I've been listening to The Beatles since I was a teenager, not just because their's was the popular music of the day, but because, especially in their earlier works, the sentiment of their lyrics touched so many feelings that I was having at the time. I remember listening to "The Long and Winding Road" over and over again, because it gave me a sense of hope in connecting deeply with another person and finding true love-the lyrics "lead me to your door," touched me to the core. All the things that affected me when I was young seemed to be found in their lyrics of one tune or another. I've always believed that the three keys to a great original song are a memorable melody, a universal story and lyric, and a timeless quality. I don't know anyone who can't remember most of The Beatles' tunes-music and lyrics. That is the most revealing testament to the power, mastery and genius of their enormous body of work.
Currently, their songs are being repackaged for a new generation to discover. The Beatles will forever be relevant because they were able to put their fingers on the pulse of the emotions and consciousness of an entire generation. They awakened in our awareness the need for love, peace, and unity in the worldand echoed those sentiments musically. Their message is timeless. With every lyric and melody, their songs will continue to reach people throughout the world in every country, language and generation, insuring their immortal place in music history and in our hearts.
I think the qualities of the Beatles that most come out in my music are the energy of the live performance and the sense of humour. The Beatles, to me, seemed to live for the live performance as much as they wouldn't admit it. I remember seeing the film Let It Be
in a the Tampa theater in 1979 and the place went crazy watching the concert on the roof... and that was a film! The energy was amazing. The general charisma of the band was captivating. The outfits and haircuts, the general setup of the group was something we all wanted to aspire to, no matter what our style of music would be. I liked the uniformity of the presentation, but the outside the lines thinking that went into the music.
Even as they made their way to the fur coats and the wild outfits, they had a sense of the "group," but each member seemed to maintain his musical and literal personality. All these things combining for a great musical experience and hopefully, in some way, making its way into my music.
I recently bought the reissued version of Rubber Soul
at a Starbucks. This was one of my favorite recordings when I was a teenager. Here it is 45 years later, and the music sounds just as good! The writing is so clever, and the production is totally happening. These cats were bad! And George Martin was a master of production. The sound of the instruments are killing! And the vocals are so cleverly doubled and arranged in a very musical way. Great arrangements, period!
Ringo gets that classic snare drum crack that became so influential for years to come. The lyrics are poetic, heart-felt and clever. What can you say! It's all there.
Really the only thing I noticed that I hadn't before is that on "Drive My Car" Ringo does these funny little snare drum fills that are totally out of time, but he manages to make them work anyway. This reminded me of when I was on Buddy Rich's band and he would have smoked a little too much weed, and on his drum solo launch into an imitation of a bad rock drummer, playing fills all out of time, kind of like someone trying to talk after having novacaine for a dental procedure. But in all fairness, Ringo set the standard for rock drumming during that time. He made the music feel so good!
The Beatles took the tradition of great songwriting and put their own thing on it is such a contemporary and timeless way. It all still sounds great today.
I'm a jazz singer, but I'm also a songwriter. I grew up admiring great songwriters, and three of the Fab Four, Lennon, McCartney and Harrison, were brilliant songwriters. Not only did I grow up loving, devouring and studying the Beatles' albums, I've covered their songs on my jazz records. When I cover a modern pop song, I take it apart and reduce it to its essence and then rebuild it as a jazz tune. If it's a great song, it can stand up to re-interpretation in many different styles. I'd rather start with a song that isn't "jazzy" when I cut a pop song, so the first tune I tried was "I Feel Fine" which was a rock and roll song, rather than something like "Michelle" or "Norwegian Wood," which are commonly covered by jazz musicians. I like to take a song a long way from it's original recorded version. That's a lot more interesting to me. I've also covered two wonderful John Lennon tunes, "Love," and "Jealous Guy, which appears on my latest album.