Mike Corthell

Mike Corthell
Editor & Publisher at Fryeburg Free Press MEDIA

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Biggest Year for The Beatles: 1964

A black and white photo of the Beatles at a press conference in 1964. From left to right, with each one being further in the background, Ringo Starr wears a hat and smiles while holding a cigarette, George raises an eyebrow and looks inquisitive, Paul begins a slightly surprised smile, and John heartily laughs.
For the Beatles, 1964 was a huge year. The band managed to star in their first feature film, produce their first album of all original material (and the only one made up entirely of Lennon/McCartneys), and take America by storm — breaking records in television viewing and record sales, selling out concerts in minutes, and earning an airport welcome greater than the president’s. In the U.K., they churned out two number 1 albums and three number 1 singles — all despite filming, touring, and promoting what was already released.
By the end of 1964, John and Paul were so burnt out that they struggled to come up with material, and Beatles For Sale is thus among the weakest albums in their catalog. But the lads still managed to put their all into the singles and soundtrack, not to mention dramatically improve their writing, singing, and playing overall. Combined, it kept Beatlemania going at as hyper a pace as ever, and made the completion of this list full of difficult choices and extensive, careful pruning.
1. Can’t Buy Me Love
When I tell people that I think Can’t Buy Me Love is among Paul McCartney’s greatest songwriting accomplishments, they usually look at me as though I must be joking or giving a backhanded compliment. Neither is true. Can’t Buy Me Love is no Let It Be or Blackbird, I will grant you. But it is indeed a masterpiece of a different kind. The song lasts a mere two minutes. And those two minutes are soaring, divine, perfect moments that are always over far, far too soon. The guitars — one of them notably 12-string — clang away as the drums and bass dutifully drive them on. And with no vocal harmonies on this song — a first for the Beatles — Paul belts the notes out like his life depends on it, hardly taking a breath the entire time. The result is a frantic, frenzied, and yet covertly careful tour de force.
And when I say that it is one of Paul’s finest, I call that absolutely nothing to sneeze at.
2. I Feel Fine
There are fewer hooks that are as simultaneously cool and catchy as this one. Lyrically, the song doesn’t have much to offer. But musically, it’s perhaps the Beatles’ most sophisticated song up to this point. From George’s pitch perfect guitar to Ringo’s absolutely brilliant drumming and John’s syrupy, thick, almost lethargic vocals, the entire track is hypnotizing. And from that famous opening feedback to John’s far less famous but no less enticing closing “mmm,” you couldn’t ask for a better, more iconic single.
3. A Hard Day’s Night
The precise makeup of that famous opening guitar chord still inspires frustration and heated debate among musicians everywhere — with the latest conclusion being that it’s not just guitar, after all. In any case, it maintains the power to shock your senses and make you sit up and pay attention. And once the song has captured you, it doesn’t disappoint. John and George’s guitars drive the song on with a sense of determination — George’s solo and outro, especially, are undeniable — and Paul’s middle eight vocals don’t just tie it all together, they damn well make the song. It set the tone not just for the film, but for all that the Beatles would be and represent in the year it was released.
4. Things We Said Today
This darker, moody, and frequently forgotten track is a little bit out of character for 1964 Paul. It’s also absolutely superb. The harsh contrast of the verse and two bridges is one of the song’s defining features — on the one end it’s a jolt out of complacency, on the other a soothing slide back into the comfort of what is known. This clever, musically accomplished ode to nostalgia that hasn’t happened yet always deserved better than placement on the B-side of a soundtrack, and should be finding its way onto more peoples lists.
5. If I Fell
If I Fell is one of the Beatles’ earliest original ballads, from a time when they were still primarily performing up tempo rock and roll. What perhaps amazes me most about this John-penned song is the fact that John and Paul recorded the vocals at the same time, and into one microphone. No overdubbing of one vocal track with another was necessary — and if one of them messed up the close harmony, both of their tracks were shot. But supposedly, despite the challenging task they faced, it didn’t even take them that many takes. The finished product is sweet, subdued, and memorable.
Bonus Track: What You’re Doing
Left at the end of this list with so many songs of approximately equal value, all far too evenly matched, I decided to fall back on a track that’s both a personal favorite and an overlooked gem. Ringo’s drum intro/outro is deserving of accolades all on its own. That it’s followed up with such squeaky, shiny, perfect pop is just icing on the cake. The guitar hook shimmers, and Paul’s vocals are almost too glossy to be real. It feels a bit silly to say for a song that is, in the end, just a lovely little piece of ear candy, but the way he croons “I’ve been waiting here for you, wondering what you’re gonna do …” just about takes my breath away. Genius though it may not be, I think that both Paul and John sold this track way too short when they referred to it as a throwaway — so good, they were, that they didn’t always manage to see the beauty of their own skill.
1964 was certainly a fruitful year — left off of this list are great tracks like Eight Days a Week, I’m a Loser, I’m Happy Just to Dance With You, and the incorrigibly stalkery yet undeniable No Reply. And that’s just a start!
Let me know what your list would have looked like, which of my picks you would have left off, and which omissions you would have included. (A full list of Beatles songs by year can be found here.) Up next week, as the years keep getting harder and harder to trim down, I’ll be taking on 1965.
Previously in this series:
Top 5 Beatles Songs from 1963

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Daily Lesson: John 5: Sin Gets Physical

John 5:13-14

(13) But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. (14) Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you."
New King James Version Change Bible versions

After his miraculous healing, the man heads to the Temple, probably to praise and thank God for his wonderful blessing. There, Christ instructs him in the spiritual principle of overcoming sin. The Jews viewed the Temple, not only as a place of thanksgiving, but also one of spiritual teaching and learning. Similarly, worship on the Sabbath with others of like mind creates a place of essential spiritual instruction for living God's way of life. People who avoid formal worship of God miss out on vital instruction and will be spiritually unprepared for God's Kingdom.

The man's healing was instantaneous, but the learning is not. It is a long process that requires both instruction (hearing) and application (doing). It takes time to grow in grace and knowledge (James 1:23-25; II Peter 3:17-18; Isaiah 28:9-10), as well as patience and discipline.
Christ warns the healed man not to go back to sinful conduct, indicating that his crippled condition resulted from sin. All sickness is not caused by our own personal sin, as John 9 shows in the example of the man blind from birth. Sometimes ill health is the effect of our forebears' sins or the accumulated sins of a whole society.

Jesus' warning, "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you," is always apt because human nature, especially when encouraged by Satan, easily degenerates into sin. The experience of renewed health should instill in us a deeper repulsion of sin, a greater watchfulness for its pitfalls, and a more purposeful determination to overcome it. When we experience healing, we would all do well to remember Christ's warning.

— Martin G. Collins
To learn more, see:
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Healing a Cripple by a Pool (Part Three)

Related Topics:
Disease as Product of Sin and Neglect
Growing in Grace and Knowledge
Healing of a Crippled Man
Healing of the Paralytic
Human Nature
Human Nature, Perversity of
Perversity of Human Nature
Sin as Cause of Disease and Sickness

Monday, February 4, 2013

MEDIA: Print Industry - Sales

Print Industry

Gaining Sales Advantages

Edited by Mike Corthell

IN TODAY’S market, there is an overwhelming selection of print suppliers from which to choose. As more and more new technologies become available and the printing industry diversifies, traditional sales methods are becoming less effective—and less efficient—with the new breed of print buyers. Gone are the days of cold calls and fruit baskets.

So what can give a print supplier the competitive advantage in today’s market?

At Print Buyers 
Online.com  (PBO), we set out to answer this question by polling major print buyers. One of our Quick Poll surveys confirmed 68 percent of people agreed with the following statement: “Most print sales reps believe price is the primary criteria for a printing company to be awarded a job.” But how has this belief become the industry standard when extensive surveys conducted by PBO yield different conclusions? When asked why a particular supplier is chosen, could it be buyers said it came down to price because that is the easiest answer to give? In truth, the reason is much more intangible and complex.

PBO is in the unique position of representing both sides of the buyer/supplier fence. Due to this, our members feel comfortable sharing the real reasons behind their decision-making processes. After hearing several versions of “most of the time, a good working relationship with the sales rep is a huge factor in working with a print supplier on a regular basis,” we decided to delve deeper to determine what characteristics go into choosing a new printer.

To do so, several surveys were conducted of major print buyers, designers and marketers that work for printers. The questionnaires addressed the process a print buyer goes through when selecting a new supplier. The results revealed a very interesting fact: The majority of survey respondents said much of it depends upon the relationship they foresee having with a sales rep. As one of our members put it, “I choose a print supplier that has the capabilities to do my work, and it is the sales rep who articulates those capabilities. A rep needs to provide good communication, get back to me in a timely manner and be a total partner in the project.” 

Here are some tips from our print buyer members on how sales reps can fine tune their skill sets to gain credibility and maintain customer loyalty: 

Don’t drop by unexpectedly. Seventy-one percent of print buyers said it is not appropriate for printing sales reps to “drop by” in an attempt to circumvent scheduling an appointment. Most print buyers believe this behavior shows a lack of respect for their time—and a lack of professionalism on the part of the salesperson. 

No more free lunches. Fifty-eight percent of our survey participants stated they would not go to lunch with a sales rep if they hadn’t worked with them in the past. Most believe lunches at a printer’s expense should only be accepted as a thank you for projects already given. Even if the intention is to provide the buyer with knowledge about your company, buyers tend to believe it isn’t worth the feelings of obligation that will accompany the lunch.

Update your collateral material. Sixty-one percent of our members stated a printer’s collateral material is important in identifying them as a prospective partner. Such material is a printing company’s portfolio, and potential clients will make assumptions based upon its content. From packaging ideas and diecuts to printing technologies and printing techniques, good collateral is an excellent marketing tool—but only if it is of good quality and representative of the capabilities of the print supplier.

Don’t go over their heads. This is a controversial issue because many sales reps are being told by their companies to approach top management. We asked print buyers to share their feelings about this issue, and 62 percent found it unacceptable and offensive for a sales rep to attempt to work with or sell to upper management. 

Typically, upper management doesn’t have the background to make these types of decisions, so sales reps are wasting their time by approaching them. Also, when a sales rep goes behind the print buyer’s back, it may be seen as an attempt to undermine his or her authority. If so, it is highly doubtful future calls will be returned.

Don’t give lip service. People don’t trust someone who says yes to everything. Decline a job if it isn’t a good fit, and say no when it really should be no. Whether the plant can’t accommodate the job or there is a schedule conflict, customers would rather get an honest no than an undeliverable yes. And, they will respect you for it.

Have industry experience. Our print buyer members have told us time and again that the best printing reps have previously been prepress or press operators. Possessing in-depth industry knowledge and experience working in the trenches pays off. For instance, 75 percent stated a salesperson’s knowledge of paper can serve as a competitive advantage.

One of our respondents wrote: “A sales rep needs to respond to my technical needs and questions quickly. If he or she has to repeat my questions to their plant personnel, then I would prefer to deal directly with those individuals.”

The rep is the liaison between the buyer and the supplier. If a sales rep can’t be counted upon to accurately communicate the needs of the buyer to the printing company, or the project specs and deadlines to the buyer, it doesn’t matter how good the printer is; the buyer will find a rep who is dependable. 

Stay current. Most print buyers have expectations that the sales rep will be unknowledgeable. Prove them wrong. Provide information on new technologies in the marketplace. Inform them of new purchases of equipment the supplier has purchased—and be sure to include the logic behind the purchase. Don’t just list what equipment you have; describe what it can do for the buying company.

Be honest. Trust should be established immediately—and must never be compromised. Never forget that every seasoned buyer will know when the printer is not telling the truth. Break any bad news as soon as possible, and be honest about what is going wrong.

Listen. Show interest in the end goals of the print project. Seventy-six percent of survey respondents stated it is very important that a sales rep ask questions about a print project and provide valuable advice and solutions. Make cost-saving suggestions and provide alternatives. Find out the end use of the job; what shelf life will it have? What kind of lighting source will be used to view the piece? 

Help them plan for the most effective way to print their projects. Making their lives easier will guarantee customer loyalty.

Offer suggestions. As one buyer said, “A sales rep must know our business and be proactive on how best to run jobs and save us money. The rep must be completely involved in the day-to-day activities of our account.” Of those surveyed, 74 percent stated it is very important for a sales rep to explain how their company can provide the best solutions for print projects. 

They want to be offered alternatives they may not have considered. Surprisingly, 99 percent of buyers are open to suggestions that may help improve the results of the print project, even if the cost of the print job is increased as a result. 

Keep the client posted. A good rep is one who will be communicative in all stages of the project. As one print buyer put it, “Good personal rapport is nice, but competency is a must. The rep is the liaison between me and their shop. I need to be able to count upon our rep to communicate the needs of our agency, the specs and deadlines of jobs, and to keep me informed.”

Demonstrate dedication. Be willing to go the extra mile. Call the print buyer after their project has been completed to see how satisfied they were with the end result. Did it meet their expectations?