Last week, my longtime friend Beage texted into a chain we have with our other longtime friend Farrell the question: “White Album: disc #1 or disc #2? Go!” Farrell and I, and Beage, being still, especially around each other, the adolescents we were when we three became friends, immediately went on the attack, arguing our choices.
In short: Beage said 2 (less consistent, better hits) and Farrell and I said 1, and we argued a lot about Paul, and we agreed “Honey Pie” is a garbage song, and were split on “Yer Blues”, which I submit is maybe worse than “Honey Pie” but blah blah blah.
Sometimes I’m glad I don’t have to sit through hourslong debates about these pop music minutiae anymore, but often times I miss them.
“Oh well probably now we each have to make The White Album #1.5” I texted, and it was on.
You may recall I’m into this now, this resequencing of records from my youth, and so I happily got to work. The rules were similar to recutting R.E.M., with a few variations:
- I couldn’t make a record longer than either disc (47 and 48 mins, according to my iTunes)
- For elegance’s sake I couldn’t open or close with any opener or closer from either disc, nor could I sort any track in the same spot it has on the original
- Because both discs have at least 2 songs each by John, Paul, and George, I had to have 2 songs by each, including Paul (I was originally planning on putting none, because I think very little of Paul McCartney)
- Because both discs have 1 Ringo song I needed 1 Ringo song, which was easy, because “Don’t Pass Me By” is one of the Beatles’ greatest hits
Unlike Out of Time and Automatic, there are very few unlistenable songs on these records, and the hardest part was cutting out half of them. Also, a number of songs bleed together, making them unsequenceable without their counterparts. “Dear Prudence”, for instance, starts with plane noise from “Back in the USSR”, so it was out.
My process was to find the one song I wanted to open with, to set a mood, to be funny, to imagine a far different record than those guys did, using all their old materials.
I chose “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?”
From there, I tried to find the best track to follow it. And then the best track to follow that one. I wanted to make as cohesive a cut as the original, just half the length. So I went on and on until I got to “Don’t Pass Me By”, which was always going to be my closer.
I called it The Wide Album. Here’s how it ended up:
- Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?
- Savoy Truffle
- Happiness Is a Warm Gun
- Long, Long, Long
- Wild Honey Pie
- Helter Skelter
- Cry Baby Cry
- Back in the U.S.S.R.
- Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey
- Mother Nature’s Son
- Glass Onion
- Sexy Sadie
- The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
- Don’t Pass Me By