I met Scott Freiman, the man behind Deconstructing The Beatles, at Abbey Road on the River earlier this year. I asked if he would be interested in a blog interview to promote his work, to which he readily agreed.
The Beatles are perhaps the most famous and popular rock band ever. Why, in your estimation?
The Beatles’ music has become part of popular music’s DNA, much like the American Songbook and composers like Porter and Berlin. The Beatles’ songs were full of joy that preached love over hate. They employed unusual chord changes to keep listeners engaged and production techniques that set the stage for much of the music that followed. They had a lasting influence on songwriting, cinema, fashion, and culture.
Why have you chosen to study The Beatles so extensively, as opposed to other artists?
The Beatles are the one band that a 5-year old, a 55-year old, and a 95-year old can all listen to and enjoy. I wanted to find out why. Everything I do is an attempt to get closer to their creative process and share that with my audience. I benefit greatly from the vast amount of research that has been done on The Beatles and the large amount of outtakes and bootlegs. This wealth of material does not exist for any other artist.
What is your personal background and how did you come to The Beatles, both as a fan and as an analyst?
I was first introduced to The Beatles by my hippie uncle when I was eleven years old. I was instantly intrigued by their music. I became an avid fan, reading books on The Beatles and searching out the “official” British LPs rather than their American counterparts. When I became a full time composer and producer, I cracked open some of the more technical Beatles books that I owned and started to reexamine some of their production techniques. I was excited to share what I learned with other musician friends, and Deconstructing The Beatles was born.
You call your series “Deconstructing The Beatles”. Why did you choose that title, and what exactly does “deconstructing” mean?
I like the idea of taking apart The Beatles music — or “deconstructing” it - to see what makes it tick. How do the melody and harmony function in their music? How are the songs arranged? What influences did their music draw on? What production techniques were used to record the music? When you take apart and examine the elements of a song, I think you gain a greater appreciation for the “whole”. My Deconstructing the Beatles lectures take a look at the Beatles’ creative process by examining the components of their songs and how they worked together.
I understand you have recorded several of your presentations, which are now available for purchase. How many different presentations will be released, and what time frame do you expect for those releases?
Over the last year, we have released four films — Deconstructing Rubber Soul, Deconstructing Revolver, Deconstructing Sgt. Pepper, and Deconstructing the White Album - all of which are available for purchase at deconstructingthebeatles.com. Right out the gate, we had an enthusiastic audience that allowed me to reach thousands of people who were never able to see one of my live lectures. Last summer, we filmed three more presentations — Deconstructing the Birth of the Beatles, Deconstructing the 1963 Beatles, and Deconstructing Magical Mystery Tour. All three of these new films will be released in 2018. And in 2019, I hope to release several more films, including one on Abbey Road.
There must be massive legal complications in recording and re-producing Beatles music. Did you have to get permission from Paul, Ringo, Yoko, and Olivia?
Because my lectures and films are educational in nature, we have been able to use the music of The Beatles under Fair Use. We work with the top Fair Use attorneys in the country who approve every frame of film before it is released. We even get their approval for trailers and other marketing material.
Do you speak on topics other than The Beatles?
In the past, I have taught online courses on a variety of music and technology topics. I have also lectured about film music. But right now, I’m all Beatles, all the time!
You're also collaborating with Ken Womack on a graphic novel about The White Album. How did this come about, and what is the goal of the book?
Ken is one of the best authors of Beatles books (as well as non-Beatles books) and an all-around great guy. We first started talking about a book on the White Album last year. That evolved into the idea for a graphic novel. We hope that the book will introduce graphic novel lovers to the magic of The Beatles and Beatles lovers to graphic novels.
Any plans for more books, Beatles-oriented or otherwise?
Believe it or not, all of these Beatles-related activities are just my hobby. I have a “real” job as the CEO of Qwire, a software company that is changing the way music is licensed, composed, and reported for film and television. Nevertheless, I’m squeezing in some time for a few new Beatles ventures. Later this year, I will be releasing an online course entitled Songwriting Secrets of The Beatles through MacProVideo.com. (Your books have been a huge help in preparing the course, by the way!) I have a more advanced Beatles-related songwriting course planned for next year. In addition to those courses, the graphic novel, the new films, and the films planned for 2019 and 2020, I hope to continue to give live presentations around the world.
For more information and to buy DVDs or stream Scott’s Deconstructing the Beatles films, visit Scott’s website at www.DeconstrurctingTheBeatles.com.
This blog is a workshop for developing my analyses of The Beatles' music.