Beatles met Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in London in August '67 after Pattie Boyd's introduction. Proponent of transcendental meditation.
Attended Bangor, Wales workshop, cut short by Epstein's death.
John later claimed that he should have known Maharishi was full of shit when he told them to stay at the workshop when Epstein died.
Councils/convinces the Beatles to publicly renounce drug use (meaning LSD).
The Beatles travelled to Rishikesh, India in Feb '68 to studio with the Maharishi, for an unplanned amount of time.
Other celebrities present included Donovan, Mia Farrow, Mike Love (from the Beach boys).
Acoustic guitar was the main available instrument (The Beatles weren't supposed to write songs, were just supposed to meditate, but wrote over 40 songs!)
Ringo and his wife Maureen left after 10 days, Paul next, George+John last, after approximately 2 months.
John was telegramming with Yoko daily, his marriage was falling apart, (asked to sleep in separate room from Cynthia after just a few days in India; Cynthia thought the trip was going to bring them closer together).
The Beatles travelled to Rishikesh, India in Feb '68 to studio with the Maharishi, for an unplanned amount of time.
Maharishi was catering to rich westerners, claiming to be able to cleanse their souls, provide them with spiritual fulfillment, etc.
Maharishi told them not to write songs/play music while they were in India, that they were there just to meditate, but they ended up writing 40 songs!!
Ringo left first, due to food allergies, poor health.
John and George leave once they get the impression that the Maharishi wants to take advantage of their brand to promote his own brand. There were also allegations of sexual impropriety on the Maharishi's part during the meditation sessions. (Inspiration to "Sexy Sadie," originally titled "Maharishi.")
When they return, they are in an exciting place. Apple is just getting started, and The Beatles are still excited about it.
They'd hook up again in 1969, when the Beatles were about to break up while recording the last album they released, Let It Be (they would later record Abbey Road, which was released prior to Let It Be). George Harrison, a friend of Preston, had quit, walked out of the studio and gone to a Ray Charles concert in London, where Preston was playing organ. Harrison brought Preston back to the studio, where his keen musicianship and gregarious personality temporarily calmed the tension.
In 1978, he appeared as Sgt. Pepper in Robert Stigwood's film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Preston also worked, in a more limited role, on the Abbey Road album, contributing to the tracks "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and "Something".
(references Magritte's paintings; also, at Yoko's solo show in London where John Lennon met her, he apparently took a bite out of an apple that was sitting on a podium as one of the pieces).
-Epstein's last great idea. Beatles at the time were vulnerable to takeover; anyone could buy out a controlling share in the Beatles' business. Epstein also wanted to separate his family from the international business (perhaps to avoid a degree of liability). Formalized after Epstein's death, Apple Corps. officially formed in end of 1967, to avoid losing 2 million pounds to taxes.
-Apple Films, Apple Electronics, Apple publishing (hired songwriters for other projects, and for McCartney, Lennon, Harrison to publish music for other artists)
-Apple Records/Zapple Records. (Beatles and other acts)
-Apple Boutique. Sold Beatles everything, hippie gear.
-Apple Studio (recording studio).
Unprecedented for a band to go and develop a giant multimedia company. Most of these projects fail, but Apple Corps. is still alive and well. Oversees the Beatles to this day.
Managers: Alistair Taylor (Epstein's old assistant), Neil Aspinall, Allen Klein (1969-75), Aspinall again (until the 2000s sometime) (Wanted to solve the lawsuit between Apple Corps and Apple Computers) , Jeff Jones (present). Owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and the estates of Lennon and Harrison (as carried out by their widows).
A music publishing company holding the vast majority of the Beatles catalogue. The first two Beatles songs were not published by The Beatles, they didn't have the rights. So, Brian Epstein contacted a publisher named Dick James, and the company is founded in 1963 by Dick James, Epstein, Lennon, and McCartney.
Dick James set up the company to maintain 50% of control; Paul and John each got 20%. Epstein gets 10%.
Later, when the company goes public, Ringo and George gain 0.8% each. Northern songs employs George as a songwriter, so he gets a much worse deal than John and Paul. (John and Paul make more than George on each song that George writes).
Twice the company is sold under the Beatles' noses! (second time to Michael Jackson, who, ironically, gets into the business after McCartney advised him to get into publishing).
All of the following are "phonorecords" under the law: A wire recording; a 16-rpm, 33-rpm, 45-rpm or 78-rpm phonograph record (vinyl disc), a reel-to-reel tape, an 8-track tape, a compact cassette tape, a compact disc, an audio DVD, and an MP3 file stored on a computer, compact disc or USB flash drive.
From the Copyright Act: "Phonorecords" are material objects in which sounds, other than those accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, are fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the sounds can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The term "phonorecords" includes the material object in which the sounds are first fixed.
Within You Without You" is a song written by George Harrison and released on the Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was Harrison's second composition in the Indian classical style, after "Love You To", and was inspired by his six-week stay in India with his mentor and sitar teacher, Ravi Shankar, over September-October 1966. Recorded in London without the other Beatles, the song features Indian instrumentation such as sitar, dilruba and tabla, and was performed by Harrison and members of the Asian Music Circle. The recording marked a significant departure from the Beatles' previous work; musically, it evokes the Indian devotional tradition, while the overtly spiritual quality of the lyrics reflects Harrison's absorption in Hindu philosophy and the teachings of the Vedas. Although the song was his only composition on Sgt. Pepper, Harrison's endorsement of Indian culture was further reflected in the inclusion of yogis such as Paramahansa Yogananda among the crowd depicted on the album cover. However, the version with the sitar riff was not released at the time and George Harrison is now recognised as having introduced the instrument to pop music. During a break in the filming of The Beatles' second movie, Help!, Harrison picked up a sitar left on the set as a prop and attempted to play it. His initial interest eventually led to his taking lessons from Pandit Ravi Shankar and Shambhu Das. He subsequently played the instrument on the Beatles song "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" on the LP Rubber Soul in 1965, which became the first released Western pop song to feature the sitar.
George Harrison went on to play the tambura, a long-necked plucked lute, on both Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, as well as laying down sitar tracks for both albums on the songs "Love You To", "Tomorrow Never Knows", and "Within You Without You". A later Beatles song, "Across the Universe", also featured the sitar. Additionally, Harrison made great use of the sitar on his first solo album, 1968's Wonderwall Music.
Recorded April-May 1966, before their last American tour. The tracks released one by one to ration stations to build anticipation, extremely unusual marketing for the time.
First album cover that isn't just a photo of them, instead its many pics of them and drawings and others assembled into a collage. Artwork by Klaus Voormann.
Uses session players more than on previous records, as well as new inventive studio techniques. 3/4 Beatles are deeply into LSD at this point, since fall '65 (Paul allegedly wouldn't try until fall '66 when John accidentally takes some at a recording session, Paul drove him home and joins him for the rest of the trip).
Ringo's drumming is transcendent at this time, not fancy just highly creative in several tracks. His drum sounds change as well, via sound effects, close mic'ing, and de-tuning the drum heads. As the Beatles' composition gets increasingly complex metrically, Ringo is the rock that keeps the band together.
SIDE ONE REVOLVER First song by a rock band to be recorded using only classical instruments (string octet, a double string quartet) George Martin's string arrangement was inspired by Bernard Hermann's soundtrack for Psycho. Strings are close mic'd for a bigger, warmer, bassier sound (the players were horrified, slowly edging away from microphones).
The melody is mostly in the Dorian mode with uneven phrase length. Lyrics somehow portray both the boring day to day grind and the intense loneliness of life on earth.
Paul originally said he made up the names, but there is a grave marked Eleanor Rigby in the Liverpool cemetery. Coincidence?
Released in the UK as a double-A side with "Yellow Submarine," just after the release of Revolver. Paul showed growth here in writing a character song, not about anyone he knew, nor about himself. Perhaps George Martin's best string arrangement. Not too schmaltzy, manages to express the lonely character, and the impossible sympathy of Paul's lyrics.
SIDE TWO REVOLVER. Paul.
Perhaps literally about the weather. Also maybe psychedelic, although Paul probably hadn't taken LSD at this point. Lines like "burns my feet as they touch the ground" are pretty freaky.
Proto "Penny Lane", in a way. Opening refrain sound like some kind of meter-change; accents create a large-scale syncopation, emphasizing beats [1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4] of a two measure phrase.
Ending modulates up to a new key, short repeats over long fade.
Ringo's drumming is highly creative.
SIDE TWO REVOLVER. John.
Psychedelic masterpiece; title is another of Ringo's malapropisms.
One of few Beatles song whose title does not appear in the lyrics (along with "Love You To", "A Day in the Life", and few rare others).
Harmonically static groove/drone: one chord song. Just a series of verses, no choruses or a bridge; electronics and sound effects provide variety, while the drums and droning "lock you in".
Uses acoustic and Indian instruments (tambura, sitar) to create a drone. Extensive use of homemade tape loops (Paul's interest in Stockhausen and the European avant-garde) Highly performative studio playback of tape-loops/effects; impossible to recreate. Some backwards tape (in the guitar solo), use of tape flanging (slowing down the tape manually with your hand) to change the pitch. close-mic'd drums. Bass drum is stuffed with things to muffle it, so it doesn't blow out the mic's.
Lyrics reference The Tibetan Book of the Dead, a Buddhist manual for navigating the death process (John had read The Psychedelic Experience: A Manuel Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, by American psychedelic advocate Timothy Leary, and taken an LSD using it as a guide). John wanted his voice to sound like "a thousand monks chanting from a mountaintop"—they ended up using voice through Leslie cabinet.
Ringo's drumming is highly creative.
Chatter at the beginning of the record. First two songs morph into eachother. "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," features the fictional or 'costume' band introducing themselves and their featured performer (Billy Shears), who sings the second song. Very high production value, bigger, lusher sound than Revolver. Reverberant sound quality that makes you feel like you're at a concert. Tuning sounds/chatter at the beginning of the album creates a sound world for a record.
Coy, contrived, baroque, overwrought, overdone, overproduced, fantastic idea for an album. Has drawn long-lasting praise, citations of influence, as well as serious criticism. (predecessors: Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, and Frank Zappa's Freak Out). What does it mean to be rebellious? Beatles up to this point have always been class clowns/ cheeky, doing such an eclectic album with lots of orchestral arrangements, experimental songs, ideas drawn from lots of different places as a sort of provocation for a rock n' roll band. (notice that there are no straight forward 'rockers' on this album.
Recorded from Nov 1966 - April 1967, following The Beatles' first period of extended vacation from each other. Each member starts defining themselves as individual artists. Does this signal the beginning of the end? Length of the recording process causes issues, especially for the record companies, who have been expecting a continuation of the back to back releases that the Beatles had been spinning out since '62.
Production cost ~25,000 pounds. (roughly translates $500,000 in 2017 currency)
First Beatles album to feature the same tracklist across the pond.
22 weeks at #1 in the UK, 15 weeks in the USA.
First time a rock album shocks the system in this way of absolute dominance for an extended period of time. Timing couldn't have been more perfect: Pepper served as an unofficial soundtrack of the "Summer of Love"
First time (maybe the last time) that the western world, for a moment, are all listening to one album together. (some radio stations would just play it on repeat all day long)
One of the first "concept" albums, with a loose concept of a fictitious band performing a concert. Very loose concept that goes for the most part after "With a Little Help from My Friends," but reemerges at times. Not exactly cohesive. Really unabashedly explored variety. Only makes stylistic sense by being consistently eclectic. No straight-forward rock n' roll songs. (even the opening tune has a brass band!!).
First record without "banding" (continuously running tracks). No space between tracks meant it was hard to drop the needle to play a specific song. This invited the listener to hear the whole album as one piece of art.
First record liner that was not plain white. (crazy pink graphics). Also came with cardboard cut-out badges, mustache, and bandstand (?!)
Extravagant, costly production. In addition to the extended and costly recording sessions, an unprecedented amount of money spent for the cover art (by Peter Blake, about 3000 pounds vs the usual 50 pounds).
Many people The Beatles admired were featured in the album cover tableau, such as Bob Dylan, Laurel and Hardy, Albert Einstein, Gandi (who was painted over due to political realities of '60s India; record cover couldn't have been printed there), Leo Gorcey (actor, also painted over, because he asked for royalties for the inclusion of his likeness), Edgar Allen Poe, Marilyn Monroe, Karlheinz Stockhausen (German avant grade composer; tape techniques + electronic music, aleatoric/orchestral work may have influenced "Day in the Life" swell?), Oscar Wilde, etc. Many of these icons have since been dropped from the cultural consciousness, but the cover serves as a kind of time capsule. John wanted to include Jesus and Hitler, was clearly overruled.
Paul felt like it would be fun to reimagine themselves as a different band for a while. John lets Paul take the lead, as John was very into LSD in these days, not taking a leadership role at all. George is totally uninterested in being a Beatle at this time, spending time in India, studying Sitar etc. Ringo is along for the ride. He describes that during the Pepper session, he learned Chess as he was waiting around all the time. Paul's leadership role creates problems going forward.
Unusual detail about the album is that it came with full printed lyrics. In the lyric sheet photograph, Paul is facing his back to the camera. Coincidence? Album art for Sgt. Pepper's is not just an accompaniment, but becomes an art object and signifies an art experience, of flipping through the materials/staring at the lyric sheet as the music plays. Invites the listener into a world surrounding the music.
SIDES ONE SGT. PEPP. John.
Inspired by a drawing by John's son Julian. (allegedly)
Imagery and colors certainly informed by LSD, drug experience.
Iconic psychedelic/experimental track:
-double-tracked vocals (John), Lowrey organ (intro), guitars run through Leslie Cabinet, very active over-dubbed bass part.
Whole track was fed through ADT (automatic double tracking); over time gets out of sync with itself, leading to a strong phasing effect, especially evident on mono version. Sounds almost like comb filtering.
Harmonically, 3 parts of song are sort of in 3 different keys.
Metrically, verse and pre-chorus are in 3/4; chorus is in 4/4.
Surreal, nursery rhyme lyrics—a new John trademark, as in "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" and "I Am the Walrus."
SIDES ONE SGT. PEPP. Lennon-McCartney song, released in 1967 on the Beatles album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Paul McCartney wrote and sang the verse and John Lennon wrote the chorus, which they sang together.
Based on a story they read in the papers. Two sides in the story, the daughter's side and the parents' side, with Greek Chorus-like responses to the narrative ('fun is the one thing that money can't buy'). This string arrangement was not done by George Martin, who was too busy with other projects the day Paul wanted him to do it. Instead, another EMI arranger, Mike Leander did it. Martin conducted the orchestra doing this other person's arrangement, and was hurt by the circumstances. Arrangement is a little schmaltzier, perhaps, than what Martin would have done.
"She's Leaving Home" exemplifies The Beatles' growth as songwriters who aren't just concerned with themselves, but can project and empathize with others.
SIDES TWO SGT. PEPP. George.
Written, sung, and recorded by George without any other members of the band. Lots of Indian musicians brought in for the session, on carpets and with incense and candles burning. Lots of onlookers, (John, Paul, Ringo, Neil Aspinall, etc.). First song after "Yesterday" to be recorded by just one Beatle.
Uncredited Indian session musicians (Dilruba- a sort of bowed guitar), Neil Aspinall and Harrison overdubbed Tamboura, Martin wrote a string arrangement imitating Indian instruments. (The session musicians were perhaps never paid!!)
Musicologist Alan Pollack says it falls "between too stools:" too strange for rock fans, too naive for Indian music experts.
George apparently wrote the song after hearing Ravi Shankar on the radio. He wanted to distill a 40 minute piece down to something more approachable. The song was written at Klaus Voorman's house, who had a harmonium. Voorman was pumping the pedals while George played with only 3 fingers from each hand.
Laughter after the track, on George's request. After a 'heavy' tune, maybe a way of releasing the tension, or shows some self-confidence issues? Or, a way of tying the song into the concept of the album? Or, the Beatles lightening up the mood after something heavy, sort of like following up "Yesterday" with "Dizzy Miss Lizzy."
Written by John
John worked on the demo for "Strawberry Fields Forever" while in Spain on the set of Richard Lester's movie How I Won the War.
Listening to the process from demo to studio recording shows the change in concept and style for the song. Earliest version is acoustic guitar-driven, but several lyrical/harmonic elements are already present. Early studio version introduces the Mellotron - a keyboard instrument and primitive sampler: pressing a key results in a bit of tape being played back (here, flute sounds, there clarinet sounds, etc). Electric guitar, slide guitar/ out of tune acoustic guitar are also all featured. Bass parts were overdubbed after first live rhythm takes, a common practice for Paul in these days. Recording the song took over 55 hours of studio time.
Two different takes were spliced together to produce the final version; one with mellotron, electric slide guitar, etc; the other featuring a cello+brass arrangement by George Martin. John wanted to splice them together, but the two takes were recorded several days apart, and were in different keys and tempos (whoops!).
Difference between keys/tempi was such that if you changed the playback speed, the pitches ended up being close enough. Nearly seamless edit at 1 minute mark. Sonic atmosphere changes at that point.
Personal song about being in his own world. Lyrics feel like having a conversation with yourself. 'no one I think is in my tree/ I mean it must be high or low/ that is you can't, you know, tune in but it's all right / that is I think it's not too bad.' Transformed into sonic dream.
Indian Zither was featured in the intro to later verses, and in the double-outro. Indian instruments find their way into many of the songs on this album. (tamboura drone in "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," and others).
Cymbal hits (hi-hats) played backward on the tape. Low-tuned, free-flowing drum parts were overdubbed, in this case, with excessive yet musically compelling fills.
Ringo's drumming is highly creative.
SINGLE A SIDE. John.
Chronicles events leading up to and immediately following their marriage.
Recorded by just John and Paul, a sign of their enduring friendship even during the infighting of the late 60s. George and Ringo were not around.
The song was banned in the United States due to blasphemy, (for the lyrics "christ you know it ain't easy . . . they're going to crucify me,") and in Spain, for political reasons (the line "Gibraltar near Spain" proved contentious, as Spain considered Gibraltar to be in Spain, not near it.)
Released as a single in May 1969, [B-side "Old Brown Shoe" (George)]
Bed-ins, referenced in the song, were a form of peace protest, in which Yoko and John stayed in bed for a week and talked, gave interviews, etc. 'Bagism,' also referenced, is a sort of tongue-in-cheek political belief system of John's in which he thought the world would be better if everyone just wore a bag on their head, couldn't see people's race.
The anti- Pepper cover. Original edition had "The Beatles" embossed, with a different serial number on each edition, like a series of art prints.
Has been described as three solo projects and a song by Ringo, or as the sound of a band breaking up. This album had the most of songs recorded by a solo Beatle. (Paul is the prime offender).
The Beatles was a double album, twice the length of a normal LP, and much more expensive to make. George Martin felt that the material was not all great, and should've been squeezed into one single uniformly excellent album. They vetoed George Martin, in part because their song-writing agreement with EMI required them to finish out publishing a ton of songs, so they could finish their contractual obligation, to make a better deal. (They got a better deal the next year through the help of their new manager Allen Klein)
The album is extremely varied in terms of song genres, style, and quality.
Songwriting became much more individual; several tracks were recorded solo. At this point, there is a schism between John and Paul, partly due to Yoko's constant presence at the sessions. The other Beatles felt that it was great that John found this new love/relationship, but they resented her presence in the studio. They greet Ono with despicable racism/sexism. People would ignore Yoko, while interacting with John. John said this stress lead them into heroin use.
Tension and strife in the studio (beginning of the end...); George Martin goes on hiatus, Geoff Emerick leaves altogether. During the session period, Ringo and George just go on holiday. Ringo actually quits the band at some point, and has to be invited back. Once he returns, things are somewhat more cordial through finishing the album.
First album release on Apple Records, 22 November 1968 (first single was "Hey Jude"/"Revolution"). Distributed by EMI.
Paul's idea to keep the band going was to create the Magical Mystery Tour film / double EP.
"Written" and produced by the Beatles themselves. Scripting involved drawing destinations on a map, touring around, filming things sort of impromptu at each locale.
They had been getting into transcendental meditation, were planning to go on an extended trip to India. Paul worried if they went to India, they band would just break up, each would go their own way. Making the film was an activity to keep the band going after Epstein's death.
Released by Apple Movies (more later), the first outing of the new Apple Corps business they had set up.
Largely unscripted, seat-of-the-pants approach.
Magical Mystery Tour was Shown on British TV on Boxing Day, a huge shopping holiday, in black and white. This presentation of the film probably didn't help it, as the colors account for much of the visual interest. Christmas holidays 1967
It was savaged by critics upon its televised showing, and loathed by fans. As a cheeky move, pull quotes from terrible reviews were used for advertising the theatrical release.
ALBUM: Side One (soundtrack). Side Two (Singles).
The soundtrack has a complicated release history:
British version is a double EP (2 * 7'', 45 RPM) containing just the movie soundtrack; includes a fancy 28 page color booklet. Dec 1967
US version: a full LP including the remaining 1967 singles, ["Hello, Goodbye," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Penny Lane," "Baby, You're a Rich Man," "All You Need is Love." (all with "fake stereo" mixes). Nov 1967
CD version (1987) based on the US version, fixed stereo mixes—now considered part of the core catalogue.
Concept: "Get Back" to the old days/style. After the 'White Album' unpleasantness, the Beatles think that the recording/ production process/ studio tricks were too complex. They thought they could just get back to the four of them playing rock songs together, live, in a room. They wanted to record an album without any overdubs.
Glen Johns was brought in as an engineer/producer. The role of George Martin was unspecified, though he is credited as a producer. Martin took a bit of a side step on this album, with less direct involvement. A lack of focus/confusion on this project is due to Martin's not really being there, exaggerated by the fact that Glyn Johns has no report with the Beatles.
At this time, Lennon is really not interested in working as a Beatle, dealing with trying to kick Heroin, interested in Yoko and his own solo music.
Paul is the overachiever in the group, takes the lead to fill the gap left by John, which turns the others (especially George) off.
George is fed up with playing 3rd fiddle with the Beatles, resented how Paul instructed him to do things, and that John didn't care anymore.
Meanwhile, proto-reality show film/documentary was made of the recording sessions. (United Artists was not impressed with their Yellow Submarine cameo, demanded that the Beatles appear in another film to fulfill their contract). Their idea is to turn the rehearsal / recording process into a film. They were already having issues interpersonally, now they are under a microscope, being filmed the whole time.
quip: they were supposed to make a film about how to make an album, ended up making a film about how to make a band breakup.
Original album cover picture is taken from same location as the cover of Please Please Me.