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Friday, May 29, 2015

Writing Songs...Questions From 50 Years Ago Finally Answered!

I wonder if John Lennon and Paul McCartney ever considered higher education, and if they had, what their majors would have been? 

I'm betting they would have skipped Organic Chemistry and opted for Humanities.  I do know is the world is a better place because of their love of music, and also of words to accompany their compositions. 

Steven Turner's 2009 book, The Beatles A Hard Day's Write is a great surprise and source of delight for a light summer read. 

It's helping me to understand some of my favorite Beatles songs and how they were written, if not in musical terms, but in the context of their experiences as creative artists. When they were influenced to write in the style of Bob Dylan or the Beach Boys, for example. One of my favorite songs from the 60's is "God Only Knows" by the Beach Boys, a poem of music and words that introduced me to a depth in expression I had never experienced. I had also read earlier of the Beach Boys' efforts to write music such as in their phenomenal album, Pet Sounds to meet the challenge of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band album.

This led me to wonder how artists create, sometimes in response to each others' work. Does the artistry of one artist challenge or diminish the spark in another artist? What are some ways to face another person's critical success? The answers to these questions are complex, to be sure.  In this book I learned that the Beatles, like the Beach Boys, also created in part in response to not only what they experienced, but what other bands were producing. The Beach Boys might have been happy to learn that songs from Pet Sounds, in turn, inspired the Beatles to write "Across the Universe", a beguiling song that has even more meaning to me now that I know a bit of its creation story.