Thursday, October 13, 2016

My Wandering Mind

The Fab Four

We saw on the news the other day that Rod Stewart was knighted. Congrats, Rod. The reporter reminded us that Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger are also knights, and my immediate reaction was: What about Ringo? Come on, Britain, get it right and honor Ringo.

Coincidentally, on that same day my wife and I won tickets in a raffle to see In My Life, a tribute to the Beatles with the band Abbey Road. Actually, someone else won but they had to turn down their tickets, and we were second in line.

It was a fun show—not the Beatles, but a pretty good proximity. The best musicians in the band, by far, were George, played by Zak Schaffer, and Ringo, played by Axel Clarke. Schaffer’s solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was a knockout, and Ringo—I mean Clarke—played the hell out of the drums. The guys playing Paul and John were good, but not as good. All of them were better musicians and singers than actors. They lacked the energy and impish humor and charisma of the Fab Four—not that there weren’t some great songs. They did a knockout job on the tunes from Sgt. Pepper, and “Blackbird” was great.

Letting my mind wander back to my youth when the Beatles first exploded on the scene, I have to admit I was not impressed. I was a big jazz fan back then, and something of a snob. I thought rock ‘n’ roll had reached its pinnacle in the first years with Bill Haley, Elvis, Roy Orbison, Fats Domino, and Chuck Berry. I thought the Beatles were second rate and silly. As for Ringo, I thought he was ridiculous. I should have known better. I was a drummer. My heroes were Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich; later Joe Morello, the great drummer with the Dave Brubeck Quartet; and later still, Art Blakey. The only rock drummer I admired was Ginger Baker, who I still think is one of the greatest.

My wife, 10 years younger than I, was no Beatles fan in the early days either. It was not until Rubber Soul that she came around. For me it was Sgt. Pepper. Only years later did I come to realize that those early tunes, despite their lovesick teenage lyrics, were damn good and musically much more sophisticated than they seemed to me at the time.

Anyway, I’m happy for Rod Stewart and all his fans, and I hope Britain gets around to knighting Ringo before he kicks the bucket.

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