Much hubbub is to be had today over the work of Dalhousie University mathematics professor, Dr Jason Brown, in solving the mystery of George Harrison’s opening chord of The Beatles, “A Hard Day’s Night,” played on a Rickenbacker 360/12 guitar. The PDF of Prof Brown’s report is available online.
As the report and article show, The Beatles did indeed record this in one take with no overdubbing such that Harrison could not have played the chord alone. We now learn from Brown’s work and others that Harrison and Lennon played two different guitars but the nice flavor was added by producer George Martin playing a piano chord.
The link to The Friday Fermentable is that I am enjoying a particularly flavorful 2006 Peirano Estates Lodi (CA) Viognier from their Heritage Collection ($14.99 USD) while composing this post after a lovely dinner of Thai takeout while sitting here with the two young ladies who define and enrich my life.
I was very lucky to have had a high school history professor who looked like John Lennon with whom I played in my first band in 1980-81. Fortunately for me and no surprise, he was a huge fan of The Beatles and taught me a few rally neat guitar tricks – he also had great confidence in me that I could successfully learn the opening bass and guitar line of “Daytripper.” So although I was born at the unclassifiable junction of the end of the post WWII Baby Boom and beginning of Gen X, I had some limited but workable chops for early rock.
The Beatles were indeed an incredible influence of visionary musicians led by an outstanding producer. Moreover, I have always held that the late George Harrison was one of the most hugely accomplished but equally underappreciated rock guitarists of his time.
Anyway, Prof Brown’s paper is great and solves a 40-year mystery. However, reality requires that hack guitarists like me make the best approximation of the opening chord because the rest of the song is pretty easy. So, if you have a 12-string guitar, the following works pretty well as the opening chord – and doesn’t suck too badly on a 6-string.
How to do this: play a G7 chord with your first three fingers, then lay your pinky on the 3rd fret of the B-string to hit a D note.
Most folks are pretty drunk by the time you’d get to this in your set and it actually still sounds pretty authentic to the designated drivers.
Finally, I know that Canadian scientist salaries aren’t very good but one would think that a guitarist of Prof Brown’s scientific stature would be able to buy a Rickenbacker 360/12 rather than the Ibanez shown in his photo in the ScienceDaily press release.
Disclosure: I do not own a Rickenbaker 360/12 – however, I sure would like to.