How The Beatles Wrote "A Day In The Life"

The Atlantic just published this incredible piece by Nicholas Dawidoff that is an essential read for anyone at all interested in the Beatles.

A good summary:

“A Day in the Life” isn’t a song to sing, as are “Eleanor Rigby” (ideal for both car and karaoke), “Hey Jude” (written to soothe John Lennon’s young son, no lullaby works better at children’s bedtime), or “In My Life” (a perennial at weddings and funerals and, I can’t help mentioning, rock’s analog to Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116). Nor is “A Day in the Life” guided by melody like so many Beatles creations. It’s an elaborate production, filled with sophisticated George Martin and Geoff Emerick musical trickery (distortion, echo, dubbing, reverb). An orchestra plays, and then one singer’s voice gives way to another’s—John’s worldly reflections transitioning to Paul’s sketch of domestic memoir, and then back again—before orchestral cataclysm and a final resting place.

And the story behind the famous chord that lasted forever:

And then, after all the chaos and destruction, what next? George Harrison had suggested a fade to humming. But it didn’t work. Paul thought that the song needed firmer resolution. Three Steinway pianos and a harmonium were rolled into action, and at every keyboard the players were instructed to hit the single chord of E major simultaneously and hard, with the sustain foot pedal down, letting it carry as long as possible. There were nine takes. The tone is so big, so capacious and resonant because Martin and Emerick thought to put the recorder on half speed.

I can't stress what a well-written piece this is. Some really insightful lyrical analysis, too.

🔗 Sir George Martin Passes Away at 90 | NY Times

George Martin will be remembered as the "Fifth Beatle," and nothing could be more fitting. His ability to listen and mentor the Beatles was unparalleled. In the early days he would listen to what they brought into the studio and advise them on how to make a hit. As time went on, they would come to him, describe the new and different sounds they wanted, and he would use his musical and technical expertise to make it happen. Even after the band broke up, he continued to work with them, producing, orchestrating, and arranging music for them as solo artists. He won 4 Grammys and an Oscar for his work with the Beatles. Though he lived 90 years, his contributions will continue to live on for as long as people are still listening to the Beatles. 

George Martin, Redefining Producer Who Guided the Beatles, Dies at 90 | NY Times

Guest Blogging!

Life has been busier than ever, but somehow I've managed to emerge from my cave and do a bit of guest blogging this week. I had forgotten just how much I love it and it was a refreshing change of pace from my recent activities.

First, I wrote up a piece for the Likeable Media blog. My post is a guide to avoiding annoying trends and events in your social media stream without having to give up your addiction all together. It was first inspired by my annoyance with Super Bowl tweets, but it really applies to any event that you don't want to have polluting your timeline. Please do me a huge favor and hit the "Tweet" button when you read it!

Next, I wrote a post for my good friends at Yesterday was the 47th anniversary of The Beatles' arrival in the US, so I contributed a piece that put into perspective the impact that their arrival had on music and on history in general. It's just a brief look into my feelings on the subject, but it's something I feel really passionate about, and I'm proud of how it turned out.

I'm going to try to use this unexpected burst of self-expression and turn it into something productive. I really miss blogging, but I'm so busy doing things these days, I rarely have the time to sit down and make a verbal record of them. Still, I really love the rewarding nature of blogging, and I miss writing for fun. I'm not going to be that guy who apologizes for not updating his blog often enough, promises to blog every day, and then disappears for another six months, but I am going to at least try and make a habit of  keeping this site at least somewhat up to date. I've felt uninspired for several months, but lately, some ideas have been brewing, and I'd love a chance to put them into words and get them out there. So here's to blogging!

Across the Blogosphere

Lately my passion for the Beatles has been flaring up again in a big way. Rather than blog about it to no end here and tweet about it on my main Twitter account, I decided it made more sense to create a new outlet to channel my thoughts on all things Beatlish. The result is @BeatleRamblings paired with I'll be giving my spur-of-the-moment thoughts, comments, and reactions on the Twitter account, and blogging and sharing links, pictures, and other media on the Tumblr page. I'm also looking into starting a Beatles podcast. More on that at a later date. For now, please follow, friend, and comment. Thanks!