Tag Archives: The Beatles

What? Ringo turns Double-7?

Ringo Starr has become a metaphor for my old age.

Oh, where has the time gone? You know who this guy is, right? He came into the world with the name Richard Starkey. He grew up in Liverpool, England. He played the drums a bit. Then he joined this band that had just fired its original drummer. They needed someone new to play the sticks for them.

John, Paul and George hired Ringo and, well, as they say: the rest is history.

He was the oldest of his new bandmates by just a few months; he was born July 7, 1940, just ahead of John Lennon, who was born Oct. 9 of that year.

Ringo’s musical imprint — along with that of John, George Harrison and Paul McCartney — became the signature not just for my generation, but for others that have come along since then.

But … not for everyone.

A couple of years ago, when Ringo was turning 75 — which is one of those landmark birthdays — I approached a colleague of mine at the business where I worked part time. I mentioned to her — suffice to say she is a good bit younger than yours truly, let alone Ringo — that it was Ringo’s 75th birthday. Isn’t that cool?

She gave me a blank stare and, as the Good Lord is my solemn witness, she said: Who’s Ringo Starr?

I’m pretty sure my jaw hit the ground. I also am pretty certain that my eyes damn near flew out of my head. How in the name of all that is holy and sacred does this young woman not know anything about Ringo Starr, one-fourth of the band that shaped her parents’ generation?

“Why, I never,” I answered my friend. “Don’t you know that this guy helped raise me?” And he did, too — right along with those three other guys.

If only Ringo would see this blog and know that in that one fleeting instant I had his back. The old drummer is about to turn 77. I hope my former colleague has learned just a little something about this living legend.

She just has to ask her parents.

‘Glass Palace’ still standing tall

PORTLAND, Ore. — This picture is of a building that in its day was considered a state-of-the-art, never-to-be-duplicated sports and entertainment venue.

I have so many memories of this place. It was built in 1960. Its cost was — get ready for this — $8 million. Think of that. Eight million bucks today perhaps wouldn’t pay for rest-room upgrades today.

It was called the Memorial Coliseum. It became known colloquially as the Glass Palace. It was home for many years to a minor-league hockey team, the Portland Buckaroos. Then the National Basketball Association started looking around for a place to install an expansion franchise. In 1970, the Trail Blazers started playing hoops in the place.

Where is this blog going? I’m taking in two directions at once.

First, some of the Trail Blazers came back to Portland this week to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the team’s only NBA championship. Bill Walton came; so did Larry Steele, Bobby Gross, Lloyd Neal and many of the rest of them were here to celebrate.

So many memories of that era. My bride and I used to go to those early Blazers games. We would plunk down $2 each for a ticket, which were discounted by half for students; we’d sit through the first quarter of a game and then gravitate to the empty seats nearer to courtside to watch the rest of the game.

Ah, yes. The memories.

I watched my first rock concert, with my sister, in August 1965 in that building. A British band came to play: The Beatles. Mom scored two front-row seats for sis and me. We listened — as best we could over the din of screaming fans, my sister included — to a 30-minute show by John, Paul, George and Ringo. Then they were gone.

The memories.

The second direction?

The Blazers abandoned the Coliseum in 1995 to play their home games in a fancy new venue, the Rose Garden, now has a corporate name: Moda Center. It seats nearly 20,000 fans, compared to the 12,600 or so seats in the Coliseum. It’s got those fancy corporate suites and, oh yes, the fans pay an arm and both legs for seats to watch the Trail Blazers.

What would they do with the Coliseum? Some folks here wanted to tear it down to make room for better vehicular access. Others wanted to preserve it.

The preservations apparently have won out.

The building now carries the name “Veterans Memorial Coliseum.” That’s brilliant! Why? Because the building was erected in 1960 to honor the veterans of World Wars I and II and the Korean War. It didn’t have the name displayed so outwardly for all those decades.

It does now. Which is why — in my view — the building is standing to this day. They aren’t going to destroy a structure that honors our veterans. They wouldn’t dare!

It gladdens my heart because of the tribute it pays to our vets — thank you very much for that — and for keeping alive the memories I have kept for so many years.

Well done, Portland!

Here it is: the greatest song ever recorded

A friend and former colleague of mine and I have engaged in a bit of social media repartee regarding the greatest song ever recorded.

Jim and I disagree. He is pitching “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin. My verdict is where it has been since I first heard this song. “Hey Jude,” the 7-minute 11-second classic by The Beatles has my vote for the greatest song ever recorded.

How do I know that it is? It just is.

I long have argued that a song’s impact on the listener can be measured by this simple metric: Do you know where you were the first time you heard it?

I remember where I was the moment I first heard The Beatles singing this classic. Members of my family and some of my best friends have heard this: It was late summer 1968. I had just returned to my barracks at Fort Lewis, Wash., where I was spending a few weeks undergoing U.S. Army basic training. I turned on my transistor radio, put it on my bunk and then I heard the closing refrain this song I’d never before heard. It goes on seemingly forever: “nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, naaah …”

Who in the world is that? Then the DJ told me as the song wound to its close, “And that’s the latest from The Beatles.”

Jim, to his great credit, said he couldn’t remember where he first heard “Stairway to Heaven.” I applaud his honesty.

I get that such judgments are strictly subjective. “Stairway” is a great song. Led Zeppelin is a great rock band. Neither the song, nor the band, are the greatest.

That’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it.

I’d rather listen to Lennon’s music tonight


I’m proud of myself.

I had a chance tonight to watch three Democrats debate each other over which of them should be their party’s presidential nominee.

Instead, I turned away. I’m watching an American Movie Classics musical tribute to someone who means more to me at this moment than any presidential candidate in either party.

I’ll get back to you folks in a few days. I promise.

The late John Lennon would have turned 75 on Oct. 9. AMC aired a special tonight with some damn good musicians playing many of the songs John made famous — as a solo artist and when he played in that pretty good rock band, The Beatles.

I’ll read about the Democrats’ debate in the morning. Tonight, I’m chillin’ out to some music from a guy who helped raise me.

I still miss him.

Rest in peace, John.


Ringo to turn 75! Gulp, some of us are old!

Ringo Starr

I don’t feel all that old old, but I guess I am.

So, then, must this guy be old. Ringo Starr turns 75 next Tuesday. You remember him, yes? He used to play drums with The Beatles — and surely you’ve heard of them.

How old do I feel today? Quite old, actually.

Consider this little tidbit.

I’m at work this afternoon. I spot a couple — Jack and Pat. They’re friends of mine. They’re shopping for a vehicle. After a lengthy session with the sales rep who sold them the vehicle, I walked up to Pat and told her, “Hey did you know that Tuesday, Ringo Starr turns 75 years of age?” She laughed and said, “We’re getting old.”

I turned to the sales rep. “Did you know that?” I asked. The rep — get ready for this — didn’t know who Ringo Starr is.

Pat said, politely, “He used to be a drummer. He played with The Beatles.”

I do not know the age of the sales representative in question. I’m guessing about 30. Hmm. Old enough perhaps to have heard from Mom, Dad — or perhaps Grandma and Grandpa about the “good old days” when bands such as The Beatles were making music that transcends generations.

That’s OK. I’ll give my colleague a pass. But as I’ve noted many times, he and his band mates — John, George and Paul — helped raise me.

If only it didn’t make me feel so old.

Sir Paul … who?

Some things simply defy description. They tax one’s ability to reason things out.

Take the case of an “unknown artist” who made a record with Kanye West, the hip-hop star, husband of Kim Kardashian and the guy who burst onto the national scene a few years ago when he sought to upstage Taylor Swift the moment she won a Grammy award.


Kanye West released a song with a guy named Paul McCartney, who’s been a pretty good singer/musician/songwriter over, oh, about the past 50 years.

West’s fans took to Twitter to proclaim that they’d never heard of McCartney, who at one time was one-fourth of the world’s greatest rock and roll band, The Beatles. He teamed with another pretty good musician, the late John Lennon, to write music that defined a generation … maybe two or three generations.

Maybe it’s a cultural thing. West’s fans are, well, pretty young. They might not expose themselves to music beyond the kind of music that West produces. Perhaps they haven’t heard about The Beatles from, let’s see, their parents or grandparents.

Or perhaps this is all a big joke, a put-on, kind of like those “Paul is dead” rumors that enveloped the planet back in 1969.

Well, whatever. I’m certain Sir Paul isn’t terribly worried about his standing in the world of music entertainment. Indeed, those unknowing Kanye West fans are aware now of Sir Paul’s influence.


For those who still might not know who Paul McCartney is, consider this: Paul put on a concert about five years ago in Red Square, in Moscow. His encore song was “Back in the U.S.S.R.,” which he recorded in 1968 with The Beatles. As Paul lit into the rocking number, teenagers in the Red Square crowd were singing the song with Paul — in English, knowing every word of a tune recorded decades before any of them were born.

Kanye West no doubt hopes his songs will have that kind of lasting power.


Forgiveness for Lennon's killer? Oh, boy

Mark David Chapman wants what from Yoko Ono?

He wants the wife of the man he murdered 34 years ago to forgive him?


This one boggles my mind.

Chapman received a 20-years-to-life prison sentence for shooting music legend John Lennon in the back. He’s been denied parole several times in the years since then. John’s widow has argued with the New York state parole board against setting her husband’s killer free.

Now the man who put several generations of music lovers — not to mention those of us who loved The Beatles — into perpetual mourning wants Yoko Ono’s forgiveness.

How would I feel if such a tragedy had occurred in my life? Would I be able to forgive the individual who did such a terrible deed to someone I love?

I do not believe I could.

Then again, it is impossible to thrust oneself into another’s conscience when pondering such a request.

Therefore, I won’t offer any advice to Yoko Ono on how she should respond to this request from the man who murdered her husband.

But if it were me …


John Lennon helped raise a generation

Allow me this admission: I was one of relatively few Americans who did not hear the tragic news on this day 34 years ago from Howard Cosell during a “Monday Night Football” telecast.

Nope, I heard it on NBC News, which cut into one of its programs to tell me that John Lennon had been shot to death outside his New York apartment.

How does one describe the feeling of hearing such news? I cannot recall precisely how I felt. It might be that shock set in and with it a form of amnesia.

Time magazine’s cover the next week had the headline “When the Music Died.” And for me, it truly did die that night in front of the Dakota Building, where John lived with his wife, Yoko, and their young son, Sean.

I’ve said it many times over many years to many people: John Lennon and the fellows with whom he played some damn good music, The Beatles, helped raise me. Indeed, music was one of the defining characteristics of the period when millions of us came of age. It was in the 1960s. OK, maybe it was music and war — two curiously juxtaposed features of a time of profound change in this country.

John’s music will stand forever, as will the music he made with Paul, George and Ringo. It was difficult back then to explain this phenomenon to our parents. My own mother and father didn’t quite get it, although Mom later would appreciate The Beatles’ music performed by, say, a symphonic orchestra. Dad? He was a “big band” guy all the way.

The really cool and enduring part of that era’s music — exemplified by The Beatles — is that it’s easier now to explain to the generations that have come along in the years since that time. My own sons get it. It just knocks me out to see teenagers traipsing around Amarillo wearing shirts with “The Beatles” emblazoned on them, or with pictures of The Boys.

All of that — not to mention his active commitment to world peace — must be John Lennon’s enduring legacy to this very day.

I still miss him.




Their music lives forever

A young friend and colleague has just provided me with one more Grade A example of how I know that The Beatles’ music will live forever.

His name is Travis. He’s 23 years of age and works as a service writer at the Toyota dealership where we work. This morning he walked up to me and started a conversation this way:

“Don’t hit me when I tell you this,” he said, “but I have just listened to The Beatles for the very first time. Man … they are great! I think it changed my life.”

I shook Travis’s hand and told him how proud I am of him.

He then told me his dad has a collection of vinyl records, including some Beatles classics. Travis said he listened recently to “The Beatles,” aka “The White Album.” He fell in love with the music.

“I’m now mourning the death of John Lennon,” he said, “and that happened almost 34 years ago.” Yes, I reminded him that the anniversary of John’s murder is coming up. “Oh, I know,” he said.

He ticked off a few of his favorite hits. “Come Together,” “Revolution,” “Let it Be.” He saved special praise for “Hey Jude,” which he said he couldn’t stop singing to himself this morning. He pointed to Judy, one of our cashiers, and said, “I see Judy over there and think of ‘Hey Jude.'”

I then reminded him that “Hey Jude,” in my view, is the greatest song ever performed in the history of recorded music. You know what? I think Travis agrees with me.

What does all this mean in the grander scheme of life? Only that the music produced by history’s greatest rock ‘n roll band stands the test of time. I reminded Travis that he was born 21 years after The Beatles broke up.

I shall now thank Travis’s father for introducing his young son to the music of four young men who — I reminded Travis — helped raise me. I’m sure many others my age and perhaps those even younger can make the same claim.


Can’t get past this Beatles glow

For the life of me I think I need someone to intervene.

I cannot get past this Beatles glow in the wake of the Sunday night tribute that celebrated the 50th anniversary since The Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The link attached here contains some scathing reviews written just as The Beatles began taking the world by storm.


I take one thing away from these blistering comments: The elders should have listened to their children, rather than the other way around.

Consider this gem from the late great William F. Buckley, published on Sept. 13, 1964 in the Boston Globe:

“The Beatles are not merely awful; I would consider it sacrilegious to say anything less than that they are god awful. They are so unbelievably horribly, so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically insensitive to the magic of the art that they qualify as crowned heads of anti-music, even as the imposter popes went down in history as ‘anti-popes.'”

Oops, sorry Mr. Buckley, wherever you are.

There are moments in our lives when we remember where we were and what we were doing at historically significant moments: The Apollo 11 moon landing, JFK’s assassination, RFK’s murder, the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters, 9/11? I recall vividly where I when all those events occurred. The moment I first laid eyes on the girl I would marry, my wedding day, the birth of my sons or the birth of my granddaughter? I can recount those moments in equally vivid detail.

I also remember the first time I heard what I consider The Beatles’ greatest song, “Hey Jude.” I was in U.S. Army basic training at Fort Lewis, Wash. in the late summer of 1968. I placed my transistor radio on my bunk, turned it on and listened to that legendary ending of a song I never before had heard. You know, the “nah, nah, nah” riff. I turned to someone and asked, “Is that The Beatles?”

It was.

That describes the impact these guys’ music had on me.

The old folks way back in 1964 had it wrong. We young people had it right.