Re: somewhere formal

David Labell (
Mon, 30 Jun 1997 20:41:02 -0400

At 04:40 PM 6/30/97 -0400, luke jaeger wrote:

A great message, Luke....

>1. It may be an urban legend that Paul McCartney couldn't or can't read
>music. I don't know where this came from - some 1960s interview maybe?

A 1990s interview, given on the occasion of a piece called, I think, the
"Liverpool Oratorio."

>Whether or not Paul McCartney can read music, don't forget that there
>was an ace staff of music industry veterans like George Martin backing
>up everything the Beatles did. Not to detract from the Beatles' real
>accomplishments but these things don't happen in a vaccuum. It's a
>mistake to compare this kind of music production with the "solitary
>classical composer" model.

You mean, like, Haydn, produced by a London impresario and employed by a
Hungarian prince with a house orchestra? I'm trying to think of a solitary
classical composer. Grainger comes to mind, maybe a few others, but history
is full of George Martins, talented folks behind the scenes.

>Please note that I'm not accusing you, David, or anyone else of
>personally holding these views - but I feel this is the subtext of the
>"Paul McCartney couldn't even read music" legend.

Well, I didn't pick the song because of McCartney's illiteracy. I'm partial
to "Hootchy Kootchy Man," too, but it's not the equal of "When I'm 64."

>Anyway Paul McCartney probably isn't the best example since he's not the
>most dazzling composer or instrumentalist that the school of hard knocks
>ever produced.

No, you're right. He doesn't hold a candle to IRving Berlin.

The history of non-academic music is full of "illiterate"
>players and performers - many of whom got their early musical education
>in such un-credentialed institutions as the black christian churches
>(Marvin Gaye, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, etc etc etc) or their
>families' homes (Paul McCartney, Django Reinhardt, Jimi Hendrix). It
>generally comes from somewhere, even if it's not somewhere "formal".
Indeed, you speak the truth. I spoke up on this topic to promote Menuhin's
idea of music as one of our natural human languages, which we learn when
we're very young and all know quite a lot about.

Good message.