Thursday, January 15, 2009

Beatles, Roads & Life

First of all, my apologies for the long gap in between blog entries. I totally lost focus during the holiday season, and I am finally getting back into the groove. That said, I don't want to just crank out bland, uninspired blog entries, so I'm glad I finally had something to write about that sounded worthwhile.

So, today K.C. and I drove from Oklahoma City to Lubbock for a gig. On the way, I finished Here, There & Everywhere, Geoff Emerick's book about being the Beatles' recording engineer for most of their career as a band. After that, I took over driving for K.C., and listened to Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road.

There were portions of the book that were very poignant to me, specifically moments shared between Emerick and Paul McCartney; he was clearly much closer to Paul than the other three Beatles. Emerick not only worked with the Beatles while they were together, he also did some work with them as individuals after the break up. Mostly, he worked with Paul. John Lennon was shot while Emerick and McCartney were working on the Tug of War album, and the description of McCartney's demeanor the day they learned of Lennon's death found me choked up and holding back the tears (I don't know what the rules are for quoting text online from books, so I decided to play it safe and not post an excerpt here...You'll just have to find the book and read it yourself).

During the car ride, I found myself thinking about Paul McCartney a lot, about how he tends to get a bad rap. There are people who think that the genius of the Beatles was solely due to John Lennon, and that McCartney only writes sentimental crap. In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth. I continue to be inspired by that man and his work in ways that I can't even count, they are so numerous. Not only his work with the Beatles, but his current work as well. (Although, I am experiencing a renaissance with Sgt. Pepper for the umpteenth time. One thing that Emerick is clear about is that Sgt. Pepper was Paul's baby, to a degree...Emerick desribes Lennon as a bit detached during its recording. Despite the slightly lopsided nature of it, I still find Pepper to be mind-blowing, and I continue to discover new things in it to enjoy. McCartney's bass playing, which Emerick talks about a great deal in the book, really is the best part. It's absolutely phenomenal, and largely demonstrates why Paul McCartney will always be my favorite bass player.) There are some who will disagree with me, but I feel that McCartney hasn't made a bad record since the early 90's. Off The Ground was the last thing he did that I just couldn't abide, but everything since has been solid (Flaming Pie, Run Devil Run, Driving Rain, Chaos & Creation In the Backyard, Memory Almost Full).

The moments in the book where Emerick discusses Lennon's death, as well as George Harrison's, started me thinking about McCartney and how he probably won't be around for THAT much longer. Mind you, he's 66, and could easily last another 14 years or so (or more...he has obviously taken very good care of himself in recent years), but I can't help but feel the anticipation of the loss I will experience when he's gone. This is made all the more acute by the fact that one of my biggest musical dreams (I mean, it's REALLY big) is to meet him, and maybe even perform with him (just one song...that's all I ask. Preferably "I Saw Her Standing There"). I have a lot of big dreams, but if I didn't believe they were somehow possible, I would have abandoned them a long time ago. Same goes for this one.

My time spent in the car yesterday enjoying the Beatles' music (as well as some Robyn Hitchcock, and some other random favorites on shuffle, like Steve Vai's "Sisters" and Aphex Twin's "Alberto Balsalm") was one of those two to three hour periods that remind me why I do what I do. The inspiration I have received and continue to derive from the music of Paul McCartney and the Beatles is fuel for my own dreams and ambitions...Without it, I might be an accountant by now. I am so privileged to be on the road performing with K.C., and I hope to have the opportunity before too long to take Dr. Pants out on the road like this. I have so many ideas about things that will make Dr. Pants even better than it is now, and I am looking forward to putting some of them into practice. The book inspired me in that way as well...So much about the Beatles' recording process, and how they worked together (before they started bickering all the time) made me realize how much I have to learn about being in a band, and about how to make a band all that it can be.

If you are even a casual Beatles fan, seek out Emerick's book. It's well worth your time. Maybe it will inspire you, too.

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