Jewish World Review Feb. 10, 2014 / 10 Adar I, 5774
Beatles still peerless in pop a half-century on
By Mitch Albom
It's a fair question. To you, young person, this must seem like your parents (more likely your grandparents) waxing on about something that is totally outdated, like rotary phones or customer service.
So let me explain why the Beatles actually are worth commemorating. Let's start with this: Fifty years later, their music is still better than today's.
Yep. I said it. I won't take it back. If
Forget it. That's not even fair.
The Beatles were better. Their song construction, their melody lines, their harmonies, their lyrics, their inventiveness, their breakthrough use of symphonic instruments -- all done at a time when if you got it wrong, you had to record the whole thing again, you couldn't just fix it with a computer key -- combine to make the seven years the Beatles recorded together the richest production of pop music ever created by a group.
The Sullivan show was a landmark, but it was really about hysteria. You barely could hear the Beatles for all the screaming girls. And, let's admit it, there has been hysteria since then. Heck, the Monkees had it at their concerts. So did the Osmonds, Jackson 5,
None of their music resonates the same way.
You see, young person, what the Beatles did was take their influences --
Three years after the suits, ties and moptop haircuts of the Sullivan show, they were exploring corners of pop music no one had ever tried, creating thematic albums like "Sgt. Pepper's
By '68 and '69, the Beatles were like a band on warp drive. Their progression through psychedelic to experimental has been well-documented, yet they never stopped creating rock 'n' roll ("Back in the USSR") or folk song satire ("Piggies") or cabaret-like melodies ("When I'm Sixty-Four," "Maxwell's Silver Hammer") or achingly beautiful ballads like "Blackbird" or "Something" or "Let It Be."
Honestly, if a band just recorded those last three songs, couldn't it retire?
The Beatles did all this in the seven years they recorded together. And while they never played as a foursome after 1970, people know their songs 44 years later, they can sing along with dozens -- not one -- and they are remade as often as someone gets up the courage.
I can tell you as a former musician who played in countless cover bands, you always shied away from doing Beatles tunes, because their sound was so unique, the audience inevitably found fault with your version. But the fact that so many big artists have recorded "Yesterday," "Michelle" or "And I Love Her" -- to name a few -- shows the timelessness of
How many other artists will record a Lady Gaga,
So we're not crazy, young person, not foolishly nostalgic, nor lost in the past. We were just blessed to have a truly great musical band to soundtrack our younger years, one that is not embarrassing to listen to today. Is that worth a small fuss 50 years later? As the Beatles might answer, yeah, yeah, yeah.
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