’s possible to still believe in the values that the Beatles made paramount to their music, including peace for all. Idealism lives on. Music speaks to it. People from all walks of life, of all ages, can still come together for a common celebration.

Millennials, if you have an opportunity to attend The Fest, either in Jersey City or in Chicago, it’s worth your visit. If you’re not familiar with all of the Beatles’ music, I promise you, you’re not “too young” to get it. And regardless of your Beatles fan status, the message is too important to miss. We are the generation of change — be a part of this movement.

 

The Fest For Beatles Fans New York

Beatles Tribute Bands and Artists You Need to Know

Author: Danny Abriano, Entertainment

I’ve seen Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr in concert, and once nearly spontaneously combusted when Paul surprised Ringo at his birthday and the two of them performed together. But there’s nothing like The Beatles live, something no millennial (and many millennials’ parents) ever had the ability to see and hear.

But the transcendent nature of the Beatles lives on, and the music has new life breathed into it every day by an incredible number of bands and artists who either recreate the Beatles’ songs note-for-note or put their own twist on things.

Many of these bands/artists performed at the New York Metro Fest For Beatles Fans. 

Here’s a taste:

Liverpool
Named after the small town in England where the Beatles hailed from, Liverpool has been the Fest’s house band since the late-70s. They’re different from nearly every Beatles tribute band out there since they don’t dress like the group and don’t pander to die-hard fans with phony British accents.

No, for Liverpool, it’s all about recreating the music and the ferocity the Beatles brought to it. Full disclosure: I work for the Fest, but that’s only been the case since 2014. I thought Liverpool was the best Beatles tribute band in the world before then, and I feel the same now. If you’re at a Liverpool concert and close your eyes, the Beatles are there.

At the Fest, Liverpool will be in concert all three nights. And since this year is the 50th anniversary of the Sgt. Pepper album, they’ll be performing the album in full — Side 1 on Saturday night, Side 2 on Sunday night.

Birds Of Paradox
Local artist Jeff Slate’s band, Birds of Paradox features Steve Holley (Wings) on drums and Gary Van Scyoc and Adam Ippolito from John Lennon’s Elephant Memory Band. Their lead guitarist is Mark Bosch from the Ian Hunter Band. At the Fest, the guys will be recreating John Lennon’s famous One-To-One concert.

Birds of Paradox, who tours all around New York City, has been playing at the Fest for several years, mixing in solo Beatles cuts and even Traveling Wilburys cuts.

Jacqui Armbruster
A native of Pennsylvania, the 17-year-old is multi-talented. Her voice is incredibly powerful and soulful, her guitar playing is sublime, and she has tremendous stage presence.

Jacqui isn’t just a Beatles artist, but it’s those songs that were on display at The Fest.

Foo Fighters album cover

Three Current Bands With the Influence of the Beatles

Author: Danny Abriano, Entertainment

Before they took the world by storm, the Beatles were influenced by Buddy Holly and the Crickets (where do you think their name came from?), Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers and more.

And while the Beatles would not have existed in the form they did without taking bits and pieces from those who came before them, they did an incredible amount of things no musicians before them ever did.

Before the Beatles, there had never been a band that had more than one talented songwriter. In fact, aside from Holly and Berry, nearly every popular act (Elvis among them) primarily covered songs that were written for them. No band before the Beatles played in the ferocious style they did. No band had a personality like theirs, and no band spoke out about world issues.

Even though the Beatles broke up in 1970, after evolving at a furious pace while recording 13 albums in just over seven years, the earthquake that was their musical style and influence continues to shake the world.

Here are three current bands who were influenced by the Fab Four in a major way:

Vampire Weekend
The New York-based quartet, which will likely be a trio when they decide to release their next album, is known for their unique style that infuses pop with rock, african music, and lots of other elements.

And bassist Chris Baio has spoken about the Beatles’ influence on their style:

“They played extremely popular music but at the same time drew upon Eastern and Western sources,” he said about the Beatles. “Whereas today, rock music has killed itself by being so white bread. We’re trying to mix sounds that are old and new and sounds that are Western and that are not Western. I think that’s our vibe.”

What Baio is referring to is how the Beatles evolved after 1964, when Beatlemania gave way to the more serious group that churned out albums like Rubber Soul, Revolver, and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

And while he’s often overlooked (but absolutely should not be), it was Beatles lead guitarist George Harrison — whose interest in Indian music and experimentation with the sitar — helped lead them down the amazing road they went down after 1964.

Vampire Weekend performs ‘Unbelievers,’ with the varied elements Baio alludes to:

Foo Fighters
“If it weren’t for The Beatles, I would not be a musician,” Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl has said. “From a very young age I became fascinated with their songs, and over the years have drowned myself in the depth of their catalogue. Their groove and their swagger. Their grace and their beauty. Their dark and their light. The Beatles seemed to be capable of anything.”

Grohl pretty much nails it, and let’s not forget that Kurt Cobain — the lead singer of Nirvana, who Grohl was the drummer for — idolized the Beatles, especially John Lennon.

So, if not for the Beatles, both Nirvana and Foo Fighters might never have existed. And that’s something I just don’t want to think about.

Let’s allow Grohl to wrap this up:

“Recently I showed my six-year-old daughter, Violet, the brilliant Yellow Submarine movie,” he said a few years ago. “It was her introduction to The Beatles, and she instantly shared the same fascination I felt when I was her age discovering The Beatles for the first time.”

Yes, the Beatles transcend age.

Dave Grohl performs the Beatles’ Hey Bulldog at the 2014 Beatles tribute:

The Weeklings
Who, you ask? The Weeklings, who have members based in New York and New Jersey, The Weeklings play songs the Beatles wrote but never officially released, their Beatles-inspired originals, and many other Beatles cuts (from It Won’t Be Long to Baby You’re A Rich Man).

This band is so immersed in Beatleness that their recently-released second album, Studio 2, was recorded in the famed Studio 2 at Abbey Road, where the Beatles recorded most of their music.

It’s nearly impossible (unless you’re a total Beatles freak) to differentiate their originals from the lesser-known Beatles tracks they cover. And it’s a thrill to hear them unearth the gems the Beatles never fully produced.

Their ferocious show will never disappoint.

The Weeklings perform their Beatles-inspired original, Mona Lisa: