Now Hear This: Christmas Episode

THE BEATLES: “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)” This is the complete take, an edited version of which appeared on the 1967 edition of The Beatles’ Fan Club’s annual Christmas Flexi Disc sent to Fan Club members, gratis, every year. The track’s off-the-wall Christmas-themed lyrics and classic 1967-vintage Beatles sound are in full flower here. Then there’s John Lennon’s inspired “Krimble” finale, which makes this one golden. This complete take of “Christmas Time (Is Here Again)” appeared as the b-side to the “Real Love” single from February 1986.

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Now Hear This: Episode 4

Song Notes:

CLASSICAL INTRO > Pete Townshend: “A Little Is Enough”
Ahh, the days of making mixed tapes with my old Nakamichi 500 cassette deck. I was always playing around, looking to concoct some fun segue. In this case I randomly taped a classical station on the radio and thought it would work nicely mashed up with Pete Townshend’s “A Little Is Enough.” I was totally enamored with Pete’s 1980 solo record, Empty Glass. For my taste it was one of the two best records of the year. It had killer songs and I love Pete as a vocalist because his voice isn’t that of a classic “lead singer.” Like Joe Walsh — another favorite singer of mine — Pete has to work at his vocals and own them. I guess it’s his authenticity that attracts me. —John Stix

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Now Hear This: Episode 3

Song Notes:

THE BEATLES et al.: “Help!”

Ah, the Nakamichi 500. What a cassette deck. The pause button was so precise that you could stop and start the tape flawlessly. I once tried to get as many different songs splices as I could fit on a 45 minute cassette. I think I got upwards of 40 different songs snippets on there. This opening for “Help” is just one example of how it works. I put this on every mixed tape I made for years. And it was decades before my daughters heard the original Beatles version. Their response was, where’s the opening? —John Stix

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Now Hear This: Episode 2

Song Notes

“Why Do Fools Fall In Love” (Joni Mitchell/The Happening/Spike Jones)

Once again, it’s me using my vintage Nakamichi 500 cassette deck back in the day. I would input two different sources into the deck and mix them live on the fly. The Happenings were kind of a joke band, perhaps influenced by Spike Lee. Joni Mitchell was just all smiles, touring around with Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Michael Brecker and Don Alias. It was probably one of the acclaimed jazz musicians’ better paydays and everyone involved was having fun. — John Stix

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Now Hear This: Episode 1

Song Notes:

“Something’s Coming” (WEST SIDE STORY/Todd Rundgren):

Sometime in the late ’60s I purchased a Nakamichi 500 Cassette Deck. That, along with my Dual 1219 Turntable was the pride of my stereo setup. My favorite function on the deck was the pause button. It was automatic. There was not a moment of hesitation, so if there was a break in a song I could pause the tape and whenever I let it go, it would be a flawless segue into the next song. It was magic. In this case I started with the soundtrack to West Side Story and “Something’s Coming” and segued into Todd Rundgren’s version of the same song. Magic! There was a difference in the key that Todd played in, but the Dual had a knob that let you dial in the speed and there you have it.

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