Empty Garden – From Elton (John) to (John) Lennon


Of all tribute songs written by a non-Beatle for John Lennon after his senseless killing in December 1980, nothing compares for me to Elton John’s Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny).

The song likens John to a worthy garden caretaker that some inconsequential person took away, “A gardener like that one no one can replace…It’s funny how an insect can damage so much grain…” The lyrics are Bernie Taupin’s, Elton’s lifetime collaborator, while the beautiful melody is, of course, his own.

From what I remember, Elton rarely played it live since the song’s release in his 1982 album Jump Up! because it was painful for him to be reminded of John Lennon’s death. Elton was a close friend to John; their relationship was secured by their musical collaboration in the mid-1970s. Elton and John appeared together in a concert and Elton is Sean’s godfather.

A harrowing live version of this song performed at the turn of the century at the Madison Square Garden is in this link. Elton at the beginning explains why he rarely performed the song live.

The lyrics are here:

What happened here
As the New York sunset disappeared
I found an empty garden among the flagstones there
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And now it all looks strange
It’s funny how one insect can damage so much grain
And what’s it for
This little empty garden by the brownstone door
And in the cracks along the sidewalk nothing grows no more
Who lived here
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
And we are so amazed we’re crippled and we’re dazed
A gardener like that one no one can replace
And I’ve been knocking but no one answers
And I’ve been knocking most all the day
Oh and I’ve been calling oh hey hey Johnny
Can’t you come out to play
And through their tears
Some say he farmed his best in younger years
But he’d have said that roots grow stronger if only he could hear
Who lived there
He must have been a gardener that cared a lot
Who weeded out the tears and grew a good crop
Now we pray for rain, and with every drop that falls
We hear, we hear your name
Johnny can’t you come out to play in your empty garden

Saddest Beatles Songs

Image result for the beatles images
Source: https://www.google.com.ph/search?q=the+beatles+images&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjP__W4xMLZAhVCtpQKHScAAnAQ7AkIQQ&biw=1242&bih=557#imgrc=DgmFmmKExuMu9M:

http://www.myusyk.com [which cannot be anymore reached] came out five years ago with Top Ten Saddest Beatles Songs, which is quite a good list. Many may agree, many may not. But at any rate, the main contention would probably be about the ranking. That is what I also feel. Sad that the six-minuter youtube video is no longer accessible to launch the countdown. Anyway, here is the list with my own description of each song.

10. No Reply from Beatles for Sale is about a partner not being upfront

9. Norwegian Wood from Rubber Soul deals with a one-night affair that would not work

8. I’m A Loser from Beatles for Sale is putting a different face despite a regrettable loss

7. You’ve Got To Hide Your love Away from Help! is purportedly about gays

6. Yes It Is, b-side but compiled in Past Masters is a relationship in transition past a previous one

5. For No One from Revolver is about falling out of love

4. She’s Leaving Home from Sgt. Pepper deals with a daughter who elopes. Verdict “…Fun is something money can’t buy”

3. While My Guitar Gently Weeps from The Beatles aka White Album seems to be the singer silently weeping for everybody for not knowing how to unfold love, perversion, control. (probably!)

2. Eleanor Rigby from Revolver is a very lonely picture cast in a painting. Wow what a great poetry!

1. Yesterday from Help! is longing for a past that is forever gone

My own verdict? I don’t know the basis for the Top Ten whether or not it was the lyrics, song structure, melody, or intent of the writer, or all of the above. But I agree with the Top Two.

Now if you talk about the saddest song of The Beatles, for me it should be Eleanor Rigby. On the other hand, if you talk about the saddest Beatles love song, then it should be Yesterday. There is always something in The Beatles lyrics that hits you hard.

Let’s listen to both again courtesy of youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ntiz-Pmvy4 (Yesterday); (Eleanor Rigby) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wssbIgRh0k

Designated Survivor S02E13


What’s good about TV series, especially political dramas, is that many issues are resolved in an episode. Many times I wonder how TV series writers do it. Man, they are good at their trade. It seems they pick some issues, match these with the existing statutes and make these popular by giving them contemporary twists. The research they do must be  rigorously tremendous. So, in this episode, President Tom Kirkman is back. Great anticipation ahead. Here are some quotes:

Indigenous People Protest Participant to the White House Political Director Lyor Boone: What are you doing around here?

Lyor Boone: I bring the magic.


Hannah Wells: So there’s gonna be an attempt at Damian’s life?

FBI: That’s what the chatter says.

HW: Who’s after him?

FBI: Who isn’t? The Russians want him dead. The British see him as the greatest traitor of the Cambridge Five. The mysterious hacker wants Damian off his tail.

HW: So what do you suggest?

FBI: Cut him loose.

HW: Thanks for the intel.

FBI: Hannah, this guy’s radioactive. If this thing goes south you don’t want to be in the same zip code.


Hannah Wells to Damian Rennett: You played me. And that’s not even the worst part. The worst part is you’re still doing it.



Brian Epstein

… – a series on The Beatles’ manager. High time. Before there was George Martin, the other one deserving of the title ‘the fifth Beatle,’ there was Brian. He did practically everything for the group. And The Beatles believed in him, respected him, doubted him, put tremendous pressure on him. The low point was the Decca failed audition. But Brian didn’t brood over that opportunity loss. Several months later, actually the first six months of 1962 after the Decca rejection, the boys would be found inside EMI recording studio taping Love Me Do. At last, Brian gave The Beatles a record contract!

Bravo Developing Limited Series Biopic on Beatles Manager Brian Epstein

Bravo Developing Limited Series Biopic on Beatles Manager Brian Epstein


Brian Epstein

The Liverpudlian who put the Beatles in suits, landed them a record deal with Parlophone, and brought to them to “The Ed Sullivan Show” is getting the biopic treatment from Bravo.

Bravo is developing a limited series based on the life of Brian Epstein, the Beatles manager who helped steer them to “the toppermost of the poppermost” from the early 1960s until his death of a drug overdose in August 1967 at the age of 32.

Produced by Universal Cable Productions and Sonar Entertainment, the project is based on “The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story,” the Dark Horse Comics graphic novel penned by Vivek J. Tiwary with art by Andrew C. Robinson and Kyle Baker. Tiwary will pen the series adaptation and serve as executive producer along with Leopoldo Gout. Bravo said the project has secured access to the Lennon-McCartney song catalog for use in the series.

Epstein famously became interested in the local Liverpool band when patrons of his family’s music store began asking for a recording of “My Bonnie” that the Beatles cut with singer Tony Sheridan during one of the band’s stints playing clubs in Hamburg. As the legend goes, Epstein went to see four leather-clad lads — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Pete Best (before Ringo Starr took over on drums) — at Liverpool’s Cavern Club and was impressed by their sound and the crowd’s enthusiasm. Without any prior experience in artist management, Epstein signed the band.
History has judged Epstein kindly for ignoring the assertion of a London record company executive that “groups with guitars are on the way out” while he was shopping a Beatles demo reel to land a recording contract. He finally got his “yes” from producer George Martin of EMI’s Parlophone imprint in 1962. Within months, Beatlemania ensued.
Brian Epstein (left) with The Beatles on tour in 1964. (AP Photo)
Epstein published a memoir, “A Cellarful of Noise,” in 1964. But his role as manager diminished after the band opted to end its grueling schedule of concert tours in 1966. By many historical accounts, Epstein was depressed at the time of his death and there has long been speculation that the overdose was not accidental. His death came about two months after the release of the Beatles’ landmark album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

Jaimie Alexander


‘Blindspot’ Star Jaimie Alexander Shares Photo From Hospital Bed After Appendix Ruptures


Jaimie Alexander

Jaimie Alexander had quite a scare.

The Blindspot actress shared a picture of herself from a hospital bed on Friday, revealing that her appendix had ruptured and is on the road to recovery.

“Hey guys! Appendix ruptured but am on the mend!” she wrote alongside an Instagram pic or wearing a hospital gown with an IV, before reminding fans to check out Friday’s episode of the action drama. “Just wanted to say a quick hello and let you all know that one of my favorite episodes is TONIGHT! I’m so excited for you all to see it.”

 Alexander had previously shared another pic on Thursday, also wearing a hospital gown and sipping on some tea.

“Happy Thursday,” she tweeted alongside an emoji throwing up. “Cheer to my appendix,” read the text in the snap.

View image on Twitter
Alexander appears to be doing much better and seems to be quite a tough gal. In 2016, she broke her nose while filming a fight scene on Blindspot.
 Broke my nose today during a fight scene. Somehow I feel that makes me cooler 👊🏻😎😂 ⚔
The very next day, she shared a selfie from the set and looked good as new. “Back at it,” she tweeted at the time.
View image on Twitter

Yesterday and Today

Booklet 1-24Call it a butchered album, which it really is because it is a North American release, but I consider this a very powerful album combining tracks from three UK-released albums by the group: Help!Rubber Soul and Revolver. All this morning I have been listening to the  2011 45th Anniversary Edition of the album released in Japan, which consists of 32 tracks: the stereo format, mono and bonus tracks of outtakes.

Booklet 22-23
Side one
  1. Drive My Car” – 2:25
  2. I’m Only Sleeping” – 2:58
  3. Nowhere Man” – 2:40
  4. Doctor Robert” – 2:14
  5. Yesterday” – 2:04
  6. Act Naturally” (Morrison–Russell) – 2:27
Side two
  1. And Your Bird Can Sing” – 2:02
  2. If I Needed Someone” (Harrison) – 2:19
  3. We Can Work It Out” – 2:10
  4. What Goes On?” (Lennon–McCartney–Starkey) – 2:44
  5. Day Tripper” – 2:47

I really wonder what Rubber Soul album Brian Wilson listened to that inspired him to produce Pet Sounds. The US-released RS does not carry Drive My Car, Nowhere Man, What Goes On and If I Needed Someone. Well, it is opened on both sides by two tracks from Help!I’ve Just Seen A Face (Side 1) and It’s Only Love (Side 2). RS US version still has anyway such great songs as In My LifeGirlMichelleThe WordYou Won’t See MeNorwegian Wood.

Yesterday and Today stands out as the best ‘butchered’ Beatles albums. I must have listened to the 32 tracks at least three times while doing business and domestic chores. Having Yesterday, Nowhere ManI’m Only Sleeping, Dr. RobertIf I Needed SomeoneWe Can Work It OutDaytripperDrive My Car compiled in one album sounds like a collection of great songs from the band midway in their Beatles career.




Death of Stalin

What a review! Enjoyed the film and Blake Goble found the words to describe how I  felt about it. Now it’s time to find other Iannucci films.

Blake Goble, Consequence of Sound

It’s almost like a classic bar joke.

A doctor, a minister, an aide, and a few others walk into Stalin’s chambers. Stalin looks pretty dead, stewing in his own filth on the floor. The men weep, albeit a little phonily – they all want a shot at the top spot, but oh no, Stalin is dead! He is dead! Stalin’s body must be dealt with, of course. This is far too degrading a demise for the public to know about. The men must move Stalin to his bed for a more graceful exit. As the men lower themselves to pick up the body, they crouch, whine, bicker. But they get themselves together, and manage to lift Stalin’s body and place him gingerly onto his bed. Hurrah for Communism. They pause to reflect, barely. And then: “Well we didn’t drop him. Well done, us.”

Wilder couldn’t have topped a zinger like that, and The Death of Stalin has about a million more. Political rascal Armando Iannucci does it again with The Death of Stalin, a comic book adaptation of a very different color. Based on the graphic novel of the same name by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin, the film is a bountiful black comedy, menacing and red in the face with bloviating men of a nasty order. This is a film about historical erasure, power lust, and the fixings of a corrupt governmental body left to grieve and plot. Come. Poke the bear with Iannucci and crew.

For 20 years, Stalin’s NKVD forces – the Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del, aka the People’s Commissariat for Internal – have ruled with an iron (albeit passive-aggressive) fist. Enemies are blacklisted, exiled, or simply murdered by Stalin’s secret police of cowardly sycophants with guns. Disagree with Stalin? That’s a shot in the head. And Iannucci has the nerve to treat these unnerving events like a banal, bitter-tongued workplace comedy. (Veep and The Thick of It enthusiasts will know exactly where this film is going.) Stalin, as played by Adrian McLoughlin, sounds more like Gary Oldman than a Russian czar, and is set up as a sort of officious boss with unlimited power and zero clue.

In the opener, Stalin’s secretary calls a radio producer Andreyev (Paddy Considine) during a live broadcast of a Mozart concert. Secretary says call back in 17 minutes. Andreyev calls back. It’s Stalin himself on the line with Andreyev. Stalin curtly asks for a recording of a Mozart’s Piano Concerto n. 23 that is currently playing. Andreyev is rife with nervous glee. And after the moment of sputtering honor, Andreyev flips the fuck out realizing he wasn’t recording the show. In an act of desperation, he begs the orchestra, crowd, and a new composer (the first one has a daffy accident) to re-perform Mozart for Stalin. And the totalitarian crudity trickles down – “Do not defy me! Sit your asses down! Just a musical emergency!”, Andreyev screams. And everyone mostly obliges, demeaned, because again: the shootings. Panic, terror, office politic silliness; the comedy’s in the last-minute flop-sweat.

What’s been written about as an era of fear of paranoia is reframed. Stalin may be a controversial revolutionary, but in Iannucci’s worldview, he’s just that damn old man everyone’s waiting on to croak. Stalin’s confidantes desperately pucker up, hoping to just not be placed on the naughty list. Vyacheslav Molotov (Michael Palin), a politician in Stalin’s circle, is on one such list, yet remains naively trusting. Melenkov (Jeffrey Tambor) is a sort-of-old friend that you’re embarrassed to have – terrible at jokes, politics, talking — but you never know when he’ll come in handy. Like when Beria (Simon Russell Beale), the country’s head of secret police, needs a patsy in case Stalin should fall. Statesman Nikita Khruschev (Steve Buscemi under a rubber nose) carries high esteem in Stalin’s world as well, perhaps because he takes notes of what he says in Stalin’s company, God forbid anything is ever used against him. Plus, remembering what Stalin found funny the night before never hurts. (Unless of course, Khruschev is drinking and the notes are terrible.)

Lots of names, details, and questionable historical accuracy, but just know this: They’re a legion of hapless suck-ups. And all curiously played by English and American actors. Because if you’re going to jest on Russian history, might as well go the full mile with a non-Russian cast, right? It’s a who’s-who of weasels, looking to claim the throne for Russia. When Stalin has a stroke, what ensues is the It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World of political gasses, a morass of greedy, nutty politicos desperate to rewrite history before the doctors, journalists, and public arrive.

Iannucci, working with writers David SchneiderIan Martin, and Peter Fellows (off an original script from Fabien Nury), has assembled something memorable, a satire almost jazzy in its riffs. The script feels like a great writers-room comedy, where only the leanest and meanest bits stay, and the most startling and intriguing ideas persist. It functions comedically and historically — the jokes have something to say about power.

It’s Ianucci’s fondness for political ego, along with his wonderful ear for derision, one-upsmanship, and swearing, that elevates Stalin’s game. Kruschev mocks a particularly awkward funeral director as “Slim Hitler” in one great bit. Molotov, riled that bishops are at Stalin’s funeral, acts like a mean girl. (“Who invited the bishops? Sneeze on those bastards!”) Word choices matter, and are just endlessly funny – a flaming body said to stink of rendered horse here, Stalin’s dim son referring to Russians as ‘adopted cubs’ there. Palin using the word ‘unwavering’ four times in a very short sentence? Straight out of Python, that kind of preening. The list goes on, comrade. But perhaps the most appealing quality of Ianucci’s film is that if you’re say, so-so on politics and/or history, those aren’t requirements for enjoying this film by any stretch.

Iannucci’s knack for the politics of ham-fisted politicking is an art in itself, worthy of high praise, and the script is this film’s mightiest dagger. This is a film about coups, secrets, back channels, and men shoving and bullying men. It has the nerve to mock shootings, rapists, and totalitarianism. Iannucci seems to suggest that all this cruel stuff comes down to men with too much authority admitting they have no clue what they’re mad about; at least several of Stalin’s guys make this admission. (It should be noted though, that Stalin has a glimmer of salty hope: time comes for all nitwits.) And that drubbing is what might make The Death of Stalin so special — the fact that it not only has teeth, but it feels apropos of any political era. But audiences, in this year of fake news and stymied global relations, get ready to feel uncomfortably close. This movie was banned in Russia, after all.

At the risk of waxing hyperbolic, Stalin really does feel like it could stand as a pre-eminent political comedy of our time. It’s almost too relatable. When our White House treats staff positions like musical chairs, there’s something ever-so-prescient about the NKVD’s human deletion and its leaders’ Pavlovian opportunism. When guys like Berlusconi refuse to bow out gracefully, and China looks to end term limits on presidency, and those among us are ‘joking’ about it, one watches Stalin in wonder. How the hell have we learned so little? One has to laugh. It’d hurt too much otherwise.