22 November 2011
Food products (maybe most of what we eat) aren’t food as we naturally find it. Edible things are dissembled, and their parts are reconstituted into new edible products we never found, or could find, in nature.
Movies and recorded songs are like that. In recorded songs, tracks are laid down, other tracks are laid on top sometimes weeks or months later. Everything is mixed around, re-done, manufactured, created, edited, into a song product. This is why a “song” may take 3 minutes to play but two weeks, or two years, to record. Nothing about the result is “live” or “natural.” Nothing about it is a “song” you’d hear played by musicians in front of you. Obviously, “live” recordings are excepted.
I downloaded some free recording software and started assembling a Beatles song. It took two nights to just establish a basic rhythm track that I liked on the guitar. It’s then I understood how it’s done, in essence, and why it takes so long, and why it ends up a product, not an act of passion. My first take might have been OK, but I was my own producer. I didn’t like it. So I did it again and again. A real producer might have taken the first cut or drove me on for three more nights or suggested ways to improve it. That is was self-produced may or may not have lengthened the process. I heard that “Good Vibrations” was tossed around for years.
The point is, the Beatles decided that this constructive art was what they liked, not live performance. For whatever reasons. To hear a song constructed in this way makes one think they sat down and recorded it live with great feeling. It was probably constructed in the studio by engineers and producers from many scraps of tape recorded over a long period of time. As such, it may be less a “Beatles” song than an George Martin song.
1 May 2011
Certainly from Revolver onwards, maybe some of the Help ! album even more on Rubber Soul , The Beatles were becoming more studio minded in their recordings and were more prone to add, delete, add, delete, reduce, add, delete, add… (you get the picture), spending days over songs. Thats one of the reasons they quit touring, they couldnt recreate accurately live what they created in the studio. There is only so much you can do with bass, lead, rhythm, drums and the occassional overdub, especially when only having 4 tracks to record on. The music had to progress and so how they had to go about recording it had to alter too.
However all 4 were heavily involved in the studio recording process, tho mainly with their own songs especially as time passed (even with Pepper George was the only Beatle who had any input with Within You, Without You). You can hear Johns passion in I Want You (She’s So Heavy) for example even tho it has numerous overdubs and was recorded by editing 2 or 3 different takes together. John is all over Strawberry Fields and therefore despite George Martin playing a significant part in getting it on record its still completely Johns song, and that goes for a lot of the music they made.
Obviously there is a cut off point where it just becomes too laboured, some folks may point to Maxwells Silver Hammer or Ob-la-Da Ob-lad-da as a point in case.
(Thats not a deliberate dig at Paul and lifting of John.)
I suppose its like painters/artists. They build up the picture by layers, eventually ending up with something not possible by a one or two attempts.
(I hope this all makes sense and ive read everything correctly – its very late.)
"I told you everything I could about me, Told you everything I could" ('Before Believing' - Emmylou Harris)