Click HERE for the latest episode of “The Principal Liner Notes Podcast” entitled “Not Missing a Beat.”
Click HERE for the latest episode of “The Principal Liner Notes Podcast” entitled “Not Missing a Beat.”
Click HERE for the latest episode of “The Principal Liner Notes Podcast.”
Click HERE Episode 7 of “The Principal Liner Notes Podcast.”
There’s a wonderfully poignant moment in the “Handle With Care” Video by The Traveling Wilburys. Here is an amalgam of rock heroes huddled around an old-fashioned microphone suspended microphone harmonizing. In the video clip, smiles are abounding between the musicians as they knowingly take satisfaction that they are to onto something that is simply cool and transcendent. It’s a beautiful spot for a band that is hiding in a seemingly anonymous humility. It is pretty easy to pick out George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne in this line-up of musical goodness. These are music icons stepping away from myth and pretense joy-filled that they have found a collaboration that soars.
Five friends playing music and taking joy in each other’s company. That is in essence the definition of a supergroup. Friends coming together bound by some mutual purpose or common bond for the pure love of music. The Traveling Wilburys fall under the category of supergroup.
When I got the noble nod from Jeff Zoul to join the second configuration of the Education Write Now Writing Retreat, I was purely overjoyed. In fact, I did hear the strains of “Handle With Care” in the distance. I would have the opportunity to collaborate with a supergroup. This was a supergroup composed of friends and colleagues from my PLN. We were joined our passion for Education and our task to write a book in two days was nothing short of Nirvana for me. Jeff and the band he was putting together for Education Write Now, Volume II was made up of educators that I greatly admired. One could even say that I was a longtime unabashed fan of all involved. Jeff’s books served as virtual sherpas for me in my first days as a principal. His invitation was akin to George Harrison asking me to join The Traveling Wilburys. What made this gig even sweeter was that all proceeds were to go towards a teen suicide awareness and prevention group known as the Will to Live Foundation.
Our purpose with Education Write Now, Volume II was to write in a common key pertaining to an issue that we felt other educators would benefit from in our noble profession. All roads led back to the core of our passion in the profession: Relationships. We had two days and 5,000 words each to make this book happen.
Gathered in Chicago, ideas flowed freely. There was humility and support as fingers danced on laptop keyboards. Respectful space was given as individuals roamed within the internal space of individual thoughts. Supportive feedback was shared. Critical questions of clarity stirred.
As I gazed around my surroundings, I realized I was in a supergroup like The Traveling Wilburys. There was Randy Zigenfuss quietly nodding at one of my references to the bombastic 1950s bandleader, Stan Kenton. Winston Sakurai was across the table from me immersed in deep thought. Rosa Perez-Isaiah and Sanee Bell are trading drafts. Danny Bauer is putting the finishing touches on his chapter and doing pre-production work for his podcast. Lauren Davis of Routledge Publishing is providing encouraging editorial support Elisabeth Bostwick is typing at such a speed that the keyboard cannot keep up with her amazing insights. Jeff Zoul is wordsmithing away in concentration. Laura Gilchrist is sharing an encouraging smile as Onica Mayers reminds us all of our collective purpose with the rallying cry: “Relationships matter, people!”
My chapter is entitled “Connecting with the Center: Bringing Passion to the SchoolHouse.” I take a childhood memory involving hearing “Rhapsody in Blue” for the first time during a class field trip and how it almost got me thrown out of a concert hall a the age of 10. My solo involves how it’s vital for passion to be immersed in the schoolhouse as a vehicle to build authentic relationships. Music is my passion and connecting to my journey as an educator has provided a power entry point in building relationships with the students, teachers and families I serve.
Here’s a quick snippet from my chapter contribution:
Passion is the denominator for so many ways to compel positive change and sustaining relationships. Classrooms and schoolhouses are transformed when this passion is in the foreground of the vision and mission.
We must also remember that passion is as two-way street in the schoolhouse. Students and Teachers must be able to feel free to share their respective passions for learning, interests, pursuits and hobbies. In other words, we typically align this with students expressing their passion. There are many vehicles for students do this in creative projects that run the gamut from Makerspace, Project-Based Learning, Passion Projects, Google 10% Time. Teachers are often looked to be the sage on the stage or the facilitator compelling students to share and express their passions and gifts. The paradigm has to shift to a norm where teachers can take risks and share their passions, too. When I was a classroom teacher, everyone knew I loved music and films. The classroom walls were filled with posters of The Beatles, John Coltrane and The Who. I encouraged students to share their music posters as well. Any time I could talk Music with students was an opportunity to build a relationship. Incidentally, it’s important for school leaders to follow suit. Modeling our excitement over a passion in hobby or some aspect of educational practice, school leaders can help ignite a culture of positivity and creativity fueled by sincere passion.
Sharing our passions unabashedly in the classroom or schoolhouse is meant to build that community of possibility for our students. Placing more passion in the day-to-day operations of the schoolhouse will only uplift students. Students need any opportunity given to express their gifts, ideas and passions. It is part of our calling as educators to make that happen.
Stay tuned for another anticipatory post and the conclusion of the blog series Danny Bauer! Be sure to follow #EdWriteNow as we head towards the December release of Education Write Now, Volume 2: Top Strategies for Improving Relationships and Culture. You can pre-order the book HERE.
I don’t smoke cigarettes, but if I did, then my brand of choice is Everest. Beatles Recording Engineer smoked Everest cigarettes. I should mention that I am not espousing tobacco usage in any way shape or form. Additionally, I am not some blind follower of my favorite band that I have to emulate certain vices just because they did. The Everest brand is my nod to a recording hero whom we just lost this past week. He was 72.
Next month, I was to meet my hero in person at The White Album International Symposium. at Monmouth University. Excited being a speaker at this event along with Mr. Emerick, even though I am below the bottom of the bill, I had this notion of that we would become fast friends. I imagine him listening to my fandom babble with polite respect as he signed my well-worn copy of his memoir, Here, There and Everywhere. He may have discreetly looked at his watch as I attempted to explain my minor footprint in the Beatle Universe as the author of The Pepper Effect.
What do you say to a person who literally sat feet away from The Beatles as they recorded masterpiece after masterpiece? He become more than a 9-5 sound engineer dutifully turning knobs to balance volume. Emerick was a willing participant and collaborator on The Beatles’ quest for innovation in recorded sound.
Geoff Emerick started his tenure as lead sound engineer with The Beatles and Producer George Martin at the age of 20. He began the quantum leap forward that was the “Revolver” album. On that album, he helped capture the technical and emotional essence of John Lennon’s image for the song, “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Lennon wanted his voice to sound like a thousand Tibetan monks chanting from a mountain. Emerick delivered request and then some on that track.
Later, a Grammy Award for Best Sound Engineering would grace Geoff Emerick’s hands for his innovative contributions on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” That album reached a standard for the band due in part to Emerick’s willingness to experiment and push against the status quo of his industry’s constrictions at the time. Emerick had worked for a large conglomerate that was fixed it traditions of capturing recorded sound. Sound Engineers were supposed to be in the background clocking in their hours and silently turning knobs on a mixing board.
Geoff Emerick did not settle for bargaining with the status quo. He did not settle for it as he entered into EMI Recording Studios with The Beatles for their final studio masterpiece. I imagine this scene:
Gathered around the audio comfort of a sound board on a Spring day in 1969, The Beatles are listening to a playback of “Here Comes the Sun.” Geoff Emerick lights another Everest from his trusty pack. Ringo nods in agreement at the audio pole position of the beautiful hand claps on the song. Paul gives a thumbs up as the vocal harmonies balance just right on the song’s bridge. John sneaks a sly smile of approval to George’s acoustic guitar fretwork. George listens intently to make sure that his song captures the warmth of sunshine.
Paul notices the sound engineer’s cigarette pack. A simple, serene drawing of Mount Everest is imprinted on the package. A revelation hits him. “We should get the lads to fly to the Himalayas and have our picture taken in front of Mount Everest for the album cover. We could even call the album, ‘Everest!’ It would be a nice nod to our friend, Geoff.”
The idea of calling their final album “Everest” was indeed bandied about by The Beatles. A fitting title for a band that had conquered many peaks along the way to establishing an immortal musical legacy. Here they were about to embark upon a final peak with Geoff Emerick as one of their collaborative sherpas guiding them upward to a new and final pinnacle.
The album that was to be called “Everest” morphed into the title that we now know as “Abbey Road.” The fanciful idea of flying to Mount Everest for a photo shoot was abandoned due to logistical realizations by the band. We now have the iconic image of The Beatles crossing that famous street emblazoned on memory.
Thinking of Everest, I bet Geoff Emerick would have made an amazing sherpa. His calm guidance, solid perseverance and collaborative mindset would have benefitted any mountain top expedition. Pushing the image of sherpa into the classroom, I can see how those attributes would serve Geoff Emerick if he were a teacher. Gently pushing the status quo in service and support of kids and leading them towards the creation of daily masterpieces, I believe that is quite the legacy for an educator.
All of these things come to mind as I ponder this imagined conversation with Geoff Emerick at “The White Album International Symposium.” Arms extended, we shake hands and I realize that thanks to a young sound engineer our world is a better place when you listen to Sound at the top of Mount Everest.
This is a fan letter.
As a slightly rabid Beatle fan, I often find myself dwelling within a recurring dream. It involves being an official 5th Beatle. The dream defies convention and I am probably prime fodder for some sort of Sigmund Freud Dream Symposium. Regardless, it’s a dream that pops up on my subconscious soundtrack.
Here’s the dreamscape scenario:
I am outside a grand and ornate concert hall located in a city of unknown origin. Emanating from the walls of this venue is some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard. The music is serene yet uplifting in tone. I hear acoustic guitars, sitars, strings, bells, pianos, mellotrons, harps. Then, I hear familiar voices blended in stunning harmony. This piece of music sounds like a hybrid between “Across the Universe” and “Because,” two familiar Beatle songs. Somehow this music is new and different. I walk closer to the concert hall and I see a poster on the marquee. Pictured are familiar faces of The Beatles, yet they are older. It’s a reunion show. Then, I noticed myself pictured among them. Panic erupts in the recognition of my visage accompanying the Fab Four. I realize that I am supposed to be on stage with the band. I reach for the nearest door and it is locked. I begin to run around the perimeter of the building and furiously grab at any entry point. All doors are locked. I hear a familiar voice addressing the audience along the lines of, “We are not sure where our fifth bandmate is but we will carry on without him.” It’s Paul McCartney and he sounds irritated by my absence. I have let my band down and I am forming apologetic words hoping my four friends will allow me to remain with them.
I awaken with a numbing rawness at the realization that I could have been in The Beatles.
Now, please know that I am nowhere near the status of those who have been anointed 5th Beatle status. I do feel an affinity for the band having been a fan for forty of my forty-eight rotations on this planet. I am pretty certain that I am not the first to imagine being in the greatest band in the annals of music history. In my mind, John, Paul, George, Ringo and Sean has the nice ring to it. We could be bandmates, indeed, as I imagine running along side them during the cinematic opening of “A Hard Day’s Night.”
As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the release of “The White Album, ” many esteemed authors and speakers will share the brilliance of this double album. An oft-told tale of Eric Clapton guesting on lead guitar for George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” will definitely be shared. Clapton is mentioned in Fifth Beatle Guessing Games as a logical addition to the band. Later, Clapton’s name is mentioned as a possible replacement by John Lennon during the angst of the “Get Back”/”Let It Be” Sessions. Clearly, Eric Clapton is the Fifth Beatle! Or, is he?
The Fifth Beatle conversation is a fascinating and rich conversation for fans and critics alike. Many names have been bandied about in debate proclaiming finality. Billy Preston, Eric Clapton, Yoko Ono, Pete Best, Stu Sutcliffe are all names that have been clothed in Fifth Beatle regalia. Paul McCartney has mentioned Producer George Martin and Manager Brian Epstein as contenders for Fifth Beatle status.
I think of the beauty of The Beatles’ collaboration over their short life span as a band. They were a tight little band who immersed themselves in a brotherhood that few could enter during the course of their musical union. That tight brotherhood might have seeped into my subconscious that prevents me from joining the band in what is supposed to be a dream of my creation.
As I muse over the Fifth Beatle debate, I think of the band’s performance of “Hey Jude” on David Frost’s “Frost on Sunday” broadcast in 1968. This classic song has reached universal proportions as not only a huge hit for a pop band, but it has evolved into an anthem for solace and inspiration. The band’s performance on Frost’s program is iconic for many reasons. An enduring image from that performance is a throng of people surrounding The Beatles as they perform. They were invited to dwell among the band during their televised performance.
The array of audience members is diverse and eclectic. They represent our human family joined together by the universal language of music. The Beatles are interacting with this group in such an authentic and loving way as they sift through the musical marrow of “Hey Jude.” The members of the audience are not succumbing to past tenses of Beatlemania. There is an understanding between band and audience that is something special. The interaction is innocent and joyous.
As the camera pulls away at various intervals, it is sometimes difficult to determine where John, Paul, George and Ringo are located. The group is so large and they are literally immersed in the performance with the band. (Click Here for the performance.)
Then, it hits me like Ringo’s opening drum fill on “Hey Jude,” we are all the Fifth Beatle.
We are all invited to join the band. All are welcome to this unit because The Beatles music transcends category. Their canon is universal and timeless. Reflecting our experiences, The Beatles invite us to embark upon “long and winding roads” that compel us to consider love, peace, loneliness, fantasy and many more keys embodying our collective humanity.
This lesson of inclusiveness has seeped into my leadership as a classroom teacher and principal. I took a page from my father who often rallied me to aspire to greatness with his wisdom: “Everybody plays. Everybody is off the bench. We are all starters.” I used the same line in my professional role as an educator. I guess I have been inviting kids and teachers to join our schoolhouse band for years. Everyone is in my version of The Beatles, too.
There are no locked doors at a fantasy reunion concert that prevent us from joining the band. We are a part of the music. We will always have that connection as long as there is sound and the sound is infinite, deep and beautiful.
Everyone is in the band.
“Thank you, Apollo 8. You saved 1968.”
Astronaut Frank Borman, eyewitness to a pivotal moment in human history, eternally etched in his memory the words of this statement from a telegram.
Borman along with the other members of the Apollo 8 Crew: Jim Lovell and Bill Anders helped to briefly pause the tumult that was greeting Year 1968. This particular team of astronauts were engaged in the project to place the first human being afoot on the Moon. The Apollo 8 Mission was designed to place astronauts for the first time on a journey from the Earth to the Moon. In essence, Apollo 8 was to set the stage for the first Moon Landing that was to follow in July 1969.
The journey of Apollo 8 served as a positive bookend to a year marred with assassination, war and unrest. Ten years after the odyssey of Apollo 8, I remember as a young boy watching an ABC News documentary commemorating the impact of that year entitled “1968: A Crack in Time.” I was eight years old and I always had a love for history that was shaped by the warm world of periodicals like “Junior Scholastic” or the Saturday Morning Television Joy of “Schoolhouse Rock.” Here, I was watching a prime-time documentary filtered with news footage capturing images of the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy. I watched images of war transmit from a place called Vietnam. There was anger in the streets of my parents’ hometown of Chicago. Later, I remember asking my mother what it was like to live during such a year of social and political unrest. Mom simply said, “I thought the world was going to end.”
What I don’t remember seeing from that stark documentary is anything pertaining to the inspirational journey of Apollo 8. It may be that I had to go to bed or my parents discovered that I was being exposed to some pretty harsh imagery. My guess is that they would have enjoyed watching footage with me of the Apollo 8 Crew reading from Genesis on Christmas Eve 1968 aboard their spaceship orbiting the Moon.
I can only imagine the collective universal breath that humanity took in 1968 as they witnessed through the eyes of Borman, Lovell and Anders the vision of Planet Earth rising over the Moon. Human Beings had never traveled this cosmic distance and the achievement must have brought us closer together amidst the storm and stress of 1968. Seeing the image still stirs the imagination. Gazing at our global neighborhood adrift in the vastness of space, one sees a world without borders, strife and bloodshed.
“Earthrise” from Apollo 8 (www.nasa.gov)
The words of the telegram Astronaut Frank Borman echoed for me as I experienced “Carpool Karaoke” earlier this summer.
The comedic bit on “The Late Late Show with James Corden” has always trended and placed collective smiles around water coolers and Facebook posts. The premise is achingly simple and blissful: Host James Corden literally drives around in a car with a group of celebrity guests singing songs. There may be a famous musician or two gleefully singing with an unabashed James Corden several hits. “Carpool Karaoke” Passengers have included Michelle Obama, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Stevie Wonder and Elton John.
An epic pairing took place when Paul McCartney rode shotgun with James Corden for a recent episode of “Carpool Karaoke.” It was Paul’s first adventure with James. What was unique about this episode is that it took place in Paul’s hometown of Liverpool. Upon first glance, I am sure Corden and the producers sketched out an outline for the episode involving Paul McCartney revisiting his Beatle classic hits coupled with new songs from his upcoming album. I am sure there was excitement about the arrangement to have Paul visit old haunts and chance upon the actual street namesake for “Penny Lane.” My guess is that the original plan to secure a music icon did not include the cultural phenomenon that would follow. Then again, Paul McCartney as a Beatle and Solo Artist is accustomed to making a visceral global impact.
Corden and McCartney provided the expected comedic bits and sing along flavor of “Carpool Karaoke.” The Beatle Fan in James Corden probably couldn’t pass up the once-in-a lifetime opportunity to sing “Drive My Car” with Paul McCartney in tow. Walking side by side with the man responsible for composing “Penny Lane” on the actual strip was priceless. As segment progresses, a certain transcendence occurs taking us into private glimpse of two men connected by the love of music.
Our journey takes a three-fold path during this segment. An emotional triptych transpires for us as the observers into this manifestation of our humanity. First, we experience Paul McCartney walking in his boyhood home, now an official British landmark. He is taking us on a journey into his humanity. Here is an icon who has spun memories into the soundtrack of our lives for over fifty years and we see him lovingly gaze upon his living room thinking of his father providing feedback during the composition of The Beatles hit, “She Loves You.”
Another second emotional highlight is James Corden learning the origin of “Let It Be” from Paul McCartney. The song invokes “Mother Mary” who is a reference to Paul’s own mother who passed away from cancer when he was a teenager. His mother made an appearance to Paul during a time of strife with The Beatles disintegrating as a band. She simply advised him to “Let It Be.” Paul and James then belt out “Let It Be” with such vigor and song is reborn for those who were unaware of the song’s origin. Corden builds upon the moment wishing that his deceased grandfather, who had introduced him the music of The Beatles, was present in the moment for the conversation with a Beatle. Paul simply states that Corden’s grandfather’s is indeed with them.
The part of the emotional triptych is the surprise concert McCartney performs at a local Liverpudlian pub. Patrons are completely blissful at the fact that hometown hero, former Beatle and music icon is getting back to his roots for them. The response is visceral and identifiable as the impromptu audience stands on their feet in time to songs such as “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Love Me Do.” The evident joy on the faces of those patrons is contagious.
In the midst of this karaoke journey, one finds a sense of being a willing passenger in the joyride of Corden and McCartney. You can almost feel the happy electricit being in the car joining in what Paul cites as “…the power of Music.”
Music is our universal language that keeps us treading on common ground in the human experience. Regardless of political affiliation, aligned border or professed belief, Music transcends barriers and always serves as a loving bond in our humanity.
A whimsical jaunt between a British Comedian and Pop Music Composer serves as a salve in the sharp and constant melee of 2018. This particular year has been marred with the top-heaviness of 21st Century tumult and tribulation. Headlines abound with negativity wrapped in global uncertainty, political shrapnel and natural unrest. Check any social media channel for a harsh personal attack that at any given time. Channel surf along any form of news program and it is bound to lead down a road of negative and uncivil discourse. Violence is our constant companion. Negativity stands tall amidst the rubble.
Although the years of 1968 and 2018 have different layers of historical marrow in which they resonate, there are parallels in the level of global unrest. The elements of the Apollo 8 Moon Mission and Carpool Karaoke serve as cultural rest stop in our human journey. These cultural rest stops serve as reminders for us in the chaos that our world is still a positive and joyful place. Taking pause to witness the Earth rise in outer space or sharing in the divine connection that can be discovered in a Beatles song, unexpected gifts of the love inherent in our humanity are experienced.
Hopefully, these cultural moments will also serve as catalysts for other events which illuminate that there are always positive possibilities in our human experience. Tuning into the positive provides us insight into “…the better angels of our nature.” Furthermore by sharing and proclaiming those positives, we do find a connectedness that outpaces the plague of the negativity.
Skimming the pages of 1968 and 2018, we can discover other positive moments. Imagine the sunlight dancing on the faces of a group of boys in Thailand. They have been trapped in a cave for days without much solace. A diverse crew of grown-ups gathered their gifts of courage on a perilous journey of rescue as our world held their collective breath wishing for their safety.
In 1968, a young bass player is driving out to visit the soon-to-be ex-wife of his best friend. He wants to comfort their five-year old son who may not be able to cope with the understanding of divorce. The bass player is humming an impromptu song for the boy. Little does the bassist know that this song will evolve into a universal anthem of hope entitled “Hey Jude.” Also, unbeknownst to Paul McCartney in 1968 that his song written for his friend’s son would serve as a source of jubilation for the patrons at a local pub in Liverpool during an episode of “Carpool Karaoke.”
A song that would serve as a joyful rest stop for 130 million people upon first view on Facebook and YouTube.
Thank you, Paul and James. You saved 2018.
Click HERE for the epic episode of “Carpool Karoke.”