Latest posts by Michael Gerber (see all)
- From Faith Current: “The Sacred Ordinary: St. Peter’s Church Hall” - May 1, 2023
- A brief (?) hiatus - April 22, 2023
- Something Happened - March 6, 2023
With a few exceptions, demos are genial curiosities, adding context but little else to the standard version. You don’t hear the song any different after.
This one is an exception. Like a lot of folks, I’ve always found this song from Walls and Bridges particularly haunting, given where John Lennon was in his life (and vis a vis the music business); but this version really got me—the break at 3:36 is just amazing. Go listen. (h/t to Stephen Kroninger)
(Stray thought: it might be fun to compile a list of truly essential demos, ones like “I’m Looking Through You.” Put ’em in the comments.)
Hey that’s good news Michael
only a few days ago I mentioned this blog in a contribution to ‘The Beatles Review of History’-blog that ” ‘Hey Dullblog’  (…) is currently at rest, if not on death row.”
I have loads of outtakes from ‘Walls and Bridges’, at least once a year I go thru these. Many years ago I felt that Lennon was able to express his ‘inner-voice’ and criticism of the external world and had a clear musical direction on a solo album. And it happened in a productive period, a year with so much good stuff (Fame, Pussy Cats, etc.).
It was good news, and what I have learned thru the decades is that Lennon had strong vocals, even when he is jamming, trying to get a proper take. Also that if Lennon wants to succeed in a strong vocal he digs deep, he needs to sense himself, feelings that are currently in his bones and flesh.
The lyrics of ‘Scared’ are as close to his experience, personality and the lyrical content of former lyrics as he can be. The medium to slow tempo, drawn-out vocals, he is scared and ‘tired’… we have heard that before… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-B2Sb61FQBE
Beautiful. The singing is raw, vulnerable.
I don’t think it counts as a demo, but as an outtake, I’ve always loved the laughing version of “And Your Bird Can Sing” from Anthology. Pot-fueled almost certainly, but sheer joy.
Beautiful. The singing is raw, vulnerable.
It’s not a demo, but as an outtake, I’ve always loved the laughing version of “And Your Bird Can Sing” from Anthology. Pot-fueled almost certainly, but sheer joy.
I’ve always liked that one, too, @Chris.
Personally, I loved the Esher Demos from The
White Album remaster that came out last November.
“Back in the U.S.S.R,”with just Paul and George on acoustic guitars, and singing, was so fantastic. No drums, piano, jet engine sounds, just them. Paul goofs around at the end, and they sound like they are having fun.
Also from The White Album remastered, is John’s “Child of Nature”, which eventually became “Jealous Guy.” I’d never heard it before and I love it. So beautiful!
I was so happy to see a post from Hey Dullblog in my email!!! Yay!!
I’ll try to do more, @Tasmin. Thanks to Nancy, we just got the site fixed, so it is useable again.
This “Nobody” demo is new to me. I’ve never heard it before.
I like my Lennon vocals close-mic. I love close-mic, double-tracked Lennon singing. One of the things that irritated me about his solo records was when he tried to “project” his voice.
The dynamics on demos like this are why I enjoy them so much. At 3:36 when he lets loose, it means something.
We never got to see John do MTV Unplugged, but this is the next best thing.
I know, right? 3:36 is amazing.
Sam, you and my friend Stephen Kroninger are two peas in a pod, I suspect.
I love this compendium of John finding his way through She Said She Said. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMRdcUHq92Q. You can see how he constructed his songs from pieces and parts; it’s fascinating.
I wish we had a full version of this Dylan-y first run through We Can Work It Out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kqw7BjuHrnY. Other groups would’ve left it at this. The Fabs made it something different – more European – and distinctive.
These demos of Strawberry Fields are haunting. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jD2h0WuQ9kE. They’re much more tender, scared, lost in memory than the extroverted final version. I think the final version is a better record because it puts those two qualities in tension with each other, but I can understand why John felt it failed his original vision for the song.
Now that we’re approaching the Abbey Road 50th anniversary, I wonder if new demos will surface.
I assume Abbey Road will get the Giles Martin treatment. now that he’s done with Rocketman. Even if there are no demos we haven’t heard as bootlegs, it would be nice to hear them cleaned up/remixed.
As far as Lennon demos go, his early piano version of Help is always fun to hear. Almost sounds like something from the imagine sessions.
The lack of demos and alternates from Abbey Road has always been striking to me. It really is like all of them are saying, “OK, one LAST time.”
And this, after the profusion of material from White and LIB; it could be that the Beatles only generated demos/outtakes when they weren’t working together at top capacity.
Are there even any good Abbey Road-era boots?
It’s so sad that the Let It Be sessions are the ones that are the best documented, and that have been bootlegged to death. A few years ago I saw a multi-record set based on those sessions for sale, and it was at least 10 albums (should have taken a picture). And apparently there’s a 17-CD set called Thirty Days drawn from those sessions.
I mean, I love the Beatles, but no way would I willingly sit through those outtakes, let alone purchase them. I’d be far more interested in Abbey Road outtakes.
@Hologram Sam: actually, that’s because it IS from the Imagine sessions! He re-recorded Help on the piano sometime in late 1970/early 1971, I think after the Lennon Remembers interview. Still a fascinating listen.
actually, that’s because it IS from the Imagine sessions! He re-recorded Help on the piano sometime in late 1970/early 1971, I think after the Lennon Remembers interview.
Huh! I thought he sounded a bit too world-weary to be 1965 John Lennon. Live and learn, I guess…
Well, it’ll be interesting to see the new LET IT BE movie Peter Jackson assembles from all the hours of footage unused in the original LIB film. And if he cleans it up the way he cleaned up the old WWI stuff, it should be dazzling.
When it comes to demos… Whenever I hear a Beatle song demo, it makes me appreciate the final Beatle recording more. But whenever I hear a demo from John’s, Paul’s or George’s solo career, I often enjoy the demo more than the final product — because it’s been stripped of all the showboating session musicians or Spector overproduction, etc.
This doesn’t really count as a “Beatles demo” but it’s one of those enjoyable youtube videos of a young person showing how George did it:
John was nothing if not a magpie.
I wonder if John was thinking of this song when he wrote Mother
Is this demo version available to purchase anywhere?