You know, once you start looking, there are lessons everywhere.
This morning, I was taking my son, Patrick, to school. We were listening to the Beatles- Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Patrick’s in the process of making demos in his bedroom recording studio, which provides me with steady “proud daddy” moments.
Anyway, we were talking about the Beatles.
They had an interesting problem- their drummer, compared to other drummers at their level, was… not to put too fine a point on it, but compared to,say Ginger Baker (Cream) or Charlie Watts (Rolling Stones), “weak.”
Ginger and Charlie had strong jazz backgrounds and playing rock was really “playing down” for them.
Not the case with Ringo.
They also had another problem, that would have destroyed a lesser group. Their best lead guitar player was singing and playing bass. Their next best guitar player was also singing lead and providing the strong rhythm guitar that drove the band.
That left George- who, in time, became a wonderful guitar player. However, when he joined the band, he was the same age as my son- 17- and compared to the lead guitar players in other bands of the time- Peter Green, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, just to name a few, he was pretty weak, too.
I can just imagine John and Paul sharing a stout at the pub, talking this over. They weren’t about to let little things like this keep them from conquering
the world. They were building an empire, and realized, rightly, that problems can be turned into opportunities.
The might have had a “what’s working, what’s not working meeting.” They knew they had great songs, great harmonies and melodies, a great producer, and an unlimited budget, which gave them access to symphony orchestras.
By recognizing the weakness of their drummer, they came up with some of the most creative rhythm tracks in history.
There are tracks where Paul played drums. There are hand-claps, tambourines, anvils, animal sounds, backward cymbals, car horns, all used as drums. Much more interesting than just a “good” drummer, but if they’d had a good drummer, they would never have looked for the alternatives.
There are places on Abbey Road, for example, where there are two complete drum kits playing at the same time, while a third snare is accenting the downbeat. By using technology and creativity, they were able to overcome what could have been a devastating problem.
They were equally creative with the guitar problem.
On the early albums, they solved the problem by ignoring it, and the lead guitar parts were so simple that pre-teens in bedrooms all over America were able to learn them. Some of them bought the albums because the guitar parts were simple- I know, I’m one of them. With just a few notes, I could be a “Beatle.” Brilliant.
Later, they would outsource- there are oboe, trumpet, violin, kazoo and “na, na, na’s” where a band with a great guitar player would have put guitar solos.
When they absolutely had to have a world-class guitar solo, they hired Eric Clapton to play it. Good choice. That beautiful solo on George’s song, “While my Guitar Gently Weeps,” is Eric, and it’s one of the high-points of western civilization, in my opinion.
On Abbey Road, again, towards the end of side 2 (yes, I’m that old), there is a 3-guitar shoot-out, where George, Paul, and John take turns playing their hottest licks. John always said that he won the shoot-out, but if that’s Paul on the Les Paul, I’d disagree.
Of course, by the time the “White” album came out, the Beatles weren’t really speaking to each other, and this led to John, Paul and George playing all the instruments on their songs- which is also how I make my CDs. Technology rocks.
I’m assuming Ringo spent some time at the pub.
Now, all these years later, what lessons can we learn from the Fab Four?
1. Every problem is an opportunity.
We all have our gifts- our talents
and abilities- but none of us has ALL of them.
Be honest with yourself about what your gifts and talents are. In the places where you’re weak, realize that you are free. It’s liberating, once you get used to it. If you want an e-book empire, but can’t write- congratulations. You’ve got the public domain, and there have been some serious fortunes made with public domain works. You can go to elance.com and hire a writer- they’re cheap. You can speak your thoughts, and record them- and sell the recordings. You can interview others and record the interview- products are everywhere.
2. Don’t let the lack of some resource stop you from making your dreams come true. Once you know what you don’t have, you can creatively find ways to use what you do have to get your project done.
Excuses are wonderful, aren’t they? Once you’ve got a good one, you can hide behind it for years.
Recognize excuses for what they are, delete them, and turn your problems into opportunities. If you don’t have money, a huge list, or a clue, team up with someone who does, and succeed anyway.
Then write a book about how you did it, and sell the book.
Keep your eyes open- opportunities are everywhere.
Work at home, or from anywhere – http://www.patobryan.com