I’m a proponent of taking multiple, potentially unfinished and even disparate fragments destined for the nowhereland and fusing them into a unified confection. And thus the whole prevails over the parts.
For the moment I refer to writing. This often happens without any conscious premeditation. How much of the unfinished and fragmentary I’ve long hoarded to then, on a whim, combine, albeit less gracefully than your Lego pieces, into a monolithic, winged, fire-breathing, mechanical juggernaut.
But that’s not precisely what this concerns. Let’s focus on music, where the phenomenon can take place to astounding effect.
I don’t refer to symphonic or even progressive developments that usually presuppose a multi-suite compositional method, however diversely one might acquire shape. And we don’t typically ascribe the traits disparate and unfinished to classical music.
I refer to the more vulgar embraces of plain rock. Not Bohemian Rhapsody. Not even rock operas, which likewise preordain the splicing of fragments. Plain rock, where I can’t recall this achieved as stellarly as the Beatles and subsequently Paul McCartney.
Sgt Pepper’s A day in the life might as well serve as the epiphany: two fairly decent yet unfinished songs (one by Lennon, the other McCartney’s) fuse together into a surreal epic. Really, who feels not the goosebumps as McCartney’s last phrase hauntingly transfuses into Lennon’s chant tout à coup?
Of the album Let it Be, Two of Us and I’ve got a Feeling both interlace Lennon and McCartney fragments, in this time a simpler and more sentimental arrangement.
Abbey Road’s side B comprises of two medleys, or one[?] - though I perceive a clear break between She came in through and Golden Slumbers. Regardless, the medleys seamlessly connect numerous songs, often fragmentary (particularly the Lennon’s) into a continuous suite. After decades of listening, I can’t imagine any but that format, though can totally rationalize Lennon’s scorn. The medley approach is not strictly of the rugged old school of rock. Or perhaps he saw this as merely a bunch of wimpy songs not glorified by unification.
McCartney further exercises the craft post-Beatles. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, one of the most powerful tracks of Ram among many (the album lives up to the best of the Beatles as far as I’m concerned), literally came to being out of two disparate songs. But the end product!
The Wings' medley Hold Me Tight/Lazy Dynamite/Hands Of Love/Power Cut is a clever devil: so subtle I can hardly perceive the transitions but fully attent.
McCartney’s epic Egypt Station produced a whopping forty-six years later, delivers Despite Repeated Warnings and Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link, each a fusion of arrangements.
I’d only recently listened to some of these McCartney albums in their completion; some, for the first time, most of my life somehow fixated more on the Beatles. What a legend … Before and after. Now and then.
Among other favourite bands, I’ve occasionally perceived the method within Red Hot Chili Peppers and Radiohead music. David Bowie seemed to likewise favour the approach. But can’t remember all cases nor care to compile an exhaustive survey.
Anyway, I’ll leave you there. Join ideas.
Questions, comments? Connect.