Content Tagged ‘John Lennon’

My essay in Assay

September 1, 2016 | 8 Comments

Grading essays to the Beatles

October 4, 2013 | 7 Comments

The Beatles’ playfully creative upbeat tunes buoy my spirits as I grade student essays. Mostly I play late albums, usually Abbey Road or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Sometimes The Beatles (aka The White Album) or Magical Mystery Tour. Since I’m a boomer, this choice is freighted with nostalgia. One of these days, I’ll burst into tears. I’m getting choked up right now, listening to John Lennon’s surreal reminiscence, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Oh, that tender musical intro by Paul McCartney . . . his Mellotron keyboard a ghostly calliope.

And how is it possible that McCartney follows “Strawberry Fields” on Magical Mystery Tour with his own masterpiece musical memoir, “Penny Lane”?

It’s not possible. But there it is.

So mostly my listening experience is characterized by my amazement of the band’s artistry and output. They became such sophisticated musicians (a nod here to their great teammate, producer George Martin), and as they grew they created songs of delicious musical complexity and thematic richness.

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The Beatles were all about this

October 22, 2011 | 9 Comments

I found Art & Fear: Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles and Ted Orland by way of a British blog, The Beatles Songwriting Academy, devoted to learning to write songs by studying the Liverpool lads. It’s not just a worshipful fan site: blogmaster Matt Blick rebukes them for lame songs (his “Hall of Shame” includes “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”) and for some stinky rhymes that mar great songs. But Blick has a “Be-atltudes” page, too, in which he enumerates virtues, especially the prolificacy of Paul McCartney and John Lennon:

“Between 1962 and 1970 Lennon & McCartney wrote close to 200 songs. Almost all were recorded and released. The majority were top 10 hits as singles or album tracks. Whereas most writers today would throw away a song that wasn’t good enough for their next album or didn’t fit stylistically, the boys always had a reason to finish that song. And because of their insane recording schedule they always had to come up with more songs.”

Mates and rivals, who happened also to be gifted, Lennon and McCartney inspired and goaded each other to craft new work. What’s ranked as one of the greatest songs ever written, and their masterpiece, “A Day in the Life,” which concludes Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, showcases their separate gifts being expressed together under the pressure to come up another tune. They melded utterly separate lyrical fragments each had written.

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