“Hey Bulldog” . . . : From Forgotten Orphan To Cult Favorite

I remember when the Beatles movie “Yellow Submarine” came out. I went to see it with my older brother and a couple of his friends when I was about eleven years old. I watched and liked the Saturday morning Beatles cartoons so I thought the movie would be just like the t.v. show. Needless to say if you have ever seen Yellow Submarine and the t.v. show, you could imagine how wrong I was. I liked the story and the jokes (remember I was eleven) and I liked the bright colorful animation but some of it was just too weird for my young mind to get around. Then my brother’s friend Jordon bought the album and came over and played it for us. The big problem was that it was only half a Beatles album. Side One of the record (I’m dating myself big time by referring to records and sides) had six songs by the Beatles with two of them were already available (“Yellow Submarine” and “All You Need Is Love”). Side two was the film’s orchestral score by the band’s producer, George Martin. If my memory serves me correctly, my reaction was “What’s this crap, I remember there being more Beatles songs that this in the movie. Where are the Beatles songs?”). Of the four new songs, I remember liking Harrison’s “It’s Only A Northern Song” and Lennon’s “Hey Bulldog”. Over time, Harrison’s song has not aged particularly well but the stature of “Hey Bulldog” has increased.

“Hey Bulldog” was recorded on 11 February 1968, evolving from what was supposed to be a promotional film shoot for the single “Lady Madonna”. Indeed, the footage was later edited together for that very purpose. When Yellow Submarine was re-released in 1999, Apple went back to the original footage shot for the “Lady Madonna” promo film and restructured it for use as a promotional clip for “Hey Bulldog” (as it is possible to identify what they were playing, and therefore possible to synchronize the music with the original footage).

The Beatles – Hey Bulldog (Promo video) –

The video below gives us the interesting history of the song, from it’s inception as a John Lennon sketch of an idea (very possibly as an “answer” to McCartney’s “Lady Madonna”) to it’s orphaned status as a deep cut on the Yellow Submarine album to it’s subsequent re-evaluation in the Beatles cannon.

The Story Behind The Beatles’ “Hey Bulldog” –

Finally, the video below goes deep into the music theory of “Hey Bulldog”, from the use of the blues scale in the main piano riff, to McCartney’s bass line in the verse, to the harmonic framework of the song. Serious music theory geek stuff here (god help me but I love it so).

Understanding Hey Bulldog –

 

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Posted in Classic Rock, Music Appreciation and Analysis, Music Theory

“My Bass Space” . . . : The Fender Precision Bass

For the last several years I have been focusing my musical energies on mastering the Chapman Stick, an endeavor that I have written about previously. Recently I decided to take a break from that instrument and return to my primary performing instrument, the bass guitar. So I put the Chapman Stick back in it’s case and brought back out my main bass, a reissue 1958 Fender Precision Bass.

I bought my P-bass about 25 years ago. A band I was in was contributing a couple of songs to a charity CD and we were going to record them at the Power Station, the legendary recording studio (The Rolling Stones, John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and many others have recorded there). At the time I was using an Ibanez bass and I figured this was a good time to upgrade my equipment. I went into the Sam Ash guitar store on West 48th street (long gone) but I didn’t have a specific preference for what I was looking for. At the time, I wasn’t a big fan of Fender basses. I thought they were too old fashioned. I tried out a bunch of basses but nothing was getting me excited. The salesperson suggested I try some of the Fender Vintage reissues basses that had just come out. I tried a vintage reissue J-bass but still no cigar. Then I tried the reissue P-bass and suddenly I found what I was looking for. It gave the old school sound that I hadn’t realized I was looking for until then.

My baby –

The Precision Bass, designed by Leo Fender in 1950 and brought to market in 1951, was a response to the volume limitations of the upright bass which were becoming hard to hear in large bands or those that used amplified instruments. The upright bass was also regarded as cumbersome and a pain to bring to gigs as well as requiring different skills to play that are distinct from those of the guitar. The Precision Bass was designed to overcome these problems. The name “Precision” came from the use of frets to play in tune more easily than with fretless fingerboard of the upright bass. This made it much easier for a guitarist to double on bass. I think the importance of this cannot be emphasized enough since it made it possible for many a guitarist to switch over to bass, including myself (another guitarist who became a bassist was Paul McCartney, just imagine if he never picked up the bass). With the additional volume and presence of the P-bass and it’s many offspring. The sound of popular music itself was transformed. Without the Precision Bass, music as we know it today would not exist.

Since 1952, the Precision Bass has gone through a myriad of modifications and the video below (courtesy of Chicago Music Exchange) give a brief overview of the many face of Precision Bass.

History of the Fender Precision Bass –

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“What Makes This Song Great?” : Rick Beato Videos Look Under The Hood of Classic Songs

I have written previously on how hearing individual instrument parts of a favorite tune can give you a whole new perspective and appreciation of the song (https://roymusicusa.com/2018/04/12/and-now-for-something-completely-different-listening-to-music-before-and-after-isolated-tracks/). Along those lines I want to let everyone know about a great series of videos by musician and producer Rick Beato called What Makes This Song Great?. In each video, Rick breaks down the song, calling your attention to parts that you were probably aware of on a subliminal level (and no, I’m not talking about satanic messages and besides, if I was going to put in a subliminal message, it would not be to worship Satan, it would be to buy twenty more copies of the record). After listening to these videos, you are more aware of the awesome sound of that kick drum or that the bass part switched from electric bass to synth bass in the chorus. I’m not a fan of every song he analyzes but if you’re into music, you can certainly learn something from every song he examines, even ones you don’t like.

Below, I cherry picked my favorites videos or rather my favorite songs that he covered.


What Makes This Song Great? Ep. 2 THE POLICE –

 

What Makes This Song Great? Ep. 3 Steely Dan –

 

What Makes This Song Great? Ep. 7 TOM PETTY – 

 

What Makes This Song Great? Ep.28 DAVID BOWIE – 

 

What Makes This Song Great? Ep.36 YES – 

 

Rick Beato is a You Tube educator par excellence. He has put out videos on music theory, composition film scoring, guitar and a host of other music geek friendly topics. You should definetly check out his website (https://rickbeato.com/) and his You Tube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/pegzch/featured).

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Posted in Classic Rock, Music Appreciation and Analysis

Stick Theory – My Interview with Music Talk

I going to conclude (for the time being) my video series, Stick Theory, with an interview I did for the pilot for a talk show focusing on local NYC musicians that was to be shown on Manhattan Neighborhood Network cable channel. It features my interview interspersed with a Chapman Stick Guitar performance outdoors. Special thanks to Manhattan Neighborhood Network. It was a blast doing it.

Music Talk Episode 1 –

 

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Stick Theory – Bodega Cats (Original Song) on the Chapman Stick Guitar

This is my tune, Bodega Cats, played on the Chapman Stick Guitar (SG12). I’m using the double guitar tuning so it’s like two standard guitar necks joined together. This was the first tune I wrote on the Chapman Stick guitar. A couple of years ago, as part of MakeMusicNewYork event, I played a solo Stick performance in a small community garden on Manhattan’s lower east side. My repertoire was very limited so I needed to come up  with some extra material. In one of those rare instances when inspiration comes when you actually need it, this tune pretty much just came out. I started with the two chord vamp in the intro and the melody just came out. Same thing with the “B” section and that was it. Admittedly, this is not a complex tune. The chords are straight forward and the melody is composed of basically two riffs. That being said, a couple of people commented on how they liked it and I have to admit that I think it came out pretty well. I liked it enough that I decided to cut a full band version of it for the New Jazz Spasms cd, New York Movie. Check out both versions below.

Stick Theory – Bodega Cats (Original Song) on the Chapman Stick Guitar SG12

You can hear a version of the tune performed by my virtual band, The New Jazz Spasms here:

 

Please share, like and subscribe to my YouTube channel and this website.

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Stick Theory: Norwegian Wood (Beatles cover) on the Chapman Stick Guitar

I’m continuing my series of Chapman Stick Guitar videos with my cover of the classic Beatles tune Norwegian Wood. Their is a long history of jazz versions of Beatles songs. That’s the subject for a future post. I’m just adding my bit to the tradition.

 

If you like what you hear, see, touch or smell here, then please share, like and subscribe to my YouTube channel and this website.

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Stick Theory – Summertime (Jazz Standard) on the Chapman Stick Guitar SG12

Summer is finally making itself known to us here in NYC so it seems like an appropriate time to post my cover of the jazz standard Summertime to Stick Theory, the playlist of my solo Chapman Stick Guitar videos (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLogHrynqXOvSmeQXOw_SAW0etIHHKV8mX).

Please like, share, subscribe and all that internet stuff you’re suppose to ask everyone to do.

Stick Theory – Summertime (Jazz Standard) on the Chapman Stick Guitar –

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