THEY WERE A LIFETIME TOGETHER
It took the Beatles five years to go from “Love Me Do” to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Due to an overdose of The Simpsons, I find that I am no longer capable of hearing or reading the words “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” without hearing Apu singing in my head.
I’m Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club man,
I hope I will enjoy my show…
It took them that long to get their combination of illicit drugs just right.
It also took Pink Floyd longer to go from Piper at the Gates of Dawn (Pause for the collective “Huh?”) to Dark Side of the Moon.
You have to smoke a lot of weed to get that good.
On the other hand, it only took one dove’s head for Ozzy Osbourne to go straight to “Bark at the Moon.” Explain that one, Mr. McCartney. Hmmm? And no points for mentioning Black Sabbath. That’s a totally different gig. Totally.
It also took five years for Coldplay to go… Um… Er…
So anyway, Sgt. Pepper’s and Dark Side. Yeah.
Well… they may have been constrained by the state of the art in recording technology. There was some story I was reading somewhere a while back about some multi-track tape machine that EMI had but wasn’t prepared to use yet.. and then the Beatles kind of dragged it out anyway and started using it. Can’t remember if it was 8-track or 16-track, but it was like only the second such machine at the time. Obviously a work like Sgt. Pepper could not have come about without a certain level of multi-track capability…
eviljwinter, now I have to go fire up Piper at the Gates of Dawn on my iTunes (yes, I have it already), get me a little Astromy Domine going.
Well, and in those five years they went from doing covers to all their own thing. That’s pretty darn fast.
And Mark, if memory serves, it was 4 track.
now after a quick google, the Beatles used multiple 4-track machines synched together on “Sgt. Pepper”, it was the White Album (The Beatles) that they used the 8-track to record.
See now, and I thought the topic of discussion was how phenomenally short the evolution was. Frankly, the recording pace of the 60s was certainly more conducive to sea changes in style than the “release an album every 2-5 years” mindset of today. The high cost of studio time, a consensus that quality requires more marination time, the long time scale required for a hit to break through compared to the 60s; all of this means the Beatles can experience a sea change in five years, while Coldplay or whomever can’t. Or won’t. I can’t believe I just mentioned Coldplay in the same sentence. Yeesh.
Ah, yes, now I remember, it was the Wikipedia article on the White Album that I was reading. Thanks for the clarification.
The Beatles spent a while (~ a year? don’t remember) in Germany right before they got huge, and they were doing ~8 hours a day of playing other people’s songs.
So they got really good at playing their instruments.
Then they had about a 6.5 year span together where they developed their own musical styles, etc. much more fully because they were in control. Practice Practice Practice followed by artistic freedom = for the win.
I still think “Please Please Me” is my favorite, though, and its an early track.
Umm… sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll?
I was going to say drugs, but really, I bet it also had something to do with becoming fiendishly rich, getting the artistic independence that often comes with it, and … well, drugs and an audience that might get the drugs thing. Also, probably The Pill.
Three little letters: LSD
‘And the girl with colitis goes byyyyyyyyyy…’
I think we should perhaps factor in the time it took to get to “Love Me Do”. Then again, maybe it was all to do with the introduction of Ringo about the time of the first Parlophone recordings. Ringo was clearly the catalyst.
The progression from the first two or three albums through Rubber Soul and Revolver is pretty clear. The band (John in particular) seem to have been hugely interested in exploring their abilities to make new sounds and discover and apply new recording techniques, which fitted well with George Martin’s distinctly non-mainstream background.
And then there was “Pet Sounds”, which is a work of similar genius and, according to Martin had a colossal impact on the Fabs.
We could also look at the development of Jagger and Richards from the point at which they began to write (c1964) to, say, “Beggars Banquet”. Or not, as the case may be.
‘s interesting to see that the Beatle’s creative reaction to drug use gets pulled out first. I’m not going to deny the inspirational effects of substance use but that’s only one of a number of factors that could have come into play.
(I’d also point out that McCartney kept on smoking until quite recently and the kind herb did nothing to get him out of his creative cul de sac. It isn’t doing a lot of drugs — it’s the mental shake-up from first doing drugs that provides inspiration.)
I suspect the main reason the Beatles became more experimental was their shift from being a performing band to being a recording band. If you have to go out and play your songs on a regular basis, the relatively formulaic approach of old-school rock-and-roll serves you well on a number of levels — it’s easy to play and you know the audience is going to get what you’re doing.
But when you’re spending most of your time in the studio, that musical approach gets dull fast. Experimentation is a natural artistic reaction to that situation.
I’d also like to point out that Sgt. Pepper’s didn’t spring full-blown from the Beatle’s collective forehead. There was a mutual influence between the Beatles and the Beach Boys among others — there would be no Sgt. Pepper’s without Pet Sounds, and there would have been no Pet Sounds without Rubber Soul and Revolver.
And let’s not forget the influence of the San Francisco psychedelic sound. The Beatles were as reactive a band as they were creative, possibly more so. When they first started out they sounded a lot like Chuck Berry & associates, after all.
Now I’m wondering if they’d have picked up on ska and punk if they’d lasted longer…
With both “Revolver” & “Rubber Soul” (both better albums, imo) in the middle, was the transition really that surprising?
I think the fact that I;ve never heard of “rubber Soul” means that I am woefully unqualified for this discussion.
Maybe if I stick around long enough some of the “cool” will rub off and the in crowd will like me!
Alternate perspective: It only took them five years.
Joel, go the forth and grab a copy. Drive My Car, Norweigian Wood (This Bird Has Flown), Michelle, In My Life, Run for Your Life (an time-worn bluegrass theme made into rockabilly, amazing), all are worth the price. Or check your local library (if they have CDs).
Two sort of irrelevant things:
I read a comment elsewhere that someone didn’t know that Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help From My Friends” was a cover. This isn’t an obscure song from an otherwise one-hit wonder; this is the fucking BEATLES, off of SGT FUCKING PEPPER. Geez people.
While I’m swearing and talking about the Beatles, a favorite quote from the movie version of High Fidelity:
(Rob puts “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on a list of his favorite “‘track 1, side 1″s.)
Barry: Oh, that’s not obvious enough, Rob. How about the Beatles? Or fucking… Beethoven. Track one, side one, of the Fifth Symphony.
See, I think that the seeds for Sgt. Pepper were there all along. They needed some practice (and maybe drugs), sure, but I think much more that, they needed confidence in what they were doing and clout to make it happen. It might not have been the same had they tried it two or three years earlier (different influences, etc), but I think they could have achieved something of comparable quality.
CD? What’s a CD?
Seriously, I think the refusal of certain big names of the sixties/seventies to join the new millennium by selling on iTunes or elsewhere is creating a musical black hole in the young.
At least The Beatles are doing the Guitar Hero thing soon.
It took them much less time to go from crap to total crap.
Less than five years, actually: “Love Me Do” was released 5 October 1962, Sgt. Pepper’s on 1 June 1967 (with the first sessions, which produced “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Penny Lane,” and “When I’m Sixty-Four,” beginning many months earlier; the first two were released 17 February 1967 as a single, with recording of basic tracks starting in December 1966, so taking that into account, closer to four years than five).
George Martin deserves a huge amount of credit for their whole recording career.
LSD may not have been illicit in the UK at that time – it wasn’t outlawed in the US until 1966.
(One big reason I value Sgt. Pepper’s is its influence on XTC, in particular its mid-1980s period culminating in the Todd Rundgren-produced Skylarking.)
It took The Clash five years to go from “Janie Jones” to “Rock the Casbah”.
Also: gottacook @ 25 — XTC only took two years to go from “Life is Good in the Greenhouse” and its unique cover of “All Along the Watchtower” to “Making Plans for Nigel”.
College alternative music scence from the late seventies and early eighties, FTW! (Now get off my lawn!)
LSD. Revolver IMHO is their best album. Can’t really stand their voices. Their music is good and was groundbreaking. No one has done on he pop cultural level what they did with so much diversity.
Common knowledge: The Beatles are the greatest band of all time because they wrote all the best songs.
I agree with Sean Craven: The move from being a performing band to a recording band is one explanations for the difference in 5 years. The song writing build up through Rubber Soul and Revolver does demonstrate the shift to their musical styles. Spending all that time in India, then mixing the new things they heard with the old things they liked evolved the music to become what we hear in Sgt. Pepper. While this technically may not be the very first “concept” album, it certainly was one of the ones that made creating them popular with a large population of listeners.
I think they went from having some viseral fun and burning out on touring to having the time and money to have a lot of artistic/self-gratifying fun and creating Sgt. Pepper.
A friend of a friend said she didn’t like the Beatles because they “stole all of Joe Cocker’s songs.”
An acquaintance of another friend said, “You mean Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?”
That is all I have from the land of lame people!
I can’t help wondering what it would have been like if the net had existed back in those days. Would people have posted long screeds about how the Beatles had betrayed their fanbase by changing their sound so radically over the years? Because I suspect that’s what would happen if bands did anything like that today.
DouglasG @ 30 —
My step-kids called them “The Beatle Brothers” for quite a while. Just to be clear, this was before “The Jonas Brothers” was created.
It only took approximately 7500 years of (pseudo-)civilization to produce Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
When the Beatles first started hitting the American airwaves, I thought, enh – not much here. Reasonably competent playing and fair harmonies, but nothing that really distinguished them from countless other bands. I simply did not understand what all the fuss was about, and why all the girls were going ga-ga over them.
But then came Rubber Soul, and my opinion changed drastically. Norwegian Wood, In My Life, Girl, and Nowhere Man were distinct, different from most everything else out there. Then Revolver, with Eleanor Rigby, Here, There, and Everywhere, For No One, and of course the singalong Yellow Submarine.
I think the revolution/evolution of the Beatles music really happened with these two albums, and Sgt Pepper was merely a continuation of what they started with these. Yes, there were clearly some drug-induced inspirations, but it seems more likely to me that this was a case of having the success and financial stability that allowed them to experiment and do what they wanted to do. Complex chording, new electronic sounds, new instruments, world travel and hearing other culture’s sounds, and the ability of each of four to make their own individual contributions were all part of it.
I can’t think of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band without thinking of that really horrible 1978 movie of the same title. No Beatle appeared in the movie, it was all about Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees. Robert Stigwood should have been burned at the stake for that one.
cpierson@31: Well, Bob Dylan was accused of betrayal at about the same time, so clearly it doesn’t need the internet to get such things going.
Kevin @21 -
I once saw someone credit “All Along The Watchtower” as, and I quote, “a friggin’ awesome song by the Dave Matthews Band.” Someone helpfully corrected them by pointing out it was actually “a cover of a friggin’ awesome song by Jimi Hendrix.” This was on an early wikipedia-esque site that only allowed two articles per entry (and allowed people to vote on which was better), so I was unable to correct them both. That was the last time I visited that site. (Might have been h2g2, or everything.com – neither of which is the same now as they were then).
Come on, admit it. You were secretly crying at Strawberry Fields in her glass coffin. (Must have cost the undertakers a fortune in Windex!)
It will probably only take half a day in Rock Band.
AnotherAndrew@36: Point taken. But the net makes a much bigger echo chamber for snarkers who all think they’re the second coming of Lester Freaking Bangs. I do think it, and the generally faster pace of build-up-then-tear-down that exists in today’s media, make it considerably less compelling for bands (or filmmakers, or writers, or what-have-you) to take any kind of risk, particularly on the order of what the Beatles did in the Rubber/Revolver/Pepper period. And boy, would the snarly set have torn into the White Album.
What’s interesting is that The Beatles’ recording sessions not only necessitated the development of new recording technologies, but also influenced other bands to do the same. I think that the five year gap between “Love Me Do” and SPLHCB was more of an age of exploration into creating the sound that artists desired in their music. After chemical and spiritual (LSD, India) experimentation, those artists were likely inspired to record those psychedelic sounds, kind of like a Golden Age of Recording Technology/Musical Exploration or whatnot.
Is Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band the greatest rock album of all time?
Rolling Stone magazine thinks so.
How long did it take The Who to get from where they started to Roger Daltrey’s scream in “Won’t Get Fooled Again “?
Romeo: But the Sgt. Pepper movie also had George Burns in it!
DouglasG @ 30:
“An acquaintance of another friend said, “You mean Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?” ”
When I worked at a record store in 1978, that was a vaguely amusing line. Now, not so much.
Yes. Now the amusing line is “Paul McCartney was in a band before The Fireman?”
@43 About seven years.
“You mean Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?”
I heard that exact same thing once. Sadly, it was immediately followed by someone else asking “Who’s Paul McCartney?”.
So, how come The Pixies came right out of the gate with a masterpiece and then just got worse and worse?
Shawn Levy’s fantastic book “Ready Steady Go: The Smashing Rise and Giddy Fall of Swinging London covers a lot of this period, from multiple perspectives, including some of the Beatles. The rivalry between the Beatles and the Stones (at least as perceived by the Stones) is amusing.
At one point, Keith Jagger recalls how they’d release a single and be really proud of how they’d changed the scene…until the Beatles would show up at a party with a new studio cut and blow them out of the water. I think the Swinging London scene had as much to do with the Beatles experimentation and growth as any drug use ever did. Not to mention their immense talent (well, 3 out of 4 ain’t bad).
The Beatles didn’t really start hitting stuff like LSD until around the time it was made illegal in 1966, afaik. The book has an anecdote about them dropping LSD on the way home to George Harrison’s house and being terrified that the trees were on fire, so they drove incredibly slow at points.
There’s a fun story from the Revolver days, where John, Paul, Linda and whatever girl John was dating at the time went to a party hosted by a Dentist who dosed the punch with LSD. They were freaked out, so they went to a restaurant and ended up spending six hours drinking coffee and talking.
Now, obviously, it’s bad form to dose your party guests without their knowledge of consent, but it does make for an interesting story.
There’s also the story about how Paul was so high one day in the studio that he accidentally put a tape in back wards, and when they played the guitar part back found that it created a most interesting sound. They liked it so much they kept it, and that’s how the backwards guitar solo came to be.
Chuck Norris would have gone from “Love Me Do” to Sgt. Pepper in five months.
I can’t believe I did that.
21: Joe Cocker with subtitles.
It only took two years to go from the trailer for the Across The Universe movie to the trailer for the Beatles: Rock Band video game.
On another note, remember back in the late ’90s, when boy bands were enjoying their resurgence? I hoped, hoped, hoped that N’Sync or the Backstreet Boys would have followed the Beatles’ creative path to match their popularity. To date this has not happened.
Because Kim Deal was on heroin for most of the later albums. And “worse and worse” is debatable, unless you’re prepared to tell me Planet of Sound isn’t awesome.
Saw the Pixies play during their reunion tour back in ’05 and they were genius. Very solid and together. Kim Deal barely screwed up more than two or three times. Amazing what getting off heroin will do for your music.
Watching Joey Santiago do his 15 minute guitar noise solo during Vamos was awesome. The rest of the band sat back and watched as he set the guitar on a stand and played it by throwing drum sticks at it. Walking out, I overheard a couple of teenagers complain about the noise! Fucking kids these days, I swear.
I think I’m the only avowed Beatles hater in the entire sci-fi/fantasy scene. Blame ska, Oi!, hardcore and straightedge.
Anyway, I have no light to shed about the Beatles thing, but I do want to put forth that I suspect Mr. Scalzi has been surfing <a href="http://101reasonstostopwriting.com/2007/12/09/reason-16-youre-doing-the-same-damn-thing-over-and-over/"101 Reasons to Stop Writing in his off-time.
This is fitting, as Mr. Scalzi is obviously trying to do something new, too, contra reason no. 16 linked to above.
Anyway, I have no light to shed about the Beatles thing, but I do want to put forth that I suspect Mr. Scalzi has been surfing 101 Reasons to Stop Writing in his off-time.
I had a freind once propose that most musicians do their best work early, because they had years of work and tunes to fall back on, so when they finally “debuted”, it was really like 10 years worth of stuff – and then they start putting stuff out every year or two and you get all the stuff they threw out of the first album but had to keep i nthe second one just to have enough tracks to put it out. And then they, generally, slowly get less and less creative, more and more satisfied.
I think this works for many artists, though clearly not the Beatles.
That would be the “Dr. Robert” from the Revolver song.
Also George’s dentist.
The progress of the Beatles seemed quite normal at the time. Popular music went through an explosion of quality and intensity between ’63 and ’67.
Sgt. Pepper, though, was the first album by the Beatles or anyone else I can think of that was self-referent and satirical. The White Album was even more so. They were extremely good at that sort of thing, writing parodies better than the originals–witness “Back in the USSR.” But after “Revolver” and “Yesterday and Today,” their music had lost its innocence and a lot of its authenticity. Sophistication has its drawbacks.
That’s why I agree the Beatles had already peaked before Sgt. Pepper, but they had a marvelously musical and brilliant decline of empire.
(And All Along the Watchtower is a Bob Dylan song. Jimi just improved it.)
Peppers is so overrated. There’s about two Rock-n-Roll songs on the thing. The rest is Paul’s easy listening music, horns and strings but little guitar or drums.
‘Yesterday and Today’ wasn’t actually a Beatles album. it was more of a Capitol album of all the songs that got left off Revolver and Rubber Soul’s US releases. Hence the completely lackluster album graphics.
@55: “I think I’m the only avowed Beatles hater in the entire sci-fi/fantasy scene. Blame ska, Oi!, hardcore and straightedge.”
Considering I have a lot of friends who enjoy SF/Fantasy, the Beatles and those genres….Nah. Just say you don’t like it. I realize the Internets has made it hard to admit you don’t like something, but it’s O.K. Scalzi would never judge you. Jure and execute you, certainly…but Judge? Never.
DouglasG @ 30:
“An acquaintance of another friend said, “You mean Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings?”
Scalzi @ 46:
“Yes. Now the amusing line is “Paul McCartney was in a band before The Fireman?”
Some years back, the line was “Paul McCartney was in a band?”
@ Austin – #55
I grew up on ska, oi, and hardcore (never was straight edge), and I adore The Beatles. What you choose to consume is simply that, and not a template for the rest of your likes and dislikes.
It’s okay to not like The Beatles. Just don’t blame it on Bad Brains.
I think that’s one of the attributes that proves the genius of an artist or band… the ability to evolve, experiment, and grow with your music.
I can be in a Please Please Me mood one day, and then an Abbey Road mood another day, and they’re so different as to be almost a different band.
You guys should check out Beirut… lead singer Zach Condon’s influences went from Balkan to French to Mexican in a matter of years, and the music is incredible.
Evolution and growth! Very admirable :)
“Peppers is so overrated.”
You look liked someone who could use “The Only Two Things You Need to Know About Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”.
Also, a kid at a show once said to me, after I mentioned The Smiths, “Morrissey was in a band?”
To follow on Djscman, the lesson seams to be you can recover from being a boy band, but apparently you have to be the Beatles to do it.
I think the closest we’ve seen lately is Justin Timberlake. While he’s still in pop, he has manage to transcend manufactured entertainment product.
And “worse and worse” is debatable, unless you’re prepared to tell me Planet of Sound isn’t awesome.
“Trompe Le Monde” is, to me, like a collection of songs that didn’t make the cut for “Surfer Rosa”. It is better than “Bossanova” though so ‘worse and worse’ was indeed a bit overstated.
And really, ‘worse’ than genius can still be pretty damn good. I’m certainly not saying they turned into suckasses, just that they never could capture again what they did on “Surfer Rosa” and “Come on Pilgrim”.
TC says: It took society the same length to go from Wake Up, Little Suzy to Lay Down Sally.
John, #1 true! #2, it is just such a weak effort at ROCK and ROLL!!! But it was a breakthrough on many other levels, I will give it that.
A propos of nothing:
* I like the “Across the Universe” movie.
* U2 discography: “Boy” (1980), “The Unforgettable Fire (1984).
* The contemporary version of the “band before Wings” line, which I’ve actually heard in the wild, is “Chris Cornell was in a band before Audioslave?”
* Sgt. Pepper was released about six months after “Pet Sounds”. Quoth Wikipedia: “Beatles producer George Martin stated that “Without Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper wouldn’t have happened… Pepper was an attempt to equal Pet Sounds.’
* Yes went from their first album “Yes” (1969) to “Fragile” (1971) in an even shorter period.
It’s not that long a way; mostly the difference was having the money to mess around layering stuff over the songs.
And there’s certainly an argument to be made that the Beatles never did anything original, just brought other people’s innovations into the mainstream.
Pixies just kept getting better until the sudden crash of their reunion album. (Except Come On Pilgrim was the best.)
I can’t believe that George Martin went from such a successful music career into a perhaps equally successful SF writing career. Now there’s a multi-talented Renaissance man for you!
Sarcastro @69: OK, that I can get behind. I mean, Trompe le Monde was basically released by Frank Black after the band broke up and fulfill part of their contract.
74: And it’s only taken him four years to go from A Feast for Crows to … um … er …
No way brotha! You’re not alone. My mother beat me over the head with the beatles throughout my childhood in the seventies and early 80′s. I despise them.
Don’t blame hardcore, ska and Oi! for it. That music is actually good.
The four-track thing; I’m sure I recall seeing an interview with a producer/technician type involved when they first used one with the Beatles. He said they put the vocals on on track, the music on another, and couldn’t think what to do with the other two.
“Here, There and Everywhere” is a good book about the Beatles early recording, it’s by a guy that worked his way up in the company to eventually be an engineer. I thought it was pretty interesting.
I think he was involved in the Peppers crap, but I’m forgetting.
I prefer Abbey Road to Sgt Pepper, not just because I used to live round the corner from the zebra crossing on the album cover. We got a steady trickle of Japanese tourists taking pictures of themselves on the crossing.
First: McCartney is NOT a pothead anymore? who knew?
Second: Is Sgt. Pepper’s most people’s favorite Beatle album? Certainly not mine. I get the technical skill and experimentation part, but can you dance to it?
Think about what you were doing five years ago. (Me, I was still on meds and living with my parents. Yikes.)
Five years is not a short time. Think about the difference between a newborn infant and a five-year-old child.
Sgt. Pepper remains my favorite Beatles album, because I grew up with it and it makes me happy. Revolver is a close second, though.
re: coolstar #82
I’m a certified Beatle freak and Sgt. Pepper is not my fave. I actually think Revolver was the game changer. Go back and listen to their albums from Hard Day’s Night thru Rubber Soul ( don’t forget the singles- I Feel Fine, Day Tripper, etc) and then listen to Revolver. There’s a gradual progression through everything until you get to Taxman and then all of the rules change immediately. I think the Help/Rubber Soul/ Revolver axis remains their creative pinnacle. After that it was largely like being a kid watching his parents working up to a divorce. All of it brilliant but tragically inevitable
I’m thinking for that period they did whatever the opposite of the viscious cycle is (flow?, success breeds success?). They drew and were drawn to many creative contemporaries. They just built and grew on each other.
As Delta @#79 noted their recording engineer Geoff Emerick included.
They were curious, and took us along on their trip.
As an teenager, I was all about “I am the Lobster” but as middle aged dude needing an occasional power pop fix , “Paperback Writer” is up there.
Actually, I think Scalzi’s just floating ideas for appearing in bright uniforms with Albert Einstein, Carl Sagan, Angie Dickinson, and James Coburn (and the whateverettes?)on his next book cover.
I Am The Lobster? I think you mean Walrus.
I once worked security at a McCartney concert and was blown away by Live and Let Die and told a group of people about it the next day, some of whom were friends, and this person said ‘He covered a Guns N Roses song?’
I think Sgt Peppers was just a part of the evolution. Touring non stop, rushing into the studio to do an album then back on the road led to the delay, or was at least part of it. Plus with success came an ability to just do what they wanted and they were allowed to do that, which was in a lot of ways, ground breaking for a studio to let their artists do what they want. Bands that don’t change, don’t last.
Here are a few facts gleaned from Sir George Martin (SGM), who I saw during his appearance at Harvard Oct. 2000, with Steven Tyler and Scott Stapp (Creed) sitting in the row in front of me.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band actually grew out of the songs “Strawberry Fields”/ and “Penny Lane” which never made it onto the album because they didn’t want to shortchange the fans who had already bought the double A-side single.
Paul came up with the idea for Sgt. Pepper while on a plane and the original thought was that everyone would be a character in a sideshow.
The audience participation sounds were recorded from The Goon Show, which Martin worked on and which included Dudley Moore. (Taped in Cambridge, England.)
“A Little Help From My Friends”
“Ringo’s voice was ‘memorable’,” said SGM to audience laughter.
Paul’s melody for Ringo’s “A Little Help From My Friends” was basically 5 notes, right next to each other so it would be easy for Ringo to sing.
The line “Would you stand up and walk out on me?” was originally “Would you throw tomatoes at me?”
Re “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”
Simple notes behind the melody – “Beethoven would have been pleased with it.”
“When I’m 64”
Came together very fast.
Simple tune, by Paul.
“It’s Getting Better”
Engendered from John getting really sick at the studio, starting to look grey…
Thought he needed fresh air. Couldn’t go outside because of 500 fans…
McCartney took him to the roof.
Lennon then “accidentally” took LSD instead of aspirin and things supposedly got better fast.
“She’s Leaving Home”
One of Paul’s best…
Good example of John and Paul working together.
John added “answer” lines, i.e., “We gave her everything money could buy.”
“For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite”
From the poster of the same name…
John said “I want the sound of the horses twirling.”
He wanted to transport a huge circus calliope to the studio.
Lennon also wanted the smell of the sawdust in the studio to help musicians and Beatles picture the acrobats, circus performers…
Sped up the tape because SGM said he couldn’t play organ part fast enough.
SGM Collected over 100 sounds of organ music –threw pieces of audio tape in the air, picked them up, put them back together randomly.
It was Martin’s job to sequence all the songs and make them fit together…and do small things like making a chicken’s cluck sound like a guitar (before “Good Morning Good Morning”).
Conclusion of LP –
How would it end? Reprise of “Sgt. Pepper”.
But nothing could follow “A Day in the Life”. Had to put reprise before ADITL.
Re demo of ADITL: “It was a privilege to be the first one to hear a song written by John, just played on acoustic guitar.”
“John’s voice on the song just sends a shiver up the spine.”
Paul asked for 24 bars – left it empty, to fill at last minute.
Couldn’t have his part too close to John’s part or people would realize that the 2 parts didn’t fit together at all. Hence the orchestra tune-up/orgiastic swell.
Swell counted off by Mal Evans. SGM gave him an alarm clock so he knew when to stop. (Clock can be heard on disc.)
What will fill the 24 bars? They said they would think about it. They came back and said they wanted an orchestra to lead into Paul’s “Woke up, fell out of bed” thing. Also used at end.
SGM — What will the musicians play?
Lennon/McCartney — Tell them to play whatever they like.
SGM – Be more specific
Paul — “Make a big crescendo, like a huge orgasm.”
Still the question — how should it finally end? “With them humming like monks…” was one idea floated.
No, make a sustained E major chord, with all knobs turned to the max. No one could cough or it would sound like a bomb exploding.
Beatles brought circus favors to the recording session and gave them out to everyone in the orchestra. Clown noses, etc.
Classical violinist wore monkey paw…
“Symphony players are taught to play as one man,” but that all changed when the Beatles came along:
“If you’re playing the same note as the person next to you, that’s the wrong note,” said SGM to the musicians, via Lennon.
Ended with the famous final chord.
Personally, I think he was talking about The Beatles Rockband Intro that spans that time frame in a little over two (2) minutes that was released recently.
It totally *ROCKS*!!!
Go look on youtube for it, and the rockband site has it in HD.
I’m with Jamie @ #83, Revolver and Rubber Soul are my favs by a far margin.
It’s funny that the Beatles get way more credit than Hendrix for using the studio as an instrument. Hendrix’s use of the studio easily rivaled that of the Beatles, but was perhaps(?) more subtle than Paul’s use of carnival music, therefore less ‘arty’ and not as endearing to critics. Not that Jimi doesn’t get his fair share of credit as an inovator, he does.
You’re right Sheila @85 “I am the Walrus”–Crossed wires, I mixed in some David Foster Wallace Lobster
Even the preview button can’t contain my stupidfinity.
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