Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Take a Great Song and Make It Better

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.

9 comments:

Craver VII said...

In a similar way, but at a much shallower level… (but I’m okay with it)
I’ve been bonding with one of the elders at church ever since we discovered what huge Monkees fans we both were. Sitting in front of our stunned children, he picked up a guitar and we went through a bunch of the songs, and practically the whole list from “More of the Monkees”—my favorite album. Aah, good times.

David A. Zimmerman said...

Respect for the Monkees. Almost no better TV show from the 1960s, and the music was groovy. But the 80s- and 90s-era reduxes of the Monkees were pretty pitiful, crassly commercial opportunistic phenomena rather than a revitalization of the music. No wonder Mike Nesmith sat them out.

Anonymous said...

Dave: I agree with you completely about the Beatles' "Love." I got it a couple of weeks before Christmas and listened to it a gizillion times. BTW, "tout sweet" = "toute suite."--Mr. Anon

Margaret Feinberg said...

Hey, no pressure on the spiritual post... it makes me feel better about all my Hershey bloggings :).

Pete Juvinall said...

It's a really good review; I don't think I would give the disc a passing glance because I'm typically not a fan of the re-do of oldies as remixes but you're the second or third person who's given this disc a thumbs up.

Hope you're getting some good rest!

p.s. Hey, I picked up Comic Book Character and I've started my way through it; I've been enjoying it so far.

Stacey said...

Hey Pete,
By the way thanks for buying Comic Book Character from me in the IVP Center. Thought I recognized you. Since we didn't introduce ourselves, this is "hey from the friends of Loud Time club."

Oh, and hope to catch some Beattles on Itunes :)

Pete Juvinall said...

Hey back Stacey! :)

You know, that brings up a good point, for being a group of 22000 people, it constantly amazed me the folks I ran into. I don't think there were too many people I knew that I didn't run into over the course of the week.

So, when do we get our f.o.l.t. membership cards Dave? :)

David A. Zimmerman said...

Man, Pete, I assumed you'd read my book. I could have hooked you up. I made a "Loud Time" logo once in a moment of exhiliration; maybe I can upload that for your mashup pleasure.

Lyric of the day: "This goes out to all my kindergarten homies." Tobey Mac, "InTRUding Again"

Pete Juvinall said...

I was looking forward to reading it anyway, besides I got it at the staff sale :).

I mentioned it to a buddy tonight who's into comics big time and he said he read it a while ago and recounted the adventures of ZimmerMan.