Monday 15 April 2013

First Songs/Recordings By AAA Stars (News, Views and Music Top Five 189)

Some Alan’s Album Archives musicians are born great, some become great and others have greatness thrust upon them. While an overwhelming amount of musicians have a big hit with their career first song (The Who’s Pete Townshend’s ‘I Can’t Explain’ and Mark Knopfler’s ‘Sultans Of Swing’ to name just two), other songwriters struggle for years to get their songs recognised (e.g. Ray Davies, whose first released song ‘You Still Want Me’ was a flop and Jerry Garcia, whose first song ‘Cream Puff War’ was relegated to a ‘filler’ on the first Grateful Dead album). Others, like Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and the Stones’ Jagger and Richards partnership only began writing several years into their career out of circumstances (the loss of Syd Barrett in the former case; being locked into a room and ordered to ‘write together’; by manager Andrew Loog Oldham in the latter). A handful of AAA stars, though, had already been writing for quite a few years by the time they got their ‘big break’ and, luckily for us, these very first songs features in this week’s top five have all been released at some time somewhere, whether in original demo form, a retrospective re-recording or a live album. And here they are, in as strict a chronological order as we can manage (given how hazy some of the dates are) together with a brief insight into whether these ‘first’ songs show any sign of the writing style to come...

“I Lost My Little Girl” (Paul McCartney circa 1957 – original still unreleased; a version released on McCartney’s ‘MTV Unplugged’ 1992)

‘I woke up late this morning, head was in a whirl, only then I realised, I lost my little girl – ah ha, hah, uh-hah hah’. Not the greatest couplet in the McCartney canon, but pretty good for a fifteen year old deeply in love with Buddy Holly who wants to compete with his idols. Macca wrote his first song whilst ‘sagging off’ from school – a pattern that led to many of the finest songs in the early Beatles repertoire – but hadn’t yet met John Lennon who was, reportedly, shocked at how good the song was and who was kick-started into writing his own songs by way of competition. While the song wasn’t considered good enough to part of the Quarrymen/Beatles canon in its own right, Macca tinkered with the song a lot, adding a middle eight (‘Gather round people, let me tell you the story of the very first song I wrote!) sometime around the ‘Let It Be’ sessions (when one of the very first Lennon songs, ‘One After 909’, was dug out of the archives too). The others certainly knew the song well (Lennon offering his own unique ‘pastiche’ version during the same sessions!) and Macca recording a ‘proper’ demo on piano somewhere around 1972 and the ‘Wildlife’ sessions. However the only official recording to date was during the McCartney Band Line-Up #2’s first official appearance in 1992 for MTV’s ‘Unplugged’ series where it was played on guitar and sounded remarkably similar to everything else played that night, from Beatles classics down to the 50-year-old’s latest songs with its straightforward lyrics and a breezy melody that sounded as if it had been around for centuries. Paul revealed years later that he was actually thinking about his mother when he wrote the song, who’d died just a few months before (compare with Lennon’s first song, below!)

“Hey Schoolgirl” (Simon and Garfunkel circa 1957 – released as a single under the name ‘Tom and Jerry’)

The only song in this list that was a bona fide ‘hit’ on release, ‘Hey Schoolgirl’ was a remarkable achievement for two 15 year olds and one they spent the next five years of their life, together and apart, trying to replicate. With its daft ‘woochibalapaboop you’re mine’ chorus, it’s about as far away from ‘The Sound Of Silence’ as you can get, but shares a very similar guitar tuning and a definite emphasis on rhythm that shows that Simon’s love of ‘world music’ didn’t come entirely out of the blue with ‘Graceland’ in 1986. Interestingly, like all these early songs, the piece is credited to Simon and Garfunkel jointly (Art even releases a couple of his own songs under the name ‘Art Graph’ in this period). The harmonies, too, are already spot-on perfect, even though it’s clear that – so soon after puberty – the duo are still learning how to use their new, deeper vocal chords. This song has been collected on CD many times (along with dozens of other Tom and Jerry and Paul’s solo Jerry Landis songs on semi-legal CDs that make the most out of exploiting a meagre songwriting contract that means the songs can be re-released without the artist’s permission, or on its own as part of the Simon and Garfunkel box set ‘Old Friends’).

“Happy Birthday Four Freshman” (Brian Wilson circa 1960 – released on Beach Boys outtakes set ‘Hawthorne, CA” in 2000)

Not strictly a ‘new song’, this is, however, the first thing Brian Wilson recorded when he bought his first beloved cassette player and learnt to singalong to Four Freshman records before making up his own songs in overdubbed four part harmony. The 19 year old Brian is celebrating the fifth ‘anniversary’ of his favourite group by singing the ‘happy birthday’ song in delicate and very Four Freshman-inspired four part harmony and the result is quite lovely, showing what an angelic voice Brian had even without the other Beach Boys. It’s probably fair to say, though, that without the influences of his brothers (Dennis’ love of surfing and Carl’s love of rock and roll) Brian might have struggled to sell a whole album of this stuff as its already sounding a little dated once the 50s turn into the 60s (even without the Beatles or surf music really around yet). Still, everyone has to start somewhere and you can already hear the beginnings of that famous Beach Boy sound. This short recording isn’t p[art of the track listing but can be heard right at the very end of the Beach Boys ‘Hawthorne, CA’ rarities set where it appears as the very last thing on the second disc, a ghostly and poignant reminder of the band’s origins that might well be the most vital thing on the whole record.

“Hello Little Girl” (John Lennon circa 1958 – recorded by The Beatles in 1962 and released on The Beatles’ ‘Anthology One’ 1996)

The Lennon biopic ‘Nowhere Boy’ sets the scene quite well: a joyous John is – finally – enjoying his life after a troubled upbringing passed around between his mother Julia, his dad Fred and his guardian and Aunt, Mimi. Reunited with his mother in secret, and loving the fact that she encourages his rebellious side unlike his friends, aunt and teachers at school, he’s inspired enough by her banjo playing and collection of rock and roll records to make up his own song. Lennon also probably felt more than a little competitive when McCartney – two whole year younger – nervously shows his friend the first song he’s written (see above). However the 16 year old’s Lennon’s future is shaped irreparably when his mother is run over by an off-duty drunken policeman mere weeks after he writes this song (its not quite as instantaneous as in the film, but it’s close enough). History doesn’t record what Julia Lennon thought of her son’s first song or if Lennon junior was ever brave enough to show it to her, but he should have done – it’s a fine song which even ended up being a medium hit for The Fourmost in 1964 when everybody went Beatles-mad. Like Paul’s song it shows a real Buddy Holly influence and is both cute and arch in equal measure (in fact it’s more like a ‘Paul’ song in both tone and phrasing, showing what a different songwriting career Lennon might have had had his life continued to be this ‘happy’ without the death of his mother). Like ‘Little Girl’, it’s thought by many scholars that John is literally writing to his mother here and saying ‘thank goodness I found you again’, although unlike Paul sadly Lennon didn’t live long enough to re-record or talk about this song much so we’ll probably never know. The only officially available Beatles version is a rather nervy arrangement recorded for the band’s ill-fated Decca audition on January 1st 1962 where it was interestingly Lennon’s only original song of the day (Paul sang another early song ‘Love Of The Loved’). With a bit of polish, though, and happier circumstances it’s probably the most hit-record sounding of the bunch of mainly covers the Beatles did that day and arguably the equal of ‘Love Me Do’ (if not what comes later) so it’s odd that the Beatles never return to it again.

“Ain’t It The Truth?” (Neil Young circa 1962 – original still unreleased; a live version from 1983 released on the compilation ‘Lucky 13’ 1992)

For years with his band ‘The Squires’ Neil Young was a guitarist who didn’t sing (the Squires were mainly a ‘Shadows’ cover act at the time.) Then, when one of the band members with the strongest voice left, Neil became one of the many singers, covering Beatles songs like ‘It Won’t Be Long’. Only later, at the age of 16 when ‘The Squires’ were in the process of becoming a ‘pro’ band not just a ‘school’ band, did he begin writing his own songs. This one, ‘Ain’t It The Truth?’ is a very simple song with daft lyrics (‘Your highness, your soulfulness, eat watermelon, eat peaches and cream!’) which clearly shows the Shadows influence although Neil has already learnt the knack of writing a memorable hook-laden melodyline. The only version available o

n record to date is a live version by the ‘Shocking Pinks’, Neil’s retro 1950s band who recorded all sorts of simple rock and roll tunes from the 50s. Sadly this early original never actually made the album (despite being better and certainly more interesting than most of the cover songs that did) but Neil did play it on tour quite often and it’s a live version that was included on the ‘Geffen best-of-with-rarities set ‘Lucky 13’ with a now 38-year-old Neil having a great time reliving his youth.

A NOW COMPLETE List Of Top Five/Top Ten/TOP TWENTY  Entries 2008-2019
1) Chronic Fatigue songs

2) Songs For The Face Of Bo

3) Credit Crunch Songs

4) Songs For The Autumn

5) National Wombat Week

6) AAA Box Sets

7) Virus Songs

8) Worst AAA-Related DVDs

9) Self-Punctuating Superstar Classics

10) Ways To Know You Have Turned Into A Collector

11) Political Songs

12) Totally Bonkers Concept Albums

13) Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

14) Still Celebrating 40 Years Of The Beatles' White Album

15) AAA Existential Questions

16) Releases Of The Year 2008

17) Top AAA Xmas Songs

18) Notable AAA Gigs

19) All things '20' related for our 20th issue

20) Romantic odes for Valentine's Day

21) Hollies B sides

22) 'Other' BBC Session Albums

23) Beach Boys Rarities Still Not Available On CD

24) Songs John, Paul and George wrote for Ringo's solo albums

25) 5 of the Best Rock 'n' Roll Tracks From The Pre-Beatles Era

26) AAA Autobiographies

27) Rolling Stones B-sides

28) Beatles B-Sides

29) The lllloooonnngggeesssttt AAA songs of all time

30) Kinks B-Sides

31) Abandoned CSNY projects 'wasted on the way'

32) Best AAA Rarities and Outtakes Sets

33) News We've Missed While We've Been Away

34) Birthday Songs for our 1st Anniversary

35) Brightest Album Covers

36) Biggest Recorded Arguments

37) Songs About Superheroes

38) AAA TV Networks That Should Exist

39) AAA Woodtsock Moments

40) Top Moments Of The Past Year As Voted For By Readers

41) Music Segues

42) AAA Foreign Language Songs

43) 'Other' Groups In Need Of Re-Mastering

44) The Kinks Preservation Rock Opera - Was It Really About The Forthcoming UK General Election?

45) Mono and Stereo Mixes - Biggest Differences

46) Weirdest Things To Do When A Band Member Leaves

47) Video Clips Exclusive To Youtube (#1)

48) Top AAA Releases Of 2009

49) Songs About Trains

50) Songs about Winter

51) Songs about astrology plus horoscopes for selected AAA members

52) The Worst Five Groups Ever!

53) The Most Over-Rated AAA Albums

54) Top AAA Rarities Exclusive To EPs

55) Random Recent Purchases (#1)

56) AAA Party Political Slogans

57) Songs To Celebrate 'Rock Sunday'

58) Strange But True (?) AAA Ghost Stories

59) AAA Artists In Song

60) Songs About Dogs

61) Sunshiney Songs

62) The AAA Staff Play Their Own Version Of Monoploy/Mornington Crescent!

63) What 'Other' British Invasion DVDs We'd Like To See

64) What We Want To Place In Our AAA Time Capsule

65) AAA Conspiracy Theroies

66) Weirdest Things To Do Before - And After - Becoming A Star

67) Songs To Tweet To

68) Greatest Ever AAA Solos

69) John Lennon Musical Tributes

70) Songs For Halloween

71) Earliest Examples Of Psychedelia

72) Purely Instrumental Albums

73) AAA Utopias

74) AAA Imaginary Bands

75) Unexpected AAA Cover Versions

76) Top Releases of 2010

77) Songs About Snow

78) Predictions For 2011

79) AAA Fugitives

80) AAA Home Towns

81) The Biggest Non-Musical Influences On The 1960s

82) AAA Groups Covering Other AAA Groups

83) Strange Censorship Decisions

84) AAA Albums Still Unreleased on CD

85) Random Recent Purchases (#2)

86) Top AAA Music Videos

87) 30 Day Facebook Music Challenge

88) AAA Documentaries

89) Unfinished and 'Lost' AAA Albums

90) Strangest AAA Album Covers

91) AAA Performers Live From Mars (!)

92) Songs Including The Number '100' for our 100th Issue

93) Most Songs Recorded In A Single Day

94) Most Revealing AAA Interviews

95) Top 10 Pre-Fame Recordings

96) The Shortest And Longest AAA Albums

97) The AAA Allstars Ultimate Band Line-Up

98) Top Songs About Sports

99) AAA Conversations With God

100) AAA Managers: The Good, The Bad and the Financially Ugly

101) Unexpected AAA Cameos

102) AAA Words You can Type Into A Caluclator

103) AAA Court Cases

104) Postmodern Songs About Songwriting

105) Biggest Stylistic Leaps Between Albums

106) 20 Reasons Why Cameron Should Go!

107) The AAA Pun-Filled Cookbook

108) Classic Debut Releases

109) Five Uses Of Bird Sound Effects

110) AAA Classic Youtube Clips Part #1

111) Part #2

112) Part #3

113) AAA Facts You Might Not Know

114) The 20 Rarest AAA Records

115) AAA Instrumental Songs

116) Musical Tarot

117) Christmas Carols

118) Top AAA Releases Of 2011

119) AAA Bands In The Beano/The Dandy

120) Top 20 Guitarists #1

121) #2

122) 'Shorty' Nomination Award Questionairre

123) Top Best-Selling AAA Albums

124) AAA Songs Featuring Bagpipes

125) A (Hopefully) Complete List Of AAA Musicians On Twitter

126) Beatles Albums That Might Have Been 1970-74 and 1980

127) DVD/Computer Games We've Just Invented

128) The AAA Albums With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

129) The AAA Singles With The Most Weeks At #1 in the UK

130) Lyric Competition (Questions)

131) Top Crooning Classics

132) Funeral Songs

133) AAA Songs For When Your Phone Is On Hold

134) Random Recent Purchases (#3)

135) Lyric Competition (Answers)

136) Bee Gees Songs/AAA Goes Disco!

137) The Best AAA Sleevenotes (And Worst)

138) A Short Precise Of The Years 1962-70

139) More Wacky AAA-Related Films And Their Soundtracks

140) AAA Appearances On Desert Island Discs

141) Songs Exclusive To Live Albums

142) More AAA Songs About Armageddon

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159) A (Not That) Short Guide To The 15 Best Non-AAA Bands

160) The Greatest AAA Drum Solos (Or Near Solos!)

161) AAA Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speeches

162) AAA Re-Recordings Of Past Songs

163) A Coalition Christmas (A Fairy Tale)

164) AAA Songs About Islands

165) The AAA Review Of The Year 2012

166) The Best AAA Concerts I Attended

167) Tributes To The 10 AAA Stars Who Died The Youngest

168) The First 10 AAA Songs Listed Alphabetically

171) The 10 Best Songs From The Psychedelia Box-Sets ‘Nuggets’ and ‘Nuggets Two’

172) The 20 Most Common Girl’s Names In AAA Song Titles (With Definitions) 

180) First Recordings By Future AAA Stars

185) A Tribute To Storm Thorgerson Via The Five AAA Bands He Worked With

188) Surprise! Celebrating 300 Album Reviews With The Biggest 'Surprises' Of The Past Five Years Of Alan's Album Archives!

190) Comparatively Obscure First Compositions By AAA Stars

193) Evolution Of A Band: Comparing First Lyric With Last Lyric:

200) The Monkees In Relation To Postmodernism (University Dissertation)

202) Carly Simon's 'You're So Vain': Was It About One Of The AAA Crew?

217) AAA 'Christmas Presents' we'd most like to have next year

221) Dr Who and the AAA (Five Musical Links)

222) Five Random Recent Purchases

223) AAA Grammy Nominees

224) Ten AAA songs that are better heard unedited and in full

225) The shortest gaps between AAA albums

226) The longest gaps between AAA albums

227) Top ten AAA drummers

228) Top Ten AAA Singles (In Terms of 'A' and 'B' Sides)

229) The Stories Behind Six AAA Logos

230) AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!! The Best Ten AAA Screams

231) An AAA Pack Of Horses

232) AAA Granamas - Sorry, Anagrams!

233) AAA Surnames and Their Meanings

234) 20 Erroneous AAA Album Titles

235) The Best AAA Orchestral Arrangements

236) Top 30 Hilariously Misheard Album Titles/Lyrics

237) Ten controversial AAA sackings - and whether they were right

238) A Critique On Critiquing - In Response To Brian Wilson

239) The Ten MusicianS Who've Played On The Most AAA Albums

240) Thoughts on #CameronMustGo

241) Random Recent Purchases (Kinks/Grateful Dead/Nils Lofgren/Rolling Stones/Hollies) 

242) AAA Christmas Number Ones 

243) AAA Review Of The Year 2014 (Top Releases/Re-issues/Documentaries/DVDs/Books/Songs/ Articles  plus worst releases of the year)

244) Me/CFS Awareness Week 2015

245) Why The Tory 2015 Victory Seems A Little...Suspicious

246) A Plea For Peace and Tolerance After The Attacks on Paris - and Syria

247) AAA Review Of The Year 2015

248) The Fifty Most Read AAA Articles (as of December 31st 2015)

249) The Revised AAA Crossword!

251) Half-A-Dozen Berries Plus One (An AAA Tribute To Chuck Berry)

252) Guest Post: ‘The Skids – Joy’ (1981) by Kenny Brown

254) Guest Post: ‘Supertramp – Some Things Never Change’ by Kenny Brown

255) AAA Review Of The Year 2018

256) AAA Review Of The Year 2019 plus Review Of The Decade 2010-2019

257) Tiermaker

258) #Coronastock

259) #Coronadocstock

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