The Man Who Put The Beat In The Beatles

Today is Ringo Starr’s 70th birthday.  He is celebrating with a private event at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City, followed by a concert at Radio City Music Hall.

I always thought Ringo Starr was a vastly underrated rock drummer.  Because he was a character who became known for his “Ringoisms”  — like “a hard day’s night” — I think many people considered him to be less important musically than other members of the Beatles.  When Lorne Michaels offered some ludicrously small amount for the Beatles to reunite and play on Saturday Night Live, he specifically said that the other band members could give Ringo a lesser cut if they wanted to.  It was supposed to be funny, but it was a cruel joke.

Sure, Ringo didn’t write many songs or have many singing hits when he was with the Beatles.  (Ironically, for a few years after the Beatles split up, Ringo had the most post-Beatles hits of any ex-member of the band, with songs like It Don’t Come Easy and Photograph.)  Nevertheless, he was the man who put the beat in the Beatles.  He had rock ‘n roll in his soul and never let showmanship get in the way of keeping the beat.  Listen to the ferocious drumming on, say, Twist and Shout and you will know what I mean.  Anyone who likes to dance to the early Beatles tunes — songs like Dizzy Miss Lizzie or I Saw Her Standing There — should tip his cap to Ringo Starr because his excellent drumming made those songs easy to dance to.  Even on his one drum solo — at the end of side two of Abbey Road — Ringo seemed to focus mostly on the beat, and not on technical flourishes or showoff riffs that detracted from the rhythm.  Yet within that guiding framework, Ringo also was capable of inventiveness.  Rain and Come Together are two pretty good examples of that fact.

I think it is safe to say that the Beatles without Ringo would not have been the Beatles.  Happy Birthday, Ringo!  Let’s celebrate with this video of Rain:

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50 Years Old This Week

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It was 50 Years ago this week that the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” was published by Harper Lee in July 1960. Two years later the novel was made into a movie that ranks as one of my top five favorites of all time.

The plot is a simple one which revolves around a widowed attorney Atticus Finch and his family, son Jem and daughter Scout in Alabama during the 1930’s. The local judge asks Finch to represent a black man, Tom Robinson who is accused of raping a white woman.

While the film in itself is wonderful, the words of wisdom that Atticus is able to communicate to his children are timeless.

On life in general Finch says, “if you can learn a simple trick Scout you will get along alot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from their point of view, until you climb inside their skin and walk around in it.”

On racism he tells his children, “as you grow older you will see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don”t you forget it, whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.”

Regarding name calling by people who disagree with him he tells Scout, “it is never an insult to be called what someone thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is and it doesn’t hurt you.”

On the court case itself he says, “this case, Tom Robinson’s case, is something that goes to the essence of a man’s conscience Scout, I couldn’t go to church and worship God if I didn’t try to help that man.”

And Finch’s explanation of courage to his kids , “courage is when you know your licked before you start, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

Of course there are others and these are just a few, but they just don’t make movies like they used to !

Welcome To The ‘Hood

For a brief, grim period, the New Albany Market Street area was without an ice cream shop after Chocolate Octopus, a long-time tenant in the Market Street area, closed.  That depressing time has now ended, because Johnson’s Ice Cream has moved into the old Chocolate Octopus space and is dishing out cold and creamy concoctions to all comers.  Kish, Richard and I walked up there after dinner recently, and the ice cream was quite good.

Every community needs a neighborhood ice cream shop where people can hang during the hot summer months, and Johnson’s really fills that bill.  Welcome, Johnson’s — we are glad you are here!