There are some bands who are divisive… and I can understand that. The one who immediately comes to mind is The Eagles, who either put Alt. Country in the mainstream and on classic rock radio… and no, I am not discounting The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers or Gram Parsons…
Or they are incredible sell outs. For whatever reason, this particular band has always had the lovers and the haters squaring off in a much more noticeable way… at least to me… though I am sure there are others.
I love The Eagles… and only part of that is because it’s what I grew up on. What you listen to in your formative years… your youth… what music you are exposed to at a young age… will shape your musical tastes for the rest of your life.
I was a classic rock, ‘80s New Wave kind of guy. Still am… Though I also went to the Opera (NYC Opera) from the time I was fairly young, so that shaped my likes and tastes. Nothing like picnicking by the fountains at Lincoln Center and hearing Opera. We also went to many Broadway shows… and yes, I had a huge crush on Sarah Jessica Parker after seeing her in Annie. The night we saw Annie, my first Broadway show, was also the night my brother and I were invited to sit at the table of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, an experience I will never forget… and have been fortunate enough to remind each of them about.
That music was what I heard… and is the music I loved and continue to love.
College brought me into classical and jazz, and being in Chicago and starting to play harmonica thrust me into the world of the Blues. I will never forget my time at Biddy Mulligan’s, Mama Rosa’s, Kingston Mines, Blues, etc. and The Checkerboard Lounge… nor seeing the likes of Willie Dixon, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Albert King, Albert Collins, James Cotton, Junior Wells and Koko Taylor to name but a few…
A college friend in LA brought me into the whole Texas Singer/Songwriter thang. Yes, I said “thang.” KCRW opened up my ears to Alternative, Electronic, etc., and then a pure passion for music brought me into everything else.
There is not a genre of music I dislike, though obviously I am better versed in certain things… and that does not mean there are bands and sounds I do not like or respond to… there are… but I love music. I am open to it in the best possible way.
A silly post on Facebook about The Beatles lead to a few naysayers, and while I respect everyone’s opinions, I do have to admit I was a bit surprised. I would venture to say that many people who do not like The Beatles may still respect them… After all, they were incredible innovators in so many areas… songwriting, recording, publishing, etc.
While I was not yet born when the Beatles hit America… I was hit by Beatlemania… and so I decided to describe my personal love for the band… For those of you who do not like them, send a comment here as I would love to know why. And let me also ask… Are you crazy???!!!
Thanks to 100.3 The Sound for the Top 50 Beatles songs countdown yesterday… and the CBS/Grammy Special… celebrating 50 years since the historic appearance on Ed Sullivan.
Why do I love The Beatles? Let me count some of the ways…
The intense screaming and utter zaniness…
Seems like an odd reason to love a band, but watching old footage of people literally losing their minds, reminds me that there was a time when this country was fairly innocent… when Rock n’ Roll had the power to create a frenzy… when it was so much more vital and alive. That is not to say that bands today cannot do the same… but it is different. And I do not say this to discount the current crop of boy bands (Okay, maybe I do) who have screaming, crazed fans… but clearly it is not the same thing. I love my daughter… and love to hear her sing out loud… but One Direction ain’t gonna be remembered in 50 years… and probably not even by her!!!
Many people will say that the Kennedy assassination stole the innocence of this country. While that is true for many, The Beatles came around while Rock n’ Roll was still pretty young and they took the world by the hand and the heart and danced them all around. There was still a purity there… Ironic in the path they would follow.
(As a side note, for me and many of my generation, 9/11 was the true moment our innocence was lost. It still affects me and moves me every time I think about it… and every time I am in the city of my birth. I lost a bit of my soul that day… Life is and will never be the same.)
I mean the literal, Broadway show. For those of us not lucky enough to see the Fab Four live, this was quite an experience and reinforced an intense love for their music, and the musical journey they would go on for themselves and for us, as well. I was very young when I saw this, and loved it on one level… but the levels of understanding and meaning would grow, just as their catalog has done with me.
If you have not yet seen this incredible Cirque du Soleil show you must. It is moving and breathtaking and spectacular and will hit every one of your senses in the most magical and mysterious way.
The soundtrack of my life…
If I was making a list of my very favorite songs, The Beatles would have many on my personal chart. Heck, I started that list a while ago… My Top 50 songs… I really need to find it and revisit it… and yes, publish it.
Songs hit us on so many levels… and their meanings change for us as we get older and wiser, or when we are simply going through things and need a song to turn to. We learn where a song came from, its inspiration, its history, and that changes the meaning… changes our take on it, or perhaps just alters it a bit…
We hear a song during a romantic night or a breakup and suddenly it takes on a very different meaning. Songs are fluid things… they change shapes and forms… that is their power… their beauty. Yet there is also a consistency that we need and rely on.
The soundtrack for our lives is made up of music and lyrics… or songs with no words… just musical interludes…
This soundtrack cuts across genres and artists. Yet certain bands… certain music and musicians endure… stay with us… move across the country or the world, through relationships, through deaths… literal and metaphorical… are with us for the highs and the lows.
Music is everything…
The Evolution Revolution
This for me, is the true power of The Beatles… 50 years later, their music is still glorious and profound. From the innocent rockers created in their youth, to an exploration of drugs and enlightenment. That is not to say everything is right or even good, but they took us along with them on their journey… and what a journey it was. Think about the short time we actually knew them as a band… 1963-1970. Think about the legacy… the incredible catalog… all that they have given to the world.
Think about the gut wrenching, heart breaking violence that befell John… and almost took George. It is unthinakable… frightening… The fact that they are not physically here is disturbing. But they will always be here… on a radio or stereo… on a TV or film screen… and that gives us comfort… joy… a sense of continuation.
I still stop on the days of their birthdays… and the day John was shot. I stop, and I pause and I listen… and I am sad… and I am happy. I mourn and I celebrate. This is what their music does. It runs you through the gamut of emotions…
The cliché and commercial phrase is “There’s an app for that.”
Well, there is a song for that… (I claim that phrase, by the way!)… and a Beatles song for that, no less…
Meaning almost any experience you are going through, can be matched to a song… a song to guide you, to advise you, to comfort you, or to simply be playing in the background as life goes on.
“Before you cross the street
Take my hand
Life is what happens to you
While you’re busy making other plans.”
“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away…”
“One day you’ll look to see I’ve gone
For tomorrow may rain, so I’ll follow the sun.”
“I look at the world and I notice it’s turning
While my guitar gently weeps.
Every mistake, we must surely be learning
Still my guitar gently weeps.”
“All you need is love.”
The simplest ideas are often the most profound… the most difficult to achieve…
Love… life… happiness…
Simple ideas that take a lifetime to master and truly comprehend.
One last thing I will say is this… and it is brilliantly demonstrated in Martin Scorsese’s stunning documentary George Harrison: Living In The Material World.
Clearly all of The Beatles have or had great personal wealth. Success and riches beyond what most of could ever dream of…
And usually this makes writing about the simple things… the poor, the working class, those with struggles, less believable. Not many artists can stay in touch with their roots in a meaningful and honest way. Obviously I think Springsteen is one of those rare artists who can… remarkably and powerfully so…
But so did John, Paul George and Ringo… especially John and George. They realized that within their worlds of wealth and privilege there was something more… something more valuable and worth pursuing… finding those things that exist on a higher plane, like peace and love and enlightenment.
We need money… it does make the world go round, and is the currency we have decided to use, and perhaps are controlled by.
But do not ever stop pursuing those things that will truly make you a better human being… that will truly complete you and make you whole…
It is not a cliché… because in the end…
“The love you take is equal to the love you make.”
And that is why I love The Beatles.