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  #1  
Old 07-23-2010, 08:11 AM
Shinna Minna Ma Shinna Minna Ma is offline
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Beatles - Why only 2 mics?

Why did John, Paul, and George only use two microphones? I've been watching live videos of their performances, and I can't figure this out for the life of me. Could it have had something to do with their harmonies, and they didn't have any monitors?

--SMM
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  #2  
Old 07-23-2010, 09:29 AM
Keeve Keeve is offline
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Could you clarify the question? Are you asking why Ringo and George didn't have any mikes? Or do you think that John and Paul should each have had several?
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  #3  
Old 07-23-2010, 09:50 AM
Crotalus Crotalus is offline
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I believe that the poster is referring to the fact that during live performances, two Beatles often shared a vocal mic while singing harmony. It may have had something to do with making it easier to hear each other.Here is an example.

Last edited by Crotalus; 07-23-2010 at 09:55 AM.. Reason: Photo
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  #4  
Old 07-23-2010, 10:01 AM
don't ask don't ask is online now
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Paul and John each had one but George had to share Paul's when he sang. I assume that most live sound was mixed through 8 channel desks. With 3 for the guitars and 3 for the kit that only left 2 vocals. It seems a pretty standard setup back then.
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  #5  
Old 07-23-2010, 10:21 AM
Sparky812 Sparky812 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crotalus View Post
I believe that the poster is referring to the fact that during live performances, two Beatles often shared a vocal mic while singing harmony. It may have had something to do with making it easier to hear each other.Here is an example.
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Originally Posted by don't ask View Post
Paul and John each had one but George had to share Paul's when he sang. I assume that most live sound was mixed through 8 channel desks. With 3 for the guitars and 3 for the kit that only left 2 vocals. It seems a pretty standard setup back then.
It was a bit of both. True, the old 8 channel boards had limited inputs but it also made it easier for them to hear and adjust their own harmonies, pitches and volume without a guy at the board. This wasn't unique to The Beatles either, I believe most bands used a similar mike arrangement at the time.
I was always amazed how they could play at all with all the crowd noise and screaming they used to endure.
One of my early bands bought a four track mixer/recorder, which we thought was great until we tried to fit everything into 4 tracks.
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  #6  
Old 07-23-2010, 10:28 AM
johnpost johnpost is online now
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electrons were much more expensive in the old days.
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  #7  
Old 07-23-2010, 10:31 AM
don't ask don't ask is online now
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In all honesty I can't imagine that they had any idea how they were harmonizing. They had virtually no foldback and without it no-one on stage can hear what they, or anyone else sounds like, in front of 3 guitar amps and a drum kit.

I mixed live sound in the late 70s and early 80s and I can't believe that those acts managed to pull good live sound at all. By the time I was doing it we had separate mixing desks just for the foldback.
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Old 07-23-2010, 10:31 AM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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I was always amazed how they could play at all with all the crowd noise and screaming they used to endure.
I imagine it was pretty tough. By their own admission they didn't play well under those circumstances.
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Old 07-23-2010, 10:37 AM
Keeve Keeve is offline
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I was always amazed how they could play at all with all the crowd noise and screaming they used to endure.
How could one tell whether they were really playing, or whether they were just going through the motions? And did anyone care?
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  #10  
Old 07-23-2010, 10:43 AM
PlainJain PlainJain is offline
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electrons were much more expensive in the old days.
Protons too.
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  #11  
Old 07-23-2010, 10:50 AM
K364 K364 is offline
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and neutrons hadn't been invented yet
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  #12  
Old 07-23-2010, 10:58 AM
CC CC is offline
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Don't know if it holds for the Beatles, but some people have such a good sense of pitch and the physical sense of singing, that they're almost spot on without any foldback, feedback, or whatever the terms are that refer to hearing one's self.
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Old 07-23-2010, 11:47 AM
WreckingCrew WreckingCrew is offline
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Harmony is the main reason, but then it also became part of their stage shtick. The picture linked about shows them on Sullivan, and obviously Ed could have given them another mic if they wanted.

It is interesting to see in that pic that there are chords coming out of the guitars and Paul's bass running off stage. To get an idea what they were dealing with at the time, take a look at some images on google of Beatles at Shea Some of them show the entire backline of amps.
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  #14  
Old 07-23-2010, 12:02 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Originally Posted by Sparky812 View Post
This wasn't unique to The Beatles either, I believe most bands used a similar mike arrangement at the time.
Here's an old clip of the Kinks doing "You Really Got Me" that shows Dave and Pete sharing a mike. And clips of the Beach Boys from that era show Carl and Al sharing a microphone (Mike and Brian each have their own).
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  #15  
Old 07-23-2010, 12:03 PM
An Arky An Arky is offline
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Also, Brian Epstein loved it when they did the "oooh!" thing whilst standing close together.
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  #16  
Old 07-23-2010, 12:05 PM
74westy 74westy is offline
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How could one tell whether they were really playing, or whether they were just going through the motions? And did anyone care?
Watch the Anthology episode about Shea Stadium and you'll see John playing keyboard with his elbow and George laughing his head off at it. The reason for goofing around like that was because it really didn't make any difference because no one could hear them anyway.

A big part of the reason the quit touring after 1966 was that they were tired of playing like shit.

Last edited by 74westy; 07-23-2010 at 12:05 PM..
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  #17  
Old 07-23-2010, 12:21 PM
BrotherCadfael BrotherCadfael is offline
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and neutrons hadn't been invented yet
And, dagnabit, we liked it that way!
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  #18  
Old 07-23-2010, 12:58 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Watch the Anthology episode about Shea Stadium and you'll see John playing keyboard with his elbow and George laughing his head off at it. The reason for goofing around like that was because it really didn't make any difference because no one could hear them anyway.

A big part of the reason the quit touring after 1966 was that they were tired of playing like shit.
Exactly - and the audience didn't care either. In the Anthology book there is a discussion about the very underpowered amps used in the first stadium concerts.

Going back even earlier, there was only one mike, I think. On the CD of the Benny Goodman Carnegie Hall concert, you can hear a laugh from the audience during Teddy Wilson's piano solo in Sing, Sing, Sing. The liner notes say that this was when Goodman moved the mike closer to the piano.
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  #19  
Old 07-23-2010, 07:05 PM
C. Montgomery Burns C. Montgomery Burns is offline
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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
Exactly - and the audience didn't care either. In the Anthology book there is a discussion about the very underpowered amps used in the first stadium concerts.

Going back even earlier, there was only one mike, I think. On the CD of the Benny Goodman Carnegie Hall concert, you can hear a laugh from the audience during Teddy Wilson's piano solo in Sing, Sing, Sing. The liner notes say that this was when Goodman moved the mike closer to the piano.
Just a nitpick- it was Jess Stacy, not Teddy Wilson who played the piano solo.
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  #20  
Old 07-23-2010, 09:03 PM
njtt njtt is offline
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Wasn't it also an expression of the pecking order within the band at the time? By sharing his mic, Paul is acknowledging that John, who doesn't have to share, is the alpha, but it is clearly Paul's mic (he is behind it all the time, even when not singing, and George has to squeeze up to him to use it), showing that he is of higher status than George.

BTW, neutrons were invented in the 1930s, people! Let's not be spreading ignorance.

Last edited by njtt; 07-23-2010 at 09:06 PM..
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  #21  
Old 07-25-2010, 01:03 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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It is interesting to see in that pic that there are chords coming out of the guitars ...
Isn't this what usually happens when someone plays a guitar?
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  #22  
Old 07-25-2010, 03:45 AM
Quintas Quintas is offline
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Wasn't it also an expression of the pecking order within the band at the time? By sharing his mic, Paul is acknowledging that John, who doesn't have to share, is the alpha, but it is clearly Paul's mic (he is behind it all the time, even when not singing, and George has to squeeze up to him to use it), showing that he is of higher status than George.

\
No.
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  #23  
Old 07-25-2010, 04:48 AM
BigT BigT is offline
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t-bonham: But you usually can't see them.
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  #24  
Old 07-25-2010, 05:04 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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Wasn't it also an expression of the pecking order within the band at the time? By sharing his mic, Paul is acknowledging that John, who doesn't have to share, is the alpha, but it is clearly Paul's mic (he is behind it all the time, even when not singing, and George has to squeeze up to him to use it), showing that he is of higher status than George.

\
No.
And you know this because......?
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  #25  
Old 07-25-2010, 05:39 AM
njtt njtt is offline
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Are you Ringo, or George Martin, or someone who might actually know that the intra-group dynamics were not what they appear to have been?

Last edited by njtt; 07-25-2010 at 05:41 AM..
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  #26  
Old 07-25-2010, 03:03 PM
sich_hinaufwinden sich_hinaufwinden is offline
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t-bonham: But you usually can't see them.
You might be able to if you have synesthesia.

Who's getting wooshed here - you or me?
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  #27  
Old 07-26-2010, 10:47 PM
sjc sjc is offline
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t-bonham: But you usually can't see them.
You might be able to if you have synesthesia.

Who's getting wooshed here - you or me?
I believe the confusion is the misspelling of "cords" as "chords".
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  #28  
Old 07-27-2010, 12:06 AM
gaffa gaffa is offline
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There were no stage monitors at the Shea concert at all. None.

I don't have a breakdown for the equipment at Shea, but here's an article in the pro sound magazine Mix. From the article:
Quote:
When The Beatles played their last concert, at San Francisco's Candlestick Park in 1966, the equipment list for the show could have been written on the back of an envelope. The mics were Shure SM56s, the speakers were modified Altec A-7s powered by Altec 1569 80-watt tube amplifiers, and McCune Sound's Mort Feld mixed the show on one or two Altec 1567 five-input rotary pot tube mixers.
An A7 is a speaker cabinet that holds a single 15" woofer paired with a "multicell" horn driven by a 1" driver. This is the same equipment that would be behind the screen at a medium sized cinema. Here is a photo of Phil Spector in front of one. As you can see, it looks small even behind Phil Spector.

The sound system at Shea was even worse. From what I can see in clips from the film, the speakers were the sort of long, thin cabinets propped up along the baselines. There were probably 4 6" full-range speakers in each cabinet. There were no microphone splitters either, so the film crew taped an extra microphone to each microphone on stage. No splitters equals no monitor mix.
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  #29  
Old 07-27-2010, 06:06 AM
Harvey The Heavy Harvey The Heavy is offline
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Originally Posted by Quintas View Post
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Originally Posted by njtt View Post
Wasn't it also an expression of the pecking order within the band at the time? By sharing his mic, Paul is acknowledging that John, who doesn't have to share, is the alpha, but it is clearly Paul's mic (he is behind it all the time, even when not singing, and George has to squeeze up to him to use it), showing that he is of higher status than George.

\
No.
And you know this because......?
Video of George singing lead (on "Paul's" mic) and John and Paul sharing "John's" mic.

To this day, KISS uses the exact same two-mic setup on stage. Gene and Paul have "their" mics, while the lead guitarist has to snuggle up with whoever isn't singing lead.
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  #30  
Old 07-27-2010, 06:59 AM
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And if you look at the video of Paul singing lead, George is sharing with John.
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  #31  
Old 07-27-2010, 12:02 PM
cornflakes cornflakes is offline
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Originally Posted by gaffa View Post
There were no stage monitors at the Shea concert at all. None.

I don't have a breakdown for the equipment at Shea, but here's an article in the pro sound magazine Mix. From the article:
Quote:
When The Beatles played their last concert, at San Francisco's Candlestick Park in 1966, the equipment list for the show could have been written on the back of an envelope. The mics were Shure SM56s, the speakers were modified Altec A-7s powered by Altec 1569 80-watt tube amplifiers, and McCune Sound's Mort Feld mixed the show on one or two Altec 1567 five-input rotary pot tube mixers.
An A7 is a speaker cabinet that holds a single 15" woofer paired with a "multicell" horn driven by a 1" driver. This is the same equipment that would be behind the screen at a medium sized cinema. Here is a photo of Phil Spector in front of one. As you can see, it looks small even behind Phil Spector.

The sound system at Shea was even worse. From what I can see in clips from the film, the speakers were the sort of long, thin cabinets propped up along the baselines. There were probably 4 6" full-range speakers in each cabinet. There were no microphone splitters either, so the film crew taped an extra microphone to each microphone on stage. No splitters equals no monitor mix.
Judging by the pictures, the guitar amps were Vox AC100s or Super Beatles, which put out roughly 80-120 Watts each. Basically there was less power for amplification than there is in some modern home theater setups.
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  #32  
Old 07-27-2010, 01:30 PM
gaffa gaffa is offline
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The system used at Shea would probably have has enough output to reach all the audience if, and only if, everyone in the audience remained perfectly quiet.
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  #33  
Old 07-27-2010, 03:19 PM
ILoveBeatleGeorge ILoveBeatleGeorge is offline
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According to Louise Harrison (George's sister) once she was with them backstage before a show, she was estimating August tour of '64, and George was tuning his guitar. She asked him why he even bothered, considering that nobody would be able to hear him. He told her that he had this horrible fear that one day he wouldn't tune his guitar and then all the fans would stop screaming, and then there he would've been playing out of tune. I felt really bad for him, but I also laughed.
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Last edited by ILoveBeatleGeorge; 07-27-2010 at 03:20 PM..
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  #34  
Old 07-27-2010, 05:14 PM
sich_hinaufwinden sich_hinaufwinden is offline
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t-bonham: But you usually can't see them.
You might be able to if you have synesthesia.

Who's getting wooshed here - you or me?
I believe the confusion is the misspelling of "cords" as "chords".
I (mistakenly?) thought that BigT hadn't caught on to the dual meaning of WreckingCrew's typo and that he was agreeing that it was weird to see the cables. I was trying to clue him in with the synethesia comment while holding out the possibility that he was making a joke that I wasn't getting.

Back on topic: What was weird about seeing the cables in that pic? Is it that they went off stage (where?) instead of to amps/speakers on stage or that they were plugged in at all and not ''playing'' along to a recording?
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  #35  
Old 07-27-2010, 11:18 PM
Pai325 Pai325 is online now
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When I saw them in Comiskey Park I was screaming so much I could barely hear them. At the International Amphitheater no one screamed that much and they sounded good to me!
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  #36  
Old 07-29-2010, 11:30 AM
WreckingCrew WreckingCrew is offline
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Quote:
I (mistakenly?) thought that BigT hadn't caught on to the dual meaning of WreckingCrew's typo and that he was agreeing that it was weird to see the cables. I was trying to clue him in with the synethesia comment while holding out the possibility that he was making a joke that I wasn't getting.

Back on topic: What was weird about seeing the cables in that pic? Is it that they went off stage (where?) instead of to amps/speakers on stage or that they were plugged in at all and not ''playing'' along to a recording?
Well since I started this mess with my typo [Freudian or not], your question deserves an answer. On many TV shows of the time, bands would often either lip sync, or sing along live to a previously recorded music track. This would guarantee not only a perfect musical performance, but - more important in the eyes of a TV producer - one with a known time limit. So quite often you will see videos, or photos, of bands on TV, and the instruments are not even plugged in.

Now in a twist on the above, there would be times where the band would be requested to pre-record a new music track just for the show. This would usually be faster, shorter, or both so the song could fit into the program's time limits. Somewhere on You Tube is a video of the Byrds doing "Feel A Whole Lot Better" at warp speed, and with half the guitar solo cut out. I would link, but You Tube is blocked here at work.
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  #37  
Old 07-29-2010, 01:47 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
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Originally Posted by WreckingCrew View Post
On many TV shows of the time, bands would often either lip sync, or sing along live to a previously recorded music track. This would guarantee not only a perfect musical performance, but - more important in the eyes of a TV producer - one with a known time limit. So quite often you will see videos, or photos, of bands on TV, and the instruments are not even plugged in.
That also had the advantage of being pre-recorded, so the TV producer could be sure the singers didn't slip in any naughty word (or worse, any mention of a product competing with their sponsors).

And not just on shows "of the time" -- this is often still done today.

For example, since the 'costume malfunction' at the Superbowl halftime show of a few years ago, that is NOT shown live on TV. They show a couple of commercials first, so it is shown delayed by a minute or two -- gives them a chance to preview it and cut away if needed.

Last edited by t-bonham@scc.net; 07-29-2010 at 01:48 PM..
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  #38  
Old 07-29-2010, 02:08 PM
WreckingCrew WreckingCrew is offline
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Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net View Post
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Originally Posted by WreckingCrew View Post
On many TV shows of the time, bands would often either lip sync, or sing along live to a previously recorded music track. This would guarantee not only a perfect musical performance, but - more important in the eyes of a TV producer - one with a known time limit. So quite often you will see videos, or photos, of bands on TV, and the instruments are not even plugged in.
That also had the advantage of being pre-recorded, so the TV producer could be sure the singers didn't slip in any naughty word (or worse, any mention of a product competing with their sponsors).

And not just on shows "of the time" -- this is often still done today.

For example, since the 'costume malfunction' at the Superbowl halftime show of a few years ago, that is NOT shown live on TV. They show a couple of commercials first, so it is shown delayed by a minute or two -- gives them a chance to preview it and cut away if needed.
All true - there is the wonderful example of Mick Jagger singing "Let's Spend Some Time Together" on Sullivan.
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  #39  
Old 09-28-2010, 07:12 AM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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and neutrons hadn't been invented yet
We had to make do with oldtrons.
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  #40  
Old 09-28-2010, 02:23 PM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is online now
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and neutrons hadn't been invented yet
We had to make do with oldtrons.
It took you two months to think of that?

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  #41  
Old 09-29-2010, 01:16 AM
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and neutrons hadn't been invented yet
And, dagnabit, we liked it that way!
You kids with your hadrons and your leptons ... nobody 'preciates a good sub-atomic particle any more.

Heck, in my day, we didn't have get all hoity-toity Ooh-look-at-me-I'm-finding-the-Higgs-Boson... them bosons were right out in public, why you couldn't walk over to the slot car store without seein' a whole passel o' neutrinos and bosons ricochetin' down State Street!

But you ask a college frosh these days (we call 'em the 13th Graders!) and they've prob'ly never even noticed 'em. Kids. These. Days.
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