THE BLOG

My Letter to the Beatles

08/14/2012 11:04 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016
  • AG Singer, songwriter

"You realize we shouldn't be doing this right?"

The opening line in my pitch to my producer, Jim Roach, when I came to him with the idea of recording inspired versions of your songs. I am a longtime student of you fab four, and I never appreciated any cover I've heard. To me, your songs are meant to be loved, inspired by, learned from, and left right where they are. The foundation of what we call pop music today. To attempt to reinvent or recreate that foundation would only embarrass the asshole that thinks he can do it. So I knew that either we were going to NAIL it, or miss the mark completely, exiting quietly with our tails between our legs. But I learned early on in my life that nothing that is worth anything comes from being safe, comfortable and risk-free. What are we if not always on the edge of catastrophe or greatness? Isn't that what you always did?

So I'm guessing that line of thinking is what convinced Jim, who is also a die hard fan. That, or the fact that these six songs are the only ones that are not gears in the Sony/ATV Lennon/Yoko/Jackson machine. Which makes them much easier to get out into the world. Personally, I love the fact that these songs are attached to an uncommonly known piece of your history. But in 1962, what were you thinking when you signed that horrible publishing deal, basically giving up ownership of the songs in perpetuity?! Many years went by, and one day the owner of Round Hill Publishing got wind that these songs were floating around in the air. "I'll take those," he probably said, and probably in a very low voice so that no one would try and snatch them from him at the last second. At least that's how it plays out in my head.

As the project started taking more shape, it also started to transform. All of the sudden here I was, for the first time, singing the pronouns I'd been speaking in my personal life for over a decade. Now don't get it twisted... I have not ever been in the closet, in my over 15 years writing and recording songs. But from the beginning I knew that I didn't want my songs to define me, or alienate others. I consciously write gender neutral songs, unless I am singing from a character's perspective. Though it is my job to bring my unique perspective, gender/sexuality, in my mind, plays no part in me getting across an emotion. It is fluid. And I want my music to be heard on neutral ground always. No distractions, fears, politics, religion getting in the way of the song. I have many friends that do write with those things in mind, and I fully support that. That is them offering their unique perspective about what they care about and believe in. What I believe in is equality for all. And I strive to make my career a forum for people to meet on this.

Also, I'm an entertainer. Beatles songs sung by an out Lez? Entertaining. It was entertaining in the '60s too, when you hit the scene, and didn't look like your average male rock star. You were adorable, non-threateningly were well put together and sung about wanting to hold your hand. Many argue that that gender-bending image played a huge part in what catapulted you to stardom.

As a student of the Beatles, learning these songs, and then unlearning them through my perspective, was a huge challenge. I had to find what I loved about each of them, because that was where I wanted to be singing them from. "Misery" was probably my least favorite song (sorry)... Until I read the lyrics. And then I sat down on the piano and sang the lyrics as I heard them, haunting and vulnerable as they are. Copy/paste that approach to every song on the EP.

I often struggle with wanting to write rip-your-heart-out and I-never-want-to-stop-dancing-to-this songs. So, on this EP, I did both. And I get to sing about chicks without alienating anyone. And I get to stand up in front of the classroom and present my project, for all to see, and for you to grade.

Your humble student, with love and respect,
AG