Archives for posts with tag: Beatles

The college football season begins at the end of the month…and although I know we all spent the offseason not at the pool reading and doing crosswords but completely focused on the minutiae that is football 24/7. For those who decided to either get a life or leave the country briefly…:

Alabama starts where they finished. Again. The two-time defending National Champs begin 2013 ranked #1. Bad omen? The Crimson Tide began 2011 #1…and that’s the only time in the last four years they didn’t go on to win the title. As serious as they are down there, I’m surprised Tide fans didn’t try to stuff the ballot box for other teams.

Johnny Manziel is in a heap of hurt. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner has been a magnet of attention this past offseason…from living up the celebrity role like few college athletes can (his family is loaded) to allegedly signing autographs for cash. Partying at the University of Texas in Austin (an insult to Longhorn fans because they think they’re too good to hang out with Aggies…and an insult to Aggie fans because why would he want to hang with those snobs instead of his own kind?). Tweeting how he can’t wait to leave College Station. I’m surprised Manziel didn’t challenge the devil himself to a fiddling contest. All while the rest of the SEC lies in wait…

Introducing the American Athletic Conference (of America). The broken pieces of the Big East added a few schools from Conference USA–and like the Beatles album “Yesterday and Today” that didn’t really exist in the UK…a league is born. No butcher cover here–this is a conference I’m sure many will not care about. Two schools already have their bags packed for the ACC (Louisville) and Big Ten (Rutgers). I hope they use velcro on the league flag.

Speaking of changes, the ACC is “Now with 17% more!” as Syracuse and Pitt join the league this fall. The Orange caught fire after one of their favorite alums watched them rally past South Florida on Halloween weekend…and the Panthers still haven’t been the same since they ditched the Tony Dorsett/Dan Marino era royal blue jerseys with gold helmets and script “Pitt” as opposed to “PITT”. Just what ACC football needs…two schools that have won national titles but haven’t won 10 regular season games since the Reagan Administration. But don’t get that ACC Map tattoo just yet–the league adds Louisville (after the Cardinals load up on American Athletic Conference swag) while waving goodbye to founding member Maryland. And that’s not including the league allowing Notre Dame to stay married to its independence while treating the ACC like a cheap mistress for its “needs” in sports it doesn’t make a ton of cash in.

Maryland looks to turn the corner in Coach Randy Edsall’s third year…and after 2011’s surprise implosion and last fall’s injury riddled stagger, six wins and a bowl before the Terps go into the Big Ten would be beyond huge. Lightning rod Stefon Diggs returns to provide thrills and chills at Byrd Stadium…the only question being who will be his big play partner? Quarterback CJ Brown is back after missing 2012 with a torn ACL…while transfer Ricardo Young already is familiar with Coordinator Mike Locksley’s offense. The much maligned offensive line of last year (39 sacks allowed, 2.6 yards per carry) needs to gel better this fall…and the defense needs to make more big plays (4 interceptions, 16 fumble recoveries and 28 sacks). The schedule plays in a manner that would lead one to believe November will be nail-biting as the Terrapins zero in on six wins.

Virginia couldn’t decide last year if Phillip Sims or Michael Rocco would own the quarterback job…and this year the Cavaliers won’t have that decision to make as Sims is at Division II Winston-Salem State and Rocco landed at Richmond. Instead-Coach Mike London’s hopes rest on a trio of redshirt freshmen. Door number one is David Watford…who completed 41% of 74 passes two years ago. Door number two is Greyson Lambert…who sounds like he wears an ascot underneath his uniform. Door number three is Matt Johns…whose grandfather Tom Schreiner played for Gettysburg. Maybe he was in Phi Gam with my Uncle Jeff.

Virginia Tech tries to bounce back from an uncharacteristic six loss season where special teams were a far cry from the BEAMER BALL! of old…Thursday Night turned from Hokie Heaven to Hokie Hell…the defense was gashed with numbing regularity and VT needed to beat Boston College in overtime and Virginia by a field goal to keep its bowl streak alive. Logan Thomas is back…and the offense has been spruced up accordingly. Alabama (yes, the #1 Crimson Tide) awaits August 31st.

The fall of 1967 meant awaiting the Christmas offerings of the Beatles and Rolling Stonesto much disappointment. “Magical Mystery Tour” was merely an EP that served as a soundtrack to the Fab Four’s first misstep–a drug enduced home movie that shocked many and confused more on Boxing Day…while “Their Satanic Majesties Request” saw what happened when the Rolling Stones tried to imitate “Sgt. Pepper” instead of “Aftermath”–a psychedelic journey that never really began or ended with a Bill Wyman song to boot. Nobody expected greatness from a has-been band almost named after a brewery just a few years before. But that’s what they got with the Moody Blues “Days of Future Passed”.

A revamped lineup, a change of musical focus and consecutive singles that fail to chart is not the ideal way for a musical group to rebound from a two-year slump. Although neither “Fly Me High” nor “Love and Beauty” made a dent in the UK top 20, Deram Records thought they had something– guinea pigs. Recording at the time was making the move into stereo…and the label thought it would be great to have a demo of what stereo would sound like with classical and modern music. So naturally, they asked the Moody Blues to record and adaptation of Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9. Kind of like an aspiring painter asked to reproduce something they saw in art class, but with different paints to show off a new canvas.

Fortunately for the group, they were writing quite a bit of new material while touring in Belgium…and were able to narrow the fruits of their creativity into a song cycle about “a day in the life”. Mike Pinder had sat in on one of the Sgt. Pepper sessions for that Beatles song–and perhaps that got things rolling. But it wasn’t just Pinder who contributed songs: Hayward, Lodge and Thomas also wrote while Graeme Edge composed the two poems that bookend the album:

“Cold hearted orb that rules the night…remove the colors from our sight. Red is grey and yellow white…but we decide which is right. And which is an illusion…”

The spoken word poems, however goofy-sounding at times (and depending on your mood they range from profound to downright ridiculous) hold key posts in the groups first five “core” albums (with grunting emerging in their sixth)…setting the table (In Search of the Lost Chord’s “Departure”) or providing a finishing statement (A Question of Balance’s “The Balance”). In Days similar verses open and end a journey through the day.

It was a marriage of rock and classical music like none other. Peter Knight directed the “London Festival Orchestra” to fill the gaps in between songs moving through different day parts. The opening track “Day Begins” touches on different melodies we’ll hear later on the album…and the orchestral pieces mesh perfectly with the songs. Credit producer Tony Clarke with fitting the two genres in tandem.

“Dawn is a Feeling” wakes up the listener to the possibilities of the day ahead…even sneaking in a subtle narcotic hint (“the smell of grass just makes you pass into a dream”)…Hayward and Pinder trading verses and bridges. Justin’s sunshiny pleasantness would provide the Yin to Mike’s soul-searching Yang over the next seven years. “Another Morning” offers the double-tracked voice of Ray Thomas (also known as the dancing machine in the group’s “Ride My See Saw” video”) and no question about it, the Moodies’ flautist vocally dances through whimsical lyrics “a palace is an orange box”…with the key line “time seems to stand quite still–in a child’s world it always will”. “Peak Hour” brings John Lodge into the mix with a up-tempo rocker that ends the first side that showcases Graeme Edge’s accelerating drum solo that instantly makes one think of his intro “I’m Just a Singer (in a rock and roll band)” five years later.

“Tuesday Afternoon” opens side two with the hypnotic combination of Mellotron/bass for the first few bars…and by the time Hayward’s vocal starts and the guitar and drums kick in, the listener is lost in an audio undertow. “Evening (Time to Get Away)” lets us know Lodge has a falsetto in his arsenal and isn’t afraid to use it. “Sunset/Twilight Time” juxtaposes Pinder and Thomas effectively. Booming drums with an Oriental flavor set the tone underneath Mike’s initial vocal…and then Ray’s flute answers the Mellotron in between the verses. After Hayward’s guitar plays the introductory note to “Twilight Time” Thomas’ fall away jumper of a vocal boasts the lyrical gem “an aerial display of a firefly brigade…dancing to tunes no one knew”.

The final song remains 46 years later the group’s signature tune…”Nights in White Satin”. Reportedly inspired when he received satin sheets as a gift, Justin Hayward captures the heart of chances not taken (“letters I’ve written, never meaning to send”)…before being given confidence from Pinder’s Mellotron to declare his feelings. Thomas’ flute enters side by side with Lodge’s bass and Hayward’s acoustic guitar as support during the bridge. A tidal wave of emotion crashes with each line…and for a guy who was only meaning to send letters, Hayward delivers “I love you” no fewer than 15 times before the orchestra kicks in. I hope he bought forever stamps.

“Nights in White Satin” would chart three separate times (#19 in 1967, #9 in 1972 and #14 in 1979) in the UK and reach #2 in the US in 1972 (topping the charts in Canada that year) while taking #1 in the “Cashbox Chart” (the ESPN/USA Today Poll to Billboard’s AP) the same year. “Nights” would serve as scene-setters for movies set in the 1960’s like “Bobby” and “A Bronx Tale” while showing up in “Deuce Bigelow: European Gigelo”. TV shows from “Fringe” to “Two and a Half Men” would use “Nights” for emphasis.

Titled “Days of Future Passed”–and often misspelled “Past”–by the record company (the last time that would happen for the Moodies)…the album would see moderate success in the homeland (#27) while taking off on this side of the Atlantic (#3 in the US and Canada)…and the Moodies would make more than a few trips to America over the next few years. The album’s success ended a two-year descent and gave the group a blueprint they’d go back to six more times over the next four years.

Coming Up Next–How did they lose the chord in the first place?