"I was in competition for who had the most Beatles records with a few of my friends at around age 10. Still listening and loving those records. Been through vinyl, cassettes, CDs, and now MP3s. i was pretty blown away when Sir Paul showed up at a gig of mine a few years back. He's still hungry for new energy and music. Maybe that's one of the many reasons they were such a great band."
The timeless music that The Beatles created remains a source of listening enjoyment and artistic inspiration. The collective growth that occurred in their songwriting and album concepts amazes me every time. I listen to some of their later records like Sgt. Pepper's
or Abbey Road
. I would be hard pressed to name another rock band that had the musical breadth and depth of The Beatles.
The Beatles have always been an enormous influence on my music and playing. Specifically, different harmonic passages they use have found their way into my music time and time again. I'll also find myself trying to imitate Lennon's voice or McCartney's bass sound at the piano or keyboard. But one of the main influences I get from their music time and time again are the recordings. The sounds they achieved at the time with such limited technology. "Tomorrow Never Knows" from Revolver is an excellent example. On that song, McCartney came in with the idea of using tape loops and tape reversal. Also, Lennon's vocals were run through a Leslie speaker which had never been done before. It's these kind of techniques I find myself using constantly when recording at home or elsewhere. Don't even get me started on Sgt Peppers
I grew up with the Beatles. My mother had a bunch of their records, like Magical Mystery Tour
and Sgt. Peppers
, also a live concert from Hollywood Bowl in which all that is audible is screaming girls. I think it's fascinating that a group that gained super popularity based on idolatry ended up making music that rivaled any of the great composers in it's creativity and purpose. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were one of the most prolific songwriting teams of the modern era: how many Beatles songs are immediately recognizable?
I was one of the few people on February 9, 1964 who didn't see the Beatles performance on the Ed Sullivan show, but boy did I hear about it the next day at school.
I liked some of their songs but at the time I was more into Motown and James Brown. Every Beatles album always had songs that I liked. AM radio played them every hour on the hour. Rubber Soul
got my attention as full LPs but it was Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
that pulled me all the way in to them on a deeper musical level.
What I discovered was that the Beatles weren't afraid to break convention in their songwriting and records. "Good Morning" and "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" have odd meter bars. From the beginning they always used Major 6th and dominant 9th chords reflecting their affinity with jazz and rhythm and blues. The use of interesting choices in rock/pop music instrumentation (piccolo trumpet, sitar, french horn, string ensembles etc). They used the recording studio to experiment with extensive editing techniques and innovations like running a track backwards and recording on top of that. They wrote and recorded pop, country and western, rock, blues and ballads.
My writing as a composer and arranger is most directly influenced by the Beatles work. I have always admired how colorful and vivid their music sounded. They opened minds and musical ears to possibilities.
One might not expect a jazz vibraphonist to have that much in common with the Beatles. However, they set the bar for creating enduring popular music, and I think about them all the time. Any performer has to be in awe of the virtuosity of the young Fab Four. Any studio musician has to be amazed by the recordings they achieved with producer George Martin. And any composer has to be inspired by the sheer beauty of their melodies, and the inventiveness and timelessness of their songs.
The Beatles are part of my musical DNA. I grew up listening to them on my parents' stereo, and I can still remember putting on the "White Album" to listen to "Julia" and "Blackbird" over and over again. I also recorded a version of "For No One" with Bill Charlap
, Avishai Cohen
and Andy Watson for a demo many years ago that not many people have ever heard! I still think it's one of the great heartbreak songs. I don't think I consciously ever tried to write like them, but I think the emotion in their songs is what I carry with me. I've always been most attracted to the wistful and sad songs in their catalog. "She's Leaving Home," "Eleanor Rigby," "Because," "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away," etc...