I am now reading Magical Mystery Tours - My Life with the Beatles by Tony Bramwell, who once served as their road manager. It's interesting; Bramwell was in their inner circle in the Liverpool days. He makes comments which cause me to think about the Beatles somewhat differently. For one, he points out that despite the fact that Liverpool is in England and that the Beatles spoke the Scouse dialect that most Liverpudlians spoke (so they therefore sounded English), it's more correct to think of John, Paul and George (John and Paul especially) as being Irish rather than English. They were ethnically Irish. I had read suggestion about this before elsewhere, but Bramwell makes a more convincing case of it. The only 100% Anglo-Saxon Beatle was Ringo; the other three were really transplanted Celts.
He also describes the phrase where, because of teenage acne, they started wearing what might be called stage makeup. Did the Beatles wear makeup? Well, sure they did - they were on stage - but it had never occurred to me since I can see no evidence of it in the photographs I have viewed countless times. George, being the youngest, was described as especially spotty. The Beatles wearing makeup... hmmm... years before David Bowie.
I'm making my way through the season 18 (the most recent) Top Gear episodes. Did you know that Swedish automaker SAAB went bankrupt last December? I didn't. As the feature pointed out, SAAB was always a rather funny kind of automaker. They had a "bonkers" ad campaign, which pointed out that the firm also made jets. How did this aeronautical expertise translate to cars? In no way that the Top Gear staff could find.
A guy I used to work with had a SAAB 900, but I don't recall whether or not it was the turbo-charged model, which is the one the Top Gear guys said was quite good. He liked it. We'd go to lunch in it every now and then, and I appreciated the differentness of it - the key was located on a console between the seats. But I couldn't get out of my mind the old joke my dad used to make, that "SAAB" was the sound the owner made when he saw the repair bill. My friend confirmed that repairs were indeed expensive. The car seemed solidly built - which was confirmed on Top Gear. They dropped a Volvo on some pavement from a height of eight feet and observed how the roof was crushed. Doing the same thing with a SAAB led to a different result; the roof pillars were unusually strong. The company was apparently pathological about safety, perhaps even more so than Volvo.
Some years ago during a few weeks of yard saling, when I was in the market for a convertible, I saw a SAAB 93 soft top for sale by owner. I was tempted... but... no, I thought of Dad's joke. (It's sort of like trying to judge Lizzie Borden fairly with that doggerel floating in your head all the while: Lizzie Borden took an ax/And gave her father forty whacks...) I'm happy with my convertible Bug.
I'm listening to the Kink Kronikles CDs; it's neat. The Kinks are great! It's like discovering the Who all over again. Ray Davies had the same sort of quirky, whimsical songwriting ability that Pete Townshend had. In fact, I'm wondering... how is it that Bob Dylan became known as the great rock songwriter of the 1960's? Why not Ray Davies (shown above)? Probably because Davies' songs are assertively English rather than American. One might fancy Bob Dylan sitting in a boxcar riding the rails playing an acoustic guitar - one couldn't do that with Ray Davies (or Pete Townshend). I suppose that's more authentically American and therefore lends credibility. To Americans.
I've blogged about this before, but I don't really care for Bob Dylan at all. His songs have been covered widely, but I don't see why, and he has an intensely annoying singing voice. I think Ray Davies and Joni Mitchell were better songwriters.
Last night Cari and I watched A Hot Dog Program (1999), one of those great Rick Sebak documentaries that PBS used to play during the summer, along with his ice cream and amusement park shows. (There's a diner documentary that goes with the series, but Sebak didn't do that one.) Sebak is credited as being the inventor of the public television nostalgia documentary. I credit him for my discovery of the Carl's Frozen Custard stand, in Fredericksburg; it was featured in his ice cream show. Whenever I'm driving up or down I-95 past it I try to stop in. I put Sebak's other works into my Netflix queue; I want to see them all before the end of summer.
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