Radio Rio’s All Brazilian Beatles Cover Show, Saturday Dec 6th from 6-8pm
My interest in the Beatles started with their record covers rather than their music. As a kid I would leaf through my parent’s albums and of course Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt Peppers had great appeal to me visually (the other album cover that I distinctly remember was Tom Waits’ Small Change with him in the dressing room of a stripper with those pasties on her boobs).
Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt Peppers fortunately contained music that was appealing to my six-year-old ears too. Almost every song on Magical Mystery Tour has some whimsical title and fanciful topic that should catch the attention of any kid. And that is where my interest in the Beatles started, well after they disbanded, and about four years before John Lennon was killed, somewhere around 1976. By the age of eight I believe that I knew every lyric to every song they had ever written.
My Beatles obsession even crossed over into insensitivity and silliness. My aunt had been given tickets to see the Beatles in Forest Hills, New York by my parents when she was a teenager. She still had the ticket stubs and lots of original paraphernalia. One day I asked her to make sure that when she died that she left all of over her Beatles stuff to me (probably secretly hoping she would die soon even though I was (am) very fond of her). In an Atlantic City casino, near where I grew up, the Legends in Concert tour would feature a Beatles cover band and we would eagerly wait to talk to the members after the show. I can’t remember now if we wanted to talk to them to share our enthusiasm about the Beatles or to pathetically get their autographs. And I dragged my mother to the yearly Beatles Fest at the Meadowlands outside of New York every year to stock up on collectibles.
However, now that I am older and musically wiser I no longer believe that the Beatles are the best band ever (blasphemy!?). I am much more fascinated now by their cultural significance and influence on the rest of the music world. Hence, my annual broadcast of the All Brazilian Beatles Cover Show.
The influence of the Beatles (along with many other bands from the US and UK) caused a great controversy in the Brazilian popular music scene in the mid-1960s. Bossa Nova had just put Brazil on the world map and there was a great fear that outside musical influences would now “corrupt” the unique Brazilian sound. But the Brazilian musical youth, the Jovem Guarda, embraced the Beatles and rock n’ roll wholeheartedly and caused quite a stir. Then in 1967, Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil started to blend sounds that were uniquely Brazilian but incorporated outside influences (what they would call the Universal Sound and Cultural Cannibalism). This was also very controversial and it spawned the short-lived Tropicalia movement. They did it very deliberately so that people would have to take notice and face the fact that art incorporates many external and internal forces. This is quite evident with the influence of Bossa Nova on popular music throughout the world. The Brazilian invasion and the British invasion occurred fairly simultaneously and each had an amazing impact. The 1964 Grammys pitted the Beatles against the Jobim/Gilberto crew.
The All Brazilian Beatles show started in 2001 when George Harrison died and John Lennon’s death anniversary was approaching. I had just started doing Radio Rio and realized I had a lot of Brazilians performing Beatles songs in my collection. The tradition continues this Saturday night, December 6, from 6 to 8 pm, with the 8th Annual All Brazilian Beatles Cover Show. This year I will be joined by one of KDHX’s newest programmers, Rich Reese of Pop! The Beat Bubble Burst. He is the former president of the local (now defunct) Beatles Fan Club and a current writer for Beatlefan Magazine. I hope you can tune in!