Episode 28 or Radio Free Charleston, “John Lennon Shirt,” is online now. This is our tribute to the Fab Four. It was actually posted on October 9, John Lennon’s birthday, but it’s taken me until today to get the production notes together.
This show is centered around two songs: “Hey John, I Did Imagine,” by Seven Minutes Till Midnight, and “Requiem For Pepperland” by Go Van Gogh. We also have a special comment by Sir Paul McCartney and the show is hosted direct from Casa De RFC. Over the end credits you’ll hear some snippets from the original radio version of RFC from our April 1990 Beatles tribute show.
The first song in the show is “Hey John, I Did Imagine,” by Seven Minutes Till Midnight. This song is E.J. Shade’s tribute to John Lennon’s song “Imagine,” and to his overall message of peace, love and hope. It’s very powerful tune, and pretty brave to pay tribute to song with a tune that doesn’t mimic the sound of the original. It’s one more reason that Seven Minutes Till Midnight continues to impress the hell out of me. Roy, Justin, Thomas and E.J. turn in a killer performance on this tune.
We recorded this song back in August at LiveMix Studio, and it was the inspiration for me to do a Beatles tribute episode of RFC in the first place. I’m a huge Beatles mark, and it didn’t take much for me to want to do a tribute show. The only problem is that, since we can’t do cover songs on Radio Free Charleston, we had to have songs that paid tribute to the Fab Four in other ways.
If we could do covers, you would have heard RFC “Big Shot” Melanie Larch doing “Blackbird” by now.
I did have a bit of an ace up my sleeve. Back in the radio days of RFC, I played a song by Go Van Gogh called “Requiem For Pepperland.” It was in the style of the Beatles, and referenced and lamented the state of music since the Beatles split. It was a great song, with Stephen Beckner doing his best John Lennon voice.
The only problem was, there was no video. While Stephen gave me the song to play on the air, Go Van Gogh never performed the song live. In fact, we can’t remember just exactly who played on this song. Instead of Go Van Gogh’s drummer, Johnny Rock, there’s a Yamaha drum machine on the track. It’s not clear if the band’s bass player, Tim Rock is there, either. The lack of backing vocals by Stephen’s brother, Mark, makes me think that this might be a solo demo by Stephen, but nobody can really remember. Since I played it as Go Van Gogh back on the old radio show in 1990, we decided to keep it as a Go Van Gogh song. Only John and Paul played on “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” and some of the tracks on the White Album only have one Beatle playing on them.
Plus it gave me the chance to draw the band’s heads on the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” bodies.
With no video, and with RFC being a video show these days, I had to create the visuals for this song. I’m happy with the way it came out, but you have to realize that this animated video was done by me, single-handed, between last Thursday evening and Sunday morning. All the drawing, compositing, and animation was done in a little more than three days.
Three long, hermit-like days.
Luckily, I’ve been ripping off Heinz Edelmann’s designs for “Yellow Submarine” for most of my life, so it came naturally.
I cheated quite a bit, to make the deadline. The backgrounds are not all drawings. I used several photographs, and you can find a complete list of the “guest stars” in the end credits. They’re listed as “Denizens of Pepperland.” You might see someone you know!
Because I spent so much time on the “Pepperland” video, I decided to cut corners and shoot the host segments here in the grand and wondrous Radio Free Charleston Mansion. I grabbed a few Beatle books off the teetering stack of them that I have in the library, and you can see those throughout the show. You also get a glimpse of my office, where I write the very words you read here in PopCult, and where I edit the show. I don’t know if it’s visible, but while I’m introducing the Go Van Gogh video, the last shot for it is rendering on the computer. You also get to see my living room, which is filled with pirate ships, and that shot with all the “Yellow Submarine” action figures on the wall? That’s in my laundry room.
We had to turn off the dryer to shoot that segment.
Over the end credits, as you see outtakes and test animation from the “Pepperland” project, you will hear a bit of late-night rambling about the Beatles from the original Radio Free Charleston. I was joined in the studio by John “Sham Voodoo” Estep, of the band Clownhole, and Johnny Rock, from Go Van Gogh. This is just a fragment of the conversation that took place during the Beatles Tribute show we did back then, and I’m considering posting an audio podcast here with more of it next week.
One thing missing from the credits is a thank you to Richard Groh, who created the animated gif of the Beatles that we use in one of the interstitials. Ourmedia posted this to the Prelinger Archives, and we grabbed it for the show.
So that’s our humble tribute to the world’s greatest rock band. I hope you guys enjoy it. I would guarantee a splendid time for all, but that might be stretching it a bit.