I am a fan of The Beatles.
As such, I am also a fan of their solo endeavours.
All their solo endeavors.
For decades, Ringo Starr has lived in the creative shadow of his bandmates. Living in the shadow of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, two of the 20th centuries greatest composers, must have been daunting. Once Lennon and McCartney discovered their muse, they came on strong and helped change the face of music. So, while it must have been daunting, I would imagine it was also quite exciting to experience.
During The Beatles short time together, George Harrison faced the same problem, but managed to overcome it, eventually finding his creative voice as a songwriter, a fact that is apparent, not only based on his contributions to The Beatles music catalogue, but his solo work. Ringo Starr has never risen to the stature of Lennon and McCartney and eventually Harrison but does not have to. Over the course of decades, Ringo has had his hit, solo songs, and produced numerous albums that are truly enjoyable. In recent years, starting with 2008’s Liverpool 8, he has released six (including Liverpool 8) excellent albums worth adding to any record collection. He may not be the greatest vocalist on the planet, nor the best songwriter, but he has created a lot of good stuff, and has settled into his own unique vocal styling that works for him. You may never analyze his song catalogue to the extent music historians analyze that of his bandmates, but for pure enjoyment’s sake, you will like what you hear and find yourself putting it on the turntable frequently.
Despite turning 81 this past July, Ringo has been active, having released in 2021 two EPs, the first Zoom In, featuring five songs, and the second, Change the World, featuring four songs, including a cover of Rock Around the Clock, the 1952 song made famous by Bill Haley and the Comets. Add to these two those previous six albums and it is obvious Ringo still has the desire to create music – still has something to say.
When asked in a GQ.com interview with Rob Ledonne if he ever felt he said everything he ever wanted to say, Ringo stated, “No. If I felt that, I would have made one record. On this record (2019’s What’s My Name), we mention peace and love at least four times, so I’m promoting peace and love on the record. But I’m having a bit of fun with rock and roll, and we have a great ballad. I also write with other people on this one. If you backtrack to the other records, there’s usually ten tracks that I’ve written with someone else, this one has five. There’s also a cover of an old song, Money (That’s What I Want). I wanted to record Money and I wanted to do it my way. That’s the joy of making your own record: We wanted to do it, so we did.”
Ringo’s song writing offered me the name for my first novel, Tripping on Tears, having bought his 2003 album, Ringo Rama, and watching a bonus DVD documentary that came with it. During the recording of the album, Ringo and Mark Hudson went out to dinner and overheard a man at a nearby table comment that he had been “tripping over his own tears” in life; both found the comment intriguing, went back to the studio and with others wrote the song, Trippin’ on My Own Tears. My novel, the story of a Caucasian man who hears rumblings that his lover, a Muslim woman may have been murdered by her own family as part of an ‘Honor Killing’ because her relationship with him brought shame upon her family, and how he deals with this fact, was in need of a title, and upon hearing the story of how Ringo came about writing it and listening to the song, it just seemed like a perfect fit.
I love Ringo’s music.
I am glad he has a passion to continue recording.
I am, however, not thrilled with his new direction, the fact that Zoom In and Change the World are EPs. In an Esquire.com interview in 2021 with Alan Light, Ringo explained why he moved in this direction. Ringo said, “I just loved collecting EPs, that’s what it took me back to. I have a huge collection in storage somewhere. But I just didn’t want to do a whole album. I feel I’ve finished making whole albums. And how crazy because this is what I’m like – “I’m doing just these four tracks, that will get me off, that will be enough. And I was in here last week and had this idea for a track and I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll make another EP and have it out by October.’ Maybe now I’ll be an EP man. But you don’t need an album. Everybody’s streaming. The Beatles are on every streaming site known to man. And we do pretty good!”
If an EP is all he needs to ‘get me off’ than so be it. I can live with an EP and enjoy it as much as I have his other albums. He is probably right in that the music business has come full circle in many ways with the Internet. Back during its early days, people collected singles. Growing up, I had a large collection of singles. Before my sisters and I began collecting albums, our parents bought a lot of singles for us to play, everything from The Eagles to The Carpenters. We had a cheap little record player, and we played them quite a bit. Eventually albums became the way to go. Now in this digital age, the younger generation is used to buying singles online, as opposed to albums. Having grown up, embracing albums, the thought the album is less important today is sad. With singles you get to enjoy a song you particularly love; with albums it is a full experience. Not only do you get the song you loved, but an assortment of songs, that some artist has organized to work together, and while you listen you can scan the liner notes and the album, enjoying the creativity that went into the creation of that album.
I have no problem with Ringo releasing records and CDs with only five or four songs. My problem is how unfair that is to long-term Beatles fans who need to purchase everything any member of that band does. I am sure they are also okay with just four to five songs, but why do they have to pay full price, or here in Canada, more than full price for that privilege?
A quick scan of the CD section of Wal-Mart here in Canada, has Change the World listed at $15.97. In many cases, the standard price of a CD at Wal-Mart is generally around $12.88, so for Ringo, you are paying a premium.
Because the record company knows he is one of the most famous individuals on the planet, as is Paul McCartney and their deceased bandmates, John Lennon, and George Harrison, and have a huge fan base and rabid fans. I witnessed this passion on YouTube, as the various Beatles record collectors bought and reviewed both Ringo Starr EPs. There was no question that they were not going to buy the CD or album.
If Ringo Starr is not going to make the effort to put out a full album, and let’s face it, with the two EPs released in 2021, he has released nine songs, one short of what usually defines the minimum songs on a full album. One could argue he could have waited until his passion to create music gives him enough songs for a full album, before he releases anything, and if that takes a full year or a couple of years, his fanbase is more than willing to wait.
Instead of being presented with that option, in 2021, at least here in Canada (I do not know U.S. pricing), Ringo fans paid over thirty dollars for those nine songs, rather than just over fifteen dollars for them on one release, which would still be higher than the average.
Is that fair?
For a performer who preaches peace and love, should Ringo not be more concerned with his fans, and their getting value for their hard-earned dollar. I know the argument is simple, if you do not like it, you do not have to buy the EPs. I do not like it and I have not bought Zoom In or Change the World and do not plan to.
Should Ringo not be more concerned?
Artists can have a say in how their work is priced.
In 1981, the late Tom Petty took on MCA Records when they planned to release his latest album, Hard Promises for a full dollar more than the standard price of an album back then. Petty refused to allow the release of the album if not for the standard price because he felt it was unfair to his fans to have to pay more. Petty took a stand and won his case. He did not need to, and while some fans may have mumbled about that extra dollar cost if it had occurred, it probably would not have hindered the success of the album.
So, an artist can be aware of how their work is being marketed and at what cost and speak up about it. So, if Ringo only wants to release EPs, go for it, and release the best damned EPs he can. I want more music and I am sure others do as well, but if you only want to go that far, talk to your record company and convince them to price your work accordingly. If you are not going to go all the way yourself, do not expect to be paid the same as if you did. Give your fans a break and show them some respect. I could argue, Ringo does not need the money, as he does not, but because he has done well for himself in life, because he had come from humble beginnings and made a fortune, he still deserves to be paid well and fair for his efforts; he is committing to recording, and working on music, and if it is good, he has a full right to expect to be rewarded for doing so. I do not expect Ringo to work for free, but I do expect Ringo to be fair.
I suspect Ringo wants to be fair.
Not all Beatles fans have deep pockets. Not all Ringo Starr fans have deep pockets. Possibly he should keep that in mind. And if, from a business standpoint, he has not paid attention to how his work is being marketed and priced, maybe he should, and possibly, he can correct it for the future.
As for the music on Zoom In and Change the World, this article is not a review. I should have reviewed both by now, but have not, and may get around to it, or may not. I have heard both EPs, and can confidently say, I loved both.
Fans of Ringo know he is a very creative individual and very talented.
Fans of Ringo know his work is worth collecting – should be part of anyone’s home music library.
I love Ringo and believe he deserves more respect than some give him, and I hope others discover that as well. If you love music, you should discover it yourself.
I hate criticizing Ringo Starr, but unfortunately, any time I am in a Wal-Mart and I see Change the World listed at $15.97 it rankles me, and I just cannot let it go. It goes against my personal sense of fair play. And remember, Ringo, comparing making EPs to the way people buy music today is fine, but remember, when they buy songs online, they are not paying $15.97 a song, so it is there that argument falls apart.
Love you, Ringo, please keep recording, as whether we know it or not, the world still needs a lot of Peace and Love and more people to promote that concept but look inward and see if you can help make your music available at a fair price – your fans deserve that. ♥