It sounds like this........
The secret of The Beatles sound (well, Lennon's technique mostly) was revealed to me in a local pub, by an old boy known as Music John - 'He played Banjo chords on guitar' John whispered with lowered tones and knowing nods. If you've ever dabbled with guitar techniques and Beatles tunes, you'll know the Fab's catalogue is coloured with quirky chord shapes and unique sequences, unlike anything you'll find in other rocker's songbooks. It's these same singing, ringing chords and magical combo's that defines a demarcation line between disciples and disbelievers....
Roger McGuinn 'The chord changes really had magic in them'
Bob Dylan 'They were doing things nobody was doing. Their chords were outrageous, just outrageous'
Steve Jones 'The rest of us hate the Beatles. And it turned out he (Glen Matlock) loves them. He came up with all these Beatles influenced chords and melodies that I couldn't play.
From the moment it's first Cllaaaaaanggggg rang around the world, the opening chord to A Hard Day's Night has been the Holy Grail (and basis for raging debates and dissertations on the mechanics of the chord) for guitar anoraks, plectrum analysers and Beatologists. George Harrison settled, but didn't solve the mystery in 2001.
George Harrison' It is F with a G on top (on the 12-string), but you'll have to ask Paul about the bass note to get the proper story'
The principles of the 'proper story' are:Fadd9 is the George chord, (you'll hear this being picked during the closing coda) but the recording is a composite of overdubbed instruments playing additional notes. Meaning, the chord required for solo players is - G7sus4. The full theory and breakdown is here. My home made recreation of Fadd9 and extra instrumentation is here.......
But, getting back to Music John's revelation, Lennon was shown banjo shapes by his mother Julia. As his style developed he rounded out his chord library with more conventional shapes, but always coloured his compositions with these peculiar voicings. But it wasn't just the chords that were non-standard. Musicians of the early sixties typically favoured, shiny new Fenders in jet age shapes and Cadillac colours. Not The Beatles - their kit and instruments were a collection of oddities and eye-openers.
Music John's banjo chords theory, is only one component tone of The Beatles signature mix. Build in Lennon's love of descending bass lines, Ringo's left handed drummer/right handed kit arrangement Macca being the reluctant bass player reinventing the form, and the north-south divide of blues boomers versus country lovers (why the Stones honk out riffs and the Fabs chime with arpeggios) and inspiration and influences taken from an assortment of sources, soul imports, Little Richard squeals, Motown hits, music hall melodies - and the harmonics of the hit makers starts to take shape.
Zip to 00:48 of Chuck Berry's You Can't Catch Me - and you'll find a line mainly famous as Beatles refrain, or Bobby Parker's opening riff for Watch Your Step, which Lennon openly admits was recycled for handful of Fab anthems.
Piley and I set about our eleventh podcast later this week, with sound-a-likes being the motif of the moment. So expect to hear some more 'sounds familiar' acts and tracks at some point soon.
Shabby Road Studios - keyboard not pictured