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Sir George Martin
In My Life
I have lost count of the number of records I have produced in my life, but whatever the amount, inevitably there has to be a final one. That being so, why leave it to chance? Why don’t I decide what it should be? Let it be one I would remember with affection, one that would be enjoyable to make as well as to hear.
I had an idea. I would ask some of my friends and heroes, people I had always liked and admired, to join me in the music that has been a big part of my life. It would be a salute to them, too. The Beatles, of course are my friends and heroes, but they could hardly be part of it, so instead I could select their songs and fit them to some unlikely voices.
It has been wonderful for me to have worked with so many great artists in my life; there are far too many to name and this is my way of saying thanks to them.
I thought of the record I made with Peter Sellers performing ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, when I persuaded him to use his Laurence Olivier voice in a great Richard III send-up. Come to think of it, there are many great people I have often wanted to capture on disc, and this was definitely the time. It has been a happy task, and we have all had an enormous amount of fun. Just a shame I could not reach Django, Miles, Hendrix or Gary Cooper, Cary Grant or Rita Hayworth.
1. Come Together
Robin Williams & Bobby McFerrin
One of the joys of making this album was being able to work alongside some of my idols. Although we had not met before, I had the nerve to contact Robin Williams and ask him if he felt like going out on a limb and singing a Beatles song for me. He suggested bringing in Bobby McFerrin, a great musician whose vocal dexterity is just unbelievable. They are old friends, going back to the ‘Comedy Store’ days, before Robin started his dazzling career in films. Bobby does a good deal of classical work these days, conducting symphony orchestras all over America, and of course Robin never stops filming. So it was a great thrill for me to work with him, but getting them together was not easy; both have very tight schedules. But we snatched a few days in San Francisco, and we had a ball.
2. A Hard Day’s Night
Goldie is just as beautiful, just as funny, just as delightful a person as she seems. I remembered from way back that she could sing, and she was intrigued with the idea of a sophisticated club version of the song. She was about to start to direct a film, so we went to record her in Austin, Texas. (I would go anywhere to hear her giggle). She gave a beautiful, effortless performance; I think we really got it on the third take, bit I couldn’t let her disappear too quickly, could I?
3. A Day In The Life
Many years ago Jeff and I worked together on a couple of albums that seemed to catch the mood of the time and thrill audiences all over the world. ‘Blow By Blow’ in fact has become a classic, and is one of my best collaborations with a great player. It was Jeff’s idea to tackle ‘A Day In The Life’, and he is the one guitarist who can make his instrument sing like a human voice. The orchestra was hardly needed for the climax; the guitar says it all.
4. Here There & Everywhere
This is not only my favorite Paul McCartney song, it is probably his as well, so writing a special arrangement of it for one of my favorite voices was a daunting proposition. I do not think Celine is capable of making anything but a perfect sound, and I was thrilled to hear every take getting better and better. We ended up recording two tracks together; one for my album and one for hers. Both were terrific, and it was a session to remember.
‘Because’ was a strange song for John to write. He got the idea from the arpeggios in Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ but the choral work was really classical Beatles. It has all the ingredients of classical music, so I decided to take it one step further, writing it as a mini concerto for violin for Vanessa Mae, one of the brightest young stars in the world of music.
6. I Am The Walrus
“Let’s face it, George,” John once said, “I don’t expect to walk into a bar in Spain and hear someone whistling ‘I Am The Walrus’.” He knew it wasn’t exactly easy listening. It was, and still is, one of John’s most avant-garde compositions, and it is timeless. He asked me to score it for brass and strings, so I selected just four cellos, two trumpets and twelve singers, and I remember his surprise and delight when it all came together in the studio.
It is deceptively hard to perform, and I knew it required a special person.
Jim Carrey was already a star when I first saw him in ‘The Mask’, but it was his definitive performance in ‘Batman’ that made me a big fan. Here was a guy who seemed to be able to tackle anything. A naturally funny person, completely extrovert, he was marvelous to work with, and I am sure John would have loved this version of his song.
7. Here Comes The Sun
John Williams is not only a good friend but certainly one of my heroes. Without doubt he is the finest classical guitar player in the world, and he is avidly interested in all forms of music, continually exploring new territories and techniques. Whether it is a great guitar concerto or a collaboration with a jazz master, delving into the avant-garde or playing a rock song, he is always at ease. And he seems capable of playing absolutely everything brilliantly.
8. Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite
Laughter, I believe, is the best cure for any ill, and I have been very lucky to work with many people who have spent their lives making others feel good. Billy Connolly has such a talent. I have been helpless with laughter at times listening to his logical absurdities and his comments on the bizarre side of human nature, and he has now matured into being one of our finest actors. It is fairly well known that in the decade before the Beatles I had acquired some sort of reputation producing comedy records with artists such as Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan, Flanders & Swann and the ‘Beyond The Fringe’ crowd. Who better than Billy Connolly to act as ringmaster for our show? A splendid time is guaranteed for all!
9. The Pepperland Suite
“Pepperland”, “March of the Meanies”, “Sea of Monsters”, “Pepperland” reprise.
The Beatles originally hated the idea of being featured in the cartoon film Yellow Submarine, but they were won over by the brilliant style of its director George Dunning. My film score was one of the few orchestral pieces to be featured on any Beatle record, and the opening theme actually became a hit in Brazil. In the film, Pepperland was the paradise community that was overrun by those nasty Blue Meanies, who left it devastated, lifeless and grey. The Sea of Monsters was just one hazard the Yellow Submarine had to go through before our heroes triumphed and restored Pepperland to its former glory. This is a short excerpt from the film score.
10. Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight, The End
The end of the Abbey Road album is for me one of the best examples of how rock music can work well within a classical format. I have always loved the piece, although it is seldom heard. Phil loves it too, and it is a perfect vehicle for his talents. He sings the lead, back-up vocals and plays all the drum parts, including a specially lengthened solo. No doubt if I had given him time he would have played all the orchestral parts too. A marvelous performer and a great pal.
11. Friends And Lovers
Imagine an evening in beautiful countryside, watching the sun go down beyond the horizon and thinking of many old and well loved friends. I was on the island of Montserrat not long after John’s death when I composed this melody that I could not get out of my mind. Not really suitable for a song, it would have been useful as a film theme if I had one to do. So I orchestrated it with the inspiration of the beautiful land that I was in, and put it aside for another day. It was eventually used as a theme in a recording of ‘Under Milk Wood’ which I produced with Anthony Hopkins in the role of First Voice. Now at last I have gone back to its origin, and thinking of John, I have linked it to his lovely song which is the theme of this album
12. In My Life
On the original version John left a hole in the song for an instrumental section, and while he was away having dinner I recorded a keyboard solo like a Bach two part invention. He loved it, and it has remained an integral part of the song ever since.
There are only a few voices in this world which are completely unmistakable. When you hear the voice of Sean Connery you know who it is after one syllable. I wanted to finish with the poignant lyrics of ‘In My Life’, and I cannot think there is anybody else who can give them the meaning that Sean does. He is a hero, not just to me, but to almost everyone I know.
Produced by George Martin & Giles Martin
Orchestrated and conducted by George Martin.
Engineered by Rupert Coulson.
Additional engineering by Geoff Foster, Andy Strange, Steve Orchard, Umberto Gatica,
Tim Lauber, Stephen Hart & Larry Sayers.
Mixed by Rupert Coulson and Chris Sheldon.
Assistant engineers John Bailey, Paul Epworth, Steve Fontano, Ricky Graham, Ben Georgiades, Lior Goldenberg, Claire Lewis & Nick Wollage.
Recorded at Air Studios Lyndhurst, London; Bismeaux, Texas; Fantasy Studios, San Francisco;
The Record Plant, Los Angeles.
Mixed at Air Studios Lyndhurst, Metropolis, The Church.
Mastered by Tony Cousins at Metropolis Mastering Studio.
Orchestral contractor George Hamer.
Thanks to the following musicians & singers, Robbie McIntosh, Trevor Barry, Ian Thomas, John Giblin, Paul (Wix) Wickens, Richard Cottle, Steve Ferrara, Pino Paladino, Dave Hartley, Hugh Burns, Mitch Dalton, The Chamber Orchestra Of London, Mea McKenna, Miriam Stockley, Phil Nichol, Robert Fardell, Jacqueline Barron, Mike Smith, Dave Olney, S. Williams, Robin McGee, Jeffrey Hellmer, Carina Contarini, Brenda Wilbert & Graham Preskett.
Thanks also to Steve Lewis, Emma Kelly, John Chuter, Chris Griffin, Claire Singers, Isobel Griffiths, Martine Draper, Alison Burton.
Jeff Beck appears courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment Inc.
Celine Dion appears courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment (Canada) Inc. Vanessa Mae appears courtesy of EMI Records.
John Williams appears courtesy of Sony Classical.
Phil Collins appears courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corporation.
All song published by Northern Songs. Except track 11 - published by George Martin Music/Notting Hill Music.
Photography in the centre spread by: Linda McCartney, Henry Diltz, Leslie Bryce, Robert Freeman, George Martin.
Photograph on back inlay by Robert Wyatt.
Design & Art Direction by www.eyetoeye.com
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© 1998 The Echo Label Ltd. under exclusive license to MCA Records Inc.