It's been almost a year since my last program debut ("Starr Time: A Celebration of Ringo Starr's Contributions to The Beatles" at the Polk County Library in Bolivar, MO on 30 June 2015), but tomorrow will be the next debut.
For some time I've been toying with the notion of a presentation observing and discussing each of the four Beatles through analysis of a single song.
'Yesterday' is perhaps the most obvious choice for Paul McCartney, as is 'Strawberry Fields Forever' for John Lennon. But I couldn't decide which would represent George Harrison best. My personal opinion is that 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps' is Harrison's first fully mature song, however many people disagree with that assessment. But I've never heard anybody seriously criticize 'Something' and 'Here Comes The Sun'. The former was Harrison's first A-side single; the latter is the most-streamed Beatles song on Spotify. And given that they represent different aspects of Harrison's songwriting sophistication ('Something' in terms of pitch, 'Sun' in terms of rhythm), I included both. Thus the subtitle "The 4 Beatles in 5 Songs".
But I really should call it "The 5 Beatles in 5 Songs", since their producer George Martin was instrumental (literally and figuratively) in the band's success in general and in these five tracks specifically.
With that in mind, I was going to quote Paul McCartney's comments after Martin's death last March:
But then yesterday I was browsing the shelves at Half Price Books and found the book Paul by Tony Scherman and the Editors of LIFE. Flipping through the pages my eyes stumbled upon a quote from Paul on page 47 regarding their manager, Brian Epstein:
"If anyone was the Fifth Beatle, it was Brian."
Occasionally people are puzzled (sometimes even offended) when I say Paul McCartney quotes cannot always be trusted. He is, as I've frequently worded it, "notorious for re-writing history", meaning things Paul has said have turned out to be inaccurate.
This isn't necessarily a conscious lie. George Martin, in the foreword of his book With A Little Help From My Friends, describes memory as "that most unreliable of servants". And it's likely that some of Paul's discrepancies are merely the result of faulty recollections.
On the other hand, Paul also seems to take credit for things that are almost undoubtedly not his doing. In an interview with Q magazine published in the periodical's May 2013 issue (p. 80-81), Paul claimed, "One song I wrote a little after Please Please Me was my best attempt at a preamble: 'If I Fell'." But it's highly unlikely that Paul either wrote the song proper or the introduction. In the Playboy interview just before his death, Lennon called the song "my first attempt at a ballad proper." Furthermore, Lennon's home recordings from an unknown date in February 1964 prove that the intro was in tact before entering the studio. Of course that doesn't prove that McCartney didn't write the song (it's possible Paul wrote it and John recorded it) but it seems improbable in the extreme.
Given Paul's questionable memory and the self-contradictory nature of his quotes above, I omitted the "George Martin was the fifth Beatle" quote from my presentation, even though I keep the concept as my conclusion.
This newest presentation (I just completed the slideshow yesterday) will debut tomorrow evening in Fort Wayne, Indiana:
Thursday, 16 June 2016, 6:00-7:00 p.m.
Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza, Fort Wayne, IN
A Four-Headed Monster: The 4 Beatles in 5 Songs
If you had to pick songs which represent each of the four Beatles, which would you chose? This 60-minute multimedia presentation observes and analyzes each band member through the lens of one or two songs: For Paul McCartney, “Yesterday”; for Ringo Starr, “In My Life”; for John Lennon, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, and for George Harrison, “Something” and “Here Comes the Sun”.
This blog is a workshop for developing my analyses of The Beatles' music.