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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: "God Only Knows"

Friday, May 16: 4:51 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall

Inspired by the Beatles' Rubber Soul album, Brian Wilson responded with Pet Sounds, the Beach Boys' masterpiece. And like many other prescient works through the ages, it puzzled the public.

While hardly a commercial failure-it hit Top Ten and spawned two Top Ten singles-it performed poorly by Beach Boy standards, failing to sell gold. Coming immediately after the carefree (and more popular) Beach Boys' Party, Pet Sounds was all the more confusing.

"God Only Knows" exemplifies Pet Sounds in its confessional tone and sensitive arrangement. Tony Asher wrote the lyrics, as he did for most of the album. Wilson was nervous about what he considered the unprecedented use of the word god in a pop song title. (Apart from quasi- patriotic kitsch like Johnny Burnette's 1961 hit "God, Country And My Baby", was Wilson unaware of a regional hit nearly as touching as his own, only a decade  earlier- the Capris' "God Only Knows").

As on the rest of the album, none of the Beach Boys play instruments; Brother Carl Wilson's vocal is virtuostic.  In the U.S., "God Only Knows" dented the Top 40 as the B-side of a bouncier Pet Sounds track, "Wouldn't It Be ...


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Spotlight Exhibit: John Lennon's 1963 Gretsch 6120

Friday, June 15: 1 p.m.
Posted by Howard Kramer
John Lennon's 1963 Gretsch 6120

the Beatles tribute weekend at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in ClevelandAfter the Beatles achieved success, they could afford the kind of instruments they had only dreamed about as struggling musicians. Although Gretsch guitars were primarily associated with George Harrison, John Lennon acquired this particular guitar in 1966. He used it during the recording of "Paperback Writer" in April of that year. 

In this video, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum curatorial director Howard Kramer discusses the guitar and the unique circumstances that brought it to the Rock Hall, where it is on display as part of the Museum's Beatles exhibit.

WATCH: Spotlight Exhibit: John Lennon's 1963 Gretsch 6120


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The Beatles Induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Thursday, June 14: 11 a.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988

the Beatles tribute weekend at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland,OhioThe arrival of the Beatles triggered a musical revolution in the Sixties. Emerging from Liverpool, England, the Fab Four's sound took root in Europe, with songs like "Love Me Do" and "Please Please Me" touching an audience who were looking for something to take them from the doldrums into which rock and roll had fallen. "In England, during  those very early days, just while the Beatles were recording their first songs, it was a real wasteland – England had nothing to really offer as far as pop music was concerned," said the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger when he inducted the Beatles into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988.  "At that point, the Stones were playing in these little clubs in London, doing Chuck Berry songs and blues and things, and we loved doing that. And we were a pretty scruffy lot, and we thought we were totally unique – animals – I mean there was no one like us. And then we heard there was a group from Liverpool."

The Beatles’ music - with its simultaneous refinement (crisp harmonies, solid musicianship, canny pop instincts) and abandon (energetic singing and playing, much screaming and shaking of mop-topped locks) – ignited the ...


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Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll: the Beatles – "Strawberry Fields Forever"

Wednesday, June 13: 12 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
The Beatles "Strawberry Fields Forever" is one of the Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll

the Beatles exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in ClevelandA very different Beatles had emerged by the genesis of "Strawberry Fields Forever." The Fab Four – George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr – had traded much of the mop–topped gaiety and matching-suit panache for a more bohemian consciousness. They were no longer married to the stage, but rather exploring the boundaries of studio recording, indulging creative whims as producer George Martin helped realize the band's ambitious visions. Such musical acumen came to fruition with "Strawberry Fields Forever," a song born of fantast Lennon. "Of all the Beatles recordings, 'Strawberry Fields Forever' is known for being among the most complicated and difficult to record," noted writer Mark Lewisohn in The Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Abbey Road Studio Session Notes, 1962-1970

Despite esoteric lyrics about a childhood haunt of Lennon's (No one I think is in my tree, I mean it must be high or low / That is you can't you know tune in but it's all right) and a beguiling arrangement, "Strawberry Fields" remains a singular pop song. It was the first song recorded for Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band when sessions began on November 24, 1966, following a months-long period ...


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Curating the Beatles

Monday, June 11: 1 p.m.
Posted by Jim Henke
The Beatles at Shea Stadium on August 23, 1966 original concert poster

the Beatles exhibit at the rock and roll hall of fame and museum in ClevelandThe Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum is very fortunate to have what is most likely the finest, most extensive Beatles exhibit anywhere in the world. That exhibit is the result of relationships we have built over the years. I have been the chief curator at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland since 1994, before the Museum opened, and one of the first people I contacted when I got the job was Yoko Ono.

Prior to joining the Museum, I was a writer and editor at Rolling Stone magazine, where I had interviewed Yoko. In addition, Jann Wenner, the editor and publisher of Rolling Stone and one of the founders of the Hall of Fame, was friends with Yoko and John Lennon. Having made those connections, I first arranged to meet Yoko at her apartment at the Dakota in New York City in 1994. Much to my surprise, she had an enormous amount of material related to her late husband John, going back to things like his school report cards and a swimming certificate. She also had many of his handwritten lyric manuscripts, guitars, clothing and other personal effects. Yoko agreed to ...


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McCartney's Letter to Lennon

Wednesday, November 23: 3 p.m.
Posted by Rock Hall
Paul McCartney inducts John Lennon

In 1994, John Lennon was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. His longtime friend and musical collaborator Paul McCartney, making his first Hall of Fame appearance, inducted Lennon. More personal than the traditional induction speech, McCartney read a "letter" to Lennon, recounting a number of moving memories and thanking Lennon.

McCartney shared stories from their earliest attempts at writing songs together, teaching Lennon guitar chords and visiting Lennon's "Mum's house." He talked of their hotel visits with Little Richard and Gene Vincent, and spending time with Elvis Presley. He recalled Lennon's advice for handling the vocals on the Beatles' "Kansas City" and the "sneaky little look" they shared during the writing of "A Day In The Life." McCartney discussed meeting "this girl called Yoko Ono" – who later accepted Lennon's Hall of Fame Award on behalf of her late husband. The heartfelt letter moved many to tears.

"The joys you told me about how you were baking bread now and how you were playing with your little baby Sean," said McCartney of reconnecting with Lennon later in life. "That was great for me, because it gave me something to hold ...


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