Archive for May, 2010
People who don’t take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year. People who do take risks generally make about two big mistakes a year.
— Peter Drucker
GEORGE MARTIN: “Tomorrow Never Knows” was a great innovation. John wanted a very spooky kind of track, a very ethereal sound. When we constructed the original version of the tape, we started off with just the tamboura drone and Ringo’s very characteristic drumming.
Paul at that time was probably more avant-garde than the other boys. We always think of John as being the avant-garde one, with Yoko and so on, but at that time Paul was heavily into Stockhausen and John Cage and all the avant-garde artists.
It was Paul, actually, who experimented with his tape machine at home, taking the erase-head off and putting on loops, saturating the tape with weird sounds. He explained to the other boys how he had done this, and Ringo and George would do the same and bring me different loops of sounds, and I would listen to them at various speeds, backwards and forwards, and select some.
That was a weird track, because once we’d made it we could never reproduce it. All over the EMI studios were tape machines with loops on them, and people holding the loops at the right distance with a bit of pencil. The machines were going all the time, the loops being fed to different faders on our control panel, on which we could bring up the sound at any time, as on an organ. So the mix we did then was a random thing that could never be done again. Nobody else was doing records like that at that time – not as far as I know.
RINGO: As George says, we were “drinking a lot of tea” in those days, and on all my tapes you can hear, “Oh, I hope I’ve switched it on.” I’d get so deranged from strong tea. I’d sit there for hours making those noises.
— The Beatles Anthology
I’ve finally gotten around to posting my end-of-year zine for 2009. (Every year I create a compendium of readings, images, and jokes to share with friends. Most of them are online — you can see the whole list here.) I’m especially proud of this one, for many reasons. Check it out here and let me know what you think.
I make no bones about my obsession with observation. I enjoy making notes. Jotting things down. I prefer not to be stared at when I’m furtively staring at others. There is a subtle art to the sneaking of glances. Timing is everything. To look as though all your attention is completely absorbed in the subject of your notebook when, in fact, you are lurking; waiting for the moment he picks up his coffee cup, takes a chomp out of the donut then unabashedly sucks the sticky sugar off his fingers while continuing to scan the Racing Form. These are the ripe spans of time where you seize the opportunity to look deeply into the essence of a man; see the source of his greed without his having the slightest clue. Still, you have to be constantly alert; wary of not getting caught by his quick glance. In the flash of an eye he might become aware that you are a witness and begin subtly altering his every manifestation; playing out the illusion that he is in total control of his character or worse – he might become hostile and paranoid. I’ve seen it happen. People hate to be seen. They hate the sensation of eyes on them; being looked at for what they are and not what they imagine themselves to be. Very few people can handle the blatant stare except children under five. This has been my experience anyway.
— Sam Shepard, “Costello”