Afterglow Jazz and American Popular Song

The Lennon-McCartney Songbook

In the 1960s the Beatles' primary songwriters rocked the world of jazz and popular song. Decades later, Beatles songs themselves have become standards.

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John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Photo: Wikimedia

Roll over Cole Porter, tell Gershwin the news: John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney both grew up in Liverpool, England, where they met as teenagers and formed the group the Quarrymen, which would eventually turn into the Beatles–a band whose explosive popularity shook up the world of jazz and American popular song in the early 1960s. Suddenly the songs of Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, and other long-renowned tunesmiths seemed irrelevant to a younger audience whose appetite for pop-rock began to drive the music industry. Older artists with roots in the big-band era such as Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie began to work some of the Beatles’ songs into their repertoire.

For those artists, the Beatles’ music seemed like a strange new language. For jazz and popular-song artists of today, however, it’s the music they grew up with, especially since the Beatles’ music has continued to be enormously popular long after the group’s breakup in 1970. “The Lennon-McCartney Songbook” features performances by Brad Mehldau, Bill Frisell, and Karrin Allyson, as well as recordings made in the 1960s and 70s by Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, George Benson, and others.

Music Heard On This Episode

And I Love Him
Sarah Vaughan — Live At The Monterey Jazz Fest 1971 (Monterey Jazz Fest, 2007)
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And I Love Him
Sarah Vaughan — Live At The Monterey Jazz Fest 1971 (Monterey Jazz Fest, 2007)
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Can't Buy Me Love
Ella Fitzgerald — Hello Dolly (Verve, 2005)
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All My Loving
Duke Ellington — Ellington '66 (Collectables, 2005)
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Michelle
Count Basie — Basie's Beatle Bag (Polygram, 1998)
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Here, There and Everywhere
Karrin Allyson — Collage (Concord, 1996)
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In My Life
Marian McPartland — In My Life (Concord, 1993)
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I Want To Hold Your Hand (midpoint music bed)
Grant Green — I Want To Hold Your Hand (Blue Note, 1997)
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I'm Only Sleeping
Holly Cole — Bob Belden Presents Strawberry Fields (Blue Note, 1996)
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I'll Follow The Sun
Don Byron — Romance With The Unseen (Blue Note, 1999)
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Julia
Bill Frisell — All We Are Saying... (Savoy, 2011)
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Yesterday
Frank Sinatra — My Way (Concord, 2009)
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Blackbird
Brad Mehldau — Art of the Trio V. 1 (Warner, 1997)
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Golden Slumbers
George Benson — The Other Side Of Abbey Road (A & M, 1998)
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The Long And Winding Road
Sarah Vaughan — Songs Of The Beatles (Atlantic, 1990)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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