Friday, June 1, 2007

it was 40 years ago today...

Happy Birthday Sgt. Pepper.

note: on the right side of the picture is the cut-out of adolf hitler
which was wisely left off the cover at the last minute.

a few years before the 4 guitar gods showed up there were 3 other guitar gods
who ruled the universe: george, john, and paul.
the amount of knowledge I gathered from them is immeasurable.
john lennon's sense for rhythm guitar, especially in the early days
of she loves you, I wanna hold your hand, or I feel fine
was truly rock and roll guitar at its finest.

with paul mccartney's deft hand at adding in wondrous chord changes,
and the occasional guitar solo i.e. taxman, good morning, or
the ballad of john and yoko
as well as the little asides in songs like another girl,
and even key elements like the ticket to ride riff
who knows what might have happened had he not chosen bass.
(but then we'd have missed his brilliant bass playing.)

both john and paul wrote such clever things into their songs.
I remember working out girl and figuring out a way to play
both parts of the solo section at once.
and working out blackbird, what an ingenious guitar part.

then of course there was george harrison.

just sitting here, off the top of my head (which is clearly available)
I can think of so many guitar moments to thank george for.
in the early records he had such a feel for chet atkins-style playing.
I'm thinking of baby's in black. how did he do that?
or I don't wanna spoil the party,
a solo I play often when I'm not even thinking about it.
the killer riffs of day tripper or hey bulldog.
the great melodic ideas such as the solos in nowhere man
and and your bird can sing, another song I find myself playing.
george could take just a single moment and make so much of it.
like the guitar break in got to get you into my life.
it goes by fast but it sure is good.
the tone of she said she said and fixing a hole. wow.
george was the first to use a 12-string guitar, the first person
I ever heard use a harmonic, or a volume pedal.
george coaxed one of eric clapton's all time best solos
onto a beatles record: while my guitar gently weeps.

but for me it was one song in particular that changed everything.

I remember clearly in late 1966 sitting in someone's car
in the parking lot of St. Paul's catholic church,
a place the denims once played,
when the DJ announced a preview of a new beatles track.
we turned up the radio, totally excited.
the song was stunning, john was singing as only he can,
when right in the middle there it was:
backwards guitar.
a sound I'd never heard before which I instantly fell in love with.
still one of my favorite guitar moments on record,
the solo for I'm only sleeping sounded like yawning.
(matched only by the same sound in tomorrow never knows.)

george harrison's exposure of indian music and his eventual
mastering of slide guitar I'll save for another chapter,
(as well as the effect of ringo's perfect drumming.)
but george, john, and paul were my guitar teachers.
between the 3 beatle guitarists there is so much to learn
it has consumed the careers of many other artists.
their amazing chord progressions, their tones,
and the economical parts they chose
means they wrote the book.

thank you, beatles.


  1. ....Sergeant pepper taught the band to play.

    and so did they


  2. off the top of my head (which is clearly available)

    The record sleeve of 'The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads 1980-1981', proof sheet style graphics, is that you with the crescent moon on the back of your noggin?

  3. I agree, "I'm Only Sleeping" is one of the great lesser known Beatle tracks.

    I'm no guitarist but lyrically, yeah, the rhymes are easy...though the druggy feel always seems "unexpected", like I'm hearing it for the first time.


  4. thank-you-i almost went off on a rant-the other day with your/guitargod/page/kinks blog-about a subject you've addressed here-yes-i-as you wellknow agree about the "boys"-mentioned--your list of songs//just tip of iceberg -especially GEORGE-john-yes what a master of basic rockchording and what a wrist!paul-besides the taxman riff-reinvented rock-bassplaying-but "sir"-in my mind-GEORGE HARRISON--HOW UNDERRATED-!!-yes masterslideman -can't wait for your notes on that-when you mentioned the gods--hendrix/clapton/beck/belew/page-oops-yes-YOU ARE ONE-certainly one of mine-i've seen every-one-play-even lucky enough with robin seeing-beck/page/clapton-in nyc-ARMS CONCERT-PLAY TOGETHER-have seen you-rip up germany-sans-effects-MR HENDRIX GOT NOTHING ON YOU BABY---marshall stack/parkerfly-woo-anyway-yes george was amazing -some "ROLLING STONE TOP 100-"had him behind jackoff white-{whitestripeboy}-get serious people!!and yes you shouldv'e been higher on said list-its ALL TOO MUCH-for me to take-{pun}now there's a cover for you to do --i'll never forget-you whipping out-AND YOUR BIRD CAN SING-oh another pun-whilst on westcoast tour-'luckysoundcheck'stuff--and the "backwards"guitarstuff-YOU ARE AMAZING-but i know is done "as tribute"to these amazing musicians-who changed/effected music as we knew it-and clapton's solo-brought tears to my eyes-from while my guitar--yes--what i can't believe is first time hearing sgt pepper on am radio--unfortunately-only game in town--but was still better/different than anything out at that time/possibly alltime--what a year 67-was-and i still hope/dream that future years may produce "something"close to that year--{you may say i'm a dreamer}
    {but i'm not-the only one}and from what i know ABPT-WILL BE PART OF THAT FUTURE---as always--love ya bro--------gary

  5. gary: thanks brother. I love your postings.
    in fact, I was left off the Rolling Stone Top 100 list ENTIRELY.
    that's because there's a bunch of f***kin idiots working there making a crappy "fashion" magazine when they should be dedicated to music, like they used to be!

    I'm alright, I'm alright...calm....down
    see what you do to me, gary.

    I can't wait to see you and yourn.
    love, a

  6. Today is a pretty nifty anniversary for me too. I saw the mighty King Crimson for the first time twelve years ago today - on June 1, 1995 at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia. What an amazing show!

    I wrote up my memories of it on my blog if anyone wants to read it.


  7. Umm . . . isn't "Another Girl" McCartney on "the little asides?" He pantomimes the leads in "Help." Not to nitpick on this wonderful thread or anything.

  8. Now every morning when I get up and on the computer I go to Abbeyroads news site; I realize that 2 of them are on another plane, and there can not be much news about dead guys, but I still am interested in anything that happens to them or because of them. I know too, as an older Midwestern mother of two, that the world is aging around me, and the stuff that mattered to me, and still matters to me---- happened a long time ago. For some reason, I am always surprised to realize that. What happened? How did it get to be so long ago? Not a lot of people who are “surfing”, blogging” and “IM”ing were there. They didn’t know the cosmic quality of a new Beatles record. Or what it meant to hear those sounds through headphones, or what a surprise all those beautiful sounds were. That when they all came together, it was “MAGIC” in the truest sense of the word. It was celestial. It came from somewhere else. To hear those sounds in whatever moment or year you hear them, they are still magical, but when you plop the Beatles in their original context, it was downright earth shattering.

    The Beatles were inspired by very simple, heartfelt music, and looked what they did with what they knew. They exalted in those influences and put their genius and love all over the past and came up with the future.

    The other amazing thing to me besides all the innovation and craftsmanship, the Beatles had impeccable taste. The never were overblown assholes. It was always straight from the heart. And it was driven with true intention and passion.

    Where I am going with all this is, not just a love letter to the Beatles, it is to call attention to what the Beatles did to us that came after. What they inspired. Adrian, I have always felt you had a little Beatle (juice? semen? ) in you. You are a Beatles baby, for sure. ( In an artistic sense of course- not like Julian and Stella) You, like the Beatles, took a great foundation and changed things for everyone else. Maybe not on some grand scale like them, but popular music has been changed forever because of you. And you, like the Beatles, did it with reverence for the past, passion, and love for the future. So thanks for being the individual that you are, and it sure is nice to be able to have the opportunity to say these things. I still want you to consider the “ sdrawkcab” album. Maybe you thought that idea was too cheesy.

  9. A friend once told me that every solo that George played could also be sung.

    (I'm sure Eruption can be sung too, but I think you know what I mean.)

  10. Beautifully said...

    The Beatles were the right thing at the right time, a really amazing convergence of talented souls and listening audience.

    My soft spot was always for George, for the spiritual depth that came out in his music.

    Gotta go back now and listen to "I'm Only Sleeping," also one of my favorites...

  11. Amen.

    I remember as a little boy digging the beatles, but getting them mixed up with the monkeys. Ringo was my first favorite; my very first beatle memory is probably watching the animated yellow submarine on TV. It wasn't until I was a teen in the late seventies that I realized their genius, and bought their albums on vinyl one after the other. When I decided I wanted to become a rock musician I tried to learn Paul's awesome bass lines. Then a lennon phase. you're so right about their music. backwards guitar, years before hendrix. Plus all those vocal harmonies over brilliant chord changes. wow. thanks for the great posts.

  12. HA!! Adrian's got Gary blogging! Now that's classic! "Hi Gary!"

    Yes, I agree. ADRIAN is one of the GUITAR GODS and for many years, my personal favorite.

    I used to get fairly worked up about the lack of exposure and fame that comes his way, and as much as I hate to say it, I got used to it. Otherwise people think I rant about his genius too much, which I do, but SO WHAT.

  13. count:
    you are so right. and I thought I knew everything!
    according to beatles expert mark lewisohn paul not only played "another girl", but he also played "ticket to ride"
    what a shocker!

    that paul mcartrey is pretty good.

    so much for off the top of my head!
    I'll correct the blog now.

  14. Well, now I feel bad. I've become the "comic book guy" of the thread -- "excuse me, but I believe you're referring to Mary Worth, NOT Brenda Starr, thank you very much."

  15. Adrian - I'm a Beatles Freak just like you.

    I remember seeing you at The Barns At Wolf Trap (outside of Washington, D.C.) in your "Extremely Naked" tour (one of my favorite "concerts" by the way) and at the end you played Across The Universe (is that right? ... all of the sudden I can't remember if that's what you played). Anyway, when you finished you said something to the effect of: If we were in Cincinnati, I'd invite you all back to my house and we could sing Beatles songs all night.

    You're grand.


  16. Dan, you're making me jealous. I live in the Wolf Trap region, and motherhood has made me miss gobs of concerts in the last decade. (I missed Tony Levin a summer or two ago, only two measly miles from my house. ARGH.)

    I can actually sit here and very easily imagine Adrian singing "Across the Universe." That's a very Adrian song. Sighhh.


  17. The Beatles are the teacher of any great band... we have Yes playing "every little thing", we have KC playing "free as a bird"... everyone have learn something playing Beatlesongs... My favorite song is not included in this album... is "I want you (she's so heavy)" from Abbey Road...

    ... don't forget Ringo's beat...