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Sir George Martin in "Bloody awful" Beatles track shocker


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Just a little story from yesterday that the many Beatles fans here might appreciate. Needless to say, as you will probably already know, he is a lovely, lovely man.

 

The wife and I had the greater part of a day around Avebury and its related nearby neolithic sites, followed by calling in at the house of Sir George Martin. He and his wife welcome visitors once a year for charity, as part of the national scheme whereby usually private gardens are opened up to the public. It was all happening between 2 and 5 pm. We arrived around 3:30 and there was a short queue of around half a dozen people waiting in line for a quick chat with Sir George sat on garden chairs outside his house in the warm afternoon sun. He was looking quite dapper in a straw hat and that easily recognisable well spoken voice was carrying across to us as we waited. There were about a hundred people spread around the garden, mostly either lazing on the grass or having a cup of tea in the patio/conservatory area. Some were hardcore Beatles nuts who produced elaborately wrapped special edition books and stuff for Sir George to sign, and for a while there were two guys videoing him from a distance as he talked to people - which I thought was a bit much. But everyone was nicely respectful and the whole event was very relaxed.

 

I am a Beatles nut in the music sense, but I have never collected obsessively, or even read more than two or three books about them. I do like to pick up odd facts here and there though. In fact, I don't even have a copy of the full catalogue at present - I had all the vinyl when I started buying music, but they have all gone and I have not got round to getting all the CDs - though was seriously tempted by the remasters. One day ... will make do with the 5 or 6 I've got and the rest are indelibly burned into my brain so its no hardship.

 

So, there I was in line and the knees were starting to go a bit wobbly. My wife kept me grounded in as far as she hardly knew who he was. She grew up under a communist regime so although illicit Beatles were the height of student fashion, she was more interested in sports and did not have the time or money to get much exposure to any western music (apart from the officially sanctioned Boney M). I had only slipped a couple of CD insert slips into my pocket for an autograph on the way out of the house in the morning. I briefly thought about planning a list of questions (of course millions were possible) but decided to keep things 'natural' and just go with the flow at the time. However, I did decide to use those two CD insert slips in order to prevent my getting tongue-tied.

 

The couple before me wanted photos taken with Sir George, so I obliged, which actually took a while since they originally gave me their iPhone in video mode. That kind of broke the ice when we did meet, and after a few pleasantries I produced my couple of CD inserts - Revolver and Abbey Road. I asked which one he preferred and that would be the one to sign. He chose Abbey Road and then I asked which was his favourite track. His first response was "Well, I can tell you my least favourite" and pointed at Maxwell's Silver Hammer - saying "Bloody awful". I was so taken aback by his lack of diplomacy (the perogative of the old I guess) and we both chuckled openly. I pressed him for his favourite, and after a few seconds consideration he drew a short line next to Come Together. I really did not expect that choice. I wanted to ask why Abbey Road and Why that track, but I am not the most clear speaker, and during our conversation so far there had been a few glitches with Sir Georges hearing problem and his probable difficulty in lip reading my mumblings. So I didn't want to labour the point. In the final couple of minutes he answered my wife's quesstion - why he had decided to agree to recording the Beatles at the very beginning. I had heard this sort of answer from him before, but to hear him describe it to you while looking you in the eye felt special. How, though not the best musically, they had this charisma, charm and wit that made you want to spend time with them and miss them when they left, how he felt that if he could capture that on record he might be on to something, etc. etc. No one was spending that much time with Sir George (a good thing of course given his age and he had been at it since 2pm in the hot sun), so we then moved on - after of course parting with many thanks and making it quite clear how much enjoyment he has given me over the years.

 

A walk around the garden followed and a cup of tea was in order - served by the redoubtable older ladies of the village. Lady Judy Martin was sitting on the next table - and you could tell why all the Beatles had fancied her back in the day. I wasn't conciously trying to earwig, but I did hear her talking about hunting jackals in the Libyan desert on horseback before she got married - which is very bizarre and I have no further details to add!

 

No photo of me with Sir George - I'm not really into that - it just seemed extra crass given the circumstances of a nice little chat at a table. A photo is an artifact but a handshake and eye contact is a memory. Thank you Sir George!

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Wow, sounds like an amazing afternoon.

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Thanks guys - it's always tricky not to come off sounding like boasting or something when telling these sort of stories, but I hope VC is the better for the odd personal reflection. I used to enjoy it much more when people treated VC much more as a magazine to which they were contributing with fleshed out reviews, personal stories etc. I suppose now those who want to write paragraphs have their own blogs for that sort of thing.

 

And I agree with Moss -my money was on Something - given his fondness for George and the way he encouraged him to write more.

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Thanks guys - it's always tricky not to come off sounding like boasting or something when telling these sort of stories, but I hope VC is the better for the odd personal reflection. I used to enjoy it much more when people treated VC much more as a magazine to which they were contributing with fleshed out reviews, personal stories etc. I suppose now those who want to write paragraphs have their own blogs for that sort of thing.

 

I was extremely moved and inspired by this post, my latest one in the "Streaming The Whole Love" thread is my attempt at using this idea as a template for one of the things I've been thinking about while reading Whole Love reviews.

 

Thank you for voicing this concept and encouraging this direction. I very much agree.

 

Also, because of the name, my mental image of reading this story was of Ronnie Barker meeting Sir George.

 

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:thumbup Porridge got to the USA? Great news. Yes, luckily Sir George didn't tell ne to 'Naff orrff'

 

Watching Monty Python re-runs on American Public Television and later BBC America developed a real sweet spot for British humor in me, so I have a real love for Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, Father Ted, and the Alan Partridge shows.

 

--Mike

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Some of the people who post here jumped down my throat when I said the same thing about Maxwell's several months ago. I knew I was right, but vindication is a good feeling.

Well to be fair, it's a little different when you hear criticism from George Martin regarding the Beatles. He's about the only person I could accept it from, personally!

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is this the same George Martin that let Revolution #9 make the White album?. oh well we all make mistakes

 

That was a Lennon/McCartney decision, John and Paul mixed the whole thing in a 24-hour session, and picked the tracklisting. If they had listened to George Martin, the White Album would have been a single disc as he suggested, and I'm sure Rev. 9 wasn't on his list of one's that would have made the cut.

 

--Mike

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Great story! Thanks!

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