Friday, May 17, 2013

People As Albums Of Inside-Out Songs

Strangely, the Sergeant Pepper album originated with a song which was never on it, “Strawberry Fields.” That November John came into the studio, and we went into our regular routine. I sat on my high stool with Paul standing beside me, and John stood in front of us with his acoustic guitar and sang the song. It was absolutely lovely. Then we tried with Ringo on drums, and Paul and George on their bass and electric guitars. It started to get heavy—it wasn’t the gentle song that I had first heard.

George Martin
from “All You Need Is Ears”

She yawned. She wasn’t much interested
in anything I was talking about.

“I didn’t like any of them,” she said,
“not the pretty one or the angry one
or the other two. From what their wives say
I didn’t miss much. Skipping all of them.”

“Their music shaped generations,” I said.

She laughed. At least she was interested.

“Did you know,” she asked, “John’s demo version
of ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ was him
just on acoustic guitar and singing?”

I told her I thought I’d read that somewhere.

She laughed again. She said, “Just imagine
if Red Bull existed back then and John
had been fueled by the sugar and caffeine
and had gotten all fighting mad angry
and had insisted on using that track,
singing solo to acoustic guitar.
Music today might have a different shape.”

I thought, they liked doing something different.

And I thought, they liked experimenting.

What if they had used all their influence
to change music that way, to make it good
instead of making it about machines?

She laughed and interrupted my thinking.

“I can play you like a guitar,” she said.
“And when you think all of your thoughts project
onto your face something like inside-out.
I can watch them something like a movie.”

I said, “Can you see what I’m thinking now?”

She said, “Are you thinking that in the days
before the Beatles they would burn witches?”

I said, “You should be grateful to the boys.
They changed history. Count your lucky stars.”

She looked at me. I couldn’t figure out
even one single thought she was thinking.

She said, “Just think, back when they burned witches
people would know witches were being killed.
Do you believe witches now don’t get killed?
Wasn’t it better when everyone knew,
when the fires were so bright they blocked the stars?”

I said, “I can’t tell if you are talking
because you have something to say, or if
you just like watching my expressions change.”

“So what?” she asked. And she smiled, shrugged and laughed.

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