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Pop Go the Beatles review in Octopuss Garden

This is the 3rd great review of Pop Go the Beatles in the last year. You can find a direct link to the 1st 2 (Ear Candy Magazine and Beatlology Magazine) through the show's website

BY Robin Roberts

As a lifelong Beatles fan, I thought I had heard and seen everything dealing with the Beatles. I was wrong. Woody Lifton’s “Pop Go The Beatles” radio show is not just any radio show. Woody puts his own special spin on rare interviews, live concerts, alternate and studio outtakes of songs, and many little surprises thrown in throughout. I have thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of the 42 discs of Woody’s collection.
Together, with his co-host, Joyce Kaufman,* they will thrill any Beatles fan beyond his or her wildest dreams. Listen to the fantasy concerts from 1964, 1965, 1966 as only a true Beatles fan would dream they could be. Listen as the Sgt. Pepper album is exposed, go inside A Hard Day’s Night, and listen to interviews and general frivolity, as only the Beatles could do, before America and when they conquered America. Hear the Beatles in the studio and as they talk about each album: Let It Be, the White Album, Help!, Revolver, Rubber Soul, BBC Sessions, Abbey Road, and more.
Woody and Joyce have put together a radio show from a Beatles’ fan perspective and included gems that they, as Beatles fans, wanted to hear.
The “Pop Go the Beatles” disc collection is a pleasure listening to from beginning to end and it is a collection that I will treasure always.
I recently interviewed Woody for Octopus’ Garden and asked him to share some insight into this wonderful collection.

OG: Hi, Woody. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

WL: My pleasure, Robin and Tom. I love your’s really a first class production.

OG: Why did you decide to undertake this phenomenal project?

WL: As a long-time Beatles fan, I always enjoyed the Beatles radio shows I had heard. Scott Muni’s “Ticket To Ride” and Joe Johnson’s “Beatle Brunch” had become appointment radio for me. But as I was listening to these shows, I always heard myself saying, “These shows would be so much more interesting if they used the rare musical material that I had collected.” I finally decided that it was time to either “put up or shut up” and that started me cataloging and organizing all the material I had been collecting for the past 25 years.

OG: This must have taken a long time to complete. How long did it take, from finding the material you wanted to use, to fitting it together, to coming up with the finished project?

WL: Once I made the decision to go forward with the show, I started to organize my material. This meant transferring albums, video tapes, cassettes, DVDs, and CDs into my computer (Windows 98) and then organizing it into categories or show topics. I used Music Match Jukebox for that. This alone took almost two years. I had a lot of material on videotape and vinyl and the process of transferring those to the computer took quite a while. This was 1998 and very few people knew how to do that. Luckily I have a brother-in-law in the business and he helped set me up. Then the process began. Movie clips from A Hard Day’s Night, Help!, and Let It Be and tons of other material I had on video had to transferred and that happened in real time.
Then there is the process of creating each individual show. So as an example, the show on Sgt. Pepper, called “Sgt. Pepper Exposed,” I had some great material from a 1987 TV program called “The Making of Sgt. Pepper” on video plus numerous alternate studio takes and a few live versions of the songs to use. So, first I have to research the making of the album and the cover (plus the other extras that came with the LP), then research each song (what inspired the writer, how was it produced in the studio, and what studio tricks were used to create that song). Then write the script for Joyce’s and my vocal parts. Then I had to produce what I called a layout, which gave my technical director, Mike McGann, the order of each piece (music, interview clips, vocal parts, almost like a map). Then record the vocal parts in the studio. So, from the conception of the idea to the recording of the last show you’re talking almost five years. Of course, it was five years learning more about my life’s passion, so you could hardly call it work. The shows originally aired from November of 2002 through April of 2003. You could really say that I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life on this project

OG: When did you first become a Beatles fan?

WL: That’s easy, February 7, 1964, the day the Beatles landed at JFK Airport. We lived in New York about five miles from the airport and 30 miles from Manhattan so we were completely involved in the whole process. The local radio stations WINS with Murray the K and the Good Guys at WMCA had turned their stations into all Beatles all the time and my sister and I were hooked by the time they hit the air at 8 p.m. EST on 2/9/64, on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

OG: Do you have a favorite Beatle? Favorite album? Favorite era or time in Beatles history?

WL: Favorite Beatle: Paul. Favorite album: Abbey Road. Favorite era: Before they came to America. I always wanted to borrow Doc and Marty’s flying DeLorean and go back to Hamburg in the early 60s and catch the Beatles act.

OG: Did you have to get permission from anyone in the Beatles circle to complete this project, i.e.; Apple, and how did you overcome any obstacles?

WL: I have never spoken with anyone from Apple, not before the show was broadcast in 2003 or since. The show aired for 22 weeks in 2002 and 2003 and Apple never said a word. So I’ve continued working on promoting the show for the past five years.

OG: I love all of the factual details you’ve included in these shows. How hard was it collecting all of this information?

WL: Once I narrowed down my sources, it became much easier. I have a number of books (the complete list of books was given out during one of our shows called Beatles Books) that were instrumental in researching these shows: Bruce Spizer’s complete set of books on the Beatles music and records (, Mark Lewisohn’s The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Barry Miles’ Many Years From Now (a series of interviews with Paul covering almost every Beatles song and album), and All Together Now, The Beatles 1st Complete Discography by Harry Castlelman. I would use these as the basis for most of my research, but there were probably 10 others used though out the course of writing 22 shows. Plus I had hundreds of hours of interviews to sort through and organize the clips by each subject or show. So it was quite time consuming, plus I was working to a deadline...I was paying for two hours of air time per week whether I had a show to air or not. So I stayed about two weeks ahead of air time, but made sure I wrote, edited, researched, and recorded one show per week.

OG: We know that many things have been written about the Beatles that aren’t true or are questionable, from unreliable sources. What steps did you take to be certain that what you present is accurate?

WL: I was often able to find interview clips of the Beatles themselves or George Martin speaking about a certain subject, so it’s hard to question the actual source. Example: In my “Sgt. Pepper Exposed” show, I have clips of Paul, George Martin, George Harrison, and Ringo saying that “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds” was NOT written about or on psychedelic drugs, it came from a picture that Julian had drawn in school. Well, who’s going to argue with that? Plus the books I was using for research were by far the best of all the books available. Mark Lewisohn was allowed into Abbey Road studios to listen to the actual recorded tapes and Bruce Spizer’s work is so impeccable that he is now consulting with Apple.

OG: Do you have any plans to expand the show nationally or internationally?

WL: That was my original intention, but with all the unauthorized music, it can’t be broadcast on terrestrial radio and with satellite radio, you need the permission of the group to put it on the air. Paul, Ringo, Olivia, and Yoko would have to agree to let the show air. They couldn’t even agree on a 40th anniversary re-release of the most influential album of all time, Sgt. Pepper. Why would they care about my little show?

OG: I read in your bio that you have radio DJ experience, having had your own radio show in college, and listening to radio shows like Ticket to Ride and Beatle Brunch is what inspired you to record the ultimate Beatles radio show. Can you tell our readers about that?

WL: I was on radio, first in college and then for my business. I bought one hour per week on an all brokered time local station and did a talk show about my insurance business. My producer said it was the best brokered hour on the station. He said I found a way to make insurance interesting and entertaining and if I could do that with insurance, he thought the Beatles show would be great. Well, after such exceptional sucking up I had to make him the producer for PGTB.
With this experience, as I listened to shows like Beatle Brunch, I kept thinking to myself that I could do a better job because I could play all this unusual and mostly unheard music. Once I thought I had enough unusual material for 20 shows, I approached Joyce Kaufman to see if she wanted to host the show. When she said yes, that was the final push I needed. I had to get moving. I now had a nationally known host for the show but did not have a place to air it or any written scripts. So, I then arranged to buy time on the station, two hours per week for 22 weeks. Then the real work started, writing the actual shows. The creation of the episodes started with a list of ideas (most of the ideas were based on what kind of unusual material I had -- the material would always carry the show). I had a list of about 20 ideas. My sister gave me the idea for the “Covered and Uncovered” show. Then the process began, and I usually let the album be the guide -- if it was Sgt. Pepper, I would work based on the LP tracks, research each song, and then work through the clips, interviews, and of course, the rare musical material I wanted to use. Once I figured out that each hour should have three segments of approximately 16-18 minutes, it became much easier. Then I would take the script, a show layout for my technical director (it would tell him what came in what order), and two CDs, one with the music, and one with the clips into the studio. Then Joyce Kaufman and I would record the vocal parts (usually together but sometimes separately). Finally, it was up to Mike McGann, my technical director, to fit it all together

OG: Your show was banned in the US at first. Why did that occur and how did you overcome that obstacle?

WL: I could not find a terrestrial radio network that would air the show due to the massive amount of unauthorized musical material in it (remember we NEVER play an album’s all alternate studio takes and mixes plus live in-concert & BBC radio performances). So I bought time on my own...never told the station manager just how much unusual material there was and with his star DJ, Joyce Kaufman, as the host he just let me put it on the air. I even tried satellite radio. I figured that if Howard Stern could say whatever he wanted, we could play whatever we wanted. And we were right, except that with satellite radio in order to play a show like ours you need the permission of the artist. This meant that Neil Aspinall, Paul, Ringo, Olivia, and Yoko would have to agree to let the show be broadcast. They can’t agree on very much. So now it’s been broadcast by a few internet radio stations. I would check the show’s website ( or its Myspace page ( to see where it is currently being broadcast. Of course, you can always buy the complete set and listen at your own leisure.

OG: I read that it cost you a phenomenal amount of money and time to complete these shows and you are asking for very little in return under the circumstances. This truly was a labor of love for you and you should be commended. We need more people like you who do it out of their love for the Beatles and their fans rather than for how much money it will make you. I know that when you were organizing the material for these shows, you were just interested in putting together the ultimate Beatles radio show and for that, we, the Beatles fans, applaud you and thank you for taking us into a world of the Beatles that we haven’t seen or heard before.

WL: I appreciate that, Robin. The costs were a little crazy at one point: $12,000 to air the show for 22 weeks (out of my pocket), thousands of dollars spent on research books and rare and unusual musical material, interviews, press conferences, computer programs, and stereo and computer parts, plus at least 2000 hours of my’s hard to calculate it but my estimates are close to $25,000 to put the show on the air. For more information on how the show was put together, go to or check its Myspace page and its very popular blog.

OG: Again, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. We wish you all of the success in this project and any others you partake in the future. Just know that the staff and readers of Octopus’ Garden will be cheering you on.

WL: It’s been my pleasure, Robin. I appreciate all the support and positive comments that have come from you, Tom, and the whole staff at Octopus’ Garden.

(*Woody’s co-host, Joyce Kaufman, is a well known radio personality in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area. She adds her own special stories to the radio programs, including the one of meeting John and Yoko personally and seeing the Beatles live at Shea Stadium. Born in New York, she has very interesting and entertaining stories to tell of her life’s experiences.)

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