Snippets from 'Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles' by Geoff Emerick
Dec 29, 2020
I read this book looking for inspiration from one of my favorite bands and their recording engineer, Geoff Emerick. Emerick’s responsible for the cutting edge, fantastic engineering on some of my favorite Beatles records: Revolver, Sgt Pepper, and Abbey Road. I highly recommend the book. It was an insightful page turner. Here are a few snippets that stuck with me as I read.
“It was because of those very limitations that we were put on the spot, forced to make creative decisions every step of the way.”
If you didn’t know (I didn’t), Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was recorded on a 4 track! Both Geoff Emerick and George Martin have said that if the album had been recorded on a 16 track or even an 8 track, it wouldn’t have been nearly as good. I’ve certainly experienced situations where limitations can lead to an even greater amount of creativity and I’m excited to work this philosophy into my writing. Some ideas I’ve come up with:
- Limiting myself to only 4 tracks in my DAW to replicate the feel of a 4 track
- Restricting the instruments available
- Using just a couple mics to record the entire song, regardless of the instrumentation
A 4 track similar to what The Beatles used to record Sgt Pepper: (Photo by Josephenus P. Riley)
“You’ve got to start somewhere, even if you make mistakes along the way.”
This quote is in reference to the somewhat unsuccessful Magical Mystery Tour movie. It didn’t get great reviews! I underlined this quote as a reminder that it’s okay to create lackluster work right off the bat - in fact it’s pretty much a guarantee that this will happen. Even Sir Paul McCartney has missteps. Have you ever heard Temporary Secretary?
“The hit’s down there, not in here.”
The Beatles recorded most of their work in Studio Two at Abbey Road and the control room is up a flight of steps, far away from the actual room where the musicians are when they’re recording. So when Geoff Emerick says that the hit’s “down there”, he’s referring to fact that the words and music are the most important component - engineering can only take a song so far. Ultimately, it all starts and ends with the song. I want to keep that in mind: spend more time on the song rather than the knobs or faders.
Studio Two at Abbey Road: (Photo by Tom Swain)
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