As all his fans know, Peter Tork is a groovy comedian and actor, but his first and last love is music. And here, in his very own words, he shares with you his super-ideas and thoughts about that lovely outasite world!
It’s hard to understand music only if you’re a “hard” person. If you’re a comfortable person, then all music can relate to you. It’s just a matter of getting used to it. If you’re willing to listen, you can find what music is all about no matter where the music comes from—Persia or India or Russia or wherever. Anybody can do it!
I took piano lessons for more than five years and studied French Horn in college. But I learned banjo from a book, taught myself the guitar and learned to play bass from knowing guitar. I’ve handled a sitar once in my life and it was quite an experience.
I still have to learn how to play all these instruments better—there’s always room for improvement. But I’d also like to learn how to play the Koto. It’s a Japanese instrument with a number of strings and bridges you move to adjust the tone. It’s a very simple instrument with a “plunky” sound.
I’m also a five-string banjo player. There’s not enough five-string banjo in today’s music. It’s really a very strong instrument and there’s a lot of room for it in popular music. It adds a flavor. What kind of flavor? Well, it adds “banjo”, just like the guitar adds “guitar.”
Invents and composes
There are a dozen and one inventions you can do with musical instruments, too. You can add strings to guitars or change the tuning. On a banjo, for instance, there’s no set tuning to it. You play at different tunings depending on the song, and five-string banjo players invent tunings as they need them.
But all the instruments that I know of have been fully developed—only electronics has not been explored enough. Even that’s being worked on, though. Micky’s got a “moog synthesizer.” It’s a machine that generates tones and you can imagine a sound—any sound—then create it and draw it out using electronics.
When I write music, I just sit down to write and it comes. That’s all there is to it. I write whatever fits what I have to say. I usually write lyrics first and make the music go along with it. But sometimes words fall out of some little bit I’m playing on the piano or guitar. I’ll be playing the music for awhile and then I’ll start to think of words.
For a group to be good, they have to be together. There has to be a link between them that’s bigger than words, totally without words. Songs aren’t without words, but music itself is. And the members have to have understanding. If musicians have that communication of music between them, they speak the same language that nobody else speaks.
The Young Rascals have it. They’re an Ace group! All applause to the Young Rascals for originality and growth and style and just generally being a good group. I look for different things in different groups. The Knickerbockers are a very tight-knit bunch. They’re willing to throw their own thing in, like instead of an organ solo here, one of them will play a sax solo.
Sometimes I like to predict for the future—who’ll make it big and who’ll stay on top. Of course, there’s no denying the Beatles. They’ll be around forever. People don’t copy the Beatles, though. The Beatles are in tune because they are totally relaxed with whatever vibrations are in the air. The vibrations are always there for whoever can pick them up, but the Beatles just happen to pick up first. They’ll be turning out music until they die and even beyond.
The Sundowners should make it pretty big and the BeeGees will be around for quite awhile I’m sure. Of course, there’s only room for one top group in the world at a time—the Beatles, Stones, Dave Clark Five kind of groups.
Music, to me, means only itself, but that’s enough. What would the world be like if there were no music? Well, what would it be like if there were no words! I don’t see how it’s possible for there to be no music, because you can hear it everywhere—even the sound of birds is music!