Mark McDonough (mcdee) Fri 2 Mar 12 16:07
Geoff Emerick's book was a great read. I though he made a good case for himself. He deserves a more prominent position in the Beatles' studio history. But I got the feeling that he was taking the argument a bit too far. No, George Martin didn't do it all by himself, but neither was he sitting around watching the telly.
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 2 Mar 12 17:24
By the way, I wanted to say thanks, Tim and everybody in the topic here. We're at the end of your announced conversation here, but of course you are welcome to continue to post as long as you like. You may also like reading the long time Beatles conference "inside" The WELL. Use the shortcut and type in "g beat" It's been a rewarding conversation.
Dan Flanery (sunspot) Fri 2 Mar 12 21:56
And in the end The love you take Is equal to the love You make
Phil Catalfo (philcat) Sat 3 Mar 12 12:07
Thanks, Tim and Mark, for urging me/us to revisit both Devin McKinney's "Dream Circles" and Geoff Emerick's "Here, There and Everywhere." I have McKinney's book, will dig it out and give it the old college try. Don't believe I have Emerick's book, but I recall McCartney, for one, talking about some of the things they tried in the studio--for some reason, sticking a mic *inside* the kick drum stands out in my memory--to push the envelope of their sound, and it seems that the engineers, Emerick perhaps foremost among them, were wiling partners in the band's efforts to innovate at a time when studio technology was almost unimaginably limited (compared to the technical advances that came later). There have always been those in music who transcended the limits of technology and even created new technologies (can you say "Les Paul'?), but in this case it seems there were technicians who really supported the musicians' efforts, to wonderful effect, and we were all the better for it. I would be happy to continue this conversation a bit longer, if Tim is amenable and others have things to say/ask. Also, IJWTS to Tim that I went back to some of the earlier chapters in LENNON and was struck (again) at the detail (and the copious research that it must have taken to produce it) on the Beatles' early life and pre-mania career. For example, I had never heard of their December 27, 1960 gig at Liverpool's Litherland Town Hall, which (as you describe) put them on the map in a big way in Liverpool and stands, in retrospect, as a kind of landmark in rock'n'roll history. (I love this observation, from Tim's narrative: "Among all the unrecorded milestones in rock history, the Litherland Town Hall ig tops everybody's Beatles list.") So thanks again for whetting my appetite for historical Beatle data. Also, now that I'm in an electric band (finally--45 years after I should have been), I'm gonna have to dig out my copy of Andy Babiuk's BEATLES GEAR and drool a bit. A few months ago I was possessed of a sudden desire to acquire an Epiphone Casino, the guitar that John, George, and Paul all played in the band's middle period (think of Paul's solo on "Taxman," for instance), but <rik> talked me out of it, saying that the modern, Asian-made Casinos are nothing like the American-made versions J, G, & P played. (And of course, vintage models would cost a small fortune.) But hey, a kid can dream, can't he? Tim, here's a question for you: As a musician, which Beatle song(s) do you most enjoy playing, and why? And which song(s) would you say you have learned the most from musically (or find the most interesting/challenging/innovative)?
Tim Riley (lennonbio12) Mon 5 Mar 12 08:45
Thanks for all the close reading you've done, Phil, makes an author feel great. I want to touch on a couple previous matters: Lennon's statement that "There isn't a one [of the Beatles tracks] that I wouldn't do over," is typical overstatement from him, I think. He seems to well up with insecurity and say indefensible things... I believe him more when he talks about specific tracks, like "Strawberry Fields," even though if I were his producer I would caution him about trying to redo something so untouchable. I'm way of people who talk about their own work in such unguarded terms, it makes me suspicious whether they're the best ones to pass judgment on their own strengths and weaknesses. I know I'm certainly not. That's why the group format was so good for him. In my high school/college bands we played the regular stuff: "Get Back," "Here Comes the Sun," "USSR," "Hey Jude," "Saw Her Standing THere," "Maybe I'm Amazed," "Imagine," "She Loves You," "Hold Your Hand"... and some others I'm probably forgetting. "Amazed" stood out for me as a particularly adventurous song harmonically, and made me appreciate what a good piano player McC. can be. It's just not the type of song anybody would come up with on the guitar. Other numbers I fumbled around with as "guitar" flavored on my keyboard: "She Loves You" and "Sun" specifically don't fit the keys as well as the frets. I taught myself a bunch of guitar licks using these and others, both out of simple curiosity and to figure out how such harmonies occurred to them. I think if I had to do it over again, I would pick up the bass and learn all the McC. lines. Some hold that his bass playing may be his highest accomplishment, and I would have a hard time disagreeing with them. That said, as a critic I learned a TON from "Hey Jude," just the way it's structured, how it plays out over such a long stretch and delivers a whale of a melody on the back end that's barely suggested by the front section. That's such a terrific way to play with anticipation and release, and I find very few songwriters understand how to withhold pleasure like that and then over deliver at the end for greater surprise and release. I think of Springsteen's "Backstreets" and "Tunnel of Love" which both use that trick, and CSN's "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes," which is like a direct [structural] copy in some ways of "Hey Jude." Sitting down and sorting out what made "Hey Jude" so powerful had really strong impact on my thinking about rock and L-M compositions. That said, I'm still struck by how much I still have to figure out, it seems like not a season goes by when I'm not stuck by some new detail and have to go to the piano or the score to consult for the new musical riddle that's itching my ear. I've long been quite puzzled by the bass line for "I'm So Tired," which starts quite simply walking up the scale form dominant to tonic like so many others, but because Lennon's vocal enters on the dominant and lands on the 9, it completely veils what would otherwise be a cliche bass figure. And the turnaround in "Revolution" ("count me out!") is a nifty little twist there in the middle of the song, getting it back down to the dominant for return to the refrain. That never made sense to me until I played it.
David Gans (tnf) Mon 5 Mar 12 12:17
It is truly the gift that keeps on giving, this body of work. And I agree about "Hey Jude" - so brilliant in so many ways. "The movement you need is on your shoulder" and all that. BTW, I would like you to hear a bit of a band I'm in out here in California, Rubber Souldiers. We have mashed up some Beatle songs and have gotten some very good reviews. <http://www.rubbersouldiers.com/studio>
Phil Catalfo (philcat) Mon 5 Mar 12 13:16
"The movement you need is on your shoulder" was also, famously, a line McCartney considered a mere placeholder when he debuted the song for Lennon. "I'll change it later," he said. "You won't, you know," Lennon immediately replied, expressing instant approval of the line just the way it was. Can't remember where I got that from--I think it was from the Beatles Anthology videos--but I remember that story clearly. Great stuff, Tim, thanks. You've given me a lot to chew on, and several tracks to listen to more carefully. And apropos of David's description of the Beatles canon as "the gift that keeps on giving": hell, I'm still unpacking Rubber Soul! Just that one album has given me a lifetime of musical adventure (not to mention pleasure), and it's far from the most intricate one in their catalog. It's amazing--I was thinking about this again last night--how these four seemingly average guys from a semi-obscure port town in northern England came up with this mother lode that gives every indication that it will never be mined out. I sometimes wonder what the Beatles' story tells us, Big Picture-wise: Is it purely about talent (incredible musicians; two of the best songwriters ever)? Is it about luck (the happenstance of John and Paul meeting, of the four of them coming together, of Brian Epstein's perseverance in pursuing a record contract)? Is it hard work and ambition (the grotty stints in Hamburg, the manic touring all over England before hitting it big)? All of the above? What I keep coming back to is that these were four guys who were decidedly not children of privilege (although they were not impoverished, either), who didn't go to the finest schools or have any formal training, but who followed their noses and their passions and used their innate abilities to become the absolute best they could be (and arguably, the best in the world) at what they loved to do--an abject lesson for the rest of us. So, at band practice tonight, I think we'll be doing (among other things, mostly not Beatles tunes) "I'm Down" and "Please Please Me." Maybe also "Wait." I'll be happy.
David Gans (tnf) Mon 5 Mar 12 15:38
I have a pet theory, and I wonder if Tim can either confirm or deny: It has been said that if you learn the Beatles catalog you will know everything there is to know about chords (on the guitar?). It occurred to me that George Martin might have shown them a thing or two and challenged them to build something aroud, say, that raised fifth.
those Andropovian bongs (rik) Mon 5 Mar 12 16:09
Makes sense to me.
Phil Catalfo (philcat) Tue 6 Mar 12 00:36
For the record, we did do "I'm Down" at band practice tonight, but not "Please Please Me" or "Wait." But we did do "Oh! Darling," kind of spontaneously. Which opens with that raised-fifth chord, incidentally--as does "All I Gotta Do." But my favorite raised-fifth chord in a Beatle song is the G-augmented in "It's Only Love."
David Gans (tnf) Tue 6 Mar 12 08:45
There's one in "She Loves You" that also kicks major ass.
those Andropovian bongs (rik) Tue 6 Mar 12 09:59
I would think that the boys would have been wide open to ideas from Martin. Besides being a successful producer and a fine musician, he produced the Goon Shows which appealed hugely to their sense of humor. So he was not only good and knowledgeable, but his cool credentials were impeccable.
Tim Riley (lennonbio12) Tue 6 Mar 12 14:05
While I don't know if you'll learn EVERYTHING about modern rock gtr from Beatle catalog, you certainly could learn a TON. I think you'd have to rope Hendrix in there to learn it all, but I seriously doubt anybody's done that... where are the Hendrix transcriptions? I'm SERIOUS!
those Andropovian bongs (rik) Tue 6 Mar 12 14:46
The question intrigued me, and I did some searching. Unlike the Beatle book, there's no one-stop shop, but there's a lot of note-for-note TAB out there. For example: <http://www.amazon.com/Jimi-Hendrix-Experience/dp/0793591449> Here's a stack of them: <http://www.musicdispatch.com/search/search.do?subsiteid=111&keywords=jimi+hend rix&searchcategory=01> Teaching Hendrix's guitar music is an industry in itself, and a couple of guys I work with specialize in it.
Mark McDonough (mcdee) Tue 6 Mar 12 16:28
>a line McCartney considered a mere placeholder But overall we're pretty glad he didn't call Yesterday "Scrambled Eggs."
Phil Catalfo (philcat) Tue 6 Mar 12 17:58
Yes, for that we remain grateful.
Ron Levin (eclectic2) Tue 6 Mar 12 23:44
Paul performed "Scrambled Eggs" on Jimmy Fallon's show last year: <http://www.latenightwithjimmyfallon.com/blogs/2010/12/paul-mccartney-jimmy-sin g-the-original-yesterday-scrambled-eggs/>
Ron Levin (eclectic2) Tue 6 Mar 12 23:47
Whoops. That link seems to have expired. This one worked for me: <http://eater.com/archives/2010/12/10/paul-mccartney-and-jimmy-fallon-sing-scra mbled-eggs-aka-yesterday.php>
Phil Catalfo (philcat) Sat 10 Mar 12 17:19
Haven't had any new responses in this topic for a few days, and I gather that Tim is pretty tied up. So I guess it's time to wrap it up. Thanks to everyone for a very enjoyable conversation! Tim, thanks for your time and insights, and for giving us this exhaustive new biography of one of the most influential people--in any field--in our lifetime.
thoughts from prescription hill (cjb) Wed 15 Aug 12 20:49
And, having just completed reading this inkwell, thanks (philcat) for your excellent work in leading this interview!
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