Paul McCartney: Hey Jude (as arranged for the Stan Kenton and Maynard Ferguson Orchestras respectively)

OK!  We're back with a vengeance!  This week we're pulling out all the stops and going to do something we've never done before!  Are you excited?!  You should be.




Bringing it down a notch- this week I've decided to take a new heading on LF.  We've talked about mostly instrumental music and almost exclusively what many of you might consider to be "Classical Music".  An odd misnomer that has stuck with our interpretation of music since...well...since people starting listening to music at the push of a button.  

And here's the modern interpretation of musical genres as perceived by the post-MTV-generation

"What happened?" you might find yourself asking.  Where were our champions of music culture when video did indeed kill the radio star?  The answer to that question is that they never left.  They've always been there waiting in the shadows.  Waiting to be discovered, hiding on some pawn shop shelf quietly gathering dust.  Biding their time.  And no, I'm not talking like some sort of musical hipster.

No, my dear readers, this music has always been there.  Sometimes on the surface and sometimes just below.  So, in order to hopefully push our demographics deeper into the 18-35 year olds we are going to being a new series entitled:

Music Written After 1960 That Doesn't Suck

In this series I hope to find four examples of very modern music that exhibits all of the characteristic symptoms of music that is beneficial and enjoyable to listen to.  Basically, anything that isn't Miley Cyrus riding construction equipment.  

"I'm not touching it."

In week one we're going to pull a piece that many of you probably know quite well.  For me it is a piece that brings back many happy memories of my salad days as a high school trombonist.  It is none other than "Hey Jude" written by Paul McCartney (b. 1942) and performed by none other than the Beatles.  

The tune itself has an interesting history.  McCartney eventually claimed that he wrote it for John and Cynthia Lennon's son, Julian, on the occasion of his parents divorce. McCartney and the younger Lennon grew very close over the years, to the point that Julian himself admitted he looked to McCartney as a father figure more so than the elder Lennon, even prior to his untimely assassination.  "Jules" was a difficult name to sing, so the change was made to "Jude" at some point in the history of the song.  Paradoxically, John Lennon thought it was about him, taking the lyrics "you have found her, now go and get her" to be some sort of mixed blessing about his relationship with Yoko Ono.  McCartney even claimed for some time that it was about himself, written as a mantra for pushing forward in the rough transition the Beatles endured in the Ono Era.  Though this may have been a means of protecting Julian from the spotlight.

It was 20 years before Julian Lennon knew the song was originally inspired for him, as a message of hope and support through a difficult hour.  Despite this narrow scope, the song seems to reach a broader audience and I think McCartney ultimately hoped it would.  The hybrid messages of carrying on and pushing forward despite the weight of the world held like Atlas speaks to many of us in our different stages of life.  The fact that all these people claim to think McCartney was writing it for them expresses volumes about the universal appeal for this song.  For me personally, my connection came in 2001 where our high school band had elected to perform a Beatles half-time show.  We included in this show several well-written charts and one of those was in fact "Hey Jude".  

Now, this was not your dad's "Hey Jude".  This version was written for none other than the Stan Kenton Orchestra.  The only recording that I can find that exists of this particular version is on the album "Live at Redlands University".  At this point in time (late 60's through the 70's) Kenton and his counterpart Maynard Ferguson were working primarily with college musicians and helped launch many a career for young talent.  It was an exciting point in jazz history, I mean- how often do you get to play for someone like Kenton or Ferguson and just be a college kid? 

Never, that's how often.  

Unfortunately, the only way to hear this particular track is to buy it and to your further disappointment you will have to buy the whole album (as per Amazon and iTunes purchasing requirements).  The main reason I like this version is that Dick Shearer has an absolutely, disgustingly sick trombone solo at the start.  It starts out with a super funky groove from the rhythm section and then goes into this nice rendition of the first verse. Second time around Shearer jumps up an octave and he nails a high F.  It's like trombone heaven up there.  

It sounds like angels printing money.

So, unfortunately for you I cannot publish a link to hear this golden funk on tap.  I can recommend that you do buy the album (there's a bunch of good tunes on there, not to mention a revisit of "Peanut Vendor" which is hot to the touch).  

Here's a link to that on Amazon:

It's worth the damn $8.99.

But for you cheapskates (I mean 99 percenters) here's a rendition that Maynard did in the 70's.  Pay special attention to the shag carpeted stage.

It's pretty nice.

Homework- Find at least one other rendition/arrangement of "Hey Jude" and write a note about the differences/similarities and if you liked it better or not.  

See you next Friday.