Beatles Creativity (1) Live

The Beatles Live 1957-1963

In the next six posts I will be looking at the Beatles creativity in terms of the six phases identified in Learning from Learning…With The Beatles. In keeping with the social construction of Popular Music I will tell these stories through six Top Tens of Beatles songs. Consequently, as with many of the posts on this blog, there is an accompanying post with videos on a Beatles YouTube Album; specific videos are linked to from the paragraph headers. The first period discussed here is about how John, Paul, George and Ringo became The Beatles and looks at The Beatles Live 1957-1963. This is the same period as that identified by Malcolm Gladwell when The Beatles were unknown unknowns, or Outliers, and in the process of self-creation.

That’ll Be The Day

The pre-Fab Four were feral and provincial, outlawed themselves to Germany and worked in Hamburg’s red light district to make live music for significant periods in the early sixties. Bob Spitz in The Beatles Biography identifies the Litherland Hall Concert in Liverpool on December 27 1960, after the Beatles had returned from Hamburg in Wild Ones black leather, as the point at which they became legends in their own backyard. Nice short film about Litherland made by their manager of the time Allan Williams, which captures this confusion about their provenance. But even legends started small and the craft collective known as The Beatles started as The Quarrymen. Read the rest of this entry »

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We’re Leaving Home

1969 – Nothings Gonna Change My World

In 1969 the Art Collective known as The Beatles imploded; more precisely the “Musical Instrument known as The Beatles”, as Brian Eno would characterise them, no longer had Brian Epstein to care of the business. In 1968 they really had taken care of the music and taken care of business, after a fashion. The Beatles had triumphed musically, but it hadn’t really been recognised; Lennon, left fuming at the end of 1968, shared his pain in a lengthy interview to a student, recently published in New Statesman. They had taken care of Business by launching Apple Corps and Apple Records, but they couldn’t hang on to the money they were making. Despite making the music/business equation work in 1968 it was to tear them apart during 1969. Not least because their work as creators of, and commentators on, the sixties was done. They didn’t fully understand how they had achieved that, and we didn’t get it at the time either. Read the rest of this entry »

Paperback Walrus

Learning from Learning…With The Beatles; from album to artefact

Bookending the Beatles heutagogic period were twin attacks on print formats. In Paperback Writer Paul boasted that if you liked the style he “could turn it round” and in Walrus John delivered a nonsense poem about nonsense poems, containing probably his most visceral attack on the British Establishment. Heutagogy is about playing with form and The Beatles did this explicitly and implicitly within this period which lasted from 13th April 1966 to 27th August 1967. Read the rest of this entry »

We Can Work It Out

Learning from Learning…With The Beatles; from romantic to Romantic

Having proved themselves in the school of hit records, by narrowing their focus and delivering to EMI’s template, The Beatles grew in confidence between the return from their first visit to the USA and the end of their second visit in August 1964. They met Dylan at Delmonico’s, who dismissed their silly love songs and gave them a greater Romantic vision of their possibilities. And so they embarked on the andragogic phase of their learning. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

69; In The Court of Abbey Road

Part 7 of Learning…With The Beatles

And in the End their swansong was introduced by a great rock performance as The Beatles did finally Come Together. They returned to their nest at Abbey Road and produced what often sounds like, in the 21st Century, their greatest album, because of the quality of the recordings they captured in Abbey Road Studio 2. Abbey Road was both their spiritual home and their creative playground. It was the very specific place where both their craft in producing music and their accumulated tacit knowledge in playing the studio, produced the universal music we are still listening to today. “Home” had been a key theme of Get Back, for the scousers who had changed the world and had also been our surrogate, provincially English, champions in the class war of the sixties; they needed sanctuary from the forces amassing against them and perhaps became nostalgic for the simple verities of rock n’roll.

Ultimately they did return home; not to Liverpool however but to Abbey Road. They ennobled their prolifically creative craft centre by naming their last album after it. EMI ultimately returned the compliment by renaming their recording studio Abbey Road after the album. It is now simply known as Abbey Road Studios, and remains a key Beatles shrine for their enduring fanbase, a flash mob met there in August 2009 to celebrate the albums 40th anniversary, and the studio has a webcam pointed at the famous crossing where the Fab Four popped outside, as they had done for the rooftop concert, and crossed over into middle age ending their career on a pedestrian crossing. Read the rest of this entry »

Beatles & the Open Context Model of Learning

To Your Future;

To build the future requires transformation. The future is not “the same as the past only more intense”. As Lennon says in the song Glenn Beck has just attacked in 2010; “You say you want a Revolution well; YOU KNOW”; Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Futures Festival Online

The Beatles and the Open Context Model of Learning

This is a posting to support the Learning Futures Festival with links to stories and YouTube.

Read the rest of this entry »

1968 – A Year In The Life

All We Need is Andragogy

So the ending of last weeks post on Heutagogy took me, the writer, by surprise. From a learning perspective I am interested in creativity as playing with form. The Beatles demonstrated this repeatedly but within a relatively narrow frame musically, which is why their achievements often seem limited if you were born in the eighties or nineties. Effectively they created the rock album form which, as with any new form, seems obvious when you look back on it, but is unknown when you begin. My interest lies in how you deal with the unknown constructively. Read the rest of this entry »

All You Need is Heutagogy

There’s nothing you can make that can’t be made.

No one you can save that can’t be saved.

Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you (It’s easy)

1! 2!! 3!!! 4!!!! was replaced by a woozy “a-one, a-two, a-three, a-four!” and the bass that inspired The Jam’s best track kicks in. The Beatles had replaced the urgent intro to the faux live show of Please Please Me with the lazy faux ambience of their studio recording. Presence, the Holy Grail of recording since Edison in 1888, was to be replaced with artifice. Revolver, what goes around, was to come around again, this time at the bidding of the artisans.

“It was like letting the workmen take over the factory,” said McCartney about Revolver two years before May 68, five years before Lennon supported the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in and ten years before the Lucas Aerospace Shop Stewards alternative Corporate Plan. But before they could run their own factory they needed yet another Fifth Beatle, the golden-eared wunder-kid Geoff Emerick who, as a nineteen year old studio engineer was promoted to work on Revolver. A fan, young and imbued with the shape-shifting sixties spirit, Emerick was to set up Abbey Road for recording in ways that were forbidden by EMI, but demanded by the Beatles. He miked McCartney’s bass with a loudspeaker on Taxman and told the stuffy classical string players on Eleanor Rigby to play loud.

Despite their productivity tending to support McCartney’s industrial assertion, The Beatles in fact turned Abbey Road into an Art School not a factory. A musical research lab for their creativity, just before Arts Labs, from which David Bowie would emerge, gained popular currency, along with the mid-sixties fad for multi-media happenings and various forms of experimental art. McCartney befriended the emerging leading lights of London counter-culture, Hopkins, Miles, Dunbar, supported the Indica Gallery and it, engaging with various tropes of the English counter-culture. Lennon, of course, was ready to Howl on a Daily basis if he could throw a Spaniard in The Works. So let’s get inside The Beatles creativity like Vpmatt on the Beatles most “experimental” track.   Read the rest of this entry »

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