By Daniel Margrain
As an antidote to the official UK cinema release of Ron Howard’s documentary Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years that focuses on the bands four years on the road, I thought it timely to reproduce Piero Scaruffi’s seminal award winning article which is arguably one of the most professional analysis of the career of pop group the Beatles ever written. The article, while highly critical of the artistic merits of the group, also provides a rare but welcome corrective to the many myths and falsehoods that have surrounded the ‘fab four’ for decades.
In my view, Scaruffi’s timeless appraisal remains possibly the most accurate retrospective of the group ever produced. The article is quite long but it’s worth persevering with. Be prepared, if you happen to be one of the many obsessive Beatles fans, it’s highly likely the article will upset you.
The Beatles most certainly belong to the history of the 60s, but their musical merits are at best dubious.
The Beatles came at the height of the reaction against rock and roll, when the innocuous “teen idols”, rigorously white, were replacing the wild black rockers who had shocked the radio stations and the conscience of half of America. Their arrival represented a lifesaver for a white middle class terrorized by the idea that within rock and roll lay a true revolution of customs. The Beatles tranquilized that vast section of the population and conquered the hearts of all those (first and foremost the females) who wanted to rebel, without violating the social status quo. The contorted and lascivious faces of the black rock and rollers were substituted by the innocent smiles of the Beatles; the unleashed rhythms of the first were substituted by the catchy tunes of the latter. Rock and roll could finally be included in the pop charts. The Beatles represented the quintessential reaction to a musical revolution in the making, and for a few years they managed to run its enthusiasm into the ground.
Furthermore, the Beatles represented the reaction against a social and political revolution. They arrived at the time of the student protests, of Bob Dylan, of the Hippies, and they replaced the image of angry kids, fists in the air, with their cordial faces and amiable declarations. They came to replace the accusatory words of militant musicians with overindulgent nursery rhymes. Thus the Beatles served as middle-class tranquilizers, as if to prove the new generation was not made up exclusively of rebels, misfits and sex maniacs.
For most of their career, the Beatles were four mediocre musicians who sang melodic three-minute tunes at a time when rock music was trying to push itself beyond that format, one originally confined by the technical limitations of the 78 rpm record. They were the quintessence of “mainstream” (assimilating the innovations proposed by rock music) within the format of the melodic song.
The Beatles belonged, like the Beach Boys (whom they emulated throughout most of their career), to the era of the vocal band. In such a band the technique of the instrument was not as important as that of the chorus. Undoubtedly skilled at composing choruses, they availed themselves of producer George Martin (head of Parlophone since 1956), to embellish those choruses with arrangements more and more eccentric.
Thanks to a careful marketing campaign, they became the most celebrated entertainers of the era, and are still the darlings of magazines and tabloids, much like Princess Grace of Monaco and Lady Di.
The convergence between Western polyphony (melody, several parts of vocal harmony and instrumental arrangements) and African percussion – the leitmotif of US music from its inception – was legitimized in Europe by the huge success of the Merseybeat, in particular by its best sellers, Gerry and the Pacemakers and the Beatles, both produced by George Martin and managed by Brian Epstein. To the bands of the Merseybeat goes the credit of having validated rock music for a vast, virtually endless, audience. They were able to interpret the spirit and technique of rock and roll, while separating it from its social circumstances, thus defusing potential explosions. In such a fashion, they rendered it accessible not only to the young rebels, but to all. Mediocre musicians, and even more mediocre intellectuals, bands like the Beatles had the intuition of the circus performer who knows how to amuse the peasants after a hard day’s work, an intuition applied to the era of mass distribution of consumer goods.
Every one of their songs and every one of their albums followed much more striking songs and albums by others, but instead of simply imitating them, the Beatles adapted them to a bourgeois, conformist and orthodox dimension. The same process was applied to the philosophy of the time, from the protests on college campuses to Dylan’s pacifism, psychedelic drugs, or Eastern religion. Their vehicle was melody, a universal code of sorts, that declared their music innocuous. Naturally others performed the same operation, and many (from the Kinks to the Hollies, from the Beach Boys to the Mamas and Papas) produced melodies even more memorable, yet the Beatles arrived at the right moment and theirs would remain the trademark of the melodic song of the second half of the twentieth century.
Their ascent was branded as “Beatlemania”, a phenomenon of mass hysteria launched in 1963 that marked the height of the “teen idol” of the late 1950s, an extension of the myths of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. From that moment on, no matter what they put together, the Beatles remained the center of the media’s attention.
Musically, for what it is worth, the Beatles were the product of an era that had been prepared by vocal groups such as the Everly Brothers and by rockers such as Buddy Holly; an era that also expressed itself through the girl-groups, the Tamla bands and surf music. What the Beatles have in common with them, aside from almost identical melodies, is a general concept of song based on an exuberant, optimistic and cadenced melody.
The Beatles were the quintessence of instrumental mediocrity. George Harrison was a pathetic guitarist, compared with the London guitarists of those days (Townshend of the Who, Richards of the Rolling Stones, Davies of the Kinks, Clapton, Beck and Page of the Yardbirds, and many others who were less famous but more original). The Beatles had completely missed the revolution of rock music (founded on a prominent use of the guitar) and were still trapped in the stereotypes of the easy-listening orchestras. Paul McCartney was a singer from the 1950s, who could not have possibly sounded more conventional. As a bassist, he was not worth the last of the rhythm and blues bassists (even though within the world of Merseybeat his style was indeed revolutionary). Ringo Starr played drums the way any kid of that time played it in his garage (even though he may ultimately be the only one of the four who had a bit of technical competence). Overall, the technique of the “Fab Four” was the same as that of many other easy-listening groups: sub-standard.
Theirs were records of traditional songs crafted as they had been crafted for centuries, yet they served an immense audience, far greater than the audience of those who wanted to change the world, the hippies, freaks and protesters. Their fans ignored or abhorred the many rockers of the time who were experimenting with the suite format, who were composing long free-form tracks, who were using dissonance, who were radically changing the concept of the musical piece. The Beatles’ fans thought, and some still think, that using trumpets in a rock song was a revolutionary event, that using background noises (although barely noticeable) was an even more revolutionary event, and that only great musical geniuses could vary so many styles in one album, precisely what many rock musicians were doing all over the world, employing much more sophisticated stylistic excursions.
While the Velvet Underground, Frank Zappa, the Doors, Pink Floyd and many others were composing long and daring suites worthy of avantgarde music, thus elevating rock music to art, the Beatles continued to yield three-minute songs built around a chorus. Beatlemania and its myth notwithstanding, Beatles fans went crazy for twenty seconds of trumpet, while the Velvet Underground were composing suites of chaos twenty minutes long. Actually, between noise and a trumpet, between twenty seconds and twenty minutes, there was an artistic difference of several degrees of magnitude. They were, musically, sociologically, politically, artistically, and ideologically, on different planets.
Beatlemania created a comical temporal distortion. Many Beatles fans were convinced that rock and roll was born around the early 1960s, that psychedelic rock and the hippies were a 1967 phenomenon, that student protests began in 1969, that peace marches erupted at the end of the 60s, and so on. Beatles fans believed that the Beatles were first in everything, while in reality they were last in almost everything. The case of the Beatles is a textbook example of how myths can distort history.
The Beatles had the historical function to delay the impact of the innovations of the 1960s . Between 1966 and 1969, while suites, jams, and long free form tracks (which the Beatles also tried but only toward the end of their career) became the fashion, while the world was full of guitarists, bassist, singers and drummers who played solos and experimented with counterpoint, the Beatles limited themselves to keeping the tempo and following the melody. Their historical function was also to prepare the more conservative audience for those innovations. Their strength was perhaps in being the epitome of mediocrity, never a flash of genius, never a revolutionary thought, never a step away from what was standard, accepting innovations only after they had been by the establishment. And maybe it was that chronic mediocrity that made their fortune: whereas other bands tried to surpass their audiences, to keep two steps ahead of the myopia of their fans, traveling the hard and rocky road, the Beatles took their fans by the hand and walked them along a straight path devoid of curves and slopes.
Beatles fans can change the meaning of the word “artistic” to suit themselves, but the truth is that the artistic value of the Beatles work is very low. The Beatles made only songs, often unpretentious songs, with melodies no more catchy than those of many other pop singers. The artistic value of those songs is the artistic value of one song: however well done (and one can argue over the number of songs well done vs. the number of overly publicized songs by the band of the moment), it remains a song, precisely as toothpaste remains toothpaste. It does not become a work of art just because it has been overly publicized.
The Beatles are justly judged for the beautiful melodies they have written. But those melodies were “beautiful” only when compared to the melodies of those who were not trying to write melodies; in other words to the musicians who were trying to rewrite the concept of popular music by implementing suites, jams and noise. Many contemporaries of Beethoven wrote better minuets than Beethoven ever wrote, but only because Beethoven was writing something else. In fact, he was trying to write music that went beyond the banality of minuets.
The melodies of the Beatles were perhaps inferior to many composers of pop music who still compete with the Beatles with regard to quality, those who were less famous and thus less played.
The songs of the Beatles were equipped with fairly vapid lyrics at a time when hordes of singer songwriters and bands were trying to say something intelligent. The Beatles’ lyrics were tied to the tradition of pop music, while rock music found space, rightly or wrongly, for psychological narration, anti-establishment satire, political denunciation, drugs, sex and death.
The most artistic and innovative aspect of the Beatles’ music, in the end, proved to be George Martin’s arrangements. Perhaps aware of the band’s limitations, Martin used the studio and studio musicians in a creative fashion, at times venturing beyond the demands of tradition to embellish the songs. Moreover, Martin undoubtedly had a taste for unusual sounds. At the beginning of his career he had produced Rolf Harris’ Tie Me Kangaroo with the didjeridoo. At the time nobody knew what it was. Between 1959 and 1962 Martin had produced several tracks of British humor with heavy experimentation, inspired by the Californian Stan Freiberg, the first to use the recording studio as an instrument.
As popular icons, as celebrities, the Beatles certainly influenced their times, although much less than their fans suppose. Even Richard Nixon, the US president of the Vietnam War and Watergate influenced his times and the generations that followed, but that does not make him a great musician.
Today Beatles songs are played mostly in supermarkets. But their myth, like that of Rudolph Valentino and Frank Sinatra before them, will live as long as the fans who believed in it will be alive. Through the years their fame has been artificially kept alive by marketing, a colossal advertising effort, a campaign without equal in the history of entertainment.
Their history begins at the end of the 1950s. Buddy Holly’s Crickets had invented the modern concept of the rock band. Indirectly they had also started the fashion of naming a band with a plural noun, like the doo-wop ensembles before them, but a noun that was funny instead of serious. Almost immediately bands like “the Crickets” began to pop up everywhere, most of them bearing plural nouns. Insects were fashionable. The Beatles were the most famous.
Assembled to bring to Europe the free spirit, the simple melodies, and the vocal harmonies of the Beach Boys (the novelty of the moment) more than for any specific reason, the Beatles became, despite their limitations, the most successful recording artists of their time. While acknowledging that neither the Beatles nor the Beach Boys were music greats, it must be noted that both were influential in conferring commercial credibility to rock music, and both inspired thousands of youngsters around the world to form rock bands. The same had happened with Elvis Presley. Although far from being a great musician, he too had inspired thousands of white kids, among them both the Beatles and the Beach Boys, to become rockers.
The “swinging London” of the 1960s was a mix of renewal, mediocrity, conformity, non-commitment, cultural rebirth, tourist attraction and excitement, a locus of rebellion drowned in shining billboards, of young men with long hair and girls in mini-skirts, of wealth and hypocrisy about wealth, a city of indifference. La dolce vita, English style. The Beatles were the best selling product of that London, a city full of ambiguity and contradictions.
The Beatles’ birthplace was Liverpool. John Lennon was a rhythm guitar player with a skiffle group called the Quarrymen, founded in 1955, before forming the Beatles in 1960 with Paul McCartney. George Harrison, hired when he was still a minor, played lead guitar, with a formidable style inspired by the rockabilly of James Burton and Carl Perkins. They rose through the ranks playing rock and roll covers in Hamburg, Germany, then made their debut at The Cavern, in Liverpool, on February 21, 1961. Shortly after, Ringo Starr was called to replace the drummer Pete Best, and McCartney switched to the bass.
In 1962 two phenomena exploded in America: the Beach Boys and the Four Seasons. Both truly sang, in vocal harmony derived from 1950s doo-wop, which they introduced to white audiences, with arrangements imitating the Crickets.
That was the year the Beatles began the transition from covers to original, melodic, vocal harmonies. One of the first recordings of the Beach Boys had been a revision of one of Chuck Berry’s songs, one of the first recordings of the Beatles had to be a revision of one of Chuck Berry’s songs. Brian Wilson played the bass for the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney would play bass for the Beatles.
Brian Epstein was the man who scouted them and secured their contract with EMI in November 1961, and also the man who created their image,their clothes, their hairdos (similar to television comedian Ish Kabibble’s). George Martin was the man who created their sound.
1962 was the year of Bob Dylan, of peace demonstrations, of songs of protest. Precisely in 1962, far removed, diametrically opposed really, to the events that dominated US society, the Beatles debuted with a 45, Love Me Do, recorded in September 1962, a jovial rhythm and blues led by the harmonica in the style of Delbert McClinton. By the end of the year the song had made the charts. In February 1963, the band reached #2 with Please Please Me. In the space of few months, a diligent marketing strategy, ingeniously managed by Brian Epstein, unleashed mass hysteria. Records sold out before the recording sessions actually began, mass-media detailed step by step chronicles of the four heroes, the world of fashion imposed a new hairdo. Epstein had created “Beatlemania”…
The overflow of fanaticism around them demanded refinement of their style. They began to utilize new instruments. The more they dissociated themselves from their rhythm and blues roots, the faster their style became more melodious. Through From Me To You, the rowdy She Loves You (accessorized with the first “yeah-yeah-yeahs”), and I Want To Hold Your Hand (a heavier rhythm enhanced by clapping), all “number ones” on the charts of 1963, they fused centuries of vocal styles – sacred hymn, Elizabethan song, music hall, folk ballad, gospel and voodoo – in a harmonious and crystal-clear format for a happy chorus. A variant of the same process had been adopted in the United States by the Shirelles. For the most part it was Buddy Holly’s jovial, childish, catchy style that was copied, speeding the tempo to accommodate the demands of the “twist”. The twist was the dance craze of the moment: fast beat, suggestive moves and catchy tunes. The Beatles sensed that it was the right formula.
In the USA nobody had caught on yet, and only mangled versions of Please Please Me (March 1963) and With The Beatles (November 1963) had been released. In January 1964 EMI decided to invest significantly and I Want To Hold Your Hand reached the top of the charts together with the Beatles’ first US album Meet The Beatles (Capitol, 1964). In the States, cleansed at last of the perverted and amoral rock and roll scum of the 1950s, the charming and polite Merseybeat of the Beatles delighted the media. After their first tour in February 1964, and their appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show”, their 45s were solidly on top of the US charts. In April 1964 they occupied the first five positions. After all, their sound was drenched in US music: their vocal style was either that of the hard rockers like Little Richard, or the gentler call-and-response of the Drifters (echoing one another, stretching a word for several beats, screaming coarse “yeah-yeah”, shrieking in falsetto), the choruses were Buddy Holly’s, the harmonies were the Beach Boys’ and the instrumental parts were remakes of twist combos.
The secret of the Beatles’ success, in the USA as in the UK, was the simplicity of their arrangements. Whereas the idols of the time were backed by complex, almost classical arrangements, at times even by studio effects, the Beatles employed the elementary technique of surf music, completely devoid of orchestral support and surreal effects. At a time when singers had become studio subordinates, the Beatles managed to reestablish the supremacy of the singer. The youths of the USA recognized themselves in a style that was much more direct than the manufactured one of their “teen idols”, and by default recognized themselves in the Beatles, precisely as they had recognized themselves in Elvis Presley after having become accustomed to the artificiality of pop music in the 1950s.
The Mersey sound was designed to tone down rock and roll. Under the direction of producer George Martin and manager Brian Epstein, the sound of the Beatles also became softer. The captivating style of the Beatles had already been pioneered by Gerry & The Pacemakers (formed in 1959, also managed by Epstein). They reached the charts with their first three 45s (How Do You Do It, March 1963, I Like It, May 1963, You`ll Never Walk Alone, October 1963): very melodic versions of rock and roll with sugar-coated versions of rock’s rebel text. Practically speaking, the Pacemakers’ formula brought rock and roll into pop music. They replaced the rough and crude beat of the blues with the light and tidy rhythms of European pop songs; they exchanged the slanted melodies of the blues with the catchy tunes of the British operetta; they substituted the provocative lyrics of Chuck Berry with the romantic rhymes of the “teen idols.” Epstein and Martin simply continued that format with the Beatles. The only difference was in the authorship of practically their entire cache. All the Beatles songs were signed Lennon-McCartney. (This was only for contractual reasons. In reality they were not necessarily co-written.)
The first student protests took place in Berkeley, California in 1964. Young people were protesting against the establishment in general, and against the war in Vietnam in particular. The rebellion that had been seething through the 50s had finally found its intellectual vehicle. The Beatles knew nothing of this when they recorded Can’t Buy Me Love, a swinging rockabilly a la Bill Haley, the first to reach #1 simultaneously in the States and in Britain, A Hard Day’s Night and I Feel Fine, using the feedback that had been pioneered in the 1950s by guitarists such as Johnny Watson and used in Britain by the Yardbirds. All three are exuberant songs carrying ever so catchy refrains, reaching the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. With these songs and with their public behavior the Beatles showed a whimsical and provoking way to be young. The Beatles were still a brand new phenomenon when A Hard Day’s Night – the first surreal documentary about their daily lives was released, and their two first biographies were published. In the USA the marketing was intense: EMI was inundated by contracts to solicit the sales of Beatles wigs, Beatles attire, Beatles dolls, cartoons inspired by the Beatles. America was saturated with images of four smiling boys, the creation of a brand new myth that served to exorcise the demons of Vietnam, of the peace marches, of the civil disorders, of the student protests, of the racial disturbances, of the murder of JFK, of Bob Dylan, of rock and roll, of all the tragedies, real or presumed, that troubled the “American Dream”. In the end, it might have all been a form of shock therapy.
Sure enough, hidden behind those smiling faces were four mediocre musicians, and also four multimillionaire snobs in the proudest British tradition. Far from being symbols of rebellion, they were reactionism personified. The Beatles, optimistic and effervescent, represented an escape from reality. People, kids in particular, had a desperate need to believe in something that had nothing to do with bombs and upheaval. The Beatles put to music the enthusiasm of the masses and in return, in a cycle that bordered on perpetual motion, were enthusiastically acclaimed by the same masses.
The best of their cliches is summarized in a famous anecdote. Interviewed during their US tour, Lennon answered the question “How did you find America?” with “We turned left at Greenland!” Beneath this naive sense of humor, anarchic and surreal, lays the greatest merit of the band.
From 1965 the LP, in the preceding years not as important as the 45, became the new unit of measure of their work. The US releases had 12 cuts including the hits, the British versions had 14 cuts and generally none of the hits. A Hard Day’s Night (1964) was the first release to contain material exclusively co-written by Lennon and McCartney. For Sale, released immediately after, contained six covers (but also Eight Days A Week, and the melancholic I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party). Help (August 1965), with The Night Before and Ticket To Ride, marked the transition from the Merseybeat sound to one oriented more toward folk and country, though some of the songs bring Buddy Holly to mind. The Beatles of these days showed a formidable talent for the melancholic ballad, such as You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, and most of all Yesterday, the slow song par excellence written by Paul McCartney, to which Martin added a string quartet (a song vaguely reminiscent of 1933’s Yesterdays by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach). However, their best work is to be found in more aggressive songs, such as Help, a gospel full of life adapted to their surreal style.
Rubber Soul (December 1965) completed the transition from the 45 to the 33, and also from Merseybeat to folk-rock. Following their U.S. tour, the influence of the Byrds is very strong. The rock and roll beat in Drive My Car and Run For Your Life, the exotic mood of Norwegian Wood (a David Crosby-ian litany accompanied by sitar, an instrument already utilized by the Yardbirds, possibly based on what the Kinks had done a few months earlier with See My Friends) and the timid psychedelia of Nowhere Man cover a vast repertoire of harmonies for their standards. In spite of the fact that the Beatles sought success within rock and roll, it was evident that their best work was expressed through melodic songs. The tender ballads Girl and Michelle (a classic for acoustic guitar, melodic bass and chorus, in the style of 1950s vocal groups) are truly excellent songs in their genre, but because they lack both rhythm and volume, they were considered “minor” at the time.
In 1965 the Beatles recorded another melodic masterpiece, We Can Work It Out, ground out on barrel organ and accordion, inspired by French folk music. They pursued the mirage of the “rave-up” with the hard riff of Day Tripper (borrowed from Watch Your Step of bluesman Bobby Parker), a pathetic response to Satisfaction by the Stones and You Really Got Me by the Kinks. Both songs, hard rockers, had shocked the charts that same year.
The Beatles finally freed themselves from the obsession of emulating others in 1966, with Revolver, an album entirely dedicated to sophisticated songs. The album, extremely polished, seems the lighter version of Rubber Soul. The psychedelic Tomorrow Never Knows (sitar, backward guitar, organ drones), the vaguely oriental Love You To, the classic Eleanor Rigby, the Vaudevillian operetta Good Day Sunshine, the rhythm and blues of Got To Get You Into My Life and Dr. Robert, as well as Rain, recorded in the same sessions (with backward vocals, inspired by the Byrds’ Eight Miles High, that had charted just weeks before), are all mitigated by an ever more languid and romantic attitude. The few jolts of rhythm are kept at bay by a tender effusion in I’m Only Sleeping (with a timid solo of backward guitar), There And Everywhere and For No One. With this album the Beatles left behind rock and roll to get closer to pop music, the pop music of the Brill Building, that is, a genre of pop that sees Revolver as its masterpiece. (At the time melodic songs all over the world were inspired by the Brill Building). Of course Revolver was a thousand years late. That same year Dylan had released Blonde On Blonde, a double album with compositions fifteen minutes long, and Frank Zappa had released Freak Out, also a double album, in collage format. Rock music was experimenting with free form jams as in Virgin Forest by the Fugs, Up In Her Room by the Seeds, Going Home by the Rolling Stones. The songs of the Beatles truly belonged to another century.
The formal perfection of their melodies reached the sublime in 1967 with two 45s: the baroque/electronic Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever, released in February, an absolute masterpiece that never reached the top of the charts, the hard rocking Paperback Writer, and the childish Yellow Submarine, a mosaic full of sound gags and barroom choruses. Penny Lane represents the apex of the Manneristic style: Vaudevillian rhythm, hypnotic melody, Renaissance trumpets, folkloristic flutes and triangles. Strawberry Fields Forever is a densely-arranged psychedelic experiment (backward vocals, mellotron, harp, timpani, bongos, trumpet, cello).
Perhaps, the experiments could have continued in a more serious direction, as the intriguing idea of the 14-minute Carnival of Light leads one to believe, a piece recorded at the beginning of 1967 and never completed nor released.
1967 was the year that FM radio began to play long instrumentals. In Great Britain, it was the year of psychedelia, of the Technicolor Dream, of the UFO Club. The psychedelic singles of Pink Floyd were generating an uproar. Inevitably, the Beatles recorded Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
This quasi-concept album was released while the Monterey Festival was consecrating the sanctifiable, the big names of the times. Unlike most of the revolutionary records of those days, often recorded in haste and with a low budget, Sgt. Pepper cost a fortune and took four months to put together. The Beatles soar in the ethereal refrain of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, utilizing the sitar, distorted keyboard sounds and Indian inspired vocals; they indulge in Vaudevillian tunes such as Lovely Rita and When I’m Sixty Four (a vintage ragtime worthy of the Bonzo Band), and they showcase their odd melodic sense in With A Little Help From My Friends. They scatter studio effects here and there, pretending to be avantgarde musicians, in Fixing A Hole and Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite, but in reality these are tunes inspired by the music halls, the circuses and small town bands. A Day In The Life is the culmination of the relationship between technique and philosophy. It represents the happy marriage between Martin’s sense of harmony, employing a 40-piece orchestra in which everybody plays every note, and Lennon’s hippie existentialism, that dissects the alienation of the bourgeoisie.
Everything was running smoothly in the name of quality music, now entrusted to high fidelity arrangements and adventurous variations of style, from folk ballads to sidewalk Vaudeville, from soul to marching bands, from the Orient to swing, from chamber music to psychedelia, from tap dance to little bands in the park. Everything had been fused into a steady flow of variety show skits.
Rather than an album of psychedelic music (compared to which it actually sounds retro), Sgt. Pepper was the Beatles’ answer to the sophistication of Pet Sounds, the masterpiece by their rivals, the Beach Boys, released a year and three months before. The Beatles had always been obsessed by the Beach Boys. They had copied their multi-part harmonies, their melodic style and their carefree attitude. Throughout their entire career, from 1963 to 1968, the Beatles actually followed the Beach Boys within a year or two, including the formation of Apple Records, which came almost exactly one year after the birth of Brother Records. Pet Sounds had caused an uproar because it delivered the simple melodies of surf music through the artistic sophistication of the studio. So, following the example of Pet Sounds, the Beatles recorded, from February to May 1967, Sgt. Pepper, disregarding two important factors: first that Pet Sounds had been arranged, mixed and produced by Brian Wilson and not by an external producer like George Martin, and second that, as always, they were late. They began assembling Sgt. Pepper a year after Pet Sounds had hit the charts, and after dozens of records had already been influenced by it.
Legend has it that it took 700 hours of studio recording to finish the album. One can only imagine what many other less fortunate bands could have accomplished in a recording studio with 700 hours at their disposal. Although Sgt. Pepper was assembled with the intent to create a revolutionary work of art, if one dares take away the hundreds of hours spent refining the product, not much remains that cannot be heard on Revolver: Oriental touches here and there, some psychedelic extravaganzas, a couple of arrangements in classical style. Were one to skim off a few layers of studio production, only pop melodies would remain, melodies not much different from those that had climbed the charts ten years before. Yet it was the first Beatles album to be released in long playing version all over the world. None of its songs were released as singles.
The truth is that although it was declared an “experimental” work, even Sgt. Pepper managed to remain a pop album. The Beatles of 1967 were still producing three-minute ditties, while Red Crayolas and Pink Floyd, to name two psychedelic bands of the era, were playing long free form suites – at times cacophonous, often strictly instrumental – that bordered on avantgarde. In 1967, the band that had never recorded a song that had not been built around a refrain began to feel outdated. They tried to keep up, but they never pushed themselves beyond the jingles, most likely because they could not, just as Marilyn Monroe could not have recited Shakespeare.
Sgt. Pepper is the album of a band that sensed change in the making, and was adapting its style to the taste of the hippies. It came in last (in June), after Velvet Underground & Nico (January), The Doors (also January), the Byrds’ Younger Than Yesterday (February), and the Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow (February) to signal the end of an era, after others had forever changed the history of rock music. (Several technical “innovations” on Sgt Pepper were copied from Younger Than Yesterday, whose tapes the Beatles had heard from David Crosby at the end of 1966). The uproar generated by Sgt. Pepper transferred those innovations from the US underground to the living rooms and the supermarkets of half the world.
With Sgt. Pepper, the sociology course in melodic rock and roll that Lennon and McCartney had introduced in 1963 came to an end. The music of the Beatles was an antidote to the uneasiness of those times, to the troubling events that scared and perplexed people. The course had the virtue of deflecting the impact of those events, the causes of political upheaval and moral revolution. The Beatles reassured the middle class at a time when almost nothing could reassure the middle class.
Every arrangement of that period – the harpsichords and the flutes, the prerecorded tracks and the electronic effects – was the result of George Martin’s careful production. Martin was a lay musician, a former member of a marching band that occasionally had played in St. James Park. He knew that avantgarde musicians made music by manipulating tracks, that instruments with unusual timbre existed, that rock bands were dissecting classical harmonies. His background, not to mention his intellectual ability, was of the circus, the carnival, the operetta, the marching band, London’s second-rate theaters. He took all he could from that folkloristic patrimony, every unorthodox technique. The results might not have been particularly impressive – after all he was neither Beethoven nor Von Karajan – but they were most certainly interesting. He was the true genius behind the music of the Beatles. Martin transformed their snobbish disposition, their childish insolence, their fleeting enthusiasm, into musical ideas. He converted their second hand melodies into monumental arrangements. He even played some of the instruments that helped those songs make history. From Rubber Soul on, Martin’s involvement got progressively more evident. Especially with Sgt. Pepper, Martin demonstrated his knowledge and his intuition. The idea to connect all the songs in a continuous flow, however, is McCartney’s. It is the operetta syndrome, the everlasting obsession of British musicians of the music halls. The Beatles filled newspapers and magazines with their declarations about drugs and Indian mysticism, and how they converted those elements into music, but it was Martin who was doing the conversion, who was transforming their fanciful artistic ambitions into music.
Around the time of Sgt. Pepper’s release, Brian Epstein died. (His death was attributed to drugs and alcohol.) He was the man who had given fame to the Beatles, the fundamental presence in their development, the man who had invented their myth. The Beatles were four immature kids who for years had played the involuntary leading roles in an immensely successful soap opera, a part that paid them with imprisonment. For years they did not dare step outside their hotel rooms or their limousines. As Epstein’s control began to lessen they began to look around, to take notice of the drugs, the social disorder, the ideals of peace, the student protests, the Oriental philosophies. It was a world completely unknown to them, full of issues they had never mentioned in their songs. The revelation was traumatic. Epstein’s absence generated chaos, exposing problems with revenue, representation and public relations that eventually caused the demise of the group, but it also gave them the chance to grow up.
Sgt Pepper represents a breaking point in their career on several levels. It is a very autobiographical conceptual take on self-awareness. It is a concept album about the discovery of being able to put together a concept album.
Two projects realized with unusual wit also belong to the same period, a period that bridged two eras: the television movie Magical Mystery Tour and the cartoon Yellow Submarine. In both works can be found some of the most ingenious ideas of the quartet. The grotesque schizoid nightmare I Am The Walrus and the kaleidoscopic trip It’s All Too Much are exercises of surrealism and psychedelia applied to the Merseybeat. Magical Mystery Tour also includes the bucolic ballad The Fool On The Hill, the psychedelic Blue Jay Way, and the mantra Baby You`re A Rich Man.
Meanwhile the shower of hits influenced by the experimental climate continued: Magical Mystery Tour, the movie soundtrack, with trumpets, jazz piano, changes in tempo, and a circus huckster-style presentation, Your Mother Should Know, another vaudeville classic, the anthem All You Need Is Love, Hello Goodbye, a catchy melody distorted by psychedelic effects, Lady Madonna, the boogie inspired by Fats Domino. But the Beatles still belonged to the era of pop music: unlike Cream they did not pull off solos, unlike Hendrix they strummed their guitars without real know-how, unlike Pink Floyd they did not dare dissect harmony. They were not just retro, they simply belonged elsewhere.
Hey Jude (august 1968), a long (for the Beatles) jam of psychedelic blues-rock, in reality another historic slow song by McCartney, came out after Traffic’s Dear Mr. Fantasy and also after Cream’s lengthy live jams had reached peak popularity. Paradoxically, Hey Jude established a new sales record; it was #1 on the charts for nine weeks and sold six million copies.
Having established the melodic standard of the decade, the quartet implemented it in every harmonic recipe that arose from time to time. By applying the industrial law of constant revision, they Beatles managed to keep themselves on top. So much variety of arrangements resulted in mere mannerism, meticulous attention to detail and ornament. The albums of the third period fluctuate in fact between collages of miniatures and melodic fantasies, but always skillfully keeping a harmonic cohesion between one song and the other, in the step with – consciously or unconsciously – the structure of the operetta.
By the time of their next LP release they were leading separate lives, each indifferent to the ideas of the others, and their album reflected the situation. It was clear that this new batch of recorded songs was not the effort of a band, but the work of four artists profoundly different from one another.
The double album The Beatles (November 1968), very similar in spirit to the Byrds’ Notorious Byrd Brothers (June 1968), is a disorganized heap of incongruous ideas. No other Beatles album had ever been so varied and eclectic. Their new “progressive” libido found an outlet in blues-rock (Rocky Raccoon, Why Don’t We Do It In The Road), and especially the giddy hyper-boogies (Birthday and Helter Skelter). As a consequence of this fragmented inspiration, the record includes a cornucopia of genres: classical (Piggies, a rare moment of genius from Harrison, a baroque sonata performed with the sarcastic humour of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, with a melody borrowed from Stephane Grappelli’s Eveline), acoustic folk (Blackbird), the campfire sing-a-long (Bungalow Bill), ballads (Cry Baby Cry – one of their best piano progressions), the usual vaudeville-style parade (Don’t Pass Me By, Martha My Dear, Obladi Oblada), and melodic rock (While My Guitar Gently Weeps, the jewel of their tunefulness). The album wraps up with a long jam, more or less avantgarde, (Revolution No. 9, co-written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono) two years after everybody else, and three years after the eleven minutes of Goin’ Home, by the Stones.
The so called White Album sampled the mood change of rock music toward a simpler and more traditional way to make music. It was released three months after Sweetheart Of The Rodeo by the Byrds, which in turn had followed Dylan’s John Wesley Harding. It is also an album that reflects the passing of Brian Epstein.
In 1968 Great Britain became infected by the concept album/rock opera bug, mostly realized by Beatles contemporaries: Tommy by the Who, The Village Green Preservation Society by the Kinks, Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake by the Small Faces, Odyssey and Oracle by the Zombies, etc (albums that in turn owed something to the loosely-connected song cycles of pop albums such as Frank Sinatra’s In The Wee Small Hours (1955), the Byrds’ Fifth Dimension, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper). So, with the usual delay, a year later the Beatles gave it a try. Abbey Road (1969), is a vaudeville-style operetta that combines every genre in a steady stream of melodies and structurally perfect arrangements. It is the summa encyclopaedica of their career. It is a series of self-mocking vignettes, mimicking now the circus worker (Maxwell’s Silver Hammer), now the crooner (Oh Darling, a parody a la Bonzo Band), now the baby-sitter (Octopus’s Garden, in the silly vein of Yellow Submarine), culminating in the overwhelming suite of side B. Starting with the primitive exuberance of You Never Give Me Your Money (a mini rock opera worthy of early Zappa) and Mean Mr Mustard, the suite comes in thick and fast with Polytheme Pam and She Came In Thru The Bathroom Window, and dies melancholically with yet another goliardic chorus, Carry That Weight (that reprises the motifs of Money and I Want You). It is the apotheosis of the belated music hall entertainer in Paul McCartney. And it is, above all, a masterpiece of production, of sound, of sonic puzzles.
As was the case with their contemporaries – Who, Kinks, Small Faces and Zombies – this late album/thesis runs the risks going down in history as the Beatles’ masterpiece. Obviously it does not even come close to the creative standards of the time (1969), but it scores well. The result is formally impeccable melodic songwriting, although it must be noted that the best songs, both written by George Harrison, are also the most modest. Abbey Road is their last studio album, again produced by George Martin.
All efforts at cohesion notwithstanding, their personalities truly became too divergent. The modest hippie George Harrison became attracted to Oriental spiritualism. (Something and Here Comes The Sun are his melancholy ballads). Paul McCartney, the smiling bourgeois, became progressively more involved with pop music (every nursery-rhyme, Get Back and Let It Be included, are his). John Lennon, the thoughtful intellectual became absorbed in self-examination and political involvement. His was a much harder and/or psychedelic sound (Revolution, Come Together, the dreamy and Indian-like Across The Universe). They were songs ever more meaningless and anonymous. After all, the break-up had begun with Revolver (Lennon wrote Tomorrow Never Knows, Harrison Love You To, McCartney Eleanor Rigby), and had been camouflaged in successive records by Martin’s painstakingly arrangements.
The Beatles adapted their music to suit the styles in fashion: doo-wop, garage-rock, psychedelia, country-rock. Very few bands changed style so drastically from year to year. Perhaps they began to feel obsolete listening to Cream. Cream concerts were the first musical phenomenon in Great Britain to rival Beatlemania. Cream did all they could to make the Merseybeat sound terribly old, precisely what the Beatles had done to the sound of Elvis Presley. In 1969, Led Zeppelin changed completely the importance of radio and charts. [Led Zeppelin is the first enormously successful band whose album did not get any air play on AM radio (only FM) and whose songs did not make the singles charts. The change they brought about was significant because it shifted the importance of the charts from singles to albums. -Translator’s Note] Since they used melody as a lever, the Beatles had a relatively easy time in following every shift in fashion (psychedelia included), until hard-rock – the antithesis of Beatlemania – came about. Suddenly the idol was no longer the singer but the instrument, the excitement was generated by the riff and not by the refrain, concerts were attended by multitudes of long-haired men on drugs who gathered on the street, not by hysterical teenage girls who assembled in theaters. Hard-rock negated their simple melodies. It is not by coincidence that the arrival of hard-rock marked the end of the Beatles.
With out a shadow of a doubt, the Beatles were great melodicists, but at a time when melody was considered a reductive factor. As a matter of fact their melodies marked a regression to the 50s, to the type of singer the recording industry was desperately trying to push on the audience and against whom rock sought to rebel.
The Beatles tried every fashion exported by the US: Chuck Berry’s rock and roll, the vocal harmonies of the Beach Boys, the romantic melody of Tin Pan Alley, the baroque sound of Pet Sounds (Beach Boys), the rock opera Absolutely Free (Frank Zappa), the psychedelic arrangements of the Electric Prunes and the like, the hard riffs of the blues-rock jams (Cream), the synthesis of folk-rock (launched by Dylan and the Grateful Dead). Yet the audience credited these innovations – brought about by others – to the Beatles. All things considered, their success is one of the greatest paradoxes of the century. The Beatles understood virtually nothing of what was happening around them, but the success of anything they copied was guaranteed. By buying their records, one bought a shortcut to the music of those times.
The enormous influence of the Beatles was not musical. Music, especially in those days, was something else: experimental, instrumental, improvised, political. The Beatles played pop ditties until the end. The most creative rock musicians of the time played everything but pop ditties, because rock was conceived as an alternative to ditties. FM radio was created to play rock music, not pop ditties. Alternative music magazines were born to review rock music, not pop songs. Evidently, to the kids who listened to the Beatles (mostly girls attracted by their looks), rock music had nothing to say that they were willing to listen to.
They were influential, yes, but on the customs – in the strictest sense of the word. Their influence, for better or for worse, on the great phenomena of the 60s does not amount to much. Unlike Bob Dylan, they did not stir social revolts; unlike the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead they did not foster the hippie movement; unlike Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix they did not further the myth of LSD; unlike Jagger and Zappa they had no impact on the sexual revolution. Indeed the Beatles were icons of the customs that embodied the opposite: the desire to contain all that was happening. In their songs there is no Vietnam, there is no politics, there are no kids rioting in the streets, there is no sexual promiscuity, there are no drugs, there is no violence. In the world of the Beatles the social order of the 1940s and the 1950s still reigns. At best they were influential on the secret dreams of young girls, and on the haircuts of young nerdy boys.
The Beatles had the historical function to serve as champions of the reaction. Their smiles and their choruses hid the revolution: they concealed the restlessness of an underground movement ready to explode, for a bourgeoisie who wanted to hear nothing about it.
They had nothing to say and that is why they never said it.
44 thoughts on “The Beatles”
hmm possibly you need to read the blogger ‘ Factory Sunburst ‘ s paragraph by paragraph response / retort to this Daniel which undermines every point Scaruffi labours away at …. I think I might have said before here I seriously wonder how often Scaruffi has actually listened to many of the LP ‘s he claims to have heard . Mind you I think everything he says about practically anything is just the most utter utter shit imaginable and would happly de invent the internet if if it meant the overdue disappearance of ‘Piero Scaruffi ‘ Anyway as I say have a go at ‘ Factory Sunburst ‘ s article in response as I say . You might find your own biases pleasantly challenged … I kind of get the feeling that Scaruffi does’nt find the Beatles songs Marxist or Jungian enough in which case why doesnt he just say so -it would have been shorter and sweeter than this great steaming pile of dung …. he probably thinks Van Gogh is colourful fun for kiddies and ‘ real ‘ painting is you know – Francis Bacon ; and that T S Eliot is too ‘popular ‘ and Wallace Stevens is the more ‘ genuine ‘ poet . Btw if anyone wants to have the biggest laugh of their lives they should read Scaruffi’s essay on The Doors , but be careful you might actually die laughing ……
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Thanks Timothy. I’ll check out the Factory Sunburst blog.
thanks Daniel : you and he are my two favourite bloggers
oh yes also the article goes beyond its remit a bit and is called ‘ Piero Scaruffi and Truth ‘
and without boring people to death he has a second blog entry ‘ Piero Scaruffi and Jazz ‘ which is also a good read
For me- ‘ Monkberry Moon Delight ‘ was a fat spliff and an ice-cold Guinness.
‘ Imagine ‘ was the mantra of our failed aspirations.
‘ The wall ‘ offered a ladder.
‘ Liverpool 8 ‘ was a folk-song- and served to emphasise that the Beatles were simply modern minstrels.
And what of the beetle itself ? Nobody ever acknowledges its part in the minstrels’ success.
good for you John
maybe it’s my memory but I just speed read the whole article again and it seems to be a bit longer than the one I read several years back ! …. he actually is pretty complimentary about the ‘ Magical Mystery Tour ‘ EP and the ‘ Yellow Submarine ‘ movie …..so he’s not a totally humourless moralising git after all … what is odd though is his dismissal of The White Album as a ‘ disordered heap of incongrous ideas ‘…. these seem to be the very qualities that Scaruffi is attracted to in the output of other recording artists like Zappa , Beefheart , Henry Cow , Red Krayola , etc ……but once again what strikes me about Scaruffi is his strange stress on social radicalism as a priority in culture ; somewhat like NME staff writers in 1983. Most people in their 50’s have moved on from this stance . Life is too short to prescribe what culture ‘ should ‘ be like….that should be what political scientists should be attempting to do when they sketch out future scenarios for our societies …. Music makers and entertainers are more than welcome to attempt to incorporate ‘ social ‘ relevance into their work …..but too much of that and you end up like The Pop Group …..
final comment on this , great dissection of Scaruffi’s music criticism on ‘ Perfect Sound Forever ‘ online by Nathan Osborne ..if only Scaruffi himself wrote half as well as this …… sample quote ” his ( Scaruffi’s ) is a world where the highbrow and the lowbrow never exist alongside one another , nurturing each other but are forever embattled ” …..also in passing reminded myself of Scaruffi on Neil Young , specifically ‘ Tonights the Night ‘ which he describes as ” an elegaic concept album which sounds like mass for the dead ” ……..yeah sure it does Piero ….
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Timothy, I checked out Factory Sunburst and I while think some of the individual criticisms are valid, many others, I think, amount to nit-picking. Substantively, Scaruffi’s critique of the Beatles is sound in my view. Of course, the historical legacy of the group necessarily lends itself to to the kind of critique other artists are able to avoid either because they haven’t built up the prerequisite body of work, or because they haven’t maintained a level of longevity sustained by the Beatles. So on that basis alone, it’s perhaps easy for critics to make the kind of socio-political and cultural analysis of the Beatles that, by definition, they wouldn’t apply in relation to other artists. Nevertheless, I do think that kind of analysis is Scaruffi’s trump card in his critique of the Beatles. You can’t, in my view, simply divorce or underplay these aspects from any analysis of their work.
but sureley Daniel , doesnt Ian McDonald do exactly this kind of an analysis ( from the perspective of a Beatles fan ) in his ‘ Revolution in the Head ‘ book …. though simply just writing with far greater depth , elegance , clarity and sharper historicization than Scaruffi …. ? which points of Factory Sunburst do you find to be ‘ nit picking ‘ . Few would agree ( whether Beatles fans or not ) with Scaruffi’s view that in their last couple of years their songs became ever more ‘ anonymous ‘ , more meaningless maybe but then that is true of quite a lot of late sixties pop fare . … and why is he so erm well damned inconsistent here ? Why does he describe ‘We Can Work it Out ‘ as a ( quote ) ” melodic masterpiece ” and give ‘ Abbey Road ‘ 8 out 10 stars ( a very high rating for him ) ….. if he really hates them as much as he wants us to believe he does . And again here’s subjectivity for you , that album for me is the weakest link in the second act of their career and one I have never taken to much bar a couple of tracks . I have no problem with socio cultural analysis of popular culture but reading quickly down the Scaruffi article again just now far too much of it just does’nt really convince , does he really actually want us to think he’s actually onto some substantive alternative take on pop reality here or is he just having fun being contrarian . The article is excessivley slanted toward a kind of 80’s ‘ lit crit lite ‘ cri de couer of a dissapointed ‘ mass culture ‘ opposer who nonetheless cannot help but admire some aspects of the thing it is that he’s attacking . Ben Watson’s books on Zappa , though far better written and more developed also fall into the trap of Scaruffis’s cogitations : a tendency for exaggerating the base / superstructure elements within popular cultural creation . I’m sure ‘ Privelige ‘ must be one of his favourite films ( though oddly enough I’d put money on him being a a fan of ‘ How I won the War ‘ and ‘ The Magic Christian ‘ .) Is it a crime that the Beatles songs are so life affirming and do not really engage with issues concerning the means of production ? Beyond the rather studenty seriousness here what is he really trying to write about … – ‘ The Beatles ‘ themselves and their music or ‘ Piero Scaruffi and his dissapointment with the failure of the Sixties ‘ ?
I have a lot of strong great information that debunks the totally ignorant,ludicrous lies Scaruffi wrote about The Beatles and I’m sure I’m going to be misjudged for posting all of this.Among the countless lies Scaruffi tells about The Beatles,is that they weren’t good musicians,when they were actually very good musicians, and they got that way by playing 8 hours a night for two years in the sleazy strip clubs in Hamburg Germany,and then they played live successfully in The Cavern Club for years before they recorded their first album that they weren’t innovative when there is a lot of evidence that they were very innovative,especially John Lennon and Paul McCartney in the recording studio,that other well known musicians spoke or speak highly of them,when countless well known,successful rock and other musicians still call them the greatest band ever,and call John Lennon and Paul McCartney the greatest song writers of the 20th century,even over their own bands and solo selves,and they wrote a lot of songs about drugs,and some about sex etc etc.
As The All Music Guide says in their excellent Beatles biography “That it’s difficult to summarize their career without restating cliches that have already been digested by tens of millions of rock fans, to start with the obvious,they were the greatest and most influential act of the rock era and introduced more innovations into popular music than any other rock band of the 20th century.”
“Moreover they were among the few artists of *any* discipline that were simultaneously the best at what they did *and* the most popular at what they did.” They also say as singers John Lennon and Paul McCartney were among the best and most expressive in rock.
Also on an excellent site,The Evolution of Rock Bass Playing McCartney Style by Dennnis Alstrand,Stanley Clarke,Sting,Will Lee,Billy Sheehan,George Martin and John Lennon are quoted saying what a great,melodic and influential bass player Paul has always been.
And Wilco’s John Stirratt was asked in Bass Player which bass players have had the most impact on his playing and the first thing he said was, Paul McCartney is one of the greatest bass players of all time,if you listen to what he was tracking live in the studio it’s unbelievable.” “With his tone and musicality he was a huge influence,he covered all of his harmonic responsibilities really well but his baselines were absolutely melodic and inventive.”
In this 2010 interview the blogger says that John Stirratt has an affinity for good melodies so it’s not surprising that Paul McCartney is one of his musical icons and then he quotes him saying that he’s always absolutely in awe of his playing,including Paul’s Beatles years.
And in an online 1977 Eric Clapton interview,Eric Clapton In His Own Words he says that there was always this game between John and George,and he said partly because John was a pretty good guitar player himself http://www.superseventies.com/ssericclapton.html . He played live with John as a member of John’s 1969 Plastic Ono Band.
And there is a great online article by musician and song writer Peter Cross,The Beatles Are The Most Creative Band Of All Time and he says that many musicians besides him recognize Paul as one of the best bass guitar players ever.He too says that John and Paul are the greatest song composers and that to say that John and Paul are among 2 of the greatest singers in rock and roll is to state the obvious,and that John,Paul and George were all excellent guitarists and that George is underrated by people not educated about music but that Eric Clapton knew better,he also says that both John and Paul played great leads as well as innovative rhythm tracks.
John Lennon co-wrote,sang and played guitar on one of David Bowie’s first hits Fame in 1975 and David invited John to play guitar on his version of John’s beautiful Beatles song Across The Universe.Brain May,Ozzy Osbourne,and Liam Gallagher and many more call The Beatles The Greatest Band Ever.’
Also on Music Radar Tom Petty,Joe Perry and Richie Sambora in What The Beatles Mean To Me all say how cool and great they thought The Beatles were when they first saw them on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964 when they were just teen boys,Richie was only 5.Tom Petty said he thought they were really really great.
Robin Zander of Cheap Trick said he’s probably one of the biggest Beatles fans on the planet.Brad Whitford of Aerosmith said that a lot of that Beatles influence comes from Steven Tyler’s collaboration with Mark Hudson both whom are absolute Beatles freaks and he said I guess the goal is to try and emulate probably some of the best music of the last 50 years which has to be The Beatles.
Also in an excellent Beatles book Ticket To Ride by Denny Somach where so many other well known popular respected rock musicians and artists are interviewed about The Beatles praising them including Jimmy Page,Brian Wilson who says he’s always loved The Beatles. And Brian Wilson called John & Paul the greatest song writers of the 20th century on a 1995 Nightline Beatles tribute show,(which had on music artists from every type of music,a young black jazz musician,a middle aged black opera singer,Steve Winwood,Meatloaf,and classical violinist Isak Perleman,who said he plays his children Bach,Beethoven Mozart and The Beatles)and he played With A Little Help From My Friends on the piano and he said he just loves this song. He also said that Sgt.Pepper is the greatest album he ever heard and The All Music Guide says in their Beach Boys biography,that Brian had a nervous breakdown after he heard it. Brian also said that when he first heard The Beatles brilliant 1965 folk rock album Rubber Soul he was blown away by it.He said all of the songs flowed together and it was pop music but folk rock at the same time and he couldn’t believe they did this so great,this inspired him to make Pet Sounds.
John Lodge and Justin of The Moody Blues are interviewed in this book and Bill Wyman and Ron Wood says how The Rolling Stones became good friends with The Beatles in 1963 after John and Paul wrote 1 of their first hits,the Rock n Roll song,I Wanna Be You’re Man.
Ron Wood was asked what his favorite Beatles songs and he said there are so many apart from the obvious like Strawberry Fields I Want To Hold Your Hand is one he said he used to like a lot ,and he said he really loved We Can Work It Out.He also says that The Beatles used to have a radio show every Friday where they played live and spoke and he would never miss an episode. He said infact whoever has the rights to those shows should dig them up,because they are incredible.
Justin Hayward says that the album he always really loved ,and he said it was when they started experimenting with chord structures ,was A Hard Day’s Night.He says they began to move away from the standard 3 chord thing and just went into more interesting structures .He said A Hard Day’s Night was the album for him and their song If I Fell was the song.He said it started in a different key to how it ended up,and it’s a beautifully worked out song and that there are some songs on that album that were very emotional and evocative. He said that for everybody just starting to write songs as he was,it was a real turn on and eye opener.
31 Year old Beatles academic and music scholar Arron Krerowicz plays many instruments & writes his own music too
Here is a really good July 1976 Rolling Stone Magazine interview with George Martin in which he’s asked about George Harrison who he says is talented but John and Paul are so enormously talented that it was silly to look elsewhere.But it’s obvious George Harrison was even more talented as a song writer and guitarist than most people realize because in this same interview George Martin says that he didn’t give George much encouragement he just tolerated him. And of course John and Paul didn’t give him much encouragement,so he did mostly everything on his own.
Around 2003 I found an online interview with George Martin and he said that even though he has produced many other music artists,he has never known or worked with anyone as brilliant as The Beatles. He was also interviews in the 1990’s on a Breakfast With The Beatles show on a local rock station,and he said that John Lennon and Paul McCartney were incredibly talented people and he said it like he still couldn’t believe it.And he also said they both were extraordinarily talented song writers and great singers.
And in the excellent thorough book by Mark Lewisohn,The Beatles Recording Sessions,George Martin,and so many of The Beatles tape operators and recording engineers are interviewed,(and in the beginning there is a great 1987 interview with Paul McCartney) and they describe in detail how truly innovative, brilliant and creative especially John and Paul were in their amazing 8 year recording career. And there is a big black and white picture of Mick Jagger sitting in between John and Paul in the recording console room listening to the playback of the songs from The Beatles Revolver album.
And my cousin who was born in 1968 who used to be a lawyer,and his brother born in 62 who is still a lawyer,and their sister born in 64,their oldest brother born in 60,and their parents have always been Beatles fans. My cousin born in 68,went to England around 1991 and he told me that he was at a British Museum where the works of Shakespeaere,Dickens,Wodsworth and Keats,Lennon and McCartney’s lyrics are right in the same case. And he said the majority of visitors always said,forget the Shakespeare etc,lets go over to the Lennon and McCartney lyrics.
When I once asked him,if he still liked The Beatles he said,best band there ever was.My step cousin born in 1958,said they probably were the greatest band ever.He saw Paul McCartney and Wings in May 1976 in concert when he was 18 and he said it was a great show.
In 2010 I read an online article that had an interview with Ernie Isley of The Isley Brothers about a recent tribute to Jimi Hendrix, in which he says that Jimi played for The Isley Brothers & lived with them & that they & he were fans of The Fab Four from the moment they all watched them on The Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. I always thought that Jimi was only a later period Beatles fan,I knew he played Sgt.Pepper live the weekend it came out,& he played Day Tripper live also,& several people on different message boards said that when he was asked where the direction of music was going,he said ask The Beatles.
In this 2008 interview asking Keith Richards who the five greatest bands ever are besides The Rolling Stones,he said obviously he put The Beatles in there. This was 6 years of course before he ridiculously criticized The Beatles brilliant Sgt.Pepper album that The Rolling Stones tried but failed to copy and equal.
Ozzy Osbourne has been a big Beatles fan since he was an early teenager,and he picked She Loves You as one of his favorite songs for Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest songs and Sgt.Pepper is one o his favorite albums. He says that not loving The Beatles is like not loving oxygen and he called The Beatles the greatest band to ever walk the earth.
Here Ozzy Osbourne says that he doesn’t anyone will ever be as great as The Beatles and he said they were all great,even George Harrison and Ringo Starr were great.
Here is a video of Ozzy Osbourne meets Paul McCartney for the first time and they hug each other.
Here Ozzy Osbourne says how hearing She Loves You at age 15 inspired him to go into music.
As The Rolling Stone Album Guide said, not liking The Beatles is as perverse as not liking the sun. And Ozzy Osbourne( he’s been a huge Beatles fan he was a young teen from The Beatles early days,and he picked She Loves You as one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s greatest songs of all time,and Sgt.Pepper is one of hi favorite albums) said not loving The Beatles is like not loving oxygen. And a guy who runs Keno’s Classic Rock n Roll Site and who runs a Rolling Stones and John Lennon fan site says in his review of The Beatles 1967-1970 Blue Album damn The Beatles were one great group and he said in his great review of The Beatles 1962-1966 Red album, that if you don’t love or at least like The Beatles and their music then you are not a true rock fan and more than likely will never ever get it.
He also says that John Lennon showed on Paul’s rocker Get Back why he should have played lead guitar more often because he did such a good job of it. He also said he played a pretty good slide guitar on George’s For Your Blue and he said John also played one of the first and best acid guitar parts on his great rocker Revolution.
Many people have said about The Rolling Stones ,that their albums have a few good or great songs but the rest is filler.
But a radio host who was a former DJ once said that The Beatles are one of the only if not only bands that almost all of their songs were great including the album tracks that weren’t released as singles.
On a message board discussion some years ago about what bands and artists people consider overrated,quite a few said The Rolling Stones and some said The Beatles or both,and a guy said if you ask almost anybody in the music business they will tell you that The Beatles were the Greatest Band Ever!
I once spoke to a rock DJ about The Beatles and even though he said they aren’t his favorite,he said nobody can say that The Beatles weren’t great,he said especially John Lennon and Paul McCartney as song writers.
And I once spoke to another rock DJ who is a huge Beatles fan & who has hosted a 2 hour Breakfast With The Beatles radio show for over 20 years & I said that The Beatles work in the recording studio described in details in The Beatles Recording Sessions by Mark Lewisohn,is so impressive & brilliant & he said oh it’s the work of geniuses. I said how can anyone not recognize what extraordinary singer song composers John Lennon & Paul McCartney were? And he said oh you can ask anyone in the music business & they will tell you that.
Here is a very good educational you tube video by Mean Mr Mayo who is a member of The Beatles fan site,Abbryd debunking this stupid,ridiculous,ludicrous myth that The Beatles were ever a boy band.
Here is a 2011 amazon.com customer discussion where quite a few posters especially DK Pete do a very good job debunking this totally ignorant nonsense calling The Beatles a boy band,after a moron started this (unfortunately common) discussion,The Beatles Were The First Boy Band!
Even in this 2011 discussion asking this totally stupid,ignorant,ludicrous question if The Beatles were a boy band,people who said they aren’t even Beatles fans know it’s absolute nonsense to call them a boy band,and as one of the fans said,The Beatles are the most talented,forward thinking bands and to call them a boy band is a complete insult to The Beatles.Another said they do have a problem with them being called this,because they are nothing like boy bands musically and it’s derogatory.
The Beatles were *NEVER* a ”boy band”! As a poster Reverend Rock,who is a rock musician,reverend and a big Beatles fan said on a classic rock site years ago,that anyone who knows The Beatles history knows it’s ludicrous to even *suggest* such a thing! And what a huge insult to their enormous talent as true singers,song writers and musicians! The Beatles were a *zillion* times more talented and cool than any stupid,uncool,untalented real boy band!
The Monkees are the first true boy band because they didn’t even start off as a genuine band, they were all musical but they were originally hired as actors to play members of a TV pop rock band for their TV show, they didn’t start off playing together like Paul at age 15,George age 14 and John age 16 playing guitars and singing,then playing a few years later for 8 hours a night in sleazy strip clubs( and The Beatles had sex with many young women groupies,many who were teen girls and strippers) like The Beatles did in Hamburg Germany(or anywhere) for 2 years in a row,taking speed pills to stay awake to do it,and working their a*ses off playing as a real rock n roll band,and then playing successfully in the Cavern club as a real rock n roll band for years by the time they made it big.
And The Beatles wrote and played a lot of great rock n roll and pop rock songs in their early days. John and Paul wrote the rock n roll song I Wanna Be Your Man write in front of Keith Richards and Mick Jagger in 1963 and they were both really impressed that they could just write a song just like that,and it inspired them to start writing their own songs and both bands became good friends from then on. And this song was one of The Rolling Stones first hits.
There is just no comparison to The Monkees etc. A guy so accurately said on a message board many years ago when some idiots called them a ”boy band” that The Beatles were *never* a boy band,not even during their 1963-1965 period. And another guy said a few years after this on another forum,when some idiot said this,that he too once thought the early Beatles were a boy band like NYSNC,or The Back Street Boys,until he got out of 7th grade.
Every time some ignorant person unjustly calls them a boy band,I’m sure John Lennon’s ashes must be turning with outrage.I’m sure he would go on to these sites and say I was *not* the founder and the leader of some f*king,stupid,uncool,untalented, boy band get that through your stupid f*cking heads!
And younger people don’t know what type of music was out in 1963,even though I wasn’t born yet,I know that The Beatles early songs like She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand were hard rock compared to the music out then.There was just Bobby Darin,The Four Seasons,Bobby Vinton and The Beach Boys surfing hits.
Not only is this so ignorant,ridiculous,and false on a creative and musical level,but on their personal level too. I guarantee true genuine boy bands don’t have groupies.
The Beatles had sex with *tons* of young women groupies,many who were just teen girls especially during their touring years of 1963-1966 ironically they did this the most during the joke fake cleaned up image Brian Epstein created for them in their early days.In reality they were like pimps playing the part of priests! It’s no coincidence that in The Beatles Anthology video series that Paul,George and Ringo made,the story that is reported of The Beatles being thrown out of a US hotel in August 1965 because Paul was found in his hotel bedroom with an underage girl, that is included in the first great Beatles documentary from 1982 The Complete Beatles which none of them had any involvement making,is completely left out of The Beatles Anthology.
Paul McCartney also said in Hunter Davies 1968 first edition of the only authorized Beatles biography called,The Beatles, that he had sex at age 15 with a girl who was older and bigger than him,and most 15 year old boys weren’t having sex in 1957,and he said he bragged about it to his classmates the next day and that he was the first one in his class to have sex.Paul also said in this book,that he would go into strip clubs at only 13 and he was the lad in his class that drew nude women.He also got another girl who was his girl friend,pregnant when he was 17 and she was 16,and Paul’s father and her parents wanted them to get married but she had a miscarriage.
Hunter Davies says in his 1985 update of his Beatles biography, that The Beatles were no different from any other rock band when it came to groupies and he said they just had more to chose from. He said it was up to the road manager to say to these young women,you,you and you 5 minutes later which is really sexist and disgusting but it’s totally typical for every rock band which is what they always were.
From Me To You,and especially She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand were praised by some music critics even from the beginning,like William Mann of The London Times in December 1963 pointed out their interesting unusual chords and arrangements and London Times music critic Richard Buckle also in late 1963 called John and Paul the greatest composers since Beethoven after they wrote the music for a play Mods and Rockers.
Bob Dylan ,Roger McGuinn of The Byrds as early as 1963 and 1964 pointed out that even in early Beatles songs like She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand had unusual and interesting chords and they arranged them.
Here in this article about The Beatles chords,Bob Dylan is quoted saying what he thought in 1964 about The early Beatles music,he said that they were doing things nobody was doing and that their chords were outrageous,just outrageous and their harmonies made it all valid.
Here in Rolling Stone Magazine’s 100 Greatest Song Writers Bob Dylan is number 1,Paul McCartney is number 2, and John Lennon is number 3, Bob Dylan is quoted about a car trip when he heard a lot of Beatles songs on the radio, he said they were doing things and that he knew they were pointing the direction where music had to go.
Roger McGuinn has said that he started to play a 12 string guitar after he saw and heard George Harrison playing in in the A Hard Day’s Night movie and he also said The Beatles were unique in combining folk chords in rock n roll music in in1964.
And John and Paul wrote one of The Rolling Stones first hits the rock n roll song, I Wanna Be Your Man in late 1963 right in front of them. And Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were impressed and said wow,how can you write a song just like that and it inspired them to start writing their own songs and both bands became good friends from then on.
John Lennon and Paul McCartney were such amazingly talented singer song writers that they were already writing hit songs for other artists as early as 1963 when their own song writing success was getting off the ground,besides The Rolling Stones,they also wrote hit songs in 1963 for Billy J.Krammer and The Dakatos,Celia Black,and Peter and Gordon etc.
Paul wrote his first song at age 14 and was playing guitar,John wrote heavy deep poetry but didn’t start writing songs until he met Paul and was impressed that he wrote his own songs,and he too started to write his own songs at age 16,and they wrote together and never stopped from then on. Paul wrote the very pretty song I’ll Follow The Sun at only 16.Even when The Beatles first came to America in February 1964 many people said how rare it was for *adult* rock n roll bands and solo artists to write their own songs,and Paul and John were already doing this as teenagers in the mid 1950’s.
And even though I wasn’t born yet in 1963 I know what type of music was popular on the radio,non rock n roll songs like Bobby Vinton,The Four Seasons,Bobby Darin and The Beach Boys surfing hits,The early Beatles songs like She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand and I Saw Her Standing there etc were hard rock for 1963 and ahead of their time.
The Beatles even in their early days were writing and playing on records as well in concerts,both love ballads,and great rocking rock n roll and pop rock songs that they both wrote and cover songs including their great rocking performances in Sweden where the audience was quiet during their performances.
They were the greatest *rock* band ever! (NEVER A G*d dam*ed stupid,uncool,untalented boy band as so many ignorant morons misperceive them as!) And I have always loved this great blues rocker by Paul,She’s A Woman.
Except live there isn’t the piano,blending with the great rocking guitars,Paul’s great prominent booming bass,and his great rock vocal. And once again it’s amazing how good they sound on such limited,primitive sound systems of the time and with no feedback monitors so they couldn’t even hear themselves singing and playing,yet they still played and sang great and in sync with each other.
Here is their great April 1965 New Music Express Winner’s Poll concert from April 11,1965.They won three years in a row.And notice that there are men and women of ages in the audience.
Here they performed Paul’s great rocking I Saw Her Standing There in Sweden in October 1963 which The Beatles recorded in February 1963 on their first album Please Please Me which was recorded in just one day.
The Beatles performing their rocking cover of Long Tall Sally with Paul’s great rocking vocal June 1964.
Here in 1964 June in Melbourne Australia they are playing John’s great rock song that they had recorded in February 1964 on their first great early album A Hard Day’s Night.
And here they performed Paul’s very good hard rocking,especially for early 1965,I’m Down at The Ed Sulivian Theater August 14,1965 one night before their live Shea Stadium performance.
Here is their even harder rocking performance at Shea Stadium on August 15,1965 than they did on their record version of Paul’s I’m Down. And they did what a great rock n roll band would do,they ended this rock n roll concert with this rocking song.
Here they performed a rocking cover of Dizzy Miss Lizzy with John’s great rock vocal,at the same She Stadium concert.
Here is another great rocking Beatles performance of the cover Twist and Shout in June 1964 in Melbourne Australia
And what a huge disgusting insult to all of them as very talented musicians,and to John and Paul as extremely talented song composers and great singers,and to John Lennon’s memory and was never the founder and leader of some stupid,uncool,untalented boy band! And I’m certain that if John were still living he would come on youtube and other message boards and say I was *never* the founder and leader of any f**king stupid,uncool,untalented boy band get that through your stupid f**king heads!
If Beethoven,Mozart and Bach had screaming teenage girls in their audiences and they formed a band together they would have been a boy band too right?
Both VH1 and MTV have been using Richie Unterberger’s excellent All Music Guide’s long Beatles biography as their Beatles biography they both used to not have a very good biography of The Beatles.Here are great Beatles biographies that totally debunk this totally stupid,inaccurate,ludicrous,ridiculous myth that they were ever a ‘’boy band’’.
The Beatles own documentary The Beatles Anthology
The great 1982 Beatles documentary,The Complete Beatles narrated by award winning British actor Malcolm McDowell
And any great reputable accurate Beatles biography would debunk this ludicrous,stupid myth.And I have *never* read or heard *any* legitimate serious rock critics or rock music journalists describe them this way and for extremely great reasons.
I really didn’t want to link to this article because unfortunately it says it appeared in Penthouse, the sexist,woman-hating,degrading and violent pornographic magazine in 1984,but I can’t find the full interview anywhere else.
This is a great interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono at The St.Regis Hotel in September 1971. And Yoko was asked if she knew about what really went on during The Beatles tours,and she says she had thought that he’s an artist I’m sure he has had a few affairs, and she said she was really shocked and she said Oh God! when John told her the whole story about what he called all of the raving that went on their tours,Yoko said she had never heard the word groupie before.And Yoko was no innocent either,John was her third husband,she had a daughter with her second husband,and she had quite a few affairs and even abortions in the 1960’s.
John is also asked if playing 8 hours a night from 1960-1962 as The Beatles did in Hamburg Germany improved their playing and he said oh amazingly because before that they had only played bits and pieces but in hamburg they played for hours and hours and that’s how they developed their rock n roll sound and playing.He also mentions how they took (meaning speed pills) to stay awake playing so long.
Bob Dylan talks of Beatles friendship
Legend admits: ‘I’m in awe of McCartney’
May 16, 2007
Bob Dylan has spoken in depth about his longstanding friendship with The Beatles and his particular bond with George Harrison.
Talking to Rolling Stone magazine, Dylan talked freely about Harrison’s struggle to find his voice within the songwriting collective of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
“George got stuck with being the Beatle that had to fight to get songs on records because of Lennon and McCartney. Well, who wouldn’t get stuck?” he asked.
Dylan highlighted the writing talents of Harrison, saying: “If George had had his own group and was writing his own songs back then, he’d have been probably just as big as anybody.”
Speaking against popular belief, the singer also denounced any rumours of competitiveness towards Lennon and McCartney, asserting, “They were fantastic singers. Lennon, to this day, it’s hard to find a better singer than Lennon was, or than McCartney was and still is.”
Nodding his cap to McCartney in particular, Dylan concluded: “I’m in awe of McCartney. He’s about the only one that I am in awe of. He can do it all. And he’s never let up… He’s just so damn effortless.”
Also, classical composer Leonard Bernstein called John and Paul the greatest composers of the 20th century so did Elton John on a 1991 CBS Morning news show,he was asked who he musically admires and he said you can talk about your Rogers and Hammerstein but for the quantity of quality songs that Lennon and McCartney wrote in that short period of time,he said he thinks they were the greatest song writers of the 20th century.Brian Wilson said this too on a 1995 Nightline Beatles tribute show. The Beatles are in the Vocal Hall of Fame and John and Paul have been in the song writing Hall of Fame since 1987,Keith Richards and Mick Jagger have been in it since 1993,but as of now no members of The Who,or Led Zeppelin are in The Song Writing Hall Of Fame or The Vocal Hall Of Fame,The Rolling Stones aren’t in The Vocal Hall of Fame either and The Beatles were awarded about 20 prestigious Ivor Novello awards as great singers and song writers in just a remarkable 8 year recording career,John and Paul won the first one in early 1964.
They also won an Oscar for their film score of their 1970 film Let It Be.
I also met two people and know a third one who saw The Beatles in concert,one woman and one man who were my high school teachers who saw them in 1966,and the other my second cousin who saw them at the Baltimore Coliseum when she was 16 in 1964,she became a psychologist.They all told me that they were close enough to them to see and hear the The Beatles and that they were great.
And I have been a huge Beatles fan, especially a big highly impressed John and Paul fan since I was 11 and I got my first Beatles book for my 11th birthday,I started collecting their albums at age 9, and I had every album by age 13. I was born after 1964 too. when I was 13 a guy at school who was 2 years older than me,gave me Hunter Davies authorized biography,he was a fan and his older brother was an even bigger fan.I would read that book for hours till 5 in the morning.
My father was a big Bob Dylan fan and he had a lot of his albums,and he also had many Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass albums,and albums by Leonard Cohen and Peter Paul and Mary when I was growing up. And my sister who is 4 years older had a big music collection of all different types of music artists.
Most people I have known all of my life,including my female and male cousins, friends and neighbors know they were brilliant.When I was 11 I had a music teacher who asked us to guess who he was talking about when he said they were geniuses and that they wrote 200 songs,and that most of their songs and albums are great and critically acclaimed in just an 8 year recording career,and I said,The Beatles and he said yes that’s right!
This is a great August 1986 hour long Paul McCartney interview by Barbara Hower from Entertainment This Week. She asked him a lot of great intelligent questions including how he felt about John Lennon’s horrible,tragic murder and she got a rare great interview out of him and he comes across as very likeable intelligent,funny,serious and charming.
This is really the best interview with Paul that I have ever seen or heard.She also talked to him about his drug arrests and all of drug related songs of The Beatles and his time in jail in Japan because of having tons of pot with him and she asked him after having so many groupies how has he managed to stat faithful to one woman,and he only half jokingly says it hasn’t been easy.And in between commercials Lionel Richie and David lee Roth talk about how great The Beatles,especially John and Paul were as song writers.
I still have this interview on an old VHS tape from the time. It’s not on youtube though for some reason. Unfortunately it gets interrupted by advertisements but then the interview resumes.But I just watched it again and there were no commercials now, I hope they don’t include them again.
Paul also says in this interview that soon after John died Yoko called him up and told Paul that John really loved him.
Notice how uncomfortable Paul’s face expression is for about a minute in this great August 1986 hour long Paul McCartney interview by Barbara Hower from Entertainment This Week when she says to him,probably your first great love before you married Linda was Jane Asher, it struck a chord.I’m sure that Paul was really in love with intelligent beautiful British actress Jane too,you don’t write the beautiful love songs such as And I Love Her,Things We Said Today, and Here There Everywhere,(plus the great songs he wrote about his arguments with her,which was his own fault because of his sexism constantly trying to get Jane to give up her acting career she loved so much and that she had been doing since she was 5 years old.She left him for good when in early 1968 after they had been lovers for 5 years and engaged to be married for 7 months,she found him in their bed in their house with another woman.
Paul McCartney is the Mozart of rock and he really was born this way because he inherited his father Jim McCartney’s and Jim’s father’s natural music talent,to a rare ridiculous extreme degree. Paul’s father Jim taught himself how to play the piano at age 14,and he broke an ear drum at the age of 10 so he was deaf in one ear,and he went on to become a classical jazz pianist and the leader of his own band Jim Mac’s Band who were popular in clubs in Liverpool. His father even wrote an instrumental song called,walking In The Park With Eloise which Paul and Wings recorded with the name The Country Hams in 1974 and included this song on their 1976 Wings album,Wings At The Speed Of Sound.
But his father and grandfather weren’t poets,they were naturally musically talented and Paul has always been more of a *music genius* than a lyric genius even though he can and has written very good lyrics,but he doesn’t have to.And even when he did it’s his *music* that is what is so great about his songs and albums.
Paul’s father’s father,also played brass and other instruments in a band and was a good singer with a good singing voice.
Paul McCartney 1975 Venus & Mars Wings album is a great rock album and out of the majority of great reviews on amazon.com it gets a well deserved 5 stars out of over 100 reviews for this album. This is one of the *GREATEST* solo/Wings Paul albums he ever did! It’s great and it’s Beatles quality because every song is very good & if anyone wants to know what a true music genius Paul really is,just listen to the *music* in the great Letting Go.
My mother only liked classical music,Beethoven,Bach & Mozart,no rock & she played their music on the piano.When I was playing this album and she came into the room when Letting Go was on,she asked me is that Paul McCartney and I said yes and she said Oh that music is brilliant,he’s a music genius like Beethoven! My mother was also a talented artist who sculpted,and drew with charcoal pencils and pastels, and she even sold some of her sculptures at a few local galleries.
And my sister who is 4 years older than me and had a big diverse music collection since she was a mid teen,bought Venus and Mars when it came out,and I remember listening to it with her,and her friend and my best friend and we all loved it. My sister still says years later that Venus and Mars is one of the best rock albums she ever heard and that it’s unique and she knows no album like it. She always said his 1971 Ram album was a very good album too,although I like this album much better and I really don’t understand all of the love everywhere for his Ram album I think it only has 3 great songs on it, the great rocker Too Many People,Uncle Albert and Back Seat of My Car. Paul’s best post Beatles sounding music was from 1970-1975,with this being his last true great album.After this he wrote some good music but he never wrote the same great quality music again for some reason.
His first solo album McCartney where he played every instrument by himself (and he played them all great) is very good,Red Rose Speedway and Band On The Run are very good albums too,and he produced all of these great albums by himself and co-arranged the music on Venus and Mars by himself.
And John wrote this beautiful,brilliant song with beautiful music and John
s typical beautiful singing voice, Number 9 Dream on his very good 1974 solo album,Walls And Bridges and he produced and arranged the whole album by himself including this beautiful,brilliant song.
Not only did The Beatles give The Rolling Stones one of their first hits with their rock n roll song I Wanna Be Your Man as you know,and they wrote it right in front of them and Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were impressed and like wow how can you write a song just like that and it motivated them to start writing their own songs and The Rolling Stones were good friends with and fans of The Beatles.
Mick Jagger was at 4 Beatles recording sessions and Keith Richards was at 2 of them with him.Also Mick Jagger was such a big Beatles fan that in May 1967 when The Beatles were redording their song Baby You’re A Rich Man he came there and stood on the sidelines to watch and listen to them recording it. His name is also on the tape box and he likely sang at the end verses.In Mark Lewishon’s great detailed music diary book, The Beatles Recording Sessions there is a big black and white picture of Mick Jagger sitting in between John and Paul in the recording console room during The Beatles Revolver recording sessions too.
The Beatles remastered albums sold much more 40 years after their break up than The Rolling Stones remastered albums and they are still together! The Beatles have the best selling album of the last decade with their CD 1.And soon after their music went on iTunes,it went to the top.
And Brian Jones played the saxophone on the strange Beatles song, You Know My Name Look Up The Number and he and Mick Jagger’s girlfriend at the time Marianne Faithful contributed sound effects on the song Yellow Submarine.
As this guy Sal66 who is also a musician and has also posted on sites debunking ignorant cr*p about The Beatles has rightfully pointed out, The Beatles wrote,played and recorded I Feel Fine (which The All Music Guide says has brilliant,active ,difficult guitar leads and riffs) in the Fall of 1964 which was the first use of feedback guitar on a pop rock record and it also had a prominent guitar riff throughout this very good song almost a year *before* The Rolling Stones’s Satisfaction came out.
And on John’s great Norwegian Wood recorded in the Fall of 1965,George Harrison was the first to play a sitar on a pop rock song and it was released on their great album Rubber Soul in December and then in May 1966 The Rolling Stones song Paint It Black came out with Brian Jones playing a sitar.
And in Paul McCartney’s authorized biography Many Years From Now, Mick Jagger’s former girlfriend singer Marianne Faithful says that she and Mick used to go over to Paul’s house a lot and hang out in his music room. She said he never went to see them at their house they always went to visit him because he was Paul McCartney.She also said that Mick was intimidated by Paul but that Paul was totally oblivious to this.
Paul also says in this book that he turned Mick on to pot in his music room and he said which is funny because a lot of people would assume it was the other way around. Mick Jagger was also with The Beatles in Bangor when they got the call that Brian Epstein was found dead because he went on the train with them with his then girl friend singer Marianne Faithful to see the Maharishi to study meditation that weekend.
Also Mick Jagger is quoted on a Rolling Stones fan site,timeisonourside.com saying that Keith Richards liked The Beatles because he was quite interested in their chord sequences and he says he also liked their harmonies which he said were always a slight problem for The Rolling Stones.He said Keith always tried to get the harmonies off the ground but they always seemed messy.Mick then says,that what they never really got together were Keith and Brian singing backup vocals
and he said it didn’t work because Keith was a better singer and to keep going,oooh,ooh,ooh(he laughs) and he said Brian liked all of those oohs which Keith had to put up with.He also said Keith was capable of much stronger vocals than ooh,ooh,ooh.
On this same fan site Keith Richards is quoted from 1971 saying that The Beatles were perfect for opening doors,when they went to America they left it wide open for them and he said that The Rolling Stones could never have gone to America without them.He also said that The Beatles are so f**king good at what they did.
Here are The Rolling Stones live in 1963 and 1964 they don’t sound better or even as good as The Beatles live then. They aren’t even rocking.
Here is The Rolling Stones in 1963 performing the cover Roll Over Beethoven.
Here are The Beatles also performing Roll Over Beethoven in 1964,and clearly their version is more rocking and better!
In 1964 The Rolling Stones wrote and recorded a Rice Krispies TV commercial jingle not something cool like a cigarette ad and they also had teen girls screaming at their early concerts.Maybe The Rolling Stones should be called a boy band too.I’m pretty certain THe Beatles never wrote and recorded a jingle for a cereal TV commercial.
Here is The Rolling Stones performing one of my favorite songs by them,Street Fighting Man the music is great in it,although the words are very good too, while most of the comments are positive,there is a guy in the comments who said it’s a weak performance and they sound like a high school cover band.
Here is part of The Beatles great January 1969 roof top concert. What Steve Paradiso says in the comments,That The Beatles were arguably The Greatest Rock n Roll Band Ever is *so true!*
British classical composer Howard Goodall’s TV special 20th Century Greats features The Beatles,specifically Lennon and McCartney as one of the brilliant music artists featured.
Here is another even better part of this series
Hunter Davies wrote in his 1968 only authorized Beatles biography,The Beatles that George Harrison at only age 13 would stay up till 2 in the morning playing his guitar until he got all of the chords exactly right and his fingers were bleeding and his nice mother stayed up with him to. And One of The Beatles engineers Geoff Emerick says in Mark Lewisohn’s excellent Beatles recording diary,The Beatles Recording Sessions that in early 1966 when The Beatles were recording John’s song I’m Only Sleeping, George Harrison played backwards guitar the most difficult way possible even though he could have taken an easy way,and it took him 6 hours just to do the guitar overdubs! He then made it doubly difficult by adding even more distorted guitars and Geoff says this was all George’s idea and that he did all of the playing!
Eric Clapton said in a 1992 interview when he and George were asked what they admired about each other during their Japan tour, that George is a fantastic slide guitar player. He and George were very good friends and they obviously admired and respected each others guitar playing and George played guitar on Cream’s song Badge.
Rate Your Music Top 1000 Rock Artists Queen is number 75,The Beatles are so rightfully number 1 http://rateyourmusic.com/list/noname219/top_1000_rock_artists/10/
And on the site Digital Dreamdoor where many musicians are members The Beatles are the number 1 Greatest Rock Artists.
On their 100 Greatest Rock Bass Guitarists Paul McCartney has been number 8 for many years now, John Deacon is number 32.John Paul Jones is number 27,and Bill Wyman is number 95.
Out over 100 Greatest Rock Drummers Ringo Star is number 13,Roger Taylor is number 31 and Charlie Watts is number 91..
Out of 200 Greatest Rock Song Writers John Lennon and Paul McCartney are of course number 1 members of Queen are number 47.
On Last FM. before Last FM. changed their site and now they unfortunately took off the fan groups,The Rolling Stones only had 80 members and they had 2,000 of their fan group in 2007,The Beatles had over 2,000 which became 18,000 and the average age of fans is 22 more guys than girls and they are from all over the world. In 2006,2007 and 2008 The Beatles were the # 1 most listened music artists on Last.FM and they are very popular on YouTube and Rate Your Music where many male and female fans in their teens and 20’s call them The Greatest Rock Band Ever. They are now the number 1 classic Rock band on there as they have been for yearshttp://www.last.fm/tag/classic+rock/artists and they did their homework right,in their Beatles biography they rightfully say that The Beatles were an iconic *rock band* and are the most critically acclaimed and successful rock band ever. And on Rate Your Music,they are the highest rated music artists out of over 3,000.http://rateyourmusic.com/list/noname219/top_artists/
And they are number 1 out over 1,000 Top Rock Artists
The Beatles are still rightfully regarded by most people,most rock critics,and many other music and rock artists as The most creative,innovative,and prolific rock band ever.
In 1995 25 years after they broke up their Anthology CD’s went straight to # 1 around the world and I heard a rock DJ say that 40% of the people buying them were teenagers,the same exact thing when their 1C D came out in 2000 30 years after they broke,up and in 2009,39 years after they broke up,they were the second biggest selling artists in the last decade,and their 1CD was the biggest selling album. And their music went to the top soon after it went on iTunes.And soon after their music started streaming on Spotify it became very popular and Billboard reported that 65% of listeners are under 34 years old which means they weren’t even born when they broke up in 1970.
There are also a lot of people in their teens,20’s and 30’s who are fans of John’s solo great music,and Paul’s solo and Wings great music.
The Beatles do need defending because there truly is so much ignorant,inaccurate myths about them,the most ignorant and ludicrous of all,is that they were ever a boy band and they never were not even for half of a second.
Here is a review of The Beatles first album,Please Please Me by a top Epionions music reviewer Scapp70 he says they need defending and he said that he had been reading some really negative things about The Beatles in print and online,and he said it’s just so wild.He said but when you’re as big as The Beatles there is bound to be some negativity out there. He explains how brilliant they were and that they were fine musicians,amazing song writers and forward thinkers, and how they made an amazing amount of great albums in such a short time and why they are rightfully widely considered the best band ever.
The Beatles wrote and played 50 years worth of diverse mostly great (and what wasn’t great was still good) critically acclaimed,popular,songs and albums in only an amazing 8 year recording career , no band has ever done this before,during,or since.
Many people on different message boards have said the only Rolling Stones song they like is Paint It Black, my first cousin who is a head hunter helping people find jobs,she used to an accountant,and when she was 21 a huge Rolling Stones fan she also had The Beatles Revolver album in her bedroom.
When The Rolling Stones did their Steel Wheels tour in 1989 I asked her if she still liked The Rolling Stones and she said no,but the same year at her wedding shower my male and female cousins were talking about The Beatles who we all love,and my cousin said Oh I love The Beatles.
And when I was going to Paul McCartney live for the first time in 1990 and I was very excited about it,I was going on about how great he,John and The Beatles were and she said OK,I said you said you love The Beatles too and she said hey bottom line they were geniuses!
And I once heard a radio host who was a former rock DJ and he said The Beatles are really like the only music artists who have just about every song they did was great and wasn’t great was still good. He said even their album tracks that weren’t released as singles.
And many people have said it’s The Rolling Stones albums that have just a handful of very good songs and the rest is filler!