I can’t help it. I look at everything through the filter of either creativity, innovation or advertising. So while watching Martin Scorcese’s new documentary about George Harrison, I found this to be one of my favorite anecdotes. Paul McCartney recalls what it was like to prepare for a recording session.
Now, keep in mind that in the 70’s most advertising agency creative teams would insist on two weeks to copy and layout. Didn’t matter whether it was a full campaign, or a single ad. The Beatles, meanwhile, could generate a song a day. On demand no less.
The second part of the story, of course, is about collaboration. John and Paul would show up a week later with their seven or eight songs, all of which were news to their band mates, and within a matter of minutes George and Ringo would be adding riffs and the backbeat, making the idea, the song, the music better.
I imagine that anyone who has ever played in a band knows that this is how it works, or should. But I couldn’t help but be inspired by these recollections from Paul as he talked about his non-writing (at the time) partners. “They’d go ‘uh huh.’ And George would be like, ‘I can see what you’re doing. I’m one of you.’”
That is how collaboration is supposed to work. It’s the epitome of celebrating the idea instead of the person who came up with it. It’s a great great lesson for all of us working as part of a creative team in the new on demand world. If you’re not the one who makes the idea, be the one who makes the idea better.
Decades later, The Beatles still inspire. Think I’ll go and dig out some old LPs. Oh, and if you have not seen Martin Scorcese’s new two-part documentary George Harrison: Living in a Material World, you must. It’s on HBO right now.