The Beatles Song That Left David Crosby “Stunned”


Every music lover will be able to remember when they heard the song that changed their life. For David Crosby of Crosby, Stills & Nash, that moment came on a cold day in 1967, at a time when The Beatles were putting the finishing touches on their pioneering concept album. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band.

Upon its release, the LP melted the spongy minds of countless young people with its incorporation of experimental production techniques for concrete music and avant-garde songwriting. Crosby was one of the first to hear what is arguably the best track from that phenomenal album, “A Day In The Life,” a song so intoxicating that even the coldest critics were forced to recognize its brain glow. .

‘A Day In The Life’ acts as the mind-blowing closing track of Sgt. Peppers. It’s an absolutely fearless piece of writing, an utterly transcendent piece that you’d be forgiven for thinking fell from a space rock in orbit. Even John Lennon, who was notoriously critical of his own composition, knew he and Paul McCartney were on to something. ‘A day in the life’ – that was something. I dug it, ”Lennon recalls. “It was a good job between Paul and me. I got the track “Read the News Today”, and it turned Paul on. Every once in a while we really get turned on with a little song, and he just said “yeah” – bang, bang, like that. It just happened wonderfully.

Half the joy of ‘A Day in the Life’ lies in its lyrics, and the other half lies in its production. Lennon’s Dadaist approach imbues his lyrics with a fractured and highly surreal quality, characterized by this mysterious line: “He blew his mind in a car / He didn’t notice the lights had changed / A crowd of people if I had seen his face before / No one was really sure he belonged to the House of Lords. Lennon’s words capture both the mundane and the fantastic, mixing these two opposites into what feels like a diaristic observation of the eccentricities of everyday life.

For David Crosby, the thing that stood out – more than the evocative lyrics – was the purely supernatural nature of The Beatles’ style of production. Speaking in a recent interview, Crosby described the day he first heard ‘A Day in the Life’: “The best thing that ever happened to me was visiting The Beatles when they were doing. Sgt. Pepper, “he started.” I walked in and I was very high up. They made me sit on a stool in the middle of the studio and rolled up two speakers six feet high on either side of me. Then, laughing they walked up the stairs to the control room and left me there. And then they played ‘A Day in the Life.’ At the end of that last chord, my brain just ran out of my nose on the ground in a puddle. I didn’t know what to do, I was just stunned.

This huge final E major is one of the most famous chords in popular music. It was recorded as a replacement for the vocal section which was originally in its place but was deemed inappropriate. Feb. 22, 1967 – each seated on separate grand pianos – Lennon, McCartney, Starr, and Mal Evans all played a resonating E major chord at the same time, with George Martin doing the same on the harmonium. Behind the glass, studio engineers cranked the recording level as high as they could and kept the tape running as the tuning wore off, allowing the reverbs to gradually fade away. The listener is left with only a 40-second drone that slowly dissolves into the walls of the Abbey Road studios. Sound is so complex and so full of harmonics (natural harmonies) that the brain is unable to figure out how to disentangle the sound network it has been confronted with. No wonder Crosby was left speechless.

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