George Martin and the Beatles: A Producer’s Impact, in Five Songs

from NYTs

When we hear a great recording, we tend to think of the music as having sprung fully developed from the imagination of the musician or band that cut the tracks. But that ignores the role of the producer, who translates the musician’s vision into the sound we experience.

The contributions that George Martin, who died Tuesday at 90, made to the Beatles’ recorded catalog were crucial, and although he was the first to say that most of the credit belongs to the band, many of the group’s greatest songs owe their sound and character to his inspired behind-the-scenes work. Here are a few of his most telling musical fingerprints:

More here.

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One Comment

  1. As a die-hard Beatles fan, I enjoyed reading this article very much. George Martin is often referred to as the “Fifth Beatle” and these examples of how he shaped some of their most well-known songs show how important he was. I know Lennon has said that Martin’s influence was less than what people believed, but I think that was just his ego talking. Martin was there for almost every Beatles project and his influence can be heard in their music in more than just these five songs talked about in the article. The Beatles were known for being extremely creative and doing things that have never been done before, like using an orchestra in “A Day in the Life”, and creating a “carnival atmosphere” on “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”. These were the original ideas of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr, but they couldn’t have been brought to life so well if it weren’t for the help of their producer.

    All five songs talked about in this article are songs that all Beatles fans know, and each of these songs are very different. “Yesterday” is a beautiful but at the same time very simplistic song, where McCartney is the only member of the Beatles who worked on it. “A Day in the Life” is incredibly complex, where Lennon and McCartney contributed verses and the song ends with a climactic orchestral section that closes out “Sgt. Pepper”, possibly the Beatles’ greatest achievement. But the constant throughout is the thoughtful and precise contributions made by George Martin. Whether it is doing something as simple as adding strings to “Yesterday” to give it a more emotional feel, or matching multiple overdubs of orchestral instruments to somehow create a masterpiece that is “A Day in the Life”. George Martin may not have been an official member of the Beatles, but without his help and his ability to add onto the strengths of the Beatles members in so many ways, I don’t think the Beatles would have been as ground-breaking as they were.

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