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Beatles miscellanized

I’m listening to Love, the Beatles mashup by George Martin and his son.

Yes, it’s part stunt. The Beatles left such a rich selection of song styles and pieces that you can create a version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” without a dominant guitar. But the CD is also an act of love that makes that song—which I always found slightly embarrassingly George-ish—more lovely than the original. The Martins often reveal an essence of melody, harmony, voice, meaning or mood. (Keep in mind that I am a sentimental Beatles fool. They were our music in a way that my children have yet to find for themselves.)

The first track is a version of “Because” rendered less sentimental by highlighting the beautiful vocal work. The second track, “Get Back,” is fun. But the third track, “Glass Onion” overwhelmed me. It pulls together many pieces, most recognizable if not actually familiar. Each of the parts is so resonant that it sank me into the feelings those songs had engendered. No, not feelings. Meanings. What the songs meant to me.

This is the part of what I’ve been calling the “miscellaneous” that that word doesn’t capture. Categorization puts like next to like. The miscellaneous category consists of that which does not share likenesses beyond their shared domain—the kitchen’s miscellaneous drawer contains implements that have nothing in common beyond the fact that they all belong in a kitchen. But the digital miscellany we’re building for ourselves is an over-abundance of likenesses, across every domain. The likenesses are drawn by every link we create, each made of intention and meaning. In some ways, it is the opposite of the miscellany. It is the surfeit of connection, a potential unlike anything we’ve had before short of language itself. [Tags: ]

5 Responses to “Beatles miscellanized”

  1. I was a little disappointed by Love. I think I was somehow expecting a bit more “mix” in this remix. Or perhaps a mashup instead. I think the “problem” (if you can really call it that) is that the remix was so insular. Like first cousins marrying.

    There’s a mashup called “No one takes your freedom” (done by DJ Earworm) of Beatles music with Aretha, Scissor Sisters, and George Michael that is less insular and makes a much different song from the original. The cuts on Love seem like slight reworkings for the most part.

    Except for “Because,” which, in this form, is haunting beautiful.

  2. David, I liked how you explained “miscellaneous” here so that it means “leftovers” or “idiosyncratic” or “the stuff that just doesn’t have enough related examples to form a decent category”. Like penguins, I suppose. Miscellaneous is when there are too few examples to flesh out a category. Then there’s the situation where there are no examples (as when there are no counterexamples). Which in mathematics means that you have a proof. And in the justice system means that you can’t go to court, because you can’t go to court over hypotheticals, you have to wait for there to be a real example.

  3. You should have a listen to the acoustic version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps on the Anthology. Not sure if it’s one or two, but it’s George with an acoustic guitar, and nothing else. It’s hauntingly good, in my and my wife’s opinions.

  4. There’s an excellent interview with Giles Martin about the record with Bob Boilen from NPR’s All Songs Considered – it was a podcast from 12/21/06.

    The mp3 file of the podcast directly is here:
    http://podcastdownload.npr.org/anon.npr-podcasts/podcast/510019/6664907/npr_6664907.mp3

    The show’s archive page is here:
    http://www.npr.org/programs/asc/archives/index.html

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