Tribute to The Beatles: Virtuoso Al Di Meola Puts His Signature Style on 14 Fab Tunes

by Damian Fanelli
Posted Feb 18, 2014 at 4:30pm

Whether he’s racing with devils on Spanish highways or chasing aliens in Arabian deserts, Al Di Meola has enjoyed a career highlighted by new musical adventures in exotic locales.

His latest call of duty? Recording a tribute to one of his favorite bands—the Beatles—at London’s Abbey Road Studios.

Di Meola's new album, All Your Life, finds the guitarist lending his intricate cross-picking and flamenco flourishes to 14 Lennon/McCartney compositions, all in a stripped-down, acoustic setting. Highlights on All Your Life include “I Will,” “I Am the Walrus,” “Michelle,” “Eleanor Rigby” and a mesmerizing version of “Because.”

The all-instrumental album was recorded with a range of guitars, including a 1948 Martin D-18, a Gibson J-200, a Taylor and a pair of Ovations, though the primary “voice” is provided by Di Meola’s Spanish-made signature Conde Hermanos nylon-string guitar.

Di Meola says that melody was a factor in his choice of songs—but it wasn't everything.

“I think all Beatles songs have strong melodies, but that wasn't enough,” the guitarist says. “I wanted to do my signature thing, which is where I syncopate the arpeggiated chords. If I didn't have enough harmony to do that with, it wouldn't work. ‘Come Together’ wouldn't work because it's basically one chord. But with ‘Blackbird,’ there's a lot of space for me to do my thing.

“A lot of jazz guys have done their own covers, but there's usually so much re-harmonizing and altering of the melody that you’d never know it's a Beatles tune. I didn’t want to do that. My intent was to bring in the sophistication through rhythm as opposed to altering of harmony, which would take the prettiness away. I wanted to preserve the beauty of these tunes.”


Add a Comment
0 Comments

Similar Guitar News

Guide to The Beatles' White Album: the Recording Equipment, the Songs, the Conflicts (11/22/2014)
Having opened a Pandora's box with their critically acclaimed and commercially successful album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Beatles faced serious competition from a variety of open-minded artists who were expanding rock music's ba...
Guide to the Recording Equipment and Instruments Featured on The Beatles' 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' (6/2/2014)
The studio experimentation that had begun with Revolver advanced to the next level on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. In many ways, 1966 had been a watershed for the Beatles. They had broken from the two-albums-per-year formula that had ...
Dear Guitar Hero: Donovan Recalls Working with The Beatles, Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page — and Welcoming Jimi Hendrix to England (5/21/2014)
He’s a famous Sixties folk-pop troubadour who worked with Jimmy Page and played with the Beatles. But what Guitar World readers really want to know is… What do you call your unique picking technique, and which artists inspired it? — Dingy Bell I...
Song Facts: The Beatles — "Let It Be" (Both Versions) (5/8/2014)
Attentive Beatles fans who purchased Let It Be when it came out in May 1970 noticed something very different about the album version of the title track: The guitar solo was markedly changed from what they'd heard on the "Let It Be" single releas...
Album Review: The Beatles — 'The U.S. Albums' (2/18/2014)
Unless you’ve been under a rock, missed the Grammys and close your eyes while you’re at the grocery store checkout, you’ve probably noticed it’s the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in the U.S. To mark the occasion, there’s a new box s...
Lesson: The Acoustic Artistry of The Beatles' George Harrison (2/11/2014)
Of the four Beatles, George Harrison brought to the group an assortment of electric and acoustic guitar approaches, flavors influenced by everyone from Chet Atkins and Carl Perkins to the Byrds and Bob Dylan. Harrison’s pioneering use of the Ri...
The Fab 50: The Beatles' 50 Greatest Guitar Moments (2/7/2014)
On the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' arrival in the United States (and legendary February 1964 appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show), Guitar World celebrates the 50 best guitar moments from the band's hit-making history. The Beatles were such t...
The Beatles US Albums: a disc-by-disc guide (2/6/2014)
Read more about The Beatles US Albums: a disc-by-disc guide at MusicRadar.com Between January of 1964 and February of 1970, Cap
David Crosby on the impact of The Beatles: "They changed my life" (2/4/2014)
Read more about David Crosby on the impact of The Beatles: "They changed my life" at MusicRadar.com THE BEATLES IN THE USA: "A friend of mine brought home the record Meet The Beatles. We were living in Chicago at the time, over a grocery store, ...
The Beatles in the USA (2/1/2014)
Read more about The Beatles in the USA at MusicRadar.com 50 years ago this week, The Beatles made their debut performance on the Ed Sullivan Show - and the world never sounded the same again. To celebrate half a century since Liverpool's likelie...
From Bo Diddley to The Beatles to U2, Gretsch Guitars Have Been a Key Part of Rock and Roll’s Explosion (12/30/2013)
From the GW Archive: This story originally appeared in the September 2009 issue of Guitar World. From Bo Diddley to the Beatles to U2, Gretsch Guitars have been a key part of rock and roll’s big explosion. Guitar World celebrates more than 125 y...
The Making of The Beatles’ U.S. Albums (12/20/2013)
As the Beatles’ camp gets ready to roll out The U.S. Albums box set next month, we thought it was a good time to explore why this new release even exists. Didn’t Apple Corps reissue remastered versions of the group’s catalog just a few years ag...
The Beatles' 13 US Albums to Be Released as Box Set in January (12/12/2013)
Even though the ink is still drying on the Beatles' latest BBC collection, On Air — Live at the BBC Volume 2, there is more Beatles product on the horizon. A new box set, which will be released in early 2014, will reissue the band's 13 American ...
Song Facts: The Beatles — "Helter Skelter" (11/25/2013)
Paul McCartney was generally known for writing "silly love songs" like "Yesterday" or cheeky whimsy like "When I'm Sixty-Four," but occasionally he could rock every bit as hard as John Lennon. While The Beatles recorded numerous violent rockers...
Abbey Road Engineer Ken Scott Says The Beatles' White Album Sessions Were a "Blast" (11/22/2013)
Ken Scott — one of only a handful of recording engineers to have worked side by side with the Beatles — has stories to tell. Good stories. And lucky for us, he loves telling them. To emphasize the point, Scott recently publishing a 500-page memo...