Tag Archives: john lennon

The Fab Four- Learning More

Visiting Abbey Road in London in 2005

Visiting Abbey Road in London in 2005

For the past couple weeks I’ve been doing classroom visits for the half dozen student teachers I mentor. Monday I got to sit in on a music appreciation class where one of my students is doing a unit on the Beatles.

My husband Dave crossing Abbey Road 2005

My husband Dave crossing Abbey Road 2005

Since I’m married to a Beatles expert I wasn’t expecting to learn lots that was new. But I did. I learned that Paul McCartney played a special kind of bass called a Höfner which was designed and built in Germany. Paul made the instrument famous. It is often referred to as the Beatles bass.

I learned that Ringo Starr was left handed and yet played on a drum kit set up for right handed players. This led to him creating a very distinctive sound.

 I found out about John Lennon’s glasses. John Lennon started wearing his signature round granny glasses when he played the role of Private Gripweed in the 1967 Richard Lester movie, How I Won the War.  Pairs of his glasses have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction.

I discovered that when his band mates weren’t taking George Harrison’s new song  While My Guitar Gently Weeps seriously enough he asked his friend Eric Clapton to come into the recording studio to play guitar for the song. Clapton did and the song became a huge hit.    One of the things I love about my job mentoring university education students is all the interesting things I learn when I visit them in the classroom. 

Other posts…..

Learning Cool Things

Oh the Things You Learn

Crossing Abbey Road


Filed under England, Music

Crossing Abbey Road

On CBC  this week radio personality Michael Enright pulled recordings out of the station’s archive to let us in on how the Canadian media had covered The Beatles first visit to Canada fifty years ago. It reminded me of the Beatles’ pilgrimage we made on our trip to London. Here’s what I wrote about it at the time.

We took a Magical Mystery Tour when we visited London. When we were planning our holiday in the British capital my husband Dave said his top priority was to tour some of the city sites related to The Beatles. Dave is the owner of all the albums the group has produced and can sing on demand almost any song John, Ringo, Paul and George every recorded.

Shortly after we arrived in London he found a brochure advertising a walking tour which would take visitors to many locations important to the careers of the Fab Four.      

Dave with our guide Richard

  At ten o’clock one morning we met our guide Richard and about two dozen other Beatles aficionados just outside the studio where the first Beatles’ movie Yellow Submarine was made. Richard had written a book about the Beatles and had a binder of photos he had taken of the famous quartet. He was a veritable walking encyclopedia of Beatles trivia. He told us Yellow Submarine is one of Queen Elizabeth’s favorite films.

Dave at the gate outside the MPL Music Company building

The second stop on our tour was the music company MPL which was founded by Paul McCartney in 1971. The M stands for his last name and the P and L for his first name and that of his late wife Linda. The music company is wildly successful. It owns the rights to hundreds of popular songs as well as the scores to musicals like Annie and Grease. Much to Paul McCartney’s chagrin, however, the rights to all the songs he wrote with John Lennon were purchased by the infamous Michael Jackson.

 Next Richard led us to a Gentleman’s Washroom sign marking the location of a public toilet. Apparently, in 1966 John Lennon made a guest appearance on a British television program. In one scene John was filmed going into that particular washroom. It was on this television show John wore his signature granny glasses for the first time. Those glasses started a fashion craze which lasted for years. Richard also told us some enterprising person kept the roll of toilet paper John Lennon used in the Gentleman’s Washroom that day. It recently went on sale on E- Bay for thousands of pounds.

Our tour continued with stops at the Apple Production Studios where the group gave their final concert on the rooftop in 1969. We saw the London Library. Here original scores of many of the Beatles songs are on display.

The Palladium Theatre London

We stopped outside the Palladium Theatre where the Beatles gave their first concert and Trident Studios where Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was filmed. Our guide Richard put to rest the rumor that the song’s title stands for the drug LSD. Apparently, the real story is that John Lennon’s son Julian came home from kindergarten one day and showed his dad an imaginative drawing he had created and colored. When his Dad asked him what he called his picture he said, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” so John wrote a song about it.

The Abbey Road Recording Studio

The highlight of the tour was our visit to the Abbey Road studio where perhaps the most well known Beatles album Abbey Road was recorded. The front cover of that album shows the four singers walking across the street at a pedestrian crosswalk. The intersection is actually quite busy with traffic but I waited patiently with the camera to get a picture of Dave crossing the street barefoot at the exact spot where the Beatles had their picture taken for the Abbey Road Album cover. Later we stopped to buy Beatles T-shirts for our sons who grew up listening to Beatles music with their Dad and had no choice but to become Beatles fans as well.

My husband Dave crossing Abbey Road 2005

Our Magical Mystery Tour was over.

Other posts about music of the 60’s……

They’d Never Heard of Woodstock

Walking Into A Bob Marley Tourist Trap

Lesson From Leonard Cohen

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And So This is Christmas and What Have You Done?

And so this is Christmas and what have you done? Another year over and a new one just begun. 

Those are the first lines in the song Happy Christmas written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1971.  It has a joyful, lilting tune but is really a serious song encouraging us to think about the needs of others, including those  ‘near and dear’ to us, the poor, the old and young.  The song expresses hope those people will have a happy coming year free from fear. The opening question is thought-provoking. What we have done to make the world a better, more secure place for others?

When I think of someone who made the world a positive, safe place for those ‘near and dear’ to her, I am reminded of my mother-in-law Anne who died in October.  In this picture she is with my niece Rachel. At her funeral one of her grandsons, Beau, spoke about a time when he was a little boy staying at his Oma’s house. A warning about an approaching tornado came across the television screen.  His Oma told him not to worry but said they needed to go into the basement. The two of them huddled in a corner in the cellar for a long time. I imagine that all the while my mother-in-law spoke softly, talking to her grandson to distract him and keeping her arm around him.  Beau says he has never forgotten that experience because he remembers how utterly safe and loved he felt with his Oma.

My father-in-law is in a nursing home and when I think of people who make the world a less fearful and better place for the old, I am reminded of the caring, patient men and women who make the happiness of the elderly their priority. The staff at the Mennonite Home in Leamington, Ontario laugh with my father-in-law, pray with and for him, encourage him and make sure he is safe, clean and occupied with meaningful activities. They take a personal interest in Dad. People who work in nursing homes deserve recognition and affirmation for what they do to make the world a better, less fearful place for seniors.

Parents of young children need recognition and affirmation too. This is a photo of our Hong Kong friends Jeff and Susan Herzog with their three boys. I follow Susan’s blog as well as the blogs of three other mothers who are my friends and are in the midst of raising young children, and I check out the Facebook updates of my nieces and nephews who are also parents.  As I read about their day to day struggles and joys I realize what an important job it is to parent children so they will become responsible, good people.  It isn’t always easy to maintain secure, loving homes and determine what is the best thing to do in order to raise happy, healthy children who will grow up to be visionary, contributing citizens. It’s a job vital to society.

When I consider someone who has made the world a little less fearful and a better place for the poor, I think of Joy Neufeld, from my former church, Grace Mennonite in Steinbach, who started Soup’s On in the church basement in 2004.  It is a project her fellow church members and the whole community have rallied around. Soup’s On serves hot meals to some 80 people two nights a week and provides nutritious lunches for school children.  Joy’s dedication has made the world a happier, less daunting place for many needy people. Joy is on the left in this photo and on her right is Simone Penner another Soup’s On volunteer. 

As I think about the people I know who have done things this last year to quell fear and give hope I’m inspired and motivated to do my best to be one of those people too in 2012.

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