Monday, July 07, 2008

Happy Birthday Ringo!

I was driving in my fancy rental car from Logan airport to my fancy Hampton Inn hotel room today when they mentioned it was Ringo Starr's 68th birthday. Apparnetly Ringo wanted everyone to wish the world peace and love or something like that on his special day. I flashed the peace sign out of respect and and kept on driving. Then the DJ in honor of Ringo's birthday decided to play a Beatles song. "Oh goodie" I thought. What Ringo song were they going to play? The Ringo play list rattled through my head quite quickly. Maybe "Don't Pass Me By", maybe "When We Was Fab" or even "It Don't Come Easy". Then they played ... "Revolution"... a John Lennon track. Huh? Its Ringo's birthday! At least play a song he sung or rocked the drums out on.

So in honor of the funny man himself here are the top five Beatles tracks featuring the man who coined the phrase "Hard Day's Night", Mr. Ringo Starr:

5) "Octopus's Garden" From Abbey Road - When I was little I remember Mr. Sworko (RIP), my 3rd grade music teacher, having us sing this song in class and because of that it will always hold a spot in my heart. "We would sing around and dance around because we know we can't be found". Played on Episode 16 of All You Need Is Hops: Noah and The Great Flood. A personal favorite of mine (if I'm allowed to have a favorite).

4) "The End" From Abbey Road - As the Beatles career grew Ringo was not allowed to sing as much. However, on one of their later songs Ringo got to really shine with his drumming. A rarity for the Beatles. This track was included as part of the wonderful "Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight / The End" suite featured on Episode 24: The Dark Side of the Woods - another favorite show of mine.

3) "Good Night" From The Beatles (White Album) - It's fitting that on an album that drew from so many different places and styles that a track sung by the man who was the group's backbone was its closer.

2) "Yellow Submarine" From Yellow Submarine - When the Beatles wanted to be a bit silly they called on Ringo. His sense of humor kept them together for years despite the fact they had difficulty working together. "Yellow Submarine" is a perfect example of the bands creativity and sense of humor. In fact it was written specifically for Ringo. When Sir George Martin agreed to work with the Beatles what he was really struck with was their sense of humor not their musical ability. This was fitting given that Martin was a comedy record producer not a music producer. As the band grew and because more focused on music and more serious about political causes it seemed only Ringo kept alive that humorous spirit that made them so appealing in the first place. And that is why this song ranks #2 on the Ringo countdown.

1) "With A Little Help From My Friends" from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - "And I'll try not to sing out of key" sings Ringo in the open verses. A little tongue in cheek given that Ringo is obviously not the world's greatest singer. Too bad this song is better remembered as being the theme song to The Wonder Years. And that isn't supposed to be a slight toJoe Cocker who delivered one of the all time great covers... its just that Ringo's version is so wonderful on its own.

Happy Birthday Ringo!

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