When I hear people say that they hate the Beatles I wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong with them. I question their sanity. I think perhaps they are shipping an errant gene somewhere. I’m concerned that they are a little mental.
During a recording career that spanned only eight years the Beatles released a total of 213 songs, although they recorded more. Those 213 mainly three-minute songs incorporate a bewildering variety of styles. From out and out rockers such as I want to hold your hand, skiffle songs such as ‘Love me do’, kids’ songs such as ‘Yellow Submarine’, classic pop such as ‘We can work it out’, heavyweight ballads such as ‘Hey Jude’, experimental collages such as ‘Strawberry fields forever’, gentle acoustic ballads such as ‘Blackbird’, heavy metal/punk songs such as ‘Helter Skelter’ and John Cage audio assemblages such as ‘Revolution 9’.
Not to forget 20s vaudeville foot tappers such as ‘Honey Pie’, downright absurd comic songs such as ‘Why don’t we do it in the Road?’, classic love song songs such as ‘Something’ and the four-part harmony acid drenched ‘Because’. Did I mention comedy songs such as ‘You know my name’?
No matter what your musical tastes there’s surely something there for you not to hate.
The Beatles recording career began in 1962 and ended acrimoniously in 1970. For them and the rest of the musical world that eight-year period has to be one of the most creative in history. When one thinks about the fresh faced mop tops who we saw cheerfully warbling their way through their debut ‘Love me do’ and then compare them to the four razor sharp icons who were recording ‘Tomorrow never knows’ only four years later it seems absurd that so much can happen in such a short period of time.
That to me is the biggest mystery of the Beatles. Not the fact that four working class lads from the north of England were able to produce music of such quality from within the eye of a storm. Not the fact that each had a distinct personality that perfectly complemented the other three band members. Not that Paul McCartney was the pretty one who wrote equally pretty melodies; or that John Lennon was the acid-tongued Goons-influenced satirist who snarled at the world; not that George harrison was the quiet, spiritual musician who sought a greater purpose from life; or that Ringo Starr was the simple easy-go-lucky Liverpool lad who could bang the drums and sing a bit.
For me the band’s most astonishing feat is how they managed to reinvent themselves and their music at every turn. From the leather clad rockers of Hamburg to clean cut grey suited popsters. From the accomplished film score of ‘Hard day’s night’ to the country tinged ‘Beatles for sale’. From the Motown influenced ‘Rubber Soul’ to the conceptually challenging ‘Sgt. Pepper’. From the sprawling multi-textured ‘White Album’ to the back-to-roots rock and roll of ‘Let it be’. It was an extraordinary journey. One that unlikely to be taken by any contemporary artist.
To claim that you hate the music of the people who made this journey is to admit that you despise the journey itself. And to despise such a journey is to embrace stagnation. And when you embrace stagnation then people like Simon Cowell come and take over the world.
And nobody wants that. Do they?