Documentary maker Mary McCartney has been hanging around the Studios since before she can remember - literally - as a baby she would accompany her dad Paul and mum Linda as they recorded for their band Wings.
This personal link for McCartney gives this whole film a Rock ‘n’ Roll bias. Elton John talks of working as a session pianist there, followed by Pink Floyd discussing the recording of Dark Side of the Moon. A personal highlight was Oasis' Liam Gallegher and his naive reverence for the building, “It’s like going to church, innit, going to Abbey Road.” Yet, it was the earliest recordings that brought me to tears.
Sir Edward Elgar was the first to record there, with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1931. This blew my mind for several reasons. Can you imagine a time without recorded music?! Pre-1930s and it just wasn’t really possible to hear captured music. It’s difficult to think of now, but you couldn’t easily compare different versions of the same piece, hear your favourite sections over and over again, discover new pieces from all over the world.
The difference from the present day, where during the space of writing the last two paragraphs I’ve just used two separate online tools to listen to music that’s popped into my head, is incomprehensible. Perhaps in contrast to that, though in my mind, Elgar belongs to an even older time, he’s not considered a ‘modern’ composer, but to have this connection to popular music icons, as well as the film music of Star Wars gives me a new perspective on the modernity of Elgar’s music.
I used to regularly review CDs for a couple of different publications, including during a wave of releases of digitally remastered from vinyl, and I never much liked them. Did you know I was a geek? I have a collection of some LPs, and one of the things I love about them is those crackly noises that let you know how historic they are. There was something about the opening notes of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance at the start of this documentary that gave me that nostalgic feeling, and brought the first tear to my eye.
Thanks to loud protests, the decision was subsequently revoked, which I am pleased about, yet it is easy to see why the BBC has to evaluate how funds are spent. How relevant is classical music to the average person these days? But how relevant could it be? Sheku is as much a household name as Jacqueline was, film and game music is rooted in classical music (by the way, a term which stretches from ancient history to the present day encompassing more different styles than can easily be described). That’s why I would have loved a little more of McCartney’s film to be given to the classical stars.
This blog can seem to have so many topics and themes, sometimes I wonder exactly what I'm trying to say with my very different interests. I'm certainly not attracting a large following by constantly writing on different subjects. Yet, recently I've decided that that's ok. And I've decided that to be a music-geek and care about justice aren't mutally exclusive. Music is a shared music experience, and can be a uniting tool between people who seemingly have little in common. Plus, so-called classical music is awesome - just watch Sheku in action above. Phew!
If these walls could sing is available to watch on DisneyPlus. Let me know if you've seen it, what else you'd like me to write about or anything else!