The reason I’m still writing this article:
Some time before I was born, while we were still living in the States, my mother walked a few blocks, I forget now the specific number, to buy a set of Beatles CDs because they were on sale. Abbey Road, Rubber Soul, The Beatles (The White Album). The Beatles have been one of the biggest parts of my life. I tried to think of anecdotes from my childhood to make my point and came up with too many options. I think that the strongest consideration is that in most of the places I have been, even when I have been surrounded by people of varying tastes in music, everyone has agreed that the Beatles were a common favorite.
I’ve listened to a good deal of their music. And I know a lot about the history involved with that time period. But all the same, every time I start writing this article, I am at a loss to explain what it is about the Beatles that draws me in. The more I research on the topic the more confused I leave myself. What made the Beatles so popular? Why do people love them, even today? I try to think of the Beatles songs I’d put on a playlist on and too many names come up. There’s no one song that showcases them because they were so diverse.
Beatlemania was so intense in the 1960s that the sounds that the female fans made at the concerts were likened to the screech made by New York subway cars grinding across the rails. The word mania is not used lightly here. And still today the Beatles are perceived as an ever surviving legend.
There has been a great deal of study of the popularity of the Beatles, the phenomenon of Beatlemania and numerous authors have given their sometimes highly opinionated takes on all of it. Trying to study and make sense of all of it is time taking and also takes away from the essence of it. It is fundamentally fun, rebellious and well-written music in its best form. So I’m going to attempt to explain why I think you should try listening to it.
When it comes to them, Revolutionary is never an overstatement:
In a time when popular music was dominated by lead singers with backing groups, they were something more tightly knit together, with more to offer. Their music uses backwards vocals, Moog synthesizers,sitars, and staccato drums. There is nothing they wouldn’t do to get the sound right. They were looking at how they could reinvent recording to make their music sound better. So far and wide was their impact that it is safe to say that it has considerably influenced much of the music that has been released since then.
They knew how to tell a story:
The verses of Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown), and even if the following song isn’t a traditional example of the Beatles’ finest, Rocky Racoon are some fine,fine tales. Especially when you discover the backstories for the songs. I mean, who would think that pinewood wall panelling would be immortalised in the memories of people as a frosty Norwegian Wood?
They Were The Masters Of Harmony and Melody:
Just listen to Because or the opening sequence of Eleanor Rigby. The immense amount of instrumental and vocal work (an extensive amount of rehearsal before 5 hours of recording) that went into Because made it the last song that they had committed to the album, and it shows in the song. Both McCartney and Lennon have said that it was their favorite track on Abbey Road.
As for the catchy tunes, no one who has heard Hey Jude hasn’t had it stuck in their head.
Lennon and McCartney had a songwriting chemistry that bloomed into a great number of well written tracks. They had the technicalities down, they knew how to write songs that would make the girls swoon and they knew how to write a hit song. McCartney admitted that he and Lennon would cleverly pen their lyrics to make them seem addressed to the listener which made them seem all the more identifiable. For example, there was their use of personal pronouns, “Eight days a week, I love you,” or “ I wanna hold your hand.”
But apart from the love songs, there were the songs like the aforementioned ‘Norwegian Wood’ , ‘Blackbird’, ‘Let It Be’, ‘Nowhere Man’, ‘Dear Prudence,’ and many more, some written alone, some together that were profound and showed greater depth of thought.
However, having said all of the things I have just said, you’d be surprised to find that these don’t cover my favorite lyrics. Because I’ve left out the little contributions that those two ever let George Harrison make to the Beatles discography. The simplicity of Harrison’s lyrics does not make them any less beautiful. Here Comes The Sun remains the most streamed Beatles song on Spotify since their music has become available for streaming around the end of last year. And Something is the most romantic song I’ve listened to.
I have to admit, in the many months that I have spent attempting to write this article, I came across a great number of listicles which claimed to have all the “reasons” for the Beatles’ popularity and then they would throw in line after line of stats. And though there were some well mentioned points in them besides all the figures, I realised that none of any of those things meant anything to me, who grew up listening to them on long drives and when I was working. So of course, in the end, everything I said may mean nothing at all, in which case, I would tell you, and honestly now that I think about it, it should have been the first thing I said: Go listen to them for fun.