How did the Beatles do it? How did those four English chaps have the right interpersonal chemistry to revolutionize the music industry with mellifluous harmonies, transcendent experiments, and catchy pop melodies all at the same time? And how did they do it all in such a short period of time?
Maybe … they didn't.
Maybe their songs were actually created through institutionalized ESP experimentation in the late 1950s, and the field recordings were only recently recovered by acclaimed UK music journalist Solomon Davies, and made available now for the very first time.
As Davies wrote in the liner notes to new album The Music of the Beatles as Channeled in 1958 by the Echo Lake Home for the Potentially Clairvoyant:
The basement is cold and I am jetlagged. My flight from London to Boston was taxing and there was no time to check into my hotel room before this appointment. I've been brought to the home of Beth Mason, 56, of Plymouth, Vermont. I've flown to another continent because Beth Mason told me something impossible exists on this record—something that would equally quake both the halls of culture and science—and this initial spin will roughly indicate to me whether I've completely wasted my time or not. She presses a button and her department store turntable spins to life. The expected crackle of an old LP is heard first, a bed of tape noise is detected, and then a band kicks into a mid-tempo shuffle with a familiar riff, though not in the way I've ever heard it played before. A distant voice with an American accent sings, "Last night I said these words to my girl." My jaw slowly lowers, my mouth now involuntarily agape. This recording, Mason insists, is from 1958. The Beatles wrote and recorded "Please Please Me" nearly 4000 miles away from this location in 1963.
Without thinking, I mumble aloud, "What on Earth?"
Beth Mason replies, "That's why I asked you to come here."
She fumbles to light a Parliament cigarette, "I was hoping you could tell me."
Or maybe — just maybe — this is all a delightful experiment by the Boston-based indie rock band Hallelujah the Hills to re-record some Beatles songs as fun old timey psychedelia, just for shits and giggles, and release it as a conspiratorial-tinged April Fools Joke.
And maybe Hallelujah the Hills frontman Ryan Walsh, author of the acclaimed and best-selling Astral Weeks non-fiction that chronicles Van Morrison's mob connections, spun a whole elaborate yarn to accompany the album, in the form of a 25-page album liner pamphlet full of richly detailed diegetic fiction that explores the trippy psychic experiments of this wonderfully weird reality.
One thing's for certain: this seemingly-silly multimedia project is also surprisingly delightful.
The Music of the Beatles as Channeled in 1958 by the Echo Lake Home for the Potentially Clairvoyant