Interview: REEVE CARNEY SINGS THE BEATLES at Green Room 42

The Hadestown star will pay tribute to one of his greatest musical influences this Monday at 7 and 9:30 pm

By: May. 11, 2024
Interview: REEVE CARNEY SINGS THE BEATLES at Green Room 42
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Hadestown star Reeve Carney has developed a loyal following in the cabaret scene with his solo shows at the Green Room 42. This Monday, May 13th, Carney will be doing two sets back to back at 7 pm and 9:30 pm, celebrating the music of The Beatles. Performing two completely different sets, Carney will cover era-defining selections ranging from 1963’s “Twist and Shout” to 1970’s “Let It Be,” and everything in between. We spoke about the upcoming show and the influence the Beatles have had on Carney.

How would you describe your upcoming Beatles show?

There's so many amazing tribute [shows] in the sense that people will do their best to sound like the Beatles or dress up like the Beatles and all of the above. That's not what I'm doing, necessarily.

I grew up loving this band so much. They’re really, like, a family, favorite band. I mean, it's funny to even say that because I can't really think of another band that I’m aware of that... It's hard to remove the Beatles from the list of your top favorite bands of all time. It's certainly been the case for me, and they've inspired me so much as a songwriter.

So I don't know exactly why I’ve never really thought to do this yet, because they're certainly one of my biggest influences. But, yeah, it's just very exciting for me. I realize that it was going to be really difficult to choose only the amount of songs that you could fit into a single sets. That's why I decided to do this double set back-to-back in a two-part event, which I'm really excited about.

I have performed, two shows in one day, obviously, on Broadway and all that, but I don't know that I've done this before, two completely different shows in the same day, so I'm excited about that.

How did you choose the songs that you did for the two sets?

Last thing I thought I had finalized the set two days ago. And then I thought, oh, maybe just one more thing I want to toss in there. And then it's hard for me to think of, oh, what kind of let go of in order to put something else in. I mean, I did want to have a bit of a balance, between I actually I didn't really think of it like that.

It sort of naturally happened, oddly enough. The song choices sort of naturally came out to a nice balance between Lennon/McCartney and George Harrison songs. I’m trying to make sure I fit a Ringo song in there too. I tend to gravitate more towards their 1965 and beyond work. They were only recording for six years, which is insane, the amount of material they put out in that time period.

I tend to lean towards the 1965 and beyond... Help and beyond is sort of where I really get excited. I mean, I am doing a few things from before that, but yeah, most of it is 1965 and onward.

Are these songs that you had already memorized before?

Not many of them. I've been working on it for a few months now, on and off, you know, in the back of my mind. But I really started heavily working on a few weeks ago. But, yeah, most of them are new. I think I'll be doing a little over 30 songs, but I think I've probably only performed like five or six of them before, so most of them [will be] the first time, playing in front of an audience, which will be exciting.

How do you feel like the Beatles influenced you as a songwriter?

The melodies are so infectious. I think the melody is sort of like a subversive transport device for their lyrics.

To be honest with you, with a lot of these songs, I'm having a totally different understanding of them, having actually sat down and typed out the lyrics and sort of examined them in that way, and it’s something I hadn't really ever done. You just grew up listening to these songs with these incredible melodies and you know a lot of lyrics, but there's certain ones [where] I didn't realize, oh, that's what they're saying there, that's so cool.

So, I love that. But I also... the term ear candy comes to mind, but in the sense of not just melodies, I mean, everything that George Martin was involved in... it wasn't just George Martin, but his contributions to the band are really incalculable, in a way. The sound of the records, for me, I mean, the orchestration and arrangements, is something I've always been really drawn to. Probably even more than the lyrics initially, when I was a kid. I’m one of those people who will  probably, like, sing a bassline before I know what the lyrics are. That's kind of how I was when I was a kid. So, the Beatles are a perfect band for that sort of listener.

Are you doing anything special that you want to hint at with instrumentations or arrangements?

Yeah. These solo sets, I usually play electric guitar and I accompany myself on a kick drum or a tambourine, and I also switch the piano. I’m a huge [fan of] Paul McCartney, Lennon, Harrison, Starkey, all of them. But I've gotten to see Paul McCartney live a few times, and I've always loved his sort of balance between guitar, bass, piano. I do, you know, there's a little electric guitar, the drums in the front and the piano.

But I've recently acquired this amazing new instrument. It's been around for a while now, but it's new-ish to me. It's called an OP–1 field, which is this amazing thing. I'm really excited about how that will function within the context of this particular Beatles show, especially with a band like that and music like theirs.

Are you doing anything to put Broadway tones on a Beatles song or anything like that?

I think one of the things I love about the Beatles is how inspired they were by early showtune-style music and Tin Pan Alley music and all that. They loved Broadway composers. So for me, I that's one of the things that has always attracted me to their music, the theatrical nature of their composition and their presentation of the songs.

I think there is definitely a connection between the Beatles and musical theater. For some reason “Maxwell's Silver Hammer” comes to mind. “When I'm 64.” There's just so many Beatles songs that feel inspired by that world. I'm not actually playing either one of those songs, but I like them both a lot.

You'll have to do a third Beatles show sometime.

Yeah, well, honestly, they weren’t even on my ultimates list, which is crazy, but I have an alternate list of 30 songs that I was choosing... So there were at least 60 songs, that I could easily go, oh yeah, I'd like to do these. It's amazing the amount of songs they wrote that...

And there’s songs I love of theirs that I wouldn't necessarily want to do because like, what would I actually do with this? But it's really, really a cool thing. It's almost like choosing your own courses at university, that's kind of how this has felt, learning all these songs.

[This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity]

Tickets to the 7 pm and 9:30 pm sets are available on Green Room 42's website.

Follow Reeve Carney on Instagram @ReeveCarney.


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