Say what you will- and even though I heard a track by Clash being played on an online horse racing channel today- the Beatles HAVE to be a miracle that happened when the world needed it most with something prophetic when Lennon said that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.
Always ahead of the game, always saying what was on his mind, John was the yang to Paul’s ying- and this musical ying and yang worked.
I was with my mate Ben last night and talking about the Beatles- and the era that gave us Dylan, the Kinks, Cream, Hendrix, rock journalism, the Monterey Rock Festival, the Who, Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd- shine on, you crazy diamond- Woodstock, Carnaby Street, Blow Up, Twiggy, Jean Shrimpton, Bowie, the Stones, Mars Bars and Marianne Faithfull.
Ben grew up with Nirvana- and nothing wrong with that- but those four fabs were- and still are- something special and who rode into many lives when we needed inspiration and a different world to the safety of Cliff, a sedated Elvis, a white man’s sad answer to a black man in Pat Boone and what was watered down pop music for Ed Sullivan’s middle American audience.
The Beatles shook it up, baby, now, and it was all about twist and shout which, in seven short years, gave us Revolver- bang bang shoot shoot- Happiness Is A Warm Gun, took us through Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields, took us on that Magical Mystery and Long And Winding Roads that led us to Abbey Road before promising It’s Getting Better with Sgt Pepper and, finally realizing that in our hour of darkness, there is Mother Mary whispering words of wisdom and saying, Let It Be.
Ben and I talked about John and Paul- and who was “better”. Add George to the mix, and “better” became blurred lines.
What was “better”- Yesterday or Imagine or Something?
Should that even be a question?
To me, it was healthy rivalry where, in case those had missed or forgotten his ability to write melodic songs like In My Life, John Lennon sat down and wrote Imagine- his answer to McCartney’s Yesterday.
Not to be outdone, George Harrison wrote the beautiful Something about how there’s something in the way she moves that attracts me like no other lover and why All Things Must Pass.
Today, some wait three to five years for a new record by Coldplay or hoping for another Joshua Tree by U2 while being bombarded by the personal lives of the Kardashians, each One Direction- the Monkees for the nymphets- the inflated egos of Kanye West and Simon Cowell, karaoke television singing contests that throw up more mediocrity while watching The Bieb becoming The Boob and Rihanna taking her clothes off onstage to some producer’s beats and where melody is down the crapper.
While music today suffers from technology being the idea and fake “idols” from television talent shows, it’s incredible to think that, like the Stones and Bowie, McCartney keeps rocking on and that, after almost fifty years later, different generations are brought together by the magic of the Beatles- the songs, the stories of Eleanor Rigby, Father McKenzie, Lovely Rita, A Day In The Life, how Tomorrow Never Knows, the recordings, the personalities, the creativity, the solo careers and the continuing inspiration they provide.
It makes it all worthwhile- whatever this “it” is to each of us caught up in this whacked out, fucked up, washed out world.