On Tuesday, March 8, 2016, George Martin died at the age of 90… walked the final stretch of life’s long and winding road up to and beyond Earth’s exit signs… destination… not knowable to mere mortals.
I had never met him… sure as hell wish I had… and… yet… it feels as if I had been best of friends with him. Maybe you feel that way too? Well, most of us had known him well… heard of / heard all he had done. After all… he’d been the producer running the audio mixer / multi-track tape decks during the Beatles’ recording sessions. But he had been so much more than a button pusher and lever shifter.
Martin had long been referred to as the fifth Beatle… without question, an apt appraisal… for it had been his musical sensibilities, which had inspired John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr to musically transcend the conventional… experiment with / explore instrumentation far beyond the realm and reach of mere guitars and drums. Although it’s in a non-aeronautical connotation of the phrase, he had successfully challenged the Fab Four to “break the sound barrier”.
He had rescued the Beatles from the pitfalls of marching in lockstep to Sixties era, formulaic rock and roll. Without his inestimable influence, they could’ve easily become just another mop top, British boy band… merely vying with their musical peers… trying to chart mostly forgettable, here today / gone tomorrow songs. In short, Martin had been the key to first unlocking and then throwing, wide open, the doors of what could’ve become this band’s recording studio prison.
The Beatles eventually gave Martin’s musical masterpiece ideas a chance and a “come together” communal spirit soon flourished. Working as a quintet, they wound up laying down tracks, which guaranteed that their spinning records would spawn and spark an entire revolution.
Had J, P, G & R not placed their credence in Martin… i.e., stuck, exclusively, to grinding out guitar driven, three-minute, three-chord rock? Well… I do believe this group’s novelty would’ve faded long before they had disbanded in 1970.
Digging more deeply, George Martin’s formal training / musical upbringing (inclusive of classical) had made a world of difference. I, too, can identify with such centuries old, uplifting of spirit, full orchestral sounds… for my parents had introduced me to this music at a very early age.
As a preschooler, my 331/3 rpm LP copy of Johann Strauss’ works… especially… The Blue Danube Waltz track… had nearly melted down on my Zenith monaural record player.
I had even performed my impromptu rendition of that waltz for my kindergarten classmates… “singing” that wordless melody in ¾ time while “accompanying” myself on a toy cash register (playing it as if it were a piano). All my classmates and even my teacher had gathered into a tight circle to surround me… where they remained transfixed… right up to my crescendo from that composition’s final movement.
So explains my lifelong love of classical music… my testimonial as to how and why it has always been so easy for me to get into “rock” incorporating full orchestral arrangements… such as the Beatles’ A Day In The Life, Golden Slumbers Medley, The Long And Winding Road and Goodnight.
Well… I suppose there’s little sense in trying to digress my way out of ending my tribute / farewell any longer…
I had never met George Martin… sure as hell wish I had… if for no other reason but to have thanked him for producing the mind blowing music, which motivated and defined my generation… tracks which have comprised and shall continue to make up the soundtrack of my life… songs that’ll endure long after I have made my own final journey upon that long, winding, outward bound road… recordings that’ll live on for as long as humankind manages not to self-destruct…