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Paul McCartney

Ron Howard's 'Eight Days a Week' Is a Sweet, Slightly Empty Treat for Beatles Fans

TV/Film ReviewEthan WilliamsComment

How do you even begin to break down the immense mythology of a group widely considered to be the greatest of all time into something digestible and accessible but also still reverent? The eight years of musical, visual, historical, economical, political and social impact The Beatles left behind looms like a giant block of marble that should only intimidate any author or documentarian foolish enough to try and mold it into a singular experience that does the group justice.

And yet in truth, it’s insanely difficult to craft a bad movie around the story of the Fab Four. For all of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the band’s legacy, any filmmaker who deigns to cover the band’s story essentially has the perfect subjects: four of the most affable, down-to-earth, creative and interesting people who ever walked the Earth. The filmmakers have a smorgasbord of every kind of song imaginable at their disposal to set a mood or tone, a majority of which are already in pop music’s pantheon of greatest ever. So really you’ve only got yourself to blame if you can make a bad film with all of that at your disposal.

With that said, at this point in history it is much easier to make a boring film about The Beatles. After so many books and documentaries covering every inch and aspect of The Beatles’ career, at some point a hardcore fan can only get so much out of a “new” interpretation a storyteller tries to craft out of that eight year marble block without some hint of what’s already come before.

And Ron Howard’s latest documentary begins dangerously on that cusp of blandness, threatening to turn into just a shiny new coat of paint on the same storyline even the most casual of Beatles fan is conscious of. The montage of those rough n’ tumble nights in Hamburg coupled with their subsequent haircuts/suits that led to Please Please Me’s chart-topping overnight success... it threatens on yada-yada-yada territory before the real fun actually begins.

Where Eight Days a Week begins to differentiate itself is in making you feel the absolute and all-consuming chaos of an event that was The Beatles’ touring years. A treasure trove of great concert material has been carefully remastered and restored for this documentary (a perfect justification for the film’s existence if you really needed one) and the footage of swaths of young people screaming their heads off, rushing stages, and evading police makes you feel just how singular an experience the Beatles were in history. Nothing had ever happened like this before and nothing would ever again.

The baby boomer generation was desperate for a way to express themselves, and these unassuming, charming lads with similar haircuts and incredible songwriting and vocal abilities came along and changed everything,These four young men were at the center of the world’s biggest cultural maelstrom and somehow trying to maintain their own sanity. The film runs you through the elation of Ed Sullivan and Shea Stadium all the way through to the bitter end at the KKK rallies in Memphis and the miserable Candlestick park final gig.

Their cheery and cheeky demeanor on that electric first tour of America heartbreakingly contrasted with the weariness of the magnifying glass is the film’s biggest success. It makes the mere existence of any Beatles music that followed the madness of their touring years seem like a God-given miracle.

The film wisely chooses to focus on the band’s overwhelming unity during these progressively trying times and puts a sunny disposition on the group’s overall dynamic. It’s nice to have a Beatles documentary that pits The Beatles against the world when so many others like to focus on their internal battles that came later. Those touring years, as Ringo mentions in the film, were when The Beatles had to look out for each other first and foremost. So while it may feel dishonest to exclude the turmoil of their later studio work, it’s impossible to deny the bond the Fab Four shared with one another.

There’s a few glaring omissions in terms of Beatles lore, in particular manager Brian Epstein is paid an abysmal amount of lip service considering how especially important he was to the success of this period of the Beatles career and in terms of interviewees, there’s hardly much on offer that hasn’t been stated better elsewhere (for instance the only real archival interview footage with George comes from the superior if exhaustive Beatles Anthology), and a few subjects may leave you scratching your head about their inclusion but overall it’s good fun and good-natured even if it doesn’t forge a brand new vision of history.

While hardcore fans familiar with most of these intimate details may not find anything revelatory here, it’s worth the price of admission for the glut of restored and remastered footage of some classic Beatles concerts and if you’re able to see it in theaters, the entire Shea Stadium concert plays following the movie, fully restored in 4K with remastered sound. It goes down like a smooth, soothing ale for those of us already under the Fab Four’s spell, while still providing those looking for an accessible entry point to the Beatles’ early career with a satisfying result.

A Very Transverso Holiday: 50 Songs for the Season

Music ListTransverso MediaComment

The holidays are a magical time of year, a time often evoked through the use of song. We at Transverso have decided to collect some of our favorite festive tunes into a playlist for you and yours to enjoy in the coming days, beginning with the original Christmas song, Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime."

These 50 seasonal tracks are sure to be the perfect soundtrack as you hang ornaments on your tree, bake cookies, or leave your young son at home without supervision in a crime-ridden Chicago suburb for an extended period of time.

Watch Sir Paul McCartney Teach You How to Make Mashed Potatoes in 1998 Video

Music NewsWeston PaganoComment
paul mccartney mashed potatoes.jpg

Paul McCartney is a talented man. He can play bass and sing and write and compose and... make mashed potatoes.

Filmed for what was his first broadcasted appearance following his wife Linda's death from breast cancer in 1998, Sir Paul treated fans to a tutorial on how to cook the traditional dish per his late partner and bandmate's recipe.

This cheeky little glimpse of a legendary Beatle doing something so pedestrian, from the talking oven mitt to the playful health tips, is as endearing as it is informative, even if it is a bit nerve-wracking to see such magical fingers to close to a knife blade.

So whether you're an expert chef or a first-timer, sit back, take notes, and enjoy. Maybe someday we'll get instructions for "Honey Pie" or "Savoy Truffle" next.

Hear David Gilmour Dreamily Cover The Beatles' "Here, There And Everywhere"

New MusicWeston PaganoComment

Leading up to his forthcoming solo record Rattle That Lock, former Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour has unveiled a one-off wispy rendition of The Beatles' "Hear, There and Everywhere" in this month's issue of MOJO Magazine. The sleepy track originally appeared on the classic 1966 album Revolver.

This is only the most recent of many connections between the two groups of artists, which also include Gilmour's contributions to Paul McCartney's recordings of "We Got Married" and the ballad version of "No More Lonely Nights."

Rattle That Lock is due out September 18 via Columbia Records. Hear the first single and title-track here.

No, Tall People Are Not Obligated to Stand in the Back of the Crowd

EditorialWeston PaganoComment

As part of a series called The Good Listener, NPR recently ran a piece titled “Are Tall People Obligated To Stand In The Back At Concerts?” in response to a Facebook post by an individual (presumably of the shorter variety) who complained:

I was recently at a show of the unseated variety when, to my dismay, a very tall and wide chap with a head boasting the approximate dimensions of a cereal box stationed himself directly in front of me. I spent the whole (crowded) show craning to one side or another so that my view was not entirely obstructed. I wished this gentleman to be banned from concert-going forever, or at least to be forced to view the show from the back row of every venue. My question is: What obligation does the big/tall person have to his or her fellow concertgoers with regard to obstructing the view?

Cranium sizes comparable to breakfast food containers aside, tall people are not a rare species at musical performances and other cultural events in which many people are gathered together to look in one direction and view a single stage. Many of these concerts are general admission, meaning that the floor is open to standing room exclusively, and that space is filled on a first-come first-serve basis, regardless of physical stature. And that’s that.

The idea that everyone should be able to have equal and unobstructed lines of sight towards the front of the venue is a nice one, though ultimately utopian. While a short concert-goer wishing to relegate a fellow fan and peer to the back of the bus so-to-speak (or worse, have them “banned from concert-going forever") for a better view based on a characteristic they cannot control is at best idealistic, it’s at worst incredibly self-entitled and unfair. Shows aren’t an inherently oppressive economic system you need to right with compensatory measures; you do realize you can just show up earlier and wait in line like the rest of us, right?

I am about 6’4” and I enjoy being close to if not in the front row. I have been known to arrive to the venue long in advance to secure such a position. Anyone who does that earns their proximity to the action, and anyone who waltzes through the crowd halfway through the first song, feeling as if they deserve to be ahead of you because they never grew out of their high school height, does not. The only thing they should be at the front of is a list of the worst people ever.

I’m not trying to pass this generalization off as fact, it’s merely been my experience (and of course there are plenty of exceptions), but concert-goers of a smaller stature are almost always the most intolerably inconsiderate individuals in the crowd. Whether they are shoving themselves in between and in front of my friends and I, blowing smoke up into my face, repeatedly fist-pumping into my nose, standing directly on my feet for an extra lift for an extended period of time (when I asked her to move she pretended as if she hadn’t noticed she was literally climbing on top of my body), or even just subtly trying to make me feel guilty the entire time, the sense of cavalier entitlement coupled with a raging Napoleon complex is far more obstructive to one’s enjoyment of a night out than an eager fan who simply has to wear a longer size of pants.

And most of the time, short people do better in life than we do anyway: they fit in car and plane seats more comfortably, they can find clothes that fit them without much effort, and they're even likely to live longer than us. My head never even makes it in photos. Let us have this one.

"Don’t you have a heart?” you may be asking. “Why do you hate short people? They can’t help it!”

Well, yeah. If you’re nice to me I’ll probably just let you in front of me anyway by choice. Specifically, if you’re the adorable elderly woman who came to see Paul McCartney at Lollapalooza a couple of weeks ago, I was more than happy to hold your sign for you and help you get closer to our hero.

Everyone else? Come wait in line with me from the beginning, we'll stand together.

Transverso's 2015 Lollapalooza Playlist

Music ListTransverso MediaComment

With Lollapalooza looming large we've compiled the 30 best tracks from the best artists you can expect to see at the festival this year. With artists from Paul McCartney to Shakey Graves, Chicago's Grant Park is the place to be this weekend, and you can prepare yourself by clicking play below or on our Spotify profile!

Relive Bonnaroo with our two playlists for that festival, take the "Music Festival Name or Type Illness Quiz" on Buzzfeed here, and if that's not enough, you can always turn on our 2015 Summer Playlist.

10 of the Best Musical Cameos on TV

TV/Film List, Music ListEllen WilsonComment
Jack White on Portlandia

Jack White on Portlandia

1. The Shins on Gilmore Girls 

Gilmore Girls is known for their fast paced dialogue and countless pop culture references, often mentioning numerous artists an episode, so it would make sense that Rory and co would stumble upon a hip new band playing in a club while on spring break. James Mercer and band play "So Says I" for an uninterrupted minute and a half, which is a pretty impressive amount of airtime for television. Rory and friends don't arrive until the last song, though, so we can assume they are the worst concert goers ever. Shortly after you can hear "The Laws Have Changed" by The New Pornographers while Rory and Paris uncomfortable try to fit in with the club-goers stating, "no one can sniff out the hip like we can." 

2. The Decemberists on Parks and Recreation 

The Decemberists get about 30 seconds of airtime playing "Crane Wife 3" at the Pawnee-Eagletown unity concert. While they might not have gotten as much airtime as deserved the entire episode was full of additional musical guest such as Jeff Tweedy, Ginuwine, and Yo La Tengo. 


3. Jack White on Portlandia 

Jack White magically appears on the Portlandia sketch "The Studio" in which Fred's character portrays a man who has a "top notch" studio with overwhelming similarities the studio used when recording the Beach Boy's album Pet Sounds. Jack White magically appears and silently watches Fred's character as he struggles to make sense of it all. The lack of dialogue from White makes his facial expressions even more hilarious and one of the best musical guest Portlandia has locked down. 

4. Britt Daniel of Spoon in Veronica Mars

Britt sings a karaoke version of the song appropriately titled "Veronica" by Elvis Costello. The Spoon song "I Summon You" was also featured in the same episode. You can read more about Britt's decision to do the show here

5. Death Cab For Cutie on The OC 

Death Cab was famously the favorite band of OC stud Seth Cohen, despite Summer's less-than-flattering analysis, "it's one guitar and a whole lot of complaining." When the band finally appears they play a show at the infamous fictional venue, The Bait Shop, and were featured on the official soundtrack. 

6. Prince on New Girl 

Prince, the majestic being himself, guest stars in an episode of New Girl. In the episode, he plays himself and gives Jess (portrayed by Zooey Deschanel) relationship advice. The highlight, though, is when the The Purple One asks, "Do you like pancakes?" 

7. Beck on Futurama 

After Bender is hospitalized he discovers Beck's disembodied head is occupying the bed next to him. Beck then loans Bender a set of neck-mounted robotic mini-arms, and the two go on tour together as Bender uses the arms to scrape across his mangled body and earn the position of Beck's washboard player. As the episode continues, Bender writes a song about broken robots, and the duo decide to put on a benefit concert in San Francisco to help all the disabled machines. While helping Bender write a song about his feelings, disembodied Beck explains how emotion is an important part of his musical process as well, saying, "When I'm upset I write a song about it. Like when I wrote 'Devil's Haircut,' I was feeling really... what's that song about?"

8. The Beach Boys on Full House 

The Beach Boys have a long standing friendship with the Tanner family, appearing in not one, not two, but three separate episodes. The most notable episode is the one in which DJ wins two tickets to the Beach Boys show but has the tricky decision of picking which family member to take. Naturally, The Beach Boys show up and invite the whole bunch along (except for baby Michelle) to the show where they sing and do some sort of a line dance on stage. 

9. Radiohead on South Park

In this particularly dark episode, Cartman vows to take revenge after being tricked by eighth grader Scott Tenorman. Upon learning that Radiohead is Scott's favorite band, Cartman writes a letter to Radiohead claiming that Scott is a victim of "cancer, in his ass" and the British rock band visits South Park just in time to watch Scott cry after hearing he ate his parents.  

10. Sir Paul McCartney on 30 Rock 

In one of these two brilliant episodes of 30 Rock, Sir Paul McCartney appears as himself to prove the point that "it's live TV, anything can happen." The look on Alec Baldwin's bewildered face as Paul McCartney grins and slaps Baldwin's face makes this one of the best moments of 30 Rock's entire seven season run.