The Fab Three and the other guy


An old guitarist’s joke:

What do you call a guy who hangs around with musicians?
The drummer.

I’ve been playing an MP3 CD on shuffle in the car for the past few days. It’s got both the Blue and Red Beatles Greatest Hits albums, as well as some Aerosmith, all five Max Webster albums, and the Eagles – I guess it’s my classic rock mix. Anyway, whenever I listen to the Beatles for any length of time, I am constantly amazed at Ringo Starr. I can think of no band to which the joke above applies more than the Beatles.

Obviously John and Paul were the chief songwriters, and were also great singers and musicians. George was a great guitar player, and while he didn’t write many songs for the Beatles, the ones he did write (Here Comes The Sun, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Something) are really good, and he wasn’t a half-bad singer either. And then there’s Ringo. A pretty good drummer, but a lousy singer, and what songs did he write of any significance? Here’s the list: Octopus’s Garden. The other day I hit Octopus’s Garden during my shuffle, and halfway through the song I had to skip to the next track; I just couldn’t listen to it anymore. It’s the kind of song I would expect from The Wiggles, not from one of the best rock bands ever. The next track that came up was Yesterday, an absolute classic, and one of my favourite Beatles songs. The juxtaposition (what a great word!) was just painful. I also thought that the segue from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (sung by John and Paul) and With a Little Help From My Friends (sung by Ringo) was a little weird, especially given the lyrics at the end of Sgt. Pepper:

I don’t really want to stop the show
But I thought you might like to know
That the singer’s gonna sing a song
And he wants you all to sing along
So let me introduce to you
The one and only Billy Shears

It’s like they’re saying “Here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, our singer, the one, the only, Billy Shears!” (big buildup) and then Ringo starts singing (big letdown). This is what we’ve been waiting for? Ironic, too, that the first line of the song is “What would you think if I sang out of tune”.

OK, I guess that’s enough Ringo-bashing for one day.

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