Paul McCartney, Penny Lane, and The Piccolo Trumpet

pennylane

Paul McCartney has a lot to celebrate in 2017.

He turns 75 on June 18.  Earlier in the month, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the greatest rock album of all-time, turns 50.

Then on July 5, Macca kicks off a string of 21 dates in the United States.  The trek is part of his ongoing “One on One” world tour.

That July 5 date has Sir Paul rocking Miami.  His last date in America is Oct. 2, that’s the second of two shows in Detroit.

There’s another milestone involving the former Beatle that a lot of fans are overlooking.  This year, one of the greatest singles of all-time, Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane, turns the big five-0.

pennylane

Those two amazing songs weren’t released as separate singles.  They were released together, as one single!

Long before iTunes and the internet, artists released singles on small vinyl records, designed to be played on a phonograph.  These small vinyl records contained one song on each side, thus the term single.

They were also called “45s,” a reference to the speed of the turntable—45 revolutions per minute—that was necessary to play them.  Long play albums ran at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute.

Generally, but not always, artists put their big new song on side A and a throw away song on side B.

For example, The Rolling Stones’ single “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” released more than year after “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane,” has as its B-side, “Child of the Moon.”

The novelty song, “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!,” released more than a year before “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane,” has as its B-side “!aaaH-aH ,yawA eM ekaT oT gnimoC er’yehT.”   The song is “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” played in reverse.

It was rare for an artist to put two groundbreaking songs on opposite sides of the same single.  Both “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane” were from the recording sessions that gave us Sgt. Peppers and made their way onto the Magical Mystery Tour album.

Both sides of this historic 45, heard John and Paul getting nostalgic.  “Strawberry Fields” was John’s song while “Penny Lane” belonged to Paul.

Penny Lane does exist.  It is an actual street in Liverpool, England, The Beatles hometown.  Penny Lane is also the name of the area surrounding the street.

Incidentally, Elvis Costello’s mother grew up near Penny Lane.  Even more incidental, Costello has written and recorded with McCartney.

Before making it big, John and Paul would meet at Penny Lane to catch the bus.  Since the release of the song, the Penny Lane area has become something of a tourist destination.  Road signs are bolted to walls to prevent Beatles fans from stealing them.

While much of the lyrical content of “Penny Lane” is taken from real-life, some of it is poetic license.  For example, the fireman and fire engine referenced in the song are half-a-mile down the road.

Modern American listeners might find themselves scratching their heads at a few lines.  In particular, “Four of fish and finger pies.” The first part of the phrase refers to fish and chips while the second part is a sexual slang.

Besides being a beautiful song with a lovely melody, “Penny Lane” also contains a motif that will become quite famous and imitated.

The Beatles started recording “Penny Lane” four days after Christmas in 1966.  The sessions for the song went well, but McCartney felt the instrumental section was lacking.

Then, one night, Paul saw a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto on the BBC.

A Picture of a Piccolo

When he returned to the studio, he told Beatles producer George Martin about the performance and asked him for the name of the high-pitched trumpet he heard.  Martin’s answer was a piccolo trumpet.

McCartney thought the instrument would work well in “Penny Lane.”  In true Beatles fashion, they didn’t just get any piccolo trumpet player, they got the piccolo trumpet player Paul heard in the BBC performance, David Mason.

Mason recorded “Penny Lane’s” famous piccolo trumpet solo on Jan. 17, 1967.  He was paid 27 pounds and 10 shillings.  Converting that to U.S. currency, and adjusting for inflation, Mason payment had the purchasing power of about $550.

Mason was not done with The Beatles.  He would return to play trumpet in “A Day in the Life,” “All You Need Is Love,” “It’s All Too Much,” and “Magical Mystery Tour.”

Sound engineer Geoff Emerick has two interesting tidbits about Mason’s solo.  One, after he played the take you hear in the song, McCartney asked him to do another.

George Martin intervened and said the recording was over.  Martin was worried about over exerting the classical trumpeter.

This is significant because The Beatles usually had the final say in the studio, not George Martin.

Emerick’s also claims that the high “E” Mason played in the solo was previously thought to be unobtainable.  After “Penny Lane,” the note became standard for piccolo trumpet players.

McCartney’s ingenuity was responsible for what is probably the first use of the piccolo trumpet in a rock song.  The instrument, built an octave higher than typical trumpets, produces a distinct, clean sound that can pierce through so-called walls of sounds.

Similar piccolo trumpet solos have been used by other artists.  For example, there’s The Jam’s “Absolute Beginners,” Tears for Fears’ “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” XTC’s “Merely A Man,” and Aerosmith’s “Love in an Elevator.”

In the United States, a promotional single of “Penny Lane” was sent to radio stations.  This single had an additional piccolo trumpet flourish near the end of the track.  Subsequent singles had a different mix without the final trumpet part.

Singles with the trumpet part are some of the rarest and most valuable Beatles collectibles.  There’s a version of “Penny Lane” with the additional trumpet part on The Beatles Anthology 2.

“Penny Lane” peaked at number one in several countries including the United States.  Oddly, it stalled at number two in the United Kingdom, the country home to Penny Lane.

Paul has played “Penny Lane” in concert—it’s included on his 1993 live album, Paul Is Live—but it doesn’t seem to be on his setlist for his current “One on One” tour.  Very strange.

Lady Gaga Is Getting Old

Lady Gaga Is Getting Old (relatively speaking)

With Lady Gaga’s performance during the halftime of Super Bowl LI, and the subsequent announcement of her “Joanne World Tour,” Mother Monster has been on my mind a lot lately.

While brushing up on all things Gaga, I was reminded that her debut album, The Fame, dropped in Aug. 19, 2008.

It’s eight years old!

That realization blew my mind.  Lady Gaga’s first album is nearing its tenth anniversary.

Maybe it’s me, but it doesn’t seem like Lady Gaga, or anything she’s produced, can be anywhere near a decade old.  She seems timeless.

Now, I usually don’t fall for this kind of stuff.  You know, those lists that have observations like: “High schoolers today have never used a compact disc.”

Big deal.  Things age.  Who cares?

Yet, I still can’t get over the fact that The Fame is eight years old!

Below, are several examples of exactly how much time has passed since Lady Gaga first studio album hit store shelves.  Whether you’re as blown away by the age of The Fame as am I, you’ll definitely agree that a lot has changed since it was released.

  • Taylor Swift was 18.
  • Chance the Rapper was 15.
  • Tony Bennett was just 82.
  • Justin Bieber had yet to release anything. His first single, “One Time,” didn’t drop until May 18, 2009.
  • One Direction had yet to form. They first started performing together in 2010 on the television show The X Factor.
  • Ariana Grande had just turned 15, and her big break, the musical 13, was a month away from beginning previews.
  • Adele was two months out from performing on Saturday Night Live. Her episode, thanks to an appearance by Sarah Palin, was seen by 17 million people.  It basically started her career in America.
  • Drake had yet to release an album. His first, Thank Me Later, won’t hit store shelves until June 15, 2010.
  • Kanye West had interrupted exactly zero award show acceptance speeches.
  • The entire run of Glee occurred since the release of The Fame. Glee debuted on Fox television on May 19, 2009 and finished March 20, 2015.
  • Adam Lambert, Phillip Phillips, Candice Glover, Nick Fradiani, and La’Porsha Renae had yet to appear on American Idol.
  • U2 had yet to launch their “360° Tour,” the highest grossing concert tour of all-time.
  • Broadway had yet to see Billy Elliott the Musical, Rock of Ages, American Idiot, Book of Mormon, Kinky Boots, or Hamilton.
  • Since the release of The Fame, we’ve lost Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Lou Reed, B.B. King, Prince, David Bowie, and George Michael.
  • When The Fame was released, the New England Patriots had only reached six Super Bowls and had won three.
  • See Lady Gaga in 2017 live in concert in cities such as Austin, Montreal, or Las Vegas.

But as the picture at the top of this article proves, Gaga has a long ways to go before she actually is ‘old’.

The Hottest Pop Stars with the Hottest Wives & Husbands


Tim & Faith

John & Chrissy

Alicia & Swizz

Carrie & Mike

Pink & Carey
         

Nicole & Keith

Ciara & Russell

Adam & Behati

Jessica & Justin

Jay-Z & Beyonce

 

We all grew up with posters of pop stars on our walls, and dreamt of what it would be like to be with them, possibly even married to them.

What is it like to be hot and to be married to a hot pop star?  We have no idea.  In fact, few people know what’s that like.

But ever wonder what Pink’s hubby looks like? Or how about Carrie Underwood’s or Alicia Keys’ husband? Ever see a picture of John Legend’s wife or a pic of Adam Levine’s beautiful wife? Then read on…

Interestingly, all ten spouses we’ve listed here are famous.  Three are in the music business, three are professional athletes, two are models, and two are actresses.  Although we didn’t list where each couple said their “I dos”, a large number did so in Europe.

To be included on this list you must be a pop star, you must be hot, and you must be married to a hottie.  No divorced or about-to-be-married couples.

Obviously, we can’t guarantee that the following ten bride-grooms will still be hitched by the time you read this, but we have a feeling most are in it for the long haul.

Pop Star: Tim McGraw or Faith Hill

His/Her Hot Spouse: Tim McGraw or Faith Hill

We start things off with a two-fer, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.  Both are hot pop stars and both are spouses of hot pop stars. The super-hot couple married in 1996.  Together they have three daughters.  Their chemistry also translates to the stage. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill concert tours are always insanely successful and usually the top grossing country tour of the year.  Combined, McGraw and Hill have sold more than 80 million albums.

John Legend's Wife: Chrissy Teigen and John Legend

Pop Star: John Legend

John Legend’s Wife: Chrissy Teigen

John Legend is hot and even hotter when he’s behind the piano singing “Ordinary People,” “Green Light,” or “All of Me.”  He met his future wife, Chrissy Teigen, on the set of a music video.  They dated for four years and then tied the knot in Italy in September of 2013.  Of all the couples on our list, John and Chrissy are the ones you’d most like to invite over for dinner and game night.  They seem super down to Earth for a hot, power couple.

Alicia Keys' Husband: Swizz Beatz & Alicia Keys

Pop Star: Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys’ Husband: Swizz Beatz

Alicia Keys is a stone-cold beauty as well as a talented singer-songwriter who has sold millions of albums and captured multiple Grammy Awards.  Keys married rapper and record producer Swiss Beatz (Kasseem Dean) on the final day of July 2010.  They exchanged vows on the French island of Corsica.  The couple’s first son, Egypt Daoud, was born that October.  In 2016, while just five years old, Egypt received a producing credit on Kendrick Lamar’s compilation, Untitled Unmastered.  It’s good to have hot, powerful parents.

Carrie Underwood's Husband: Mike Fisher & Carrie

Pop Star: Carrie Underwood

Carrie Underwood’s Husband: Mike Fisher

The hot American Idol married a hot Canadian athlete.  Country music superstar Carrie Underwood and NHL forward Mike Fisher walked down the aisle in July of 2010.  In 2011, Fisher was traded from the Ottawa Senators to the Nashville Predators.  Some believe Underwood made the trade happen so her hubby could skate in Music City.

In response to Fisher’s departure, an Ottawa radio station banned Underwood’s music.  That was a huge mistake.  Underwood’s fans rallied and promised to boycott the radio station.  Even though the station didn’t play Underwood’s music, they apologized and recanted.  Whether Underwood had anything to do with the trade, she made The Hockey News’ annual list of “100 People of Power and Influence in Ice Hockey.”

Pink's Husband: Carey Hart & Pink

Pop Star: Pink

Pink’s Husband: Carey Hart

Pink proposed to her husband, motocross racer Carey Hart, in 2005.  She did so during a race, by writing her proposal on his pit board.  Hart didn’t see it at first, but when he did, he pulled off the track and accepted.  Pink then made her fiancé get back on his bike because she didn’t want to marry a loser.  The couple wedded in 2006.  Pink and Carey have had their fair share of ups-and-downs.  Then again, what do you expect from a pop goddess and a motorcycle daredevil?  Nowadays, things seem to be motoring along just fine.  They just welcomed their second child (December of 2016).

Keith Urban's Wife: Nicole Kidman & Keith Urban

Pop Star: Keith Urban

Keith Urban’s Wife: Nicole Kidman

This isn’t a joke.  In January of 2005, Keith Urban met Nicole Kidman at G’Day LA, an event honoring Australians.  It sounds like something out of Arrested Development, but it’s an actual thing.  The couple started dating six months after they met and married in June of 2006 in Sydney.  With Nicole, Keith has had two children and one stint in rehab.  Urban is bona fide country music superstar.  He has charted 18 number one country songs, notched three Grammy victories, and has sold more than 15 million albums.

Ciara's Husband: Russell Wilson & Ciara

Pop Star: Ciara

Ciara’s Husband: Russell Wilson

What Ciara lacks in pop star chops, she more than makes up for it in the “hot” category.  Besides being a singer, songwriter, and record producer, she’s also a model and spokesperson.  Her pop star credentials aren’t all that bad.  She’s won a Grammy, sold more than 20 million albums, and charted a number one album and single.  She married Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, in July of 2016 in jolly old England.  That October they announced that they were expecting their first child, hopefully a lineman.

Adam Levine's Wife: Behati Prinsloo & Adam

Hot Pop Star: Adam Levine

Adam Levine’s Wife: Behati Prinsloo

Adam Levine married a Victoria’s Secret Angel.  And that’s why young boys pick up guitars and form bands.  So they can grow up and marry a lingerie model.  Maroon 5’s frontman married Behati Prinsloo in the spring of 2012.  Levine is from California and has moves like Jagger.  Prinsloo is from Namibia and moves down a catwalk.  The couple welcomed their first daughter in the fall of 2016.  We don’t know what she looks like but she has definitely won the lottery in the good-looking genes department.

Justin Timberlake's Wife: Jessica Biel & Justin Timberlake

Hot Pop Star: Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake’s Wife: Jessica Biel

Justin Timberlake is one of those rare, ultra-talented pop singers that could have been a star in any era.  He can sing, dance, act, and tell a joke.  He also led one of the most successful boy bands in the history of music, NSYNC.  JT started dating actress Jessica Biel in 2007.  They became engaged in 2011.  They married in Italy in 2012.  They had their first child, a boy, in 2015.  We wonder if Justin ever gave Jessica a d**K in a box for Christmas?  Probably not.

Beyonce's Husband: Jay-Z and Beyonce

Hot Pop Star: Beyonce

Beyonce’s Husband: Jay-Z

Beyoncé’s music is hot.  She’s hot.  Heck, everything she does is hot.  Together, her and Jay-Z are surface-of-the-Sun hot.  Combined, they’ve sold a quarter of a billion units, charted 18 number one albums, and won more than 40 Grammy Awards.

A couple of years ago, Bey and Jay were having serious trouble, like go see a marriage counselor trouble, like don’t buy them an anniversary gift trouble.  Their deteriorating relationship, at its nadir saw them barely speaking, may or may not have stemmed from Hova’s infidelity.  Oh well, their marital strife is our gain.  It’s the inspiration behind Beyonce’s latest masterpiece, Lemonade.

Edmonton Oilers Will Make The Stanley Cup Playoffs

Edmonton Oilers Will Make The Stanley Cup Playoffs

What’s the difference between a good team and a bad team?

A good team has very few questions and a lot of answers. A bad team has a lot of questions and very few answers.

Entering the 2016-2017 season, no NHL team had more questions than the record-setting Edmonton Oilers.

Record-setting? Yes, the Oilers are record setters. Unfortunately, it’s not the type of record fans want their team to set.

Last season, the Oilers tied the mark for longest playoff draught in NHL history. They completed their 10th consecutive seasons without qualifying for the postseason.

They don’t hold that dubious mark all by themselves. They are tied for longest postseason famine with the Florida Panthers of 2001 to 2011.

The last time the Edmonton Oilers were in the playoffs they fell to the Carolina Hurricanes in game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Edmonton Oilers’ 10-Year Playoff Draught

Year GP W L OTL PTS FINISH
2006–07 82 32 43 7 71 5th, Northwest
2007–08 82 41 35 6 88 4th, Northwest
2008–09 82 38 35 9 85 4th, Northwest
2009–10 82 27 47 8 62 5th, Northwest
2010–11 82 25 45 12 62 5th, Northwest
2011–12 82 32 40 10 74 5th, Northwest
2012–13 48 19 22 7 45 3rd, Northwest
2013–14 82 29 44 9 67 7th, Pacific
2014–15 82 24 44 14 62 6th, Pacific
2015–16 82 31 43 8 70 7th, Pacific

Low Expectations
Before the start of the 2016-2017 campaign, many NHL pundits believed the Oilers were going to make it eleven-in-a-row and hold the record for playoff futility all by themselves.

Yet, with more than half the NHL season in the books, it looks like the Oilers will prove a lot of naysayers wrong.

After 42 games, Edmonton is 21-14-7 for a total of 49 points. That has them third place in the Pacific Division.

At the time of writing this article, the Oilers are heading into a tilt with the Pacific Division leading San Jose Sharks. The winner of the game will be tops in the Pacific (at least until the Anaheim Ducks play later that same evening).

Playoff Team
Conference-wise, the club is in fifth place. In other words, if the playoffs started today they’d the fifth seed.

The Oilers are two points ahead of the current sixth-place franchise and just one point behind places third and fourth. Although, two of those three teams, the third-place Anaheim Ducks and the sixth-place St. Louis Blues, have played two fewer games.

Even better, the Oilers are five points ahead of eighth place.

So, the Oilers are not only looking at qualifying for the postseason but possibly, maybe, if things go well, hosting a series!

Playing For First!
Sure, a lot can happen in the final forty games, but you have to like their chances at maintaining their current pace and reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

At the very least, it’s January and the Oilers are playing for first place. As the EdmontonJournal.com puts it:

“Let’s take a moment to stop and savour the rare combination of words: “first place implications” … “Oilers” … “January”.”

McDavid is McAwesome
Remember how we said good teams have few questions and a lot of answers? For the 2016-2017 Oilers, the man providing most of the answers is Connor McDavid.

According to Fansided, “Connor McDavid is their heir apparent to Sidney Crosby.”

At the time of writing this article, McDavid is leading the league in points and assists. He also has 14 goals and a plus/minus of 12.

Jordan Eberle
As good as McDavid has been, he can’t do it alone. Entering the season, many thought he’d get help from Jordan Eberle.

Back in 2011-2012, when Eberle was 21, he amassed a 76-point season. Since then, he’s posted campaigns of 37, 65, 63, and 47. Even if you account for the games he missed, his best points per 82 games was 67.

Eberle entered this year as a 26-year-old forward. In other words, he’s in his hockey prime.

How’s he doing? Through 42 games he has 26 points. Compute that out for an entire season and we’re looking at 50 points.

Even worse, already this season Eberle has had four goalless streaks of six games or longer.

Leon Draisaitl
Fortunately for the Oilers, winger Leon Draisaitl is picking up the slack. The German has 15 goals and 20 assists through 42 games.

Coach Todd McLellan has recently put Draisaitl on the same line as McDavid and Patrick Maroon. Maroon leads the Oilers in goals, 16, and plus/minus, 14.

The sample size is small, but the line of McDavid, Draisaitl, and Maroon could be one of the best offensive lines in the league.

Meanwhile, goalie Cam Talbot is having a solid year with a 2.44 goals against average and a save percentage of .920. He’s sixth in the league in both wins and shutouts.

Now For The Bad News…
While the Oilers may end their playoff drought, fans shouldn’t expect much more.

Beyond the previously mentioned McDavid-Draisaitl-Maroon line, the Oilers offense is average at best and they need help on their blue line.

The team is really riding McDavid’s talent, as they should. If they want to make a deep run, they’re going to need offensive consistency from at least one more line.

Also, 22 out of their last 40 games are against (probable) playoff teams. That includes five out of their last seven.

Oilers Won’t Spoil
Before the calendar changed, the Oilers suffered four losing streaks of three of more games. For all that they’re doing well, the Oilers can still play like a franchise that hasn’t reached the postseason in a tenth of a century.

Obviously, the Oilers continue to have questions they don’t have answers to. Even so, they are headed in the right direction, and more than likely, headed to the postseason.

That’s got to make Oilers fans feel very good especially after experiencing literally the worst decade in NHL history.