“Ding Dong Ding Dong” is a well-forgotten single by George Harrison from his Dark Horse album of 1974, it brings his characteristic solo sound to a New Year’s flavored tune. Lyrically it’s no great shakes, but it serves the purpose, and the combination of George’s trademark slide guitar with church bell chimes still sounds unique years later. The song was a modest hit when it was released (peaking at #36 in the US, #38 in the UK, and #31 in Germany), and continues to get airplay during the Christmas season. A video was made, in which – as the song’s lyrics suggest – George “rang out the old”: he laughs at his Beatle past, appearing in a grey collarless suit and playing his Rickenbacker 12-string guitar.
Please enjoy this video of George Harrison‘s, “Ding Dong Ding Dong.”
Tonight’s video clip is from the Beatles. In 1995 the band released both a video and audio anthology of unreleased material. Additionally however, the three living members, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr worked in the recording studio for the first time since the band a broke up in 1970 and produced a new Beatles song. Even more impressively, they actually utilized an unreleased demo tape of John Lennon’s and mixed it with their own contributions so as to create a truly new Beatles song with all four members playing thereon.
That was not all, however. The Beatles even released a new music video for the song which is truly amazing to behold. It looks just like the videos they released in 1967 for Strawberry Fields ForeverPenny Lane. It is mesmerizing to watch the melding of video footage of the band members meandering through a fantasy world reflecting their lives and song catalog. See how many clues to their earlier songs you can find in this video and have some fun.
William Everett “Billy” Preston (September 2, 1946 – June 6, 2006) was an American soul musician from Houston, Texas, raised mostly in Los Angeles, California. In addition to his successful, Grammy-winning career as a solo artist, Preston collaborated with some of the greatest names in the music industry, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Nat King Cole, Little Richard, Eric Burdon, Ray Charles, George Harrison, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke, King Curtis, Sammy Davis Jr., Sly Stone, Aretha Franklin, the Jackson 5, Quincy Jones, Mick Jagger, Richie Sambora, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. He played the Fender Rhodes electric piano and the Hammond organ on the Beatles’ Get Back sessions in 1969.
Preston along with Tony Sheridan are the only two non-Beatles to receive billing as an artist alongside the Beatles (as distinct from receiving credit as a session musician on album packaging) on an official Beatles record release. The label of the Get Back single credits the artists on the record as The Beatles with Billy Preston.
Signed to the Beatles’ Apple label, in 1969, Preston released the album That’s the Way God Planned It and a single of the same name (produced by George Harrison). His relationship with Harrison continued after the breakup of The Beatles; he was the first artist to record “My Sweet Lord”, in his album Encouraging Words (Harrison’s own version of the single hit number one in the U.S. and the UK and was the first number one by a former Beatle after they disbanded) and he was on several of Harrison’s 1970s solo albums. Preston also made notable contributions to The Concert for Bangladesh, the Harrison-organized charity concert, toured with Harrison on his 1974 tour of North America and, after Harrison’s death, The Concert for George. Preston also worked on solo recordings by two other ex-Beatles, John Lennon and Ringo Starr. Sadly, he passed away in 2006.
This video clip is a rousing rendition of That’s The Way God Planned It from the 1971 Concert For Bangladesh. Take note of George Harrison’s white suit and stylish hairdo.
Oh, what the heck. Let’s go with some more solo Beatles stuff tonight. This time it is George Harrison and “This Song”.
“This Song” is the fourth track on George Harrison’s 1976 album Thirty Three & 1/3. It was written after the week Harrison spent in a New York courtroom, unsuccessfully trying to convince a judge that his 1970 song, “My Sweet Lord”, did not intentionally infringe the 1963 Chiffons hit, “He’s So Fine”. According to Harrison, the prosecution got ridiculously in-depth, breaking “My Sweet Lord” down into several melody lines, or “motifs”, as they referred to them. Apparently, the prosecution also drew up several charts with large musical notes on it to prove their point.
After he lost the case, Harrison wrote “This Song”, which released his frustration of the infringement case in the form of an uptempo, piano-driven boogie. It is fun to listen to as the lyrics describe that he has written this song without any influence from anything in the world so as not to be sued again. In short, Harrison pokes fun at the court for ruling that a Beatle would need to steal material from a relatively unknown band.
“This Song” was released as the leadoff single for Thirty Three & 1/3 and reached #25 on the American pop charts. It features Billy Preston on piano and organ, and Monty Python’s Eric Idle calling out the now-famous falsetto “Could be ‘Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch'”, “No, sounds more like ‘Rescue Me’!” interjection right before the instrumental break. The song also has a humorous music video (shown on the November 20, 1976 episode of Saturday Night Live), which features George in a courtroom along with a cast of many of his friends dressed up as the jury, bailiff, defense experts, etc. Drummer Jim Keltner appears as the judge and the Rolling Stones’s Ronnie Wood dressed as a ‘Pepperpot’ character mimics those aforementioned falsetto words.
Here is a video clip of “This Song” from the 1976 Saturday Night Live episode. Please note that when you click on the video clip you will be told that embedding is disabled and you will be instructed to click on the words, “Watch on YouTube“. Please do so.
Just for kicks, here is the Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine” followed by Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” so that you can hear the similarities of the two songs.
There was some big news for Beatles fans this week. The entire Beatles album catalog (originally released on cd in 1987) has been remastered and re-released. The sound is incredible in that you can hear instruments that were previously inaudible on the older cd’s. To date, none of the Beatles’ music is available on Itunes or any other digital format so cd is the only way to get. Buy them. They are great.
Tonight’s music byte is from Ringo Starr shortly after the Beatles’ break-up. The song is titled, “Early 1970” and is quite autobiographical. Listen closely to the first three sections of lyrics and you will realize that Ringo is describing each of his former bandmates in the order of Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison. He does a good job of revealing his relationship with each of them in just a few short lines. He ends the song by implying that he would like to play with all of them together again. Unfortunately that never happened.