I'm 66, retired and a total music nut. My wife and I love music of most types. I've taught myself piano over the last six years. Playing Beatles and Paul solo songs on piano has given me a deeper appreciation of music I already loved. I saw Paul three times live between 1973-76 and at a premiere of his Liverpool Oratorio.
Mark Lewisohn's research is phenomenal. The Beatles Tune in is a major part of my lockdown reading. I remember seeing Mark at Beatles conventions in the 70s and 80s. He always used to win the Beatle Brain quizzes until the organisers started giving someone else a chance. It's one of the amazing things about the Beatles that just when you think you've heard it all, something new pops up. But even he misses things - I recently picked up a metal poster for a Beatles gig in early '62 at a small town called Stroud in Gloucestershire. The group were unknown outside Merseyside and Hamburg at the time, and a local guy was playing darts with his friends at a pub when four strangers came in - he challenged the four to a darts match, not knowing who they were. Later he goes to the gig just for a night out, and gets a shock when he sees his darts opponents headlining the gig. I think he's been telling the story ever since !
Apparently the Beatles lost at darts, and the Stroud gig was, according to Paul, the worst gig they ever played (they had coins thrown at them). Despite that, they did return to Stroud later in the year, having just had their first hit, and the reception was a bit better !
It must have been dangerous being a pop group then - Paul calmly picked up the pennies and they probably had enough to drown their sorrows at the pub later ! I think they got fed up with jelly babies being thrown. One of my great musical heroes Cliff Richard had pennies thrown at him before that, due to young guys getting jealous when their girlfriends were swooning over Cliff. Musicians might get a black eye occasionally, as George Harrison did when Pete Best was sacked.
My top 10 solo Beatle albums are:
Plastic Ono Band, Imagine, Ram, Band on the run, Tug of war, Flowers in the dirt, Chaos and creation in the backyard, All things must pass, Thirty three and a third, Cloud nine.
Probably the best of these are Imagine, BOTR and ATMP. It would be nice to hear a 'stripped-down' version of ATMP without the Wall of Sound - I think George felt that way in later years. But of all the Beatle solo records, the one I keep coming back to is Ram. I've loved it since it came out because of its beautiful sweeping melodies, driving rock, the New York Symphony adding lovely touches here and there, and even the rough edges add a bit of colour.
I'm doing a lot of piano practice - I'm self-taught. I don't read music but I just get chord lists for songs - I've got hundreds of songs which I go through at random, particularly Beatles songs, sixties classics and the Great American Songbook. I have a portable keyboard with many different sounds and rhythms. I'm also reading a huge amount - biographies (music mostly), poetry and some Dickens (enjoying Pickwick Papers at present). I think I'll probably have time to get through the Beatles Tune in, a new 10CC biography and Andrew Lloyd Webber's memoir (all massive and very entertaining). I love the Bond films (for me Pierce Brosnan is the best 007 because he combines action and humour very well). My wife and I love the beautiful trees and local wildlife, and this is helping us get through lockdown.
Cliff Richard - Miss you nights
The Shadows - Wonderful Land
Frank Sinatra - All or nothing at all
Steely Dan - Kid Charlemagne
Beach Boys - Long promised road
David Bowie - Lady grinning soul
10CC - Old wild men
Hollies - King Midas in reverse
Coldplay - Viva la Vida
Elton John - Honky cat
An eclectic bunch ! I could have chosen hundreds of others, and I've not even included jazz and classical music, both of which I love.
A previous post said that the songs Tony Bennett sings are not hard on the voice. My wife and I have seen him in Manchester four times in recent years, and in every show he has all the microphones switched off for one number. He can still be heard by everyone, and he is pushing his voice to the limit. The songs from the Great American Songbook are not easy to sing well - they were written for the best singers and are wonderfully crafted both musically and lyrically - this is why they have lasted so long. If you've seen Tony live, you would know that he has a tremendous range. Paul's singing was very rough recently on the One World programme, and I feel lucky to have seen him live in the 70s when he was at his absolute peak vocally and musically.
I've seen Paul live in concert three times with Wings. All the concerts were in my home city of Manchester England. The first was in 1973 in a small club and I remember him singing Long tall Sally - it blew me away. Next concert was in a hall that held roughly 1500 people, in 1975. Wings had really taken off (!) and were really tight musically. The last time was in 1976 at London's Empire Pool (now Wembley Arena), a much bigger venue. Wings were at their absolute best. It was a great time to see and hear Paul - the screaming had stopped, and he was at his peak vocally and musically. The last time I saw him was in Liverpool in 1991 at a premiere of his Liverpool Oratorio, one of the best things he's ever done.
Getting back to the subject of this thread, on the day I was born, Elvis was still debating whether to go and make a record for his Mum's birthday (it would probably have been better for Elvis if he'd bought flowers or chocolates instead, but think of how different the world might have been !) John Lennon's life would have been different too - he might have decided to be a subversive artist or writer instead ! So November '53 when I was born seems to be a pivotal date.