By: Stevie White.
Sitting in a halfway filled auditorium Tuesday morning at 11 a.m., people shuffle in, a crowd ranging from music appreciation students, to a more mature audience, with a personal attachment to those referred to as “The Fab Four”. As it comes time to begin, the CBS film crew begin rolling, and Dr. Kenneth Womack takes the podium to begin his lecture, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! The Evolving Artistry of The Beatles”.
“It is cheap, anyone can play it, and you don’t need to know the words,” said Womack, referring to what seemed to be an off-topic subject, about “the Skiffle craze” that broke out in the UK in the 1950’s. This craze, though, was the undeniable beginning of The Beatles’ journey, since John Lennon was a leader of his very own Skiffle band a few years before being a co-leader of The Beatles.
One of the biggest milestones Womack touched on in the lecture was the meeting of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, which happened on July 6, 1957.
“They were real people who came together and worked really hard,” said Womack. “And they thought ambitiously about the future.” But was their goal to become revolutionary rock stars, like they had done? “They dreamed of becoming big-time Broadway composers,” said Womack, a little known fact about the Lennon-McCartney duo.
He also explained a key factor in The Beatles catchy songs, other than the “show tune” quality of them. “It is called the middle eight,” said Womack, “and it comes right after the chorus.” This is a song writing pattern found in many Beatles songs, said to be a secret weapon that helped lead to their success.
Another secret weapon Womack talked about was a man named Sir George Martin, who he said to be “the fifth Beatle, if there was one.”
“He said he could work with them if they could be funny and humorous,” said Womack. He helped them to write songs, and also developed a type of song style referred to as the “wind-up piano”. This style of piano is features in songs such as A Hard Day’s Night, In My Life, Lovely Rita, and Rocky Raccoon.
He concluded the lecture with a clip from The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964, encouraging those to watch for Ringo Starr’s facial expression on the second close up, later explaining at that point in the show he could no longer hear the band.
After he was done speaking, he answered any questions, and met with audience members.