In the last few weeks of 2001, legendary rock band The Beatles were again making headlines. Their greatest hits collection, 1, was named the Number One album of the year.
Former member Paul McCartney staged his "Concert For New York City." Fans also mourned the loss of The Beatles' lead guitarist and singer George Harrison, who died of cancer in November. The music of The Beatles is being updated on the soundtrack to a new film, called I Am Sam.
Three decades after their break-up, The Beatles are still recognized as one of the greatest bands in the history of rock music. Some of their most memorable tunes are interpreted by a new generation of artists on the soundtrack to I Am Sam, a film starring Sean Penn. He plays a mentally-handicapped man fighting for custody of his daughter.
When the producers of I Am Sam found that it was too expensive to license the original versions of the Beatles' tunes, some contemporary musicians were asked to provide the music. Artists heard on the soundtrack include the hard rocking Black Crowes, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, The Wallflowers and others. All the songs were recorded in only three weeks, an almost impossible feat in today's music industry.
The Wallflowers, featuring Bob Dylan's son Jakob, happened to be in the Los Angeles area when producers of I Am Sam put out the call for musicians. In a matter of hours, they jumped into a studio and recorded The Beatles' classic "I'm Looking Through You."
While conducting research for I Am Sam, film director Jessie Nelson discovered that many mentally and emotionally-handicapped people were Beatles fans. She comments, "They knew their songs, knew their history, and seemed to have a personal bond with the band."
While some of the artists stayed true to The Beatles' arrangements, others preferred to stray from the original versions. Canadian singer and songwriter Sarah McLachlan offers a delicate, breathy interpretation of "Blackbird."
The film I Am Sam is currently showing in theaters across the U.S. The soundtrack album was released on January 8. A portion of the proceeds from the album will go to L.A. Goal, a California organization that aids people with developmental disabilities. Beatles tunes are taught as part of the music therapy program at their learning center.
I Am Sam star Sean Penn asked for a musical contribution from his friend, Eddie Vedder, lead singer for alternative rock band Pearl Jam. Eddie responded with an offer to cover one of his favorite Beatles tunes, "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away."