Noreen and Gennifer speak with Ken Dashow, one of New York’s most loved DJs and a foremost authority on the Beatles. We talk about the serendipity of Beatles coming together and how their journey changed the world with their music.We also take a look at...
Noreen and Gennifer speak with Ken Dashow, one of New York’s most loved DJs and a foremost authority on the Beatles. We talk about the serendipity of Beatles coming together and how their journey changed the world with their music.
We also take a look at some of the most unanswerable questions ever! How, after over 50 years, are The Beatles STILL the number one selling artists in the world? And what was the magic that brought them together?
We hope this beautiful conversation reconnects you with the lyrics, the melodies, and reminds you that “All You Need is Love.”
Ken is the afternoon host of Q104.3, a classic rock radio station, and the host of Breakfast with the Beatles, which airs every Sunday on iHeartRadio.
Connect with Noreen and Gennifer
Connect with Ken Dashow
Disclaimer: Everything we share here is for educational purposes. We are not providing medical, psychiatric, or psychological advice or treatment. Please seek out professional help immediately if you're experiencing any serious psychological or psychiatric conditions.
The Magic of the Beatles (S03/E310)
[YPM Opening music]
Gennifer:[00:00:25] Hi everyone. It's Gennifer. Noreen and I recorded this episode on October 1st, knowing we'd premiere it just two days after Election Day in the United States. Because while we had no idea what the outcome of the election would be, we were sure that a conversation about the Beatles, their magical, mystical contribution to the world and the enduring example they are of how the whole is so much bigger than the sum of its parts, was the message that we wanted to deliver.
Gennifer: [00:00:50] So we conjured up an expert on the topic, poured ourselves a cup of tea and got to chatting. We hope this beautiful conversation reconnects you to the lyrics, the melodies and the truly unparalleled magic of the Beatles to help us all come together with a little help from our friends. Off we go!
Gennifer: [00:01:15] Hi YPMers! Roll up for the magical mystery tour because today Noreen and I have the honor of speaking to the Ken Dashow. He is one of the most loved and enduring New York DJs around.
[00:01:26] Ken is a supreme afternoon drive-time king of Q 104.3, which is classic rock and the host of “Breakfast with the Beatles,” which airs every Sunday at 8AM and he's on iHeartRadio. And how does this connect with Your Practical Magic?
[00:01:40] Well, we are about to find out. First of all, welcome Ken.
Ken: [00:01:44] Hi guys. Thank you for having me on. It's a pleasure.
Noreen: [00:01:47] thanks for joining us, Ken.
Gennifer: [00:01:48] The pleasure is completely all ours. We're so excited about this. Through a beautiful chain of events I was driving when I should have already been home and listening Q 104.3, and I heard Ken share something very special from a recent British GQ interview with Paul McCartney.
[00:02:04] So this led me to reach out to Ken and, and ask him to be on Your Practical Magic, because we have very similar philosophies, with Paul McCartney and the way Ken is. So Ken I'd love you to just go back to that article and share with our listeners about the magic of the Beatles.
Ken: [00:02:23] It's the most unanswerable question that everybody asks. Why is this so incredible? Why is this music 50 years on only growing as opposed to fading away? And there isn't a practical answer to it. The odds of John Lennon and Paul McCartney meeting each other seems so slim. And what Paul said in the article is, ‘Can you imagine this Teddy boy just getting off the bus?
[00:02:51] And I'm an innocent goody two shoes, 14-year-old kid, and our mutual friend introduces us. And from that moment on, we go on to change the world with music. And I'm 15 and my 14-year-old friend who rides the bus to school with me, George… I say, we need another guitarist, why don't you audition? And then, you know, we need a place to play….’
[00:03:13] So there's a drummer whose mother sets up the basement as a little club. It's as if it's a cartoon in every little thing that's supposed to happen, happens exactly at the right moment, all along.
And the one thing I disagree with is George Harrison said once, ‘You know, if we hadn't been the Beatles, somebody else would've come along and been the Beatles.’ And with all due love and respect, and as spiritual as he is, that's absolutely not true.
[00:03:41]John Lennon said, ‘We were just a band that made it very, very big’
No! The Stones are a band that made it very, very big. You recorded and performed for seven years, and to this day, the number one selling artist in 2020, is a band called the Beatles.
Noreen: [00:03:57] Oh, that's pretty cool, I couldn't agree with you more. Who else could be the Beatles? It's definitely the alchemy of the four of them coming together. And I think kind of sharing their entire growth process with us, you know, I mean, it was like — almost watching a plant be forced, you know, and bloom and then die, but move on to other things; plant seeds for other things, it's just — an incredible trajectory and contribution to say the least.
Ken: [00:04:24] The biggest thing that I feel like the lessons are lost now, for the most part; there are people who are here and there; they're the biggest rock band in the world, and they're fun, and they're giggling mop tops. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Please, Please Me,” and they own “The Ed Sullivan Show” and the most popular group in the world [00:04:42] Nobody has sold more albums and,
18 months after they hit this, they write songs like “Eleanor Rigby” and “In My Life.” They just threw away the success that they had, the biggest success ever, and threw it away to find a new height to get to.
Noreen: [00:04:59] Absolutely.
Ken: [00:04:59] They threw that away and got to a new one height with “Sergeant Pepper’s” and then threw that away and got to a new height when we get back to “The White Album,” you know, it just kept morphing. They were never satisfied with being the most successful group in the [00:05:15] world. They kept looking for a larger mountain. What can we do to make people feel even better? I see a lot of groups looking for success and trying to hold onto it; not constantly reinventing themselves.
Gennifer: [00:05:26] And taking that risk
Noreen: [00:05:28] Right. I was going to say at taking the risk, as you just said, Genn, but just — thoroughly convicted in what their personal truth of expression was.
Ken: [00:05:38] Noreen… couldn't say it any better. Imagine the number one group in the world saying we're not enjoying this, the people can't hear the music, we want to write more meaningful music; we're going to stop touring. Literally two years after you've started, you know, touring the world and not just clubs, you say we're going to stop now, thank you.
[00:05:57] Could you imagine Justin Bieber, could you imagine Bey, any of our great musical acts who just rock the house to saying 'Nope, not going to tour because we can do more simply recording.’
Noreen: [00:06:10] So much of the management is just pushing the money machine these days, but the Beatles also did that… they also rejected their managers and all of that business guidance for that creative expression.
Ken: [00:06:22] If you think about classic rock, look at all the bands that rejected every accepted formula of how to make music. The Grateful Dead comes to mind. Where not only are you allowed to say secretly taped their concerts, they set up a section so that you can get better sound quality if you want to record the shows and give them away.
[00:06:41] And everybody said, you're losing millions of dollars. And they said, ‘Yeah, but it's the right thing to do.’ So what happens? Karma again; for a band that doesn't really have big hits, millions and millions upon millions of people fall in love with their music, and it's the best free advertisement you can ever have.
[00:07:00] So they toured to sold out shows around the world everywhere because they gave away the recordings of them.
Noreen: [00:07:07] Exactly. just fueling that passion, giving their fans that respect, you know, that, that exchange of who they are and that [00:07:15] created this fervent movement that we now know is Deadheads. Right?
Ken: [00:07:21] Absolutely. And I always think of; everybody always asked me reporters and things - like me, like just, I'm just a DJ, but they say, If John Lennon was alive today, what would he be writing? We're coming up, as we record this, on John's 80th birthday. What would he be writing?
[00:07:36] He wrote it. He already wrote it. Nobody told me there'd be days like these; “Strange Days” indeed!
[00:07:42] It's as if this morning he just gave us a song called "Instant Karma' is going to get you, and we all shine on. And all The Beatles;
[00:07:50] “Here Comes the Sun,” “Beware of Darkness,” “With A Little Help from My Friends,” “Let It Be.” I think that's why the music is so alive, 'cause it's the, it's the lessons and it's, without being too heavily and preachy and wagging their finger in our faces. It's just telling us kind of a good way to live, a healthy way to live.
Noreen: [00:08:10] That's exactly why we wanted to have this conversation with you. Because that's really the spirit of our podcast and really trying to give people easy. kind of, you know, cardinal points, so to speak, right, so that they can orient themselves towards and find the inspiration and, and really the courage, you know, we talked about the Beatles conviction earlier and it is that the idea that this is all around. Like people are doing this, people have done it and at this point, we're moving towards what we hope is, kind of a mass conglomeration of that effort so that we can all help each other really orient in the same way with that same clarity of purpose.
Gennifer: [00:08:48] Come together.
Noreen: [00:08:49] Come together, so we're hoping.
Ken: [00:08:52] Yup. The easiest thing to do, and we see it all around us on social media, is inflame people's anger, is make people fearful because if you get them angry; this is John Lennon saying, he said, ‘Getting people angry, get them angry enough to kill or fight, then you can control them. The one thing that can't be controlled is love and laughter. If you laugh, if you love, that's, what's dangerous to the forces that try to control you because you see through all of it.’ Like I said, John could have emailed us this morning and said, here's what you need to hold on to.
Gennifer: I wish he did!
Ken: We need it now more than 50 years ago when he said it.
Noreen: [00:09:30] And because of people like you, he just did. You know what I mean? I mean that you're carrying on that message because you're a historian of this.
Ken: [00:09:37] Yeah. Thank you.
[00:09:38]The most exciting thing to me is, is not, uh, we're all of a certain age grew up in the sixties. We grew up on Beatles music, whether you were a kid or a teenager or in your twenties, but when a 14 year old girl, you know, who emails me and that happened just this past week, could you play "Here Comes the Sun?” George is so sexy and so beautiful.
Noreen: Oh, she’s in the club!
[00:10:01] He is, he is! He, is! That person is sexy. He is beautiful. He is present and conscious. That's what the music does to me.
Noreen: [00:10:12] I do think that that was part of the magic of the Beatles is that they really imbued who they are, what their process of discovery was, into that music. And of course, every artist is doing that in some way, but I don't know, maybe it was just the vibration they were working on, but there's just something that —
[00:10:32] You know, it's funny, I recently had a session helping somebody's parent pass. And what came through is that the parent needed to hear sacred chant music… Gregorian chant. And I was like, okay, like, doesn't make sense to me, but I'll, I'll pass it on. And we were then having this conversation afterwards about how sacred that music is because of the musical vibration, the sound healing qualities of it.
[00:10:58] And I really wonder if The Beatles— Ken, you would know, has the Beatles music been studied in that capacity?
Ken: [00:11:04] You know, people have tried to study it, but they haven't been able to unwind it. But I will tell you for, for a fact, not that I studied it scientifically [00:11:15] with the wavelengths, but there isn't a doubt in my mind that they were connected to a higher consciousness that brought the right notes and the right flow of music together.
[00:11:26] And here's my example... and I have no reason to lie or exaggerate what I'm about to tell you. I've been listening to Beatles my whole life. I've been hosting the Beatles for what, for 20 years or so on the, on the radio and hosting Fest for Beatle fans. If I tell you that if I had one person I've had 50 people email me to say, 'Ken, my child is on the spectrum. He's nonverbal. He lives in a fog. He's he's non-communicative, he's in the car. You playing “Breakfast with the Beatles.” I'm driving him to his therapy session and "Yellow Submarine” came on and he started singing out of the blue. ‘We all live in…’ and I almost drove off the road!' there's some there and it's the children's nursery rhymes.
[00:12:11] They wrote “Altogether now,” and especially "Yellow Submarine.” I don't know what it is about those notes… Du-dun-dun, dun-dun-dun-dun… and every single parent has told me it has cut through the haze of a child who has special needs and they hear it and they can repeat it. And it's not a casual observation — it happens over and over again.
[00:12:37] So we don't know what it is. You know, things that we can't explain, we call magic and I love the title of your podcast. Practical magic. Practical magic is even if we don't understand how or why it works — we know it works. That that to me is my 2 cents whatpractical magic is, and that's exactly what the Beatles music is.
Noreen: [00:12:57] I mean, how do you top that? That's amazing. That's exactly it. Genn, what about you? I know you had a few questions for Ken.
Gennifer: [00:13:05] Ken, as a fan of you and listener of you, I mean, I grew up listening to you; you’ve been a part of my life…
Ken: [00:13:11] Awwww…
Noreen: [00:13:12] Wait, can I just get in on that? I have to say the same [00:13:15] because Ken, I grew up on Avenue U and East 26th Street.
Ken: [00:13:18] We're five blocks away from each other; that’s so weird!!
Noreen: [00:13:19] Yeah, I know. We had to have walked past each other. Yeah. I hung out in the school yard at 206.
Ken: Trio pizza! Say no more!
. It’s [00:13:27] Oh my God. Yeah, totally. And the pork store…
Ken: [00:13:31] Yes.
Gennifer: [00:13:33] We'll have to come back together and talk about Brooklyn and the magic of Brooklyn sometime. That's for sure.
Noreen: [00:13:38] But again, you being you know, the announcer of the soundtrack of my life…
Ken: [00:13:42] Well, thank you. I feel, you know, we, we live in a small world. That's getting smaller all the time and that's the thing. I, you know, we don't go into politics, but to realize that we really are all connected, I'm doing an interview with Simon Kirke and telling me a great George Harrison story.
[00:14:00] And I opened up, we were doing a Facebook live session and the first question was, ‘Hey, Simon, you know, it's Achmed. When are you coming to Dubai?’ And Simon looked at me and said, ‘Are you joking?’ I'm like, no, that's the world around the corner Ave U, Dubai, Jakarta. Doesn't matter. That's what this all is.
Noreen: [00:14:19] Look at us, navigating and, and even, you know, making the most of this pandemic lockdown time, we're all, it's just expanding our horizons. You know, we could be in Dubai. We could be in Ireland everywhere having this conversation. It's amazing.
Ken: [00:14:33] It is! When I get emails, I do “Breakfast with the Beatles,” for those who don't know, on Sunday mornings here in New York. And I get that email, ‘Hey, Ken, having brunch with you in Tel Aviv…’ ‘Having brunch with you, you know, in Dublin…’ And you think that is the coolest thing in the world. Welcome aboard. Just last week, [00:14:51] 'Hey, give us a shout out. We're in Utah, doing the yard work and have you on." I'm like, wow, perfect!
Gennifer: [00:14:57] And to me, Ken, that really is a combination of the Beatles attraction, but also, you. Again, I feel like your vibration aligns with the Beatles vibration, which is about the unity and community. You know, you just did such a beautiful job consistently for years, no matter what's happening in the [00:15:15] world, bringing people together, just in New York, but everywhere together, using music as this place of like being present, which is again, a big message from a lot of the Beatles music.
I think that you just do an incredible job and I would just like to know as a fan of yours Ken, is there a certain Beatles melody that just raises your vibration?
Ken: [00:15:35] it's embarrassing to say all of them sounds ridiculously smart, but it, it changes from day to day, hour to hour. Things that just drift through your mind. And, the passing of Peter Green, one of the early members of Fleetwood Mac, and I started listening to early blues, Fleetwood Mac, and he wrote a song called “Albatross…"
[00:15:55] and I realized the chords that he played are exactly the opening to “Sun King,” which came out six months, you know — it was recorded like later that year…That John Lennon was listening to Fleetwood Mac, heard “Albatross” and took the chords. And again, is it stealing or inspired?
Well, he took the chords and turned it into this beautiful dreamy song and when you think about what was going on in the late sixties and the parallel to what's going on now. Back then, for us, it was the Vietnam War, us versus them, and now, red state blue state. And so many of the songs of our era of classic rock were about escaping to a more beautiful place to live. And think of how many times John wrote a story like that.
[00:16:43] Picture yourself in a boat, on a river with tangerine trees — "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" or "Strawberry Fields Forever." There's nothing to get up about…nothing… Just, it's just beautiful "Strawberry Fields" and same thing with "Sun King." Everybody's happy. He just over and over was trying to give us a place to live in our minds to be at peace.
Gennifer: That’s right.
[00:17:06] Whether it's a religious leader or a spiritual leader, or a guy with a guitar in his hands, whatever brings you to a state, to me, of, of grace, where you can live in this world without hate for me, it's the Beatles for somebody else, it’s a guy or a woman with a funny hat.
[00:17:24] But whatever it is that does it for you, there's no judgment, you know, whatever you to a place where you don't hate the other person. Yeah, I'm all for that. I think that's a good idea then.
Noreen: [00:17:34] There's an amen there.
Gennifer: [00:17:38] Amen, amen!
[00:17:38] Yeah. "Beware of Darkness..." Beware now. Thank you, George. You're right.
[00:17:42]Mm-hmmm. Yeah, and be a lover and a warrior, as I always say George was.
[00:17:47] Yeah, very well said. Very well said. I mean, the odds of these four kids coming together at the same time, even though they're in Liverpool, they had no musical training. None. You know, Paul's dad played the piano. John's mom, who died young, taught him, you know, how to play a little bit. But the odds of them coming together and pushing each other, and having this innate talent, and then to have the ability to be a sponge like that and create — at that speed.
[00:18:14] People write one hit and spend the rest of their lives looking for a second one. And these guys, you know, they each wrote a hit before lunch... have lunch. Well, let's write another one. And. Ringo said, and not name-dropping, but you know, Ringo sort of is the closest bystander, said 'We'd be in a van hurtling from here to there falling about, holding onto each other for dear life,
[00:18:37] and one would start singing something and the other one would finish the verse and say, 'Hey, that's good. Let's get that down.' And you go, well, that's the next hit song.'
Who does that? That's, that, you know, Gershwin, Beethoven, Mozart, Brian Wilson thing. There's a, a level of vibration, whatever you want to call it, artistic vibration that it just, it, you know, it just happens or it doesn't happen.
[00:19:01] You can be the greatest musician of reading or writing or no chords. They don't even know the names of the chords. They heard them, sound, by sound.
Noreen: [00:19:10] I was thinking, it's the original downloading...the original streaming! [giggles]
Gennifer: [00:19:13] You're not kidding [00:19:15] actually. That's so funny.
Noreen: [00:19:16] Right down, right through me...on to the paper. That's amazing!
Ken: [00:19:19] It was, it was one of my favorite stories. Anybody told me, I asked Donovan, I said, ‘Was there a lot of jealousy in the late sixties about the Beatles? Did you resent the you know, it was always the Beatles and everybody else catching up?’ He said, ‘It wasn't jealousy so much as curiosity, you know. The, the joke around then was if Paul fell in his music room and he fell into the instruments, by the time he stood up, he would have written a hit song off of it.’
[00:19:48] He said, ‘You know, the way we thought about it was okay, I have three or four great songs. And Eric Clapton has 20. What did they do to have hundreds? What happened in a previous life that these boys would get hundreds from the universe? Why did they get every one of them first?’
Noreen: [00:20:10] I had a picture of like ancient Greece with, lyres and what were they doing? And how did they, you know, iterate at this point to just be able to capture all of that. It's just, it was just so God given, you know, it's just incredible, but they showed up, that's the other important part.
Ken: [00:20:25] Right. Showing up and being aware. Keith Richards always said, ‘You have your antenna out, you have your antenna out to catch the songs.’ And they they've got the strongest long range antennas of anybody that we’ll ever know. And again, one more story before we go, Brian Ray, who's been playing with Paul McCartney and his band now longer than the Beatles.
[00:20:46] They've been together 14 years, this band. With Brian, Rusty, Abe, and Wix on keyboards… So I asked Brian, ‘Do you ever forget that the guy who runs your band is Paul McCartney?’ And he said, ‘You know, there's a practical thing to it because he's the guy I see every day when we're recording, we do it. It's great.
[00:21:02] He's terrific. We love working with them. He said, but you know, there is moments like we're sitting in the, lounge at JFK waiting to get on a plane and he's looking over the itinerary and I'm drinking a coffee. And as he's looking, he [00:21:15] just starts singing the song that I never heard before. And it's a great song.
[00:21:19] He starts humming it and the melody's great. And he starts singing words. And I said, ‘Boss, what's that?’ And Paul looks up and goes, ‘What?’ ‘The song you’re singing…what is it?’ He goes, ‘Oh, don't know. Was I singing?’ He goes, ’Any good?’ ‘Yeah, it was actually great.’ [00:21:40] And he goes, ‘Eh, it’ll come back… They always do.' And went back to looking at the itinerary…
and he goes, ‘That's that moment when you put the coffee down and go, what the, what the, what…seriously, half the world would kill for that 10 seconds that you just sang. How does it just flow through you like an open fire hydrant, you weren't even paying attention?? [00:22:01] You didn't even have a guitar. He's just sitting there trying to figure out the schedule and what we're doing, and he starts writing a song and you sit there and go, right, that’s who I'm working with.’
Gennifer: [00:22:12] On the flip side, I remember hearing in the last year or two, Paul talking about a new song that was released, I think that was in maybe in a video game, he was like telling his grandchildren, like, ‘That's my song.’ And they were like, Oh, I don't care. Like they were just playing a game and they could care less.[00:22:29] They weren't impressed with him at all.
Ken: [00:22:32] Isn’t that wonderful? And by the way, I think “Beatles: Rock Band” was one of the greatest ideas that anybody ever came up with. You want to talk about a win, win, win for the music for the Beatles, for Rock Band and for a generation of kids who now saw it in a different context.
Gennifer: [00:22:50] it's true. Absolutely.
Noreen: [00:22:55] I'm not sure that this will make sense, Ken. So what the heck, but I'm a huge U2 fan in addition to the Beatles [Ken: Me too!]
Yay! OK, so you may know this. TIt’s from one, uh, that's from The, um, early Unforgettable Fire documentary, where they're talking about their collaboration and the one thing I love about them, and I do compare them to the Beatles in some ways, [00:23:15] because they all contribute.
[00:23:17] They just would not be the same without those four people being in the band and Bono talks about it as a four-legged table. And I just love that because they're all contributing equally. And if it was off, then the table wouldn't be level; the table wouldn't be usable, I dunno…[00:23:32] I didn't know if you were familiar with that quote and what you think about it.
Ken: [00:23:35] Yeah. I mean, the thing about U2 is that have never changed personnel — from their high school days, from Larry putting an ad up in, in high school, going looking for other musicians and… when you have the right balance of people… you know, two of the greatest songwriters who ever emerged of the 20th century, and they happen to be in the same band and George having a fight to get his songs in, and his songs are spectacular as well.
[00:24:03] The balance of what they each brought to the table… Paul, the most accomplished musician who can play anything; John was not as accomplished a musician, but innately the style, the sense of it, the tone of what the music could be; George, not needing to be in the limelight and take over, but knowing where to add and the same thing for Ringo; people say Ringo is not a great drummer… Ringo is an incredible drummer, a brilliant drummer… He just doesn't need 24 drums and a solo to make his statement.
Noreen: Right. He’s restrained. He knows where to add. It’s like a good cook, really.
Ken: Perfectly said! My wife is a terrific cook and she can add just a little bit of white pepper, just a touch of something to change a dish, to make it, like, magical, pardon the word, but just knowing how much of something that's needed and when, and they all had an innate sense of that. [00:24:57] You're right.
When the whole is so much bigger than the sum of the parts, and each part is amazing to begin with.
Noreen: [00:25:07]Yes! Well, that's a perfect place to end, I think.
Ken: [00:25:10] Awesome Noreen, Gennifer, thank you so much for having me on your podcast.
Noreen: [00:25:14] Ken, we really appreciate your time.
Ken: [00:25:15] My pleasure.
Gennifer: [00:25:16] Ken, you are just amazing.
Ken: [00:25:21] And if I could put in a little plug for mine, “Ken Dashow's Beatles Revolution,” also like yours, on the iHeartRadio app and it's free, and it's not me talking about the Beatles; it's where I learn everything about the Beatles, from other musicians.
Noreen: [00:25:33] Very cool.
Ken: [00:25:33] It's me talking to other musicians about what they learned, what it meant to them, why it's so special. That's where I learn what it means is from other people and how they were influenced.
Gennifer: [00:25:43] That's wonderful.
Noreen: [00:25:44] It's like the Fleetwood Mac song and John Lennon!
Ken: [00:25:47] Yeah, exactly.
Gennifer: [00:25:50] All connected.
Ken: [00:25:50] Thank you guys. Thank you so much.
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