Revise, Revise, Revise; Also, What's the text?

I set the Beatles' Anthology, Volume 3, as my alarm-clock music for this morning. Hypnopompic listening is, I think, just about the best kind: in that haze between sleeping and waking, I hear things with a particular clarity.

This morning, I had two thoughts. First, having these anthology recordings -- which show some portion of the group's creative process -- is deeply reassuring for those of us who don't spit out beautiful, polished work on a first draft. (That might be everybody. Isn't it?) Setting aside even the difference in production values between these "sketches" and the finished works, the tiny details of lyrics or harmony that were changed from early version to final version remind me, at least, that even the very best of us have to polish, polish, polish. Sometimes I'm a bit sidetracked by that Romantic ideal of flurried, inspired creation, even in academic writing; for me, this is a very good reminder.

Another hypnopompic musing: listening to one of these sketches, I thought, "it's too bad that they didn't record that version!". Clearly, this thought was the product of a still-drowsy mind, as I was in fact listening to a recording of that version. But -- in the ongoing debate about what constitutes a text in popular music studies, I think that this instinctive reaction is worth examining. Both of these recordings exist, but one (even when I'm really awake) still seems more 'real' to me than the other. Abbey Road is an album; the Anthology recordings, even though they might contain versions of these songs that have the same bare musical materials, are something less. I'll draw no conclusions -- because I don't think this debate really is a resolvable one -- but I'll keep this filed as evidence.


Jane Austen Jr. said...

I know that this isn't a very profound response to your well-written post, but..."Hypnopompic"? What a word. I like it.

cancrit(at)gmail.com said...

Me too! :D