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When a former music executive- and not one of those brought in from Legal Affairs and Accounts- but someone who had gone from being a guitarist to engineer to producer, A&R man and then Chairman of two major music companies- heard a demo recorded on an iPad and dismissed the song as “boring and monotonous”, I was taken back.

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Sure, everyone has their own likes and dislikes, but here was someone I thought could imagine what the final recording might sound like with proper vocals, session musicians, an arrangement etc having lost it as this was a rough demo, which a small, but knowledgable group of people who know their music thought had hit written all over it. We still do.

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It made me realize, just as it is with anything in life, the more you do something, the better you become at it- writing, creating, having sex, rock climbing, having more sex- and the less involved you become, one loses not only their drive, but also their ability to imagine what can be.

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For example, I have twenty eight versions of Strawberry Fields Forever starting with John’s acoustic demo recording which he took to (producer) George Martin and explained how he “pictured” the song should sound like.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4yHYbhCDLg

Gawd, I wish I could have been a fly on the wall for that conversation- but using John’s original vocal, George Martin created a trippy, adventurous, extraordinary mini-movie better than any music video where the visuals are given to us and there is no need to imagine.

True, video killed the radio star, killed off imagination and has helped create the worshipping of false idols.

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The brilliant thing is that just as he did with other Lennon songs like Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Tomorrow Never Knows and when he took A Day In The Life and made it work with an unfinished McCartney snippet, George Martin had the uncanny ability to get inside the head of, especially, John Lennon.

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This was a time when this brilliant musician had transcended Beatles Pop into something that was a cross between Frank Zappa and Stockhausen on acid.

Lennon was in a different zone to his bandmates and, influenced by Dylan’s word-play, his own sense of the absurd, he was making music that traveled from his mind without being shackled by the rules of music.

George Martin was able to create the visual soundtracks for Lennon’s plasticine porters with looking glass ties and the man who didn’t notice that the lights had changed while taking us down where we could turn off our minds, relax and float downstream knowing that we’re not dying.

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Bouncing tracks, adding loops, bringing in sound effects of elephants, trains etc, adding reverb, speeding up the vocals, reversing tapes, like Phil Spector had done creating his Wall Of Sound with session musicians and overdubs, George Martin, also using a four-track recording console, created layer upon layer to HIS Wall Of Sound.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7unRwgs0gI

It’s musical and creative proof that the technique is not the idea and neither is the technology.

Especially in music, no amount of technology can hide the fact that if there is no idea in what might pass itself of as a “song”, well, it’s simply not a song.

And though “beats” are beats and have their place, they’re no substitutes to words that rhyme and bind and a great melody or bitter sweet symphony that can tear you apart.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CP6T5wqXN60

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Watching the excitement of two generations of musicians coming together recently when Jack White and Neil Young showed Jimmy Fallon The Voice-O-Graph machine created in 1948 and the capabilities of a recording jukebox shows that, perhaps, we are returning to a far more simple time in order to get back to the basics of music making.

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ui3c2W9R01w

Consequence of Sound – Watch: Neil Young and Jack White make music history on Jimmy Fallon

This was when music was music without labels, a song was a song and how recording pioneers like Phil Spector, George Martin and the brilliant Les Paul said so much with their music with so little except for their imagination and instinctively adventurous and creative spirit.

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Imagination has no boundaries.

Amen to that.

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