Terry Burrows new book, The Beatles: It Was 50 Years Ago Today, is full of replica mementos to go along with the history of the band. But I’ll let him tell you more about that. And at the end of the interview, you’ll have a chance to win a copy of it!
Terry Burrows: I think it must be one of the most luxurious printed packages ever devoted to the Beatles. But I would say that, wouldn’t I! There’s a big, attractive book that includes reproductions of lots of Beatles memorabilia – like tickets, postcards and posters – and even incorporates a DVD. And it comes in a nice big box. I’d like it if someone gave it to me as a present… if I didn’t already have a copy, anyway. And it’s the perfect Valentine’s gift! What better way of saying “I Love You” than with a nice big Beatles book? You have Valentine’s Day over there, don’t you? [I'm in London.]
MT: What part did you play in deciding what types or pieces would be included?
TB: I didn’t have too much to do with locating original pieces to copy, but I suggested possible items that would be closely tied in with the text at specific points in the book. But as a long-standing Beatles fan it was tremendously exciting to have access to all of this historic ephemera.
MT: What was your first exposure to the Beatles?
TB: As a kid, because of my age, I was first more familiar with Paul McCartney & Wings! I think the first Beatles music I remember hearing was from the Red and Blue compilation albums. I do remember “Lady Madonna” being a particular early favourite from that time. When I was about 15 someone bought me the NME Book of Rock, which was a big A-Z dictionary of rock bands. By that time I had weekend job selling hot dogs at the local speedway track and I used to spend absolutely all of the money I earned on albums. I worked through the NME book getting hold of all of their classic recommendations – which is where I first encountered great ’60s and ’70s bands like The Doors, Velvet Underground and Love. Through this route I quickly got hold of ALL of the Beatles albums, which had a huge impact on my taste – not to mention my own music. At first it was Revolver, Sgt Pepper’s and Abbey Road that I latched onto, but later The White Album became my favourite – I enjoyed the remastered version of which came out about four years ago. I went through “bootleg” phase as well: when I was on tour in Germany during the 1990s I found a small CD shop that sold lots of them, and I found one that documented the various stages of development of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and had the most psychedelic mix of “Tomorrow Never Knows” imaginable. A few years later I was at Air Studios in London where I got to ask George Martin about all of this stuff. He was tremendously polite, but I think he may have quite liked that my questions were quite a bit nerdier than what he was used to answering.
MT: You’ve recorded a lot of your own music over the years and you’ve also published several books. How does your experience in the studio inform your writing?
TB: Yes, I’ve written, recorded and performed a great deal over the years. About 60 books and I’ve lost count of the number musical releases. I’ve even done bit of university teaching. Since a significant number of my books are very specifically about how to play music then my experiences have been critical. I think my tuition titles, which have sold in pretty large quantities, work well because I’m not a great musician as such, albeit professionally competent, so I might possibly have a better understanding than a virtuoso player of the problem areas facing most ordinary players. But the thrust of these books at heart is to yeah people enough of the basics that they can go away and make their own music.
Regarding the Beatles, I think a musical training and a lot of experience in studio recording has perhaps given me an awareness – of the mechanics of how the Beatles’ music came together and why it works from a technical/compositional point of view – that some non-musician biographers might not have… or at least so strongly.
MT: What are you currently working on?
TB: I’ve just got back from Berlin where I was playing with my current band, Tonesucker. We have a new album out at www,onoma.co.uk. And now I’m just edging toward the end of massive new book called 1001 Guitars which has profiles of… er… 1001 different guitars! That will be out in the Autumn… sorry, I mean Fall!
MT: Can you recommend some of your favorite music tomes?
TB: Ooh blimey. Where to start? Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of Scales… Derek Bailey’s Improvisation… Paul Morley’s Words and Music: The History of Pop in the Shape of a City… Zen Guitar by Phlip Toshio Sudo… John Cage’s Silence… Victor Wooten’s The Music Lesson has some good simple ideas although is a little too much new age syrup for my own tastes… he’s an incredible musician, though…The Songwriter’s Rhyming Dictionary by Sammy Cahn…. The Rest Is Noise by Alex Ross… As far as the Beatles are concerned, Philip Norman’s Shout is a great piece of writing and for the nerdier Beatles fan anything by Mark Lewisohn. That should be enough for you to be getting on with!
|If you’re a Beatles fan, you’re going to enjoy this book. The deluxe edition comes as Terry decribed it, in a box with over 30 replicated pieces of memorabilia and a DVD of archival footage. I’ll be gving one of these away at random, drawn from the comments on this post. All you have to do is tell us what you’re favorite Beatles song is!|