Friday, September 3, 2010

'I Lit A Fire, Isn't It Good?': Beatles> Dylan> Murakami> Cornershop

Today's pop baton is "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" by THE BEATLES.

John Lennon's serpentine symbology, meant to hide an affair from his wife, immediately led everyone on a chase parsing out the lyrics. But despite its title, the song had a seismic impact on culture in regards to India instead of Norway.

George Harrison had been impressed by Indian musicians during the filming of the "HELP!" (1965) film, and during the recordings for this song he spontaneously tried his hand at a recently acquired sitar. George's faith, his mentor RAVI SHANKAR, sitar music, and Indian mysticism then rolled through late 60's culture and into the global mainstream for decades afterward.

THE FABS- "NW (TBHF)" (1965)

BOB DYLAN released a song soon afterward that is debated as an homage or a spoof of "Norwegian Wood". Dylan claims he played the melody to Lennon before The Beatles recorded their song. Whatever the case may be, as usual great songs by great artists earn their own merit.

(The back-and-forth game of inspiration between Dylan and The Beatles extended for years, and I should do a column on it in the near future.)

BD- "Fourth Time Around" (1966)

Once you put an idea out there, it's owned by everyone. Anything can happen and here it does. Wrap you head around this combination of the lyrics of "Norwegian Wood" with the music of Lalo Shifrin's "Mission: Impossible" theme!

ALAN COPELAND SINGERS- "Mission: Impossible"/ "Norwegian Wood" Medley (1968)

In 1987, Haruki Murakami wrote a popular novel called "Norwegian Wood"/ "ノルウェイの森"/" Noruwei no Mori", which was the protaganist's favorite song.

Now this book has been made into a film...

"Norwegian Wood" film trailer, (2010)

Bringing it all wonderfully full circle is CORNERSHOP.

The band was formed by two British/Indian brothers, Tjinder and Avtar Singh. Here is their terrific version of the song sung entirely in Punjabi.

CORNERSHOP -"Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)"

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