Thursday, August 8, 2013

"It's contrapuntal, man!"

I'm open to correction, but it strikes me that the most talked-about Beatles song of 2013 has been "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!." Weird, no? It owes to Paul's (questionable) decision to dust off the Sgt. Pepper's circus curio for his current tour. In my humble opinion, it ill-fits the stage (follow the appropriate link here to arrive at your own conclusion). But I do salute Macca for keeping his set-lists fresh. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, he elaborated on the history of "Kite!" and the thought process that led to its resurrection. Interesting remarks.
You've added a few new Beatles songs to the set – "Lovely Rita," "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" and "All Together Now." What's it like playing those live for the first time ever?
That's challenging. I mean, something like "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" is hard to do. Ask a bass player who sings. It's contrapuntal, man! It really is. I've got to sing a melody that's going to one place, and then I've got to play this bassline that's going to other places. It's a concentration thing. But that's half the fun of the show. I'm still practicing, still trying to figure it out, particularly on the new numbers. It's like, "How does this one go again?"
What made you want to revisit those particular songs?
Well, for instance, "Mr. Kite" is such a crazy, oddball song that I thought it would freshen up the set. Plus the fact that I'd never done it. None of us in the Beatles ever did that song [in concert]. And I have great memories of writing it with John. I read, occasionally, people say, "Oh, John wrote that one." I say, "Wait a minute, what was that afternoon I spent with him, then, looking at this poster?" He happened to have a poster in his living room at home. I was out at his house, and we just got this idea, because the poster said "Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite" – and then we put in, you know, "there will be a show tonight," and then it was like, "of course," then it had "Henry the Horse dances the waltz." You know, whatever. "The Hendersons, Pablo Fanques, somersets…" We said, "What was 'somersets'? It must have been an old-fashioned way of saying somersaults." The song just wrote itself. So, yeah, I was happy to kind of reclaim it as partially mine. But like I said, you've got to look what you're doing when you play that one.
Does it feel like you're coming full circle when you sing those words in front of these huge crowds after all those years?
You know, it's more a question of what a delight it is to finally play it. We played it when we recorded it – for instance, "Mr. Kite," when we recorded it, we laid down the track as a group, and then I put the bass on afterwards, as I often did in those days. So that gave me the opportunity to really think about the bassline and make it melodic. But, of course, if I'd have thought, like, "Tomorrow you're going to have to play this live," I don't think I'd have made it so complicated! "Day Tripper" was another one. I thought, "I just can't do it." It's like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time. It's not that easy to do. You've got to practice up on that. I goofed it a million times in rehearsal. Then, finally, I just thought, "OK, wait a minute, I'll do that . . ." And I worked out how I was going to do it. So it's great for me, reviewing the past, and just thinking, "This is cool." It's still up-to-date. The combination of all of that makes it quite a joy to do.

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