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:
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.