Friday, March 03, 2006

More Hybridized Beatles

My mad genius friend Arthur Maisel has done it again. As you may recall, he earlier rewrote John Lennon's "Imagine" in the style of Paul McCartney in an attempt to demonstrate the falsity of my (offhand) claim that "Imagine" was more like a McCartney tune than a typical Lennon production. (He later said that the process convinced him that I was sorta right.)

Now he has gone one step further, rewriting one of McCartney's schlockier tunes, "Let It Be," in the style of John Lennon. The result is fairly mind-blowing, featuring a weirdly brooding chord progression that reminds me, in my non-musically-educated fashion, of "Strawberry Fields."

Arthur says that translating Lennon into McCartney involves making the music less interesting, while the reverse operation involves, well, just the reverse. But he hastens to add that he doesn't actually consider Lennon a better composer than McCartney, as that might imply:

I think that McCartney is the more naturally "gifted" of the two, the "Mozart" of the pair, in the sense that beautiful ideas seem to occur to him almost effortlessly. Lennon, in this surely exaggerated analogy, is the "Beethoven," a man who had to work hard for his ideas. Lennon's successes are the result of dogged craft overcoming limited, though very real, talent; McCartney's failures are the result of too much reliance on what comes too easily.

I personally would add that McCartney's successes occur when the gift of melody and some personal emotional drive are somehow united by an apposite theme and form (as in "Penny Lane," for example), while Lennon's failures occur when his ambitions--literary, social, political, artistic--outreach his talents, producing some songs that are conceptually interesting but teeth-gratingly difficult to listen to (as in most of the cuts on Mind Games, for example).

Anyway, if you're a Beatles fan, you shouldn't miss these two musical curiosities, especially "Len It Be." They're fascinating and fun. You can download the MP3 files for "McImagine" here and "Len It Be" here.

Now, how would George Harrison have written them . . . ?

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