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Tuesday 25 June 2024

The Beatles Song Book

Another memory of the shared house.

Evenings wasted instead of working for exams. To the beer-off for a big bottle of Woodpecker or Strongbow cider each (were they 3 pints i.e. 1.5l?), then out with the songbooks and guitars? What a good thing the walls were solid. We never heard a squeak from the neighbours.

Brendon had the Simon and Garfunkel book, but that became too difficult as the cider went down. So, we would switch to songs made up ourselves, mainly about the chap who owned the house, known as “Pete may I trouble you gentlemen for some rent please.”

There was the song to the tune of The Ball of Kirriemuir: “Pete does all the cleaning, and that’s a job he hates, and so to appease him we have to wash the plates.” Or the one to the tune of The Tavern In The Town about what he liked to do with sheep. Delightfully juvenile.

Best of all was The Beatles Complete song book. My guitar playing improved no end through that. I still have it, its tattered and patched-up pages showing the use it had. We played it beginning to end, through all the old favourites from “Across The Universe” to “You’re Going To Lose That Girl” and “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”. We never seemed to get “Across the Universe” right, especially the “Jai guru deva, om” bit. One of Brendan’s friends could do all the harmonies to “Because”, which was pretty impressive. 

Later, I used the Beatles book for [tautology warning] improvisation practice, making double and treble backing tracks with my Akai 4000DS tape deck. Of course, you can do this kind of thing today with digital mixing desks, or even free software such as Audacity on a laptop. It was not so easy then. 

Here, from 1978, is “Yesterday” with an improvides middle eight. After 45 years, I now tend to hear the snatched notes, clumsy phrasing and track synchronisation problems, which might mean I’m a better musician now, but I still find it has something. The held note in bar 5 of the last verse, followed by slowing down at the end, releases tension.   

I have only just noticed that the song has 7 bars per verse rather than the usual 8.

https://youtu.be/8lgucFMNC1o 

35 comments:

  1. It's good. Have you ever done any busking?

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    1. There are good ones and not so good, but standing in the street playing to passers-by is not something I would want to do.

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  2. Replies
    1. It's like you and your art, we are our own worst critics.

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  3. "but I still find it has something"

    Young Tasker. That's what it has. I am not a musician, but I think that young man has talent.

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    1. Did music bring you joy in your life? I think it did. It was not wasted.

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    2. Yes, it did, in many ways, in all forms.

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  4. Tautology! Now there's a term I haven't come across in a while. It was part of a questionnaire I had to fill in when I applied for my apprenticeship at the local library, and I was later told (when I had already been working there for a couple of years) that I'd been the only one to give the correct answer to that, out of the 200+ applicants.

    Anyway - back to topic. Guess what's in a cabinet in my study, about 1 m away from the very keyboard I am typing this comment with? "The Beatles Complete. Guitar/Vocal Edition." A doorstopper of a book, owned and frequently used by my late husband. Steve and his cousin Rob used to play in pubs all around Yorkshire when they were in their early teens, driven to and from venues by Rob's Dad. They even entered a talent contest and won - with a Beatles song, but if I remember correctly, it was Let It Be.
    After Steve died, it took me a long time before I was able to listening to their music again. Now, almost 15 years later, I can listen to the songs and sing along without breaking into tears.

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    1. They wrote some wonderful songs, and we forget now how innovative they were. If Steve and Rob could sing the Beatles' harmonies they would have sounded great.

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    2. They did sound good. Steve had a beautiful voice, and Rob was born a front man, an asset to any band he's been with over the years. He is still active as a musician, and I have one of his CDs which he sent us about 16 years ago.

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  5. That was fantastic! I'm so impressed! And quite amazing to hear a home recording from 45 years ago -- like time-travel.

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    1. I have a few others too. To me, it's the way I play them that is like being taken back to the past. I would probably do them differently now.

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  6. What a lovely memory and how clever to have recorded all that when it was not straightforward as it is today.

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    1. It was a real fiddle to do it, especially with more than 2 track because the Akai could only merge 2 at a time, so you had to do it it layers with the bass notes first because they became the most muffled.

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  7. That was so sweet to the ears and it is great that you still have the recording.

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    1. I digitised it some years ago, thankfully, because I doubt the reel-to-reel equipment still works, although it is still in the loft.

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  8. That is beautiful. Did you make music your career? Or perhaps keep it as your dark mistress? Beatles' arrangements are no simple matter, which is one reason they were the Beatles. Very few of us knew what we were listening to, we just knew it was very special and amazing and better than anything else out there.

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    1. The Beatles' harmonies are often very clever. I tended to find that I had spells of playing music with long pauses for other creative things such as writing and developing computer ideas. Too much of a dilettante to have been a musician, and not good enough.

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  9. What a great recording to still have. And it sounds so good.

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    1. Thanks. That one came out better than some of the others I have.

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  10. Wonderful, dear Tasker - thank you and honest applause!
    To hear "Yesterday" now gives the word 'yesterday' its true meaning: gone. (As the song "When I'm 64" - hahaha). I love your play!

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    1. Thanks. I did tend to play things my own way rather than attempting to copy the originals. Oh to be only 64 again.

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  11. Lovely, I can use that word once more, mellifluous. When I was listening to the Nick Drake songs, Andrew sent me links to a young lad in America who was trying to copy ND. He almost had the voice but not the guitar, he played it too fast. It is that which makes Yesterday and your playing the exact speed needed to listen.

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    1. As said above, I've always found it more satisfying to play my own way rather than copy. I think I was usually able to make my own interpretations.

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  12. As someone who grew up with The Beatles in Liverpool I really appreciated that. I enjoyed it too - very restful. Indeed it's calmed me because in an hour I'll be setting off for Edinburgh and a wedding.

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    1. I find it calming too. That's how it came out, played intuitively. The original doesn't do the same, although I am sure there will be many who think I've mangled it for the worse.

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  13. Oh Tasker, you have an enviable talent!

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  14. Impressive guitar work but why no singing? I was expecting you to come in like Tiny Tim.

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    1. We could go to that bar in Glasgow you mentioned. You could do the singing.

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  15. Much better than I could manage. In fact it sounds great!

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    1. Thanks. It came out well, but there are some very impressive modern players on YouTube which are far better technically. I think mine has the emotion, though.

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  16. Charming video of he Beatles' "Yesterday" improvisation! Thanks.

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I welcome comments and hope to respond within a day or two, but vision issues are making this increasingly difficult. Please note: comments on posts over a month old will not appear until they have been moderated.