Two things Beatle-related have happened in the last day or so, one saddening and one possibly maddening.
First, master sitarist Ravi Shankar has died at the age of 92, leaving behind a staggering legacy of musical genius that seemed to touch a majority of the keystones of modern Western music. A statement released by his family stated that Shankar died in San Diego after having undergone heart-valve replacement surgery to aid upper respiratory and heart problems.
Among the most his well-known connections is with George Harrison of the Beatles, whose interest in the sitar developed with tracks like “Norwegian Wood” and culminated with his travelling to India to study sitar under Shankar. The track “Within You Without You” is a work directly inspired by Indian classical music and is included on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club, the 1967 winner of the Grammy Award for Album of the Year.
Shankar, famous for bringing the sitar into the scope of global culture, also had the distinction of being a performer at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. He is survived by wife Sukanya Rajan and two daughters, Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones.
Secondly, Nirvana is set to reunite tonight at the Hurricane Sandy Benefit Concert with former-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney taking the place of vocalist-guitarist Kurt Cobain. The collaboration was apparently forged in secret, stemming from McCartney’s acquaintance with Nirvana’s most famous drummer, Foo Fighter Dave Grohl. The performance tonight will include founding member Krist Novoselic and touring guitarist (and Germs co-founder) Pat Smear. This will be Nirvana’s first live performance since 1994, the year that Kurt Cobain was found dead of apparent suicide in his Seattle home.
The show will take place in Madison Square Garden in New York City and is set to broadcast live across 37 television stations nationwide, as well as on YouTube and Yahoo. Several theaters are also streaming the concert live. The benefit will also features performances by Bruce Springsteen, Kanye West, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Eddie Vedder, Bon Jovi, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Roger Waters, Eric Clapton, Chris Martin and the Rolling Stones.
Aside from the implications of Sir Paul possibly singing classic Cobain tunes like “Rape Me” or “Negative Creep” — imagine the line “I’m a negative creep and I’m stoned,” followed immediately with that signature McCartney “Woooooo!” — the reunited group will also perform a tune specially written for this somewhat strange partnership. Novoselic recently tweeted that the new song is “kind of like Helter Skelter meets Scentless Apprentice.” I, for one, can’t wait.
UPDATE: Here’s the song they performed, titled “Cut Me Some Slack”, as well as what Grohl and Novoselic had to say about it.