Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Sat 4 Nov 06 18:16
Also, Phil, the version of "I'm Looking Through You" with two false starts was actually unique to the US stereo LP version. As to why it was only used there, I don't know, and I suspect no one else does, either. It was probably just a mistake -- someone preparing a US mix and not editing out the false starts at the beginning of the take. A surprising number of these kind of sloppy-seeming mistakes -- not really mistakes so much as different editing/mixing decisions for different versions of the same record -- happened for the releases of many artists back then, especially when different mixes were being prepared for different parts of the world. It doesn't happen today, but it *still* happens. Case in point: for the recent compilation The Capitol Albums Vol. 2 (with the "American" versions of some Beatles LPs), the first pressing somehow used incorrect "reduced mono mixes" for Beatles VI and Rubber Soul. Interestingly, for many years, I simply assumed that the version with two false starts was the *correct* version -- indeed, the *only* version. I just wasn't aware of any others, and the album I got it on wasn't rare; it was what you got when you bought Rubber Soul at any US store in 1972. I still think it's the best version -- those two false starts sound like a cool on-the-fly accidental extra that the Beatles decided to keep in because it sounded good, a la that abrupt engineer's announcement at the start of "Revolution 1" on the White Album. Actually, the Beatles probably didn't make a decision to keep it in -- they were probably unaware it was even on the US mix before that was released -- but I still like it. I think they should have kept it on the CD version. There's another reason to hang on to your old LPs.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Sat 4 Nov 06 18:47
I didn't have access to original documents relating to the Beatles' recordings. Those are pretty tough to come by without access to Apple or EMI archives. However, I did consult a very wide array of sources -- other books, magazine articles, audio recordings, audiovisual recordings, and more. The books are listed in the bibliography, and the sources for other materials cited in the text when possible. The list of songs that Brian Epstein sent to George Martin to consider hearing at their EMI audition is actually listed in full in my book, on page 30, in the full-page sidebar on the June 1962 EMI audition. A reproduction of the actual original songlist is in Mark Lewisohn's "The Complete Beatles Chronicle," though unfortunately a few of the titles are obscured. Fortunately, the 1985 third edition of the Hunter Davies biography, which has a lengthy newly written introduction, lists all of the songs. As another instance in which I obtained uncommon information from a secondary source, I have a sidebar listing all the songs from the earliest surviving Beatles setlist (from 1960). A reproduction of the actual setlist is in a much obscure book than the Lewisohn one -- The Beatles From Cavern to Star-Club, printed in Sweden. That list was auctioned from Sotheby's, and as Sotheby's is given the photo credit, I imagine they reproduced it in some fashion before this, in a catalog or elsewhere. The efforts of previous authors in actually getting access to original documents were enormously valuable to me in my research. If I can give myself a little credit, however, what I've hoped to do in the book is to give this kind of information some context and interesting-to-read description that it's usually been lacking in other books. For instance, the two lists mentioned above are just reproduced in the books in which they previously appeared without any comments. In my sidebars, I noted who the original performers were of each song; where any versions recorded by the Beatles, released or unreleased, appear; which of the songs are not heard on any surviving Beatles recording, released or unreleased; and what the song selection might tell us about the group's music as it had evolved to that point. For example: it's often said that the Beatles were pressured to record inappropriately pop-oriented songs by Brian Epstein for their Decca audition, and, blaming that for their failure to pass the audition, resolved never to let Epstein dictate their music again. It's a poetic story, but I don't think it happened like that. When you compare the songs taped at the Decca audition (January 1, 1962) and the songs Epstein suggested just a few months later that George Martin have them do at the EMI audition, no less than ten of the fifteen songs from the Decca audition also appear on EMI list. To me, that indicates both that either the Decca tape was actually a fairly representative set of what the Beatles liked and were playing at that time, or that Brian Epstein likely still had some influence over what they played at their audition for EMI. (Most likely, it was some of both.) Something else I pointed out regarding the EMI audition song list: most of the 33 songs featured either John or Paul as lead singer, and they're given roughly the same number of songs (Paul gets a few more). Only six, however, featured George as lead singer. That indicates to me that he was obviously considered the least significant of the Beatles' three lead vocalists (Pete Best, still in the band at the time of the EMI audition, rarely sang onstage). Although George did sing a higher percentage of their songs onstage -- something I pointed out in my sidebar on the BBC sessions, noting that these gave George more of a chance to sing lead (albeit on cover versions) than he got on the Beatles' studio releases. This isn't rocket science; it takes a knowledgeable fan, not a genius, to suss this out. But, to go back to why I did the book in the first place, it's always surprised and disappointed me that people working this kind of scholarly field in Beatles research often *don't* point these things out. It's more interesting, to me, than just looking at a song list or discography.
Phil Catalfo (philcat) Sat 4 Nov 06 20:45
It's a lot more interesting to a lot of other people with a passion for the subject, too. A few posts back you mentioned the fond wish of many fans for a comprehensive remastering of the Beatles' albums on CD. Do you expect that that will be happening any time in the foreseeable future? We've seen remastering of the "White Album" (in a limited, 30th-anniversary CD edition) and (if I'm not mistaken) of the songs that were on the "Yellow Submarine" compilation that came out a few years ago, but nothing more in terms of remastering the Beatles' back catalog. Whaddaya think?
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Sat 4 Nov 06 20:57
I don't have any inside information as to whether comprehensive remastering will be done in the near future. The Beatles and Apple are pretty inscrutable as to how they make their catalog decisions. Perhaps I'm off base, but I have the feeling that Paul McCartney -- who must have as strong a vote as anyone in these decisions -- might be too preoccupied with some personal problems over the next year or so to give much thought to things like remastering the old Beatles catalog. Geoff Emerick, head engineer on most of the Beatles' sessions from 1966 onward (and involved in some sessions prior to that), had this to say when I interviewed him earlier this year for Record Collector magazine and asked him about how the Beatles' music sounds on CD: "I can't actually listen to a lot of those albums [on CD], 'cause I remember them sounding the way they sounded off vinyl, which had a lot more depth to them. The ones on the CD just sound a bit thin, and a bit lackluster, to my personal taste, because I know what's missing. I guess they will reissue these things. I don't know why they haven't. It seems so ridiculous when you think about it, how dumb it is."
Mark McDonough (mcdee) Sun 5 Nov 06 07:25
Yes, for once the Stones beat them to the punch.
My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Mon 6 Nov 06 09:21
richie--i've always thought the beatles were an example where the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. There are bits of the solo work that i like, but nothing grabs me the way that they did working together as a group from the beginning through about 67. It is now known that lennon and mccartney didn't really write songs as a team they way they originally presented themselves. Nevertheless I've always wondered what kind of feedback existed within the group in the early years. Even though a song might have been primarily written by one or the other, I've always wondered about the amount of input they would be willing to take from each other and from george martin. My own suspician is that early on they were all more open to feedback from each other and martin and that this contributed to the quality of their work. Even though most songs were written primarily by one beatle, in finalizing the song as it appeared on record, they were willing and able to incorporate feedback from each other. This feedback is partly responsible for making that material so strong. In other words, there was some group process that was vital to the quality of the material. As they matured and began to assert their own identities, this delicate group dynamic began to disintegrate. As someone who has listened to a lot of the interaction and banter that was captured on tape, what is your sense of this? Did they work togther as a group early on to craft material in ways that they didn't at the end? Where they open to feedback from each other, including martin? Did that change over time?
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Mon 6 Nov 06 10:35
I think generally, the observations in the above post are correct and astutely stated. There was more of a group dynamic in the first years of the Beatles' recording career. And certainly, they were more willing to take input from George Martin. Martin was important through the end, but by the time of about the White Album, he was not as much of a force. In part this was because the Beatles had learned so much about production in the meantime, and in part it was because the Beatles were much more assertive in getting their own way in general, and not as apt to listen to Martin just because he was older and something of an authority figure. By the end of the '60s, the Beatles, not EMI, were the authority figures in the EMI-group relationship. In his recent memoir "Here, There, and Everywhere" (which is very good), Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick opines that Martin was actually losing control of the sessions to some degree during some of the more chaotic 1968-69 sessions. Martin wasn't even present for some of the White Album sessions. Still, I think the loss of group dynamic and infighting might have been exaggerated a bit in some accounts. There are numerous instances, in 1968-1969, when you can hear the Beatles making constructive suggestions to each other and seeming to get along quite well, even on songs which definitely seemed to be one particular member's baby. On some of the Get Back/Let It Be tapes, for instance, you can hear Paul make some crucial assertive suggestions about restructuring "Don't Let Me Down" so that it flows better, though that song is thought of as a total John creation. On take 2 of "Julia" (included on Anthology 3), on which John was the *only* Beatle who played or sung, you can hear Paul (in the control room) offering feedback to John, and John taking it quite amiably -- though some might assume that neither Paul, George, or Ringo had anything to do with the recording. Another good example of group cooperation, which I mentioned earlier, was when George was trying to work out "Something" in the January 1969 Get Back/Let It Be sessions. George asks John and Paul for help with words that he's stuck on, and John and Paul try really hard to help him along. Not really to the point of actually writing lyrics, but giving him ideas to get him started. George can't complete the line "attracts me like no other lover," and John suggests, "Just say what comes into your head each time. Attracts me like a 'cauliflower.' Until you get the word!" George chuckles and tries, "attracts me like a pomegranate." On the other hand, you *can* hear, especially at points during those same Get Back/Let It Be tapes, points where the group interaction is failing. Despite the illustration above, George, sadly, was the worst victim of this. This was a point where he was writing much more than before -- more than John was at this point, John being rather unproductive, perhaps because of problems associated with his personal life (this was right after he'd gotten busted for pot possession and Yoko's miscarriage, and it's been strongly intimated he and Yoko were using heroin at this time). Often when George introduces his songs and tries to run through them, John seems uninterested, sometimes to the point of talking or even strumming/singing something else while George is playing. Paul gets the brunt of criticism for keeping George down because of that famous sequence in the "Let It Be" film where the pair argue about how to play a guitar part, but Paul generally seems more supportive of George's songs. He almost tries to at least make a token effort at working on them, both from the arranging and backup vocal harmony point of view, though not with as much enthusiasm as for his and John's songs. And for the *dozens* of January 1969 attempts at "All Things Must Pass," it's really hard to blame anyone in particular for the failure of the song to really click as a Beatles arrangement. It just doesn't seem to be taking off, though they keep trying it many different ways.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Mon 6 Nov 06 10:36
To continue to riff on these questions, I think it should also be understood that when they were in the studio, even going back to the earliest EMI days, the Beatles often communicated pretty brusquely to each other. Even when they were working hard together and getting along well, you rarely hear on tape anything on the order of "I like that bridge, Paul, but I have an idea for how to come out of it that might be worth trying. Would you like me to show it to you?" Perhaps it was something to do with them being four British guys and not wanting to show sensitive vulnerable feelings to each other in the 1960s, but the dialogue's often in a kind of shorthand that dispenses with small talk niceties, common to people who've worked with each other extremely closely for years. So even in the very early years, you might hear some comments, particularly from John, that could strike some as rude. For the first version of "One After 909" (recorded in March 1963 and not released at the time, though the song was revived in 1969 for Let It Be), John says to George at the end of one take, "What kind of solo was that?" In another take, he comes down hard on Ringo: "What are you doing? Are you out of your mind? Do the boom-boom-boom-boom [drum pattern." On the alternate takes of "This Boy" officially released on the "Free As a Bird" CD single, John at one point says "get this bloody little mike out of the way." Paul tries to cool him out: "Dont be nervous, John." "Im not," Lennon defensively shoots back. As for Paul, in Barry Miles Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now, he cited some unbootlegged "I Want to Hold Your Hand" outtakes as an example of how "Yes, okay, in the studio I could be overbearing. Because I wanted to get it right! I heard tapes recently of me counting in 'I Wanna [sic] Hold Your Hand,' which was our first number one in the States, and I'm being pretty bossy: 'Sssh, Sssh! Clean beginning, c'mon, everyone. One, two. No, c'mon, get it right!' and I can see how that could get on your nerves." Of course, there are other instances of chatter, particularly in the early days, where it's not as tense, and you can hear what good friends they were. Some of them, in fact, can be heard in the same outtakes of "This Boy" on the "Free As a Bird" single. One of my favorites is during a session where they're trying to perfect "Think for Yourself" harmonies and mucking around with jokes most of the time. But they intermittently keep tinkering around with the harmonies, and then suddenly they hit on the three-part blend -- a very unusual one -- heard on the official recording. One of then says, not so much in a Eureka! voice as a matter-of-fact one, "That was it." I also like how in the aborted take 1 of "No Reply" (heard on the Anthology DVD/video), John grumbles, "[I'll] never make it . . . STOP! . . . He'll [Paul] have to do it . . . just can't get anywhere near [sings the word 'light'] now . . . so he'll have to do it." It was a long session and John was losing the upper range of the voice. He knew he needed help from Paul, but the way he expressed it was pretty curt, like he didn't want to ask Paul directly.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Mon 6 Nov 06 13:48
There are a few entertainingly nasty asides from John during the Get Back/Let It Be tapes that point to him getting fed up with the endless rehearsing in general, and perhaps with the Beatles in general. Samples: Paul says, in a mock-school teacher voice, when he's trying to steer them back to rehearsing "Let It Be" after they break into a Chuck Berry oldie: "Come on now, come on now, come on now, come now. Back to the drudgery!" And John replies, "It's you that's making it like this! It's you thats bloody making it like this!" Paul, as is his wont, carries on like nothing's happened. And, at another point, when Paul asks for another rehearsal of "One After 909," John mumbles: "Fuck you . . . we know this, dont we . . . it's like a waste of time . . . it's just another gig . . ." Also, I agree with the point that the whole of the Beatles was greater than the sum of the parts. As much of a fanatic as I am of the entirety of what they did as a group, I'm passionate about hardly any of their solo work. The only solo album I rate as highly as anything they did while they were together is George's "All Things Must Pass."
Phil Catalfo (philcat) Fri 10 Nov 06 00:43
This is kind of a random question, Richie, but it popped into my head and God forbid it should just stay there, so.... What did you make of the makeshift Beatles track produced when the "Threetles" added to that scratch John Lennon recording to create the "Free As a Bird" of the Anthology series? For that matter, I could ask the same question about "Real Love."
Steven E. Marcus (smarcus) Fri 10 Nov 06 08:05
I pretty much agree with you about All Things Must Pass being the only solo release that even came close to the quality of a Beatles recording, although the RINGO LP comes in second because all four of them were on it... I always thought that Ringo was the only person who could have gotten John and Paul to agree to a reunion...
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Fri 10 Nov 06 08:24
I felt like the "Free As a Bird" and "Real Love" recordings were too artificial to qualify as genuine Beatles efforts, being overlays of John Lennon demos and done without John's input. "Free As a Bird" isn't a bad song and is about as Beatlesque a reconstruction as could be done long after the group broke up (and John had died). Hearing the song itself wasn't as much of a surprise to collectors of unreleased material as it was to much of the public, since John's lo-fi "Free As a Bird" demo had been bootlegged for years before the other Beatles seemed to become aware of it and embellished it. I must say I don't care for "Real Love" at all, as a song or a production. I find it dull and unmemorable -- adjectives I wouldn't apply to *any* officially released Beatles track, and for that matter, few of their unreleased ones.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Fri 10 Nov 06 08:34
I think all lovers of All Things Must Pass should be aware of the 15 demos George did for the album around late May 1970, just before the proper sessions started. I do go into these in detail in the book, as I cover the unreleased solo material the individual Beatles did through the end of 1970. They have a very stripped-down, intimate feel (and are in superb sound quality), mostly featuring just George's guitar and voice. Also, they include seven songs that didn't make it onto All Things Must Pass, a few of which George wouldn't release an any solo album. One of these demos, of "Beware of Darkness," did make it onto the 2001 expanded edition of All Things Must Pass, to give listeners an idea of the sound of these group of recordings. I think the others do qualify for official release, both on grounds of official-standard fidelity and the quality of the material and performances. George also did a handful of studio outtakes with full band backing in late May 1970 of songs that didn't make into All Things Must Pass which, while they don't contain any classics, are worth hearing. As are, for the more committed, about three CDs of rough mixes/outtakes from the familiar All Things Must Pass sessions, some of which differ noticeably from the final versions (though some vary in only minor ways).
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Mon 13 Nov 06 09:46
I'll be discussing the book "The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film" Wednesday, November 15 from 8:00pm-9:00pm on the San Francisco Bay Area radio station KPFA (94.1 FM, www.kpfa.org) on David Gans's Dead to the World show. We'll be playing some rare Beatles recordings during the program.
My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Mon 13 Nov 06 10:20
richie, i have two more questions for you. I'll ask them in separate posts. The first, i'm on the road right now and don't have my copy of the book with me. But in one of the early chapters, 62 or 63, when talking about how george martin came to become interested in hearing the beatles, you say something like the story of george martin's initial interest in the beatles is a long and complicated story, but it is outside the scope of the book... of course that just piqued my interest. what is that story? Also, for a book that is so thorough and packed with info, i thought that it was interesting that you decided that that specific story was outside the scope of the book.
My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Mon 13 Nov 06 10:49
The second question i have is not about the beatles, but more about your approach to writing the book. Your book is an amazing collection and contextualization of a vast amount of information. It is a very different kind of book about the beatles from the ones that were available to me when I was a kid and completely obsessed with the beatles. What was the role, if any, of computer based databases in retrieving and organizing your material? How important were databases in tracking down information? If you did use any, how did you use them? How important was the interenet and web resources in terms of tracking down information? What kind of web based searching, if any, did you use? Did you use any sort of database software to store and organize your information as you retrieved it? In what other ways did you use database software to work with the massive amounts of information with which you were dealing? This may seem like a complete non-sequitor question, but it is an issue that i find fascinating. The world i live in now is so different than the one I grew up in. Growing up, as a kid, information about pop culture seemed much more difficult to access. You had to spend time hanging out in used record stores, getting bits of info here and there, often trying to put together multiple misremembered versions of things from different people. Sure, if you were already in college or had access to a good library, it might have been possible to track stuff down, but for the average person, popculture seemed much more ephemeral. Now, it is a completely different world. Pop culture, and the history of pop culture is much more accessible. You can go online and find information about almost any obscure pop recording or pop event whatsoever. What used to be really obscure knowledge has often become much more generally known. This is changing culture in general, but especially popular culture. For example, the famous beatle butcher block cover. I remember hearing about the cover, but not being able to see it until much later. Now, i can just go online, and pull up the photo, along with the story, as soon as i can get my hands on my computer. I think living in the world we do now, it's easy to forget how different the world was before all this. But, being a geezer, i'm frequently amazed at how the world i live in is so different than the one I grew up in.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Mon 13 Nov 06 16:22
To set the context of the question in post 90 for those who haven't read the book (which is just reaching stores this week), when I discussed the Beatles' Decca January 1, 1962 audition tape, I noted that the tape indirectly helped lead the Beatles to George Martin. When Brian Epstein was desperately trying to get another label interested in the Beatles in early 1962, he would play them the audition tape in the reel-to-reel format. In early February, the manager of the HMV record store on London's main shopping strip, Oxford Street, suggested to Epstein that it would be better to press the tapes onto discs rather than hauling around the less instantly playable reel-to-reels. Epstein took up the suggestion immediately, going right into a studio above the store where demos could be pressed. As the engineer in the store was making the discs, he told Epstein that the Beatles sounded good. Epstein told him that three of the songs were group originals, and Foy got Sid Coleman, who ran a music publishing subsidiary of EMI (Ardmore & Beechwood) on the store's top floor, to give them a listen. Coleman liked those rudimentary Lennon-McCartney songs enough to talk about a publishing deal with Epstein there and then. Brian didn't take him up on that at the moment, as getting a recording contract was his most urgent mission. To help him out in that regard, Coleman called George Martin, the head of A&R at Parlophone, a subsidiary of EMI. That led to a meeting between Epstein and Martin, who in turn was interested enough in what he heard on the discs to offer the Beatles a recording contract later in 1962. This was the point at which I noted that the story of how Martin offered the Beatles the contract was tangled and beyond the scope of the book. That's because it's not directly related to their unreleased material -- I had to draw these kind of lines to make the already huge book a manageable size -- and also, because it's covered in some other books. It's impossible to accurately summarize in a sentence or two, in part because there are different versions of what happened. But I'll give a summary of key points in the next post.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Mon 13 Nov 06 16:22
For many years, it was thought that Epstein didn't meet with George Martin about the Beatles until May 1962, after about four disappointing months of not being able to get the group a deal anywhere. This is how it was reported in Hunter Davies's 1968 authorized biography "The Beatles," the first reasonably serious biography of the group. However, with the help of digging through EMI documentation, Beatles researcher/author Mark Lewisohn determined that Epstein and Martin had in fact first met on February 13, 1962, at which time Epstein played him Decca tapes. It took Martin, however, three months to contact Epstein again and set up another meeting for May 9. At that point, unusually, George Martin had a recording contract drawn up for the Beatles, though he hadn't yet met them or heard them play live in the studio or in person. In "The Complete Beatles Chronicle," Lewisohn writes that it wasn't a guaranteed contract, just that he was having the paperwork processed so that it would be ready to be signed if Martin thought the Beatles were worth offering a deal to after giving them a proper studio audition. On June 6, 1962, the Beatles (with Pete Best still on drums) DID audition for George Martin at EMI; a couple of surviving tracks from that audition (though it's likely more were recorded), "Love Me Do" and "Besame Mucho," appear on Anthology 1. It's possible that the Beatles, or even the Beatles/Martin/EMI, thought that this was actually a recording session for a first single, not merely an audition, though it was always remembered as an audition once histories of the group started to be written. Of course, nothing from this session was released at the time, reinforcing the conclusion that it was probably an audition. The Beatles' first official single, "Love Me Do"/"P.S. I Love You," was recorded in September 1962, by which time Ringo Starr had replaced Pete Best.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Mon 13 Nov 06 16:23
So the sequence of events gets into somewhat specialized detail. What's interesting to me, though, is what is says about the early Beatles-George Martin relationship. I think he was willing to take a chance on them, but didn't *really* start to get seriously impressed by them until the "Please Please Me" single was recorded in late 1962, by which time they were starting to grow enormously as composers. And probably he wasn't really gone whole-hog on them until both the "Please Please Me" single and the Please Please Me album (recorded February 1963, released the following month) both went to #1 in the UK. If it took him three months to get back in touch with Epstein after first hearing about them in February 1962 (and Lewisohn wrote he was "pushed into doing so" by Sid Coleman at the Ardmore & Beechwood publisher), he obviously wasn't all that thrilled with what he'd heard on the tapes. When the Beatles did come in for their June audition, he in fact delegated most of the session to another producer, Ron Richards (who'd go on to work with the Hollies), indicating his interest in the group might not have been all that intense at that point. And while, as he's told it many times, he was more motivated to sign the Beatles because of their charm and forceful personalities than their music, he might still have not been jumping up and down with eagerness. The first official session wasn't set up for another three months. That was a blessing, though, as it gave the Beatles time to finalize their lineup by replacing Best with Starr before the first official single. Even by 1967 (when Hunter Davies's book was written), however, the story had been made much smoother -- that Epstein had met Martin in May, the Beatles auditioned for him the following month, and they were signed and set up to record their first single shortly afterward. Maybe, perhaps subconsciously, everyone was trying in hindsight to make the Beatles' rise to success less bumpy than it had actually been. Or perhaps Martin wanted to portray himself as more enthusiastic and savvy in hindsight, given that it might have seemed slightly embarrassing, with all the Beatles' subsequent success, if it had been known that he hadn't jumped on them right after they were brought to his attention.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Mon 13 Nov 06 16:43
I hope this doesn't disappoint readers, especially in such a technologically savvy forum as the WELL. But actually, I didn't use databases or database software in retrieving and organizing my material. I did it an old-fashioned wayI compiled lists of all the material known to exist from every date (or rough chronological period, if the exact dates weren't known) on which any unreleased material was known to have been recorded by typing these into Microsoft Word documents. I organized these into separate entriesbasically grouping together all live material recorded at a certain concerts, all studio outtakes from a certain date, all BBC songs recorded at a certain session, etc.within each chapter. I had most of these entriesjust the basic song titles, dates, and locationsset up and chronologically sequenced before I wrote the actual text under each entry. I had to do a little backtracking to add/insert additional material I became aware of in the right place, and also to write the text for entries of material I knew was circulating, but wasn't able to find until after I'd begun writing the book. But for the most part, I wrote the text in the order that you see it in the finished volume. There are a couple reasons for this. The first, I have to admit, is that I'm not extremely savvy on the technological-computer end of things. Yes, I type fast and organize my Word documents well, I designed and update my own (basic) website, and I know how to exchange/email/download/upload data and music files, burn CDs, and the like. I suppose that puts me ahead of many people in my generation (born 1962). But I don't know much about databases and programs for organizing information, and am way behind many other people of my age on general computer expertise, though probably above-average for a writer (as opposed to a programmer or graphic artist). The other and more important reason, I think, is that there is a great deal of contradictory (and, sadly, often just plain wrong) information floating around in databases Beatles fans have tried to compile of this material. Using any single one of them as the backbone would have invited a lot of mistakes that would have become hard to correct. Trying to integrate all of them together would have been either messier. Instead, I consulted quite an array of sources (including books, websites, magazines, and other materials) to compile what became my basic or backbone list, or series of entries. I made numerous judgement calls about which ones were likely most correct, and at times had to pick and choose from information in various sources and combine it in the way that seemed most accurate and logical. Was that laborious? Sure. But ultimately I think it saved time, considering how many gremlins might have been introduced by trying to combine faulty databases.
Gail Williams (gail) Mon 13 Nov 06 17:00
Thanks for talking about how you did the work. Human attention and intelligent sifting and constructing, however it comes together, can make a worthwhile book. Aggregating databases makes ... well, an aggregated database printout.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Mon 13 Nov 06 17:12
I did use a lot of resources on the web in finding information, or at least evaluating the accuracy of some information I was coming up with. Again, I cringe to think this might expose me as a relative Luddite, but the web based searching I used was conventional search engines, Google being the most frequent. Of course, many of the sites I found in this manner would lead me to others. The more involved part of the San Francisco Library on-line catalog -- they weed out the truly clueless by having you type in the number from your library catalog in order to get to it -- gave me access to databases that enabled me to find out whether certain rare books were accessible by intralibrary loan. Be wary, whether you're thinking of using web resources for writing, other professional research purposes, or just for your own research enjoyment, that there's a lot of galling misinformation out there. That's particularly the case when you wrestle with a topic that doesn't have much in the way of officially authorized documentation/research, like unreleased popular music recordings. I routinely discarded a lot of info I knew to be plain wrong or misleading. Beatles/music collectors are probably familiar with some obvious ones that have been floating around for decades, like that Dylan and the Beatles did a version of "Help!" together, or that John Lennon played with Jimi Hendrix on a version of "Day Tripper," or that the Beatles recorded an unreleased song called "LS Bumble Bee" (though it's shown up on many Beatles bootlegs, it's actually a single by the British comedians Dudley Moore and Peter Cook). Sometimes, basic details are not agreed upon even by pretty reputable Beatles experts who've spent an unhealthy chunk of their lives examining such questions. When noting these discrepancies in my book, I hope, I've fairly noted that there's a difference of opinion between certain sources. Example: there's a pretty even split as to whether two unreleased home-recorded-sounding tracks George Harrison and Bob Dylan did together ("I'd Have You Anytime" and "Nowhere to Go") were from late 1968 or April 1970. I put it in late 1968 in my book, as a comment by George about the writing of "I'd Have You Anytime" seemed to place it in late 1968, when he visited Dylan and the Band in Woodstock. That tilted the balance for me, but I noted that the date wasn't entirely certain, and it was still possible it could have been done in April 1970.
Richie Unterberger (folkrocks) Mon 13 Nov 06 17:48
By the way, for those of you living in the Bay Area, I'll be discussing/signing/selling the book and showing/playing some rare material at the following events: Wednesday evening, December 6, 7:00-9:30pm, at the Park Branch of the San Francisco Library at 1833 Page Street in San Francisco (two uninterrupted hours of rare Beatles film clips, followed by Q&A) Saturday evening, December 9, 10pm-midnight, Fellini Restaurant, 1401 University Avenue, Berkeley (rare film clips of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Who, Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett, Neil Young, Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell, James Brown, Love, the Monks, the Beach Boys, and others). Wednesday afternoon, December 13, 4:00-6:00pm, at Meyer Hall in Expression College for the Digital Arts at 6601 Shellmound Street in Emeryville. I will be presenting rare Beatles film and audio clips, as well as rare clips by other artists featured in my books. Thursday evening, December 14, 7:30-9:30pm, at the Alameda Main Library at 1550 Oak Street (corner of Oak & Lincoln) in Alameda. Again, I will be presenting rare Beatles film and audio clips, as well as rare clips by other artists featured in my books. Also I'm doing three events in the Northwest, at all of which I'll be discussing the book and showing/playing rare Beatles film clips/recordings: Tuesday, November 28, 6:00-7:30pm, Central Library, Portland, Oregon, 801 SW 10th Avenue; Wednesday, November 29, 7pm, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park Towne Center, 17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park, twelve miles north of downtown Seattle; Thursday, November 30, 7:30pm, Powell's Books, 3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland, Oregon.
My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Mon 13 Nov 06 17:51
richie, thanks for responding with such detailed answers to my questions-- you've been very generous with your time and typing!
Michael Zentner (mz) Mon 13 Nov 06 17:56
>>> Growing up, as a kid, information about pop culture seemed much more difficult to access. Totally, which is why even that silly Beatles cartoon was mana for us, because of the music.
Members: Enter the conference to participate