December 23, 2006

happy crimble everyone

Not sure why, but my thoughts always turn Beatlesque at Christmastime. All I ever really hope to get are books and music, probably from years of memories of many happy hours holed up listening to new records and reading when everyone else was turned in, wiped out or off being merry somewhere.

If I indulge at all this holidaytime, it might be an extended binge online, cruising the endless hours of free music up these days on YouTube and artists’ websites… and if I’m lucky, a long listen-through of a new album or two on one of my pairs of ludicrously overpriced and underused headphones.

Here, then, are a few things I’ve enjoyed over the past week as the spirit starts to kick in.

George Martin and his son recently did an album of Beatles mashups (the one without Dangermouse), and I’ve been scared to hear how it turned out. But this video’s a groovy mix of “Tomorrow Never Knows” and George Harrison’s vocals from “Within You Without You,” with a cheesy/cool fractaleidoscope effect using old Beatles clips.

It’s sad enough being reminded of John Lennon, but when someone reminds you of John Lennon and Elliott Smith at the same time, it just kills. Sean Lennon walked out onto the Letterman show a couple months ago and ripped into a beautiful new song that made comparisons pointless for a little while — it was simply good, despite the obvious influences. I sought it out again on YouTube tonight and found the recorded album version as well, but there was something special about the live performance. Until CBS takes it down, here it is for your consideration.

Of course, no one was like Elliott Smith. You can forget sometimes how incredible it was to see what he could do alone with a guitar. This clip of him playing Angeles says it all.

If there were a second coming of the Beatles today, it probably wouldn’t sound like a Britpop band — more likely hiphop. While we wait for that, I think the most electrifying, beautiful thing I saw all year was this performance from the instantly legendary Gorillaz show at the Apollo. I defy anyone to watch this and not grin and dance and cheer in happiness at least once.

I always get a kick listening to the Beatles Christmas records, which were often played on NPR this time of year when I was in school (way back at the end of the 20th century) and which I happily got from Buzz a few years ago. I probably post about them here every year, but rarely post them, so here they are. A little gift for you from the treasure trove, while supplies last. [sorry… all gone!]