Monday, November 16, 2009

A Day in the Life: Ringo Starr

A rhythmic pounding is heard coming from the garage of an enormous mansion in the English countryside. It is the unmistakable sound of drums rolling along in a repetitive loop. With a loud crash from a cymbal, the drumming stops abruptly followed by low murmurs broken by occasional exclamations. Just then, the door to the garage bursts open and Ringo Starr explodes out of the enclosure.

“It’s all WRONG!” Ringo exclaims as two studio musicians follow him out into the driveway of his estate.

“I don’t get it, really. It sounded great to us!” one of the musicians says as Ringo pauses to light a cigarette.

“Hey! Beatles? Hello? Ever heard of them? I’ll take my own advice as to what sounds good, right?”

The studio musician shrugs and looks helplessly at his band mate as Ringo paces back and forth.

“Listen, it’s ‘I want to live all day, in the hay –badoom crash-- with a horsey and his mum in the barn, what do you say? Crash crash badoom crash!” The musicians look uncomfortable as Ringo works through his new song, waving his arms wildly as he simulates the drum parts. They have been working on Ringo’s comeback album for 3 years now and are hopelessly stuck.

“Ringo, I have to be honest, the lyrics sound a lot like Octopus’s Garden…”

“No, no, no! This is an entirely different song! ‘Horse’s Hay House’. We’ve been through this a hundred times!”

“I know, the title is different, and the lyrics are kind of different, but the melody and structure are basically the same. And isn’t a ‘Hay House’ really just a barn?”

“Hey! ‘Ticket to Ride’? ‘Yesterday’? ‘Let it Be’? Sound familiar?”

“Ringo, I know you were in the Beatles. You remind us every day.”

“Actually, John, Paul and George wrote most of the good songs,” the other studio musician mumbles under his breath.

“What was that?” Ringo turns on the studio musician who looks away.


“That’s what I thought! Hey, aren’t you the guy who played drums on ‘Helter Skelter’? Oh wait, no you aren’t. That was ME! SHUT IT!”

Ringo paces furiously and lights another cigarette while the two helpless studio musicians wait to see when rehearsal will begin again. He gestures wildly, appearing to play drum parts in mid-air. He pauses and glances at the two studio musicians who are milling around outside the garage studio and then pulls his cell phone out. He dials a number and briskly walks away from the studio out of earshot of the two musicians.

“Hey, it’s me. Me! Ringo! Yes, that Ringo. How many Ringos do you know?” he says to the person on the other end of the phone call. “Listen, I’m having a lot of trouble with ‘Horse’s Hay House’. I know I’m so close; I just need a little advice.”

“Ringo, I really am quite busy,” Paul McCartney says from his lounge chair as he sits poolside in Malibu. He is visibly annoyed as he holds a cell phone to his ear and tries to order a drink from the wandering waiters.

“Paul, please. It is an amazing song, it just needs a little of the McCartney touch, yeah?”

“Well, is this one anything like the other songs? What were they?”

“Well, there is ‘Monkey Garage’, ‘Sloth Tea Party’, ‘Dingo Daydream’, ‘Manatee Football Folly’, ‘Off-White Submarine’, you know, kind of a sequel really.”

McCartney shakes his head and finally gets a waiter’s attention. “Yeah, great man. Listen, I have to run. Catch up soon, right?” McCartney closes his cell phone and then turns it off after a second glance. “George used to take his calls, poor bastard. ‘Sloth Tea Party’? Good Lord in Heaven! God and Baby Jesus protect us!” McCartney says to no one in particular and then reaches over to jot down words and music to 175 new hit songs in his notepad.

Ringo closes his cell phone and wanders back over to the garage studio. “Well lads, I think I just got a wee bit of inspiration, so let’s give it another shot!” Ringo enters the studio as the two musicians he is currently working with half-heartedly enter behind him. Much crashing and discordant jangles come from every window of the studio as songs are tinkered with.

Across the street hidden in the shadows of the large weeping willow trees that line the street in front of the Starr Estate, an idling vehicle sits with cigarette smoke wafting out from behind a barely opened tinted window. The sounds of “rehearsal” coming from Ringo’s garage can be heard clearly from here. The burning butt of a finished cigarette is flicked out from the crack in the window, which quickly closes. The car slowly pulls away and drives through an intersection a mile away from the house. The car brakes quickly as an accident is nearly avoided. The passenger side window quickly rolls down, and the head of Max Weinberg pops out.

“Hey, we’re drivin’ here!” he yells at the bicyclist who swerved into the road.

Squinting at first, then gradually brightening as recognition paints his face, the cyclist says, “Hey, you’re Max Weinberg, Bruce Springsteen’s drummer!”

Weinberg tosses a hundred dollar bill at the man. “You didn’t see me here, got it? If I read this in the papers tomorrow, I’ll find you and gut you like a fish on a bike. Do we understand each other?”

Nodding quickly while scooping up the bill from the ground, the man quickly mounts his bike and pedals away. Weinberg smiles as his head disappears into his vehicle and the tinted window rises. The car pulls through the intersection on the way to a meeting with the E-Street band, while Paul McCartney gently weeps and Ringo Starr continues work on his new concept album: ‘Anteater! The Once and Future King’.

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