[life] Beatles – 50 years – revisited

71-Beatles

sugar plum fairy..here we go..

The post is written exactly 50 years after Beatles first came to US and claimed their fame and stardom throughout the world.

Although this post is about Beatles, I deliberately categorize it under ‘life’. Beatles has been part of my life since my childhood. It all started when my mother played Beatles early songs over and over again. Her generation is the one that experience the Beatlemania.

I think Beatles will become a name that will be remembered as the most important musician in 20th century. In my personal opinion, musical industry owes a lot to this band from Liverpool, not only in term of music but also in term of pop culture and other aspect of the industries.

And the more you learn about them, the more fascinating you are. Here some of the reasons why I am so fixated on their music and their life as a band.

TRANSFORMATION

In term of music, if you try to listen to their music chronologically, you will find that their music transform  along their journey through life.

Simple thing, let’s hear early Beatles lyrics : “Close your eyes, and I’ll kiss you, tomorrow I’ll miss you, remember that I’ll always be true”. First transition is to use third person reference in their next set of songs : “Yes she loves you, and you know you should be glad.”

And when they were more mature, the lyrics became : “Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see” and this amazing lyrics : “thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box, they blindly make their way across the universe”. Amazing transformation, right?

CREATIVITY

Many people only know songs like : Let It Be, Hey Jude, Yesterdays, and Michelle (especially ever since Paul sang this in the White House in front of the POTUS and first lady).

But their songs are very rich and creative. And if you play instruments with chords, you know how creative this band is. You already know how good they are with the lyrics. Many phrases from their songs become so so natural in our conversation : “With A Little Help from My Friends”, “A Day in Life”, “When I’m 64”, “Can’t Buy Me Love”.

And in term of melody, you can find western-like “Honey Pie”, Disney-theme-like “Do You Want to Know A Secret”, gospel-like “Let It Be”, rap-like “Come Together”, ballroom-like “I’m So Happy Just to Dance with You”, and even dangdut-like “Within You or Without You”.

And in term of lyrics, so many interesting stories inside and outside the songs. Who can think about writing the detail of several murders into a song? Well, Beatles did it with “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”. The song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” will make you think of Alice in Wonderland or Tim Burton’s movies. And you know where was the inspiration come? When John Lennon saw a drawing by his son, about a girl in the sky surrounded by diamonds as stars. And the girl was Lucy, his son’s school friend.

And they wrote songs about USSR, meter-maid, circus, childhood places (Strawberry Fields, Penny Lane), submarine, even about a garden at the bottom of the sea.

Another example on how genius this band is, was the song “A Day in Life”. The inspiration was from a newspaper. There were three stories that made the song : car crash, war, and about so many holes in the road to Blackburn. And when you listen to the song, the transition, it’s simply magic. Long before the Bohemian Rhapsody was introduced.

And the creativity is not merely about music, lyrics, melody. Beatles did experiments on everything.

Their album cover :  Sgt. Pepper album, Abbey Road album, and White Album were so legendary. Their recording (thanks to George Martin) was impeccable with a lot of instruments and sounds, so ahead of their time.

Who is the first band ever play in a football stadium because the audience is too big? Who is the first to record their music performance to be re-broadcasted? Which musician participate in first live global TV broadcast? Who has the first idea on self documentary?

And I can go on for more ….

TOGETHERNESS

When you watch the Beatles Anthology (my review here and here), you will find how they really were a BAND. John Lennon and Paul McCartney may be dominant, but Beatles are Lennon + McCartney + Harrison + Starr.

As Steve Jobs quote : ““My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”

Even in their songs, you can feel the different. You will know that songs like “Julia” will come from John, and “Hey Jude” will come from Paul. They really complement each other.

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When I was in school, I was quite amazing that so many of my friends (second generation of our ‘Beatlemania’ parents) who were still love Beatles songs. And after 50 years, the hype is still there.

Beatles may not be as famous as Beethoven and Mozart. But they are definitely going to be immortal in music industry.

 

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