By Hans Ebert
Yeah yeah yeah, you’d like to think that everyone has heard of them, but it doesn’t take you long to realise that few actually know ABOUT them- their songs, the backstories, their evolution through the years and heard on every new album released.
There’s the role that producer George Martin played in familiarising them with the recording studio and production techniques starting with recording on a four track machine, but which became a playground for experimentation.
There’s also been their influence on lives and how their music is the soundtrack to much of everything we’ve gone through and our continuing to go through.
Some might say, “Who cares? The Beatles happened another lifetime ago”. True, they did. But, especially for those musicians who have not completed their “education” on the Beatles, there’s a very strong chance that an important part of their homework is missing.
It’s homework that just might make them understand that making music comes from that very special place called life- all the daytripping, ticket to ride and helter skelter day in the life journeys that this life force takes us on.
This life is what the Beatles wrote about and sang about and argued about and tried to better each other at and which can be heard from those early days of Beatlemania with them trying to understand how to deal with the pressures of this success before retiring to the studios and pulling the plug and letting in that final crack up. How, in the end, the love you make is equal to the love you take.
The Beatles had passed the audition and were setting sail for wherever their headspace was taking them. They had given us characters like Mean Mister Mustard, Lovely Rita, Michelle, Billy Shears, Eleanor Rigby, Sgt Pepper, Piggies, Sexy Sadie, Dear Prudence, Bungalow Bill…
They had given us some of the greatest guitar intros in Pop music- everything like that one power chord that opened “Hard Days Night” to the creative guitar riffs that opened “Ticket To Ride”, “I Feel Fine”, “Day Tripper”, “Here Comes The Sun”.
We learned the importance of the lead-off track on a record. And every single album of theirs opened with a powerful slice of pop- “It Won’t Be Long”, “Drive My Car”, “Taxman”, “Come Together”.
Time has taught us that no one plays drums like Ringo and that Paul’s vocals can be sweet whenever his songs needed them to be- “I Will”, “Blackbird”, “Mother Nature’s Son”, of course, “Yesterday”, “The Long And Winding Road”, “For No One”- and then becoming soulful- “Golden Slumbers”, “Oh Darling” “Lady Madonna”- whereas “Helter Skelter” took us back to their days as rockers in Hamburg and the Cavern.
John was the ying and zing to his friend’s yang. His songs almost always told a story- about himself.
When he was murdered, I was asked to write a tribute piece. I couldn’t. What could one say that hadn’t been said? All I did was try and paint a snapshot of his life starting with his cry for “Help”, receiving “No Reply”, singing “I’m A Loser” and being a “Nowhere Man”, before caught in the “Rain”, how “You’ve Gotta Hide Your Love Away” and about being had on “Norwegian Wood”.
It was then moving away from everyone and everything with only Yoko constantly by his side while telling us “I’m So Tired”, how “Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey”, the amazing production work that took “Tomorrow Never Knows” somewhere else altogether and the childlike and trippy escapism of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “I Am The Walrus”.
Both tracks were a nod to Lewis Carrol and taking us back down that rabbit hole where nothing’s real and there’s nothing to get hung up about. It was a different place to Paul’s sunny “Penny Lane”.
That was another part of their magic- how John and Paul, though drifting apart gave us very different songs from two individuals who were part of the same band, but not really, and had different ways of saying what they had to say. Add the songs of George into the mix and listeners were inspired to imagine during those pre-MTV days.
The Beatles were making experimental films for some of their tracks and taking us with them on a Magical Mystery Tour while later coming up against the Blue Meanies. It’s been quite a trip.
A friend asked what might have happened if there were no Beatles.
It’s hard to imagine even if we try. So let’s not. Let it be.
#TheBeatles #PaulMcCartney #JohnLennon #GeorgeHarrison #RingoStarr #Beatlemania #evolutionrevolution #YokoOno