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.

The official video is accessible in youtube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AABK5eY1DGc.

A harrowing live version of this song performed at the turn of the century at the Madison Square Garden is in this link – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa_7cuGMIGg. 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


http://www.myusyk.com came out 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. But let’s go through the six-minuter youtube to get to the countdown. Here’s the youtube – http://www.myusyk.com/video/1703/top-ten-saddest-beatles-songs/

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

The Top Twenty Cheesiest McCartney Rhyming Couplets – McCartney Article #8.

Now the thing that bugs me in his songwriting is not bad lyrics, no, it’s his insistence on making sure things rhyme for the sake of rhyming within the internal logic of the song. Whats worse is how much of a poet, and fan of poetry, I know Paul is. So he knows things don’t have to rhyme to work or make sense, but Christ does he force some of these in. I’m not saying that any of the songs featured on this list are bad just because of the occasional bad lyric. On the contrary, Paul is the master of throwing a few words in to make a song to make a fantastic riff work; see ‘Oo You’ from McCartney (1970).

Look folks, you all know I love McCartney and I would never intentionally knock him down and spread a genuine sense of hate. This is just a fun little dig at some of Paul’s laziest, lamest and most trite, for the sake of it, rhyming couplets in his songwriting. When you write over 500 songs it is inevitable that not every lyric is going to be a home run, and I’m sure Paul is more than aware that some of his words are not exactly Chaucer.

So what this article is here to do is point out the times where Paul really probably should have gone back to the drawing board.

paul writing 3
Here goes nothing…

  • “Like a castle needs a tower, like a garden needs a flower. Like a second needs an hour, like a raindrop needs a shower.”– ‘Waterfalls’ (McCartney II – 1980).
    This first entry comes from my good friend and fellow podcaster, Mr Tom Kwei (check out Alphabetallica), during his research for our upcoming McCartney II episode. The aptly named ‘Waterfalls’ shows us some of Paul’s most wet drip lyricism to date. Yes, we know this guy likes to rhyme all the time (see what I did there?) but the sheer number of phrases to rhyme with tower, seems more like a forced list than anything natural.
  • “Oh honey pie my position is tragic. Come and show me the magic. Of your Hollywood song.”– ‘Honey Pie’ (The White Album – 1968).
    You didn’t think Paul’s days in the Beatles were beyond reproach did you? Whilst the podcast itself may never tackle The Fab Four, this blog has no such restrictions. Honey Pie is the epitome of Paul’s granny music in this era, and whilst he is working within the restrictions of the genre, this one has always bugged me since my early teens.
  • “I know I was a crazy fool for treating you the way I did. But something took hold of me and I acted like a dustbin lid”– ‘The Other Me’ (Pipes of Peace – 1983).
    The latest entrant to this list is an infamously popular one to bash on internet forums, yet comes from a song that is still surprisingly enjoyable. Who knew? Now, fortunately for me this lyric is the very first verse so Paul get’s it out of the way nice and fast, so by the time you hit the chorus you forget all about that stupid dustbin lid.
  • ‘Ooh baby, you wouldn’t have found a more down hero. If you’da started at nothing and counted to zero.’– ‘Arrow Through Me’ (Back to the Egg– 1979).
    To me this song is one of the most crystal clear images in my mind where Paul is tapping his lip with him pencil going “hmmmm, what rhymes with hero”. Like maybe he wrote himself into a corner with this one, but there seems little effort to get himself out of it.
  • “Like gravy, down to the last drop, I keep mopping her up, yeah yeah yeah, she’s my baby”. – ‘She’s My Baby’ (Wings at the Speed of Sound – 1976)
    Now I know Paul is a multi-millionaire, who by 1976 is probably losing his connection with regular people and how they really speak to one another. But in what country, on what planet would your lover, your baby, want to be compared to gravy, which is described as thus by Google…“a sauce made by mixing the fat and juices exuded by meat during cooking with stock and other ingredients”. Classy Paul, real classy. Especially when he and his partner were vegetarian at the time. paul in jamica
  • “You gave me the answer to love eternally. I love you, and, you seem to like me”– ‘You Gave Me The Answer’ (Venus and Mars – 1964).
    Yet again, we have another McCartney track whereby the idea that he is writing a song from the 1920’s seems to take away from solid lyricism. Songs from that time were corny and cheesy but that doesn’t mean it excuses you from writing something with a little more clout. Just because something is meant to be twee doesn’t mean you have to accept it. I mean, look at ‘English Tea’ and you will see what I mean.

  • “Don’t you know that inside. There’s a love you can’t hide. So why do you fight that feeling in your heart?”– ‘Lazy Dynamite’ (Red Rose Speedway – 1973).
    The first, and certainly not the last, song from the Red Rose Speedway medley. We all know that this song was written in one hell of a rush, probably on the back of a napkin, but wow he really doesn’t try to hide that fact does he?
  • “Oh, baby, don’t let me down tomorrow. Holding hands we both abandon sorrow.” – ‘Tomorrow’ (Wild Life – 1972).
    This one makes the list as it is just such a fine example of the audience being able to, with 100% accuracy, guess what rhyming words Paul will use to piece the song together. Now later on in the song he rhymes ‘tomorrow‘ with ‘beg and steal and borrow‘, which sounded much better in my opinion and felt like it fit much more naturally.

  • “Say you don’t love him, my salamander. Why do you need him? Oh no don’t answer”.– ‘Getting Closer’ (Back to the Egg – 1979)
    What a way to start off the album Paul. We know that ol’Macca has a love of silly and nonsensical lyrics but who want’s to be someones salamander? Yes, this could be a specific nickname that would make no sense unless you were in the relationship. I just can’t help but feel like he is pushing us to be irritated by him. We also, all know that Paul uses placeholder lyrics whilst writing a song, but here it feels like a clear cut case of him not bother to swap out the placeholders at all.
  • “Well the night was beautiful and mellow, mellow. And the light of the night fell on me, fell on me. You Said Right, Made Me A Happy Fellow, Fellow” – When the Night (Red Rose Speedway – 1973).
    Whilst working on the podcast I distinctly remember just finishing my original notes for ‘Tomorrow’ and then minutes later hearing Paul sing the word ‘mellow‘. And I’m sat there just praying that he didn’t rhyme it with ‘fellow‘ and then my heart sank as played directly into my expectations.paul writing 5
  • “Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh Lord, why won’t we?” – Ebony and Ivory – (Tug of War – 1982)
    Any remotely negative list of Paul McCartney’s music is bound to contain this much reviled collaboration with Stevie Wonder. I almost couldn’t resist. The one thing that bugs me about this line, in particular, is that it actually doesn’t make sense. White and black keys played next to each other don’t actually harmonise, whoops. Though they do work when played together in a chord, and the fact that he could have addressed that and still have chord rhyme with keyboard feels like a massive missed opportunity.
  • “Black, white, green, red. Can I take my friend to bed?”– ‘All Together Now’ (Yellow Submarine 1968).
    This one has always been more of a pet peeve than anything. Following the logical progression found in the first verse, aka “one, two, three, four, can I have a little more?”, which in the childish, simple nature of the song fits quite well. This is then followed by some obvious on the spot rhyming. Can I take my friend to bed? It seems woefully out of place, unless it was meant to be subversive or something.
  • “You’re my baby and I love you. You can take a pound of love and cook it in the stew.” – ‘Spirits of Ancient Egypt’ (Venus and Mars – 1975).
    Now I already hear a bunch of you screaming “but thats a Denny Laine song”, well firstly I must respond by saying he and Paul share a songwriting credit on this track, and to think that all Wings lyrics don’t have to be first pre-approved by Paul would be naive. Paul, undoubtably, must shoulder some of the blame for this one.
  • “Woah. She looks like snow, I want to put her on a Broadway show”.– ‘Letting Go’ (Venus and Mars – 1975)
    Those stage lights on Broadway are pretty hot Paul, are you sure you want someone who reminds of you of snow under that kind of heat? Look, no one ever thinks when they look at their partner that they want them on Broadway. But saying he wants them to be in a movie or on the catwalk wouldn’t rhyme!!!
  • “You won’t be going out tonight, candlelight. Make love to me and make it right” –  ‘Hold Me Tight’ (Red Rose Speedway – 1973)
    Poor Red Rose Speedway you really are taking a beating today aren’t you? And for good reason. This is the album that is most widely associated with Paul smoking far too much weed for his own good, so when you combine that with bashing out a medley to end an album in a single cigarette break, it just comes across as painfully lazy and underdeveloped.paul-writing-2.jpg
  • “I am the Backwards Traveller, lazy wool unraveller”– ‘Backwards Traveller’ (London Town – 1978)
    An unfinished song, with an unfinished lyric that makes no sense. Enough said.
  • “Ooh ooh what do you do, no one else can dance like you. So what’s all the fuss, there ain’t nobody thats spies like us.”– ‘Spies Like Us’ (Non-album single – 1985).
    I’ve truly cannot remember anything about this song, and with lyrics like this I really don’t intend to listen to it again to remind myself. Another widely hated McCartney song, ‘Spies Like Us’ feels far too much like a song for hire with words that rhyme than anything with any sense of heart or thought behind it.
  • “Sleeping on a pillow, weeping on a willow, leaping armadillo, yeah”. – ‘Big Barn Bed’ (Red Rose Speedway – 1973)
    Big Barn Bed is easily one of my favourite songs from Red Rose Speedway, and to this day it is still one of the best opening tracks from the Wings discography. Now for a song spawned from the RAM recording sessions to be sullied by this completely throwaway series of mindless babble really does the song a disservice and is a clear indicator of the different writing styles between the two albums. Note that there are no songs from RAM on this list, just saying.
  • “The pound is sinking. The peso’s falling. The lira’s reeling. And feeling quite appalling”. – ‘The Pound is Sinking’ (Tug of War – 1982)
    Aside from the fact that ‘quite’ is a weak word to use in songwriting, again, this just feels like Paul is sat, hunched over his writing desk, straining to try and find words that are going to fit this pattern. A song with Paul talking about economics should be intriguing, but it ultimately comes across as awfully trite which saps any true resonance and meaning in the listener.

  • “There was a girl who loved a biker. She used to follow him across America. But the biker didn’t like her”.–  ‘Biker Like An Icon’ (Off The Ground – 1993)
    As mentioned in my latest podcast (London Town, check it out if you haven’t already), my guest Maurice Bursztynski, pointed out that the songs on the list of B-sides from Off The Ground were better than the actual album. And with lyrics like this it is becoming increasingly more difficult to disagree with him.
    paul writing 4
  • So there we have it folks. That was my list of the 20 most trite, most annoying most enragingly obvious attempts by Macca at forcing his rhyme scheme agenda. Were there any rhyming couplets, or just bad lyrics in general that I have missed? If so, then please leave a comment or drop me an email to let me know which lyrics rub you the wrong way.


Be Here Now Turns 20

Ryan Leas | August 18, 2017 – 2:16 pm

Be Here Now was the beginning of the end for Oasis. You know the story: Going into 1997, the Gallagher brothers were larger than life, unstoppable. In their native England, they were critically respected and massively successful commercially, having become the rock ‘n’ roll stars they once sang about becoming, but also becoming tabloid-fodder fixtures in the center of the era’s pop mainstream. They talked a big game, but they could back it up with the combination of Liam’s aura as a frontman — which was some unholy synthesis of force-of-nature vocals, laconic cool, and (then-amusing) boorishness — and Noel’s seemingly endless well of ingenious songwriting turns. Be Here Now didn’t just expose fallibility within Oasis — it veered right into it. The band was never quite the same, and their legacy was on its way to being cemented as an uneven one: generation-defining masterpieces in the beginning, followed by a jagged trail of oversized egos, streaks of mediocrity, and latter-day work that was surprisingly strong without being able to recapture the lightning-in-a-bottle moments of their Britpop youth.

There was an uncontrollable, feverish anticipation ahead of Be Here Now, the likes of which scan as almost entirely illegible in today’s world. People lining up to the buy the album on release day, a label aggressively trying to control the album’s rollout but with actual power. It was something of a foregone conclusion that the successor to 1995’s (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? would, naturally, be another brilliant record continuing to define the times. Contrary to the reputation it’s accrued over the years, Be Here Now was initially, and briefly, met with hyperbolic praise. Backlash followed; there are anecdotes of record-store used bins supposedly filling up with quickly abandoned copies of the album.

In the two decades since, Noel has spent all sorts of time dissecting what went wrong. He’s spent time disowning the album outright, or saying they shouldn’t have made an album at all at that juncture, owning up to it being a work primarily inspired by cocaine abuse and runaway egos, or acknowledging that there could’ve been a record in there, if it could be reined in. At one point, there was some talk of re-editing the whole thing for a reissue, but Noel only got as far as opener “D’You Know What I Mean?” before giving up and/or losing interest.

Be Here Now was part of a larger moment in Britpop. After the genre’s heady peak in 1994 and 1995, when its principal artists all released the defining albums of the era, the late ’90s found the whole thing wavering as these same principal artists released albums that signaled Britpop’s depleted comedown. They took various forms, but the final ’90s releases from the major players were all big albums in some form — even Blur and Pulp, who made some of their weirder, darker, and most insular music during this era with albums like BlurThis Is Hardcore, and 13, were making long, sprawling works. Ancillary figures like the Verve and Spiritualized released albums like Urban Hymns and Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, albums overflowing with ideas.

Tonally, though, there’s something about Be Here Now that makes it a signature album of the times. Bloated and maximalist to a cartoonish degree, it was like the party that was so over-the-top that it almost necessitated the bleary-eyed companions provided by Spiritualized and Pulp and Blur. It’s the kind of album that highlights the end of an era because it essentially embodies the question “How can we possibly keep going on like this?”

Since its release, Be Here Now’s reputation has basically been that it’s an abject disaster. The reasons are well-catalogued at this point. Its blatant excess, the coked-out power trip of it all. It was one thing for Noel to brazenly storm out with Definitely Maybe and Morning Glory?when he had the arsenal of hooks to back it up. In comparison, many moments on Be Here Now feel overwrought in their hugeness but also vacuous and limp. The band sounds tired, even as they try to stampede through one of those albums that could only be made by people with too much money and too many resources (primarily of a chemical sort). Sometimes these moments in artist’s career can result in masterpieces, too, or at least flawed albums shot through with fractured brilliance that can earn them a cult status. But there’s a reason Oasis sound tired on Be Here Now — the bigness they’re trying to wield mostly settles into a murk, an overdriven flood of too much information fitting for the times but not in the most creatively productive way.

The ways in which Be Here Now is overwrought are obvious. Every song is too long, sometimes excruciatingly so, sounding almost like a young band who simply doesn’t know how to end a song rather than someone who just thinks their shit is so good it needs to go on that long. The amount of random sounds and overdubs is ludicrous, pointless since it rarely adds anything, and sometimes detrimental given the added weight bogs down songs that should be able to move and impact more. It’s insane that a song like “Magic Pie” goes on for almost seven minutes when, stupid name aside, it could’ve had an effectively dramatic payoff in half that time. It’s insane that straightforward, hooky rock songs like “My Big Mouth” and “I Hope, I Think, I Know” seem to be fighting against themselves to keep up their pace, like ships that have taken on too much water. It’s insane that the final stretch of Be Here Now plays like Oasis is figuring out how to conclude the album, right there in real time, letting “All Around The World” drag on interminably, then switching gears to a rocker with “It’s Getting’ Better (Man!!)” and then — because why the hell not?! — going back to “All Around The World” for two more minutes. If everything had been edited just a little bit, it could’ve been as climactic a finale as the band intended, even with “All Around The World” barreling headlong into cloying Beatles-ripoff mode.


And that gets at a subtler and more damaging shift Oasis underwent with Be Here Now, one that lasted through much of the rest of their career. When Noel first arrived on the scene, he was as indebted to the Smiths and Stones Roses as he was to the Beatles and Stones; he talked about how much he loved the Las and Love’s Forever Changes. But as moments like “All Around The World” evidenced, Oasis had become too enamored with the idea of themselves being in that classic rock pantheon.

Sure, Noel had jacked T. Rex riffs (among other things) in the past, but that fell under the old “genius steals” trope. Now, it felt like pastiche, between shamelessly Beatlesesque melodies and the overwhelming fixation on classic rock reference points littering the album. “Be Here Now” is a George Harrison song. Liam sings, “Sing a song for me/ One from Let It Be” on that same track. The Rolls Royce in the pool on Be Here Now’s cover references tales of the Who’s Keith Moon and his penchant for crashing expensive cars into pools. And the stacked Dylan/Beatles quotes in “D’You Know What I Mean?” (“The blood on the tracks, and they must be mine/ The fool on the hill, and I feel fine”) are embarrassing, the kind of wordplay a teenager might write upon first discovering those classic albums. Liam actually says “helter skelter” on “Fade In-Out,” another Beatles track that Oasis also covered. You know, in case you’ve missed the point.

Between that and their aging out — or, at least, Liam’s — into a caricature of what they once were, Be Here Now began the process of Oasis going from a vital young group to an establishment acting out ideas of the past. It was a quick process, with the band never really coming back entirely from the backlash against Be Here Now, their first two albums looming over everything they did in the future.

The thing that’s a shame about all this is that Be Here Now isn’t as bad as all that stuff would suggest. Amongst the tangled mess of it all, there are some real gems. “D’You Know What I Mean?” is representative of the album in many ways — the aforementioned lyrics, random sounds for no exact reasons (though the Morse code thing sounds kinda cool), and a mythologized amount of guitar tracks, supposedly numbering in the dozens. But it’s also a moment where Oasis running wild worked, a towering and enveloping opener ranking well amongst their history of strong openers.

“Fade In-Out” is a pretty uncharacteristic Oasis song — it sounds like a hallucinogenic experience in the American West — but the journey is worth it when the song crests into its most intense moments. (Plus, Johnny Depp plays slide on it, and this was back when Depp was still cool, so there’s a great bit of ’90s lore baked into the song.) The title track is a grungey sing-song overload, but it’s also infectious. If you can get past some of the inane lyrics — which, if you’ve gotten this far with Oasis, you probably can — it’s one of the most enjoyable songs on the album. There’s also the basic fact that Be Here Now is still a ’90s Oasis album, and even though it’s loaded up with all sorts of craziness, it’s still in that songwriting vein. That alone makes it better and more enduring than some of what’s come later.

Nevertheless, the high points and counter-narratives you can locate in Be Here Now were not enough to save the band from a fall from grace. They of course remained popular throughout their remaining years, and an Oasis reunion would no doubt be a big, headline-every-festival deal with many millions of dollars behind it. But the prevailing story, the established Oasis legacy for the moment, is that this was their Icarus moment. They got way too carried away, then crash-landed into a kind of holding pattern. Many fans write off anything that came after Be Here Nowwhich is unfortunate — there is worthwhile music from each of their albums, and they particularly rebounded in their latter years with 2005’s Don’t Believe The Truth and 2008’s Dig Out Your Soul. The ironic part is that those last two releases were more creative and legitimate interpretations of the classic rock canon than Be Here Now could have ever been.

Perhaps that’s because Be Here Now is also inherently a creature of the ’90s. Not only the turning point for Oasis or a warning sign of Britpop’s impending collapse, it’s also a blown-out rock album arriving at the end of decades of rock’s pop dominance. Of course, it’s not self-aware in that capacity. These were the halcyon days of the ’90s. Post-Cold War, pre-9/11, pre-recession. Bands like Oasis were raking in money from CD sales. There were resources, there was the newest cutting-edge technology.

This isn’t unique to music, either. Be Here Now is like the Star Wars prequels of classic rock. Sure, it might seem like a good idea to revisit the things that were great in decades past, now with new technology and new cultural movements with which to filter and play with it. That first Star Wars prequel — arriving two years after Be Here Now — is emblematic of an era of big-budget movies full of ill-advised CGI madness because it was the first time they could do that. In the same way, Be Here Now sounds like a big-budget flop, too, its overstuffed recording the equivalent of a movie laden with unnecessary special effects that don’t age well. It’s the sound of “because we can” not “because we should.”

When you add all that up, this is why Be Here Now sounds like a kind of last bellowing gasp of some idea of classic rock stardom. But it’s rooted specifically in the excess of the ’90s. The ’70s are full of double albums both deluded and radiant, they are full of albums with dramatic, expensive, drug-fueled origin stories that seem like pure fiction today. Yet there doesn’t feel as if there’s a direct precedent, in reality, for things like Be Here Now or other monuments of the ’90s where nobody was around to tell an artist they couldn’t or shouldn’t do something — whether that something resulted in rewarding works of respectable ambition (say, Smashing Pumpkins’ best albums) or whether it resulted in something like Be Here Now. This is the kids acting out a (maybe imagined?) cliché in rock’s final dominant hour. It’s fitting that Noel injected Be Here Now with so many classic rock references: The whole thing is like a final postmodern echo of some idea of the big, ambitious classic rock album, dressed up with contemporary bells and whistles that mostly amounted to clouding noise.

Here’s where Be Here Now, and Oasis in general, get consigned to layers of the past. The album was already portraying some received idea of classic rock excess. Twenty years later, it’s hard to imagine a respected and beloved band putting out albums anything like this — a not-insignificant reason being that the industry and the cultural landscape wouldn’t really allow for it on a practical level. Today’s rock bands, even the big ones, aren’t monolithic like Oasis were. Yet while means and atmosphere are factors, there’s also the issue of disposition. Can you imagine a rock band thinking and acting like Oasis today and being taken seriously? Can you imagine a rock band thinking they had the clout to burn, to the extent that they could even get to a point like Be Here Now? Overall, things are probably better in an era where rock artists are a little savvier, aware of the follies and pitfalls of their forebears. At the same time, there’s something transportative about a rock record like Be Here Now, something so over the top, so deranged and grandiose. It feels as if it only could have existed in that moment, in the late ’90s, making it a fascinating relic not just for the end of the Britpop era or Oasis, but for the pop decline of rock music as a whole.


Eddie Vedder: Pearl Jam Lead Singer ‘Better Man’ in 1989 – Rolling Stone

What a find, what a gem!


By Andy Greene, 2 days ago

Two years before joining Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder fronted the San Diego rock band Bad Radio. The group had a decent local following, but they never recorded anything besides a handful of demos and after a couple of years Vedder grew frustrated by their lack of progress. “We’d win ‘battle of the bands’ on intensity alone, but it was coming from me,” he later said. “I couldn’t get anybody else to give up their fucking bullshit. As far as songs and stuff, they weren’t reading, they weren’t living. They knew how big [Mötley Crüe drummer] Tommy Lee’s new drum kit was, but, you know, fuck that.”

The band did have at least one song in their repertoire that could have been a huge hit under the right circumstances: “Better Man.” Vedder wrote the song in high school and fiddled around with it for years, likely inspired by his desire to see his mother leave his stepfather for someone he deemed a better match. Bad Radio never recorded the song in the studio, but you can watch them play it at a 1989 gig right here. It’s nowhere near as powerful as the rendition that Pearl Jam eventually released, but the core of the song is definitely there.

Vedder would be in Pearl Jam for four years before he finally relented and let them release the song. After seeing early tracks like “Jeremy,” “Even Flow” and “Alive” blow up rock radio and MTV, he was very reluctant to put out another song with such obvious mass appeal. A rendition was cut for Vs in 1993 that producer Brendan O’Brien was anxious to include on the album, but it wouldn’t happen until they cut Vitalogy the next year. Even then though the group didn’t officially release it as a single, it still climbed to #1 on the Mainstream Rock Chart.

Pearl Jam has played the song in concert over 500 times, and it was one of four tunes they played during their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony set earlier this year. Clearly, Vedder no longer feels reservations about the song. He’d probably just rather nobody watch him play it with Bad Radio back in 1989, but in the era of YouTube that just isn’t possible.

One by Warren Haynes of Govt Mule

Two years ago, SuperGrunt007 asked, “When something is good why cover it?” Then he also answered his own question, “This is why.”

Mark Sperry, a month ago, contributed, “sometimes it’s not about the song. sometimes it’s about artist who delivers it.”

One who comes to mind in answer to Mark Sperry is Ray Charles. But that’s for another day.

Govt Mule

In this genre of jam bands, Govt Mule ranks second to the Grateful Dead for me. I was looking for some good music to download this morning and I found five full concerts of the band early this year. And these include Beatles covers.

Here is the one available in youtube, And Your Bird Can Sing.

And here are She Said, She Said and Tomorrow Never Knows. Govt Mule does what the Grateful Dead with Bob Dylan songs before – stretch them with beautiful guitar solos.