If it sounds as if John Lennon is singing with heavy eyelids, it may be because Ringo sounds as if he’s playing the drums in his robe and slippers.
Note how many fills Ringo plays and yet how unobtrusively he renders them. A more aggressive drummer might play these same notes as if smashing down a wall, thus removing any chance for the song to take on its psychedelic aura. In Ringo’s hands, these constant fills suggest turning over in one’s sleep, or perhaps the gentle tumble of kaleidoscope beads.
The Beatles’ secret ingredient is laziness. Though their songs and costumed presentation are bright, the Beatles are not bright-eyed. The droopy sweetness of their harmonies, for example, does not try to rev us up. They send us elsewhere.
“What seems to me the highest and most difficult achievement of Art is not to make us laugh or cry, nor to arouse our lust or rage, but to do what nature does—that is, to set us dreaming.”
— Gustave Flaubert
The Beatles set us dreaming, not through displays of mechanical facility but by relaxing into the power of their intuitions. And that relaxation is only possible because their drummer is a master hypnotist.
Thank you, Ringo.
Thank you for reading.