TAP INTO YOUR CREATIVITY
with The Beatles written by: Alexa Drake
an introduction by: George Harrison
Hello there! I’m George Harrison. You might know me as one of the Fab Four of The Beatles. I’ve had a wonderful time working with Alexa to write this book. I really hope you enjoy the lessons that are found on the following pages. We’ve thought up some of the best ways to expand your mind and think more creatively using the music and impact of The Beatles as a starting point. I (along with Ringo, Paul, and John) will be popping up throughout the book to talk with you again! Love from,
an overview Welcome to Tap Into Your Creativity with The Beatles! This book was inspired by and designed after A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech. We will dive into the minds of Paul, John, George, and Ringo and discover how they pushed boundaries in music with their creativity. You will break all 10 mental locks in an attempt to think more openly. After reading this book, you will be able to think of alternative ways to solve problems, come up with creative ideas no one but you could ever dream of, and forget what you’re used to and try something completely new. All four boys will be joining us the whole way through. You’ll get to know them well. Introducing……. The Beatles!
chapter 1: the right answer What is a right answer? Is there always a right answer? It’s easy to get trapped into thinking there is only one acceptable solution to a problem. Look at these four photos of the boys. Which is different from the rest? A
Which photo did you choose as the odd one out? Maybe you chose D because they’re all posing in the same way. Maybe you chose A because they’re all dressed in stripes. Perhaps you chose B because it does not have a colored background like the rest. Or maybe you chose C because they all have the same expression on their faces. In theory, you are right every time! Each photo is different from the others. In other words, there is no right answer, each option is right depending on your point of view.
chapter 1: the right answer As The Beatles continued to make records, their sound began to change. For years, they had been known for their charming, light, and catchy rock and roll tunes. However, as they grew older, they starting chasing a very new sound. And in 1965, Rubber Soul was born. RUBBER SOUL 6th studio record 14 tracks Released December 3, 1965
Rubber Soul was the beginning of a new era for The Beatles. Many fans were confused by the new direction they had decided to take.
“The first reaction to the new sound of Rubber Soul was I don’t like this, I think they’ve lost their minds! What are they thinking, what’s this?”
The release of Rubber Soul was a huge turning point for the band. It was such a sharp turn in sound that many people didn't know what to think. Though after a while, fans began to forget their assumptions they had about The Beatles and realized that maybe this new sound (or answer) could also be something they enjoyed along with the sound they were already used to. “I didn’t understand it at all when I first heard it. I didn’t think it was any good. And then six weeks later, you couldn’t live without the record! And that’s good, that’s when you trust the people who make the music to take you somewhere you haven’t been before!” - Elvis Costello
chapter 2: that’s not logical When thinking creatively, there are roughly two types of thinkers; soft and hard. The soft thinker will challenge and bend what is normal and routine while the hard thinker will try to find a solution right away using the strategies they are familiar with.
“Hello all you readers out there! I’m John Lennon. When The Beatles first began, we were pretty hard thinkers, working day in and out pumping out song after song. After a while we grew tired of it so we started using the studio as a playground! Sometimes you must forget about being logical and tap into your soft thinking to get the best of your brain. Here are some doodles now, just because Alexa said I could.”
When you begin to tap into your soft thinking, the world becomes a much more open and creative place. Try this exercise. Using the guide below, fill in the blanks with your own words. Forget that you already know the lyrics to the song. Come up with a totally new lyric and therefore, a totally new song! Remember, they don’t have to make sense. It’s all about thinking soft!
There are ______________ I remember, all my life though ___________ have changed. Some forever not for ____________, some have gone and some ____________. All these ____________ have their __________. With lovers and _____________ I still can recall. Some are ___________ and some are ____________, in my life I ____________ them all.
chapter 2: that’s not logical It’s evident that a good dose of soft thinking helps to move a brainstorming session along. When John first taped over the end of a reel on accident, he found that it began playing backwards. Unknowingly, he was responsible for creating one of the most influential pieces of music The Beatles had ever recorded. That song was Tomorrow Never Knows.
“I remember being in Brian Epstein’s house and John playing it to Brian and George Martin and saying what do you think of this? And you could see the puzzlement going across their faces you know.” - Paul McCartney
When using hard thinking, it is easier to continue with what you know than to branch out into something completely unheard of. When John brought his backwards guitar solo into the studio, Brian and George were hesitant to keep it. They were used to thinking logically. However, after listening again, it was agreed the solo would stay. It would be the first backwards guitar solo ever recorded in music, making history and pioneering music to come!
“But instead of saying ‘Come on guys I think you really ought to put another chord in’ he knew to leave us alone by then.” - Paul McCartney
chapter 3: follow the rules Think about what you know about The Beatles. What first comes to mind when you hear their name? Maybe one of their songs. Maybe you think about your dad because when you were younger he would play them all the time. Or perhaps you think about their image and what they looked like; mop tops, identical suits, Beatle boots, and their album covers. Most people would think of the same things, the same patterns. But in 1967, things changed forever.
SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND 8th studio record 13 tracks Released June 1, 1967
As Roger von Oech said, “if you are following the same rules five years from now, they won’t have advanced the state of their art.” Coming up to their eighth record, Paul McCartney flipped the concept of everything The Beatles were known for upside down.
“Hello everyone, the name’s Paul. It’s lovely to be here. Back in 1967, we decided to scrap everything we knew and become a totally new band. I suggested that we be Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band one day in the studio as we were recording and it stuck! We forgot everything about who we were supposed to be and started fresh. It was quite good for all of us.“
chapter 3: follow the rules Once a rule gets in place, it’s very difficult to eliminate even though the original reason for its generation has disappeared. So, creative thinking involves not only generating new ideas, but also escaping from obsolete ones as well. - A Whack on the Side of the Head When The Beatles transformed into Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, it changed everything about who they were. The concept of becoming something new broke the rules they were previously following.
“Sgt. Pepper was our opera. It sounded unlike anything we were used to.” - Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks “The 60s, lyrics are generally infantile. And it’s noise not music but the Sgt. Pepper album was a brilliant album. Signifying a break from the old ways of being entertained. It really caught the moment.” - Morley Safer Morley Safer (60 Minutes)
When Paul suggested changing everything about The Beatles as they knew it, he slayed their sacred cow. Beatle suits and mop tops were thrown out the window! Take time to think of products and companies today that might need slaying and write them below!
chapter 4: be practical When thinking of new ideas, how often do you think what if? Do you abandon all past rules and restrictions in an attempt at coming up with that idea? That’s what Brian Epstein did when he met the Beatles.
When Brian first saw The Beatles (minus a late Ringo) at the Cavern Club, he saw something in them. He saw a future for the boys and asked himself “what if I manage them?” After this what if and a short meeting with the boys in 1961, the world was blessed with The Beatles.
Watching the reactions from the crowd was enough for Epstein to tap into his creative mind. He was intrigued by these four Liverpudlians and began managing them immediately. But, not everyone was quite so keen on the group!
“Yeah yeah yeah. This is Beatleland, formerly known as Britain where an epidemic called Beatlemania has seized the teenage population, especially female.” - Alexander Kendrick (CBS News London)
“These four boys from Liverpool with their dish mop hairstyles are Britain’s latest musical and in fact sociological phenomenon. They symbolize the 20th century non hero, as they make non music, wear non haircuts, give non mercy.” - The Sixties (Netflix Series)
chapter 4: be practical Even though some of the older generation at the time didn’t see the appeal, another smart man did. Ed Sullivan booked Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and John Lennon for his show on February 9th, 1964.
And so, America met The Beatles.
The Beatles arriving in the US for the first time.
It is essential to have an open mindset when you’re being creative. Ask what if questions and FREQUENTLY! Instead of thinking about the negatives of a new idea, think about what positive, interesting, and useful features it may have. After all, Brian Epstein and Ed Sullivan both had this mindset when discovering The Beatles. The teenager found a collective voice because of this mindset! Beatlemania wouldn’t have ever what if? happened without this mindset! Anything can happen with a simple
THINK ABOUT THESE WHAT IFS: What if George was the drummer? What if Ringo never became the drummer in the first place? What if they weren’t called The Beatles? What would you rename them if you could? What if they only released 2 records? What if they never even existed? Would music be different today?
chapter 5: play is frivolous Some people think that if you play too much in your work, you aren’t really doing work at all. They’d even say that play is frivolous. But the key to truly working creatively is to play (within reason of course). That’s exactly what The Beatles did when shooting their 3rd film, Magical Mystery Tour.
“Hello again. George here. When we were on the set of Magical Mystery Tour, everything we filmed was on the spot. The film was Paul’s idea in the first place. We would discuss our ideas for sketches and scenes the day of and shoot it from there. Although lots of people thought we were mad after watching the film, we really had a good time making it. I hope you’ve enjoyed the book so far. I’ll talk with you again soon. Hare Krishna!”
The main point of this chapter is letting yourself run free with your ideas. Play with them! Turn them upside down! Stretch and mold them into something else and maybe you’ll create something even more interesting than you originally thought!
PLAY IS FRIVOLOUS PLAY IS EXCITING PLAY IS INNOVATIVE PLAY IS RELAXING PLAY IS ARTISTIC PLAY IS NECESSARY
chapter 5: play is frivolous So you’ve messed around with your ideas. Now what? You might be thinking, ok, I’ve done the playing but the ideas still need developing! That’s where adding a constraint comes in.
“The studio was like our little haven. Once we got back there, we knew we could experiment. We could hear ourselves, we could write songs that had a progression, and it would be fun to record.” - Paul McCartney (Eight Days a Week)
ADD A CONSTRAINT PLEASE PLEASE ME 1st studio record 14 tracks Released March 22, 1963
“The great thing about our recording was the schedule. You go in at ten o’clock in the morning, tune up, have a ciggie have a cup of tea, and then John and I mainly would present the song that we’d written to everyone. We’d take about 20 minutes to do that. You had one and a half hours from 10:30 to finish that song! So that focused you. That was a great discipline.”
- Paul McCartney (Eight Days a Week)
In the early days of recording, The Beatles certainly did have a constraint. George Martin had them on a strict schedule. A new single every three months and a new record every six. Working under such a limited time frame worked well. This was the magic of a constraint.
Stop censoring yourself and editing your work down to the finest point of an idea. Let yourself be free and messy. Often, this will yield the best outcome.
breaktime It’s time for a break. I encourage you to listen to 4 songs by The Beatles that you don’t know. I’ve found that when listening to the less popular songs, they can often become some of your favorites. I’ll suggest one from each album for you to pick from:
Baby’s In Black
Baby It’s You
I’ve Just Seen A Face
Devil In Her Heart
I’ll Be Back
Love You To
Long, Long, Long
Within You Without You
Your Mother Should Know
For You Blue â€Š
Write the songs you enjoyed (or some of your personal favorites) on the lines below:
chapter 6: that’s not my area Have you ever hesitated to complete an assignment or task because it’s not your area? This type of thinking is necessary for specific careers but, too much of it can actually hinder your creativity.
Specialization can limit you.
It’s easy to stick to one thing and Visiting with the Maharishi in 1967 become an expert on it. A lot of times it helps you with your job or your art! But think about everything you could do with several different areas of expertise. The Beatles flew to India in 1967 to meet with the Maharishi when they became fascinated with his techniques of transcendental meditation. George especially was interested in Indian culture and meditation. He was searching for a mantra after coming to the conclusion that LSD and drugs were not the answer to happiness. The Beatles and their wives with the Maharishi
The Beatles had never experienced anything like the Maharishi’s teachings and talks. They were searching for something completely out of their area of expertise.
Many significant advances in art, business, education, entertainment, politics, and science have come about through a cross-fertilization of ideas. - A Whack on the Side of the Head
chapter 6: that’s not my area Different people from different specializations can mingle and share their ideas to create something amazing. That’s exactly what Ravi Shankar taught George Harrison. George had become fascinated with the sitar. When he met Ravi, they got on right away and he began teaching George how to play. Because of his willingness to step out of his area (guitar) and learn another skill, The Beatles featured the sitar on Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) off Rubber Soul. This changed what ‘rock’ music was. George showed that branching out and exploring new things was a great way to be creative. It was the first sitar to be featured in contemporary Western music.
George with Ravi Shankar
Lovers of wisdom must open their minds to very many things. -Heraclitus
It’s important to dip your toes into many different fields. The best ideas come from cutting across disciplinary boundaries and looking into other fields for new ideas. What could these pairs of people learn from each other? A painter and construction worker A comedian and a banker A rock drummer and a priest
chapter 7: don’t be foolish In the fifties and early sixties, group pressures were everywhere. So many musical artists stuck to their ‘thing’ and played by the rules. They believed that the best way to get along is to go along. Living in society requires our cooperation with other people. In situations where we don’t know our way around, we look to others for the right way to act. You can certainly feel safe when you conform to the norm. It’s a sort of safety blanket. But this poses the threat of groupthink.
At their first US press conference in 1964
GROUPTHINK: members of a group are more interested in getting the approval of other group members rather than trying to come up with creative solutions to the problem. When everyone thinks alike, no one is doing very much thinking.
BE A FOOL! When someone calls you a fool, you may think they’re insulting you but take it as a compliment! Being a fool can be a great thing. Back in the day, fools played an important role in decision making. They were the ones to whack leaders and help to prevent groupthink.
“We all know your idea is crazy. The question is, whether it is crazy enough?” - Niels Bohr
And were The Beatles fools? Of course they were! When they came to America, adults looked at them as a disposable trend. But this worked in their favor. Their humor endeared them to teens all over the world.
chapter 7: don’t be foolish Comedy + Creativity Humor. Cheekiness. Sarcasm. The Beatles had all three of these down to a science. Having a sense of humor helps you become a more creative being. It enhances your creativity. It stretches your thinking. It makes you approachable. When the Beatles had their first US press conference, they embodied this humor. They were fools who were trying to use their ‘unconventional’ jokes to break the traditional American way of thinking. “The reporters had the same attitude that most adults in America had which was no one taking musicians seriously. They didn’t understand anything about youth culture!” - Patrick Goldstein (Journalist)
“It pays off to be cheeky!”
1964 US Press Conference
Here is some of the dialogue between the band and the press. Choose your favorite remark: Q: You guys are nothing but a bunch of British Elvis Presley’s! Ringo: (dancing like Elvis) It’s not true it’s not true! Q: Are you going to get a haircut? A: NO! George: I had one yesterday. Q: Could you sing something? John: No we need money first.
“When you saw them sparing with the press, it was just another aspect of them that made them even more unique.” - Kevin Ryan (Recording the Beatles Author)
The fool on the hill.
chapter 8: avoid ambiguity Logic vs. Free Thinking
Many people like to think very logically, expressing what they need to accomplish, how they’re going to do it, and when it will be finished. It’s the most efficient way to get things done. But just as discussed a couple chapters ago, the most logical way to do things may not always be the most creative way.
DREAMS If you use dreams as stimulants to your imagination and think of ways to interpret them, you could discover something that will lead your thinking in a new direction. Dreams have led to many scientific and technological ideas. But for continuity and the sake of this book, did you know the melody for Yesterday came to Paul McCartney in a dream? Paul is said to have composed the melody in a dream while staying at the family home of Jane Asher on Wimpole Street, London. The melody came to McCartney fullyformed, although he was initially unsure of its originality.
“I was living in a little flat at the top of a house and I had a piano by my bed. I woke up one morning with a tune in my head and I thought, 'Hey, I don't know this tune - or do I?' It was like a jazz melody. My dad used to know a lot of old jazz tunes; I thought maybe I'd just remembered it from the past. I went to the piano and found the chords to it, made sure I remembered it and then hawked it round to all my friends, asking what it was: 'Do you know this? It's a good little tune, but I couldn't have written it because I dreamt it.” - Paul McCartney (Beatles Anthology)
Paul and wife Jane Asher
chapter 8: avoid ambiguity Heraclitus
In A Whack on the Side of the Head, Roger lists off some of his favorite quotes from Danish philosopher, Heraclitus. Here are the 2 quotes I enjoyed the most: “While we’re awake, we share our universe, but in sleep we each turn away to a world of our own.” - Heraclitus
The Beatles in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
“Dogs back at what they don’t understand” - Heraclitus
INTERPRET YOUR DREAMS
Look at Ringo the lion. Before going to sleep tonight, let your mind think about this photo. If you’re up for it, watch the boys star in A Mid Summer Night’s Dream (on YouTube). When you wake up, write down your dream if you had one. What do you think it meant? Did the photo have any affect on it?
Paul with his dog, Martha
chapter 9: to err is wrong We’ve learned to fear failure. It’s been embedded in us that to err is wrong. Most of us have learned not to make mistakes in public. As a result, we remove ourselves from many learning experiences except for those occurring privately. But by preventing ourselves from making mistakes, we stunt our creative thinking. Now, here’s a story about how a failure was successful.
The Beatles auditioning for Decca Records
On New Year’s Eve 1961, the Beatles drove in a snowstorm from Liverpool to London. The next day, they set up shop in Decca Studios and cranked out 15 tracks in a few hours. The songs reflected what they were regularly performing at the time, a mixture of rock, R&B, rocked-up standards and originals. The management at Decca Records was unimpressed telling manager Brian Epstein: “We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out.” - Decca Records 1962
Five months later, the Beatles signed with George Martin at Parlophone (an imprint of EMI) leading to arguably the most successful artist-producer collaboration in history! Because of the failure with Decca, the group were signed by someone much better. And think about this: Decca didn’t like Pete Best’s drumming, ultimately leading to the decision to fire him and replace him with Ringo! This was all due to a failure.
chapter 9: to err is wrong What about failures that don’t lead to successes? This is definitely more common than the previous example with Decca Records. If you’re more concerned with producing right answers than generating original ideas, you’ll probably make uncritical use of the rules and procedures used to obtain these right answers.
During the filming of Magical Mystery Tour, The Beatles had no script, plot, or storyline to follow. Everything was a mish mosh of bits they simply enjoyed making. It was a sign of the confidence in the group at the end of the summer of ’67 that they decided to spend several weeks shooting a film, directed by themselves, with no script, ad-libbing scenes and just seeing what would happen. They decided to take a risk and guess what? It failed pretty badly. Magical Mystery Tour was filmed in color and yet was broadcasted initially in black and white, losing the backbone and style of the film itself.
Taking this risk ended up in both critics and fans disliking the movie. Even though they admitted it was a failure, they stood by their idea. If they hadn’t made Magical Mystery Tour, the band wouldn’t have pushed their creative boundaries. To make mistakes is to grow. We learn from our failures. Our errors are the whacks that lead us to “think something different.”
chapter 10: i’m not creative One of the best ways to be motivated and creative is to simply believe something will happen. If you say what you want to happen out loud, you’re putting it into the universe and letting yourself believe it can happen. To believe is the start of accomplishment. This is otherwise known as the self-fulfilling prophecy.
self-fulfilling prophecy: a place where the world of thought overlaps with the world of action.
Museum of Modern Art (New York)
A R E YO U C R E AT I V E ? Check the appropriate box:
Here’s the thing… by just believing that you are or have the ability to be creative makes a world of difference. If our confidence is blocking the way to trying our hand at painting, dancing, cooking, studying law, marketing, digital design, etc, we will never give ourselves the chance to be creative.
CREATIVE PEOPLE THINK THEY ARE CREATIVE WHILE THE LESS CREATIVE PEOPLE DON’T. They didn’t allow themselves to get into an imaginative frame of mind, play with their knowledge, take a few risks, or look for multiple right answers.
chapter 10: i’m not creative “Hello there it’s me, the drummer, Ringo! They others decided to give me the last chapter and close out the book. When I first started drumming, I had no idea I was doing it ‘backwards’ until someone told me I was. Trust me, don’t try and do something the right way when the way you do it works for you. Anyway, we hope you’ve enjoyed the book and have learned something along the way. Come see me and my all star band sometime! Peace and love peace and love xxx”
DISCOVER YOUR CREATIVE STYLE To discover the way you are the most creative is essential. Ringo drums leading with his left hand as opposed to the ‘correct’ way of leading with your right. But what is the fun of following the rules if you prefer to do something your own way? The way he drums is his own creative style.
“Give me Ringo. He kind of washes the windshield on the high hats, man. I mean it’s a fucking Ringo thing! It’s like a style of music.” - Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters)
Think about how The Beatles looked. What do you visualize? Everything you see is part of their creative style. From their hair to their boots, even to the way they stood and moved onstage! The Beatles typical stage presence
and in the end… So we’ve come to the end. It’s April 10th, 1970 and Paul has officially announced that The Beatles are splitting up. Don’t cry, please. Trust me, there is much more great music to come (especially from George and Paul in my opinion). Over the course of this book, you’ve learned how to think openly, find the second, third, and seventh answer, make mistakes, listen to your dreams, play, be a fool, take chances, and find a creative style. From The Quarrymen to The End, The Beatles embodied a new birth of creativity the world hadn’t had before. They introduced us to a new sound. They pushed boundaries and experimented in the studio. They captured the hearts of young people all over the world and soon after, the hearts of many adults as well. They were and always will be one of the most creative and inspiring bands in history. So what about after The Beatles ended? Were they still creative even when going solo? Of course! John and Yoko protested for peace, George released the best solo record by any Beatle, Ringo starred in films, and Paul formed and toured with Wings. If anyone knows me, I could talk about The Beatles for years so I’ll keep it short. Go create and make tons of mistakes. JOHN: Where are we going, fellas? GEORGE, RINGO, PAUL: To the top, Johnny! JOHN: And where is the top, fellas? GEORGE, RINGO, PAUL: To the toppermost of the poppermost!
T H E LOV E YO U TA K E = T H E LOV E YO U M A K E
All images from Google.