Fringe Toast Music: Beatlesque Music and Strawberry Fields Forever


Green Pajamas

Let me take you up . . . to the heavenly realms . . . where the spirit of the Fab Four flows in the form of what’s known as Beatlesque music. Some say the adventure began in 1964 when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, and screaming young ladies invoked a madness of delight for John, Paul, George, and Ringo. In the following several years, the Beatles inspired new directions in music composition.

In their final years as a foursome, 1967-70, their music was characterized by distinctive chord structures and instrumentation. Each member contributed his share of the creative juice, and some came from their classically trained producer George Martin. Today, we label songs that echo the sounds of this later era as “Beatlesque” music. It has become a genre of its own.

After years of my own meticulous collecting, I now offer ten favorite Beatlesque tunes. No cover songs in this list.  None of the Beatles were involved. Yet each track shimmers with the tone, lyrical creativity, and distinctive instrumentation of their late era. The ten songs in this list are organized randomly except for the first, which is my personal favorite.

1. “Emma is Crying,” by the Green Pajamas (1997). This is perhaps the best piece of Beatlesque music. Jeff Kelly and his Seattle-based band offer the complete experience, including backward keyboards and guitar, McCartney-like bass lines bouncing around Ringo-influenced drum beats, George Harrison-inspired sitar and tabla, and exquisite Lennon-flavored lyrics. Pinch yourself if you suddenly find yourself thinking you are riding a bus on Abbey Road or a Magical Mystery Tour.

2. “Kiss Them for Me,” by Siouxsie and the Banshees (1991). The highly percussive introduction morphs into a George Martin-inspired swing through wonderful memories of actress Jayne Mansfield, portrayed through beautiful melodies and marvelous instrumental bridges.

3 & 4. “Sub-Rosa Highway” and “Doctor Marvello,” by Klaatu (1976). This Canadian band was incorrectly rumored to be the Beatles performing under an alias.  Both of these tracks follow the structure of Beatles songs from just a few years earlier.

5. “Tomorrow Drop Dead,” by the Fraternal Order of the All (1997). The CD Greetings from Planet Love features the work of California guitarist Andrew Gold, who does his reformulation of “Tomorrow Never Knows.” The entire album is a tribute to the music of the 1960s.

6. “I’d Rather Be Out in the Rain,” by the Shadow Kabinet (2004). From the UK group headed by Steve Somerset, this song sounds like the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.” What a welcomed reflection!

7. “Captain Sunshine,” by Lucy Schwartz (2013). Lucy emits ageless charm and vocal nuance as she sings with just enough Beatles influence and modern flair that you will love it even if you don’t know who the Beatles are.

8. “Side We Seldom Show,” by Emitt Rhodes (1971). The singer-songwriter’s retrospective album, The Emitt Rhodes Recordings (1969-1973), sounds like it was written and performed by Paul McCartney. Close your eyes and savor the moments.

9. “Hilly Fields,” by nick nicely (2004). Born in Greenland during a stopover on a transatlantic flight, the UK singer-songwriter prefers his name to be spelled in lower case. When I close my eyes, strawberry fields bloom in the spring.

10. “Homefront Cameo,” by Cotton Mather. Founded by Robert Harrison in Austin, Texas, the band drills into a song sounding like it came from the Beatles’ Revolver album. The Kon Tiki CD abounds with Beatlesque delights.

Do yourself a favor and spend some time with tracks that we might imagine as the Lost Gold album that the Beatles could have recorded.

Hear Fringe Toast every Wednesday, 8-10 p.m., CST, on KRUU FM 100.1 in Fairfield, Iowa.