To Sir With Love

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Dear Sir George Martin,

Today, I re-discovered the greatness that was and is the Beatles. I’m not sure how I could have forgotten. Their songs are etched into my conciousness as they are not just for musicians, but for anyone who grew up with pop music as the backdrop of their lives. While young people no doubt know about the Beatles today predominantly from being beaten about the head by adults with colorful descriptions of their greatness, the release of Love will, hopefully, in some small way serve to open their eyes to the real magic music can create.

As brilliant as John, Paul, George and Ringo may have been, it was your ability and savvy that allowed them to make their musical vision a reality. For that, I offer my thanks and appreciation.

Thank you for truly understanding the “pop” part of pop music.

As much as we all have our reasons, the Beatles were liked because they made music that was memorable. Whether it was the careful orchestration of a mournful cello or knowing when all we needed to hear was an piano to hold down the structure, you made great melodies powerful, wonderful lyrics poignant and fantastic pop songs ageless. It was your deft touch that made deceptively simple songs like “Eleanor Rigby” timeless classics.

Thank you for introducting us to different styles of music.

The band’s musical voracity was legendary and they were more than willing to explore music most artists wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot tabla. You gave them free reign and helped to not just bring in styles and textures from across the globe, you made them relevant to the song and helped us all to discover just how amazing a sitar could sound in a pop song.

Thank you for teaching us that orchestration is more than pretty.

Who knew that orchestration could so seemlessly into pop music arrangements? Few times has cacophony been not only pleasing to the ear, but perfect for the song! “A Day in the Life” let us know that orchestras could rock more than just Bach or Wagner.

Thank you for being fearlessly creative.

I once read that in order to get a certain sound, you took the tape of a caliope and had an assistant cut it up into short segments. When he was done and wanted to know what to do, you told him to toss the pieces in the air, put them back together in whatever order he found them and put them back on the spool. You helped give us one of the greatest albums ever recorded done entirely on a four-track recorder. Today, in a world of infinite technology, thanks for reminding us that the drive to find what works is more important than the limitations of technology and that the drive of creativity is so much more important than the fear of failure.

Thank you for getting what the Beatles were all about.

At the end of Abbey Road, one of the most famous lyrics ever written, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make” would have been a seemingly fitting ending. It dovetailed nicely into the soon-after demise of the band and had a grandiose sense of poetry. But, you understood, as did the band, that the Beatles weren’t about pomposity. They were just English “lads” who wanted to play music and meet some girls. The result is the album closing with “Her Majesty.” You understood that, above all else, the Beatles had a sense of humor and, while you may not have been credited with that decision, there were a hundred more that bear your mark of understanding irony.

Thank you for holding it all together.

Without you, we don’t get “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” or “A Day in the Life,” two songs clearly built from the separate visions of two very different songwriters. Without you, we get no medely on Abbey Road. You took a gradually deteriorating group of individuals and kept them from losing their focus, stitching and gluing together pieces of songs that, heard by most others, would sound too widely divergent to make any sense appearing on the same album let alone within the same composition. We have you to thank for being the grown up when, too often, your artists, like so many of us, couldn’t play nice. Without you, we may have lost the Beatles and the brilliant music they wrote much sooner than we did.

Thank you for remembering and sharing.

Maybe the greatest gift you have given the world is your memory and your willingness to share it with the rest of us. Unlike so many others who have been involved with famous people and, as a result, become famous themselves, you remained humble, honest and committed to your art. The result is a wealth of knowledge that has influenced and will continue to influence generations of artists, musicians, engineers and fans.

Finally, a personal thank you for being a part of art that is so personal and influential for me. Despite having been born only a year before the band broke up, the music you helped to create has had a profound impact on me as a musician and as a person. To this day, I marvel at the accomplishment. Most importantly, I listen to, I learn from and I enjoy the Beatles.

So many of us love that music and it has brough great joy to all of us. That is your legacy and we are grateful.

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