Music News: New study argues Lennon, not McCartney, wrote 'In My Life'


Rubber Soul by the Beatles
Rubber Soul is the sixth studio album by the Beatles (NPR)
Who wrote 'In My Life'?; lost Neil Young and Joni Mitchell recordings discovered; Kendrick wows in acting debut
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Like most Beatles songs, the Rubber Soul ballad "In My Life" is jointly credited to both John Lennon and Paul McCartney as songwriters...but who actually wrote it? Lennon said that McCartney only contributed some minor touches, while McCartney says that he wrote the melody and Lennon just wrote the lyrics. A new study now says that McCartney is probably misremembering — because the music is too simple for him to have written.

Harvard statistician Mark Glickman and Dalhousie University mathematician Jason Brown used data analysis to break down the chords and melodies of the Beatles' mid-1960s catalog. Using that technique, they were able to distinguish between Lennon's typical songwriting techniques and McCartney's; notably, McCartney's songs change pitch much more frequently than Lennon's. Because "In My Life" has a relatively flat pitch, the researchers conclude there's less than a two percent chance McCartney actually wrote the melody.

A McCartney representative says the star will not be commenting on the study. (NME)

Young and Mitchell '68 live recordings discovered

A nonprofit called the Michigan History Project has announced the acquisition of never-released live recordings of 1960s concerts by artists including Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Dave Van Ronk, and Odetta.

The recordings were made when the artists played at a student ministry called Canterbury House. The Mitchell and Young recordings both date to 1968, while the rest of the recordings span the second half of the 1960s. A sound engineer who's heard the tapes says they're "first-rate soundboard captures made on professional equipment. It's an amazing collection with the rare combination of being well-recorded and also well-preserved, and that makes it even more historically significant."

The tapes were in private hands for decades and were feared lost. Now, the Michigan History Project is looking for a label to release the recordings, which were originally made with the artists' permission. (Rolling Stone)

Kendrick Lamar wows in acting debut

Kendrick Lamar made his acting debut on Sunday night, playing a homeless man on the Starz drama Power, which stars 50 Cent as a hitman. The show's creator Courtney Kemp says Lamar approached 50 Cent, a friend, and said he'd like to appear on the show. "He's really gifted, tremendously gifted," says Kemp about Lamar as an actor. "I mean it's a total transformation." (Rolling Stone)

(Caution: the clip below contains graphic violence.)

Toto to cover Weezer

Responding to months of fan demands, Weezer finally covered Toto’s "Africa" this summer, and the result was one of their biggest hits in years. Maybe Toto are hoping for similar alchemy, because they're about to return the favor. Keyboardist Steve Porcaro says Toto are recording their own version of Weezer's 2001 track "Hash Pipe." Previously, Porcaro says, they considered doing "a real 'Africa'-type version" of Weezer's "Beverly Hills."

"But you know what? We wanted to make it different, but we wanted to do something rock 'n' roll," Porcaro told L.A.'s KROQ. "I wanted to show everyone what a good rock 'n' roll band we can be." (Billboard)

The rest of the news

Barack and Michelle Obama went to see Beyoncé and Jay-Z on Saturday, and had a grand old time. Concertgoers spotted the former president and first lady dancing in an executive box, and were enthralled. (NME)

The music of the Go-Gos has hit Broadway in the form of the musical Head Over Heels, with a plot set in 16th century England. Huh? "If you have trouble imagining songs like 'Vacation' and 'Cool Jerk' fitting into a scenario depicting a royal family's romantic complications," wrote critic Frank Scheck in the Hollywood Reporter, "you still will after seeing this relentlessly frothy musical, for which the term 'check your brain at the door' could have been invented."

Regardless, the show is making history: star Peppermint is the first transgender woman to originate a character in a principal role on Broadway.

Robyn has released a seven-and-a-half minute documentary in which she shows up at a tribute party, talks about missing her fans, and generally gets hyped for the release of her new single on Wednesday. "Missing U," which is briefly heard in the video, kicks off a release cycle for Robyn's first album since the beloved 2010 album Body Talk. No release date has yet been announced for the new album. (NME)

Audio samples in podcast:
The Go-Go's: "Head Over Heels"
Kendrick Lamar on Power
Robyn: "Missing U"
The Beatles: "In My Life"
Weezer: "Hash Pipe"
Jahzzar: "Comedie"
Jesse Spillane: "Ruffling Feathers"
BoxCat Games: "Mt Fox Shop" (CC BY 3.0)

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