Composer and engineer Scott Freiman deconstructs the band’s work and unveils some little-known facts.
Scott Freiman’s first record was by the Partridge Family. An uncle quickly rectified that, lending the 10-year-old copies of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper and the White Album, and Freiman has been hooked ever since.
Working as a composer and engineer, the 49-year-old has developed a series of well-received lectures on the music of the Beatles, including “Deconstructing Sgt. Pepper,” “Looking Through a Glass Onion” (about the White Album) and “Tomorrow Never Knows” (on Revolver). It’s been a lifetime of fanaticism in the making.
Having presented his lectures for the employees of Facebook and Google (with Pixar upcoming), Freiman will teach a course on the music of the Beatles at Yale, his alma mater, this fall. On June 13th he hosts “A Trip Through Strawberry Fields” at New York’s 92nd Street Y Tribeca location.
Freiman’s focus is strictly on the band’s music. “If someone says, ‘I have a napkin that John Lennon once used,’ that doesn’t interest me,” he says. “I’m all about the creative process.”
Here’s Freiman’s list.
1) Paul Played Lead Guitar on ‘Ticket to Ride’
Known as a great bass player, Paul McCartney played lead guitar on several Beatles tracks, including “Ticket to Ride,” “Taxman,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Good Morning Good Morning.”
2) The ‘Kazoos’ on ‘Lovely Rita’ Were Played on Pocket Combs Wrapped in EMI Toilet Paper
The toilet paper was “very thin,” says Freiman, “because EMI was cheap. They sent Mal Evans to the bathroom to get it.”
3) The Bridge on ‘A Day in the Life’ Was Inspired By ‘Hey Joe’
Paul McCartney was a big fan of Jimi Hendrix from the guitarist’s arrival in the U.K. Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” directly inspired the descending bridge on “A Day in the Life”; Freiman identifies it as a “quadruple plagal cadence.”
4) The Intro to ‘I Feel Fine’ Was Borrowed from Bobby Parker’s ‘Watch Your Step’
John Lennon was a fan of the Louisiana R&B guitarist Bobby Parker, whose hit song ‘Watch Your Step’ the Beatles played on stage in 1961 and 1962. The riff inspired “I Feel Fine.” “Led Zeppelin used the riff even more obviously, on’Moby Dick,’” says Freiman.
5) ‘Her Majesty’ Originally Appeared As Part of the ‘Abbey Road’ Medley
When the 23-second “Her Majesty” was excised from the medley that makes up side two of Abbey Road, it was tacked onto the end of a tape. Hearing it pop up there, the band members decided to leave it as a “hidden” track on the album. “It’s missing the last chord because that’s the first chord to ‘Polythene Pam,’” says Freiman.
6) John and George Sang ‘Frere Jacques’ on ‘Paperback Writer’
As part of the background vocals.
7) George Played Bass on ‘She Said She Said’
It’s a rare ensemble Beatles recording that Paul McCartney did not participate on.
Paul Played Drums on ‘Back in the U.S.S.R.’
“Dear Prudence,” too.
9) ‘Good Morning Good Morning’ Was Inspired By a Corn Flakes Commercial
10) The Flamenco Guitar Intro on ‘Bungalow Bill’ Was Actually a Mellotron
Beatles fans have speculated which band member played the guitar at the beginning of “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill,” but according to Freiman, it’s just “someone pressing a note on a Mellotron and triggering a tape loop of flamenco guitar.
For more of Freiman’s decontruction, check out http://beatleslectures.com/.
(content courtesy of rollingstone.com/Freiman; image courtesy of nogenremusic.com)