Beatles Creativity (2) Singles

Beatles Singles 1962-64

Love Me Do

Trevor Horn, who in November 1963 was inspired to become a producer when he noticed the difference between the Beatles “error-strewn” live performance (that turned them into multi–media stars in the UK) on the Royal Variety Show compared to the exuberant polish of their studio songs, observed that there is always one weak member of a group when it comes to recording; which is why he says he never recorded U2 (Mojo June 2010). George Martin thought the same with Pete Best and, sadly, I think that Pete was a live rock n roll drummer and not cut out for all the studio work supporting the song that Ringo delivered at Abbey Road; check this out as The Beatles try to find their recording feet whilst auditioning with Pete Best on Love Me Do. There is a version of this post on the Beatles YouTube Album. To my ears Love Me Do is the transition song between the live rock n roll band Beatles and the first self-contained rock band which had unparalleled domination of the pop singles world during 1963 & 1964. Deni includes it as key live track in The Beatles live show late ’62. They weren’t moptops yet. Read the rest of this entry »

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And In The End

Part 8 of Learning…With The Beatles, The Assessment

This set of posts have been reviewing the The Beatles life story album-by-album, using the Open Context Model of Learning as a framework for evaluating the processes of learning that they went through and how that affected their music. The reason for this is to try and uncover exactly what constituted their enduring creativity and how we might learn from it today. The Open Context Model of Learning is concerned to examine how the education process itself might be structured to enable more creativity to emerge from it naturally rather than being a thing apart uncovered in various culture contexts outside of formal education.

The Beatles themselves, “four underachieving schoolboys” who “changed the world”, seem ideal subjects for such an analysis of how you might learn creativity. Not least as the author is also fan and can bring some additional musical and contextual insights to the analysis. Having written these posts and reflected on the insights provided by them I think there are some real lessons to be drawn out. Most notably in fact that the creative phase of learning is deeply rooted in the collaborative phase. Building meaningful collaborations is the core of creativity. Lets examine how The Beatles work reveals that to us. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning…With The Beatles

John, Paul, George and Ringo were musically self-taught but received detailed instruction in the arts of popular music, were completely ignored yet extravagantly supported, were outright copyists and extraordinarily original. They brought everything they had learnt to The Beatles and kept on learning.

They re-invented authentic pop music after “the day the music died” (Feb 3rd 1959) and went on to create a new template, what Rolling Stone called the “self-contained band“, which has dominated popular music ever since with little variation. Even in 2007, the digital age, when Radiohead elected to make In Rainbows freely available to download it was as an album; an art work still in the shadow of Sgt Pepper. Arguably Radiohead were trying to solve a business problem that The Beatles had failed to solve with Apple.

Analysing the break up of the Beatles in his book You Never Give Me Your Money, Peter Doggett writes that “together and alone, at odds and at one, the Beatles somehow managed to create and preserve music that is as enduring as their myth, perfectly encapsulating their own time and enriching every time to come”. My stories have been about encapsulating that time, the sixties, and now I want to propose a fresh understanding of that musical creativity to enrich our time.

The way the Beatles developed and grew both defined and liberated the decade for those who, like me, lived through it and grew up within its sashaying lineaments. They provided the ambient hooks of its soundtrack and were its standard bearers, surfacing a range of artistic, cultural, philosophical and political issues for us to engage with. Unlike the Rolling Stones, say, they made the sixties comprehensible for all, creating a fresh national sense of identity in the UK that helped us to both survive a decade-long Blitz of social change, and read the signs of the times; not least as they often wrote them.

I don’t think they were preternaturally talented, let alone gods descending upon us, which some American writing about the Beatles can seem to imply, nor do I think it tragic that they split up. They emerged at just the right time, lasted as long as they needed to and then split up at The End; sounding perfect forever.

I do think they were gifted, made the most of their abilities, learnt their craft together and, as Malcolm Gladwell points out in Outliers, emerged historically at just the time when they could. I am less interested in who was the most talented Beatle, rather more in how their history exemplifies Brian Eno’s observation that ‘perhaps every group of musicians should have written above them “This group is a musical instrument; treat it as such“.’ I think it is as such a group, a wonderfully creative group, that we can learn from them. Read the rest of this entry »

Working Like A Dog

Unbelievably Hard Days Night extended Beatlemania by catapulting it into a multi-media phenomenon. They had conquered the singles chart, redefined albums, owned the EP chart and the BBC had created chart-driven TV programming to keep up with them. With Hard Day’s Night they were using film to reflect their experience of transcending the limitations of life in post-war, post-rationing Britain; releasing our sub-conscious desires and documenting them for us. Hard Days Night, their first classic album, is flawless. Read the rest of this entry »