gut recently purchased the amazing gem of audio that is The Songs of West Side Story as done by various artists. If you bother to click that link and read the track listing, you'll know that the various artists in question are pretty much nothing I normally listen to. So, as Sarah and I are sitting and listening to the disc as best we can (we did cave in and skip through most of the Kenny Loggins & Wynnona song) along came Somewhere as done by Aretha Franklin. And as I listened to (and immitated ) her vocal stylings Sarah made the comment that the melody was totally lost and unrecognizable. I tended to agree.
Aretha has reached that point in her diva career where she no longer has to rehearse.
She may not have even listened to or known the original song.
I'm not even sure she had a copy of the lyrics sheet.
I imagine the recording session went something like this:
[ARETHA enters the RECORDING STUDIO]
ARETHA: What song am I doing?
LOWLY STUDIO PEON: It's called "Somewhere". It's from West Side Story.
ARETHA: West Side wha?
LOWLY STUDIO PEON: West Side Story, it's a musica-
ARETHA: I'M ARETHA FRANKLIN, BITCH. Get back in that booth. Record me.
[ARETHA proceeds to sing the word "somewhere" repeatedly flailing her vocal range with reckless abandon, while some poor backup singers attempt to hold together some semblance of a tune.]
[ARETHA snaps her fingers. LOWLY WATER PEON appears as if by magic with a silver platter with a solitary bottle of water on it. ARETHA swipes the bottle from the platter without even glancing at it. She gulps a few gulps, then drops the half-drank bottle on the ground.]
* * * *
What's funny is that there's a remarkable similarity between what I will now refer to as the Aretha Method, and the Beefhoven Method of coming up with a song. There is no rehearsal, there's no preparation, there's no lyrics sheet... you just play something, sing/scream something, and record whatever happens. It's as though they're flipsides of the same coin... Beefhoven is unfamous (why is that not infamous?) because we don't require discernable tune, and Aretha is so famous that she doesn't require one either.
I now fully expect Beefhoven to win a Grammy someday.
For a special treat, compare and contrast!
To, well... let's just randomly go with Truck Truck by Beefhoven.