Imagine a world without Lennon and McCartney? It’s not that easy, even if you try.
It was the chance meeting of the century – at a church fete in Woolton, Liverpool – a meeting that spawned a 12-year songwriting partnership, changing the face of popular music forever.
From the opening strains of I Saw Her Standing There, The Beatles took us from driving pop songs to rhythmic ballads to ‘mod’ to psychedelia to the mad self-destruction of The White Album. Their recordings aptly spanned a decade called the sixties, inspiring young men everywhere to pick up guitars and sing tight harmonies. Teenyboppers screamed and songwriters stood in awe of their abundance of A-grade songs. This was music that could transcend generations. The boomers bought their vinyl LPs, the Gen Xs their cassettes and CDs, while Gen Y download their songs in droves.
Writing songs with the speed of rock but with the melodic sophistication of an earlier era they were the trailblazers that lit the way for others to follow. Is all pop music just a footnote to The Beatles? Well, maybe.
Paying homage to the music of legends Lennon and McCartney is the Let It Be Tour. Led by musical director Paul Berton and showcasing the talents of four of our most respected singers, each bring their own history to the songs.
Doug Parkinson with his smoky resonance and operatic power had a hit with his rendition of Dear Prudence only a year after The Beatles released the original. In the mid-sixties Glenn Shorrock recorded with The Twilights in the studio next door to the Fab Four at Abbey Road. John Paul Young brings his pop sensibilities – he was Australia’s last King of Pop – and no stranger to teenage screams. While New York-born Australian, Jack Jones brings his acclaimed vocal style to the mix.
A visit to the Let It Be Tour website allows the audience to shape the 32 song set list. A simple drag and drop is all that’s needed but the choice is surprisingly daunting. How do you choose Blackbird over Yesterday, and I Wanna Hold Your Hand over Eleanor Rigby? How do you separate Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever which was a double A-side single?
As a songwriting partnership it was not without rivalry – Lennon insisted that he invited McCartney to join his band – and they were each other’s harshest critics. Big egos go with the territory – they really were that good. (GW)
Aug 30 & 31, Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Pt, $89-129, (02) 9250 7111, sydneyoperahouse.com