I know I should be posting something spiritually reflective about my time at the 2006 Urbana Student Missions Convention, but right now I'm distracted by what may well be my favorite Christmas gift this season. The thing is, it was a gift that my wife got.
Perhaps you've heard of the Beatles, the single-most important band in the history of rock music. They broke up in 1970, and only two of them are still living, but every couple of years they reassert themselves as possibly the best band ever. In recent years they've released a three-volume anthology of rare recordings that revealed the craft of their songwriting, and they've licensed their songs for repurposing by the best and brightest contemporary artists in films such as I Am Sam. But in 2006 they outdid themselves by approving a Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show built around their music. I haven't seen the show, but thanks to the largesse of my lovely wife, I've now heard the soundtrack, and it may well be the thing that finally gets me to Vegas.
On the surface of things you wouldn't expect anything particularly novel out of this CD. It appears to be a relatively standard mix of Beatles songs throughout their near-decade of recording. But then you put it in the player, and you're shocked out of your anticipated singalong adventure when the Beatles wait an extra two or three beats between singing "Because the world is round, it turns me on" and the repeat: "Because the world is round." All the instrumentation is mixed out of the vocal track, and we're left with a haunting intro that gradually gives way to an incredibly potent mashup of seemingly random Beatles samples turning "Get Back" into a musical car chase.
The music on "The Beatles 'Love'" disk is infused with a new energy and poignancy that shows the debt that today's most promising musicians owe these guys and defines longevity and timelessness by example. Songs that were innovative in their day are made even more innovative by the respectful, visionary efforts of producer George Martin and his son Giles. If you know the Beatles' music, download "Because" and "Gnik Nus"--an experiment in backmasking that reveals a great new melody. If you don't know the Beatles music well, download the tout sweet "Get Back" and "Lady Madonna," which borrows from "Hey Bulldog" to add a new grittiness to one of Paul McCartney's funkiest songs.
OK. Next time I'll post something spiritual. I promise.