A Beatles Journey: Geoff Emerick
An alternative title for this book might have been, “When I was fifteen I got a really cool job working at E.M.I. and got to work with The Beatles”.
Geoff Emerick’s book, Here, There and Everywhere – My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles, is both a memoir and an archive. It not only chronicles Emerick’s personal experience and interactions with The Beatles, but it paints a vivid picture of how many of The Beatles songs – for which Emerick was involved producing – were produced and recorded. It is this that attracted me most to this book, and I found it to be absolutely fascinating. It’s a ‘behind the scenes’ look at what went on not just at the E.M.I. Abbey Road Studios, but later at Apple, AIR, and even Lagos, Nigeria where Paul McCartney and Wings recorded the Band On The Run album. There’s a lot of who played what instrument on which track in the book, as well as how it was recorded, how it was mixed and ultimately how it was produced. The whole recording process really came alive and, at points, I almost felt as if I were there, experiencing it all for myself. In addition, the author sheds a great deal of light on The Beatles creative process, and how their songs were shaped and molded from concept to completion.
Of course Mr. Emerick has quite a bit to say regarding the interactions of the band members during the sessions, and the evolution (or de-evolution) of their relationships… but other than the sorted details – all from Geoff Emerick’s point of view – are nothing that we didn’t already know, with The Beatles ultimately breaking up in the end. I found Emerick’s perspective on all this to be entertaining and enjoyable to read, although in reviews I’ve read about the book, Geoff Emerick’s has been accused of being (of all things) biased.
Well, of course he is biased… he was there.
In the title of the book it reads “My life recording the music of The Beatles”. Having read several ‘insider’ books, from Beatles tour reporter Larry Kane, Brian Epstein’s assistant and Beatle friend Tony Bramwell and Beatles producer George Martin, each book holds elements of bias, as each was written from the perspective and opinion of the respective author. Like me, Emerick was clearly pro-Paul McCartney, and made no bones about favoring Macca over the other three. At the same time, he wasn’t wholly unfair to John Lennon, particularly in the absurdity of the bringing a bed into the studio for Yoko to sleep in while they recorded. However endearing Lennon’s antics may be to avid Beatles fans, I can understand why Emerick saw them as an absurd distraction. He was pretty hard on George Harrison, but, again, it was his perception and his book… and I enjoyed every minute of it.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn some of the goings-on in the studio during The Beatles recording sessions, and applaud the Grammy Award winning Geoff Emerick on his role in helping to create The Beatles recordings. With great humility he shows gratitude to the artistry of the band for creating great music for him to mix and engineer, and for the most part stays away from drama for drama’s sake. He was not nearly as critical of Yoko Ono as Tony Bramwell was in his memoir, nor as dismissive of George Harrison as Larry Kane was in his books. I think he was fair in an entertaining way, even giving credit to Harrison in the end after minimizing his contributions earlier in the book.
Geoff Emerick was the Balance Engineer, turned Engineer, turned Producer, and I found his book Here, There and Everywhere – My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles to be written from that perspective. In many ways, he may have been the luckiest fifteen year old of the sixties – right time, right place, and a place ever etched in Beatles lore.
For other thoughts and suggested reading on The Beatles, click here