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Scott Turow flashes back with the Beatles on KCRW

June 12, 2012 | 11:51 am

Scottturow-2010Author Scott Turow is the latest to step into the radio booth for KCRW's Guest DJ Project. In the short recorded segment, the guest DJs select and play five songs while talking about what they like about them, or why they find them important.

Turow, of course, is the bestselling author of legal thrillers such as "Presumed Innocent" and "Reversible Errors." His musical tastes run toward baby boomer-era classics -- Del Shannon, Pete Seeger and, not surprisingly, the Beatles.

But the Beatles song Turow picks is a surprise: "Free as a Bird," released in 1995 with performances by the surviving Beatles grafted onto an archive recording of John Lennon, produced with Yoko Ono's permission. Turow explains what he likes about it:

“What compels me to choose it -- although I always thought it got down-talked in a way it didn’t deserve, I think it’s a great song -- but by the time it was released in 1995 with, you know, the full vocalization, I was a middle-aged father of three. And the anticipation of hearing this new Beatles song brought me back to 13 years old when they first appeared. And I hovered by the TV set and just waited, and by the time the first guitar chords were struck, I was just absolutely transported and moved by this song.

I always liked to imagine that Lennon was singing about the Beatles, as a group, and that together they had felt free as bird. But it was a powerful lesson because I liked John Lennon’s music, the music he made as a solo artist, a great deal. But I’ll still take “Free as a Bird” over anything that he did by himself. The addition of the other three still brings it to a musical level that I don’t think anybody got to on their own.”

In addition to being a writer and a working lawyer, Turow is the head of the Authors Guild. I'll be talking to him about publishing and e-books June 22, when he comes to town. The reason for his visit is, actually, musical: He's a founding member of the writers' rock group the Rock Bottom Remainders. They mostly play covers; Turow sings.

The Rock Bottom Remainders will perform their last public show June 22 at the El Rey Theater with a lineup that includes some big bestsellers: Stephen King, Dave Barry, Amy Tan, Mitch Albom, Matt Groening, Ridley Pearson, Greg Iles, Sam Barry and Roy Blount Jr. Roger McGuinn from the Byrds will be along providing some serious guitar help. All proceeds from the event are to go to charity.

After the jump, the Rock Bottom Remainders sing "Wild Thing" with a fan who had donated money to sing along; he joins Turow at the mic.


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-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Scott Turow in 2010. Credit: Jeremy Lawson / Grand Central Publishing