Beatles All Day
Sunday, a local radio station, 106.7 FM, ran the Beatles A to Z - every song the band recorded in alphabetical order. It started at 7 a.m. and it's 3:12 p.m. and they're up to the O's. "Only a Northern Song" to be exact. My God, what a body of work. At first the format seems arbitrary with some accidental thematic connections like, "I'm Only Sleeping", leading right into "I'm So Tired." However it could be the perfect way to approach this because you get to bounce around from the cheerful, innocent early years through the last cynical bitter sad farewells.
I don't know about you, but I am still in the process of getting over the Beatles breaking up. So it's fun to go back to the beginning after hearing a dramatic one from towards the end. It's a tremendous way to keep it fresh and unpredictable. You'll be cruising along in some early Fab Four classic and then POW! - you get one of the heaviest song compositions ever. The stunning part is how much compositional brilliance went into those early songs. I did hear a rhyme scheme in "I Should Have Known Better" that made me smile for its innocence. Of course, I didn't think twice about it back again, but it seems a little funny now:
"That when I tell you that I love you, oh
You're gonna say you love me too, oh
And when I ask you to be mine
You're gonna say you love me too"
Interesting use of the repeating line. Maybe it was one of those studio accidents that you just leave.
The amazing thing about music is that there are no real tricks. Oh sure, every now and then someone does some technical sleight of hand, but the basic lines are right there for anyone to sing. You've got a 4-piece rock band? Try singing this stuff. Good luck. If you have someone to cover the leads, that's one thing. Even that can be hard in their original keys. Then try covering the harmony lines. Forget sounding good at it. Just try to get up there.
Many people agree that John Lennon was the most important person in the group. I mean he had the gravitas. But imagine having a rock band who needs another musician and Paul McCartney walks in. Just think about what he brings to the equation. How does that job interview go? How about for starters, just asking him what he can do?
Okay. He can sing screaming leads like "I'm Down" then turn right around and sing the most beautiful soft stuff like "Here, There, and Everywhere." Then you get to the high harmonies. Not just reached, mind you, but crushed. High harmonies that absolutely shred the air with greatness. Oh, and if the bridge gets to a climax and you need someone to scream like a mountain lion, Paul's got that, too.
Now you get to the great bass playing - leftie so you'll look cool. Then you throw in the piano and - oh, the band's tired? He can pick up an acoustic and do a song like "Blackbird" or "Yesterday" by himself.
Which brings the job interview to something else: Can you compose songs? It turns out Paul is also one of the great song composers in human history with as many standards as most people have songs. "Yesterday" is the most covered tune ever. The only reason the others are not covered more by garage bands is that they're so damn difficult. Stones are easy. Beatles music is hard.
By now, you're starting to think it would probably be a good idea to hire this guy, but you ask is there anything else? Is he presentable enough? How's his stage presence? The answer to that is yes, he's extremely presentable. In fact, he's known as the Cute One, so everywhere your band plays, girls will be screaming.
But sorry, this job interview never happens. He doesn't auditon for your band. Instead he lands in a group with the likes of John Lennon and George Harrison, and with an underrated drummer named Ringo. The result? You have a day like today on the radio. This thing could go on for over ten hours and there is not a single song that most rock fans don't know and very few that we don't love. It's been a remarkable day and many thanks to this station. It was a valuable reminder of how lucky we are to have this music. They just got to "Rain". I'm actually getting sad thinking the alphabet is almost done. "Revolution" just started. Now it's onto the slower version. "Don't you know it's going to be all right." What a band.