Monday, March 13, 2006

You can't do that

Today's musical obsession, boys and girls, was brought to our attention by a recent entry in Johnny Bacardi's blog. It's a website project from 1999 devoted to close musicological readings of every single one of the 219 songs recorded by the Beatles during their career as a group. (Random sample from the essay on "Day Tripper": "the tambourine in its accompaniment of the riff is double tracked only for its first two ostinato frames; with the more familiar offbeat (2 and 4) shots backed there by a unique piece of eighth-note shaking.") (And so on.)

This was evidently years in the making, and it shows.

Naturally, like Mr. Bacardi, I headed immediately to the entry on "Revolution #9," which turns out to be almost totally self-reflexive. ("Friends and lovers have, for years, been preparing for this eventuality; 'Ha, ha! what you gonna do when you get up to "Revolution #9", wise guy?'")

I'm pretty sure I'll never actually make use of this wealth of information, but I'm mighty happy to know it exists. I've always been a fan of the classic-rock-radio staple, the "Beatles A to Z" Weekend, and this takes that idea to its logical extreme. (I'm never been a giant Beatles guy, but for some reason I'd rather hear "Hard Day's Night," "Help," and "Here, There, and Everywhere" in alphabetical order than any other way. Or have someone tell me to listen to the double-tracked tambourine in its first ostinato frame.)

PS. The Beatles project is part of, a Dutch online journal on the history and social significance of media culture. I see there are also academic essays on channel surfing, the music of Commodore 64 games, and pirate radio, along with a 2004 piece deconstructing one of Rumsfeld's speeches as an example of communication which does not communicate. The writing I've skimmed thus far seems to be a curious, sometimes off-putting, mix of critical theory jargon and everyday slang.

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