Here’s the unedited version of Thursday’s National Post Diary
Today was day one of rehearsals for the Art of Time’s re-imagining of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The musical structures have only been changed enough to illustrate how amazing the original album truly was. Unless you do something different there is no new light shed on anything. There’s the old adage that each time you listen to a Beatles record you find something you’ve never heard before. The arrangers on this project are true fans who went digging through this album to unearth all the hidden gems and polish them bright. They’ve preserved all the beautiful colours and then thrown those colours back at the canvas to startling effect.
Steven Page, John Mann, Andy Maize and I are “the singers”. We’re fans too. We’re using our own voices that have been somewhat shaped by years of Beatle appreciation but are definitely our own. We’ve “made our faces” as they say. Anyway, we’re not going to be successful as a tribute act because none of us plays drums and there is no call for “the Beatles as they may have looked in middle age”. We are, however, bursting with admiration for this music and really enjoying ourselves. The artistic director Andrew would never say it directly but I get to sing a lot of John Lennon’s parts because I sing through my nose a lot more than the others do. I made my own face but I guess the shnoz ran away on me. So…
I get to sing “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”. Jonathan Goldsmith’s new arrangement has me feeling even more stoned than the Beatles were when they made it. It’s amazing. I told him I feel like I’m underwater while I’m singing it and come up for air at the end. As a kid I thought all these songs were so weird and indecipherable. I gave up on lyrical analysis and just rocked. It’s strange to discover, upon singing “LSD”, that it is as linear and straightforward a story as any country song. The only thing different is the pursuit of the girl takes place in a world where taxis are made of newspaper, the odd person is made of plasticine, and you have to bushwhack through giant cellophane flowers. No big deal. Been there before. If you took a few of those weird things out, stuck to the story, and put a cowboy hat on the guy, it would make a great CMT video.