The story of the unreleased Watching Rainbows by The Beatles

Unreleased – Watching Rainbows by The Beatles

This is a song that gets better and better and I really wonder what it could have been if they finished it. It is the song Watching Rainbows by The Beatles. Yes, there are still some unreleased gems out there.

Maybe we’ll see more of this “song” when Peter Jackson’s new documentary is released (Sadly set on hold until August 2021 du to the pandemic):

The Beatles: Get Back is an upcoming documentary film directed by Peter Jackson that covers the making of the Beatles’ 1970 album Let It Be, which had the working title of Get Back. The film draws from material originally captured in January 1969 by director Michael Lindsay-Hogg for his 1970 documentary of the album. The Beatles: Get Back endeavours to recut Lindsay-Hogg’s film to show the friendly camaraderie that still existed between the Beatles, as well as to challenge longtime assertions that the project was entirely marked by ill-feeling.

Over 55 hours of footage and 140 hours of audio stemming from the original project were made available to Jackson’s team, and it will include the full 42-minute rooftop concert. In reference to the long-reported acrimony surrounding the original Get Back project, Jackson wrote in a press statement that he was “relieved to discover the reality is very different to the myth … Sure, there’s moments of drama – but none of the discord this project has long been associated with.”

Watching Rainbows is recorded on 14 January 1969 during the massive Get Back sessions at Twickenham Studios. It features John Lennon on lead vocal and electric piano, Paul McCartney on lead guitar, and Ringo Starr on drums. Bass guitar is absent from the song because Paul McCartney is playing George Harrison’s usual role as lead electric guitar.

Why was George absent? We’ll come to that, let us listen to the song first. Bare in mind that this is just as much a jam-session as a finished song, but we get a glimpse into what it could have been.

Watching Rainbows – The Beatles (1969) “complete” stereo version:

Watching Rainbows – The Beatles (1969) short “fan edit”:

George Harrison quit the band for a brief period starting on January 10th, 1969. At the time, The Beatles were practicing at the film studio, Twickenham, so that their rehearsals could be filmed. After a morning filed with verbal altercations between George and Paul, a quiet George Harrison eventually met up with the group and crew for lunch a bit late. Rather than joining them, he simply stated, “See you ’round the clubs” and disappeared.

The three remaining Beatles went back to the recording room not knowing what to do and unleashed an angry improvisational ruckus with John Lennon sarcastically leading the group to play The Who’s “A Quick One, While He’s Away.”

Days later, word got back to Harrison that Lennon had mentioned bringing in Eric Clapton as a replacement, which Lennon had probably said as a ploy to get George back rather than a real solution. After a five-hour meeting, Harrison rejoined the group on January 15th, 1969.


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BBC documentary: Elvis the Rebirth of the King (2017)

The widely accepted Elvis narrative is that the Vegas period was the nadir of his career, but this film argues that Elvis reached his peak both as a singer and performer in the first few years of his Vegas period. He became, in those short years, the greatest performer on earth. The film tracks this five-year renaissance with some of his key musical and artistic collaborators of the period, including the creator of his most memorable jumpsuits, to celebrate the greatest pop reinvention of all time. (BBC) Continue reading “BBC documentary: Elvis the Rebirth of the King (2017)”

The Howlin’ Wolf Story – The Secret History of Rock & Roll (Documentary, 2003)

Few if any figures in blues loom as large as Howlin’ Wolf, yet there’s been a sad lack of footage of this staggering man. This director’s cut from the When the Sun Goes Down-The Secret History of Rock & Roll series is packed with never-before-seen live footage, rare Shindig footage presented by Mick Jagger and Brian Jones, interviews with bandmates and family and more. An absolute must for music-history and blues fans.

Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976), known as Howlin’ Wolf, was a Chicago blues singer, guitarist, and harmonica player, originally from Mississippi. With a booming voice and imposing physical presence, he is one of the best-known Chicago blues artists. The musician and critic Cub Koda noted, “no one could match Howlin’ Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.” Producer Sam Phillips recalled, “When I heard Howlin’ Wolf, I said, ‘This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.'” Several of his songs, including “Smokestack Lightnin'”, “Killing Floor” and “Spoonful”, have become blues and blues rock standards. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 54 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.

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September 23: Jazz Legend John Coltrane Birthday

“My music is the spiritual expression of what I am — my faith, my knowledge, my being…When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups…I want to speak to their souls.”
~John Coltrane

All a musician can do is to get closer to the sources of nature, and so feel that he is in communion with the natural laws.
~John Coltrane

John Coltrane Quartet – Impressions (video)
McCoy Tyner:Piano
Jimmy Garrison:Bass
Elvin Jones:Drums:

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Documentary: Alone with Chrissie Hynde 2017 (Arena, BBC)

Being in a band is the one time in my life that I’m a real team player.’
– Chrissie Hynde

Chrissie Hynde offer us a glimpse into her backstage life through this fine documentary, Arena: Alone with Chrissie Hynde (aired February 2017). Not so much a history lesson as a glimpse into the everyday life of one of the most interesting woman in rock/music the last decades. Intersped with some great performances by Pretenders and Chrissie Hynde.

Director: Nicola Roberts

“Arena spent the summer with supercool self-confessed rock chick Chrissie Hynde – shopping for clothes in Paris, hanging out with Sandra Bernhard in New York, life in London and a special trip back to her home town of Akron, Ohio.

A thoughtful and intimate portrait of a ‘lone, hungry, irritable wolf’, featuring a glorious live performance at one of London’s newest venues.

In this expanded version, Chrissie also takes us on a walking tour of Nashville and meets up with Dan Auerbach – the lead singer of the Black Keys who produced her latest album.”
– BBC

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Classic documentary: Heartworn Highways – the best music documentary ever made!

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The best music documentary ever made: Heartworn Highways

For it is just that, the best documentary about music I have ever seen! It looks like a home movie, you feel like you get insight into a world long gone and you feel like looking into a world just for the invited.

It is up on YouTube , so catch it before it gets taken down (or better, buy yourself a copy so you can see it as often as you want).

Heartworn Highways is made by James Szalapski whose vision captured some of the founders of the Outlaw Country  and Singer/Songwriter movement in Texas and Tennessee in the last weeks of 1975 and the first weeks of 1976. The film was not released theatrically until 1981.

Highlights for me: The visit to Townes Van Zandt’s caravan and the Christmas party at Guy and Susanna Clark (especially Steve Earle singing Mercenary Song).

Heartworn Highways (full movie):

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