A Hard Day’s Night Live At The Hollywood Bowl

All Songs +1: The Beatles Are Live And Sounding Better Than Ever

What kind of crazy fucked up world do we live in where a fifty year old recording of a defunct band trumps the work of the modern masters?

One in which most acts play to track in search of perfection and have lived their entire life in the spotlight, one in which talent is secondary to image and you fake it to make it.

Imagine being able to sing to qualify.

I constantly get e-mail from lame singers pointing me to their lyrics, and when I tell them the vocal is substandard and the words don’t carry the track, they point me to Bob Dylan…and I respond yes, Dylan had a less than perfect voice, but he was THE BEST LYRICIST OF ALL TIME!

And Dylan was famous for being one and done, doing very few takes, he wanted to catch the essence and then move on. Comping vocals back in ’65? Give me a break. Not only was live about energy, but recordings too, it was about capturing the magic, evidencing humanity.

I’m shocked how good this live version of “A Hard Day’s Night” is. My modern cynicism tells me it was overdubbed, fixed in the studio after the fact, like most live albums, but then I remember John Lennon’s been gone for decades and George has departed this mortal coil too.

But they left us this magical cut, a window into what once was, that will drop your jaw.

It was the rehearsal, all those gigs in Hamburg, all that work when no one was paying attention, experimenting, honing their chops. Whereas today everybody’s playing in plain sight, putting videos up on YouTube before puberty, believing they deserve attention, wondering why they haven’t already gone to the top of the chart.

“Meet The Beatles” blew it up in America. “The Beatles’ Second Album” came shortly thereafter. Diehard fans went back and bought the VeeJay LP, “Introducing The Beatles,” and by the summer of ’64, we were all on the same page, Beatlemania reigned, and “A Hard Day’s Night” was released.

First came the album. A truncated version on United Artists in the States. There were too many instrumental interludes. But the Beatle originals, they were devastating. Even sans the magical “Things We Said Today” and the outright tear of “Any Time At All” which were included in the UK LP but were absent from the American iteration.

And it all started with the title track, “A Hard Day’s Night.”

There was that opening chord…

All baby boomers hear it and immediately think of the movie, the four lads running down the street, the excitement, that bubbling adrenaline, which overtakes your body and excites you, drowning out all intellectualism, you’re running on feeling.

And you couldn’t get enough of that, so you went to see the act live. Assuming you could get a ticket.

But this was when PA’s were laughable, before we expected you to be able to play, never mind sing. Remember CSNY’s vocals in the “Woodstock” movie? Our expectations were lowered in person, although we were thrilled to be there.

And then we find the progenitor, before Peter Grant flipped the remuneration, before Showco and the Clair Brothers built infrastructure, blowing the roof off a joint that had no roof to begin with!

There’s that CHORD! There’s no way they should be able to recreate that live. And then John starts to sing…LIKE HE BELIEVES IT! He’s not punching the clock, he’s trying to CONVINCE YOU! Reveling in his expertise, knowing he’s blowing minds. And the harmonies… Really? How can they do this?

And then we have Paul’s soulful middle eight, whew!

And then the band is locked into it once again. Just four guys, no support, yet it’s enough.

Greatness is always enough.

George is not missing notes in the break, Ringo is propulsively keeping it all on track, a band without a solid drummer is no band at all.

It’s like being jetted back in a time machine to an era with no cell phones, no social media, when if you weren’t at the show you completely missed it. Talk about FOMO? It was much worse back then.

And the girls are screaming, the band throws in bits of improvisation, and you’re listening believing you missed something, something incredible.

And then you remember you were there, when Beatlemania took the country by storm, when optimism ruled, when the youth stole the country from the establishment and ran with it.

And it was all powered by music.

And the Beatles were there first.

P.S. If you haven’t already, pick up Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” and read the section on the Beatles, wherein the writer posits the Fab Four played more gigs before they were famous than most bands today play in their entire career. There’s your 10,000 hour rule right there. You become world class by putting your time in via hard practice, winning over audiences who don’t care. That’s what the Beatles had to do, play endlessly, converting those who didn’t care. That’s your job.

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