A couple of postings ago I wrote about the shorebird count in El Salvador, now a week ago. During this count, while traveling between sites, we listened to Karla's iPod on the car stereo. She is a huge Beatles fan, and played us the soundtrack of Across the Universe, a 2007 feature film I not only had not seen, but hadn't even heard about. That's what happens when you spend most of your time in the field or 'on the road' as it were.
Karla assured me I "had to see this movie". Meanwhile, we listened to the soundtrack which has Beatles songs performed by other, mostly well-known performers (like Bono). The songs are great obviously, but I wasn't blown away by the majority of the performances. Somehow they didn't seem to eclipse the average tribute band output, and in every case the original version was far superior - more imaginative, more daring, older but just way fresher.
Karla, incidentally, is totally on board for the concept of the tribute album, for she also played us bossa nova versions of the Guns 'n' Roses songbook, as well as bossa nova versions of Bob Marley songs. To my ears these albums were downright gimmicky, and in the case of the Marley, rather distasteful. They were sung by a forgettable chanteuse in a hoarse, whispery voice that was probably meant to sound sexy, but in fact only sounded trashy. They were played by slick studio musicians and - to me, anyway - sounded flat and completely devoid of any humanity or personal warmth. (Sorry Karla!)
All this leads into something I just found today and feel compelled to share with the rest of the universe via this blog, namely The Beatles Complete On Ukulele. That too sounds very gimmicky of course, but give it a listen and you'll quickly discover how imaginative the arrangements are, and how utterly charming these performances.
As I understand it, it's two guys from Brooklyn - Roger and Dave - who set out to record all 148 Beatles songs in the catalogue, collaborating with a different set of musicians on every single track. These musicians are from all walks of life, ranging from local New York indie bands to the Fort Greene Children's Choir. Sure, there's ukulele playing on each track, yet they all sound very different. It seems as if the arrangements were made in close collaboration with the guest artists, and the results are both idiosyncratic and timeless.
It's been going on for over a year, but they're not done yet.
You can download the songs as a podcast into iTunes, or you can download them directly from this site, which also has hilarious, perceptive commentary on each track. Enjoy!
Next time back to birding...