Who Am I?

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A nobody; a nitwit; a pilot; a motorcyclist; a raconteur; a lover...of life - who loves to laugh, who tries to not take myself (or anything) too seriously...just a normal guy who knows his place in the universe by being in touch with my spiritual side. What more is there?

03 December 2012

Meet The Beatles

It is impossible for those who were not around at the time – the young ones – to understand the impact that The Beatles had on the world…not just music. And they weren’t just four musicians who got together and made some records. Oh, no. The Beatles were a classic example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. Would they have been The Beatles without Ringo? Certainly not. It can be said that the coming together of the four of them (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Richard "Ringo" Starkey) was of cosmic significance and origin. Nobody on the planet could have engineered such a thing. Combine them with a genius record producer named George Martin and, well, the rest is history.

John, Paul and George began playing together as teenagers as early as 1958. Ringo wouldn’t join them for four years. But as George Harrison once noted, Ringo was always a Beatle; he just didn’t join the play until the second act. Or something like that.

In the beginning, The Beatles were basically a “cover-band,” doing other people’s songs, often adapting them to the rock ‘n roll format (e.g. “Ain’t She Sweet”). They went through a couple of name-changes, finally settling on “The Beatles” in 1960. Gradually they began writing their own songs. John and Paul found that as a team they had a particular gift, which they exploited. But George was no slouch either.

Though their popularity had been steadily increasing in the U.K., they did not become an “overnight sensation” in the U.S. until 1964. Rock ‘n roll had been around for a long time, but The Beatles’ music was different than anything else on the radio. But remember, by 1964 the three of them had been playing together, writing songs and honing their act for nearly six years.

It was crazy. There had never been anything like “Beatlemania” before. And it was a worldwide mania. Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley both had been the object of young girl adulation, but not nearly on the scale that The Beatles generated. We dressed like them; wore our hair like them; hung on their every utterance; memorized their songs…all of their songs. It’s fair, and it’s no exaggeration to say that The Beatles changed the world.

When we look back, people often argue over the relative talents of the individual Beatles. But it’s silly. It’s like saying that a Ferrari is a “better” sports car than a Lamborghini. Well…yeah, maybe, but a Lambo is still eons better than just about anything else on the road. All four Beatles were extremely talented. And anyway, it’s not about that. It was the synergy that resulted when the four of them got together. Other groups tried, and some came close, but none really could replicate the magic that was The Beatles.

By 1969 it was all over. They split up and went their separate ways. It is not surprising; a lot of "stuff" happens to people between their teenage years and their late 20's. All four had gotten married...you know, grew up. The fact that they stuck it out for ten years is amazing in itself. We are thankful for that. And we are also thankful that each of them continued making music - music that sometimes sounded an awful lot like "Beatle" music! So it's not like they went away completely.

The Beatles provided the soundtrack of our lives. We got to know the songs intimately, and they took on profound significance. We knew all the words; we could even sing the harmony and backup vocal parts. And we still remember all those details even after all these years. Put a Beatles song on…any song at all…and I can sing it unerringly. I can sing Paul’s part; I can sing John’s part. It’s hard to explain to my young friends. I mean, it’s just…it’s just…music, right? Wrong. It was more than that. Much more. If you weren’t there, you can’t really appreciate The Beatles. If you were there, and I was lucky enough to be, then you got to experience a musical and cultural phenomenon that hasn’t been repeated since, and isn’t likely to be repeated in the future.

1 comment:

Hal Johnson said...

I'll never forget my first exposure to the Beatles. My mom's younger sister called to tell her about a band she had to see on the Ed Sullivan show, and I remember even now how they seemed to reinvent music as I knew it. I was three months shy of my eighth birthday, but after that night, it felt like the world had changed.

Great post, Bob. Thanks.