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Why don't some people 'get' The Beatles?
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TOPIC: Why don't some people 'get' The Beatles?

posted 28-12-2012 06:26
Your point B makes it seem as though you asre suggesting that The Beatles were riding on the tails of others. But surely they were innovators more than copyists, even as they absorbed influences.

Obviously there were cross-influences. The Byrds are a good example of that: the Beatles gave The Byrds credit for influencing them just as The Byrds credited The Beatles with influencing them.

Certainly very few, if any, band in the 1960s demanded and exercised as much creative freedom as The Beatles did, starting in 1965. They blazed a trail.

The Beatles also blazed a trail in asserting the primacy of their own songwriting in the early 1960s, a time when few pop bands or artists released mainly own compositions. It was The Beatles in the UK and the Beach Boys (and Dylan in the rising folk scene) in the US who changed that.

There is a great example of that. The Beatles were nobodies yet when George Martin told them that they'd record their first hit, a song called "How Do You Do It". It was a great fit, as the Beatles recording shows.

Except, The Beatles refused to release it. They played covers, which they chose, and they played their own songs (which, incidentally, are not all that simple when you place them within their context). They did NOT play songs written or chosen by others. Martin wasn't happy but accepted it. Instead, they released "Love Me Do".

In the event, "How Do You Do It" became a #1 hit for Gerry and the Pacemakers. It was knocked off the top of the charts by The Beatles' "From Me To You".

The Beatles can also be credited with being among the pioneers in the evolution of pop albums. In the early '60s, the serious LP was the domain of jazz and singers like Sinatra or Fitzgerald (plus, arguably, pop megastars like Elvis). In pop it was used to promote singles, stuffed with a lit of bumph. The Beatles were at the forefront of a movement, especially in Britain, that took the LP very seriously as musical entities.

By the time of Revolver, at the latest, the Beatles LPs set the agenda. The reason why people werre raving about Sgt Pepper's is that there had been nothing like it, from the music to the cover. It was revolutionary.

Now, strip The Beatles of their historical context, it all comes down to taste. But it is a pity if a lack of affection for the music (which obviously is legitimate) serves as a counter-historical negation of the absolutely crucial influence The Beatles have had on pop music.
posted 28-12-2012 09:48
How do The Kinks fit into that history, G-man?

I'm listening to "Something Else by The Kinks" a lot at the moment, it's such a good album, probably only let down by some poor studio recording. Recorded in 1967, I'm wondering if The Kinks were always one step behind the rapid progress of The Beatles. But saying that, "Lazy Old Sun" seems a really ground-breaking song, it must have had an influence on Syd Barrett and John Lennon.

As for the Beatles, I've always got them, but being a boy born in Liverpool, their presence in my life was quite a heavy one. I was always aware of them and never felt I'd discovered them like I'd discovered over bands, The Kinks would be a prime example of that, I hold them closer to my heart.
Last Edit: 28-12-2012 09:49:39 by steveeeeeeeee.
  • RobM
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posted 28-12-2012 11:20
I'm a different generation, the impact that they had at the time of their heyday had already been made and beofre I could register it.

I wouldn't deny the way they shook things up but the music doesn't really hit the mark in the way that music made by bands/artists round my own formative years did and I also prefer the music made by contemporaries of The Beatles to their stuff. I'd find it easier to sit down and listen to The Kinks for instance than I would The Beatles.

That's not to deny the occasional Beatles song I'd enjoy if I were to catch it on the radio/in passing.
  • Commodore
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posted 28-12-2012 11:27
The question should be not why people don’t get the Beatles, but why we think that people should. Music is a matter of personal choice, yet where the Beatles are concerned there has always been a pervasive sense in which everyone should accept that their music mattered without question.

This does not emanate from die-hard fans either (the kind that congregate round Strawberry Fields in Central Park every 8 December), but from locals who firmly believe that the Beatles put Liverpool on the map. I’d like to think the area has a much more varied heritage than giving birth to those four blerts, but it’s good for local tourism.
posted 28-12-2012 12:45
I think it's because there's actually so much of it, and so much of it is so different. and so much of each different part of it is so good. Even if you don't like certain bits of it, like some of the more whimsical bollocks, or the saccharine shite that mcCartney came out with from time to time, then there's plenty of other stuff as well.

For instance the hard days night album is absolutely fantastic, filled with sweet, but sharp songs written in modal keys. It will be a long time before an album written in that style will be on top of the us charts or uk charts, let alone for three months in america, or five months in the uk, and this is back when there was real meaningful competition.

There's actually so much stuffed crammed into a tiny space of time. Less than six years. The Beatles had done it all and wrapped up, while the rolling stones were still learning how to write songs, and squeezing the one or two decent songs from every painfully produced album, and crowbarring into a touring career. This didn't matter so much because most of their concerts rarely made it past the fourth song.

And that's before you get into their use of all sorts of fancy recording tricks, and using them in a way that was actually popular, rather than restricted to what would otherwise become arcana.
posted 28-12-2012 13:04
They're one of the weird bands that I hate putting on or being forced to listen to, then consistently saying "this ain't bad" once it's actually on.

They're better in a vague and peripheral sense, kind of like the Grey Album with Jay Z, or in a mixtape, than being forced to listen to their entire discography. They're better as a spice than a main course.

That said, they encompass an entire spice rack.
posted 28-12-2012 13:37
The argument over "How Do You Do It" was centred around Please Please Me rather than Love Me Do. Martin thought the original PPM was too slow. The Beatles spiced it up at a faster tempo and it became a better single choice:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Please_Please_Me_%28song%29
  • Jah Womble
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posted 28-12-2012 13:49
What I don't 'get' is why this debate still rages. (Well, not 'rages', but you know what I mean...)

If someone doesn't like individual songs, then okay, but I find it hard to talk of The Beatles in the same way that I might other bands, not because of some indoctrinated reverence, but because what they and those about them achieved has been so unarguably important to modern culture. That's why I find it hard to take seriously anyone stating a sweeping 'dislike' for The Beatles - one may as well also dismiss whole swathes of music not made by them. It simply isn't the same as discussing acts like Abba (or whomsoever) where - no matter how good they may have been - the style/output didn't especially alter throughout their career.

Your point B makes it seem as though you asre suggesting that The Beatles were riding on the tails of others. But surely they were innovators more than copyists, even as they absorbed influences.

Correct. Lennon and McCartney may have aped R&B and rock 'n' roll at the start but they were quick to source their references and inspirations and galvanise them into original and groundbreaking forms that continue to permeate popular music. (And, as Berba says, that's before you get to the recording and production techniques, etc, etc...) Sure, there are some painful indulgent moments here and there but the overall, consistent high quality and sheer invention is impossible to deny.

this is back when there was real meaningful competition

I think this is a key point. Many who followed their lead and then became The Beatles' immediate competition (so to speak) also produced work of a ridiculously high standard, so to keep themselves ahead or even abreast of your Stones, Kinks, Who, Beach Boys et al was a remarkable achievement over what is now not considered a long period of time. Where else has that happened in recent years?
posted 29-12-2012 04:54
G-Man wrote:
Your point B makes it seem as though you asre suggesting that The Beatles were riding on the tails of others. But surely they were innovators more than copyists, even as they absorbed influences.


I meant to suggest that they got credit for taking something that was happening and making it mainstream. I like psychedelic stuff but am in know way an expert, but to stick with the psychedelic example. There were obviously bands making this type of music and in a more "underground" fashion. The Beatles clearly heard what was going on, were energized by what they were hearing, and then made it their own via a record like Sergeant Peppers. For someone who cares a great deal about authenticity, The Beatles could be seen as taking something authentic and making it more mainstream. Of course, there are a whole host of loaded terms in this description (most notably "authentic") but my point is that I could see why someone who is invested in the power of "authenticity" not getting The Beatles. Similarly, I would assume that folks who are invested in the purity of R&B could see early Beatles covers as mainstreaming those songs. Of course, The Beatles weren't alone since covers of R&B songs were standard practice at that time, but there certainly was a rawness to The Stones, for example, that tended to feature less in The Beatles covers.

Again, I like The Beatles, so I'm merely trying to suggest why some folks might not get the band, and ultimately see them as a conduit that serves to mainstream a variety of sounds that were happening elsewhere (i.e., something more underground in the parlance of today's discourse).
  • alyxandr
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posted 29-12-2012 05:07
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Last Edit: 29-12-2012 17:40:03 by alyxandr. Reason: just the usual drunken mess cleanup
posted 30-12-2012 13:44
danielmak, the authentic vs. mainstream dichotomy is a red herring.
posted 30-12-2012 16:22
Commodore wrote:
Music is a matter of personal choice, yet where the Beatles are concerned there has always been a pervasive sense in which everyone should accept that their music mattered without question.


Theres this too. I've found Beatles Nazis to be the worst and I consider myself a Beatles fan. Sometimes people just need to accept that what may float your boat does not float someone else's.

If someone says "I don't care for The Beatles" its not like they are flat out refusing to acknowledge their legacy or the impact they had on music its just that they aren't their cup of tea.
posted 30-12-2012 21:54
I guess you could simply dislike the four personalities, and feel they do not connect with you, in the same way that Bob Dylan (or David Bowie), despite no doubt being genius, does not connect with every listener.
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