Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Borrowers...

As a personal favour to an old friend we’re resurrecting the tired old corpse of The Star Club for one last lunchtime in Spalding next month, and so last night we thought we’d better freshen up on a few of the chord progressions, just in case anyone was actually going to be paying attention. Times have changed from when we first pored carefully over the badly-transcribed Complete Beatles Songbook in order to put together a set to hawk around the pubs and clubs of Olde Ipswich and its environs and so we found ourselves gathered around a laptop loaded with the entire Beatles back catalogue on one memory stick in order to freshen up the part of the cerebral cortex that deals with lyrics and reinvigorate the part of the muscle memory which handles Aeolian cadence. We’d been Beatles specialists for some while before we had entered our self-imposed hiatus (interrupted by a couple of reunions, even though we swore “…not a second time”) and so after some initial pursing of lips and knotting of brows regarding enforced key changes the chords rang out from rusty strings with ever more fluency as the familiar box shapes of Beatles songs* made their way out of our memories and into Shev’s kitchen – a place long since abandoned by the need to keep the noise down as it was past the kids’ bedtimes.

A couple of hours and thirty nine songs later we decided we’d probably got enough material to keep us going through an afternoon set ("There's a tidy twenty minutes right there...") and besides, a couple of house guests had come back after their football training and were doubtless perplexed at what the earthly purpose of four blokes sitting around a kitchen table playing obsolete things like guitars could possibly be. I know. At our ages.

I looked at the list again this morning. If you only learned the first half dozen songs off it you’d already know more than you ever needed to about the textbook construction of a perfect pop song, although of course whether you were then able to put the theory into practice yourself would be entirely dependent on whether you decided to (to paraphrase Picasso) merely borrow a few of their tricks or just barefacedly went ahead and stole them.

In the year that Neil Harrison bows out after thirty one years of pretending to be John Lennon in The Bootleg Beatles, I think we can be excused just one more trip up the memory lane we still call the A16, can’t we? Besides, I need to impress someone with my Spalding trivia. The first barcode in the UK was used in 1979 in Spalding market. I can’t wait for the crowd reaction when I spring that little beauty on ‘em!

*Tell Me Why is a good example – most of the song takes place within two frets’ reach of the next chord at any one time. All My Loving is another – up two, down two, across one, that sort of thing. The main difficulty with that one is not breaking into Hold My Hand by The Rutles halfway through

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