Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles
I read a lot of music books. I've got a pile of them called things like Tips From Great Record Engineers, which will be endless stories of what microphone they used on the snare drum and stuff. They're specialist to say the least. I've been trying to get back into just reading for pleasure and I suppose also for inspiration, and not trying to get quite so hung up on the technical side of things.
But this book offers the best of both worlds. It's the autobiography of Geoff Emerick, the guy who engineered a lot of the Beatles' most important albums. Being a lifelong Beatles fan, I've read pretty much every book on them that there is. I don't think this one is massively well-known, but I've found it, as a musician, much more insightful, exciting and atmospheric than pretty much any of the others. It's got so much about the creative process of the Beatles. It was interesting to read about the way they spent their time in the studio. You always have this sort of image of the Beatles turning up in a chaotic mess, recording a masterpiece in about three hours, and then speeding off in an E-type Jag to some trendy club. But it really gives you an impression of how hard they worked and how much time they put into their writing and pre-production before they started recording stuff, working out harmonies and polishing up songs. For instance, he talks about sitting there with Paul McCartney all night working on a bassline note by note. I found it quite encouraging, because you always imagine that these guys had an almost supernatural talent to put down these amazing songs and productions without even thinking about it. It's kind of reassuring to know that they had to work really hard for it too.
It's a very, very interesting book if you're into learning about the actual creative process of a band. And this kind of book really does help you as a musician. I was actually reading it while I was writing songs for Perfect Symmetry, and I remember finding it very exciting and having that feeling of being in a room while great music is being made, which is definitely inspiring. It makes you think, "Oh, I could sit at a piano now and try and write a song like that." You get this surge of excitement and a feeling that you can do it too. And that's always a really, really great feeling.
(This book is not currently in print, but you should be able to find it on eBay or through Amazon sellers)
Tim's Book Club #1