Magical History Tour: GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROAD STREET - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Christopher Morley sends his regards...
Having spent the majority of our time on this magical history tour considering films starring or inspired by the Beatles, what better chance to take a slight diversion into something written & indeed soundtracked for the screen by a man who was by then very much an ex-Beatle, and also an ex-member of his post Beatles project, Wings. Indeed, Paul McCartney began production on Give My Regards To Broad Street in November 1982, after finishing off his fourth studio solo album, Pipes Of Peace, with film telling an exaggerated version of a day in his life.

After presumably waking up, getting out of bed & dragging a comb across his head, time to hop into a nice chauffeur-driven car to make his way to another interview and have a bit of a daydream about driving himself around in an even flashier motor instead!

Little time for that, though. Certainly not within the plot of Give My Regards To Broad Street anyway. The master tapes for his latest album were due to be handed in to the recording studio, they're already a day late & now they've been stolen by a criminal. The police are called as a matter of urgency on the suspicion that this shady fellow, Harry, is planning to bootleg them, against the backdrop of one of the studio's creditors, Mr Rath, announcing that he'll take over the record company by midnight if the tapes aren't found.

Paul of course does what most of us would do in the circumstances - goes off to rehearse, record a few radio performances & make two music videos with his wife, Linda, & Ringo Starr.

The majority of the songs heard in the film are solo reinterpretations of Beatles & Wings songs, bookended by three originals in the shape of No More Lonely Nights, Not Such A Bad Boy & No Values, plus a symphonic take on Eleanor Rigby rejigged as Eleanor's Dream.

McCartney's motivation for making Give My Regards To Broad Street in the first place seemed to be to get back to the early days of the Beatles' cinematic career......
“I wanted to be involved in the making of a movie. I remembered from the time of ‘A Hard Day’s Night' and ‘Help!’ what a pleasant experience it is. And there’s a funny thing. It’s a real luxury, having 10 people looking after you. It’s silly, I know, but I come from a big working-class family in Liverpool, and we had to look after ourselves, and if someone wants to come and brush my hair, I must admit I like it.

And being fussed over for make-up and costumes, I like that, too. Also, I like creating an illusion. I think I could have been very happy as part of the Muppets team.”
McCartney's ex-Beatle pal Ringo may have co-starred in the film but he refused to contribute his drumming to any of the rearranged Beatles songs on principle. As the fellow surviving Beatle would recall,
"We had some songs in the film where we wanted him to drum on them, but he didn't want to attempt a new version.

I can see it from his point of view, actually, because it would have been, 'Did I drum good on version A or version B?,' and he didn't even want a comparison. From my point of view, I'm looking at a song. I'm looking at one of my songs. I don't want to be ashamed of anything I've written."
As if you could with a back catalogue like that! The rearrangements were produced by the same man who'd done the honours on the original recordings, George Martin, who'd also given Paul a helping hand into film scoring by inviting him to collaborate on music for the Boulting Brothers' The Family Way, just prior to starting work on Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band back when the Beatles were still a going concern. Given that film's setting in the North of England it's perhaps inevitable that McCartney would make use of a brass band at one point, & indeed would go on to produce the Black Dyke Mills Band within two years of the film's release.

Paul couldn't help himself calling in a similar such ensemble for his attempt at busking on the streets of London as captured in Give My Regards To Broad Street, treating interested passers by to a new take on Yesterday, as originally recorded for Help!

Somewhat amazingly, back in his Beatles days when Paul McCartney first came up with Yesterday he absolutely convinced he'd plagiarised someone else's song, at least subconsciously- also known as cryptomnesia.
"For about a month I went round to people in the music business and asked them whether they had ever heard it before. Eventually it became like handing something in to the police. I thought if no one claimed it after a few weeks then I could have it. “
And have it he did, naming a first stab at the tune Scrambled Eggs, with a perhaps surprising lyric given the finished product!
"Scrambled eggs/Oh my baby how I love your legs/Not as much as I love scrambled eggs"
Music & outline lyric in place, the eureka moment arrived on holiday in Portugal in 1965.
“I remember mulling over the tune 'Yesterday', and suddenly getting these little one-word openings to the verse. I started to develop the idea.. da-da da, yes-ter-day, sud-den-ly, fun-il-ly, mer-il-ly and Yes-ter-day, that's good.

All my troubles seemed so far away. It's easy to rhyme those a's: say, nay, today, away, play, stay, there's a lot of rhymes and those fall in quite easily, so I gradually pieced it together from that journey. Sud-den-ly, and 'b' again, another easy rhyme: e, me, tree, flea, we, and I had the basis of it.“
It was John Lennon, though, who contributed the eventual final title, Yesterday replacing Scrambled Eggs after a long gestation period, of which George Harrison would joke that,
"Blimey, he's always talking about that song. You'd think he was Beethoven or somebody!"
Despite the inclusion of Yesterday and re-interpretations of many other past classics from McCartney's time with the Beatles and Wings, including Good Day Sunshine, Here, There and Everywhere, Silly Love Songs, For No One, and The Long and Winding Road, Give My Regard To Broad Street was met with almost universally negative reviews when it was released October 1984. Critics especially weren't impressed with "the long and irrelevant dream sequences and the poor photography." Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun Times noting,
"Give My Regards To Broad Street is about as close as you can get to a nonmovie, and the parts that do try something are the worst."
Just about everybody agreed, though, that the music was "wonderful", with many critics advising readers to buy the soundtrack album and not bother seeing the film itself! The result being that the accompanying soundtrack album reached number one in the charts, whilst Give My Regards To Broad Steet made just $1.4 million against a $9 million budget, and presumably Paul went back to brushing his own hair!

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