It’s time for another edition of Fab Four Friday, where we join arms with Chiefs pitching coach Greg Booker and walk down memory lane (Penny’s intellectual sister). Each week, Booker chooses a song and we talk about where it came from, why it’s a classic and other odds and ends. This week, originally released as the B-Side to “Help!”, “I’m Down.” As a side note, today is Greg Booker’s birthday. So, if you see him at the park, wish him a happy one.
Greg Booker: Paul loved Little Richard as he was growing up. He always went around singing his stuff and he could really hit the notes Little Richard did. In his own words, he said he could do Little Richard well with the “horse-screaming-like thing” so he decided to write his own song in that category.
Jason Benetti: We’ve talked a couple of times about influences and it spans from Little Richard to Roy Orbison. Those are two extremely different types of music.
Booker: I would say I agree, very much so. I guess that leads them to some understanding as to how they come up with so many songs. We have to remember that in Liverpool or England at that time, they didn’t get a lot of American radio. They had to rely on a few certain artists the record companies would get records in. It was guys like Elvis Presley and Little Richard. I’m sure they liked them, but when that’s all you’re getting, they didn’t get any stuff on the radio.
Booker: The same reason Avery likes “Bye Bye Bye” by ‘NSYNC. When he was young, it probably made him jump around a little bit. He would kill me if he knew I said that.
Benetti: He may very soon.
Booker: In looking at some of the footage of The Ed Sullivan Show when they were there, they played this on their third live Ed Sullivan Show September 12, 1965.
Here’s the story of how The Beatles ended up there:
Booker: This was also the first song ever recorded by Aerosmith. They used it as a demo trying to get their first album released or recorded. Eventually, the whole thing died and never was done. The Beastie Boys also loved this song. They recorded a 1986 version of it. With Michael Jackson owning the catalog, he wouldn’t let them release it.
Booker: George sings great harmony in this. If you listen, you can really hear the hard drum and the hard bass through this. It’s just like “boom.” One of the real songs where you can hear George’s harmony perfectly. I think he’s just unbelievable. Something about Ringo’s drum here is harder. When he does it live at Shea Stadium, John plays the electric piano or organ with his elbow.
Benetti: And there’s the scream, very Little Richard.
Booker: Right. Get the video of John playing with his elbow. He’s having a blast. You don’t get many songs where you can really hear George’s vocals. He’s only saying “I’m down”, but it’s awesome.
Benetti: John’s really in the background there.
Booker: He doesn’t have a lot in this song other than a couple of “I’m down”s which you can’t really hear.
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It’s time for another walk down Beatles memory lane with Chiefs pitching coach Greg Booker. If you’ve just joined us, Booker chooses a song each week and details the history and his view of the tune….
This week we bring you a song which is the most-covered pop song in history: Yesterday.
Jason Benetti: As you think about the lyrics, had it been “Scrambled Eggs”–we can’t know–I’m gonna go ahead and doubt it would have been the most-covered pop song in history if it were named after a breakfast food.
Greg Booker: Yeah, maybe Denny’s or somebody would have taken it as their slogan, but not other artists I don’t think.
There are so many things that were done different with this song, like it’s the first time only one Beatle basically played on the recording. The other ones are usually in there on something. It’s Paul and his acoustic guitar. Paul wrote it, he sang it, he played it. On the credits, as they did everything, they still credited it to Lennon/McCartney and there was a time back when they were doing the anthology that Paul approached Yoko about changing this particular one to McCartney/Lennon but she would have none of it.
Paul and Michael Jackson did a couple songs together and something came up with Paul wanting Yesterday put on something Michael Jackson was doing. The conversation turned to Paul explaining to Michael Jackson how important it was to own publishing rights. Michael pulled a quick one on him and outbid him for the publishing rights to all The Beatles’ tunes. That strained their friendship quite a bit. This was after Paul was trying to give him a lot of advice on how important it is to own them. At that time, Paul didn’t even own Beatles stuff and Michael Jackson bought them. It’s kind of a shame that you have all these songs that they don’t even own the publishing rights to.
Benetti: They’re somewhere in the Neverland Ranch.
Booker: I guess Neverland Ranch owns ’em. John was very jealous with this song. It was such a big song. Paul did it all by himself. When they were spatting in later years, John came out and wrote this song called “How Do You Sleep.” It’s a bash on Paul. One of the lines is, “The only thing you’ve done is yesterday and since you’ve gone, you’re just another day.”
Let’s listen in to the song:
Benetti: A couple notes, all you need.
Benetti: Dark lyrics.
Booker: Yeah, it’s….he was more yesterday. He longs for yesterday…..he wishes he was back in the past. It does sound a little bit better than scrambled eggs, doesn’t it?
Benetti: A little more lyrical.
Booker: His voice is just “Yesterday”….Don Henley is “Hotel California”, Paul is “Yesterday.”
It’s another edition of our look at The Beatles through the eyes of Chiefs pitching coach Greg Booker. If you’d like to see previous editions of Fab Four Friday, click the little button to the right that says “Fab Four Friday.” This week on Fab Four Friday….
Jason Benetti: Again, the lyric and title doesn’t fall very far from the tree for them.
Greg Booker: No, that goes right on with their thinking. Ringo has got a lot of Yogi Berra in him or Yogi Berra’s got a lot of Ringo in him. But, for them to take a thing like that and make a song out of it, there’s the brilliance again.
Benetti: So this song, really, on the surface what it sounds like is what it is.
Booker: I think it talks about them working and being tired and coming home and resting. To find out that it was written in a very strange key for a rock song–it was written in an Irish folk music key–how they get to areas they get to in music, that right there is basically what interests me, how they come up with all this kind of stuff. To write a song off of a sentence that somebody says then put it in a key that is supposed to be known for folk music, where do they dream up this stuff? I don’t know. The title of the movie they were making they ended up changing the name to “A Hard Day’s Night.” The name of the movie was going to be “Beatlemania” and they wanted John to write a song for the movie. He, literally in a day, wrote this song after he heard Ringo say that and then they liked it so much they changed it to the name of the movie.
Interesting tidbit from the movie–Phil Collins was a young lad and he was cast as an extra school kid in one of the scenes in the movie, but that scene got cut out.
Benetti: Was he bald and weeping?
Booker: I don’t know, but there’s Phil Collins another pretty good musician that was an extra in this movie as a little kid. To me, this song–I wish I could play any instrument–recording takes forever. They recorded this song in nine takes. Incidentally, The Beatles in their heyday only won four Grammys and one of them was for this song. This is one that’s kinda under the radar because people, I think, associate it with the movie.
Let’s take a listen to that first chord:
Booker: There it is. That’s magical.
Benetti: I’m just picturing shots of the band in concert.
Booker: Again, the stories that their good songs tell. They could actually be talking about leaving that recording session that night. The whole thing is tied into a meaning here.
Benetti: But it’s so easily brought to somebody else’s life too.
Booker: This is in the mid-60s and I can go home after the season and tell my lovely bride I’ve been working like a dog….today, it tells a story of four working lads.
Benetti: How about that scream right there?
Booker: I wonder who that was. It was probably John. Here, listen to how it ends….it just stops. At the ending, it gives you a little bit of the Irish folk feel. To me, that’s a really exciting song. If you googled the bass cover of this song, it is outstanding.
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Welcome to another foray into Beatles history with Chiefs pitching coach Greg Booker as our guide. This week, after navigating Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Booker has taken is more mainstream with the group’s 1963 title track Please Please Me. It’s a song that very nearly never got recorded…
Greg Booker: When they put out the single, on the label of the first American release, Beatles was spelled with two “t”s. They misspelled Beatles. You’ve gotta realize they weren’t even really big in the U.K. yet. The British Prime Minister at the time, Gordon Brown, revealed later that Please Please Me was the first record he ever bought in his life. The run-ins they ended up having with the government over there, later on the Prime Minister at the time said he really liked it and that was the first record he ever bought.
Jason Benetti: On the misspelling thing, remember when Stephen Strasburg was here, Trent had the card up outside in the tunnel and his name said “Stasburg.”
Booker: I do remember that. It reminds me when I was playing with the Padres and we had just signed Steve Garvey from the Dodgers as a free agent. The first jersey he put on, his name was spelled “Gravey.” You got this big production about signing really one of the first big free agents in Padre history and his name reads “Gravey” on the back.
Benetti: Well, they did always say he was a meat and potatoes guy.
Booker: He had Popeye arms, I know that. We’re talking today about the song itself Please Please Me, but it’s just another one of the many songs early in The Beatles days, and it changed drastically toward the end of the ’60s the length of their songs, on the album Please Please Me, the longest in time was Anna Go To Him at 2:57. Please Please Me only ran for 2:03. At least were under two minutes. They had to have filler songs because their songs were so short. I still like a lot of their later stuff, but I tend to go back to their earlier stuff as far as preference. The songs were short, they were to the point, they told something. The arrangement and the music was, instead of filling-in stuff in garbled-up instrumental stuff and weird sitars which made no sense to me. I like the short storytelling-type things.
Time to listen in:
Booker: Great harmony to begin. He’s talking about my girl.
Booker: His, I guess. My girl’s in North Carolina. If you look back, a lot of their early stuff didn’t have a predominant drum. He was just keeping beat. In here, there’s a really quick three-second thing that Ringo does on the drums that was a big hit back then and is one of my favorite parts of the song. Right here.
Benetti: Just to drive it to the bridge.
Booker: It’s simple, but that is huge in that song right there. I love that. Pete Best used to play this before Ringo came along and I think if not this song, but right in this time, is when George Martin said, “You have to get rid of the drummer.”
And they did.
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It’s time for another end-of-the-work-week tour through Beatles history with Chiefs resident Fab Four historian, pitching coach Greg Booker.
This week, we delve into the 1967 psychedelic classic Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
Greg Booker: Julian, John’s son, had a crush on Lucy in elementary school. Julian Lennon met this girl named Lucy O’Donnell that was in his class. He took a fancy to her and drew a picture. He took it home to John and said, “Dad, this is Lucy in the sky with diamonds.” John said, “Wow, what a great title.”
Jason Benetti: They didn’t have to go far for inspiration, did they?
Booker: I don’t think the state of mind they were in, they needed to go very far. They were already out there.
For decades, Julian and John Lennon didn’t make public who the song was about.
It’s no surprise that a song by The Beatles would be shrouded in secrecy. Meanings behind their tunes are debated deep into the night still around the world.
Time to listen in along with Book to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Join us:
Booker: George plays the–it’s an Indian instrument–tambura. That’s the sound you hear in the background. George loved Indian stuff. To be able to incorporate that stuff…
Benetti: Doesn’t sound like a love song.
Booker: It leads you to thinking the other way. See how it picks up all of a sudden? Good harmony there. They’re so underrated in their harmony.
Benetti: Think they’re better than The Beach Boys?
Booker: I don’t know. They’re super too. I guess I could cop out by saying they’re totally different. How do they come up with these words? Newspaper taxis up here on the shore. For him to take a drawing from his son, how do you come up with that?
Benetti: He bases it off of Lucy, but this has nothing to do with a girl. It’s got her name and it’s got diamonds.
Booker: There’s nothing in there about his son and his school girlfriend or school. He never touches on anything that would lead you to believe that it was a girl named Lucy his kid liked.
Benetti: Contrast Taxman. It’s all about the tax code.
Booker: This keeps you wondering. Keeps you guessing.
Benetti: You think they wanted that?
Booker: I think more times than not. Especially late ’60s. I mean the White Album. Who can make sense of the White Album?
Booker: Helter Skelter was a ride in England, I guess. Get to the bottom, go back to the top. But, other than that part of the song, you wouldn’t know what in the world it was.
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The Fab Four Friday Tour is coming to take you away. Take you today. Thanks for joining us for another trip down Beatles memory lane with Chiefs resident Beatles guru (and pitching coach) Greg Booker. Each week, the former San Diego Padre carves out a sliver of Beatles history to discuss. This week……well, he can tell you.
If you remember from Episode One, Booker’s favorite Beatles song is 1 After 909. As he said in the clip up there, it was put on paper even before the group got together as The Beatles.
Booker: Because it has such great harmony in it, great bass in it, outstanding very underrated lead guitar by George in it and Ringo, I think it’s one of his better efforts too because he just keeps steady beat and keeps the rhythm on it, they used to use it as a warmup song. The early version of it was a lot slower than the one that you’ll hear on the rooftop concert which really rocks out, I think. They got so good at it, they decided they’d record it on their last album.
Benetti: After Episode One, a couple people wrote to me and said, “That’s an odd song to be Booker’s overall number one Beatles song.” Why is this number one on your list?
Booker: When I need a pick-me-up, I watch the live version of it on the rooftop concert, which was incidentally their last public thing together. It covers everything I like about the group as a group and individually. Solo parts by John–very prominent. The harmony that Paul comes in with is outstanding. The bass is second only to Paperback Writer as far as my favorite bass. Fourth, the guitar, the little riffs that George puts in there is just incredible. Billy Preston is up there on top of the roof there with them playing the organ.
Benetti: How’d they get that organ on the roof?
Booker: I don’t know how they got any of that on the roof. It was in the vicinity of the Apple conglomerate. If you get the right video of it, it shows them coming through the doors and going up on the roof and the police talking trying to get them for disturbing the peace or a noise ordinance or whatever. All the people down there–they interview a few men and ladies–they talk about how great they sound, but the police are walking around trying to figure out how to get up there. I guess they thought it was going to happen because it looked like doors were locked and everything and they had a hard time trying to get up to the roof to shoo them away. It never shows them being shooed away, but it does show some of the policemen on the roof talking to people. They quit on their own time, they quit when they wanted to quit.
Booker: Listen to that organ, awesome. Those little guitar things that George puts in there. Awesome. He just strums a couple times. I don’t know what you call that, but it’s awesome.
Benetti: It moves it.
Booker: Yeah. John’s not a great singer, but to me this is one of his best vocals with the harmony when Paul comes in. The key fits his vocal range perfectly. Billy Preston on the organ is incredible. A lot of cymbals by Ringo. You can see on the video, the cops are trying to figure out what to do.
Benetti: Did people complain?
Booker: I don’t know if people complained.
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Hello folks, time for another trip down Beatles memory lane with JPGR historian and Chiefs pitching coach Greg Booker. This week, Book has taken us back to 1966 and the band’s attack on the high rate they had to pay the British government under its 95% supertax. Here’s Booker’s primer on Taxman:
Jason Benetti: Do you think they knew how across the line they were being?
Booker: Definitely they have the devil may care attitude. There was not a whole lot of shame in anything they did. They made us believe they felt like they were above all. They felt like they were above the law and above politics and above anything else. When John comes out and says, “We’re more popular than Jesus”, that tells you a little bit right there. They felt like they had a right to do anything they wanted to do. In 1991, George went on a solo tour of Japan and when he did the song, he substituted–instead of saying Mr. Wilson and Mr. Heath–he substituted Mr. Clinton and Mr. Bush in there. That was the time when they were running for the ’92 campaign. Bush being the incumbent and Clinton being against him.
Benetti: Yet they end up being so mainstream.
Booker: Not that I would side with any of the stupidity they did back in the day, but they still came across as lovable characters. Even with the venom spewing from their mouth and outspoken as they were about things, they were the Fab Four. This song is one of my favorite ones.
Taxman is one of Booker’s favorite bass guitar songs for the group. That’s the instrument that George Harrison was known for within the group. But there was a twist in Taxman:
Here are Book’s notes on the song:
Benetti: Early on you’ve got the driving push.
Booker: Any song that you can tell what it is from the very first note or two is exciting to me.
Benetti: Sort of a sinister minor in there.
Booker: They’re so subtly sarcastic, it’s unbelievable.
Benetti: They were really mad, weren’t they? George especially.
Booker: You know, they went for so long. This is 1966. They started five or six years earlier. They didn’t have cash, they signed for stuff. Get a new car and sent the agents the bill. I guess when [George] got word of how much it was, he didn’t like it. That’s why they actually left the country and started appearing more over here. George didn’t go back to England until the structure of taxes was reformed. They were dead serious about this.
Benetti: They had to have been to name two of the head politicos in England at the time.
Booker: It was unheard of for anyone in upper Parliament to be named in a bad light.
See, this is Paul playing the solo. You can’t make me believe George couldn’t get that as brilliant as he was with the guitar. But I guess they wanted a certain sound.
Benetti: You would think after a song like that, they spent time showing how mad they were and how aware they were of the tax rate and what it did to their finances. Still, when they broke up, one of the major concerns was how much money was left. Apple Records sorta dissipated. There was a lot of anger over money. You would think that with the awareness of that song that might not have happened down the line, but it still did.
Booker: They wouldn’t have woke up to the fact. John and Paul would have never looked into it and Ringo was just happy to be there. George was the youngest of the group, the baby of the group. In a lot of the early interviews, he’s the one that’ll say, “We never know when this’ll be over.”
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If you just joined us for Fab Four Friday, here’s what you missed in Episode One. Greg Booker, the Chiefs pitching coach, is a self-taught Beatles historian. Each week, we’re going to check with him on a Beatles song or topic and get his thoughts on the subject.
This week, Booker chose “Baby’s in Black” around which we’d center our discussion.
“It’s a ballad-type thing kinda like Til There Was You. I love a lot of their songs that basically just have guitar and harmony with them. Baby’s in Black is written about Astrid Kirchherr, a German lady they met over in Hamburg and Stuart Sutcliffe who was their first bass player. They met over in Hamburg when The Beatles went real real early over there. She was a photographer and took most of their pictures during that time period. Astrid and Stuart struck up a relationship.”
“When they came back from Hamburg, Stuart Sutcliffe decided he wanted to stay, so he was no longer in the group. Then when they got back, that’s obviously when they decided Paul would play bass. Baby’s in Black is about her being in mourning because Stu Sutcliffe died of a brain hemorrhage not long afterward in Hamburg. The lyrics lead you to believe that John had a thing himself for Astrid the photographer. It was kind of a no-no because John and Stuart were really close friends. John had this crush on her, hence the line “I think of her, but she thinks only of him.”
If you didn’t realize there was a Beatle before John, Paul, George and Ringo came together, you’re likely not the only one. It’s one of the countless intriguing things about the band to Booker:
Stu Sutcliffe died in 1962 at age 21. In 1964, The Beatles released Baby’s in Black, John Lennon’s dual eulogy and plea.
Booker and I listened to the song together. Here is the conversation we had over the song:
Booker: “What can I do”–he’s thinking, ‘Now she’s mourning, but I want to talk to her’
Me: There are two ways you can take that, right? I can’t do anything. Or, how far can I go?
Booker: Or should I do anything, yep. What can I do, I’m stuck. He’s feeling blue. He’s sad too because she’s mourning and can’t give him time. He’s torn. “It’s only a whim.” That means…..I have nothing to lose here. “How long will it take til she sees the mistake she has made.” Like, she needs to get over this mourning and come with me. As usual, here’s George with the guitar solo. They always have a guitar solo.
Me: Do they know? The other guys?
Booker: Probably, I’d say so. “He’ll never come back, she’s dressed in black.” He’s telling her, he’ll never come back, I loved him too but he’s never coming back, let’s have a shot.
Me: That a pretty creepy eulogy.
Booker: You’ve gotta realize John’s a fairly demented character. That puts it all in perspective. It’s pretty tough for us to think like John Lennon.
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In case you haven’t joined us for this previously, it’s Fab Four Friday again…..a walk down Beatles memory lane with Chiefs pitching coach Greg Booker. For this week, we return to week one and see how far we’ve come…..
One of the oldest tricks in the stadium entertainment book is to taunt the visiting pitcher with music when his pitching coach is coming out to visit. A staple in this category is “Help!” by The Beatles. It’s the ballad of a lonely, outless pitcher:
“Help, I need somebody,
Help, not just anybody,
Help, you know I need someone, help.”
What other teams don’t know is that when the Chiefs are in town, pitching coach Greg Booker might be refreshed by that musical selection. The man you may enjoy heckling after a poor outing from a member of the Chiefs staff is a music connoisseur. Specifically, Booker is a Beatles history buff: he’s got over 100 Beatles songs and has read nearly a dozen books devoted solely to the band. On Friday this season, we’ll sit down with the former San Diego Padre and get his thoughts on a wide array of topics regarding the Fab Four.
First, here is Booker’s overarching reason why he likes The Beatles:
Jason Benetti: How did you get hooked on the Beatles?
Greg Booker: I was just in high school. We changed football coaches after my sophomore year. Bob Paroli, who is a North Carolina Hall of Fame coach, he had a son named Mike who’s still a good friend of mine. Mike came in and he was a big Beatles fan. I liked The Beatles but didn’t really get enamored with them until I went to Mike’s house. I was 15, maybe 16. From that point on, they just captured me.
Benetti: What’s your favorite Beatles song?
Booker: I put them in categories. My favorite Beatles song would probably be One After 909. It’s a rare track. They play it on the Rooftop Concert which, incidentally, was their last concert together. It’s got a real groovy guitar solo by George. Billy Preston is up there playing it on the organ.
John wanted to make Billy the fifth Beatle but Paul had the quote, “four of us is enough.”
My favorite song where they sing harmony would be Rain.
My favorite bass song without a doubt is Paperback Writer. I love the bass. It’s amazing.
Benetti: Name one of your favorite backstories to go along with a Beatles song.
Booker: Martha My Dear was written about Paul’s old English sheepdog named Martha. But, he was really trying to send a message to Jane Asher, his old girlfriend. I thought that was neat.
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